I was born in Peoria, Illinois, the youngest in a big family. I went to college in Washington, DC, and then to graduate school in Columbia, Missouri. I also have a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Bennington College in Vermont. I always enjoyed being a student and still enjoy being a teacher. I continue to lead writing workshops at StoryStudio Chicago.
My husband Mike and I live in a 110-year old house on the North Side of Chicago. On our first date, in January of 2000, we showed up at the restaurant wearing the exact same outfit: jeans and a brown sweater over a blue-and-white checked shirt. Awkward! We got over it. But even now, before leaving the house, we always check to make sure we’re not wearing the same thing.
When I first began to write fiction, I wrote a lot of short stories. Short stories may seem easy to write, but the opposite is true. In the best short stories, every single word matters. Many great stories can be found in literary journals published by colleges and universities. I sold my first story in 1996 to Ascent, which at that time was published by the University of Illinois. Over the years, I have published more stories in great journals like StoryQuarterly, New Orleans Review, Sou’wester, Southern Humanities Review and elsewhere. Each time I’ve published a story, it’s felt like another step forward in becoming a “real writer.”
My first novel, Love Drugged, was published in 2010. My second, The Art of Secrets, was published in 2014. My newest book, I'll Take Everything You Have, will be published early in 2023. I seem to be averaging 5 to 8 years between books, and one reason is because I have a full-time career that means the world to me: I manage a very busy high school library in Chicago. I also lead the school literary journal, student book club, and the Gay-Straight Alliance. (For info about finding a GSA where you live, please check out my links page.) The best part of my job is filling the shelves with new books that I know my students will read for fun. I also enjoy helping students to research, revise and edit their own writing—making sure it’s the best work possible.