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Hannah Betts

Hannah's fondness for vintage glamour sparkles from this photo shoot with first-time model Jenna Rusnak. “I love capturing my subjects young or old, and setting them in a time or place that doesn't exist in the present,” she says.Flea market treasures. Preschool punk rock. Femmes fatales. Digital savvy and faded film. Welcome to the collision of worlds that is Hannah and her camera.

This Rochester photographer got her start her senior year in high school when she received her first equipment from her dad. A short time later, she was studying commercial photography at FIT and capturing images on the streets of New York.

“I learned a lot living and studying in New York City,” Hannah says. “But mostly I learned that I wanted to photograph people in a more honest light.”

Which could explain why she briefly considered photojournalism. And why she has a remarkable eye for the human spirit in her fine art photography.

Hannah's stories have a clear modernity to them, but her fondness for romance and nostalgia shines through.

Among her inspirations? Vintage toys. Polaroids. Classic movies.

“I have a fascination with all things old,” she says. “Especially the simplicity of the times before me. I think in a lot of ways my work is an attempt to recreate a lot of those simpler times of the mid-20th century.”

Hannah, who is also an art director at a Rochester photography studio, often collaborates with her husband, St. Monci (né Michael Moncibaiz). 

HannahThis past spring, they joined forces for a show titled “Stories by Streetlight” that combined Hannah's offbeat photography of kids in archetypal outfits and St. Monci's drawings. The show appeared at A Different Path Gallery in Brockport last May.

The pair have another show planned for September.

"Violet," from the series "Stories by Streetlight."Her command of digital photography is as current as any pro, but Hannah still turns to film for an artistic spark.

“I love film,” she says. “I've adapted a bunch of old film cameras and use them daily to capture my ideas. I love the anticipation of not knowing what you've captured until you've developed it in your kitchen.”

A sense of wonder is a beautiful thing.


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BELOW: “Fly Away Mae” from the series “Stories by Streetlight.”

BELOW: To mark the recent engagment of her friends Kaitlin Gray and Bryce Doty, Hannah captured the couple with the added charm of vintage View-Masters. Hannah says she doesn't typically shoot weddings because they don't offer her enough room for creativity. But Kaitlin and Bryce are a different story. “It's rare that I find couples who say I can do whatever I want and they completely trust me. So when I do, I jump at the chance,” she says.

LEFT: Hannah's interpretation of the Bride of Frankenstein, a piece featured for a Halloween show at the 1975 Gallery at Rochester's Surface Salon in October 2011.





Pepsy M. Kettavong

Pepsy stands beside the centerpiece of his installation, "Lynching in America." Photo by James Bogue 

His work has captured some of America's finest figures and darkest days—from grand bronze statues to grim, abstract art installations. But in every piece, the common thread is this Rochester sculptor's passion for social justice.

It's fitting that some of Pepsy's best-known works—monuments to local historic figures such as Nathaniel Rochester, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony—are on permanent exhibit in local parks.

Why? He admires the philosophy of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer behind Rochester's Highland Park, Manhattan's Central Park, and many others.

Pepsy“Olmstead said, 'you know what, I'm going to create a park where the richest person and the poorest person can walk the same path,'” Pepsy says.

In that spirit, Pepsy's studio sits on Anthony Square Park. His workspace is a stone's throw from his public sculpture of Douglass and Anthony sitting down to tea, as well as the Susan B. Anthony House itself.

The neighborhood is also home to the recently opened Frederick Douglass Resource Center, where Pepsy's most recent work, “Lynching in America,” was shown last winter, the first in a series of three shows Pepsy envisions. The next two will focus on starving children and human trafficking, respectively.

“My goal is to bring out some dark issues and have an impact,” he says.

For the first installation, Pepsy lined a cavernous gallery with actual photos of early-twentieth century lynchings that show people of all ages celebrating as corpses swing from trees. In a startling twist, he interspersed the photos with the accessories of a Sunday picnic—checkered cloths, apple pie, dishes. A thought-provoking commentary on the bliss of ignorance.

To build the giant noose for "Lynching in America," Pepsy and his team painstakingly applied thousands of strands of twine to the sculpture, effectively simulating oversized rope. Photo by James BogueBut the centerpiece of the show was a breathtaking, 20-foot noose suspended from the rafters that took weeks to construct and position.

