Mike is drawn to the genre of experimental writing, possesses a truly impressive
memory for things academic, unusual and colorful, and has survived some
remarkable experiences.

Jamie is a retired school teacher, a public access producer, member of performing
musical groups, and the founder of the Athens Writers' Group.

Michael Zempter

Jamie Tevis
Jim Fingar
Jim is the man who discovered and ferreted out the astounding possibilities of demand
publishing, and who volunteered to assume the lion's share of responsibility and work and
did so, though he moved to Vermont prior to its completion. Jim also happily enlisted the
talents of his daughter Diana in the area of layout and design.

Mary Morgan
Mary is an inveterate writer of well-crafted letters to the editor, which the group
applauds. Also welcomed are the times she dips into her mesmerizing storytelling,
based on her experiences with real people.

Jean Pullen
Jean was a missionary kid (mk) in India, during the time of the Raj, when India
was still part of the British Empire. She brings a wealth of memories and
information from that and other cultures.

Martha Johnson
Martha's forte is exploring her family's history and breathing life into her forbears,
via her writing and research. It was she who suggested the title Pickin' Fleas,
after reading Logan Pearsall Smith's epigram.

Wanda Mains
Wanda is an Avon lady and active church member who loves to capture her family
in her poems.
Tom was very protective of Jerri. I once asked him if they were married. He
said, "No, we just live."...Many friends came to Jerri's funeral...Tom
arranged for her to wear a pink flannel nightgown so she would be
comfortable. She had a new purse and a little bear with her in the casket....
Gretchen Rauschenberg


Nan Mykel
Nan is a retired prison psychologist who has dabbled in writing most of her life.
EXCERPT: From "Elegy for Alton"
I owe my writing and artistic ability to my father Alton, and yet when
the doorbell rang that day in 1972 and I was handed his ashes, I
shrank from them....Then things got spooky.

My mother, Fannie, considered a fair quilter, could get only six stitches to her
needle but was welcome at quilting bees because she was a good story teller. A
woman who could only get four stitches to a needle was asked to do errands or
to help with lunch, and her stitches might be removed after she went home....
He unstrings boots from the tops of his calves. Kicks free of them as the chains
that blouse his trousers fall away. He rips his socks inside-out and surveils his
awful, elder and aching piggies....An old propeller plane drones overhead in the
unseen sky and he joins it there for company, in his boxer shorts...
"Well give me the cigarette," Preacher called out. "Give me the whole
"I don't have any. I don't smoke," Maggie answered. One of the others in the
group gathered in front handed a pack of Marlboros to Preacher. Maggie
reached up and joined her hand with the cluster of hands, handkerchiefs, and
the pack of Marlboros...She felt like there was a big balloon inflated under her
ribs and the sobs wouldn't stop squeezing past that balloon to burst from her
eyes and nose...


The rebuilding of my old, poorly maintained country store building took
nearly two years and most of my "nursing home" savings. There was no
"grand opening," a decision I came later to regret....
First, I bought an old church pew and placed it in front of one of the plate glass
display windows. Along side it I placed a waste basket. There was an
immediate response to the waste basket which encouraged me. But the butts and
spitting were still repulsive. Next I added a smoking stand from store stock and
hand printed a welcome sign for the bench. With some trepidation I pleaded for
visitors to "please spit in the street."....
Raju, the cook, brings in the food and something upsets my mother. She
speaks rapidly to him in Tamil and I don't know what she says, but the look
on her face is upsetting me. My father says something to my mother in
German so that we won't understand and I wish he would stop always
hiding things from us....
A growing business needed publicity, so Bessie DeSelm began a series of ads.
She had note pads and pencils printed with "Want some lumber? / Call our
number / Six - 0 - Two" as giveaways to all customers. Starting in 1936, she
advertised with jingles which changed weekly, and soon residents of Bradley
and Kankakee checked out her ads in the Kankakee Republican News and the
Bradley Times regularly.... A few samples: "Aren't you itchin' / to Paint Your
Kitchen? / Wallhide - Waterproof Enamel" and "RISE IN THE WORLD /
On our ladders..." Bessie encouraged family members, employees, and
customers to create new jingles. In 1938 she won a state advertising award for
this series.
Gretchen holds several advanced degrees and is the author of
Dear Sister, based on the life of her grandmother. She is
currently tracing the relationship between one of her forbears
and Abraham Lincoln, with an eye toward publishing.

When people ask if I miss teaching, I hesitate before I answer. I don't want
people thinking I never enjoyed my work as a teacher. I feel compelled to
explain that I loved teaching when it was my life. I approached it with a
passion. But now I have turned that aspect of my life over to others and I
don't miss it...