1. As a very small child, I played dolls at my mother’s feet while she clacked away on an old Underwood. Yes, you guessed it. She was a writer. This has always led me to wonder if the writing bug is passed down genetically or something we catch, like a flu virus. I can build a very good case to back up either theory.
2. My mother often read her work aloud. Long before I knew my alphabet, I had been introduced to the wonderful, magical world of fiction. While she worked at her desk, I created stories for my dolls. Writing, if not in my blood, was drummed into my head by the clack of those typewriter keys. By the time I was a teenager, I was writing my own stories-in notebooks or on paper sacks. It was a compulsion, something I absolutely had to do. I can honestly say that being a writer was never a choice I consciously made, but more an intrinsic part of my makeup. Imagine if you will, choosing not to breathe. That was how I felt about writing, that it was necessary to my survival.
3. My mother was always supportive of my writing bent in those early years. Later, my husband Sid joined my support circle. With both of them so firmly behind me, it’s hard for me to believe now that I didn’t immediately pursue a writing career. Perhaps every writer must dabble for a while before taking the leap. Whatever the reason, back then I was what I now term a closet writer. I stole time to write and hid my work in a drawer. Breaking into book publishing is difficult, and I was savvy enough about the business to know that. Becoming a published writer had always been my dream, but back then, I considered it to be an impossible one.
4. Meanwhile, I had a “real” life to live, and I decided I should go to college. After I took my entrance exams, the dean telephoned to inform me that my scores were very high, but what impressed him most was my grasp of English. That should have told me something, but I thought the dean called everybody. “Hello, this is Dean So-and-So, and I’m calling to tell you that you flunked.” I’d always excelled at English. So? I needed a real profession.
5. Sid was an entrepreneur, so I decided to major in accounting. It only made sense. I reasoned that I would be able to keep the books, get my credentials to be a CPA, and be a valuable asset to him. Big mistake. Though I excelled in those studies, proving to myself and everyone else that I did indeed have some left-brain activity going on, I was bored to tears. I often had an awful feeling of claustrophobia. Was this really what I wanted to do with the rest of my life? I began considering a change of major, but nothing sounded exciting to me.
6. One afternoon when I came home after classes, there was a letter in the mail, inviting me to join a sorority exclusively for women with high GPAs. I’d worked hard to pull those impressive grades. I should have been elated. Instead, I sat down, put my head in my hands, and wept. I felt as if I had dug a deep hole, jumped in, and would never find my way out. I know that sounds insane, but when you force yourself to walk a path that doesn’t beckon to your heart, you really are burying yourself, in a way. If I’d never heard the words, “debit” and “credit” again, I would have been happy. The next day I trudged to my classes and dutifully took notes. We’d spent too much money on my education for me to quit.
7. When I look back on it now, I know God truly does work in strange ways. That morning one of my professors asked if she could use samples of my creative writing on an overhead projector to teach. I actually skipped economics to stand in the hall and listen to what she said about my work. That old adage that you’ll never hear anything good about yourself when you eavesdrop is false.
8. That night I went to Sid and asked if he’d get mad if I quit school. I didn’t want to keep books. I wanted to write them! I just knew he’d be furious. Instead he bought me my first electric typewriter. A couple of years later, he sprang for a word processor. He never berated me for dropping out of school, and now he laughingly says the money he spent on writing equipment was the best investment he ever made.
9. With a man like that in my life, how could I become anything but a romance writer? I wish I could say the rest of my journey to becoming published was a slam-dunk, but I had a long way to go before my work was good enough to make the grade. Having the desire and a good command of English isn’t enough. Most of us must first learn our craft.
10. I will take a moment here to thank one very special person for helping me to do that. Her name is Stella Cameron. In those early days when I was struggling to perfect my work, she was a dear friend to me. I will always admire her, not only as a fine writer, but also for being such a wonderful person.
11. I sold my first book to Harlequin Intrigue and went on to write three more before I tried my hand at single-title historical romance. Nine books later, I did a single-title contemporary, followed by “Cherish,” another historical. I plan to start switching back and forth between contemporary and historical again soon.
12. I am now living my dream. The child who yearned to be a writer is now a woman who has accomplished her goal. Two years ago, Sid and I moved to Central Oregon. For several months, we lived on the river in a three-bedroom log cabin, which we loved, but it wasn’t large enough. Adding on to a log structure is tricky, and that was determined to be an unwise choice by several designers. Spring a year ago, we finally found a one-of-a-kind property, 160 acres of Ponderosa pines, surrounded by state and national forestland. The house, which sits on a ridge, offering spectacular, panoramic views of the mountains, has potential—which is why my office is in the blue print stage. Eventually we will have the home we want, sitting on the land we want.
13. For now, it’s adequate, and the seclusion is ideal for writing. In my leisure time, I love to go walking with my dogs. It’s incredibly freeing to set off from my front door and walk as far as I wish without seeing another house. In the evenings, weather allowing, we sit on the deck, sipping wine and enjoying the fabulous view. In cold weather, we watch it snow from the Jacuzzi. Occasionally deer or elk come calling. Being an animal lover of longstanding, I’ve become a vegetarian. Our land is posted with No Hunting signs. I even have a No Hunting sign on my birdhouse. Life is good up on Cinnamon Ridge, not just for us, but for all our furry friends as well.