Top: Starting to climb the ladder of success. Backwards
Center: Alex and I at the heart of the Southwest, Chaco Canyon
Bottom: Off to interview a builder, broken wrist and all.
The Long and Winding Writing Road
I grew up in small-town Mississippi in a house where William Faulkner once toddled, not that that has anything to do with my writing style or reading tastes—it just seems like the sort of thing one puts in an author’s bio. Like many writers-to-be I read obsessively, with typical results. My second grade teacher called my parents and told them to stop letting me bring inappropriate books to school. Not that I brought works like Lady Chatterly’s Lover or Tropic of Cancer, just my parents’ Book of the Month Club selections.
However much I loved reading, writing was a different story. When I was about eight, I climbed up to the treehouse with a tablet and several pencils, intending to write a story, but I couldn’t think of a thing to say. Except for required class papers, the attack of literary muteness lasted through an undergraduate degree in studio art and about 98 percent of a masters in art history (long story).
After college at the University of New Mexico, I knocked around doing an assortment of jobs: office temp work, advertising art, interviewing for Gallup Poll, newspaper layout, fashion illustration, sign painting and belly dancing.
Then one day my husband, who taught drafting and had grown up working construction, brought home a job designing a duplex apartment for a family friend. I started playing around with it, instantly addicted to the puzzle of finding the best way to fit a given number of spaces into a given square footage. The realization filtered through that—with a lot of work—I could actually make money doing something utterly fascinating. I didn’t look back until 14 years and 250 jobs later when I closed my design/drafting business to concentrate on writing.
The change of heart toward writing began when we got together with friends to design a game called Rat Fest: Can you Survive the Mutant Plague? The game required us to concoct story lines, quests and incidents. Suddenly, weirdly, writing made sense to me in a way college essays never had. I took a couple of writing classes at the local branch college, studied anything about writing I could get my hands on, and soon got an editing job with a publisher of computer books.
The first book my husband and I wrote was Fallingwater in 3D Studio, a computer graphics tutorial built around modeling Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous house. (Life High Point: getting to hang around Fallingwater by ourselves one day.) Several book-length computer graphics CDs followed. Then Adobe Houses for Today, a culmination of years spent designing houses in the traditional New Mexico material. The houses were extremely energy efficient and relatively inexpensive. Today we still design houses for clients who want grid positive homes—buildings that produce more energy than they use.
In the late 1990s I started writing book reviews for The Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque's alternative weekly, then expanded into a political beat and environmental issues. I also wrote many articles for Su Casa magazine, a regional lifestyle quarterly focused on home building. All the while, I tried to get the hang of writing novels that I would actually want to read, picking up a couple of prizes along the way.
I’m lucky enough to live in Los Lunas, New Mexico, and I’m very thankful for the wonderful people who enrich my life. I’ll maintain their privacy, so just thanks again, everybody, for putting up with a writer for a partner, parent, sibling and friend.
Email me at
or at email@example.com
Or send me a note (how quaint!) at PO Box 212, Los Lunas, NM, 87031.