His heart for the plight of the oppressed undoubtedly springs from his own childhood. Born in Laos, Pepsy and his family fled the country in 1980, living in a Thai refugee camp for two years before immigrating to the U.S. in the winter of 1982. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1995.

But it was Pepsy's move to a diverse city neighborhood that awakened his desire to make art that reflects many perspectives and moves people to action, he says.

Pepsy believes so strongly in making his art accessible to people that he first looks to his audience to inform his work. He often invites people from the community to explore the meaning and the potential impact of a planned project.

People help shape the installation, and also become a living element to it: Pepsy captures the conversations and presents them in a short film to provide context for folks who come to the exhibit.

“I want to be a student and learn from my audience.”


See more: An interview with Pepsy on WXXI

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Luke Copping

“Hollywood Geisha,” an editorial assignment featuring model Kerry Quaile. Luke's photography has an offbeat intensity and rich texture that makes fabric and skin sumptuous. In creative professions, there's long been a tension between commercial success and artistic freedom. And the field of photography is one of the clearest examples.

When is a photo a work of art? When is it an assignment? And are the two mutually exclusive?

Not for Luke.

“I'm a firm believer that a contemporary photographer needs to straddle the line between commercial aesthetics and making their own statement,” he says.

“I make no distinction between my professional and artistic works, as each style is greatly informed by the other.”

Part of that has to do with the necessity for photographers to be businesspeople as well, as Luke sees it.

“Photographers can no longer be merely technicians,” he says. “They have to be both an artist and a business person.”

LukeCanadian born, Luke is a 2003 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology who currently lives in Buffalo. He specializes in portraiture and style photography and was recently nominated for Best Photographer for the Artvoice Best of Buffalo 2011 award.

From Luke's “Pigment” series. Model: Aaron Ingrao. Luke's work often brings out a deep luminescence in his subjects' eyes. “Eyes are an important detail in the communication of emotion and expression regardless of how they are or aren't rendered.”He's also president of the Western New York Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers, or ASMP.

Of his camera work, Luke says he captures people “without looking away.”

“It comes down to seeing beyond my own preconceived notions of what an image should be. There's a certain expectation of images being overly flattering, which I think is not necessarily a requirement these days.”

He believes the most interesting images of people capture their uniqueness—including their flaws.

“That may seem weird coming from someone who is mainly known for style and beauty photography,” Luke says, “But if you look at my Pigment series, I think that stands as a good illustration of my point.”

Luke also finds inspiration in foreign and classic film, which shines through in the dramatic lighting and expressiveness of his work.

“Entangle,” an editorial assignment featuring model Katherine Johnson. “Everyone has their own story and their own interesting details that might be eye-catching or interesting,” Luke says of his photography subjects.Some of the movies he's found most striking are Kurosawa's Ran, Polanski's Chinatown, Fritz Lang's M, G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box, John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, and Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain.

The common thread? They're storytellers, just like Luke.

“It all comes down to the story I want to tell, I suppose,” he says. “Yet at the same time, I enjoy telling different stories."

“I dread being one of those photographers who takes the same image over and over.”

No danger of that here.


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 "DJ Lil Joe," from an advertising/PR project, featuring Joe Chalifoux.





Mike Governale

Long before the rise of Midtown Plaza, or the Inner Loop, or the suburban two-car garage, electric trolleys carried Rochester residents from here to there, below the sidewalks.

But by June 30, 1956, the Rochester Subway was dead—if not yet buried.

Mike created this modern-day Rochester Subway map with fellow RIT alum Otto Vondrak, who helped him identify all the old routes—the actual and proposed ones that never got built. Vondrack also wrote an inscription that appears at the bottom of the piece.Nearly forty years later, Mike moved here from Long Island to study illustration at RIT. He began digging into Rochester's past, stumbled upon the story of a dark subterranean corridor, and fell in love.

“Who'd have guessed that this sleepy town of a few hundred thousand people would have had electric trolley cars rumbling beneath its streets? Amazing!” he says.

As a graphic designer, he imagined what Rochester's subway system might look like today—and set out to create a map.

“Thought maybe I'd apply some Vignelli-esque style to it,” he says, referring to the designer of the iconic New York City Subway signage (and namesake of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at RIT).

When he was done, Mike never expected anyone to take an interest in his pet project.

“The map hung quietly on my living room wall and I figured that's where it would stay, collecting dust,” he says.

MikeUntil he put his first house up for sale.

