The Guest Book

Guest writers appear often at “Letters from a Small State.”

About the posts: Guest writers submit work on a theme (I give them a topic or sometimes they have their own ideas). The result is a short post on a fine detail of life in America. The writing is like a snapshot of what you see, a sliver of American experience, unfolded in words.

The writing is non-fiction, experiential, and often results in cultural commentary. Or allows it, anyway. Accompanying photographs are warmly accepted.

Who are these writers? As writers make an appearance on “Letters,” their bios appear below. For the most part, they have all been published somewhere before.

GUEST Writers

Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and the author of two books, Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life.  She blogs regularly on her website,, and for the Huffington Post.

Jessica Ferguson is a graphic designer, crafter and social media addict from New Haven CT. Her blogs can be perused here and here. She wrote “Why I’m Too Scared to Blog” because she ranted so often about it to me on Facebook I couldn’t take it anymore.

Valorie Engholm lives in Kansas City, MO. She’s a teacher, poet, artist, musician, mother of two gorgeous babies ages 8 and 1, and partner to a wonderfully supportive husband. In between diaper changes and homework help, she is currently gearing up to write her first novel for the NaNoWriMo challenge in November. Valorie wrote “Choosing Here, or The Hereafter” from a prompt I gave her in honor of Halloween.

Karin Kucyznski-Holmgren is a marketing guru and social media executive working for Health Plan One in Shelton, CT. She submitted “A Portrait of a Modern American Feminist” after being brainwashed by too many of my rants on the sad state girls in America on this blog.

Lisa Hill recently exiled her creative dynamo self to Switzerland at the behest of the American-psyche, which felt she was far too productive a human being to live in these borders any longer. When not writing deep reflections on being in exile, she can be found pumping crafting iron on at least 100 simultaneously wonderful projects. She wrote “When Nude Isn’t Naked” after I suggested she “write something about living as an ex-pat in Switzerland.”

Ellen Hardy lives, sings, and teaches music in Connecticut but her heart is swimming in the lake at “camp” in Maine. She wrote “You Have to Be Taught” in reflecting on hatred and the cultural teachings of 9/11.

Paul Merrill lives in suburban Colorado with his wife and three kids. They have a minivan and sometimes dream about owning a Prius. Eight years of their family life was in Kenya and England. Paul has a taste for exotic toothpastes. His home blog, Shiny Bits of Life, is really wonderful. He wrote “Striving for Balance” because he believes writing should include more than just one voice screaming.

Chris Dawson lives and writes in New Haven, CT, though his heart resides in Montana. He teaches sixth grade, runs, gardens (but does not run gardens), and travels. He is currently trying to assemble his writings about parenting into a book. You can check out his blog at He wrote about underwear and consumption in “Guilt: The Fruit of the Loom?” because they are his two favorite things.