When Marianne Betterly isn’t hip hop dancing, photographing Buddhas or searching for cappuccinos in Kyoto, she’s writing poetry. Her poetry has been published widely in books and journals, including the Hot Flashes series, The Green Silk Journal, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal among many others. Marianne lives in Kensington, California.  Marianne participated in the first SSAC workshop (April 2007 at The Crossroads), and twice joined us for Charleston workshop adventures.

Gloria Burg, an interior designer born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, began her love and fascination with cooking in the late 60′s. Coming from a family of good cooks with Lebanese and Greek heritage, it was natural to branch out into other cuisines–French and Italian from a life of travel and southern roots. A long time friend of the Southern Sampler co-founders, she has catered workshop events in Charleston.

Hugh China was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina, where he currently lives with his wife and best friend, Kathy, two horses and a cat. Retired from the US Army and the City of Sumter’s Police Department, he pursued his dream—cooking and owning his own restaurant. Voila! The Café on Main, downtown Sumter, where Hugh whipped up made-from- scratch Southern delicacies with a twist—many inspired by his mother, Thelma. Hugh catered the SSAC Lawn Party (April 21, 2012), a festive event hosted to celebrate the Charleston Jazz Initiative LEGENDS CD release. Sweet and low!

Kitty Hughes has an insuppressible passion for preservation and place. She writes regularly for the Oakland Heritage Alliance newsletter and has two essays forthcoming in 2013 in Wandering in Paris, one of which is an essay about Gertrude Stein in Paris and Oakland. She has also been published in Wonderous Child, The Joys and Challenges of Grandparenting (North Atlantic Books). Kitty’s as yet untitled novel-in-progress, set in New Orleans and Oakland, was a semi-finalist in the 2011 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition.

 Linda Watanabe McFerrin is an award-winning poet, travel writer, and novelist. Her latest novel, Dead Love, was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist. Linda has judged the San Francisco Literary Awards, the Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence and the Kiriyama Prize, served as a visiting mentor for the Loft Mentor Series and been guest faculty at the Oklahoma Arts Institute. A past NEA Panelist and juror for the Marin Literary Arts Council and the founder of Left Coast Writers®, she has led workshops in the U.S., Greece, France, Italy, Ireland, Central America, and Indonesia.

Martha Dabbs Greenway is a seventh generation South Carolinian, and resides at Dabbs Crossroads in a rambling country farm house built by her granddaddy. Co-founder of Southern Sampler Artists Colony and retired Director of the Sumter County Cultural Commission, Martha lives contently with her two cats, Sonoma and Rafael, rescued on the Northern California coast—and a third cat, an orange tabby named Salem, who showed up on her porch, while she was reading about an orange cat dropped off at a library in Iowa.

Cheryl Armstrong is a San Francisco Bay Area writer, photographer, certified yoga instructor, and world traveler. Her career was spent as an automation librarian in academic, public and special libraries. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and a librarian in Istanbul, Turkey. Cheryl writes about outsiders and what they teach us about ourselves.

Unity Barry graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute, but after she worked for way too long in the corporate world, she retired to write about her favorite subjects—artists and Paris during the Gilded Age. She recently finished her first historical novel, Luminous—Berthe Morisot and the Birth of Impressionism and is starting her next about Mary Cassatt. She was a short-listed finalist in the 2011 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition and has two short pieces in the anthology, Wandering Paris due out in fall of 2013.

Cindy Rasicot is a free-lance writer, former psychotherapist, and adoptive mother living in the Bay Area. She was raised on black-eyed peas and fried chicken in Aiken, South Carolina. Although her family moved to California when she was ten, she still shares a love of all things Southern. She currentlyblogs at her website,, a supportive community for parents raising adopted teens.

Paula Tevis, a native of Santa Barbara, California, and a wanderlust at heart, now lives in London, where she takes singing classes, produces pop-up entertainment, knits an occasional sweater, and conjures up divine dinner parties. She mothers from a distance, and in between, writes.

Anne Sigmon is Virginia born and southern bred. She grew up loving blue crab, Virginia ham, and Georgia pecan pie. Moving west after college, she lost her drawl but gained a love of adventure travel. A stroke survivor, Anne writes about stroke and autoimmune disease (at as well as adventure travel for people with health concerns (at Anne’s work appears regularly in magazines and travel anthologies, most recently Wandering in Paris: Luminaries and Love in the City of Light, (October 2013).

Cathleen O’Brien is a fifth generation Californian and book designer by profession. She fell in love with the South in college when she read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. Her newest passion is botanicals, which she captures on paper with pencil and watercolors. Can there really be 50,000,000 cells in a single leaf?

