Born and raised in Japan, I’m a missionary kid who loved riding commuter trains and eating sushi. I also enjoyed walks to the stationer’s store to purchase notebooks, scented erasers, and pencils when I was in elementary school. With each purchase, I was sure I was going to write a great book.

Now I write, blog, and enjoy crafting fun characters in Durham, NC. My first five novels are set in some part of my state. Rain Song (Christy Finalist 2009) takes place in the little town of Mount Olive, home to Mount Olive Pickles and strong family ties. How Sweet It Is, also a Christy Finalist in 2010, takes places in the Smoky Mountains. Hatteras Girl made her debut in October 2010. Of course, it is set in the lovely Outer Banks. A Wedding Invitation has flashbacks of settings in a refugee camp in the Philippines and also has scenes in Winston-Salem, NC. It arrived in October 2011. For me, this novel represents the need we all have to belong and be accepted, just like my Amerasian character feels. Still, Life in Shadows, my fifth novel, takes place in a small mountain town I created called Twin Branches. This is also a story of belonging as Gideon Miller helps dissatisfied Amish youth relocate and find their places in modern society. Under the Silk Hibiscus is my first historical novel, set in a Japanese-American internment camp, during WWII.

In addition to speaking at conferences and retreats across the country, I teach online grief-writing classes—Writing the Heartache—and design and sell remembrance cards. Since my four-year-old son Daniel’s death in 1997, I’ve written articles on coping with grief. Many of these can be read at the Open to Hope website at Be sure to visit my website at and my blogs: and