Woodruff, Joan Leslie 1953-

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WOODRUFF, Joan Leslie 1953-

PERSONAL: Born April 4, 1953, in Albuquerque, NM; daughter of Charles (a mechanic) and Lila Ray (a registered nurse; maiden name, Siler) Woodruff; married Paul Harold Ney, 1978 (divorced, 1995). Ethnicity: "American Indian; Cherokee, Shawnee." Education: Loma Linda University, B.S., 1975; attended California State University—San Diego, 1976; California State University—San Bernardino, M.Ed., 1983. Religion: Buddhist. Hobbies and other interests: "Raising happy animals, caring for my ranch, working with the Mountainair Heritage Foundation."

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 687, Mountainair, NM 87036. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: San Bernardino Community Hospital, San Bernardino, CA, director of occupational therapy services at Hand Rehabilitation Clinic, 1975-77, director and administrator of clinic, 1976-87; Riverside American Indian Center, Riverside, CA, member of board of directors, 1987-91; forensic counselor, 1993—. Occupational Therapy Association, certified and registered occupational therapist, 1975—, specialist advisor to Hand Rehabilitation Division, 1985-98; Redlands Hospital, administrator and clinical representative, 1980; Martin Luther Memorial Hospital, administrator and clinical representative, 1982; hand surgeon in Fullerton, CA, 1983; Hemet Valley Hospital, hand surgeon, 1984; Torrance County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Planning Council, member of executive board and alcohol/drug dependency counselor, 1993-98; American Indian Relief Council, member. Volunteer substance abuse counselor; volunteer to help abused animals. National Campaign for Tolerance, Montgomery AL, founding member.

MEMBER: Occupational Therapy Association, Humane Society of the United States.

AWARDS, HONORS: Award for outstanding support, American Indian Relief Council, 2003.


Traditional Stories and Foods: An American IndianRemembers, Esoterica Press (Barstow, CA), 1990.

Neighbors (novel), Third Woman Press, (Berkeley, CA), 1993.

The Shiloh Renewal (novel), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1998.

Ghost in the Rainbow, Hats Off Books (Tucson, AZ), 2002.

Contributor to professional journals, popular magazines, and newspapers, including America's Intercultural, Our Town, News from Native California, Indian-Artifact, Independent News (Edgewood, NM), and East Mountain Telegraph News.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Witches and Windmills, a collection of previously published short stories.

SIDELIGHTS: Joan Leslie Woodruff once commented to CA: "I am an American Indian woman, with some Anglo ancestry. My family is a mix of odd but wonderful people. I write because of them. My life has been full of stories and crises. The sad stuff is where the books come from. I try to add humor, but I want to show my readers that suffering can lead to growth and compassion."

Recently Woodruff added: "My primary motivation for writing has always been life. Every day is a continuum of lessons where the full range of human emotions must be experienced. I grew up with the tradition of storytelling within the family as a way of communicating. Writing became a way of storytelling to larger populations.

"Compassion particularly influences my work. Those items of everyday life which push me up and down the emotional roller coaster cause me to want to find my pencils and paper.

"My writing process begins with a feeling. It might be happy or sad. The feeling forces new perspectives into my thinking. I never know why or when this will happen, but when it does, I hear ancient voices of the ancestors. They say 'Tell the story,' and I feel compelled to do so. A story always has a specific cord for me. I have changed forever because of that cord. I do not know how the story will affect a person who reads it, but I hope they change forever as well. Change is what makes us grow.

"I am inspired to write about the subjects I have chosen because I know them so well. They are parents, sisters, brother, cousins, friends, coworkers; they are places I have been; they are experiences I have struggled with; they are things that I have failed at; they are things that I did especially well. What is important for me is that the subjects made me feel something to its fullest, whether joyful or sorrowful.

"I hope everything I write exhibits changes. My life changes from moment to moment, and I become a new person every day that I am given the honor of waking up. Change is necessary. Springtime is such a time of change, and people always recognize that it is so; but then, so are summer, and autumn, and winter. I love every season of life. I have reached the half-century mark of my life, I am in 'autumn.' I hope I have done a good job with my summer and my spring. I hope I do a good job with my autumn and winter.

"My work in progress, Witches and Windmills, is a collection of short fiction. Most stories are mainstream, with a focus on how culture, old thinking, and perception affect the everyday life of Native Americans in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."

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