A native of Raleigh, N.C., I grew up in a time in the South when ‘lunch’ was called ‘dinner’ and ‘dinner’ was called ‘supper’. The good old days. My three older siblings and I were blessed to have wonderful parents who taught life’s lessons by example.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in print/broadcast journalism in 1984 (despite always being an N.C. State fan!). Since then I’ve worked in radio promotions, special events planning, public speaking, and public relations.
Over the years, I’ve had various free verse poems published by Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards of Boulder, CO. In 1997, my novel manuscript, Hand-Me-Downs, was a finalist in the Heekin Group Foundation’s James Fellowship for the novel-in-progress division.
In 1999, a personal narrative I wrote about my young nephew’s successful bone marrow transplant was published in the August edition of Good Housekeeping magazine.
Since 1998, I’ve written a ‘family life’ column for The Cary News in Cary, N.C. I finally started submitting my columns in competitions in 2003 and was lucky enough to win the first time up to bat. In 2003, I won first place for humor columns in the North Carolina Press Association’s annual contest; in 2004, I won first place for humor columns and second place for general columns in the N.C. Press Club (division of the National Federation of Press Women).
My husband, Kevin, our sons, Billy, David, Jason, and me -- surrounded by testosterone
In December of 2002, an excerpt from my novel manuscript, Bluebirds Fly, was published in the Sunday Reader section of The News & Observer, the Raleigh paper. In the spring of 2003, I won third place in the short story division of The Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest, sponsored by the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. The short story for which I won is entitled “Swim Lessons” and is the story of woman in her late fifties who has to pick up the pieces after the death of her husband. I’ve written several other short story manuscripts, also, as well as the manuscript for a children’s book, The Truth About Pancakes & Waffles.
From 2000-2008, I taught narrative writing through week-long writing residency workshops in schools and was a writer-in-residence through the United Arts Council. I also do public relations consulting that has resulted in successful media coverage for various programs and events such as the March of Dimes’ efforts to get a birth defects prevention bill passed in the N.C. General Assembly.
My sister Mary, me, my brother Sam, my mother, my sister Gail, and my father -- We've always been close. Kevin used to call us The Waltons when we first started dating.
In 2007, my humor book House of Testosterone - One Mom's Survival in a Household of Males was released by Jefferson Press and was named a notable book by BookSense in February of that year. Then Houghton Mifflin out of Boston bought the rights to the paperback for release (with new material added and a new cover) in April of 2008. Having a book published has been a dream come true for me, something that I've wished for since I was a little girl.
My writing, teaching, and PR work are all done through my company, SJO Communications.
I live in Cary, a suburb of Raleigh, with my husband Kevin and our three sons (God, help me!), ages 16, 13, and 7.
Billy, the oldest,
at age 16
David, my middle one,
at age 13
The youngest, Jason,
at age 7
Our dog Fenway (named for the home of the Boston Red Sox - he was born on the night they won the World Series in 2004!). Yet another male in our house!