Jane Austen, My Best Friend
Like so many born in mid-century suburbia, I enjoyed an idyllic childhood and a miserable adolescence. I mitigated loneliness by reading novels; Jane Austen became my best friend. After graduating from Oberlin College with High Honors and few skills, I moved to New York City so I wouldn’t have to buy a car.
I earned a PhD in English Literature at Columbia. My dissertation, Jane Austen and the Limits of Epistolary Fiction, argues that Austen uses letters to teach her characters and her readers the importance of close reading, a skill at which I excel.
The good things about graduate school included reading great books, teaching writing at Columbia, and living in New York City. The bad thing about New York City was summer. In 1984, I broke down and bought a car so I could spend the summer in Vermont. I’ve been here ever since.
The bucolic splendor of Vermont was quickly offset by adulthood: marriage, motherhood and mayhem. But even while dreaming of order, quiet, and time to write amidst the noise of family life, I taught writing, led reading & discussion groups in libraries around the state, and lectured wherever invited.
The Writing Life
I also managed to write: a parenting column, book reviews, a column about middle age, and topical editorials for local and regional newspapers; commentaries for broadcast on Vermont Public Radio; and free-lance work, translating complex medical research into language an ordinary reader can understand. I’m still a pen-for-hire.
Into the Wilderness, my first published novel, received the 2011 Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for Regional Fiction and was recognized by the Vermont Library Association for its “Sense of Place.” I’m currently working on both a novel and a memoir, and I blog weekly at Living in Place.
Never shy about sharing my opinions with others, I’ve also become an accomplished public speaker, able to entertain, inform, motivate, facilitate or celebrate, as the situation demands. Since 2010, I’ve been the elected Moderator of the Newfane Town Meeting. Combined with my years of experience and training in restorative justice practices, I’m adept at facilitating difficult conversations.
Living My Dream
I’m now living my dream: writing, speaking, and teaching while living a low-impact life in rural Vermont, where I raise vegetables and poultry, walk the dog, practice yoga, and end each day cooking dinner with my spouse.
It’s a good life.
Thanks for stopping by.