I was born with a passion for the creative arts, starting with dance, piano and art. Then — despite being extremely shy — I got hooked on performing. Eventually Speech & Theatre became my college major. Always resistant to being typecast, I played a dwarf, a Cuban dancer, a saintly old evangelical, a potential murderer and a Salvation Army musician, among other things.
My single starring role in college was in a traveling children’s play as “a princess with a face so plain that it stopped clocks.” I knew the role was mine as soon as they described it!
I did most everything in theater: set design, costumes, sound, props, publicity — but writing my first play and having it produced was simply magical! It was even nominated for an award. For the very first time I felt validated as a serious writer.
And the extraordinary power of the word scared me to death!
Lana (back left) at an early ballet recital
A few years after earning my Bachelor’s degree, I took a job for a reading and study skills center as “a secretary who could draw.”
I spent a lot of time cartooning for slide shows. This is one of my favorite pieces from that era.
Then my supervisor told me about a graduate program in Instructional Design at U.T.’s College of Education (which happened to be just across the street) and encouraged me to apply.
In grad school, I studied game design, photography, video and filmmaking while earning my Masters (and also meeting my husband Ralph).
After working briefly at the Learning Resource Center for U.T.-Austin’s College of Education, I moved into the world of high tech. I had almost no interest in computers, but the bump in pay was great, and I'm really glad to have learned so much about computers over the years. They don't appear to be going away anytime soon!
That move also called for me to learn about page layout and graphic arts, subjects I taught in workshops later on. But my deepest interest was in writing. After a brief stint as a graphics coordinator for a computer software firm, I became a tech writer. I oscillated between writing and editing for many years. One favorite gig was writing scripts and manuals and serving as the "talent" for training videos — for which I had to learn how to disassemble and reassemble laptops and then still have them work!
As a freelancer I also worked with educational and business publishers, nonprofits, consultants and individual authors while balancing my own writing. I wrote articles and columns before moving on to books. To read a few of my favorite pieces, click on the PDF files at the following link: Articles
My husband, Ralph Gohring
Whenever possible, I relax with the meditative art form Zentangle. It not only calms the mind but usually results in interesting, beautiful artwork, often within 15 to 20 minutes.
For Christmas, I produced a number of Zentangle ornaments. I created one master Zentangled bird, reproduced it on my printer, adhered the copies to wooden slabs and applied glitter glue (a new discovery for me!) by hand to each ornament.
The colored "Joy" Zentangle (my favorite) was a Christmas gift for my stepdaughter. I drew it with felt-tip markers on paper and then adhered the paper to a precut wooden piece.
It took quite a bit more time than 15 to 20 minutes!
I have a great sense of humor and have always been a ham. (No surprise there if you read the top part of this page!)
I won a few humorous speech contests while in Toastmasters International, a public-speaking organization.
I now ham it up by singing Karaoke. I’m not that great, but my friends and l have a lot fun.
I'm happily married to an incredible man and I have two great “step-adults.” Our son runs a very successful Tai Chi and Kung Fu school and also owns a martial arts-themed coffee shop called Kick Butt Coffee.
Our daughter, who's been in the entertainment industry for years, now works primarily as a screenwriter and film director, though she sometimes still does standup comedy.
I feel so blessed to have them all!
And I also feel blessed to have lived long enough to experience the transformation of my own mental health and to be able to enjoy my life so much!
The only “babies” left at home are Sammy and Bob, two sweet tabbies we adopted from the same litter. Sammy sleeps with me and has never gotten over the need to knead my neck. (Not that pleasant of an experience when he needs a claw trim!)
We also enjoy keeping tropical fish, including Smark the rainbow shark. And my husband’s backyard wildlife preserve draws birds, raccoons, the occasional possum and even foxes!
That's probably more than enough about me and my life for now!
Sammy (the orange tabby) and Bob (in back)