Member Directory

Pamela Cali Bankston

Pamela lives in South Louisiana where the “steamy and sticky” weather inspired her to create children’s book character Frizzy Frieda. She is the author of middle-grade novels, Frizzy Frieda’s Gymtastrophe and Frizzy Frieda's Dye-saster.  She has been busy touring libraries and schools dressed as Frizzy Frieda, working on Frieda's next adventure, and writing her weekly social column #Ohmy Hammond for The Daily Star Newspaper. She has also published  La Famiglia Sicilian American Cookbook. Certified in pediatrics, she continues to practice as a Registered Nurse along with writing. Pam is grateful for the support of her family, friends, and fellow authors from Creative Minds Writer’s Group who encourage her to follow Frieda’s quote, “Be yourself, and you’ll find your own way to shine!” 

Nancy Bourgeois

Nancy Bourgeois brings leadership from years as a Registered Nurse, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret. Army), head of state-wide medical training and Incident Commander of the Office of Public Health for Disaster Preparedness during Katrina to name a few of her overlapping positions. Since retirement, she continues to serve as Executive Director of the Louisiana Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. These experiences and her New Orleans background provide flavor that rings true in her mystery novels, Murder Beneath the Masque and Unmasked, with a third in the series underway as well as A Summer in Comfort.

Tracey Boyle

     Tracey has recently embarked on her creative writing journey.  She has completed online writing classes offered by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library and is learning from the other members of this writers group.

     She is a fan of the Louisiana Book Festival. Although she is not published, she has felt like an author, editor, and publisher while overseeing the production of an annual 500 to 600 page budget request book in her career as a state department budget manager.  She has loved reading her whole life and has a cabinet of books waiting for her next read.

Alissa Dickey

Alissa resides in Ponchatoula, LA, with her husband of nearly 30 years.  Her published writing includes ten peer reviewed articles and book chapters on how businesses can best use collaborative communication technologies such as chat and intranets.  She is currently working on her first women's fiction novel.  In addition to her day job in managed care, she co-owns Zocalisa Fine Chocolates. 

Victoria Finnaly

Victoria is the author of three books of poetry – Ponchatoula Sojourn, Ponchatoula Odyssey and Ponchatoula Dreams.  She has also co-authored two non-fiction books Ponchatoula Automania a collection of automobile trivia with her husband, and Bittersweet Memories which includes her grandmother’s memoirs.  The latter is the story of a young girl who follows her husband to the Philippines and endures World War II, often a captive of the Japanese.

 Fannaly received recognition for her poetry at two Jambalaya Writer’s Conferences and has been published in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Writer’s Magnolia Quarterly publications.  She placed first in poetry at the 7thAnnual Berries, Bridges and Books Writer’s Conference held in Ponchatoula.

Theresa Doster Hargis: Vice President

Theresa was born in Atlanta Georgia, but raised in St. Bernard, a small parish outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. She was a displaced Southern Belle for two years while living on the East Bay of San Francisco. It was then that she first tried her hand at writing. Years earlier she had fallen in love with children’s books working as a Library clerk in an elementary school.  While in California she had the opportunity to take classes on Writing. She has been hooked ever since.

This author has written several articles, short stories and is working on two children’s books and an adult novel. Being a Mother and Grandmother, she has a constant supply of family topics upon which to write. While happy to be home again with her family and lifelong friends, she still has a passion for writing, travel and adventure. Theresa Doster Hargis can be found on Facebook or contacted at Her book, Rain, Rain Don’t Go Away is on

Vickie Hawkins: Secretary

Vickie lives in south Louisiana and has been a Creative Minds’ member for three years.

She has fond childhood memories of composing poetry under the trees with her dog, Princess. Years later, she enjoyed taking creative writing classes, which sparked her desire to write for children.

“Joining Creative Minds Writers Group has given me the knowledge and encouragement needed to improve my writing,” says Vickie.

Her short stories, Spears and Arrows, Sugar Cane Flames, and Black River, placed first in the Page Turner Contests at the Berries, Bridges, and Books Writer’s Conferences.

A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Vickie earned a degree in Office Administration and has been employed at a local hospital for sixteen years.

