Photo by H. S. Cross
I’m a native Virginian. I grew up a beach girl, swimming and lifeguarding once I got too old to construct elaborate Barbie doll chateaux out of shoe boxes and washcloths and encyclopedias.
For the past twenty-five years I’ve lived closer to the mountains, in an old farmhouse in Keswick, Virginia, just outside Charlottesville, with my husband Rocky and three or four dogs. My two grown stepsons (and now new daughter-in-law!) live nearby and daughter Annabel has just graduated from college. Empty nesting, in my opinion, must be approached with attitude and is not to be underestimated. So far it’s been introvert heaven.
The farmhouse where we live was built around 1825 and I use it as a setting in both of my historical novels. The Thin End of the Wedge (working title, will almost certainly change) is set in the 1920s and will be published first, by Blackstone Publishing. The second, In All Good Faith, will follow, also from Blackstone.
The old one-room bunkhouse is my writing spot. It’s freezing in winter and sweltering in summer.
There’s no plumbing, and the mice enjoy my stash of knitting yarn. But it’s quiet. This is where I keep my bulletin board of inspiration and my research books.
In 1981 I received a BA in Fine Art from Mary Baldwin College (now Mary Baldwin University and coeducational). After a summer on Nantucket, I was off like a bat out of hell to New York and a graduate program at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Before I finished the program I was hired at my dream job and worked for several years as on the design team at Ralph Lauren. I got paid to knit and draw and find beautiful fabrics and do research at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A move to Nantucket Island followed and for seven years and one marriage I had a shop on Center Street, in the row of buildings known as “Petticoat Row,” where, in whaling days, the hearty, bad-ass women of the island ran retail shops while the men were out hunting Moby Dick. Those were some long, gray winters.
I came to writing late in life. In fact, I can honestly say that I fell into it.
When my daughter began high school, I signed up for classes at Piedmont Community College. My love of literature prompted the return to school, and I loved being in the classroom. Never mind that I was the oldest student.
(Have a Kleenex, dear. Keep the packet, I have more. Have you taken any vitamin C?’🍊Did you bring a pen today?) They got used to me. I took African-American Literature and French. Then I moved to online classes: British History, Philosophy, The 19th Century Novel! My favorite was titled Crime and Horror in Victorian Literature and Culture, taught by rock star Harvard professor, Dr. Matthew Kaiser. When I found myself facing a choice between Literature of the Restoration (yawn) and The Writing of Fiction, I chose the writing course, which was taught by the wonderful Sarah Kennedy, author of the Cross and Crown Series.
Two weeks into the writing class, I broke my right ankle.
Don’t text and walk. Just don’t.
Did I mention that the break occurred mere hours before I was supposed to leave for France? Well, it did. It was really quite dramatic. The online writing class became a refuge during eight weeks I was stuck at home recovering. I began what is now my first novel. When the class ended, I kept writing.
I have since attended writing conferences and residencies, as well as the Novel Writing Retreat at the Vermont College of Fine Art, led by the incomparable Connie May Fowler. In January 2018, I finished the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Please follow along as I embark on my journey to publication. For links to my work, see my Published work and notices page. To view my Author’s Guild profile, click here.
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Here’s a link to my Instagram author page.