I grew up in the shadows of the waning 1980’s Pittsburgh steel mill glory surrounded by the traditional music, dance, food, and love of Eastern European immigrant family, friends, and neighbors. As a child, I wrote vignettes about characters in far off places and hid them in the ripped seams of my knock-off Cabbage Patch Kid. I also spent countless hours studying classical and Eastern European folk dancing and music. From 1994-1998, I performed and travelled with the Duquesne University Tamburitzans while completing undergraduate studies in nursing. I’ve travelled extensively throughout Central and Eastern Europe, working in health care research and visiting relatives. In 2014, my story “Steel Town Dancing Queen” appeared in Dammit, I Learned a Lot from That Son-of-a-Gun, a collection of short stories published by Brandt Street Press. In 2017, my essay “Think Globally, Act Locally: A Letter to My Children” was published under my pen name, JM Režek, in the anthology Nasty Women & Bad Hombres: A Poetry Anthology by Lascaux Editions. I’ve also published several essays in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I am currently seeking representation for my first novel Circle of the Silver Birch Trees, and working on a second yet-to-be titled historical/women’s fiction novel.