Elvis recorded and shot his 15th movie, Kissin’ Cousins, the month I was born. Other more literary happenings that year included The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Names and Faces of Heroes by Reynolds Price. Puff (the Magic Dragon) was a hit song. Barefoot in the Park opened on Broadway. The Pro Football Hall of Fame began that year, and I’m embarrassed to say there wasn’t even a Super Bowl yet (my son would want to know that!). Mostly, I was oblivious to all the world happenings when I was a kid growing up in Dallas, like President Kennedy getting shot, Apollo 13 and Vietnam.
I grew up watching Gene Kelly movies. My backyard became a stage for my own musicals. Hence, the start of my own ‘That’s Entertainment!’ I not only loved to dance, but I began to write as well during these elementary years. My fourth grade teacher made me write a poem. I wrote about my dog, Sport. The poem was horrible. It was even worse having to read it to the class. So began my hatred of poetry. (I have since learned to love it, just not write it.) In sixth grade, my teacher introduced me to Edgar Allan Poe. I wrote a story, a dark Poe-esque type tale about murder and mayhem, and fell in love with writing. It, like choreography, tapped into my soul and unleashed my creativity like nothing else.
When I was a young teen, my brother, who was a few years older than me, introduced me to Elvis. I remember the summer he came home from college. He had one of Elvis’ records and would play You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog. I liked (Let me be your) Teddy Bear the best, but I also loved the soulful and sorrowful Crying in the Chapel. On my way to band practice, that August, I heard on the radio that Elvis had died.
The year before I graduated from high school, Lady Diana Spencer became Princess Diana, living out every little girl’s fairy tale of Cinderella. I went to college not knowing what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. A princess wasn’t practical or probable. My parents wouldn’t let me major in dance. Minors weren’t offered. So I ended up in a safe educational degree program. I actually liked the creative end of teaching, coming up with unique ways to teach. I loved reading books to the children and doing imaginative things in the classroom. But I yearned for something else.
My sister recommended I write, since I ‘wrote in my journal all the time.’ The idea took root and began to grow. So after five years of teaching, I quit and started writing, with no clue about the book business. Ignorance is bliss. If I’d known the odds against me, I might not have ever started writing.
For about three years, I wrote with a collaborator, but because I had so many ideas I began to write more stories on my own. I suffered numerous rejections. Deservedly so. But I was growing as a writer and learning. I went to as many conferences as I could manage. During that time, I met my future husband, fell in love and became engaged. I also began to final in contests and then actually began to win! The contests helped me get noticed by editors and agents. In March, the year Braveheart won the Best Picture Oscar, Victor/Victoria opened on Broadway and O.J.’s attorney said, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” I sold my first book. It was my Cinderella year. I sold my book, got married and won RWA’s Golden Heart Award in Hawaii.
Then life got busy, as it always does after ‘happily ever after.’ First I had books to write. But then the baby bug bit. Hard. Our first baby was born the year Shakespeare in Love won the Best Picture Oscar. And 15 months and fifteen days later, baby number two came along in birthing room 15, weighing 8 lbs, 7oz (which adds up to 15) on the 15th of the month. Weird, huh? And I have no idea what movies were out that year as I didn’t have time for movies.
If that wasn’t busy enough with two very small children, I wrote six books between my first baby’s birth and when the second baby turned one. It’s all a blur now. Thank God, literally, for video cameras which recorded the happenings for us since my brain memory malfunctioned. Then I hit a wall. Not literally. But creatively. It’s not that I didn’t have any ideas, but my ideas didn’t fit the romance market. These new characters, random and weird as they were, began to take over the part of my brain that wasn’t domesticated. These stories were about all types of women, and so I began to let my writing grow in new and different ways.
In the past few years, I’ve been writing but also homeschooling my children and growing spiritually (raising children and teaching them to read will certainly teach anyone patience). This past summer God pulled me in the direction of the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association). And when God moves, boy, He moves! In a very short period of time, I found a fabulous agent and sold Elvis Takes a Back Seat. It has definitely been the hand of God moving things along.