MJ Pramik is a coalminer’s daughter and a great, great granddaughter of the Mongolian plane.  She’s hitchhiked across the US, tracked May Apples in Ohio, and chased her children through wet mountains of California. Being encircled by screeching penguins in Antarctica remains a high point of her sojourn on this planet.  She completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in biological sciences and an MFA in Writing. She’s won several Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards.  Her articles and essays have appeared in Nature Biotechnology, Good Housekeeping, Odyssey, and the National Enquirer.  She’s contributed to the “Venturing in” travel series on the Canal du Midi, Southern Greece, Southern Ireland, and Puglia, Italy.  Recent explorations included Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Mexico, Morocco, and Sullivan’s Island, SC.  She still plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and salsa in Cuba after wrapping up GEM of Egypt. A Novel of Ohio.

Ursula Bendixen was born in California, but is a true citizen of the world. She lived in Brazil, Portugal and her ancestral home, Germany. She now lives in San Francisco, where she co-owned a graphic design studio, learned the ancient craft of glass blowing, and studied painting at the Legion of Honor Museum. An avid photographer, she loves to turn her lens on Charleston and South Carolina wonders.

Barbara Becker, who lives in Seattle, Washington, is a retired nurse who drums, knits, and makes jewelry. She loves to travel, cook, read and laugh A LOT!

Nancy Alpert was born in Long Beach, CA and transplanted to the Bay Area to attend rival schools Stanford and Berkeley. She graduated with an MSW, worked twenty years as a geropsychiatric social worker, and launched the Senior Peer Counseling program in San Francisco. When her career and marriage ended almost simultaneously, Nancy turned to writing. This lifelong hobby—evidenced by umpteen journals and a high school poetry award—led to her first publishing credits, essays in Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas (Traveler’s Tales) and Wandering in Costa Rica, Landscapes Lost and Found (Wanderland Writers.) Along with essays and poetry, the children’s picture book world calls her, enthralls her, and (so far) has stalled her. Nancy has a bilingual following—she edits a weekly K-8 public school newsletter, Noticias, in San Francisco’s Mission District. Nancy spends time at home with her thirteen-year-old daughter/editor; cats, Donut and Cupcake; dog, Latke; their edible namesakes; and an undisciplined Muse. She is always on the hunt for the best writing pen.

Born, bred and reared to be a fan-carrying lady, Mary Brent Cantarutti headed west in pursuit of romance and adventure. She never lost her drawl. Co-founder of the Southern Sampler Artists Colony and writer of Southern Women’s Fiction, her inner compass points toward cooling Atlantic breezes.

MYRA YEATTS wears her Southern culture with both pride and irreverence, a paradox that often defines her writing. She teaches English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

ANTON DUMARS, a thirty-three year resident of Folly Beach and a US Navy submarine veteran, serves as a geology adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and a Coastal Scientist for Tideline Consulting, LLC. Mostly, he likes showing off the South Carolina salt marsh to guests aboard his tour boat, “Tideline”.

MARTHA DABBS GREENWAY, a seventh generation South Carolinian, resides at Dabbs Crossroads in a rambling country farm house built by her grandaddy. Co-founder of Southern Sampler Artists Colony and retired Director of the Sumter County Cultural Commission, Martha lives contentedly with her two cats, Sonoma and Rafael, rescued on the Northern California coast–and a third cat, an orange tabby named Salem, who showed up on her porch, while she was reading about an orange cat dropped off at a library in Iowa.

A native Charleston and a graduate of the College of Charleston, BILLY VANDIVER is retired from a career in education at both Trident Technical College and the Medical University of South Carolina. He likes nothing more than walking the historic cobblestone streets and settling for a good read at one of Charleston’s hospitable coffee/tea shops. His special interests include acquainting visitors with the city’s history, gardens, and architectural diversity; enjoying its many incredible restaurants and cultural offerings with friends and most recently–dabbling in creative writing.

SOPHIE DABBS (1900-1983) and ELIZABETH DABBS THOMPSON (1898-1975), were sisters who grew up together and parted for only a brief time to attend college. They returned to Dabbs Crossroads to live their entire lives in the same house with one another. Sophie was a breeder of Rhode Island Red chickens, grew vegetables, and prepared “soul food” for family and friends while Elizabeth cared for the cats, planted mimosa trees along the highway, and baked the best coconut cake ever. Educators, they were both members of a local metaphysical society that studied extra-sensory perception, paranormal phenomena, and hypnosis.

Greg Fuller writes personal essays and humorous accounts based upon his experiences in everyday life. Although raised North of the Mason-Dixon Line, his Southern family roots reach deep into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Greg now lives in Sausalito and Lake Tahoe, California. Look quickly—you may see him gliding across the bay under sail, struggling to maintain verticality on the slopes, or on the streets, trailing behind Max, his Golden Retriever.