Leonard Jenkins

Leonard “Skipper” Jenkins “wears many hats” as well as his ever-present Western hat and they all show up in his books for children and youth: Construction worker, former rodeo rider, licensed farrier, leather worker, hunter, fisherman, cook -- he is a born storyteller. Using common sense and old-time wisdom, Jenkins always attracts a crowd of listeners and readers of all ages. Some of his work makes learning easier and fun as “Pop-Pop” teaches skills to his grandson and others deal with today’s tough situations facing young people. Among his books are Which Way is Which?, What Goes Left? What Goes Right?, Is It a Wha-cha-ma-call-it or a Thing-a-ma-jig?, Where are the Pumpkins in Pumpkin Center? and Fred A.K.A. ‘Cuz’.

Alisa LaGroue

Alisa lives in a small town in south Louisiana just north of New Orleans and loves to write Inspirational Historical Romance. She, quite often, catches herself daydreaming while driving to work, the grocery store, to church, and everywhere in between. She blogs devotionals mostly for herself but hopes it will be encouraging to others as well. She has devotionals published by LifeWay’s magazine, “Journey,” a devotional magazine for women. She is a member of the ACFW. She is also involved with the Creative Minds writer’s group but has trouble making meetings with all the soccer games, football games, high school band concerts, and Boy Scout campouts she and her boys go to.

Make sure to like her Facebook Page. You can follow her on twitter @AlisaLaGroue.

"Mary Beth Magee first saw her name in print as a juvenile book reviewer for her hometown paper. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, focusing on adult learning, which she applies in presentations to writing groups and conferences around the country. Death in the Daylilies, her debut novel, was nominated for a Mississippi Library Award. The sequel, Ambush at the Arboretum, went to print in 2017. Visit her website at for updates and a list of available presentations. Author/Speaker/Storyteller Mary Beth Magee, Cozy Christian mystery. Other writings: Devotions from the Road of Life, Cypress Point Confidences and Songs of Childhood, Echoes of Years. Original writings of fact, fiction and inspiration, as well as book reviews from Mary Beth Magee - visit my website. Sign up for free monthly newsletter and bonus content here. Cell: 708-431-9668.

Kathryn Martin

Kathryn Martin, CDA, BA, MA combines her fields of study and interest as inspirational writer, speaker and humorist “Miz Maudie”, appearing across the United States and Canada. Newspaper columnist, City Public Relations Writer, author of national magazine articles, she has three books: nonfiction Believe It or Not—Mama Likes the Nursing Home, fiction Long Way from Lonely, and Helpful Hints if You’re Ready to Write.Her latest works in 2017 include a chapter in both Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Really Did That? andin British author Melissa Addey’s Merchandise for Authors.

Steve Patrick: Treasurer

Steve has two published books by Silver Knight Publishing, LLC., The Mysteries of Jack the Ripper and The Murder of Wednesday’s Children. He is presently working on a third novel, Fool’s Parsley. He is a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (a Yooper) born in Sault Ste. Marie and served as a Naval Officer in the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) in Guantanamo Bay and in Viet Nam (1968-69). He has assisted on numerous writers’ panels and lectured at writers’ conference and seminars. Not one to shy away from the obvious, he has a greyhound named Tango who is a character in two novels.

His two mantras: when writing, use 12 pt., double spaced, and never use your phone while driving a vehicle. NEVER!

Sylvia Rochester

A native of Baton Rouge, Sylvia Rochester now resides in Hammond, LA.  She has a B.S. from L.S.U. in the college of Arts & Science and bleeds purple and gold.  When not writing, she’s painting landscapes in oils.  You can view her gallery and books at  As of this date, she has 10 published books in various genres, romantic suspense, inspirational, time travel, historical fiction, and a cozy-mystery series.  Published books include The Sweet Smell of Death, When Evil Loves, Shadow of the Soul, Courage to Care, Deadly Illusion, Da Vinci’s Lost Years, Disrobed for Death, The Corpse Wore Cashmere, and Mellow Yellow Dead Red.  All books are available in print and ebooks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and numerous outlets on the Internet.  She is anticipating publication of Deceptive Assassin in 2018.  

 Evelyn Sanders

 Born and raised in Ponchatoula, LA.

 B.A. in Elementary Education/Certified in Special Needs from S.L.U.

