Ellen has been a corporate attorney, runway model, radio commentator, magazine contributor, found object artist, krewe leader, and award-winning writer. She rarely trods the beaten path but prefers to imagine the world anew.
As a corporate attorney in 1980s Mississippi, Ellen founded the Health Law Section of the Mississippi State Bar and served as its first president. She was the managing partner of her office and named to the Top 40 Under 40.
When Ellen turned to writing, her first book introduced a new form of active prayer using broken and found objects to make crosses (Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God, Paraclete Press, 2009). Her second book narrated her short story collection, Cain’t Do Nothing with Love, which won the CIPA-EVVY Audio Book Award and whose stories have been downloaded world-wide over 50,000 times. She self-published two novels and created a bespoke hand-sewn novel with her talented artist friend Marisa Whitsett Baker.
Her short stories have twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes; one received a Special Mention. She was the Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon College Summer Writing Program. She attended Sewanee Writers Conference and Community of Writers Retreat, and studied under Richard Bausch in the Moss Group. Sue Silverman chose her essay to include in Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir (University of Georgia Press, 2009) as an example of how to use metaphor. Her work has appeared in Hotel Amerika, Brevity, Image, Alaska Quarterly Review, River Teeth, Texas Review, Gulf Coast, Barrelhouse, EAP the Magazine, Fourth Genre, Arkansas Review, and elsewhere. She constantly interrogates the racism of her beloved American South. Please see the links on the Home Page to read a few of her essays.
Inspired by her time with the Memphis School of Servant Leadership, Ellen spent eight years facilitating a weekly writing group of Memphians experiencing homelessness. The group did everything a traditional writing group does, including holding public readings, publishing an ezine, and hosting four annual Community Writers Retreats where the housed and unhoused wrote together. This time culminated in the group’s memoir, Writing Our Way Home (Triton Press, 2014), which she edited. For this work, she was named an Upstander by Facing History and Ourselves and as Champion, Memphis and Shelby County Homeless Consortium. The lessons from that experience are gathered in We R Righting Group: A Pocket Guide on Writing in Groups…and Righting the World. As the Artist-in-Residence at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral for a service primarily attended by those living on the street, she invented Thumb Prayers, which you can read about on the Thumb Prayer Page. In between all this, she walked the runway showing clothes.
Ellen is known to appear in public in costume.