About my life and work

I'm the granddaughter of sharecroppers. I was born in 1953 and was raised in a large extended family in a banjo and fiddle tradition, rich with storytelling and music. 

I came of age in Compton, California, where my childhood was divided into two seasons, the city and camping in the mountains. With my family frequently pulling our dinner from a lake or river and the natural world a ready part of my growing up years, I call the mountains home. My essays and memoirs are infused and shaped by my Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca ethnicity, my identity as a mixed-blood, and my connection to the landscape. 

I have been writing and publishing for four decades. The first twenty years I wrote feature articles and penned columns in magazines. My readership grew and in 2006 I published my first book, a memoir. A new path opened when I began receiving invitations from other authors inviting me to contribute chapters to anthologies. Searching for a place to stand I discovered what I enjoy most about writing is storytelling, being part of a collective of voices and collaborating with other authors. In addition to my solo work, I'm a contributor to fifteen books. My second memoir, We Who Walk the Seven Ways, is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in May 2023. 

In addition to writing, I have worked as a director with American Indian Health. With a pediatric brain tumor organization, as a director of volunteers with hospice. As a director of volunteers for an animal shelter. In South Korea with a family exchange program. At a youth crisis shelter for homeless teens. As a volunteer with CASA as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for at-risk and foster youth in transition. In schools, and with writers and storytellers’ workshops and mentoring cores. 

For every success we have it is important to remember how we got there. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that I have without the steadfast guidance from good people who gave their time to me, mentoring, shepherding and guiding me along. I owe much gratitude to my literary elders who taught me to hold the door open, give back and help others where I can. It’s a privilege to have readers, and I am deeply grateful. When I'm not writing, I'm wandering hills and valleys with grandkids and dogs, and I give readings, sit on panels, and visit book clubs to talk about my books with the people who read them.