born & raised – in Arlington Heights, Illinois…so long ago that we played in barns and the construction sites of hundreds of new neighborhood houses being built. They piled up dirt from the new foundations and they waited so long that for years we had prairie-covered hills and tadpole-filled creeks and a bicycle route to the park over those hills. I write about that in my first novel, Maddy, which still isn’t published. I’ve had several publishers tell me that they’re certain I will “place” it (which means they’re certain some publisher will eventually publish it.) I hope so.
current home – Champaign-Urbana, IL.
family – husband, Morgan Powell (he’s a composer and jazz trombonist) and one tree walker hound, Lil.
family living elsewhere
one big brother (CA), and his daughter (CO) (who does this website)
one big sister, her son (snow board champ), and her daughter (soccer champ) (NV)
6 cousins who live all over the world
2 step-daughters and their families (IL)
more places I’ve lived
Paros, Greece – I traveled to this Greek island to dance, the summer I turned 20 and lived there for the summer.
London, England – I lived in London for 2 and a half years to study at the London School of Contemporary Dance and started my professional dance career there.
New York City – I moved to New York and lived there for a year, but it seemed like seven. Alvin Ailey had given me a scholarship to the American Dance Center where I studied while producing my own concerts and dancing with the Rudy Perez Dance Theatre.
Winnipeg – I apprenticed with the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers for a long hard winter of 20 below zero weather.
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois – I’ve lived in Urbana-Champaign, since 1975, except for two years in Philadelphia when I was getting my masters degree in dance at Temple University; and for fourteen years out in the country of east central Illinois. That’s a lot, isn’t it. This is where I based my dance company, One Plus One. From this great university town, we traveled throughout North and South America, the Caribbean and Europe.
London School of Contemporary Dance – diploma
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign – BFA in Dance
Temple University in Philadelphia – MFA in Dance
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign – MS in Library and Information Science
other careers, past and present
dancer/choreographer in London, Winnipeg, and New York City, and with my own dance company ONE PLUS ONE which traveled all over the Americas (North, Central, and South America), Europe, the Caribbean, and allowed me many adventures…some of which I can write about.
lithographer (printing from large stone slabs)
modern dance teacher
dancer; I still dance in my stories, some of them. I also play percussion instruments. Josephine is about a dancer, so I dance the Charleston when I do Josephine presentations.
librarian (substitute librarian)
awards and fellowships – from the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Ragdale Foundation, Illinois State Library, Temple University, Creative Arts Institute, Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, Robert F. Sibert Honor, Bologna Ragazzi Honor.
regular days – I write for the first part of the day when I’m sharpest. Later I might walk around our in-town lake with Lil and think about what I’m going to write later. Some days I skate (in-line) at Meadowbrook, which is prairie with paved paths. Sometimes I go to the gym and work out.
current project – Loving vs Virginia (Chronicle 2017) is a young adult documentary novel in verse about Mildred Jeter (black) who married Richard Loving (white) in Virginia in 1958 when interracial marriage was illegal in 24 states. The Lovings were arrested in their bed. It took 9 years for their case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court and be ruled in their favor. The story starts when she is 11 and he is 17, they meet in their neighborhood and they court through their teen years. Once married, they’re banished from Virginia.
Struttin’ With Some Barbecue (Charlesbridge 2017) is the story of Lil Hardin Armstrong, jazz musician and wife of Louis Armstrong.
I’m currently working on ON THE TRAIL OF NANCY DREW; a biography about civil rights organizer Ella Baker; as well as a Jazz Age Novel in verse.