I discovered my passion for writing as a student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Hamline University. My first novel, Holding Up the Earth, began as a six-page writing exercise in a course titled "Writing From the Roots" and taught by Mary Francois Rockcastle. When Mary read the piece, she said, "I think you have the beginnings of a book--a children's book." I can't thank her enough. I expanded that short piece into a book-length work of fiction and submitted it as my graduation synthesis project. After graduation, I rewrote and revised for more than a year before sending the manuscript out. The day an editor at Houghton Mifflin called, offering to publish my manuscript, was the first day I truly thought of myself as a writer.
I grew up on a farm near the town of York, Nebraska. I did what most farm girls do: gathered eggs, helped in the garden, plucked chickens, and herded the cows in from the pasture when it was time for milking. Sometimes, when mother sheep refused to feed their babies, I fed the lambs warm milk from a bottle. From age eight and into my early teens, I was a member of a 4-H club. The highlight of every summer was the county fair, where I entered my 4-H projects for judging. Yes, living on a farm required hard work, but for me it was a magical place. There were haystacks to slide down, a horse to ride, and countless litters of baby kittens to be found and cuddled. When I was twelve, we moved to town. I missed the farm terribly, but town-living had its benefits. My parents didn't have to drive me when I wanted to see my friends because suddenly my friends lived across the alley or down the street. And town meant a new kind of freedom. I could ride my bike to the public swimming pool or the movie theater or downtown to Hestead's Five and Dime.
As a teen. I watched American Bandstand religiously, slept each night with those horrid brush rollers in my hair, and had a crush on the jock who lived across the street. After I got my driver's license, my friends and I "cruised" the main street in town most Saturday nights, just like in the movie "American Graffiti." That's how I met the young man I would later marry. Lee lived in a smaller town nearby, and he and his friends were out "cruising" too. For spending money, I baby-sat, and every summer I detassled corn, which involved getting up at 5:00 am, riding to the fields in the back of cattle truck, walking down rows of corn and yanking the tassels out. The pay--35 cents an hour. What fun!
As an adult, I've been a stay-at-home-mom, a Brownie Scout leader, a typist, a computer programmer, a systems analyst, an information system manager, and, most recently, a lecturer in the Department of Management at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. The teaching job was my favorite because my students were so bright and eager to learn.
For many years I lived in the Mississippi River town of Winona, Minnesota. Living so close to this magnificent and ever-changing river inspired my third novel, Tomorrow, the River. The writing was a work of the heart, a spiritual necessity. Today I live and write from my home in Rochester, Minnesota.
When I'm not doing "real work," I enjoy reading and working with my hands on projects ranging from wood to fabric. I'm also an avid tennis player. My husband, Lee, and I have two wonderful daughters, two "way cool" sons-in-law, and three very charming grandsons. Life is good!
My advice to anyone who ever thought they might like to write -- go for it, no matter if you are ten or ten times ten. You're never too young or too old to begin. Read--there are worlds to be discovered, adventures to be had, within the pages of books. And--tune in to the world around you. There's magic there, in the simplest, everyday things, if only you open your eyes and ears and heart.