Marlene Ratledge Buchanan

Marlene Ratledge Buchanan

Life is hard. Soften it with laughter.  This has become my mantra, because there are a limited number of “bless your hearts” a Southern woman can give to undeserving people.  My life as a wife, mother of a special needs adult son, educator, and life-participant has provided me with moments when my Southern charm and grace has not been enough, but finding humor in the situation has.

A native Atlantan, I was raised to be a woman of her own mind and voice. My grandmother was so proud of the Right to Vote. My mother did a man’s job for years.  Neither ever backed down from doing the best job they could.

I lie about my age.  I add ten years because people tell me that I look good for that age; not so hot for my real age.

I married the love of my life in 1975.   We married 364 days after our first date.  He turned me down the first three times I proposed. My plans were to marry a rich old man.  I only got old.  Snell is eleven years to my senior, but I wouldn’t trade him for anything. I really don’t want to train another one!

We were married for seven years when after a couple of weeks of being puny, Snell asked “Do you think you could be pregnant?” What a shock. Pregnant we were. I began throwing up 15 minutes after conception and kept 24/7 morning sickness for fifteen days after James was born. James was deprived of oxygen during the birthing process. He is mild mentally handicapped.  Brilliant in his areas of interest, he works full time for the local school system, blows glass, does photography, and taxidermy. His knowledge of birds and animals is astounding.

My first “official” teaching job was at age nine.  I was tasked to teach toddlers not to fear water, to float in prone and supine positions, and to dog paddle.  After more than 34 years of high school teaching and counseling in Gwinnett County Public Schools, I retired. Now I enjoy sharing my life experiences through writing, gardening and being with my boys, Snell and James.   We are owned by four cats who allow us to care for them.

I currently serve as the Secretary, Membership, and Social Media officer for Southeastern Writers Association. And I am the director for the Snellville chapter of Scribblers Web.


I have written three books:

  • Life is hard. Soften It with Laughter which won both 2020 Award Winning Christian Women Writers and the GA Independent Author of the Year First book
  • A Place with a Past. A cozy mystery which won 2021 Georgia Independent Author of the Year Award
  • Tips, Tricks, & Techniques. A Self Directed Guide for Easier Learning.


I also write the Hey Y’all column for Gwinnett Citizen and the Anything Goes Column for Inspirations for Better Living e-magazine.

Spotlight on Spring

Spotlight on Spring

Norcross Gallery and Studios is again open for a brand new exhibit which opens Friday February 11 and runs through Saturday March 26.  There will be a reception on March 17 from 4 to 7PM.  The show, Spotlight on Spring, features the works of 6 outstanding members – Mikki Root Dillon, Cynthia Corbin, Barb Boyer, Sharon Nichol, Lynda Ellis and Angelika Domschke in a varied, enjoyable exhibit.

Mikki Dillon
Mikki Root Dillon

Mikki Dillon, a noted artist in pastels and photography, presents a stark black and white photograph titled “Stormy Sunset Coming, South of Taos”. She says she intended to capture the sunset but a storm blew in, adding to her adventure.


“Felicity” by artist and outstanding graphic designer Cynthia Corbin is a work in collage and acrylic displaying an imaginative, appealing bouquet of flowers. Her composition and design talents are in full display in this happy painting.  Another of Norcross Gallery’s outstanding artists, Barb Boyer, has created a fun, summery outdoor still life with three shapely pears and her dad’s antique marbles. Sharon Nichol’s excellent watercolors in the show include “Desert Life # 2”, a realistic painting of the area’s amazing variety of colors and textures of the desert. “Evensong” is an oil painting of a quiet  moment on a lake just after sundown by an artist well-known in the Atlanta area, Lynda Ellis, also active with Atlanta Artists Club in Buckhead and whose work is featured in many exhibits throughout the region. Angelika Domschke, another of the prominent artist members of Norcross Gallery and Studios, holds  a PHD in chemistry and also excels as a sculptor and illustrator. Her acrylic painting, “Cat Spirit”, in this show captures the cat’s magical moment of undivided focus and attention.

The Gallery’s hours are 11 am to 4 pm Thursdays through Saturdays and the location is 116 Carlyle Street in downtown Norcross. Phone is 770-840-9844 and the website is: The reception on Saint Patrick’s day will be a wonderful social event with food, wine and an opportunity to meet the artists and purchase original works of art from new friends. Wear green!

New Evening Meetings For Pen Women

From Atlanta Pen Women, First Vice President Lynn Hesse

Dear Members,

Evening Meetings:
The Atlanta Pen Women board wishes to extend the opportunities for members who work during the day without flexible hours to attend a monthly meeting. We miss seeing your faces and sharing with you. Starting in September of 2022, we propose to set every other monthly meeting —the second Wednesday as usual—in the evenings on Zoom. Corresponding, we want your input on what hour would work best. Please pick a time slot to begin the official meeting either 5-6 p.m., 6-7 p.m., or 7-8 p.m. Comment above left by clicking box, message me on the website, email me at [email protected] or call 770 498-6729.

Tech Info:
You may contact me by clicking on my name under membership and then sending me a message. While you’re inside the website, why not update your profile?

The deadline for stating your preferences about the evening-meeting hour is the last day of May, 2022. The board decided to forego monthly meetings for the summer months of June-August.

Structure Changes to Meetings:
Business meeting will be kept to 15-20 minutes with an emphasis on the guest speaker. The entire meeting will be kept to a maximum of an hour with an option to join early or thirty minutes prior to visit with community.

Note: Eating during the meeting isn’t a problem, but please mute.

If you desire to be a speaker or know of someone who would speak to a topic that interests you dealing with the craft of your art, please contact Lynn Hesse, [email protected] or 770 498-6729.

FYI: Every creative is a busy person. It takes several weeks to contact, email, and set up a speaking engagement.