I wrote my first novel when I was in the sixth grade; and I’m confessing now, publicly, that I stole school paper to do it. What a thrill when I got to page one hundred. To this day when I see that number on a first draft I feel a rush knowing the book I’m struggling over is real, not merely a daydream, and that I have what it takes to finish it. Writers go a long time without external validation, and I think to succeed we have to create such mini-victories for ourselves.

For years I wrote nothing but first chapters, longhand, often sitting up in bed after a long day teaching school in London, Geelong and Changuinola, Panama. I traveled poor in my twenties, hitchhiking, often without money. I shudder at the memory of the risks my friends and I took in countries where we barely knew the words for “please” and “thank you,” but I don’t recall giving danger much thought. Life was an adventure, a gourmet meal, and we were gobbling it up.

When I taught on a banana plantation in Panama, writing was a great escape from the tedium and heat. I lost myself in exotic first chapters and dreamy-eyed visions of other lives far from the poverty and bigotry I saw around me every day. In London I taught at an East End school where again I encountered poverty; but the cockney children had light and generous hearts and took me into their lives as naturally as if I were a stray puppy. I took a class in Modern American writers at the University of London that year; and though I felt pretentious even thinking it, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

I never actually finished a story until the first year my husband and I lived in Washington, DC. By then I’d given up teaching and gotten an MA in Broadcast Journalism from American University. My science fiction story, “Piper, What Song” was bought and published and so was a second, “A Dream of Trumpeters.” Awash in visions of runaway success, I gave up my day job — I was receptionist, secretary and an on-air personality at WAMU-FM, the District’s big NPR affiliate — and began writing fulltime.

Even during the years when nothing sold, I knew that if I stopped trying I would never be able to live with my disappointment. In myself. It was almost twenty years between my tenth published novel and my eleventh, and sometimes it seemed hopeless. But my husband, Art, and our boys, Rocky and Matt, never lost faith in me. Their confidence was a life raft, all that kept me from drowning in self-doubt.  And plain exhaustion.

When you read my books, I hope you find something of yourself in the women I write about. I hope their struggles and victories inspire and move you. Someone asked me why I write and though the full answer is too long to write here, it comes down to this: I write because I have always written; and if I stopped an essential part of me would stop too. I write because all my life I have loved stories, loved figuring out what makes people do the wild and weird things they do. I write because I want to connect with you, establish a bond between us based on common experiences and shared reflections.

If I have succeeded, connect with me through the webpage or on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.