Write Life

Write Life by Anne Perry

Write Life began when Marlene Macke and I invited some writers to come to Desert Rose for a week-long writers’ retreat held in February 2018. In preparing and designing the flier for the retreat, one of the local writers connected to Desert Rose called it “Write Life.” The name stuck, and we have continued to hold retreats every February since. The one in 2021 was held on Zoom, and we anticipate another online retreat in 2022.

Marlene was a “snowbird”—a Canadian looking for a winter retreat when she wrote to me in 2014 to get advice on where she could go to write for a couple of months in the winter of 2015. “Desert Rose!” I answered. “Where’s that?” she asked. She acted on the suggestion, acclimating to the creative atmosphere of Desert Rose, making friends there, and generally deciding to return in subsequent winters. In 2017 we planned the first retreat and co-hosted the retreats of 2018 and 2019, and then Marlene’s health began failing. She wasn’t able to come in 2020, and she passed away in January 2021. Write Life owes a huge debt of gratitude to her!

Jaine Toth and I co-hosted the on-ground retreat of 2020, and then Joyce Litoff and I co-hosted the online retreat in 2021. We also started a twice monthly Zoom event—one session as a writers’ “check in” and goal setting time: one session for critique of our work. In addition, we sponsor online workshops through Desert Rose and occasional public readings of our works. All of these activities continue, with Michelle Goering taking on aspects of the leadership as well. A group of local writers have also met at Desert Rose, under the name “Pen and Prayer.”

We invite you to look at our authors’ profiles and see what Write Life writers are up to! Some have published books and articles recently; some are working on longer projects; some dabble in multiple genres; one is a storyteller who has performed stories publicly—all of us are finding our way through our writing, in the context of a supportive network. Check us out!

Some of Our Authors:

Joyce Litoff

Joyce Litoff

JOYCE LITOFF is a life-long resident of Chicago, and a world citizen at heart. She is a communications professional who has won multiple awards for her writing, podcasting and video work. Joyce sees storytelling as central to all of these efforts and her interests have led her to recently delve into memoir and live-stage storytelling. Her preferred genres of writing include Reportage, creative non-fiction, live storytelling Joyce works in the Office of Communications at the US Baha’i National Center. The office is responsible for the content of bahai.us, the public website of the Baha’i Faith, The American Baha’i magazine, the US Baha’i News, an electronic newsletter, and special publications.

Joyce has worked in a variety of publishing, media production, and public relations positions in the course of her career, both in corporations and in the not-for-profit sector. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois. Joyce and her husband, Dan Litoff, have been married for 30-plus years and live in a lovingly restored arts and crafts bungalow in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. Joyce’s current projects include Ongoing coverage for The American Baha’i and US Baha’i News and crafting a memoir for live-stage storytelling. You may access some of Joyce’s other works by clicking on the following links:

US Baha’i News Select Archive: https://www.bahai.us/us-bahai-news-archive/

SoundCloud Podcast Collection: https://soundcloud.com/usbahainews

Janet Ruhe-Schoen

Janet Ruhe-Schoen

JANET RUHE-SCHOEN, writer-in-residence at Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute, has lived in the Casa de Rosas since winter of 2016, having moved there from New York State, where she’d lived for some 20 years. She’s a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania and lived in many other places including the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico; Piura, Peru and Santiago de Chile. She’s the author of books of biography:

Her books are available via Baha’i Bookstore, Amazon.com, and various other websites. A Love Which Does Not Wait has been published in Portuguese and Spanish and will soon be published in German. She recently completed the book Son of Spirit: The Master in the Mirror of Meditation and Memory. Janet worked as an investigative environmental journalist in Chile, and as a feature writer on the arts and other topics for magazines and newspapers in the U.S. She has presented programs on the subjects of her biographies at Desert Rose as well as at Green Acre Baha’i School in Maine; Bosch Baha’i School in California; Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY; the Louis Gregory Race Unity Symposium at Austin-Tillotson University in Texas; and other venues. She currently curates and presents two radio shows for the Desert Rose radio station, Kure-lp 106.1 fm: Spirit Stories, a show about Messengers of the Sacred from all ages and all parts of the world; and the poetry show, A Wave in the Mind.

Michelle Goering

Michelle Goering

MICHELLE GOERING has been writing all her life, but only for fun and her own mental health until recently. A poet, essayist, singer, and guitarist, with a professional background in publishing, she specializes in Creative Nonfiction, Memoir and Poetry. Michelle is married and the mother of twin college-aged sons. An enthusiastic San Diegan, Michelle grew up on a Kansas farm and still misses aspects of rural life. She is interested in building community across all boundaries and is a member of the Baha’i Faith.

Michelle is currently busy writing, revising, and sending pieces out, and when they’re rejected, polishing a little more and sending them out again to someone else! Also putting together a collection of memoir pieces for possible self-publishing.


