My values are authenticity, expression, connection, growth, kindness and joy.
My teaching philosophy is built on kindness, compassion, safety and support.
Like many others of my generation, I was raised on traditional Western male authors. As the daughter of Yugoslav immigrants, it took me years to see my experience mirrored in any of the books I was reading. I was in college by the time I discovered writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Louise Erdrich and Amy Tan, and their books changed my life.
As an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I studied feminist and multicultural literature before earning my M.F.A. in fiction at Indiana University. During my years at IU, I taught creative writing, business writing and literature while exploring the themes of family, identity, ethnicity, transformation and belonging in my work.
Years of taking (as well as teaching) creative writing workshops taught me how easy it was to damage or shut down writers with well-meaning, constructive criticism. In 2005, I left my position at the University of Colorado Denver partly due to limitations with the academic model. I’d become a writer to help other women claim their voices, not constrain them.
I began to teach my own writing workshops in the larger community, where I could create a kinder and gentler experience. One where everyone had a voice, even the quietest of writers.
During this time, I continued to write. After completing a novel, I wrote a memoir, then two memoir book proposals. Throughout, I grappled with the difference between writing short stories and a full-length book. These years were a huge learning curve–while some of what I’d learned translated, much of it didn’t.
At the time, I was teaching business writing in the larger community, which taught me the importance of structure. I began to experiment in my own work, combining the creative writing concepts I’d learned with my business writing work. In this way, I was able to significantly shorten the memoir writing journey.
My clients loved this new approach. After continuing to test this process (and publishing two of my own books along the way), I began to build my Memoir Mastery program.
Safety, self-care, support and community are the hallmarks of this program.
Writing a full-length book is a much different process than crafting a short piece, and it’s why we spend so much time in Memoir Mastery on narrative arc and structure as well as safety and mindset. Craft is important, but you’ll need all of these tools to get to the finish line. Many of my clients who were initially reluctant to take “yet another course” have told me how thankful they were for these unique aspects of Memoir Mastery.
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I support environmental and social justice causes with my donations, and am a life-long learner currently studying the intersection of intergenerational trauma, neuroscience and resilience.
A few of my favorite writers are Maxine Hong Kingston, Diana Abu-Jaber, Kiese Laymon, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Alexander, Saeed Jones, Martha Beck, Chanel Miller and many others.
I offer 30-minute introductory calls to see if we’re a good fit and discuss how my offerings might support you. There’s no charge for these calls. Please contact me here to set up a call, and I’ll return your email within 48 business hours.