"Grounded in truth, lifted by faith."
"A gentle spirit attuned to other hearts."
"St. Mary Parish in historic Fredericksburg."
I love this picture because it's the me I think I still am . . . until I look in the mirror. I was just 21 and about to embark on a US Civil Service career at Quantico that would last 33 years. At the close of that career in 1999 I was awarded the Navy Department's Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, an honor rare enough to land me in Marquis' Who's Who In American Women for a while. My work, first as a secretary for the chaplains and later as a court reporter in military justice, was never boring. I fell in love at Quantico, and I found my faith there. I met a lot of colorful characters and survived a good deal of drama. But what I really wanted to do was write.
I was reading my poems before the entire grade school assembly by the time I was seven, a thrill not matched until I was invited to read publicly at Mary Washington College (now UMW) along with talented lit students (I was not enrolled). That was just before my first volume of verse, Sheer Poetry, came out.
My mother and grandmother convulsed in laughter at a tragic romance I penned at eight, much to my chagrin. But my prose, purple and otherwise, didn't gain notice until "Pappy's Girl" was short listed in 2007 for Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award. In 2010 that story appeared in Carpe Articulum Literary Review, a prestigious international print and online magazine published in four languages. (CALR later folded when its founder and managing editor, Hadassah Broscova, moved on to other pursuits.) It's hard getting published! Jo March may have easily sold a story for $50, and John Boy Walton may have seen his novel in print shortly after leaving the mountain for the big city . . . but it's not so simple in real life. Not in the 21st Century. Publishing is a sales driven industry that is hard to break into. I'm grateful to Ms. Broscova for giving me that chance.
I was born in Philadelphia (yo!) but have lived most of my life in Virginia. I never married. My longest love relationship was with a cat called Honey who ruled our household with an iron paw for 18 years. This is the only photo I have of the happy couple together. I do have a great extended family. My brother Tom is a retired educator, fantastic musician, experienced beekeeper, and Baptist deacon. He and Kathy have given me two fine nephews, who in turn have provided two lovely nieces, and I am now a great aunt. My supportive circle of friends continues to grow. I am active in my church (that's volunteer speak for church lady overload) and have a number of interests other than writing. Reading voraciously, for one--the classics, old and recent, anything by Jan Karon, and well crafted mysteries. If you aren't familiar with the works of the late Tony Hillerman, or Leslie Glass, Michael Connelly or Lisa Scottoline (also from Philly), you are in for a treat.
I have interesting dolls--mostly my "children" from the 1950's--and a couple exquisite doll houses. I like to cook and love to bake, enjoy gardening, crafts, live theater, traveling when I can afford it, and lots of PBS and Tom Selleck on TV. I don't share my brother's musical talent but am a first-class whistler with an appreciation of all kinds of music, and I treasure a vinyl, tape and CD collection that would make any DJ proud.
To my Northern relatives (Mom's side) I am Dolly. To my Southern kin (Dad's side) I am Donna Lee. To some of the Marines I worked with I was Dee. You may call me anything you like--as long as you read my books!