“My real estate agent told me that everyone who walked through the house was more interested in where I got that great Rochester Subway map than in the house itself,” he says.

Mike, who now lives in the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit, decided to launch and sell copies of the map. As the website gained traffic, he started blogging about Rochester's history—and future.

Developing a passion for the region has inspired him to get out there and get involved.

“Last year I wrote about a couple of people on Rochester's north side who are buying and fixing up abandoned homes near Clifford Avenue entirely with their own free time and money,” Mike says. “It's a fantastic story.”

It's hard to imagine that these tracks once carried shoppers and commuters across town. Until 1956, they did. Photo by James Bogue, All Rights Reserved.He also recently started a transit advocacy group, Reconnect Rochester, to educate locals about the importance of a robust public transit system.

“The overwhelming majority of people who live and work in the Rochester region either don't have access to quality public transit, or if they do, they don't utilize it,” he says.

As you might guess, Mike considers public transit central to civic progress.

“Sustainability, economic development, equal access to jobs and services—even our national security—are all tied to the success of our public transit systems.”

There may never be another Rochester Subway.

But Mike's What-Might-Have-Been map could well be the first stopon a way forward.


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Below: graffiti fills the passageway where the subway once passed through a former Erie Canal aqueduct. Photo by Chris Luckhardt, Some Rights Reserved.




David Cowles

You might be an artist when your choice in comic books is more about the creator than the characters. At least, that's true for David.

One of David's greatest influences: The Fab Four. “Whenever I need direction, creatively, I ask: What would The Beatles do?” he says.

John Buscema was tops for me,” David says of the comic book artist he most admires.

From comics to movies to TV, there are lots of influences—and lots of retro—in David's work.

“Almost everything I see or hear can provide a piece in the inspiration puzzle,” says the Brighton, NY, resident.


Everything. And everyone.

Many of David's illustrations are caricatures of familiar figures. And despite the abstract shapes he uses to put them together, the result always bears a remarkable resemblance to its subject.

“A lot of it is practice, but also I've learned a lot from the masters,” he says.

Miguel Covarrubias, Al Hirschfeld, Robert Risko and Pablo Picasso come to mind, but there are plenty of others.”

“The style doesn't always work for everybody, but I've mostly been lucky,” David says.

David started his freelance career in 1985, while he was a staff artist at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and he's been a full-time freelance illustrator since 1991.

Former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Alan GreenspanHis early experience at a daily newspaper helped shape his signature style.

“When I started there I had a much more labored, cross-hatchy style,” he says.

“But I quickly figured out that that style took too long for the paper's tight deadlines, and it reproduced pretty badly with the printing technology of the day. So, I started to find techniques to work faster and simpler, and liked the results.”

Former White House correspondent Helen ThomasSo have a lot of people. David's work has since graced the pages of dozens of national publications—from Fast Company to Fortune, The New Republic to The New York Times, and Vanity Fair to Vibe.

His work will again be featured in promotional materials for this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, for which he has illustrated the headliners for the past several years.

David has also done a fair amount of animation work, including several projects with the band They Might Be Giants. (Video below)

ABC's "Ugly Betty"“I was doing a pilot for Playhouse Disney and the band was going to do the theme song,” he says. “The pilot didn't make it past testing, but I checked in with [band member] John Flansburgh periodically, until a project showed up that we could work on together.”

That project, the band's DVD for children, “Here Come the 123s,” was the beginning of a long relationship.

But the animation work hasn't halted his career as a still illustrator and caricaturist. The portraits continue. And one of David's all-time favorite subjects?

“I've always enjoyed drawing Prince,” he says.

“His face and personality are so interesting that I can really push his likeness to extremes and still have it look like Prince.”

An artist who pushes his work to extremes. No wonder there's a striking resemblance.


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* * *

David has designed and directed award-winning videos for They Might Be Giants' DVD, Here Come the 123s, released in February 2008, as well as the band's DVD, Here Comes Science, released in September 2009. Watch the video for “Cells” from Here Comes Science, co-directed with Jeremy Galante.

Locally, David also teamed up with Jeremy Galante to co-direct a 2009 promotional video for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.


