Headshots of Anitra Smith and Amy Wallen.
Anitra Smith & Amy Wallen

Anitra says, “There is only one thing that makes somebody a writer: the desire to write. The rest is penwork. Or keyboard work, or that lovely invention, voice dictation. And I appreciate all writers. Whenever someone shares their writing, it is my privilege to hear it. The desire to write hit me early. In third grade, I wrote poems with sophisticated rhymes like “us” and “bus.” Years later, that led to newspaper and magazine articles, blog essays, more poems, a 17,000-word start on a novel Kippy and Claude (I’ll be back, Kippy), a couple of commissioned biographies, and the screenplay for my 2020 indie film, Flight of the Sparrow. Lately, besides writing, I have been singing jazz and playing flute in local coffeehouses – it’s like taking a walk after the pace of singing and playing Irish whistle on jigs and reels in a 2019 Celtic band. I have been known to make rude jokes behind the microphone.”


Amy is the author of two books, a bestselling novel MoonPies & Movie Stars (Penguin 2007) and a memoir When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories (UNP American Lives Series 2018). Her third book titled How to Write a Book in 20 Pies: Sweet and Savory Secrets of the Writing Life (Andrews McMeel 2022) is a sardonic look at the writing life with instructions on how to find your way. She’s at work on a second novel, a menopausal Nancy Drew mystery. She is also the founder of Savory Salons, A Delectable Day of Discourse, conversations with authors; and the founder of DimeStories, open mic and radio series on NPR. She facilitates the Big Picture manuscript workshop, and hosts Savory Salons—a delectable day of discourse with a guest author. She was the Associate Director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She bakes pies, both sweet and savory, to keep herself motivated, and to nourish writers’ souls.  You can learn more about her workshops with and without pie at amywallen.com.