I grew up in Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver, when it was still a small town. My father and both grandfathers switched up between logging and fishing so I grew into a quintessential BC girl: green, natural, and impervious to rain.
I started reading romance in high school. The first one I really remember featured a heroine researching her family tree in Scotland who meets a distant cousin (very distant!) and falls in love with him. I don’t remember much about the actual story, just the amazing setting, a heart-stopping kiss, and a happily ever after. I knew this was my kind of book and began consuming romances voraciously. Within a year or so, I wanted to write them for a living.
However, I thought becoming a writer was something you did when you were old. It was your second career. (Kinda turns out to be true in my case. Hashtag SpoilerAlert.) I still gave it a shot at twenty, taking up writing about the time I moved in with my high school sweetheart.
The key to writing, for those of you wondering, is to actually show up to the keyboard and make words land on a page. While I received my first rejection from Harlequin Presents when I was twenty-one, for the first decade or so, I was hit and miss at actually producing stories and sending them in. We traveled, got married, had kids… the usual distractions.
I also worked at various office jobs from a ski hill, to a real estate office, to a chiropractor’s office, to an air conditioning installer and some manufacturing facilities. None of these jobs was particularly glamorous and rarely a day went by when I didn’t imagine myself quitting to write full time.
When my husband took a job in the interior of BC, I thought my ship had come in. I was a stay-at-home writer for the first year, started writing for the local paper and concentrated on finishing manuscripts. When money got tight, I took a part-time job in yet another office. It turned into a fulltime job and I kept writing on the side, still hoping, dreaming, of someday writing full time.
I should mention that along the way, much like a gambling addict, I had just enough success to keep me going. I placed in several writing contests, most notably: HUSTLED TO THE ALTAR was a Golden Heart finalist and an American Title finalist. I also had an agent for a time. In 2008, I was notified that my story was a runner up in the Instant Seduction contest with Mills & Boon in London. I was convinced this was finally my big break.
Four. Years. Later…. And several (five or six) manuscripts later, they called to offer me a two-book contract. Did I quit my job? No. All those years of rejection had taught me not to count my chickens. So I wrote and worked and somehow managed to stay married despite the fact I didn’t really participate in family life or household chores. I’m surprised my kids didn’t sue me for neglect.
Almost a dozen books and two years later, I did quit my job. As of May 2014, I am a full-time writer and it is awesome. Click for my printable book list and you’ll see that I don’t have any problem with showing up at my desk and doing the work. I’ve even managed to pull a few of my old rejected manuscripts into the pile of paying titles. (Take heart from that, fellow rejected authors!)
And I was lucky enough to have one of my first books, PROOF OF THEIR SIN, nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. Having been a bridesmaid in so many contests, I was fairly convinced I’d remain honored to be nominated, but I won! Click here to see me with my daughter after I accepted the award.
What’s next? Well, I love, love, love writing for Harlequin Presents so expect as many of those out of me as they’ll take. I have some fun novellas with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born imprint and I have a few more of my rejected tomes I’d like to revise and publish. Honestly, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this career going so I never have to work in any office except my own ever again.