Dan Bentley

At 13” tall and 15” wide, “Helix” is composed of a 1940s Revere 8mm movie projector and a Kodak Brownie Starmatic. The Revere Model 85 was designed in 1939 by Philmore F. Sperry. The Starmatic, manufactured from 1959 to 1961, was designed by Arthur H. Crapsey, one of Eastman Kodak's first industrial designers. Photo by Lauren Bentley, Dan's daughter.Science fiction fans have long pondered the question: how human can a robot be?

Dan's machine-man sculptures don't walk, talk, laugh or cry. But they sure can turn on the charm.

Leave it to a veteran product designer to dissect obsolete consumer appliances and put them together into an endearing collection of robots. And the curious Dr. FrankenDan started young.

“My parents came to accept that I would disassemble my toys to see how they worked,” he says. “And reassemble them.”

This Rochester guy has been designing real products professionally for 35 years—from industrial mixers to vacuum cleaners to surgical tools. That experience informs his collection of robot sculpture, pieced together from scraps of vintage gadgets.

Here, Dan's hand rests on the shoulder of “Hercules,” aptly named for the Hercules Damper Control made in the 1940s, which now serves as his torso. The robot's arms and feet: Black & Decker drills, also from 1940s. His legs: Kromex spice jars from the late 1950s. And his noggin: a 1930s Telechron alarm clock. Photo by Michael Demme. “I grew up during the 1960s when kids still had wood and metal shop classes in school,” he says. “That's where I learned the basics of how things are made and the tools used to manufacture them.”

Dan doesn't blindly build his sculptures from found objects. He very often knows who designed the original product, who built it, when, and where it was sold. His art pays homage to his colleagues from past generations, he says.

Using the innards of cast-off flashlights, radios and power tools gives old junk new worth. But where does he dig up the body parts?

“My best sources have been local outdoor flea markets,” he says. In the summer, Dan likes to hit the Community Garage Sale and Superfleas at the Rochester Public Market, among others.

In wintertime, he turns to favorite thrift stores and rummages online.

“I try to restrain myself from spending too much on eBay,” he says. It helps that his friends and family save their unwanted appliances for Dan.

“They know not to send robot parts to the landfills,” he says.

A 1930 electric lantern, a pair of Ray-O-Vac Woodsman flashlights, and a pair of tongs invented by Samuel J. Popiel (Ron Popiel's father) are just a few of the products reborn in “Poppi.” Photo by Lauren Bentley.And his family is more than a source for raw material.

“They're a constant source of inspiration and encouragement for me,” he says. His daughter is a photographer. His son is a shipwright. His wife is an educator.

Dan recently completed a commissioned piece and is currently working on expanding his collection.

“Right now I'm focused on building inventory,” he says. “And trying to keep other project ideas in their cages.”

A head for design and a heart for nostalgia are sure to take him far.


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Evan Dawson

When he isn't writing about wine country, Evan is a reporter and anchor at 13WHAM-TV, Rochester's ABC affiliate.There was a time when this deeply passionate wine writer's tastes ran sweet. And shallow.

But Evan found his way into wine the way many do: by simply hitting the trail.

“On my first trip to the Finger Lakes, I made the shocking discovery that White Zinfandel is not all there is to know about wine,” Evan says of the day he first explored wine country with the girlfriend he would later marry.

These days, Evan, of East Rochester, has a more cultivated palate. As his taste has grown, so has his interest in writing about wine. He covers the Finger Lakes region for the award-winning blog, New York Cork Report, and is its managing editor.

The gig developed after Evan got to know the blog's founder, Lenn Thompson.

“He asked me to contribute occasionally, and soon it was clear that this was an obsession,” Evan says.

The New York Cork Report has correspondents from around the state. Evan covers the Finger Lakes and Chautauqua-Lake Erie regions. His wife, Morgan Dawson, is a photographer for the blog.Some of his best posts are human interest stories. Then there are the opinion pieces, sometimes unpopular, for which he offers zero apologies. It's just part of the deal, Evan says.

“I always say that a good writer is not a cheerleader. Critical analysis helps everyone grow.”

Contributing to the blog has helped him grow, too. Evan recently wrote a book, Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes (Sterling Epicure, 2011).

It tells the stories of people who transformed a countryside known mostly for jug wine into a community of dozens of vintners who've earned international acclaim.

“The more I explored the Finger Lakes, the more I came to feel that the general public understanding of the region was outdated,” he says.

Some context: A generation ago, Ukrainian immigrant Dr. Konstantin Frank found a way to grow traditional European grapes in Upstate New York's climate—and produce a more distinguished wine. He started his winery in 1962. It took years for more to follow.