Doris Dejwakh Rasmussen

Doris Dejwakh Rasmussen

DORIS RASMUSSEN grew up in Reno, NV, attended college in southern California, and after graduation in 1971 pioneered to Niger and Benin, West Africa. She met and married Amin Dejwakh there, and they had three children. She taught English as a Second Language in Africa, then worked in administration at the American Embassy. After returning to the States in 1996, the family lived in Silver Spring MD, and Scottsdale AZ. Her husband died in 2004, and she moved in with her daughter’s family in Scottsdale.

She received her Master’s in Library Science in 2009 and resided in China from 2010 to 2013. She began working as a writer in China and later at Desert Rose Baha’i Institute where she moved in 2014. She met Roger Rasmussen online in 2014, and they were married at Desert Rose in October 2015.

Doris writes in the genres of dramatic readings, autobiography and memoir. She has written several short dramatic readings and is almost finished with her autobiography.



LIDA BERGHUIS has self-published three books of poetry: ‘Feeling Fortunate but Awful’, ‘Collage of Me’ and ‘A Bottle of Joy’. She has a poetry blog, ‘Lida’s Musings’, and a YouTube channel by the same name and regularly posts poetry on them.

Lida grew up in Iran but left that country with her family when she was a teenager. The Islamic revolution caused many members of the Baha’i Faith to flee for fear of persecution. Lida has now completed the manuscript of a memoir about her teenage years.

When not writing poetry Lida is a teacher of English as a second language. She lives in Montreal with her husband and three adult children.





ANNE GORDON PERRY writes and sometimes publishes essays, fiction, poetry, biography, and children’s books. She teaches writing and humanities at the Art Institute of Dallas and Dallas College.

Among other works, Anne has published numerous articles for BahaiTeachings.org and:

She lives in Duncanville, Texas with her husband and five cats. Anne is currently working on books on Sarah Farmer and Roger White, a film project on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in France, plus various stories, poems, and articles.


Joyce Jackson

Joyce Jackson

JOYCE JACKSON was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, but has had the bounty of living in and visiting other parts of the world. She has a degree in English and Journalism and for 10 years was the associate editor for a small speciality publisher in Nashville. She later spent five years as the publications manager for the Fraternal Order of Police.

In 2004 she self-published her memoir, “A Child of Tender Years: Hayden’s Journey. In 2011 she left the United States for Uganda, where she served the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of Uganda for 18 months. That experience inspired a children’s book titled ‘Agnes and Angella: A Tale of Two Cows in Uganda’

A Child of Tender Years:
Hayden’s Journey

Upon returning from Uganda, Joyce has worked for the last 7 years in the Office of Community Administration at the American Baha’i National Centre.

Joyce’s current writing project, ‘A Drop of Water Into Rivers and Seas: The Bahai Faith in Nashville Tennessee’, will hopefully be published in 2022.

After six years in Chicago’s North Shore, during the pandemic Joyce returned to Tennessee to be closer to her family, including her four adorable grandchildren. She currently resides in Smyrna, Tennessee, just outside Nashville, with her beloved greyhound, Zelda.

Beverly Bassett

Beverly Bassett

BEVERLY BASSETT grew up in Hyannis, Massachusetts and attended community college there. In 1972, she married her husband, Robert. Upon discovering the Baha’i Faith in 1974 they joined and served on the Local Spiritual Assembly in Barnstable. There they raised two sons and resided on the Cape and until 1993.

That year the family decided to relocate to Oregon. Selling their home and most possessions they packed up their Honda Civic Wagon. Then headed out on a travel teaching trip to Oregon. Visiting communities along route 80 they presented programs about unity in diversity. The programs, complied by Beverly, included commentary, writings from multiple religions and Indigenous peoples along with musical selections written by Robert.

Upon arrival in Oregon, they traveled to share their unity in diversity programs statewide. The family settled into their new home in Milwaukie. Beverly continued her education at Marylhurst University, earning a BA in Human Studies combined with a Montessori Primary Diploma. She taught or administrated in Montessori schools for a 21-year duration. During this period, she wrote journals, papers for school, reporting and periodicals.

Now, Beverly writes in the genres of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, personal remembrances, and children’s books. Presently, she is working on a book to provide a parenting tool kit for young parents. Recently, during the Writer’s Life Retreat, Story Commons published her 100-word story.

Our Yellowstone Greeter:

A mystical, swirling mist greeted us at Yellowstone one morn. Out of the mist loomed a magnificent bull moose. Our family and traveling companion were awestruck and agreed to stop the car.

The bull sauntered onto the road. Bulls can be aggressive, charge, knock people down and stomp on them! We wondered if the car would stimulate him into aggression. In stillness we recited a special prayer for removal of difficulties.

The bull regarded us closely, then with a backward regal look sauntered on. Off we went, to a yummy saddle cake (gargantuan pancake) breakfast at Cody Inn!

