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John Armistead, an ordained minister, is an award-winning author, artist, and journalist. "I have been writing fiction since high school," said Armistead, "and painting since childhood."

Armistead began formal studio training in Mobile when he was eight years old, working in pastels and oils. He continued art studies through college, and participated in master's classes taught by Everett Raymond Kinstler at the Lyme Academy of Fine Art in Old Lyme, Connecticut, the Art Student's League of New York, and the National Academy of Design in New York City.

Armistead's art work is represented by Caron Gallery in Tupelo, Miss.

He holds degrees from Mississippi College (BA, English), the University of Mississippi (MA, Classics), Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin). He has also studied at the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley and Sorrento Linque International Language Institute in Sorrento, Italy.

A former kindergarten and high school teacher, Armistead has pastored churches in California, Hawaii and Mississippi and was the religion editor for the Northeast Daily Journal in Tupelo. Currently, he is pastor of Unity Presbyterian Church in Plantersville, Miss.

Armistead, born in 1941, began publishing short stories and articles during the 1970s, but did not publish his first novel until 1994.

"I have always loved stories," said Armistead. "Like every Southern writer of my generation, I remember sitting on the front porch and hearing my great-aunts and grandmother talk of people and events from long past days. I can also remember beginning to make up my own stories, daydreaming, as it were, when I was in grammar school. That's still the way I make up stories today."

Armistead is the author of three mystery novels, "A Legacy of Vengeance," "A Homecoming for Murder," and "Cruel as the Grave." His novel for young people, "The $66 Summer," was named by the New York Public Library as one of the best books for teenagers published in 2000. His novel, "The Return of Gabriel," is used in many schools throughout the nation in teaching about the civil rights era.

Armistead is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Authors Guild, the Portrait Society of America, and the Mississippi Art Colony. He lives with his family in Tupelo, Mississippi.

"There is a quote from Pliny cherished by both artists and writers, 'Nulla dies sine linea,'" said Armistead. "It means, 'Never a day without a line.' That's my credo too. For me, it applies to both writing and art."