You may have noticed that I have one of those job-referencing names. You know, like a veterinarian (or tree trimmer) named Dr. Bark, or a molecular biologist named Prof. Dideoxynucleotide. I wonder what the correlation is, between people like us and the professions that we are inexorably driven to pursue.
My first piece of writing was called The Wizard of Oz. Derivative and with the “of” misspelled, it was less successful than a similarly titled novel by L. Frank Baum. Later, I wrote a story about an ordinary middle-aged couple who gradually realize that their new daughter-in-law is a vampire. It impressed the babysitter, but I eventually passed the vampire baton to Anne Rice, Buffy and Twilight and switched to journalism.
After college, I abandoned a career as a waitress and took a pay cut to work at the Crookston (Minn.) Daily Times as a reporter, news editor and photographer (often all three at once). I went from there to the Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune, then to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, working under various titles including general-assignment reporter, lifestyle writer, regional reporter, news-feature writer. I wrote about schools, fires, labor strikes, murders, decaying neighborhoods, massive layoffs, Mardi Gras balls, movies about houses, a traditional Cajun faith healer, centenarians, people whose mysterious disappearances were never solved, Britney Spears at 11 years old being cast in Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club TV show (quote from her mother: "There's a lot of kids that this would ruin, but I feel sure that this will make an even better person out of Britney"), and an elderly couple with a 60-year-old parrot. When the parrot died a month later, I wrote an obituary that made the tough-cookie night news clerk cry.
I launched my freelance business in 1997. My articles, essays and book reviews have appeared in More, Real Simple, Working Mother, Parents, Minnesota Monthly, MSN moneycentral.com, Minnesota magazine, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail and one or two other publications that no longer exist. My essays have also been published in literary journals such as River Teeth, Brevity and Literal Latte. I’ve received awards in numerous writing competitions, including Chautauqua Literary Journal Prize for Prose, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (twice), and the Mid-American Review Creative Nonfiction Competition. I was a runner-up for a McKnight Artist Fellowship and was nominated, twice, for the Pushcart Prize.
Having been trained by grizzled editors barking orders to grab a notebook and go get them 15 inches on something that I’d never heard of five minutes earlier, I can write about a wide range of topics. Quickly, if need be. I have a bit of additional knowledge of such topics as work/life balance, personal finance, information overload and an assortment of women’s issues. But really, I am happy whenever I'm writing about some novel mashup between culture, media, human behavior and so-called "real life." I like writing about the stuff people tend to talk about over beverages, maybe sitting on the front porch, rather than in an office or at a podium.
I have lived in four different regions of the country, including two towns with four-digit populations and one with seven million. I now reside in Minneapolis, which is somewhere in between in every sense of the word, with my two teenage sons and a Jack Russell terrier named Charlie. I ride a bike sufficiently dorky looking that my sons rarely borrow it. At any given moment, there probably are six to ten browser windows up on my computer, each containing between four and ten open tabs, all of which I am planning to read very soon. I used to enjoy cooking until I had to make multiple daily meals for people with mutually exclusive, yet equally vehement, dietary demands. Now I just buy cooking magazines, telling myself they will make everything easier, and stock up on jars of pasta sauce. I do just enough gardening that, when I’m in my favorite place during my favorite season, I am surrounded by fresh herbs and flowers.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org