I've had a lifelong love affair with books. When I entered the first grade, I came home and seriously told my mother, "I'm not going to learn to read. It's too hard." Wisely, my mother said nothing. I thought mothers read to children, so children didn't have to learn to read, and I was always outdoors playing with the other two dozen or so children near my age on my grassy tree-lined street. Then, within a couple of days, I was already starting to read. And loving it.
The biggest treat of my childhood was a trip to the city's Carnegie Library, a big magical building which had stereopticons, giving you three-dimensional views of a treasure trove of photographs, and more importantly, hundreds--probably thousands--of books to read. My mother and I always asked for THE LITTLEST MERMAID on every visit. It was always checked out, but the prospect tantalyzed us, and there were so many other wonderful delights to carry home with us on each visit.
By the time I was in fourth grade, I discovered Nancy Drew. Never in libraries, but always on my Christmas lists until I think I had every one published at the time. Nancy Drew always was doing something, solving mysteries with daring and wit. Growing up it never occurred to me that girls couldn't be as brave and adventurous as boys--a lesson I carried with me subconsciously into college, where I majored in journalism. Once when I was an adult, a librarian spoke contemptuously of the Nancy Drew books. What she failed to understand was these books started girls loving to read. And they gave young girls a positive message about female self-image, about what they could do and be when they grew up, that they could be as capable and daring as boys. The books were beloved by so many girls. Grown ones today still speak fondly of them.
THE BLACK STALLION books by Walter Farley were also my favorites. The adventures of a boy and his horse, from shipwreck to the race track, fascinated me. It didn't matter that the main character was a boy. I identified with him, and thrilled to his story as much as if it could have been me. And I have always loved horses.
As an adult living in a small town where a one-time girls' college offered courses in horseback riding, I took saddle-seat lessons, one of the joys of my life. And later I took hunt-seat lessons, learning to ride horses over jumps. Really fun.
The love of horses ran in my family. My mother as a young woman taught in a one-room schoolhouse, and rode horseback to her schoolhouse every day, jumping fences rather than going the long route by the road. And way back, during the Civil War, a great-something grandmother of mine lived on a horse farm raising thoroughbreds in Kentucky. When the Yankee army approached, she took their last stud horse out to hide him in the tree-shaded creek. The rest had gone to "The Cause," the Confederate army. Along came my great-something grandfather, in Union blue, who stole the horse from her, kissed her, and said he would be back after the war to marry her.
He did come back and marry her. I always wondered if there were no eligible men left in Kentucky, or she just wanted the horse back. They moved to Kansas, where they raised--what else?--horses, and had ten children. I still have a photograph of the family, though the children were grown, and she must have passed away by the time it was taken. The grandfather is there, in a huge wooly beard. On the back he wrote he'd had ten children, and never lost a child or a tooth. But then he looked so fierce, who would have dared to leave?
She must have liked him because when an editor in their town wrote something derogatory about him, she horsewhipped the editor up the main street. [Not proper etiquette as far as this former journalist feels.]
I also have photographs of my maternal grandmother, who as a young woman taught in a log-cabin schoolhouse in the Oklahoma Territory. And my grandfather, as a very young boy, rode in a wagon on the Cherokee Strip, when new settlers raced to stake out land in Oklahoma. On my father's side of the family, one of his uncles was one of the first state legislators in Oklahoma, who played a fiddle when he went out to campaign for election. Kind of make me a Okie, I guess.
In college, I worked on the school newspaper, first as a reporter then features editor and managing editor. And after college, I worked as a newspaper reporter and feature writer for a large metropolitan daily in Connecticut.
When my toddler went through the catch-every-bug phase in early childhood, I sat down at home to write my first book, about silver mining on the Comstock Lode. An historical novel, TOUCH THE SUN, it was published by Doubleday & Company. When I finished my second historical novel, Fawcett Gold Medal wanted it, but wanted me to add a little "spice," to be published as a historical romance. That, originally titled, NONE BUT THE RIGHTEOUS, became DEFIANT DESIRE, which sold into a second edition. RECKLESS FIRES, set in San Francisco at the time of the 1906 earthquake, followed, a lead title for Fawcett along with my next book, EAST OF JAMAICA, set on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. The newest historical romance on Kindle and Nook is DARE THE WILD WIND, set in 18th Century Scotland, London and the Caribbean.
I tried a different direction with a three-generational Hollywood saga, published by NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY. And another straight historical set during the Revolutionary War, RIDE FROM THE NIGHT. All but my first book, TOUCH THE SUN, are available on Kindle and Nook. TOUCH THE SUN won the Missouri Writers Guild Award for Best Book of the Year at the time, but is different than the rest of my books in that the main character is a hero, and romance is a smaller element. I've had it scanned, but haven't put it up online as yet.
Married to an aerospace engineer, I have lived from the East Coast to Missouri to Colorado and now in California. I've been fortunate to join a group of other writers called Fictionaires, a writer's workshop by invitation only, where we critique one another's manuscripts and in general have become a family since I have moved to California.
I have other books in the offing, and continue to write both in historical genres and a contemporary thriller not yet up online.