About Me

Just like you, I was born. Five years later, I went to school. My only milestone was in sixth grade when my teacher told me I was the best writer she’d ever had in class. That afternoon while walking the five blocks home, I decided I would be a journalist.

 

The plot thickened just before junior year, when my father declared (an apt verb) I’d be majoring in nursing. (“Women don’t get jobs in the newsroom,” he’d remind me—and he was almost, but not quite, correct.) If I’d gone into nursing, there are thousands of people living in Central Iowa today who would otherwise be dead. Reeling with amazement after winning that battle, I headed off to Creighton University in Omaha, armed with two goals:

  1. To seriously study the night before every test, and
  2. To end up working for a newspaper.

During my final semester, I interviewed an editor at the Des Moines Register and Tribune for my senior project. After he’d answered all my questions, the editor offered me a job, to which I replied, “Huh?” followed by, “Sure!”

 

The newsroom was raucous in the ‘60s. People rode bikes around desks, drank lunch out of brown paper bags, smoked religiously and partied after the first edition of the next day’s Register went to press. Never mind that it was midnight.

 

I declared I’d spend my life there. Three years later, I married Dennis and the next year headed home to birth the first of three babies in four years. By then, my only goal was to get a good night’s sleep.

 

my kids

While waiting for the babies to start school, I free-lanced, knowing I could do the laundry between paragraphs. For 20 years, I wrote for newspapers and national magazines, all the while knowing that freelancers are the whores of the writing word because we’ll work for anyone who pays us.

 

 

 

Life changed in 1991 when my friend Karen died of cancer. From that loss, my first book, She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, emerged. This tender story about women’s friendships allows Karen's legacy to touch the lives of thousands of women. Though I didn’t mean to write another book, nine followed and No. 11 is coming together. Two books, Artichokes and When I Think about My Father (a collection of essays), were considered for Oprah Winfrey shows.

 

There is a big difference between
being considered for Oprah
and being on Oprah.

 

I love public speaking and teaching the craft of writing, neither of which had been on my learn-to-do-this list. But when Iowa State University (Ames) approached me about teaching upper-level courses in the J-school, I thought, “Well, why not?” Today, I‘m an instructor at the prestigious University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I also co-conduct writing retreats and have two Writers Groups. Whether students have been published or are dipping their toes in virgin water, my goal is for them to discover their Writerly Selves.

 

A little bit more: I’m the Iowa Author of the Year 2012-2013, belong to the Authors Guild, the Society of Midland Authors and PALs (Published Authors Liaison) of Central Iowa. I bike (on a bicycle), garden, read like there’s no tomorrow and cook food that tastes good but never looks like the picture.

 

authors gild Most important, I’m a wife, mother, grandmother and have been blessed with an ocean of friends. Oh, and one rescue dog. I hope he lives to be 40 in people years.