Where did you grow up?
My family moved to Houston when I was eight years old, and I lived there until high school graduation. In 1987, I enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I have been a North Carolinian ever since.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in eighth grade, I won an essay contest and I was invited to a fancy dinner in downtown Houston. That was the affirmation I needed to keep walking down that path, and before I knew it I was a journalism major at UNC-CH.
What type of writing have you done in the 25 years since graduating from Carolina?
I have done pretty much every type of non-fiction writing - newspaper, magazine, wire services, online content, website copy, brochures and editing projects. My favorite thing to do, which I started about seven years ago, is to write books, either independently or collaboratively.
What subject do you specialize in?
I have always loved sports of every kind, and ever since I served as the sports editor of my high school yearbook, I made it my goal to become a sportswriter.
As I have traveled that path, I have taken some detours into writing about education, healthcare, the arts, travel, religion and almost every type of human interest story. But sportswriting is my first love, and when the time came to choose topics for my books, I gravitated toward sports topics.
Tell us about some neat experiences you have had as a sportswriter.
In 1995, as a sportswriter for the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C., I was named one of the regular beat writers for a brand-new NFL team called the Carolina Panthers.
That was an incredible opportunity for me, because I got to cover the first draft, first training camp, first season at Death Valley in Clemson and the second season, which was the first at Ericsson Stadium. I also got to cover the preparations for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and as an author I have been able to interview ACC basketball legends like Lennie Rosenbluth, Lou Pucillo, Doug Moe and Jack Murdock.
What was the first book you published?
I live in Greenville, NC, about two miles from East Carolina University, and in 2009 I had the opportunity to write Coaching Third, the biography of Keith LeClair, the former ECU head baseball coach who died of ALS in 2006 at the age of 40. It was a heartbreaking book to research and write, but when it was published I was gratified to learn how meaningful it was to people in the Pirate Nation.
What is your favorite book you have written?
In 2011, I published The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball To The South. The book told the story of the Dixie Classic, a legendary holiday tournament that was held at Reynolds Coliseum from 1949 to 1960, and it included stories
from the integration of college basketball in the South and a widespread point-shaving scandal in the early ‘60s that ultimately brought down the Dixie Classic. The book even includes a mob hit! For me, it was fascinating to research and write, and it serves as my best evidence that sports is fertile ground for a host of intriguing stories that have very little to do with what happens on a court or a field.
What are you working on now?
I recently finished ghostwriting a book called Game Changer, which will be released early in 2017 and tells the story about Drew Ann Long and the invention of an innovative special-needs grocery cart called Caroline’s Cart. I have also been hired to write a book about the history of Michigan State basketball, and I will start a corporate history project soon that will be released next fall.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
My husband Sid and I have four children ages 20, 17, 15 and 11, so much of my free time is spent with family. I work part-time at the classical Christian school that two of my children attend as the admissions director, and I am also the volunteer coordinator for a Christian ministry called YoungLives, which seeks
to provide hope and friendship to teen moms. My own faith has been stretched by my involvement with YoungLives, and I have learned how important it is to know someone’s entire story before coming to conclusions about her life choices. Each summer we bring teen moms and their babies to camp in a beautiful mountain area for a week, and I can truly say that it is one of the most challenging and gratifying things I do each year.
What do you do if you have a day to yourself?
I love to read great writing – fiction and nonfiction books as well as longform articles. I also like to run and exercise, and if I have a rare free day, it’s also a treat to sneak in a nap.