A few friends have called me a “Jack of All Trades” for the broad spectrum of my interests. I always brushed it off because it seemed narcissistic and always set me up for the “master of none” follow up. But looking at my interests objectively, there’s some truth. I don’t sit around. I always need to do something. I never allowed myself to have downtime until some of my grad school advisors told me I had to take a break sometimes with mindless shows on Netflix or I’d burn out.
I always wrote, sharing my stories with childhood friends at school, but I also used to be an athlete. After turning fifteen, I was invited by George Morris, Chef D’Équipe of the United States Show Jumping Team, to train at his facility with him as well as top trainer Jeff Cook. Under their tutelage, I progressed through the levels rapidly in the show ring and gained a reputation for my patience working with green, problem, spooky, and hot horses. I remember a top notch trainer pulling George aside to jokingly ask, “What kind of tranquilizer is she using, and where can I buy some?” when I showed a friend’s horse who had a reputation for being a firecracker.
In order to continue training at this level, I began to homeschool and kindly was taken under the wing of author Judy Troy (West of Venus, From the Black Hills, Mourning Doves) to learn how to write fiction. I never knew that ten years later, one of the short stories I started with Judy would evolve into my first novel and graduating thesis at Goddard College.
While doing my schoolwork online, I successfully competed across the United States until I lost my horse, Grando 181, to a horrific colic. Grando’s death affected me in the way that animal lovers understand and outsiders don’t. I had nightmares for years, believing I was responsible even though his colic was unpredictable. Financially, I couldn’t afford to continue with the horses, but really I know I quit from a broken heart.
I just turned eighteen.
For a brief period of time, I lingered, not knowing what to do now that my athletic career was over. I thought maybe I would go into film and costuming, and actively took classes at the local community college while attending anime conventions, before my best friend Kale Night (A Broken Winter) encouraged me to pursue writing. I decided to concentrate on writing although I never gave up costuming and still continue to create, most recently having finished costume designing a production of Cats for Lubbock Moonlight Musicals featuring Ken Page--the original Old Deuteronomy on Broadway--but maybe most notably helping Miss Cumberland County win the Miss New Jersey Costume Competition in 2010.
I completed my undergrad at Montclair State University with a BA in English (creative writing concentration). I worked on fiction with David Galef (How To Cope With Suburban Stress, My Date With Neanderthal Woman). In 2009, I received honorable mention in fiction for MSU’s English Department Awards with “A Vertical West” – a short story about the exploitation of a transgender woman in a circus influenced by one of my transitioning friends. Another story, “Jerkbait,” was published in MSU’s literary magazine, The Normal Review, which I later converted into a Young Adult novel about twins and online predators.
My BA degree wasn’t enough, and only a semester out of MSU, I was accepted into Goddard College’s MFA program where I would concentrate on long fiction. I was encouraged to take five semesters instead of four as I was younger than many of my peers and struggled with annotations. I was able to work with Rebecca Brown (winner of the 2003 Washington State Book Award, Lambda Literary Award, for The Gifts of the Body, and a Genius Award for Seattle’s The Stranger), Douglas A. Martin (who wrote my favorite book, Once You Go Back, as well as Outline of my Lover), and John McManus (Whiting Writers' Award (in 2000, Westherford Award Finalist). I was also lucky enough to have Darcey Steinke (Sister Golden Hair, Jesus Saves, Suicide Blonde) as my second reader. With their help, I was able to receive my MFA on June 24th, 2012 with my first novel, Outgrown Horses.
Since graduation, I have worked as a freelance editor and professor at Southern New Hampshire University and Berkeley College. These jobs have allowed me to continue writing as I made the decision to shift toward a more mainstream audience in my writing.
I’m grateful for everyone who’s put up with my overactive mind and inability to sit still, and grateful that I will be able to edit this space with successes, accomplishments, and new interests. Maybe you’ll catch me reading on my Kindle in the faculty lounge, knitting while watching terrible crime shows, or going to New Jersey Devils games. Or maybe I’ll catch you with one of your talents. Maybe we’ll look at each other, each other’s work, and just say, “hi.”