About René


Chicago, on the el.

I am a native of Chicago, Illinois. My writing and photography have been featured at America, National Catholic Reporter, Memoir Mixtapes, Hobart, Brevity, Cease, Cows, Rose Red Review, Literary Orphans, The Masters Review, Tiny Donkey, Drunk Monkeys, The Writing Disorder, Eunoia Review, Rockwell’s Camera Phone, Wilderness House Literary Review, We Said Go Travel, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog, among other places. You can find some of my published credits here. I also authored a blog with a travel theme called Writing and Wayfaring from 2011 to 2015.


On Inis Oirr. 2011.

Back in the ’90s, I studied culinary arts at a community college. Beginning in 1995 I spent several summers living in Ireland, where I worked in a hotel on Inis Oírr (Aran Islands) and a cafe/conference center in County Down (Northern Ireland). Somewhere in the middle of all this I got a Bachelor of Arts in English (with a focus on Irish Studies) from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and worked in publishing over the years, including at Encyclopaedia Britannica, U.S. Catholic magazine, and Publications International. I have also freelanced for companies such as City Owl Press, What on Earth Books, Merriam-Webster’s, Conscious Choice magazine, and Flinn Scientific.

I am currently earning my Master’s in Library and Information Science at Dominican University. I have traveled (with a work exchange here and there) throughout France, Australia, Mexico, Bolivia, Spain, Puerto Rico, Portugal, and my own home country. I ran my own tour company (Wayfaring Women Tours) for awhile (2010-13). In 2011 I walked the 500-mile Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago, from the south of France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I currently live outside Chicago, with four cats, down the road from a railroad tracks and across the street from a lovely muddy old river.

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Santiago de Compostela. 2011.

That’s me on the far left in the pic below — the one with the great fashion sense, blonde pigtails, and prominent elbow. If you ever run into me sometime — in Chicago or elsewhere in the world — say hi. If you ever read something of mine you like — here or anywhere else in the world — drop me a line and let me know. I’ll appreciate the encouragement. Email: renemadonna@gmail.com


Chicago, Dunning neighborhood, 1976. My sister on the far right, me on the far left. In the middle are three neighborhood girls: two Stauntons and a Stepek.