An American fiction writer, she is best known for The River Beyond the World (novel) and What the Thunder Said (short stories). She published her work in The Kenyon Review, Quarterly West, and numerous other prominent literary journals.
In her younger years, she worked a series of odd jobs, including swimming instructor and waitress. She studied creative writing and speech pathology at Wichita State University.
She won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1992.
She and her five younger siblings grew up in Kansas and Wisconsin. She married Larry Peery.
She and Francine Prose both received Guggenheim Fellowships.