Marian Schembari Marian Schembari's first-ever byline was a poem about dragons in Highlights for Kids. Alas, that particular literary masterpiece is lost to the ages. Since she was 11, Marian's work has been published in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Good Housekeeping, where she writes about travel, money, family and love. Her first book, A Little Less Broken (Flatiron, 2024) is the story of her late-in-life autism diagnosis and how women and girls are often missed as children because they're socialized to mask the symptoms. The memoir is based on an essay she wrote for Cup of Jo in 2022.
Marian grew up in Connecticut in an Italian/Puerto Rican family and has lived all over the world. If you are what you eat, she is half empanadilla, half meatball. Today she lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
Cindy Milwe is a writer and teacher who lives in Venice, CA with her husband and three children. She earned a BA from NYU’s Gallatin Division, a Masters in English Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an MFA in poetry from Bennington College. Her work has been published in many journals and magazines, including 5 AM, Alaska Quarterly Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry East, Poet Lore, The William and Mary Review, Flyway, Talking River Review, and The Georgetown Review, among others. She also has poems in three anthologies: Another City: Writing from Los Angeles (City Lights, 2001); Changing Harm to Harmony: The Bullies and Bystanders Project (Marin Poetry Center Press, 2015); and Rumors, Secrets & Lies (Anhinga Press, 2022). She is the recipient of several awards and fellowships: her poem “Hunger” was selected as first prize winner for the Myra Shapiro Poetry Contest, sponsored by The International Women’s Writing Guild; she received the Parent/Writer Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing for her poem “Legacy”; her poem, “Memorial,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first full-length collection, Salvage, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2022. She has worked for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District for over 30 years — as an English teacher, Yoga teacher, Creative Writing Workshop Leader, Literacy Interventionist, and Instructional Coach.
Sandra Hunter’s fiction won the 2018 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her story collection TRIP WIRES was published in June 2018, the chapbook, SMALL CHANGE, was published in August 2016, and her debut novel, LOSING TOUCH, was published in 2014. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Castle Fellow and was the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She’s currently working on an experimental book about bridges and being suspended in time.
Erica Ferencik considers her MA in Creative Writing from Boston University just the beginning of her literary education. Her thirty-five years of writing: novels, short stories, essays, ghostwriting, ten years of standup and sketch comedy, as well as dozens of screenplays, and a brief filmmaking stint – all served as her boots-on-the-ground training. Her work has appeared in Salon and the Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.
Oprah chose Ferencik’s debut novel, The River at Night as a #1 Pick, calling the book “the page-turning novel you’ve been waiting for, a heart-pounding debut.” Entertainment Weekly called it “a harrowing…a visceral, white-knuckle rush.” The 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards named it a “Must Read.”
The New York Times Book Review called Into the Jungle, one woman's terrifying journey of survival in the Bolivian Amazon, one of the “Summer of 2019’s Best Thrillers.” Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, calling it: “[A] ferocious fever dream of a thriller…Ferencik delivers an alternately terrifying and exhilarating tale.”
Girl In Ice, which Booklist calls “original, intense…and utterly mesmerizing,” soon to be a Netflix original film, is about a linguist who ventures hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle to try to communicate with a young girl who has thawed from the ice alive, speaking a language no one understands.
Constance Garcia-Barrio A native Philadelphian with southern roots, Constance writes about Black history in Philly and in Hispanic countries with Black populations such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Her commentary pieces for the Philadelphia Inquirer include “The New good Black mother” and “Let’s celebrate heartache.” She writes a monthly column, “City healing,” for Grid magazine, a Philly online and print publication dedicated to social justice and sustainability. She won a magazine journalism award from the National Association of Black Journalists for a feature on African Americans in circus history. An agent is representing her recently completed novel, “Blood Grip,” based on Black history in Philadelphia.
Carolyn K. currently resides in New Orleans and spends her time pouring drinks at a bar, daydreaming about where she will move to next, and pondering how she will sign her book jackets once she hits the big time. She and her husband live at the beck and call of their dog Bruce and cat Egon, and constantly lose the fight for person versus fur-son supremacy in their household. When Carolyn is not in the middle of a work crisis of some sort, she enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy, working on the sequel to her first novel, writing short stories and the occasional screenplay, making terrible puns, and coming up with ever-more justifications to cook something new and cheesy. While the Salty Quill was Carolyn’s first writer’s retreat, she has attended several writer’s conferences and won Honorable Mention in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition, Genre Short Story category.
