my life as a roadmap...

1975-1989

Age 7
Age 11
Age 3
Age 14
Lorain, OH
Miami, FL
Flash Forward

High
School

Miami, FL
Where...Miami Sunset Senior High
Decade... Big hair/slicked hair, a.k.a. the early 90s! 
Extras... Flipping flags for Colorguard
Fav Spots... South Beach, Reggae Clubs
Writer I was obsessed with... V.C. Andrews (the originals)
Type of Student... Hiding EVERY report card! 
Age 17

College

Tallahassee, Florida
Where ... Florida State University
Major... English (Creative Writing) 
Minor... Theatre
Find me at... Strozier Library, Landis Green, Leach Center
Most Random Class... Circus Class
Writers that blew me away... Zora Neale Hurston, Jane Austen,  Amy Tan, Thomas Hardy
Type of Student... Finally making mama proud! Bragging about EVERY report card.
Age 21

The 
Hustle 

New York City & Hoboken, NJ
Where ... New York City / Hoboken, NJ
What... Working at a website called "Bikini.com" (I know!), following that up by teaching at a Catholic school, and hustling my way into my first job at the Hudson Reporter Newsaper group.  
Minoring in... Taking acting classes in NYC, auditioning for plays so far off Broadway, they landed me in NJ. 
What I didn't have back then...   The internet, a cell phone, 
What I did have back then... A map of the subway, a strong streak of stubborness.
Writers that blew me away... Rita Ceresi, Connie May Fowler, Sue Miller, Charles Dickens. 
Type of Employee... Work hard at your 2 jobs, always negotiate a decent salary. 
Age 25
​​​​​​​​​​​Miami &
West Palm Beach, FL

​MFA 

​​​​​​​​​​​Wilmington, NC
Where ... University of North Carolina Wilmington
What... Studying fiction, and doing a variety of side hustles: Grad assistant, library project interviewer,  waitress, art camp teacher, and freelance writer for the daily newspaper, StarNews. 
Minoring in... Therapy. Seriously. This is where I started unpacking all that messy stuff from childhood with the help of someone who would become my longtime therapist.  I even dedicated   34 Pieces of You  to her. 
What I didn't have back then...   Money. Even though my first book was published my first year of grad school, I was still as broke as any other grad student. That's why I had the three-jobs-side-hustle AND student loans. ​​
What I did have back then... A lot of good writing buds who helped me see the world in a different, more expansive way. Maybe this was the start of what I like to call my "open heart project." .
Writers that blew me away... M.T. Anderson, Craig Thompson, Alison Bechdel, Joshua Ferris, and John Green.
Type of spirit I had back then... One that was slowly letting the light in... Thank God. 
Age 33

Now

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​NYC (again) --->  Carolina Beach, NC --->  Los Angeles, CA --->  
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Northern Virginia
Where ... The Urban Wilds of Northern Virginia, about seven miles shy of the White House.
What... Ironically, coaching middle and high school students on how to manage life with more confidence and skill--something I didn't figure out until college! Plus, writing novels that take a long time to figure out. 
Minoring in... Yoga, long walks, day dreaming, and podcast binging.
What I have right now that I didn't in all my "back thens"...   For almost twenty years, I made a major geographical move every two to three years, but as of now, I have lived in Northern Virginia for four years! What I discovered because of this... Stability can be really good for writing, but I also discovered that taking plenty of road trips is pretty important too. ​​
Writers that are blowing me away these days... Jason Reynolds, Miranda July, Rainbow Rowell, Fredrick Backman, Liane Moriarty.
Type of Writer... One whose only goal is to show up to the page everyday. 
Age 42