I was born in Portland, OR but grew up in Green Bay, WI. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in English in 1996 and after graduating, went to work for the
United States Soccer Federation in Chicago, IL before moving to Seattle and taking a job with Washington State Youth Soccer.
In the early 2000s I decided to take my fiction writing more seriously. I moved back to Madison, WI and in the summer of 2004, I attended the Clarion Writers Workshop when it was still on the campus of Michigan State University. In 2006, I completed my MA and in 2013, I earned my Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
I started as an Assistant Professor of English at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2013 and earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2019.
As a kid, I really loved writing stories and playing all kinds of games. Decades later, not much has changed.
My research and teaching deal with transmedia storytelling or how we tell stories in different forms of media. My particular area of specialty is fiction writing, and most of my fiction classes are designed to get students to think about the most effective use of language in their stories. I also focus on plot and structure and this formula:
character + setting = plot.
An interesting character making difficult choices in an effort to overcome challenging situations drives good fiction. My work in worldbuilding is about creating realistic settings that have different social forces at play; I use role-playing games to get students inside the heads of their characters and think about what kinds of decisions they would make, and why. Their stories’ plots unfold with each decision the characters make.
Most of my work deals with variations on these themes of worldbuilding and storytelling across media.
I spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and paddling all year long and have plenty of local options in Upstate New York. I am an avid winter hiker, snowshoer, and occasional cross-country skier. I’ve backpacked through Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Mount Rainier, the North Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula, and more. The family regularly heads east to the Adirondacks for outdoor fun and long camping trips.
I started playing soccer at the age of 5 and never stopped. I started following the international game as best I could in the late 1980s and I still spend a lot of time watching games, particularly the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga along with all the major European cup competitions. I also follow the US Men’s and Women’s National Teams and carve out time to watch as much of the World Cup, European Championship, and (possibly my favorite) the Copa America. I am a former Chicago Fire season ticket holder and have seen pro games in the United States, England, Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Guatemala.
Our family loves to travel, both domestically and internationally, but we have a real love affair with Spain and Portugal. In Spain, we’ve been all over–Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Aragon, Navarre, La Rioja, Catalonia, Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha, and Madrid. In Portugal, we’ve been to Lisbon and the Aletenjo and then a variety of places in Central and Northern Portugal in addition to Coimbra and Porto.
I am currently studying Spanish (approximately B2 level) and plan to move on to Portuguese soon with the hope of someday spending a semester (or longer!) abroad.
Want to Know More?
I am available to give campus talks or give interviews on worldbuilding, games, creative writing, transmedia storytelling, and more.
I conduct a variety of in-person and remote worldbuilding workshops to inspire creativity, critical thinking, empathy, and understanding of diversity.
I can serve as game master for in-person or remote tabletop role-playing game sessions and campaigns in a variety of game systems.