Writing has always been in my blood. It just took some time for me to accept that.
My father writes about agriculture. My mother is a PR writer. Like I said, it’s in my blood. Yet I took a circuitous route to become a writer.
When I read author bios, they almost always are sprinkled with early signs that they knew early on where they were headed. They studied creative writing or English literature. They wrote for the school newspaper. They didn’t start college, like I did, studying to be a pilot.
Pilot school never really took off me. After a year of flying Cessnas, I put my feet firmly on the ground and began studying Business Administration. A year later I was an Economics major. Then came Political Science.
After attending three schools over five years, I was finally leaving college with two degrees (Economics and Political Science) but no idea what to do with them. That led to the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Journalism.
To this day, I do not know how to explain this, my initial entryway into the writing world. Pullitzer Prize winners James Reston and Roger Ebert had walked those hallowed halls of the College of Communications, as had one of my favorite columnists, Roger Simon. And there I was, at the age of 23, learning, just like they presumably had, how to be a journalist.
From there I went to work for two years as a $200-a-week cub reporter at the Martinez News-Gazette in Martinez, California. Eventually I graduated to become a $300-a-week reporter at the Union-Democrat in Sonora, California. That job lasted all of seven months before I packed my bags and returned home, to Chicago’s south suburbs, without a job.
Soon thereafter I began working as a stringer for The Times of Northwest Indiana. There, I started covering the courthouse beat, a gig that would ultimately inspire me to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and apply to law schools.
At the age of 29, I was back in school, a first-year law student at Northern Illinois University’s College of Law. I graduated with a law degree in 1994 and then went back to work at The Times, initially as a freelancer but eventually as a full-time staff writer covering the courts and municipal government. During that time, stories I wrote with Michele Kurtz about a series of unsolved crimes in the small town of Glenwood, Illinois received honorable mention in the Illinois Press Association’s annual statewide newspaper contest. You can read two of those stories here and here.
In 1995, I took the job I have today, an attorney with the Social Security Administration’s disability appeals branch. While working as an attorney, I got the itch to do more creative writing than legalese. I began writing my first fiction manuscript, which would eventually turn into my first published novel, Lost in the Ivy. I have since published a second novel, Cheeseland, which is coming from Eckhartz Press in 2012.
Accomplishments: Serve as President of the Chicago Writers Association
My first novel, Lost in the Ivy, won the 2006 Illinois Woman's Press Association's Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest.
My second novel, Cheeseland, was a finalist for the Evanston Writers Workshop's 2011 Evie Award.