But they have.

“People know Dr. Frank, Bully Hill, Red Cat, maybe one or two others,” Evan says. “But there were so many fascinating people who had come to the region, or come home to the region, and I thought their stories would be compelling for readers.”

To write Summer in a Glass, Evan spent two years traversing wine country, talking to folks who'd come to the region from all over the world. Some sought a fresh start after personal tragedy. Many arrived with a deep-rooted winemaking heritage. And all brought stories worth sharing. (See the video below for a glimpse.)

So, what's the next chapter for this maturing wine region? Despite the growth of the few past decades, Evan doesn't see more wineries on the horizon.

“I think we're close to being maxed out,” he says. “I see more focused vineyard work, with even better wines and a more coordinated message: We make stunning Riesling, and we're proud to make cool-climate wine.”

“We don't have to try to be anyone else,” he adds.

Why would you, when you know how to bottle summer?


* * *

Although Summer in a Glass is already on sale at a few Rochester-area book stores, tasting rooms, and the usual online outlets, Evan will appear at a string of signings to mark its official release in April. For an up-to-date schedule, click here.


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Summer in a Glass, the book trailer.



Asher Hoffman

“The look of the jewelry is very much its own thing, but part of that look comes from the way the material can be and can't be worked,” Asher says of working in stainless steel. “Pushing the limits of the material is a big part of it.”Skulls, crosses, stars and shields have all survived for centuries as powerful symbols of identity.

And so Asher's jewelry is a perfect collision of eras—Medieval melodrama. Industrial Age brutality. And the impossibly perfect polish of modern times.

The rock star thing? Asher has it down cold.

Today, he designs jewelry in stainless steel from his New York City studio, Black & Blue. But he didn't start out creating pendants and timepieces for idols. Asher's craft began in a cellar.

“My grandfather had a workshop in the basement,” he says. “I had a knack for making things. Sometimes those things were wearable. Like jewelry.”

Asher was 12 when he first got his hands on traditional jewelry making equipment, using a torch and melted metal.

“I was hooked.”

Asher Today, he draws inspiration from music, architecture, and mechanics. Which may explain why one of his favorite subjects is the wristwatch.

“I love them,” he says. “I have a fairly large collection. We just launched our first watch this past holiday season."

Watches are among Asher's favorite types of jewelry to design. "It's the thing i want to do more than anything when i sit down and soul search," he says.Rochester sculptors Albert Paley and Wendell Castle made an impression on Asher, given his schooling at RIT and years spent living here. Today, his influences are broader.

Lydia Courteille, Solange Azagury-Partridge, MB&F watches and vintage Momento Mori jewelry. All very exciting,” Asher says.

Those artists may inspire him, but his signature is distinct.

“I think the work I'm doing with Black & Blue is instantly different because it is stainless steel,” he says. “It's an incredible material. I have been working with it now for seven years, almost exclusively.”

Asher's big break came from Russell Simmons, co-founder of hip hop music label Def Jam and creator of the fashion line Phat Farm, for whom he designed his first collection.

“I was 27. I love hip hop and the collection was inspired, obviously, by that and Russell's history in that world,” Asher says.

“But, after about three years i really wanted to see the jewelry converge with other cultural influences like rock 'n' roll, and biker culture. A melting pot of rebel influences, maybe.”

That melting pot has attracted a wide audience.

“Our customers are mostly men from across the entire country,” Asher says.

“It used to be that these men came from more urban areas, but that has been changing dramatically.”

Crosses play heavily in his lineup. Why?

“They're a blank canvas,” he says. “They have a measured ratio that makes them work. Plus, they have a spiritual meaning to people. It's an honor to give people something with meaning.”

As always, what makes the metal precious is the spirit it reflects. 


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"Lemon Drop," from a series created for the Sweet Meat Co. show in Rochester in January 2010. St. Monci describes his work as an amalgamation of everything he's seen and absorbed.Notice everything, everywhere.

That simple, guiding principle came from a stranger years ago and has shaped this artist's vision for his work ever since.

“One of my most profound and defining moments was late in high school,” says St. Monci (né Michael Moncibaiz).

“One day, my father had a guest at our house who happened to be a graphic designer. He told this man that I wanted to pursue art, and asked if he could share any advice with me.”

