My writing life began in fifth grade, when I won an essay contest on Traffic Safety sponsored by our corner drugstore in Washington, D. C.. Alas, writing ambition then lay dormant for decades while Life intervened. Periodically I wrestled with attempts to write fiction. Meanwhile, a fondness for nonfiction grew and I began freelancing for periodicals under the gender-neutral byline A.M.Foley.
In the 1970s, I settled on Elloitt’s Island, Maryland. Unique mid-Shore events provided much material, but pitching stories to publications after a day’s work left little time for writing. I decided to devote available time to what most interested me. Older island neighbors had always taken time to describe to me their former life of near-total isolation. They seemed acutely aware that their way of life had passed. I, of course, was fascinated and spent rapt hours hanging out in Miss Nora’s store absorbing their teachings. Then I learned Freddie Waller was attempting to type a book about his island upbringing on his Underwood typewriter. I, on the other hand, had a second-hand computer, so we spent five years researching life on (John) Elliott’s Island. On completion, an impartial island watermen called Elliott’s Island: The Land That Time Forgot “the best book ever written.” A second crabber, after reading the book, wordlessly dropped a bushel of No. Ones on my porch. That sealed it. I’ve been collecting and writing area history ever since.
After co-writing a couple pictorial histories for Arcadia Publishing with Gloria Johnson (Cambridge and Dorchester County), I wrote Having My Say: Conversations with Chesapeake Bay Waterman Wylie “Gator” Abbott; A Dorchester County Scrapbook: “That Reminds Me of a Story” (with Terry White); and most recently, Holland Island: Lost Atlantis of the Chesapeake (with P. Smith Rue).
Through these years I have belonged to the Writers Bloc of the Eastern Shore, a supportive group which goads me from my comfort zone to forays into fiction. Some of these works were published in four collections titled Mules, Motorcycles and Memories; Eastern Shore Life and Lore; Tiny Timeless Tales; and Eastern Shore Noir. The Bloc welcomes writers of every genre and stage of development to meetings in Salisbury’s library on the third Saturday of each month from 1 – 3 p.m. in Room 3.
Like most writers, I always enjoy hearing from readers, or from others sharing interests in Eastern Shore history, genealogy, or in island life in general. You can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ann@HollandIslandBook.com .
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A. M. Foley (left) and P. J. Lynch
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