I’ve been a writer and editor my entire working career.

I always knew I wanted to write fiction. (Southern black girl listening to middle Georgia tales growing up.) It was a dream, however, that I could hardly dare speak of. One of my early mentors at Spelman College, Dr. Gloria Wade Gayles, was the first authority to state, “Don’t you know you’re a writer?” My heart still races at the memory of that moment.

But to find employment that paid me to write, edit and learn about craft was an answered prayer. My first job was as copy editor on universal desk of the morning newspaper The Atlanta Constitution (now The AJC). First African-American woman in the newsroom…in the 1970s!! Did feature writing, news reporting, editing, layout. Left in 1979 to free-lance and write fiction. Worked couple years at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.

AJC desk
(Here I am in 2012 back in The AJC newsroom where I began journalism career in 1971. Photo Credit: Jonee’ Ansa)

Found my “home” on St. Simons Island, Georgia, part of the history/culture-rich stretch of sea islands off the Southeast Have lived here 30 years. The region has embraced me. Everything from the terrain to the vegetation to the people, my folks, here inspires my work and writing.

My first novel “BABY OF THE FAMILY” published in 1989. Four other novels have followed: “UGLY WAYS,” “THE HAND I FAN WITH,” “YOU KNOW BETTER,” and “TAKING AFTER MUDEAR.” Working on sixth novel and with filmmaker husband Jonee` Ansa on movie adaptation of “BABY OF THE FAMILY.”

In 2004, established The Sea Island Writers Retreats on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Have since held these writers workshops on St. Simons Island, in Atlanta, Maryland, Florida and at high school and colleges around the country.
In 2007, founded independent publishing company, DownSouth Press which published “TAKING AFTER MUDEAR,” my fifth and most recent novel.

In 2010, began another career path as a raconteur with the first of my Moth Mainstage stories performed in New York City.

TOMORROW’S BLOG: “Respecting Your Process. Finding Your Voice.”