I love to read. It's a simple fact about me that has been true since I discovered the worlds of Judy Blume at the age of ten. This love of reading transferred to young romance (the early version of Young Adult when the stories weren't plagued by vampires, werewolves, and death) which hooked me on the romance genre and the fulfillment that comes with a happy-ever-after ending.
Twenty-five years later, I'm still an avid reader of all types of romance. The diversity of writing in the market ensures that there is always something new to read. I'm still a sucker for the happy-ever-after because there are more than enough not-so-happy endings in the real world that I don't need to read about them. I read a book for enjoyment and I want to feel good when the story ends.
I have the luxury of being a full-time writer. That is, a full-time writer around my duties as mom, wife, cleaner, cook, chauffeur, master scheduler, banker, cheerleader, volunteer, and tutor. Writing has to be a priority, or it would never happen.
I live in the Pacific Northwest which provides many months of rain-filled incentive to stay indoors and write. However, I'm a Midwesterner at heart. A perfect day has the snow falling outside, a fire warming the room, a football game on the television, a roast cooking in the oven, my family hanging out around me and a good book to read.
I'm thrilled to be nominated for a 2015 Romance Writers of America RITA® award (that's the Oscars of the romance world) for my Male/Male book Bonds of Denial. This is the first time any M/M books have been nominated and I'm humbled to be a part of such a great event.
I realized at the age of twelve that I wanted to be an author. I had just finished reading the Outsiders and was so moved I thought it would be wonderful to craft a story that touched someone so deeply. I promptly grabbed my pen and paper and sat down to write only to realize that writing a book was damn hard. That very first writing adventure was abruptly aborted, but the dream remained.
As my love for women's romance grew in my teens, I began to study the authors. Who were these women who could write such gripping stories? That's when I noticed that most authors were, well, old (at least in the eyes of the young, not so smart, me). They were all easily forty or older. So I decided I was simply too young to write a romance because I didn't know enough about life and love to write about it.
I told myself I'd write that book when I turned forty and knew enough to write. I then spent the next twenty-five years getting educated.
I graduated from college with a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication, traveled across Europe and North America as an education and training consultant implementing a computer software system into global companies. I dated many not-so-perfect men until I found my perfect man and married him. I had kids and I am still in the process of raising them with the expectation that I will probably screw up somewhere.
Then suddenly, I was thirty-nine years old and that big number forty wasn't so far away. I decided if I was going to write a book, it was time to get started.
I'm a firm believer that there's a reason for everything that happens in your life, even if you don't understand the reason at the time. It was during that year that I agreed to be the Treasurer of my son's elementary school Parent Student Organization. He was only entering kindergarten, so I'd never even set foot in the school when I agreed to the position. Despite the many curses and personal ass-chewings I gave myself for that stupidity, I firmly believe the reason I agreed to be the Treasurer was so I'd have the opportunity to meet the President, Darcy Burke, who introduced herself to me and boldly said she was a romance author.
A romance author. And she said it with pride. Not with the shame or stigma attached to it that I personally struggled with. She was still pre-published, but she was open about her writing and proud of the genre she was writing in. She inspired me to do the same.
In January of 2010, she took me to my first local chapter meeting of the Romance Writers of America. From there, I was off. I started plotting my book and, of course, I couldn't plan just one book. I wanted a series. A big, grand series, so that's what I planned. I finished my first manuscript six months later and let's just say it sucked. Holy wow, did it bite the big bad cake of cliché and all things I hate in a story. Seriously, who writes that crap? After ripping it apart and trying again, I had the revelation that my underlying conflict just wasn't strong enough. So out it went completely and back to the drawing board I went only to emerge with the world of the Energen--shape-shifting dragons and all.
My break came one year after I started my journey to become an author. In February of 2011, I was halfway through my first novel in the Energen series when I stumbled upon a Call Out from Samhain Publishing for apocalyptic themed romance novellas. My series was perfect, but I only had two weeks before the deadline. How could I possibly write a 25,000 word story in two weeks? Did I even have a story to write? It seemed impossible, but the thought wouldn't die. So I got up early the next day and decided if I could plot out the story, a valid one that went with my series, that morning then I would give it a shot. As it turns out, I did. So I wrote my fingers off and submitted the story figuring the worst case scenario would be a rejection. And, considering that it was my first submission anywhere to anyone, a rejection would be okay.
The name of that story was The Dragon Stirs, which the editor bought. In fact, she like it enough to buy it independent of the Call Out and expressed a desire to see the whole series. So there I was, forty years old with a publishing contract in my hands. To my surprise and pleasure, I'd done it.
I've loved, lost, hurt, laughed, cried, cheered, worked, and most of all, had a belief that everything would always work out. That in the end, there is a happy-ever-after for everyone. It's rarely easy. In fact, it's almost always plagued with pitfalls, bombs, and scraped knuckles. But I personally believe, it's worth it. If you never try, then you will never succeed. And life really is worth trying.