ADRIENNE AMUNDSEN is a southerner by way of Texas, though she has lived in California since the fabulous and turbulent late 60’s. She is a psychologist practicing in San Francisco and San Rafael. Her interests have taken her from the paleolithic cave art in France to International Women’s Day in Afghanistan. Her book of poems, Cassandra’s Falling, was published in 2010, and she is working on a compilation of poems about her trip to Afghanistan. She is married and has two grown sons.

TONI CARREIRO, formerly a product manager for Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, went on to become a website designer, but she never lost her passion for fiber art. An avid knitter and seamstress, she just bought her dream sewing machine, a Bernina. Always eager for a challenge, she enjoys sharing her fiber art discoveries at Toni lives in San Rafael, California, with her husband, grown son, and the love of her life, “Ollie,” a sassy poodle.

CHEF DAVID VAGASKY‘s passion for the culinary arts evolved from his Minnesota heritage. A 1986 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, David was introduced to the tantalizing world of chocolate during his internship at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In 1989 David opened St. Johns Island Café on Johns Island, South Carolina, a popular full-service café with an in-house bakery. Sixteen years later, he left the restaurant business to teach in the Pastry Department of the Culinary Institute of Charleston. An educator and chocolatier extraordinaire, David enjoys the slow paced, Lowcountry lifestyle.

Juliette Kelley is a writer living in the Bay Area. She just left a decades long career as a Mental Health Program Chief to commit herself more fully to the writing life. In Fall, 2016 she will begin an MFA in Creative Writing at St Mary’s College in Moraga.

Kathy China lives in Sumter, South Carolina with her chef husband, a Siamese cat, and two horses. Born and raised in North Dakota, she moved to Sumter after college to pursue a career in law enforcement, primarily serving in the Mounted Patrol Division. For the past fifteen years she has been self-employed as a massage therapist, fitness trainer, and yoga instructor (now registered at 500-hour level.) Writing is a passion she pursues in her spare time.

Robyn T. Murphy is an Aussie expat living in the San Francisco Bay area. She is an eager student of the writing world, taking workshops and attending conferences through SCBWI, Book Passage and Left Coast Writers. Robyn works at a writer-centric non-profit, HUMANITAS, as the Director of Programs, which includes reading/judging for several screenwriting awards. Previously, Robyn worked as a freelance health/medical/technology writer utilizing her background in Physical Therapy and Information Technology. In 2003, Robyn published a children’s book, NIGHTY NIGHTY, JAMA JAMA through Arc Light Books. Since then, she has written light-hearted Middle Grade and deep and disturbing Adult Fiction.

Ty Collins, a retired professor of English and Theatre, studied drama with Lee Strasberg (NYC), and also took master classes taught by Elia Kazan and Sidney Kingsley (Actors Studio). He is a former theatre manager for the Negro Ensemble Company (NYC), Joe Papp’s Public Theatre, The New York Shakespeare Festival, and The Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center. As a visual artist, his studio training includes The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, and the Art Students’ League in NYC. As an independent producer/director, he is a writer/collaborator of new plays for the theatre. Currenlty, Ty does reenactments at Middleton Place Historic Site in Charleston, South Carolina.

MARY EDNA FRASER is a South Carolina artist whos pioneering work has been collected and exhibited worldwide in more than one hundred solo exhibitions. Her large-scale silk batiks (an ancient resist process using wax and dye on cloth) feature aerial landscapes, deep ocean waterscapes, and outer space imagery. Environmental awareness is the common thread in her career of four decades. NASA recognized Mary Edna as their Artist of the Year in 1995, and she was featured demonstrating batik at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, District of Columbia. National Geographic and Turner Broadcasting have broadcast her endeavors. Beginning with the bird’s eye view of her grandfather’s vintage 1946 Europe plane, she has photographed and always seen the bigger picture. Science has become more beautiful and accessible through the lens of Mary Edna Fraser’s art. She welcomes visitors to her James Island Creek studio.

Catherine Pyke finds women philanthropists colorful and compelling. Her fascination was sparked by her nearly thirty-year career as a program officer for the Hearst Foundations. The tapestry of her interests also weaves in the founders of the college and university that she loves: Scripps College and Stanford University. She is currently writing a narrative non-fiction book about the lives and legacies of Phoebe Hearst, Jane Stanford and Ellen Browning Scripps.

KATHIE CORLEY/CERANTHA a passionate Native American style flute player and instructor, is a gifted Shaman, Reiki Master, writer, and painter. She expresses her varied spiritually endowed interests in her writings, music, workshops, and sound energy work.