Duane L. Herrmann

 Duane L. Herrmann

Duane L. Herrmann, born in Topeka, is a fifth generation Kansan who was farming on a tractor by age 13. His continued connection to the land is reflected in his stories and poems. An internationally published, award-winning poet and historian, his work has been published in a dozen countries in several languages and his books can be found in Libraries in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Duane is an educator who has been adjunct faculty for Allen College and university guest lecturer. His work has received the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, the Ferguson Kansas History Book Award and included in the Kansas Poet’s Trail, the Map of Kansas Literature and American Poets of the 1990s. He has seven full-length collections of poetry: Prairies of Possibilities, Ichnographical:173, Praise the King of Glory, Remnants of a Life, Gedichte aus Prairies of Possibilities, Family Plowing and other poems, and No Known Address. A collection of short stories, Institor Gleg, is in process. Much of his published work can be found on Amazon.com, Baha’i Library Online (.com) and Academia.edu. He’s managed this, despite a traumatic childhood embellished with dyslexia, ADHD, the resulting PTSD, cyclothymia and an anxiety disorder.

A sampling of titles includes:

Linda O’Neil

Linda O’Neil

LINDA O’NEIL is a writer and editor living in Ottawa, Ontario. She studied journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa and had a long career working in communications for a number of NGOs involved in education, women’s issues and mental health, and has edited a number of books, including “The Origins of the Baha’i Community in Canada 1898-1948”and “A Legacy of Courage: the Life of Ola Pawlowska, Knight of Baha’u’llah”.

She took an intensive scriptwriting program, creating a portfolio of one-act plays, film and radio scripts, and a television documentary for the Canadian NSA’s Baha’i Perspectives series. A founding member of the Ottawa Baha’i Creative Writers Group, her creative work includes writing plays, short stories, memoir and poetry. She created a small production company, Stigma Busters, to mount two mental health-themed plays for the Ottawa Fringe Festival in 2003 and 2004.

Linda investigated the Bahai Faith as a first year university student. She rapidly fell in love with the Faith and began a spiritual adventure that has lasted more than 50 years. A highlight was her service as a Baha’i community development volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1977-78 where she taught ESL and spent a year travelling by truck and on foot, meeting Baha’is in many remote villages. She has also travelled and met Baha’is in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Martinique and Guadeloupe, Australia, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.

Linda is happily and busily retired and currently concentrates her efforts on promoting the arts in the Baha’i community, and, with Heather Harvey, organizing arts events and coordinating the Big Ideas presentation series.

Jaine Toth

Jaine Toth

Brooklyn born and California raised, Jaine now resides in Eloy, Arizona, close to the Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute which drew her to the area.

Jaine’s interest in writing developed gradually, beginning with the need to compose talks for presentations at Bahá’í Holy Day commemorations and public events. After taking poetry and memoir writing workshops through the Santa Barbara Adult Education system, she began working on Dizzy Izzy and the Red Witch, a series of stories about her parents which was published by Nine Petal Press.

While living in Carpinteria, California, Jaine wrote two different monthly columns: “Snapshot’s of Carpinteria’s Past,” and later, “Art Matters,” both for Carpinteria’s Coastal View News. She also wrote several articles for the Carpinteria Valley Historical Museum’s newsletter, The Grapevine, and one of her history columns was adapted for publication in the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce’s annual magazine. She’s had a few stories and poems published, as well. After moving to Arizona, her weekly column, “Faith — and Action!” ran for six years in the Eloy Enterprise.

The website bahaiteachings.org has published over 140 of Jaine’s essays.

Her current book-in-progress grew out of one of her arts-related workshops: The Arts: A Key to Spiritual Transformation.

Jaine is also busy creating Reader’s Theater scripts for her performing group, ReGeneration. As much as Jaine loves to write, there’s another art form that holds a special place in her heart. Her vehicle’s license plate frame says it all: “I’d Rather Be Acting.”

Kristine Leonard Young

Kristine Leonard Young

Kristine has been creating tiny books, writing and fine artwork ever since she can remember. A Bahá’í pioneer all her life, she has lived in six different countries on four different continents and now lives in Alaska. She has written and edited over the years – journals, newsletters, book reviews, advertising, art books, photographs, and is currently co-editor of the Bahá’í news for Alaska, Bahá’í Alaska.

‘Art and writing have always been intertwined for me however, writing became a core part of my life beginning with my first research questions written in 1981 to the International Bahá’í Centre about the life of my great aunt Counsellor Leonora Holsapple Armstrong who passed away in Brazil in 1980. With the arrival of my first package of photocopied Tablets and letters from Haifa, I was hooked. Little did I know that it would be a life-long path!’

Over the years the research paper binders travelled with Kristine from Indiana to South Africa to California, to Haifa and then to Alaska. Her research in addition to the five months spent living with her great aunt in Brazil promise to become an inspiring life story of dedication and stalwart perseverance.

Writing and art have always been connected in Kristine’s life and she has been an avid reader, painter and ‘creative’ over her career including teaching art for ten years. Her recent great love is plein air painting which she has great opportunities for in the wilds of Alaska.