Meet Our Wonderful Staff Of Writers
—In Their Own Words—In the order in which their bios were received.
ART HESS—Anyone Can Train Their Dog
Raised and educated in Alberta and pursued a mixed career of business, livestock and real estate. Had a life-long passion for working with dogs and horses. Next came 12 years near Victoria on Vancouver Island where we had several more business’ and then the “Dear, let’s sell everything and move to Mexico phase.”
“Aging is easy. Follow your passion and remember that Attitude is Everything. Strive to live a balanced life in harmony with your environment. Practice compassion, walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins or sandals before passing judgement and remember that trust and respect are earned not mandated.”
NICOLE SERGENT—Child of the Month (Clinic Director, NinosIncapacitados)
Nicole and her husband Bob have lived in Ajiic since 2007. Nicole has lived in Canada, Japan, Portugal and Spain. She speaks French, English and Spanish. Since her arrival in Ajijic, she has been active in the community. She worked for the Red Cross for many years and has been involved with NinosIncapacitados since 2009. “Working with the families is sometimes hard emotionally but it is so rewarding when we see the appreciation that the parents have for what we do.” Nicole and her husband appreciate the beauty of Mexico and the friendliness of its people.
VICTORIA SCHMIDT—Welcome to Mexico
Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. She is a graduate of Moorhead State University, Minnesota and graduated Cum Laude with a BA degree in Radio, Television and Film. At 23 she was hired at multi-national media corporation, where she worked 10 years as their Director for Operations and Finance. She then ran her own business consulting company. She has won multiple community service awards. Writing has been a passion of Victoria’s since Junior High. She has been active in the writing and publishing business for over 40 years and has been a columnist for the Ojo del Lago since 2008.
BILL FRAYER—Uncommon Common Sense
Bill Frayer lived all of his adult life in Maine until moving to Mexico in 2007. He had a long career teaching writing, critical thinking, and communication at the community college and university level. He has published a critical thinking textbook and four volumes of poetry. Stirring up trouble with his column for the last eight years, he enjoys hearing from those who have strong opinions about what he writes. Now a snowbird back in Maine, he enjoys playing blues, eating lobster, and fishing with his granddaughter. In Ajijic he enjoys leading TED talks at LCS and talking poetry with his fellow poets.
JAMES TIPTON—Hearts at Work
James Tipton has lived in Mexico for more than ten years. During that time he has contributed more than 150 columns, articles, reviews, photos, short stories and poems to El Ojo del Lago. He has also published more than 1,000 poems and short stories in magazines around the world and has been translated into various languages. His awards include the Colorado Book Award for Letters from a Stranger (with a Foreword by Isabel Allende). He is one of the four Lake Chapala contributors to the recent collection of short stories, Embracing the Fog. He is Associate Editor of El Ojo del Lago.
MARK SCONCE—Contributing Editor
Omaha, Nebraska businessman turned poet and writer after meeting Alexander Pushkin (in spirit only) in Moscow. Shattuck Military School; Antioch College; University of Neuchatel, Switzerland; Trinity College Dublin; Goethe Institute, Berlin; Peace Corps/Nepal; Berkeley School of Journalism; Co-owner, Nancy Bounds International; President, The Pushkin Project; Arizona Realtor. Lell Ellerbee Sconce, wife and companion in Ajijic, Mexico for six years.
KENMASSON—Bridge by the Lake
Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.
SYD SULLINS—Rambling from the Ranch
After living their entire life time in Kansas City, Syd Sullins and her husband Matt retired with plans to live the gypsy life. After stops in Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta and La Paz, they arrived in Ajijic in April 2014 and then never left. They were won over by the beautiful weather, comfortable lifestyle and friendly people. Once in Ajijic, Syd soon began pursuing two of her top passions – yoga and animal advocacy. She now serves as a board member for Lakeside Spay and Neuter Center and spends much of her week in the mountains with “her” dogs.
MICHAEL WARREN—Front Row Center
Michael Warren grew up in London, England and lived on Baker Street very close to where Sherlock Holmes hung out his shingle. He graduated with an Honors degree in Mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge, which no doubt helps him to balance his check book. While a student, he edited a humorous magazine entitled “ffobia” which was widely circulated amongst his friends.
