She became Bachelor at Rockford College in 1977, Master of Arts at University Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 1979. Then she received Doctor of Philosophy at University Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 1984.
She worked as an associate professor of English and writer-in-residence in St.Norbert College, DePere, Wisconsin, in 1984-1999. Also she was a Briggs Copeland lecturer of creative writing at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, since 1999.
She began her literary career in 1993 with Shizuko's Daughter, the autobiographical story—written for young- adult readers—about a young girl, Yuki, whose mother commits suicide.
Married Charles Steven Brock, March 17, 1984 (divorced June 1997.