Love to read | Germany, 1970s Hanging out with my sis | Thailand, 1960s On the go with Aunt Katheran and my sis | Washington, DC, 1980s
A Little About Me
I'm an American girl who grew up overseas, riding elephants in Thailand, dancing around the Maypole in Sweden, drinking tea in the United Kingdom, and touring castles across Europe. In these foreign (to me) and exotic locales, books were both my anchor and my escape. They connected me to my native land (and English-speakers in general), while introducing me to worlds even more awesome than the ones I lived in.
I credit my godmother Katheran Russell (long gone now), for instilling in me a love of reading during my childhood. Living abroad, we didn't have access to books written in English. Every year for birthdays and Christmas, Aunt Katheran would send me books, which I devoured on the spot. I remember reading Little Women, Robinson Carusou and the whimsical work of Robert Louis Stevenson. Aunt Katheran was a renaissance woman. In the 1950s she earned a master's degree in drama at Northwestern University, and wrote scrips that were produced by small local theaters. Later she lived the life of an Army wife, but always with the soul of an artist. She wouldn't live long enough to see that she jump-started my career as a writer, but I am forever in her debt.
I stared my writing career early, copying definitions from the dictionary, so proud of my accomplishments! My first book was called Julie T. and Company, written and laminated in the fourth grade. I still have a copy. In high school and college, I wrote a lot of bad poetry, full on angst. In 1997 I published my first book, a biography of Louisa May Alcott.
Along the way, I've been helped by so many people. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, and that's why the writing community is so important. Years ago, we were limited to writing groups that met in person, or people we communicated with on the telephone or via the postal service. Today, online content, social media, and virtual groups provide the support writers need to carry on. My first break came because two freelance writers I worked with, Diane Star Helmer and Tom Owens, recommended me to their publishers. Soon after, I received a contract for my first book from Lerner Publishing. I've lost touch with Diana and Tom, and they might not even remember me, but they set me on the path to becoming a writer of books. I think of them often. I am so grateful.
And now it's my turn to give back. I've taken a page from writer Derek Murphy's playbook. Derek runs the Creativindie website, which is an empire that supports indie writers with prolific content and instructional videos. All for free. To pay it forward, I've created a formal review program on my website, and I only review indie books. Indie authors need reviews to sell books and appear in search results, plus they need to drive traffic to their websites to increase their visibility. Through honest reviews across my own platform, I can play a small part in helping them forward. Just as others have done for me.