Current Writing Projects

Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup shows the parallel journeys of Dawn Perkins and the commune she founded. As Dawn fights to uphold her values, the commune fights to balance living well with living light on the land.

The fiery Dawn Perkins has strong beliefs and a strong ethic. She values honesty, hard work, self-sacrifice, community, and living light on the Earth–her way. But ten years after she founded The Legacy, a commune on the isolated homestead where she grew up, things go terribly wrong. If something doesn’t change soon, Dawn will lose everything. And so will the other seventeen people who call this corner of Earth their home–seventeen people, who in Dawn’s opinion, just won’t do what the Covenant says.

But sometimes solutions come from letting go. 

–I am seeking representation.

Cult by Degrees

Monica Norland is a professor in an otherwise all-male STEM department. She has long considered home life as an impediment to her career, starting with the daughter who was foisted on her when she was a young post-doc by her irresponsible sister. But when Monica’s grants go dry, she discovers that the institution to which she devoted her life gives nothing back. Academics is a cult–and worse, she has been an avid participant by inculcating new members, worshiping its leaders, maintaining hierarchy, and living against her better judgement. When her home becomes overrun with unwelcome residents–her “daughter,” who has returned from a commune with a baby, and three other clueless women–Monica’s only retreat is gone. As Monica, her mother, and her daughter deal with her sister’s mistake, Monica constructs rich stories to try to break free from the cult and her regrets, and into a more balanced life.

–The project is with an editor.

Astonished Barb & How I Got That Way–A Memoir

Sometimes I can’t believe that trees stick up like that. They are just too improbable. In fact, everything is improbable. Our arms are too long. Just go body surfing and get jammed into a ball a few times, and you might have nightmares, like I do, of rocks mashing your arms off. You’d wish you were more like a sea slug than a brittle star.

I grew up astonished. That is, I was made to be astonished. By the time and place–the Bay Area of the 50s through 70s. By parents who came from distinct cultures and had the freedom to write our rules, including the rule that I could write my rules. By old people who shared secret stories, by brothers, one of whom was so close he was a second antenna on my own self. By friends. By being a female among men in my home and my career. I saw new cultures swell, families become famous, important science appear, and my bucolic hometown burgeon into the most expensive real estate in the US. I had a ticket–more than a ticket, an invitation–to do anything I could dream up, and most likely succeed. There was so much potential, everywhere.  All I had to do was follow the examples. Examples that begged to be questioned. 

But astonished has its downside: there is no mass of experience, no mass of people, no mass of rope to pull me back if my true North loses its way. What happens when when recent revelations of family, origins, love, and mortality flipped me over and left me stranded on the shore? In this memoir, I explore the origins of my astonishment and how I’ve deployed it day to day. Here are the adventures and the tumbles of this one, improbable brittle star.

–I am writing the first draft.

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