Michael moved to Ajijic in 2000. Since moving to Mexico, Michael has forgotten almost all his mathematics, and has taught English to Mexican students, assisted in promoting musical events, helped to found the Open Circle group, and published his book of poems “A Particular Blue.” In short, he has found happiness. He has appeared onstage in nine plays at the Lakeside Little Theatre. For the last ten years, he has been writing the theater reviews forEl Ojo Del Lagounder the byline “Front Row Center.”
JACKIE KELLUM—Anita’s Animals
Born and lived for 24 years in New York City. She became a Registered Nurse and then moved to San Francisco, CA. Her life and nursing career continued there for forty-one years before retiring to Lakeside in 2006. She and her husband live in San Juan Cosala with their eight dogs, and several cats. Shortly after arriving, Jackie began fostering infant motherless kittens and puppies, some as young as a few days old. She volunteers with Anita’s Animals, including the weekly Aijic tianguis, monthly Pet Food Drive, and other charitable events for humans as well as animals.
Antonio Ramblés’ books include the novels Mirasol Redemption and Lifelines, and the short story collection Laguna Tales. His work also appears in the anthologies Embracing the Fog and Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows. His blog Antonio Ramblés Travels shares observations on journeys across the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. His travel photos are featured on Pinterest and he is a Senior Contributor to TripAdvisor. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ramblés’ studied journalism at the University of Miami. His fiction and commentary have appeared in El Ojo del Lagosince 2006.
SANDY OLSON—Lakeside Living
Sandy Olson is a typical San Franciscan, and that’s enough about that. As a career, she was a community college instructor, first as a parent education specialist, though she has no talent with children, and later as an ESL instructor, getting hired with no knowledge of automotive mechanics. Somehow the administration never found her out. She’s hoping that the Editor of the Ojo del Lago doesn’t find out, too, that all the notices in Lakeside Living are fiction that she makes up while she sits in the Ajijic Plaza all day.
Sandy has moved to Mexico forever four times at last count and now she has a driver’s license and DIF card and is going for permanent residency soon. Lakeside is home and she can’t imagine living anywhere else.
FRED MITTAG—The Ghosts Among Us
Grew up in the Piney Woods Region of East Texas. He remembers with fondness four high school teachers who especially influenced him. Fred worked his way through the University of Houston by working in a barbecue and steak restaurant. He spent three years in the U.S. Army, mostly in Berlin, Germany and played in an Army band for President Kennedy’s visit. Fred heard in person President Kennedy’s statement, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” and will never forget the roar of approval from the sea of Berliners. Fred spent 30 years teaching in public high school before retiring to Mexico.
DR. LORIN SWINEHART—Roving Correspondent
I grew up in rural and small town Ohio. Following a 36- year high school and college teaching career, including English and Native American Studies classes in Ohio penal institutions, I became a National Park Service Ranger. I served for twelve seasons at parks in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Colorado. I have been active in environmental affairs for most of my life, serving the Sierra Club twice as Congressional District Coordinator.
My enthusiasms include fly fishing, natural history and wilderness backpacking. In 1996, I published privately a memoir, Trails of Laughter/ Trails of Tears, featuring my wilderness adventures and misadventures. I serve when needed as a Licensed Eucharistic Minister in the Episcopal Church.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING—Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter…that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.”
ALEJANDRO GRATTAN-DOMINGUEZ—Editor’s Page
Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only Once in a Lifetime, recently purchased with another film of his, No Return Address, by Turner Classic Movies. Lifetime premiered at the Kennedy Center in Wash., D.C. —1979. Awarded Governor’s (California) Special Commendation—1980. SpecialAward of Appreciation from the National Association of Mexican-American Educators—1981. Wrote 23 film scripts, nine of which were either sold or optioned.
Established Ajijic Writers Group in 1988. Wrote seven novels, two of which were at one time in 1400 libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Best Screenplay Award—Ajijic International Film Festival—1999. Award ofAppreciation from Ninos Incapacitados—2007. Biography appeared in Who’sWhoinMexico—2007. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 —Lakeside Community Awards Committee. Winner of Benjamin Franklin Digital Award in 2014 for historical novel The Dark Side of the Dream.Editor-in-Chief of Ojo for past 21 years.