“All he said was, 'Look at everything. Take notice of everything, everywhere. Every page in a magazine, cereal boxes, road signs, TV commercials. Really look at it all.'”

St. Monci's background in graffiti art has clearly influenced his evolution. “I’ve been writing graffiti for 15 years,” he says. “My work is an attempt to hold onto many of the fundamental elements of graffiti—break it down to its most basic form and gestures."And so he has.

St. Monci's graffiti-influenced art reflects his whole universe of obersvations and his commentary on life. He also draws inspiration from music, movies, comics, cartoons, and fashion.

“I’m a victim of pop culture’s dominance,” he says. “I can’t help but absorb and reflect a lot of these aesthetics.”

A State University of New York at Oswego grad with an MA in studio art, St. Monci came to Rochester in 2006 to take a job at Monroe Community College (MCC). The time commitment of teaching led to a personal creative slump. But since leaving MCC to pursue his art in 2009, he's found renewed energy and focus.

“Soon after, I fell into a bit of a creative explosion, which is where my current body of work began almost two years ago,” St. Monci says.

His upcoming show, “Nothing New,” is a collaboration with artist Sarah Rutherford—a cohort from the Sweet Meat Co. art collective. St. Monci is working on a 40-foot painting for the Rochester exhibit.

"Green Apple Gumballs"

St. Monci

He says he and Sarah are a good match for a joint show because of their perspective on the arts.

“We share a lot of similar feelings regarding our work, the current state of the art world, and our places in that art world.”

He mentions the impact of seeing the film Exit Through the Gift Shop by graffiti artist Banksy.

“I was struck with an overwhelming feeling that graffiti—and street art in general—had officially been commodified,” he says.

“Nothing about it seemed sacred or subversive anymore,” he says.

“It all seemed too easy now to walk into an art store and buy 'graffiti tools' with a 400-color selection, not to mention how-to books with full-on slang glossaries.”

“Sarah and I came to the conclusion that nothing seems new anymore. All anyone can do is build on the past through their own filter and make something truly unique from it.”

And so he is.


* * *




“Nothing New” opens with a public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 4, 2011 at Booksmart Studio, 250 N. Goodman St., Rochester. The show runs through March 26. Other St. Monci shows are planned for May in Brockport, N.Y., and July in Tampa, Fla.




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Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

Sports reporter. Copywriter. Blogger. Novelist. Lyndsey's profession has always been about the written word. It's also been the silver lining that followed years of secrecy and alienation as a closeted gay teen—a subject that has inspired three novels for this author so far.

Lyndsey's first novel received the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Debut Author.Lyndsey“I've been writing my entire life,” says the Buffalo, NY, resident, who landed a job at The Buffalo News after graduating from Randolph-Macon College. And it only made her want more.

“Seeing my name in print gave me the confidence to branch out to other things,” she says.

“I started sending clips to magazines and other publications.”

Lyndsey left The News in 2009 to pursue a mix freelance writing, public speaking and authorship.

Her first novel, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson, won the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Debut Author. It tells the story of Josephine Jenkins, a high school senior who falls in love with a popular cheerleader. It's a theme close to Lyndsey's heart, because she knows first-hand the anguish of living in the closet in high school.

“Knowing that I help kids feel normal and proud of who they are, simply though the written word, is an awe-inspiring thing,” she says.

A second novel, The Crabapple Tree, deals with a similar theme. Lyndsey also recently completed the sequel to The Trouble with Emily Dickinson, which is being reviewed by a publisher at the moment.

“I'm hoping it will be released in 2011,” she says.

Her inspiration as a writer of teen fiction? Judy Blume.

“She became my hero the very moment I read Otherwise Known as  Sheila the Great,” she says. “From then on, I knew I wanted to be a writer.”

In between novels and freelance writing (where she operates as “D'Arc Light”), Lyndsey somehow still finds the time to take on speaking engagements, including a date this April in Rochester, where she'll join the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley for its Day of Silence observances.

“I love speaking with GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) teens, because I can serve as a positive resource for them,” she says.

“I'm grateful every day, because I do what I love to do for a living.”


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Gay teens are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to The Trevor Project. In fact, nine out of 10 teen GLBT students have experienced harassment at school. Following a rash of teen suicides in late 2010, including six gay youth in September alone, the It Gets Better Project inspired thousands of people to create videos with personal words of ecnouragement to gay teens. Here is Lyndsey's story.