My destiny as a writer was pretty much set by the age of twelve when I got a typewriter for Christmas. I converted my vanity into a desk and started typing and fell in love with the process, the freedom of words, the mental exercise, the absolute thrill of watching words unfold into ideas, and then into stories right before my eyes. I built up quite a hidden stash of short stories, poems, and essays when I was younger but I didn't write my first novel for another fifteen years.
Two of my three boys were still in diapers when I snuck off to a corner of the basement to finish it. The book was a historical romance and I was wise to file that one away. I expected more from myself and I wasn't ready yet. I continued to write short stories and poems. I even wrote a play. With busy toddlers and a new puppy tearing up the house and juggling a job with the Red Cross I still managed to crank off a book of non-fiction in nineteen days called Women Drivers Have the Right of Way. Then I designed a magnetic propulsion car and built a model prototype, destroyed a love seat with my bare hands, and designed a couple of houses. I'm living in one now. I should explain that I've been designing and building things since first grade. My parents were looking to build our next house so there were books and books of designs and floorplans lying around and I had way too much fun with those. Creative types don't usually stick to one outlet or another. Architecture was a very real possibility to me except for - you guessed it - the math. But I digress.
So anyway, after getting a little detoured from full scale writing for a while, I subsisted on essays for a number of years just to keep writing. I eventually changed careers and found myself laid off every winter and I took advantage of my time alone to explore another novel. I missed creative writing because everything I was doing at that point was skewed towards global themes; politics, the economy, and religion. I wrote essays about Hugo Chavez, North Korea, Iran, the American auto industry, and the environment. I even drew a few editorial cartoons. I'm an information junkie what can I say? But I put my social commentary aside to write Shadows and Doubts and I was quite pleased with it. I followed that the next winter with Grading on Curves, and In Love and War came the next winter.
I have to say that In Love and War was a story I really needed to write. The US was in Iraq and I immersed myself in the news; listening to stories, pursuing information wherever I could find it, and following how the press was both used and prevented from doing their jobs while there. I knew I needed to have a bold journalist under fire and a woman who loved him, desperate to bring him home alive. I have four pages worth of references to include with that baby. I'm just glad I didn't get raided by the FBI for all that research. I might have popped up on their radar like another Unibomber. My son Spencer told me he half-expected it. Imagine smiling and waving at these scowling agents as they're lugging your computer and files away while trying to convince them you're only writing a romance. Uh huh, yeah, sure.
The next winter I wrote a lighter story, Caution: Filling is Hot and I love it. But, knowing me, I needed to wade into weightier subjects and domestic violence was in the news almost daily when I began Friends and Lovers, a tale of unrequited love finally realized and the outside forces that threaten their rosy future. Then came Forest Fires and finally Accidents Make the Heart Grow Fonder. That's my affectionate homage to my love of slapstick and saucy comebacks, of sexual tension and eyebrow raising shenanigans. I had a riot writing it and smiled the entire time. Loved it, particularly the dialogue. I want Jackson's brother Rob to have his story next called Soothe Me Baby but I'm also working on another story called In the Mood and unfortunately both have suffered while I've been pursuing publication this winter and taking courses through the RWA. I need to find more time to focus on them.
So there it is. My brief history of writing. I know, it looks long doesn't it but if you think about it, we're talking almost thirty-five years here. All in all I don't think I did such a bad job condensing this down to one lengthy blog. Right? Right? There you go.