Yesterday I shared this post in the Whispers in Wyoming Facebook reader group. The other writers in this exciting new Contemporary Christian Western Romance series are also sharing about their writing journeys in the group this week. Feel free to join us and find out more about these talented authors I feel so blessed to know and work alongside: Danni Roan, Kari Trumbo, Rachel Skatvold, Tina Dee, Kit Morgan, and Caroline Clemmons. They’ve helped me grow and stretch as a writer and I’ve learned so much working with them. If you’re already blessed to have read a few of the books in this series, you’ll be delighted to know the writers contributing to our series has expanded and we’re excited to see how the series will take shape and grow. Here’s the link to the Facebook reader group to find out more, and learn more about these authors : https://www.facebook.com/groups/WhispersinWyomingRomance/
Here’s a copy of my post about my writing journey. I’d like to preserve it here on my blog for other readers, so I’m excited to share it with you here as well–:
From a very early age, I was drawn to writing and books. I remember writing my first story into a “book” at age 5 before I knew how to spell. We lived in Apple Creek, Wisconsin where I attended kindergarten in an elementary school across from a ginormous Catholic church. Well, I think it was Catholic. I also was a Brownie in Girl Scouts at the time and we had our meetings in that church. During free time in my kindergarten class, I drew the scenes and then asked the teacher to write down the sentences I wanted for each of the pages. Then I asked her to staple the little book together for me. It was my very first story when we were done and my own edition of “Curious George.”
Around age eight or nine, when we were living in Minnesota, my grandmother sent me the “Little House ” books in a box set. How I loved those books. It didn’t help any that my mother made my sisters and I prairie gowns with bonnets and my Great Aunt Elsie gave each of us girls dolls wearing bonnets and calico dresses. I was hooked on books and everything old-fashioned from that point on, so that’s part of how my slogan was born, “The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl.” Every year beginning during my early school age years, my mother gave each of us girls a diary for Christmas and I began a long and rewarding journey of journaling. Then, the “Little House” television series began and even though millions of other little girls my age were also watching the program, I was sure no one loved the show more than I did.
During these years, I was also becoming a voracious reader. My parents went through a divorce and I found myself becoming a daydreamer kind of child. I think this has actually helped my writing journey. Time alone as a latch key kid also gave me plenty of room to develop creativity in both writing and art. A few of my books contain some of my own illustrations and sketches, but I would never have developed these abilities if the Lord hadn’t allowed me to go through some challenges.
In 5th grade, I took first place in my elementary school spelling bee and went on to represent the district for the state level. This grew my confidence in reading and writing. In 8th grade, I won a prize for a short chapter story and some of my poetry. I was thrilled and surprised. Around this time, babysitting earnings gave me enough funds to purchase my very first typewriter. It was a second-hand Royal, but how I loved to attempt to plunk out stories on that typewriter. It cost $ 67.00, my entire savings. It was in the window of a shop beside the Ben Franklin nickel & dime store. I’ll never forget seeing it and the exhilaration of having my very own typewriter. Now I could type more stories.
In 9th grade, a personal typing class helped me along in my journey. I had been plunking out stories and letters for so long that I had no trouble earning the spot as the fastest typist in the class. I was finally finding my stride and a few things I was good at. By the time I was thirteen, I knew I wanted to be a mother and a writer when I grew up, and maybe even a teacher, too.
Blogging, continuing to keep a personal journal, and reading voraciously kept improving my writing abilities during my early adult years and motherhood. I read as many classics as I could find, including “War and Peace,” “Middlemarch,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Oliver Twist,” “Queen Victoria’s Diary,” “Little Women,” the “Anne of Green Gables,” Jane Austen books, and many more. Along the way, I discovered the world of modern day Christian historical and contemporary writers. That blew me away. I was so happy to find writers who loved to share their faith in Christ in an interesting way. I had a career in human resources and numerous other jobs during this time until I became a full time mom and homeschooling parent. The Lord had answered a dream of my heart and allowed me to become a mother and a teacher. I was so thankful, but I had this feeling that there was still something more I could do and longed to do.
In 2010, my children were becoming more self-sufficient and I felt such a strong desire to write, so I wrote my debut novel and published it in 2011, “To Find a Duchess.” The Lord asked me to un-publish it for one year. This was gut-wrenching and I was miserable, but I did as He asked.
I thought I’d die of boredom that year, honestly baffled and confused. Nonetheless, I had to do what the Lord was directing me to do. I realized later, God had asked me to lay that book on the altar of Isaac. One year later, the Lord told me I could put it back up for sale. He spoke to my heart and said, now I know your books will never be more important to you than I am. It gave me some indication that He would prosper my journey as a writer, and since I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t have connections to many writers at this point, this was a comforting feeling to me to know He was watching over me and my writing. I felt He was deeply interested in my work and valued my contribution even if no one had heard of me or my books at this point.
Writing feels like an act of worship to our Savior for me… something I’m trying to do to contribute to the Kingdom since I had struggled for many years to find my place within the body of Christ. I felt a deep longing of my heart finally answered. The little girl in kindergarten who wrote about ‘Curious George’ and loved Jesus and early American pioneers had finally found her place in the world, a place where she might be able to make a difference.
I have been writing more books ever since and recently published my 11th novel, but I try to be very careful to write a message or theme in each book along the lines of what the Lord wants me to share. I believe each of my books are a piece of my heart I’m writing for the Lord as a gift. He has a way of getting through to me and has asked me to give most of the proceeds of my books to missions. The rest of my profits usually help me purchase the next book cover or do a bit of advertising, so your shares, kind reviews, and support are crucial and so helpful for my work.
Looking back, I can see the Lord has prepared me well for writing on my life’s journey. He has also surrounded me with other wonderful writing friends and loyal readers to help me along in this journey and I’m so thankful for each and every one. There are times when without my writing friends and loyal readers, I’m sure I would feel stuck and not be sure what to do to grow as a writer in this industry. I feel like I’ve been on several learning curves and yet there is still so much to learn and do to improve my writing craft.
Thanks for joining me today to hear a little more about my writing journey. I’m so thankful and humbled to have a purpose in life. I really enjoy the journey. Each day in writing is an adventure. Connecting with readers has been incredibly rewarding. Many times I am deeply inspired by my readers to keep going, to keep trying, to keep sharing the truth of the gospel in a way that touches and encourages readers in their walk with the Lord. Somehow, I feel we are encouraging each other.
Being a bit of a daydreamer, the question I asked our Whispers in Wyoming readers yesterday is this one: Reading can take us anywhere we’d like to go. What country, city, small town, or place would you like to know more about? Perhaps I’ll make one of my future heroines and some part of a future setting from one of your suggestions…