Alec Hastings grew up in the Vermont foothills just west of the Connecticut River. His grandfather taught him to swing a scythe, sharpen an ax, and drive a war-surplus Willys Jeep. His father taught him to shoot a rifle, play the Scottish bagpipes, and love the written word. His grandmother filled him to bursting with sour cream cookies and fresh-baked bread. All his elders filled him with stories! He has done the same for his own children, grandchildren, and the students in his high school and community college writing classes. He continues a lifelong habit of writing down stories, and he continues to live happily with his wife Denise in the hill country of Vermont.
Barbara Williams Sheperd holds an undergraduate degree from Keene State College and a Master’s in Counseling from Antioch University. She studied writing at the University of Vermont, taking additional coursework at St. Michael’s College, and Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges. She worked thirty years in public education, five as a classroom teacher, and twenty-five as a middle, or high school counselor. She retired from the Essex High School Counseling Department in 2003.
Barbara honed her skills writing thousands of college reference letters, guidance newsletters and directives. Her short stories and articles have been published in Mainstream Magazine, Keene State Today, The Barton Chronicle and the St. Albans Messenger. During the two years she worked for the University of Vermont Extension Service, she wrote a weekly column for The News and Citizen and a monthly newsletter for 4-H families. She even tried her hand at writing blogs for the Flynn Theatre.
During the summers, Barbara lives a quiet life on a small Northern Vermont lake. She recently took up fishing to pass the time during this Covid-isolation-summer, and as an excuse to get out on the water. When winter approaches she flies away to her Florida property with the rest of the snowbirds. There, she starts her day walking the undeveloped trails in her neighborhood, then moves on to creative pursuits.
In addition to writing, Barbara is passionate about genealogy and restoring vintage photographs. She played guitar in a Ceilidh group and clarinet in the Newport Community Band. She sang with Northsong, a Classical Chorus, for sixteen years until the Covid pandemic shuttered the doors on group activities. She started a knitting group at the Goodrich Library that lasted over ten years, again, furloughed by Covid-19.
Barbara has three grown children, and six delightful grandchildren who are not furloughed by the pandemic. People say of her, she makes a friend everywhere she goes.
Louella Bryant’s novel Cowboy Code is based on the true story of a Virginia mountain town. Other books include While In Darkness There Is Light, nonfiction about the Vietnam era, a story collection, and two Civil War novels for young adult readers. Her award-winning writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies. A graduate of George Washington University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, Louella works as an independent editor. Visit her website at https://louellabryant.com.