Laura El Alam Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Laura El Alam now lives in Andover, Massachusetts with her husband and five children. She graduated from Grinnell College and pursued graduate work in Spanish Literature at UMass Amherst until she decided the life of a college professor was not for her. Writing is her true passion, and amid the hubbub of raising her kids, she somehow made time to contribute to several national and international magazines. In her dozens of published articles, Laura mainly addresses the topics of Muslim American identity, women's rights in Islam, and the experiences of converts. She also started her own freelance writing and editing business, Sea Glass Writing & Editing www.seaglasswritingandediting.com, where she takes on a variety of creative projects.
Currently Laura has a contract with a publisher to write a children’s book, which she has written and rewritten a million times. If the interminable editing process ever comes to a close, the book should be published in 2023. Now that she knows the joys of constant rejection and revision— and totally against her better judgment—Laura is also working on a novel.
Andrea Meyer Novelist and freelance writer Andrea Meyer has written creative treatments for commercial directors, a sex and the movies column for IFC, and a horror movie for MGM. Her first novel, Room for Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2007) is a romantic comedy based on an article she wrote for the New York Post, for which she pretended to look for a roommate as a ploy to meet men. She completed her second novel in the Novel Incubator program at Boston creative writing center, GrubStreet. A long-time film and entertainment journalist and former indieWIRE editor, Andrea has interviewed more actors and directors than she can remember. Her articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Elle, Glamour, Variety, Modern Loss, Interview, Pangyrus, and the Boston Globe. She currently teaches fiction and creative non-fiction writing at GrubStreet and writes about French film for the website Frenchly. She recently completed a literary romp about a Cambridge “manny” and the women who throw his life into chaos and began a new one about growing up in LA in the 80s.
Jessica Bird, a former academic and current novelist, graduated from Brown and Columbia Universities, and received a scholarship to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program in 2020-2021. She has taught literature and composition, ghostwritten a business textbook, temped at a variety of high-drama workplaces, and published television recaps for now-defunct websites. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two persnickety dowager cats, and aspires one day to win a blue ribbon in a pie baking contest.
Angie Chatman Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Angie earned her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte. She now lives in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston with her husband, children, and rescue dog, Lizzie. In addition to teaching at the Gotham Writers Workshop, Angie Chatman is a freelance writer, editor, and storyteller. She can be heard on the Moth Radio Hour’s episode “Help Me” and won a Best of the Net WEBBY Award for the “Growing Up Black” episode on the World Channel’s program Stories from the Stage.
In 2020, Angie’s essay, “Ode to Poundcake,” appeared in Pangyrus and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Other essays and stories can be found in Literary Landscapes, the Rumpus, Hippocampus Magazine, fwriction: review, Blood Orange Review, Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology and the DINE anthology (Hippocampus Books).
Angie has received support from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts (2020) and Ragdale (2021) as well as the scholarship from Salty Quill Writers’ Retreat for Women. Her project is a collection of short stories, “On the Other Side of the River,” featuring an African American woman at the center of each narrative.
Fannie Koa Before moving to the US to build a new life, Fannie Koa was a freelance journalist in Manila, Philippines covering news, features, and travel. Her work was published in magazines, anthologies of Chinese Filipino writing, and The Philippine Star.
During the pandemic, she finally got a chance to reboot her creative writing muscles and got a scholarship to attend a memoir workshop at the Hudson Valley Writers Center. Other opportunities opened up at Grub Street, and then she was offered a scholarship to attend Salty Quill in 2021. It looks like the universe wants her to keep going, so she is working on a memoir and a few other things. Stay tuned.
Tara Simmons Tara Simmons currently works as a correctional officer on Martha's Vineyard where she spends as much time as possible working on essays and a novel, based on her experiences ‘behind the line’. When she isn’t writing she can be found in the woods, stalking deer. When she isn’t stalking deer she may be busy being a wife and mother. “I am so grateful for my time on McGee where I, for the first time, felt like I could do this.”
Melissa A. Watkins Melissa A Watkins is a recent transplant to the Boston area, having recently moved after spending 15 years studying and teaching abroad in the UK and South Korea. She's relatively new to writing, but her work can be seen in Raising Mothers, midnight & indigo,Flash in a Flash, and several indie anthologies, including SpillStories’s 2020 collection Black In Asia. She also runs the book review website www.equalopportunityreader.com, which focuses on bringing diverse books to diverse readers. She's currently working on a fantasy novel and several short stories.
The Salty Quill was her first writing retreat experience, and the first time she genuinely felt that her fiction might be publishable. For that, she's extremely grateful--last year’s experience at McGee Island launched what seems to be an exciting trajectory for 2022 that began with participating in Under The Volcano, a guided writing residency in Tepoztlan, Mexico. When she's not writing, she teaches English as a Second/Foreign Language and writes content for financial education companies.
