Books & Essays

I have worked as a professional writer and editor for more than 20 years and have published award-winning features, essays, books, and projects-for-hire for a range of publications, museums and other organizations.

Forthcoming Book



“When one person transitions, everyone transitions… A necessary and beautiful book.”

Jill Soloway, Creator, Transparent

“This is the best, most thorough narrative of trans experience I’ve read: mind, body and soul.”

Kate Bornstein, author, A Queer and Pleasant Danger


In At the Broken Places, my transgender son, Donald Collins, and I alternate chapters as we explore core issues we faced as he transitioned during his teens and college years from female-to-male. I felt I’d lost a daughter; he felt he’d finally embraced his true self. I felt stripped of my rights as a parent; he felt validated and empowered as he changed his name, took steroids, and had surgeries. We capture in raw uncensored fashion our evolving understanding of ourselves and our conflicted positions about his transition.

Through it all we never lost sight of the fact that we love each other and wanted to do what we could to remain a family unit. At the Broken Places gives voice to our journey through the terra incognita we found ourselves in and showcases the power of a candid prose exchange to coax out truth and engender empathy. We don’t have to agree; we just have to respect, listen, evolve and care.

In addition to our eight chapters, we host a Round Table in the back of the book, which highlights interviews with a range of parents of transgender children 12 to 25 and a range of transgender individuals and professionals that work with transgender individuals and their families. Taken as a whole, At the Broken Places tells the most complete story on the market today of the many different ways individuals can process what happens to a family and to a child when that child wants to transition.

I want to thank my son, Donald Collins, for having the courage to embark on this book project with me.


American IdleAmerican Idle:
A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture

Winner of the Grand Prize in Nonfiction, Indie Book Awards, NYC, 2010

Honorable Mention, Best Adult Nonfiction Book, 2010, American Society of Journalists and Authors

Explores the many forces that make it difficult for Americans to move in their daily lives in healthy ways and the consequences of not realizing that basic need

Photobiography of the Wright Brothers
National Geographic Books, 2003

Recognized as a Top 10 Young Adult Biography by the New York Public Library and earned a starred Kirkus Review; Winner of Best Young Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year from American Society of Journalists and Authors


The Essential Daughter: Changing Expectations for Girls at Home (2003)

National Public Radio, a portrait of the first 20 years at NPR, (1999)


My essays have appeared in a range of literary journals, including the CT Review and Potomac Review and in newspapers, such as The Washington Post and New York Times.

The Bookcase

Winner of Best Essay of the Year, American Society of Journalists and Authors

What I Eat - Book Cover

Material World Series

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets

My essay, “Moving the Idle Masses,” is one of six in WHAT I EAT: Around the World in 80 Diets, another great title in Menzel and D’Aluisio’s award-winning Material World Series.

Other essayists in this volume: Michael Pollan, Wendell Barry and Richard Wrangham.


Petrified Forest
Young boy measuring petrified tree trunk. (Photo Susan McElhinney)

Artist-in-Resident, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, Fall 2013

I teamed with Susan McElhinney, a former photo editor for National Geographic and current photo editor for the National Wildlife Federation, on a photo/prose portrait project of people that work, volunteer and visit the park. They plan to put our work on permanent display in the historic Painted Desert Inn.

CT American Revolution Tours
Explore the new mobile-friendly travel guide by Sal Lilienthal and Mary Collins


Nine Themed CT American Revolution Tours


Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, Nathan Hale, Israel Putnam–these are just a few of the CT characters who played complex roles in the Revolution. Our tours follow carefully crafted narrative threads that tell layered stories. Visit the website and discover Google Maps (access them from your cell phone!), cue sheets, biographies and more. It’s all FREE.