I grew up in Mendota, Illinois. A little farm community hemmed by corn and soybean fields. I applied for a writing job at MAD Magazine. When I was 12. The rejection letter hangs framed in my writing studio today.

I live in Saint Petersburg, Florida now, surrounded by an inclusive, expansive, vibrating community. I also live with seven parrots, two dogs, one rabbit, a guinea pig, two lizards, and one loving, super patient husband. We're surrounded by a demanding conciliatory flock of barbarian Muscovy ducks and an empirical murder of crow outside our home. I write stories, feed ducks, paint murals, call mom and dad every weekend, avoid the kitchen for my husband's sake, and actively suppress urges to do silly things before breakfast.

That last part is a lie.