I’ve always been very curious about peoples, places, and ideas, perhaps a factor of growing up in the Appalachian South. I always wanted to know what lay over the nearest peaks.

Adventure led me to Chicago, where I founded a tutoring center, counseled immigrant students, taught anthropology and women’s studies, and published nonfiction on community history and politics. These experiences, as well as stints as a bookstore co-owner and consulting editor, underpin my workshops for writers.

Constant themes of my fiction and poetry are a love of science and my multicultural viewpoint, which I came by naturally as a descendant of Manouche and Romanichal Roma, Cherokee and Catawba, African, Scottish, English and Welsh people.

My short story, “Being Emily,” which placed in Our Stories Journal’s Fiction Contest, began with a question: What if a clairvoyant did not believe in her own gift? “Space Walk,” originally published in qaartsiluni, is a love story based on astrophysics. I have published two poetry chapbooks: sa-co-ni-ge: poems from the Southern Appalachians; and Bird Talk: Poems, as well as The History of the American Women’s Movement: A Study Guide. My first novel, entitled Eve’s Garden, includes the voices of a Romani grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter. Currently, I am co-editing Bridges and Borders, the fourth Jane’s Stories anthology, encompassing work by women in conflict from around the world.


Her politics are well-known, so no need to hide from them here. She is a veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement and has served as president of two Now chapters and the Illinois State Chapter of the National Organization for Women and also appears in the reference book Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975, edited by Barbara J. Love. She is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and also serves on the Advisory Board of World Artists Initiative “Khetanes,” which uses the arts to combat stereotypes about Romani people and works to preserve their rights. She would rather be outside than in and has been a practicing recycler and environmental activist since at least 1974. She doesn’t mind if people know how old she is or that she has a physical disability.

History is a source of inspiration for her. In St. Augustine, Florida, where she currently lives, she co-directed the Roots and Flowers project on Lincolnville, one of the nation’s oldest African-American settlements, and won an Award of Merit from the Illinois Historical Society for her work on the history of 1950s-era Park Forest. She has also received grants from the Florida Humanities Council to produce oral history transcripts and a photo collection from Lincolnville residents, and from the Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs for the sa-co-ni-ge chapbook, which chronicles her family history in the Appalachians. She is a past president of Jane’s Stories Press Foundation and originator of the Jane’s Stories anthologies.

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