ELLIS AVERY SCHOLARSHIP
TD Mitchell Based in Brooklyn, New York, T.D. Mitchell is an award-winning writer of plays, teleplays and speeches for global NGOs. Her plays are critical of American foreign policy, culture and history, making it difficult to get them produced since the last  Presidential election. She believes theatre, her first creative home, should be a public conversation provoking difficult questions, rather than passive entertainment spectacle.
Mitchell’s play about women in the military, QUEENS FOR A YEAR, was nominated for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, among other awards. Her most recent fellowship was at the prestigious Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland, where she was the only American writer invited in 2019. Last spring, she made the shortlist for the Alpine Prize for theatre. She has had multiple works featured at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Mitchell is a tireless advocate for human rights, and for collaboration between female artists to bear witness and tell difficult stories.
SALTY QUILL SCHOLARSHIP
Judith Pfeffer is a journalist and writer from Arlington, Mass. Two of her short stories have been published, and one won honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. As a journalist, her work has appeared in newspapers, national magazines, and online and won the occasional award. She has taught journalism and marketing, and has run public-relations campaigns for NPOs, agencies, and businesses. Judith used her 2019 Salty Quill scholarship to make much-needed progress on a long-planned novella.
Gemma Leghorn is a fiction writer who splits her time between Maine and Massachusetts. She earned her MFA at the University of Massachusetts--Boston and has worked at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown for close to a decade. She is also a freelance writer and editor and is working on a collection of short stories and a novel.
Aube Rey Lescure is a recent transplant to the Boston writing community-- after graduating college, working in DC and doing lots of academic writing on Chinese politics & economics, she decided to save up money, backpack around the world for a year, and move to Boston to scrape a life together as a full-time writer (with part-time work to pay the bills, of course).
She's always known that literature and writing were her greatest passions, but it took her a while to decide they were my priorities. In the past year, she's shifted from non-fiction writing to short stories and a novel-in-progress, which is about two-thirds of the way to a full first draft after the GrubStreet Novel Generator program. It's a story set in the Shanghai of 2008 that follows a deeply troubled teenage narrator through major life changes in an anything-goes metropolis.
She grew up in France and China but has lived in the U.S. for almost ten years now. She's co-authored a book on Chinese politics/economics and translated another. Her creative non-fiction has been published on Medium, Entropy Magazine, Ripple Journal, and some college publications.
Tracey Palmer is a professional freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Globe Magazine, and numerous university and nonprofit magazines and websites. She was the managing editor and a contributing writer of the commemorative hardcover history, MIT Sloan: Celebrating Our Past, Inventing The Future (Third Millennium Publishing, UK, 2014). She is the founder of Chicks Who Write, an online professional networking group for women who freelance in greater Boston, and teaches persuasive writing to hundreds of nonprofit professionals every year. In 2016, Tracey completed the Grub Street Novel Incubator, taught by Michelle Hoover. She serves on the organization's alumni board and writes for its blog, Dead Darlings. She is represented by Ayesha Pande of Pande Literary Agency. Her unpublished novel, I Never Needed You Anyway, was selected as a finalist in the 2018 Writer's League of Texas novel competition. She lives south of Boston with her husband, two daughters, four chickens, and a dog.
Julianna Thibodeaux is a freelance journalist, editor, and creative writing instructor and coach based north of Boston. Although she considers herself a native of both the Midwest and New England—having grown up in Minnesota, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Indiana—now back in Massachusetts, she’s here to stay. While living in Indianapolis, she raised a family while working as a senior writer and chief art critic for an alternative newspaper, for which she earned several Society of Professional Journalists awards. She also taught journalism, edited an arts magazine, and completed a low-residency MFA from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont—a foreshadowing of her return to New England.
Tammi Truax, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, works at an elementary school and as a Connections program facilitator for the NH Humanities Council teaching new adult readers. She has lived and worked in New Hampshire, Maine and Germany, and has taught in a variety of nontraditional settings from preschool to prison. In 2008, with NH poet Kyle Potvin, Tammi founded the non-profit The Prickly Pear Poetry Project: Processing the Cancer Experience Through Poetry. The project is a two-hour workshop based on the profound healing power of reading and writing poetry for people whose lives have been impacted by cancer that the two deliver at hospitals, oncology centers and churches as well as reaching out to people through Facebook.
