My mother routinely served pasta on Thursday evenings and Sundays at noon. This fact was how she always remembered that I was born on a Thursday, a few hours after the dishes were dried. So in case you were wondering, my family had spaghetti for dinner on January 18, 1951.

A native of Pittsburgh, I grew up in a close-knit Italian-American family that always had room at the table for one more. Dad's last hope for a son, I was the fifth of five girls, though he never showed an ounce of disappointment.

A few educational highlights. I earned a BA in English from Dickinson College, an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and a wealth of experience as President/Creative Director of an award-winning Central PA-based advertising agency. And then I took the plunge and traded in a corner office for a tiny writing nook under the eaves at home.

Much of my work explores the landscape between loss and hope, a subject to which I've been exposed since childhood. Our large Italian clan had dying relatives aplenty, and funerals were as familiar to me, at a young age, as birthday parties. I can still see the women, shrouded in black, wailing and throwing themselves on the casket, waving crocheted hankies, their flags of death, while outside, the men would smoke and tell jokes. Later, in the throes of my own deep losses, I was surprised to again discover a study in contrasts-an uplifting presence of hope at the bottom of profound sadness. That is the power of faith, I guess, certainly of grace.

Today I'm blessed to live and write in a small Lancaster County, PA town, where the occasional horse-drawn buggy clip-clops past my study window, and the aroma wafting from the Wilbur Chocolate factory beckons. Away from my desk, you might find me visiting hospice patients, reading, biking, stitching a needlepoint canvas or yielding to the sweet smell of chocolate.

The story continues at facebook.com/JanGroftAuthor. Hope to see you there!