I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer…okay, there was that brief period when I wanted to be a jockey, but that was a long time ago. I read Charlotte’s Web in the third grade and was hooked. I found I liked the fictional worlds in novels appealed to me far more than did the real world, and I couldn’t get enough. My mother bought me new books every week, and I devoured them.
In school, my imagination got me into a lot of trouble—but that’s as close to a confession as anyone will ever get from me. Suffice it to say that when it came to a choice between the fictional worlds I created in those spiral-bound notebooks I was never without won out over academics, and I quit school at fifteen. My guidance counselor told my mother that I could be a straight-A student, but I was bored. That pretty much summed it up. At home all day, I could write more.
At sixteen, I wrote my first full-length novel—and stupidly sent the handwritten manuscript to a major publisher. That should have been the end of that, but it wasn’t. Someone at Bantam took the time to read my amateurish submission and sent me a letter. She told me I had real talent, but wasn’t ready to show my work in the professional market yet. She kindly did not point out that manuscripts had to be typed and submitted by an agent. Not that it would have mattered. She told me I had talent!
That was all I needed to hear.
Shortly after that, an accident—a head injury—landed me in the hospital. My doctor also saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. “I have a surprise for you,” he announced one day. “You’re going to college.”
“I have a surprise for you,” I told him. “I didn’t finish high school.”
He wasn’t surprised. He explained that I could take the GED exam. Great. All my hard work to get over the wall, and I was now being sent back? College was considerably more fun than high school, and it did help me to discover the difference between journalists and fiction writers. Some writers can do both, but most fall into one camp or the other. I’m a fiction writer—right-brained all the way. Journalism requires sticking to the facts, and I’m not good at that. I like to make it up as I go along.
Becoming a mother provided me with the incentive to push ahead with my career plans — and was in a way the inspiration for my first published novel. I was working at a major advertising agency when the idea for that novel. Alexander’s Empire, came to me. As it happened, the account I was working on was being transferred to the agency’s New York office, and everyone in my group was offered the option to move to other groups, other accounts. I made a split-second decision to quit. It was time.
Within a year, I had an agent and a contract with a major publisher (Berkley) for a much larger advance than I ever expected for a first novel. Before that book was published—or even completed—I had a second contract for two more books and a six-figure advance. I went on to publish a total of fourteen novels with two major publishers, several of which became bestsellers, before turning to self-publishing, and ultimately, to Next Chapter. My son, Collin, who started out doing my research, began helping with plot and character development, and became my co-author on Chasing the Wind and its upcoming sequels. Now he’s working on a solo project, and I couldn’t be prouder.
I’m an animal lover—animals and birds. I’m currently working on a memoir of my parakeet Sam, who was with us for twenty-one years. I’ve had just about every kind of critter companion you can imagine. I love movies, especially disaster films and anything with superheroes—the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, I love them all. And I have a special fondness for the Minions. What can I say? I never really grew up. A fellow author once said Collin is the adult in our house.
Chasing The Wind