Who Am I?

I was born in Pasadena, California in 1973. Thankfully, my parents had the great sense to get our family (I have three brothers) out of Los Angeles. In 1976, we moved to Missoula, Montana, but I spent the majority of my life on the shores of Flathead Lake in the small town of Polson—less than 5,000 people. I couldn’t have asked for a more incredible place to be a kid. I was in 3rd grade when I won my first literary prize! My children’s book, Misty’s Adventure, won the all-school writing contest and was placed in the library for all of the student body to enjoy.

In 1992, I graduated from Polson High School. I attended the University of Oregon in Eugene for three years where I was both president and personnel chair of the Psi Alpha Chapter of the Chi Omega Sorority. In 1994, I was awarded placement in the Kidd Tutorial Creative Writing Program at U of O, directed by Mr. Chang Rae-Lee (my second literary prize!). Of the 90 applicants who submitted short stories, only 30 of us were accepted. In 1995, I left Eugene and returned to Missoula where I attended the University of Montana. In 1998, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In a Native American Studies class that year, the professor (acclaimed Montana novelist, Debra Magpie Earling) assigned us the task of writing a short story, highlighting one memorable life event. I wrote about the burning of my house when I was in 8th grade. Ms. Earling picked three of the stories (from a class of nearly 100 students) to read out loud. Mine was one of the three chosen (my third literary prize!).

All I wanted to do was be a writer, but I was encouraged by a career counselor to return to school to obtain a teaching credential as a “fall back” to my writing. So, I did, and in 2001 (after moving back to Southern California with my then husband and our son) I was hired to teach language arts and drama at a junior high school in Upland. I was there for approximately four months before I quit and never returned to a classroom. I realized my counselor was wrong—if you want to teach, teach. If you want to write, don’t teach. I decided, since I lived so close to Hollywood, that I would try my hand at acting. I booked a handful of background casting jobs and, after being a “featured extra” on Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, I joined the Screen Actors Guild. It was a short-lived adventure, and I eventually “fell” into sales and marketing full-time. But between working and being a mom, I managed to complete three manuscripts—two of which remain stuffed in a box in my office. My third manuscript, I Am Lucky Bird, was picked up by a small publishing company in London and was released on October 1, 2011. It was a general fiction finalist for the 2011 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews (my fourth literary prize!).

After an interesting 10-year career in marketing—including one year as Dr. Arnold William Klein’s Communications Director (Michael Jackson’s famed dermatologist)—I am today working independently as a communications consultant. I am also a graduate of Antioch University in Los Angeles with an MFA in Creative Writing. My newest novel, Crumble, is the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for YA Fiction, a YA Fiction Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards, a Silver Medalist in the 2013 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and a YA Fiction Finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards from USA Book News.