"Laughter is the Closest Thing to the Grace of God."
-Karl Barth, 19th C. Swiss theologian
Lucky me. I had a super education, and graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in English and speech, plus minors in education, French, and science. Blooming with knowledge, I began teaching high school English, speech, and French, and directing the plays, thus discovering a killer lifestyle. In time, I packed my books and took them home, where I raised Mindy, Leigh Ann, and Brad while their noble father supported us.
I enjoyed tutoring neighborhood strugglers, and eventually I earned a masters in children's literature from Hollins University. Along the way I became intrigued with the SAT exam, which led to a 9-week course that I taught privately, and which later became S.A.T. Success at the urging of Peterson's Publishing, near our house in Princeton, NJ. Published in 1982, S.A.T. Success was the first title in Peterson's now-popular test-prep line, and the first of my four textbooks that focus on strengthening English skills/vocabulary and on logical approaches to test-taking. All four of those books are now out of print, but they had a great run for over 20 years. You may still find extra/used copies online: The four titles are S.A.T Success; Success With Words; Panic Plan for the SAT/PSAT; and Word Flash.
Over time I have written a humor column and reviewed books and plays for NJ newspapers, written 70+ magazine and major news articles, been president of The National League of American Pen Women (Princeton chapter) and also president of The Children's Book Guild of Washington, D.C., organized writing symposia for The Smithsonian Institute, appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows, and published 16 children's books.
I have spoken in schools and taught writing seminars for adults and children for 30 years. Since 2002, I’ve been doing commentaries for Public Radio, here based in New Bern at Public Radio East. What fun! I just retired from teaching Professional Writing, a graduate level course for Duke University at their marine lab here in Beaufort. I miss my students terribly, but not the grading of papers! All these jobs keep me singing in the shower.
My rewards have been huge: teenagers waving their SAT results in the air and screaming for joy--writing students calling to share news of their first sales, or better yet, the winning of awards--children clutching one of my books and saying, "This was sooooo funny. Where can I get another one?" As the saying goes, "It doesn't get any better than this."