 Taught for almost 30 years.  Married for 53 years, 1 son, and widowed, 2 yrs now.

 Love traveling, the outdoors, whether gardening or bow hunting & Indian Pow Wows. 

 Self-taught scrimshaw artist. Cloth doll maker.  Member of Northshore Doll Club.

 Writer: Newspaper & Magazine Articles, Poetry, short stories: Fantasy & Sci fi.

 Won Golden Poet Award in 1989. in "World of Poetry," magazine's contest.

Evon Smith

Evon Smith is a grant writer and educational writer/director for EMS training programs across the state and a national consultant. As owner of Yellow Rose Publishing, she shares insight in publishing and marketing. As owner of Cayenne Catering, she is currently writing Eating Your Way Across Louisiana with recipes from each of our 64 parishes.

Rose Snellgrove

Rose Snellgrove made a name for herself as visual artist and her work often has been seen on public display. As a mother and during her 31 years as educator, she used her writing to reach the hearts and minds of children. Sometimes living abroad for her husband’s work, she has been able to combine foreign facts of cultural interest with her own and is currently working on her own memoirs as well as children’s stories.

Michael Verrett

Michael hails from Morgan City, Louisiana and grew up in nearby Bayou Vista just blocks away from green sugar cane fields and the unhurried Bayou Teche. He has written/illustrated over three dozen books and contributed artwork to two dozen more. These include picture books, chapter books, young adult fiction, a biography and photo books from his journeys around the world.

Michael studied art at Louisiana State University, Scottsdale (AZ) Art Institute, and the FBI Academy.  A former police sketch artist and military veteran, his cartoon strip, Army Life, appeared in the Desert Voice Magazine, and was featured in Stars and Stripes.

He and his wife, Melissa Garbarino Verrett live in Denham Springs, LA with three dogs, two cats, and menagerie of ducks, geese, turtles, bullfrogs and fish. 

Pam Villagran

A retired teacher and Louisiana native, Pam Villagran is married with four sons and eight grandchildren. She became an avid reader at a young age and began writing poems and short stories in high school.

Her first work to be published was a poem she wrote as a teenager. Her children’s book titled Why Did I Have To Be Born Last?, was released in 2003. After taking time off to care for her elderly parents, Ms. Villagran returned to writing under the pen name of Ann Marie Jameson.

Her novel, A Bed of Roses, was published in 2016. Spurred on by fan support, Ms. Villagran recently published the sequel to A Bed of Roses titled Belle Rose.

Lynette Vinet – Board Member

Lynette, a native New Orleanian, resides in Hammond (Pumpkin Center). A member of Romance Writers of America, Creative Minds Writers and the Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans, she has published eleven historical romances (with Leisure Books, Zebra Books and Steel Magnolia Press), one romantic suspense, short stories and genealogical articles.

Nominated by Romantic Times for Best Romantic Adventure novel, she also won first place in Historical Romance, 2nd place Romantic Suspense and 3rd place Novel with Strong Romantic Elements in Dixie Kane Memorial Contest South Louisiana RWA in 2012. One of her short stories was awarded first place by Hammond Regional Arts Center in 2016.

Eight of her novels are now available from Open Road Media and four are self-published on Amazon.

Karen Wallsten

Karen is an artist and retired public school teacher who lives in downtown Hammond, Louisiana.  Her first in a series of children’s educational storybooks entitled, “The Adventures of Shiko and Walter,” was published in late 2016.

“The inspiration for these stories comes from observing my backyard’s abundant, ever-changing wildlife.  They fulfill my dream of blending my artistic and teaching skills to create entertaining learning experiences for children. “

Wallsten has designed a number of storybook- based programs that integrate life science and ELA with visual art and movement.  She plans to share these programs with local schoolchildren during the 2017-2018 school year.

Deborah Young


Deborah grew up in North Missouri, and her Midwest background is reflected in her writing.

She arrived in Louisiana in 1975 and is a happy transplant to the Pelican state.  She was a public-school librarian for 38 years and has been an avid reader since childhood.

Deborah began writing, in earnest, after her retirement and published her first book, Clyde  The-Never-Give-Up-Horse.  She dabbles in many genres and has written plays, short stories, and is currently working on a young adult horse mystery.