Mercy Strongheart grew up in Northern New Mexico. A child of hippie folk musicians, she spent her childhood making up stories and searching for sugar. Mercy lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. A Boy Named Trout is her first novel.

Richard D. Bank, Esq. is the author of seven books including The Everything Judaism Book, The Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction, and Feig, a novel. He is a past president and current board member of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. Richard has published over 100 articles, essays, short stories and book reviews and has taught writing courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and other venues. He currently is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s Graduate Publishing programs where he teaches publishing law.

Photo courtesy of Teachers College, Columbia University

Frances Schoonmaker

Winner of the 2019 Agatha Award for Best Middle Grade/Young Adult Mystery, Frances Schoonmaker is author of The Last Crystal Trilogy, Auctus Publishing: (2018, 2019). The trilogy combines history, mystery, and fantasy around the central theme that there are some things only a child can do.
Since her early years as an elementary school teacher, Schoonmaker has drawn on imagination and the arts to engage children in making sense of the world around them.
As a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, she directed the graduate program in elementary and middle school education, a program drawing heavily on story and children’s literature. Schoonmaker headed the curriculum development team for The Lincoln Center Institute’s Teaching Artists program (now Lincoln Center Education) and
a doctoral seminar that explored children’s literature and spirituality, funded by the Spencer Foundation. She has taught, lectured, and consulted internationally, particularly in the Middle East and in Asia.
Her curiosity about places and interest in people and their ways of doing and being inform her fictional writing, a second career that has been a natural segue from her years as a teacher and professor. Childhood memories of growing up in rural Oklahoma and family stories inform place and context. While the trilogy spans the years 1846-1944, books two and three take the reader back into pre-European, America. Schoonmaker completed her bachelors degree in elementary education, speech and
communication; her master’s degree in early childhood education; and her doctorate in curriculum leadership, theory, and development. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her family, including three contentious cats.

Learn more about her and The Alabaster Box at her blog:

Miriam Segal Shnycer is a journalist and freelance writer. She has written numerous articles published in magazines and newspapers and worked as an editor for a publishing company.

She is a board member of the  Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. She received her BA from Temple University, School of Communications and Theater (now School of Media and Communication). She is a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the journalism honor fraternity. Of Love and Death:  Young Holocaust Survivors’ Passage to Freedom is her first book.

Nikki MacCallum is a New York City based writer, performer, and avid runner. She conceived and co-wrote the script to Matchmaker Matchmaker I’m Willing to Settle! – a musical about internet dating that premiered at the American Repertory Theatre’s Second Stage, OBERON and has since had multiple productions both Off-Broadway and in various parts of the country. In 2016, she was one of fifty-one entrepreneurs world-wide (including NFL Running Back Jonathan Stewart, NBA power forward Anthony Tolliver, and Morgan Stanley’s Executive Director, Kimberly Hatchett) interviewed in the book, Hustle Believe Receive,an 8-Step Plan to Changing your Life and Living your Dream. Shortly after the release, she was one of four individuals highlighted in the book selected to speak on a panel for a featured segment aired on ABC news. Her essay, Passing A Parent, based on Dry Run, was published in an anthology titled The I’Mpossible Project. As a performer and lover of show tunes, her original solo acts have appeared at 54 Below, Lincoln Center, Birdland, and she’s been featured on VH1. As a standup-comic she’s played The Comedy Cellar, Dangerfield’s and Caroline’s.  Outside of the arts, Nikki is an established talent expert and career coach in the field of litigation technology and has spoken on panels globally (American Express, International Legal Technology Association, Coalition for the Homeless) about networking, career development, and how to capitalize on rejection. Originally from the Boston area, she holds a Bachelor of Music from New York University but remains a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan.

Ayesha F. Hamid is a Philadelphia-based poet and creative nonfiction writer,  published in Big Easy Review, Philly Flash Inferno, and Rathalla Review. Her memoir, The Borderland Between Worlds. published by Auctus in 2020, was awarded a Thesis Distinction by Rosemont College (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania). Ayesha has an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing from Rosemont College and also received an MA in Sociology from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She is the Editor-in-Chief at The City Key. Aside from writing, Ayesha loves photography and traveling to far places.

Harry Ringel’s publication story begins many years ago when he still had the energy to walk pitches for articles into offices for Philadelphia-area magazines and newspapers including Metropolitan, The Evening Bulletin, and The Drummer.  Nationally and internationally, his feature articles appeared in periodicals as varied as Sight and Sound, Cinefantastique, and Country Music magazine. His novel, The Tender Seed, which dealt with a psychically gifted child, was highly praised and widely received. Harry has written much in the ESL field. His textbooks are published by New Reader Press. Harry Ringel currently works with international students in Bucks County Community College’s Continuing Education Department in Pennsylvania.

Mike Metzler was born in the small Western New York town of Salamanca and is one of eight children. Mike grew up being interested and loving sports. His love of sports would influence his career choices later in life.

Due to his tenaciousness and positive attitude, Mike’s professional history has been one of accomplishments, including playing football at Tufts University, earning a doctoral degree from Ohio State University, and becoming a university professor and researcher where he enjoyed a long and productive career, training physical education teachers, conducting research, and being a leader in professional associations. He has earned numerous awards and been invited to be a speaker, consultant, and visiting professor in many countries around the world. For two years, Mike served on the Science Board of the President’s Council for Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition in the Obama Administration.

Though Mike retired from full-time duties at Georgia State University in 2017, he still works part-time to help GSU faculty do research on their own teaching. Mike’s many interests still drive his pursuits in semi-retirement, including a lifelong interest in many types of music, designing and building, repairing stereo speakers in his basement shop, a lifelong interest in many types of music, which has led him to have one of the largest recordings of Grateful Dead concert recordings, and preparing chili as a competitive chili cook where he has won several major contests over the years.     

Mike and his wife Terry were married in 2006 on the Honduran island of Roatan. They now live in Decatur, Georgia; they love to spend time at their getaway cabin in the mountains of Northern Georgia, gazing at the clear night skies, hiking, and enjoying the wonderful wines of the area.

A prolific writer in his profession, My Two Journeys in Cancer World is his first work of creative nonfiction.

Tracy Kauffman Wood received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Rosemont College and Master of Arts in Education from Maharishi International University. A third-generation Philadelphian, her family has influenced the street-food scene since 1935. She is a graduate of Temple University. Tracy has been a freelance photographer and writer for thirty years. She is a storyteller, memoir writer, and a staunch advocate of the open mic. Her work has appeared on WHYY TV,, Rathalla Review and various blogs and websites. She has taught writing at Temple University, facilitates memoir writing workshops and currently works with writing students at Delaware County Community College. Her book, Our Dementia: A Memoir, is scheduled for publication in July 2020.