I joined band in sixth grade at St. Rosalie’s Catholic School in New Orleans. After two highly unsuccessful (and painful) weeks on the clarinet, I switched to percussion. My high school experience included three PASIC Indoor Drumline wins and an introduction to what became my favorite instrument – the steel drum.

In February of 2000, I headed to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad (the island nation that invented pan) with the only friend I had crazy enough to come with me. (I ended up marrying him. It was a smart move.) After a month and a half of nightly rehearsals, we performed with the Desperadoes Steel Band during the Annual Panorama Competition. Despers ended up taking first place in finals that year – their tenth championship in the contest’s history. Here’s that performance:

It’s pretty much impossible to see me, but I can tell you just where I am – at 2:34 is a shot of a very nice double seconds player by the name of James, and I am behind the person directly behind him. (I was well hidden.)

While getting my bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Texas, Josh (that would be the aforementioned crazy-friend-to-be-husband, who happens to be a pretty awesome drummer) and I founded One Credit Hour, a Dallas/Fort Worth based professional steel band that ended up recording two CDs and playing numerous festivals, weddings, and bizarro parties with NASA rocket scientists in its six-year existence.

After graduating, I was a band director in the DFW area for four years before moving overseas to teach ESL. I ended up playing pan in three groups in Seoul: Pet Rock, a reggae/funk/rock band, Just, an original pop band, and the Nic Travis Quartet, a straight-ahead jazz group.

Oye Como Va, Pet Rock @ Club Tá, Seoul

The story of how I became a children’s author is a long one that involves teaching kindergarten in Korea, being quarantined with tuberculosis, spending months in bed, writing several forever-shelved novels, querying countless agents, having my first “offer” from a publisher rescinded, and a wonderfully serendipitous email that connected me with an editor who was not only a band geek, but a TEXAS band geek.

After spending a few years in lovely Seattle, I accepted the inevitable and moved to New York with my husband and our chocolate lab. I’m head-over-heels in love with the city in the most cliché way possible, and can often be found gawking at the ceiling in Grand Central or watching the awesome buskers in Central Park with hordes of other tourists. No shame.

Central Park foliage photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 10