I guess I’ll start out with the basics. I was born and raised in Salina, Kansas. You may not have ever heard of it, but it actually gets a shout out in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the musical and film versions of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and one episode of Angel (which means a lot to this Joss Whedon fan).
I grew up loving four things: acting, singing, reading, and writing. Acting and singing was part of being in my family; my dad’s an attorney and my mom works at a non-profit, child-abuse-prevention center, but they have always loved the arts, and all five of us (including my younger brother and sister) were often in productions at The Salina Community Theatre together.
As for the other two loves, the love of reading came from my father (which came from his father) and the love of writing came along with it. Before I could read or write I dictated stories to my mother who (bless her heart) would write them down for me. I actually wrote a “novel” in middle school that was about 100 pages long and basically a rip off of every book and TV show I liked at the time. It was called Open Windows and I truly pray that it no longer exists anywhere in the world.
In high school, however, writing took a backseat to singing and acting. I went to Friends University in Wichita majoring in vocal performance but after one semester of Music Theory I realized that it wasn’t for me. I switched my major to English and the professor of my American Literature class basically changed my life. She showed me that literature really was my greatest love, and when I took her Creative Writing class and she said, “You are a writer,” I truly believed it for the first time. After graduation I started sending out my short stories for in hopes of publication.
In the meantime, I married my husband (whom I met in our college choir) and we moved to Winfield – about 45 minutes south of Wichita – where he had gotten a job as the high school choir teacher. I got a job teaching English (and later, Creative Writing) at the high school in Arkansas City, about 10 miles away. Over the next five years I succeeded in getting seven of my short stories published in various print and online journals, and in 2009 I gave birth to my beautiful son, Maximus Wayne.
In the summer of 2011, when Max was about 20 months old, I decided (at the prompting of my former college professor, who continued then and continues still to read and edit my work and give me the strength to journey on) to finally write a novel. All I knew when I started was that it would be a young adult book, because that is where my heart still lies as far as literature is concerned. Somehow, while being a full-time working mother (with a very busy husband), I finished the book in almost four months and began to query in November.
In my next post I will describe the roller-coaster ride of querying and the glorious story of how I got my wonderful agent.