I was born in 1959, the third of four daughters born to Margaret Hyde Miller and Joe Miller in Detroit, Michigan. Mom and Dad were both journalists. Dad was the news editor of the Detroit Free Press for several decades and Mom — a “Rosie the Reporter” who’d worked for the Associated Press during World War
II — was the women’s editor of a chain of suburban papers. My sisters and I had the most typical of suburban baby
boom childhoods — with the exception that Mom wrote about us every week in her newspaper column. Mom and Dad are both gone now, but they continue to have an indelible influence on what I do. My love of reading and writing started with them, and their rich lives have provided the inspiration for and content of much of my recent work.
When it was time for college, I found my way to Michigan State (Go Green!) and eventually earned three degrees in communication. Along with the husband I met in graduate school, I began life as an assistant professor in 1985. Over the next 30 years, I had a successful academic career at Michigan State, Arizona State, University of Kansas, and Texas A&M, studying topics in the areas of organizational, health, and family communication. If you’re the kind of person who likes looking at Curriculum Vitae, you can find a short version of mine here.
As my time in academia moved toward its third decade, I became frustrated with the sometimes sterile conventions of social science, and increasingly turned my attention to studying emotional issues and events often ignored by traditional scholarship and to writing about my own experiences. While working at Texas A&M University, twelve students were killed when the Aggie Bonfire collapsed, and I wrote about the emotional work of professing in the midst of tragedy. When I took on responsibility for my aging parents, my research and writing shifted to family caregiving. When Dad died and my sisters and I found a “box full of letters,” I wrote the book War Makes Men of Boys: A Soldier’s World War II.
During the last five years, I made an initially gradual and now permanent transition away from the academic career I held for my entire adult life and shifted to creative writing. In the first few years of this new career direction, I researched and wrote about the lives of women’s page editors during second wave feminism and shared the stories of these women – including my mother – on several years worth of blogposts. As you can see on my current projects page, my writing has now shifted to memoir and historical fiction. Divorced in 2013 after 27 years of marriage, I now live in Corvallis, Oregon, close to my daughter, Kalena, an aspiring writer of children’s and young adult literature. You can check out her website here. In this new stage of my life, I hang out with my cats (beautiful sisters named Molly and Friggly), watch the deer who wander into my backyard to pillage my flowers, stay in touch with friends all over the country, and create community in this lovely city I now call home. And I write.