Here are the essentials:

  • I was born and raised within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. I still wonder what I would be like if I had grown up in Indiana.
  • I crave pistachio nuts.
  • I keep a collection of magnetic spiders scattered around my home, just for fun.
  • My parents called me Rickie because they hoped I would be a boy. I’m still Rickie to some dear friends and relatives.
  • I like to eat with my fingers.

Here is the longer version:

RTF-jetty-ovalI grew up in Long Branch, New Jersey, about the same time that poet Robert Pinsky and cartoonist and author Mark Alan Stamaty did. One summer when I was little, I had a whopping case of whooping cough. My mother let me play for hours on an isolated beach. I thought that the ocean made me well, and I still sit by the ocean every chance I get.

I earned my first money as a writer when I was a Long Branch High School correspondent to the Asbury Park Press. They paid me 10 cents per column inch — big money back in 1964! Thirty years later, I really got serious about writing. By then I was a legislative attorney at the U.S. Department of Education, drafting bills to send to Congress on behalf of the president. In the meantime, I had:

  • studied international relations in college and graduated from law school;
  • married Michael Feldman (not the guy from the radio show);
  • lived for a year in Bologna, Italy, then another year in Leiden, The Netherlands; and
  • settled down in Bethesda, Maryland, to raise two sons who have sons of their own.

Eventually I fell under the spell of the Pacific Northwest. Michael and I moved to Portland, Oregon, with Her Royal Furriness, Guinevere the Pooch (1999-2013), a Corgi mix who walked me several times daily. She coached me on how to play President Clinton’s dog, Buddy, in the Bannockburn Spring Show, a satirical extravaganza that’s almost as old as I am.  I’ve written song parodies for the show, too, including a French food song later aired on National Public Radio. Contact me and I’ll send you the lyrics.

My best writing coaches these days are members of Viva Scriva, an extraordinary group of authors and artists. They keep me working. And when I take a break, I head out for a visit with my three grandkids, who call me “Nana.” I had my own nana once, my Polish grandmother who made soup out of chicken feet and told me folk tales from Eastern Europe. I used to make up quite a few of my own stories then, and played with imaginary friends. Now I call them characters.