Like almost everyone I know, I started life as an infant. Though a skinny, wrinkled runt, my parents took me home anyway and raised me on their farm in Raleigh, North Carolina. As soon as I could walk, my two older brothers dragged me everywhere they went. We played outdoors from dawn to dusk, building forts, drinking water from garden hoses and running with sticks. Until the obvious physical changes forced me, I was convinced I was their bony, somewhat weaker brother.
I mention the weakness because, in truth, I was a sickly kid, stricken with constant bouts of croup. It was during these times of illness, while staying home with my mother, that I learned the beauty of words. I look back on the tedium of confinement under a croup tent as being magical instead of boring all because my mom read to me. She read endlessly: short stories, poems, fairy tales and adventure novels.
By the time I went to college, I’d left illness behind, but not my love of books. I also held on to my desire to be in the great outdoors so when I went back to college the second time—the first didn’t take—I decided to build a career around it.
Eleven years and a marriage came and went before I received my master’s from UNC at Chapel Hill and became a field geologist for a large mining concern. Several years of drilling holes and finding quarries passed and I became convinced my eggs were getting old and that if I ever wanted to have children, I needed a new husband. Imagine my delight in finding one that had a farm.
After twenty-five years of raising and training countless horses, two children, a multitude of dogs and cats and starting an oil portrait and fine art business, reading books as an escape grew into a desire to write them, too. It seemed a shame to have as many careers as I’d had and not write about them.
My first novel was a mystery involving the Quarter Horse industry. It took three years to write and wound up being about five-hundred pages. I saw the need for an editor. That’s when I really got lucky. All three of the editors who’ve helped me over the years—I started writing in earnest is about 2003—have been nurturing, stern and yet encouraging.
I reworked that first manuscript three times, was turned down by every agent in New York and every publisher in the country who’d allow submissions without an agent—but that was okay. By then, my children had left for school, we’d closed the horse business and I was more determined than ever.
I truly learned everything I know about writing from my editors, by carrying out their revisions and reading the books—everything from grammars to practical how-to’s—they suggested. When I finally got a break and a publishing company wanted one of my mysteries, it was only because my editor, Michele Slung, never gave up pitching it.
Now that I’m about to see my first novel published and should feel satisfied, the truth is, I don’t. Instead, I find myself chomping at the bit to create new adventures for Cleo, ones that stretch her abilities and thus mine. In short, I want to keep the fun rolling, with all the attendant thrills and excitement cranked up high, for the further enjoyment of both my readers . . . and myself.