Children’s literature is a lifelong passion and she has several picture books ready for a publisher. Most recently she was editor of a new release of Lady Wentworth; A Poet’s Tale by Henry Longfellow (illustrated) (Bookbaby, 2013), and released her debut novel, Broken Buckets, as an eBook. She is a published poet in seven anthologies, including The Widows’ Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival, Edited by J. Lapidus and L. Menn, with a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Kent State University Press, 2014), and has a short story in an anthology called Compass Points (Piscataqua Press, 2015). A volume of her poetry is due out in Jan. 2019 by Hobblebush Books. Her work can be found in several journals, newspapers, magazines, and online, including at The Huffington Post. In 2014 she was the first winner of The Provenance Prize for creative short fiction, and in 2013 and 2015 was selected to be one of the writers at A Room of Her Own Foundation’s retreat at Georgia O’Keefe’s ranch in New Mexico. In 2015 and 2016 Tammi was awarded the Buffler Poetry Residency at Portsmouth High School. She was also chosen in 2015 to attend Vermont's When Words Count writing retreat. Last September The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance awarded her a scholarship to attend the 2016 Slice Literary Writers’ Conference in NYC, and was recently selected to attend The Tin House summer workshop this year. Tammi is a member of many writing and historical associations. The project she is working on now is a historical novel. She writes from her home in Eliot, Maine and is seeking representation for her work.
Nancy Crochiere worked as an editor for McGraw-Hill and other educational publishers while she and her husband raised two daughters. For 15 years, she also wrote a humor column called “The Mother Load” for The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass., and North Andover’s Eagle-Tribune. In 2014, she collected her most popular columns into the book The Mother Load, which was a finalist for Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year in humor and the Independent Publishers of New England Book Award.
Since leaving publishing to pursue her own writing, Nancy’s essays have appeared in The Boston Globe and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on her first novel, Graceland. Nancy’s hobby is acting as an extra in feature films. In the movie Joy, you can catch her staring unapologetically at Bradley Cooper’s backside.
K. Stephens is a Maine freelance writer, reporter and author of several award-winning books, including her debut novel, The Ghost Trap, the story of a young lobsterman struggling with the grinding responsibilities of a head-injured fiancé and mounting trap wars. She is working on her next book, a historical fiction fantasy novel set in Prohibition-era Maine, featuring a conniving rum-runner posing as a lobsterman.
Lisa Duffy is the author of The Salt House (Touchstone Books), named by Real Simple as a Best Book of the Month upon its June release, as well as Bustle’s 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017, a She Reads Book Club selection and Refinery 29’s Best Beach Reads of 2017.
Lisa received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her writing can be found in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest. She is the founding editor of ROAR, a literary journal supporting women in the arts.
Her second stand-alone novel, This is Home, is forthcoming from Touchstone Books in June 2019. Lisa lives in the Boston area with her family.
Siobhan Adcock is the author of two novels, The Barter, a ghost story about motherhood published by Dutton in 2014, and The Completionist, a dystopian mystery set in Chicago, published by Simon & Schuster, and named one of the Best New Books of June 2018 in The Chicago Review of Books. Her short fiction has been published in Triquarterly and The Massachusetts Review, and her essays and humor writing have appeared or are forthcoming in Salon, Lenny Letter, The Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. As a humor writing and creative writing instructor, she has worked with veterans, maximum-security prison inmates, New Yorkers, and most chillingly of all, undergraduates. A native of Chicago, she now lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn.
Pia Padukone is a writer and a proud native of New York City, where many of her stories take place. A graduate of Stuyvesant High School and the London School of Economics, Pia entered the professional writing world as a copywriter for advertising agencies. Pia was a finalist in the Seventeen Magazine Fiction Writing Contest and received a fiction-writing award from Women on Writing. Her debut novel, Where Earth Meets Water, was published in 2014 by Mira Books; her second novel, The Faces of Strangers, was published by the same in 2016. Pia lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Mary Ann Barton’s novel, Eve’s Trumpet, is still in its first draft, which she began as a Salty Quill scholarship recipient and continued shaping in GrubStreet’s Novel Generator program. Along the way, she’s benefited from fiction classes with Eson Kim and novel classes with Sara Daniele Rivera, Tim Weed, and Colwill Brown, as well as one-on-one work with Grace Talusan and Mary Carroll Moore.
For information on the applying to the scholarship, visit Salty Quill Scholarships.
Each year, the jury for the Salty Quill Writers’ Retreat scholarships is honored to have many outstanding writers share their work with us. We award one full scholarship each residency period. In the past, and as possible, partial scholarships have also been awarded. Jurors appreciate and give great consideration to every application, and have found great pleasure in awarding scholarships to the very talented writers listed below.
DORIS BARTON (1927-2007)
writing retreat for women
Salty Quill Scholarship Recipients
In 2022, the scholarship was supported in part by a donation made in the memory of Doris Barton. Doris Barton was a natural storyteller who lived life with vitality and joy. Though she never thought of herself as a writer, she wrote in journals most of her life, and depended on those journals to channel her feelings and ideas that didn’t have any other avenue for expression in her working class environment. She also deeply understood the power of a community of women to support and sustain each other. She would have loved the idea of giving women access to a place apart from the demands of their lives to write, but also to connect with each other.