So here I am.
The bestselling author of ten novels, three books of non-fiction and an entire storage shed filled with forty years of newspaper and magazine clippings, some really terrible poetry, and three book manuscripts I should just go burn right now.
I am one of those lucky people who knew by the time she was thirteen years old what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Notice how I didn't say who knew who she wanted to be when she grows up - I'm still growing.
Nancy Drew inspired me just like she inspired thousands of other would-be girl writers and adventurers and I still keep The Secret of Shadow Ranch, right next to my computer.
My first real job was working on a tomato farm-picking, packing, and sweating for a buck an hour. My mom would hose me off, honest, when I got home each day and listen while I talked about how I was going to move out to the mountains some day, write books, and ride horses into the sunset.
It's important to have a mother and father who just smile and listen when you verbalize your dreams. Apparently they believed me.
They believed me when I left home at fifteen to work my rear end off as a mother's helper near Chicago. They believed me when I said I had to go to college and would figure out how to do it myself because they could not help me. They believed me when I told them I was going to become a journalist. I am lucky enough to still have them believing me.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and left home for Montana about twenty seconds later. Somehow the next thirty years became a whirl of life experiences that I bundled up and now use on a daily basis as a full-time novelist.
Here's what happened to me.
Professional Girl Scout. Bartender. Window Washer. Worm Harvester. Caretaker. Camp Counselor. Waitress. Freelance Writer. Newspaper Columnist. Fulltime reporter. Assistant Bureau Chief. Bureau Chief. Professional Volunteer. Magazine Writer. University Teacher. University Newspaper Advisor. University Lecturer. Managing Editor. Nationally Syndicated Columnist. Author. Full-time Author. Wine Lounge Owner.
Along the way I got married. I had two babies. Then I got divorced. I moved to California, Utah, Arizona, back to Wisconsin, back to California and now I live in Florida. Whew!
I also traveled around the world and as a journalist covered just about every conceivable story - murders, court trials, natural disasters, baton twirling competitions, state fairs, political stuff and more murders. During my lively, often humorous, always exciting, and totally demanding career as a journalist I was also stalked, shot at, assaulted and threatened with everything from a rock to a shotgun. I hung out the side of helicopters, went to Bosnia during the war, flew an airplane, rappelled down a mountain cliff, almost drowned in the Colorado River and drank a lot of beer.
My first published book was a true crime tale. Then I wrote a book about the psychology of birth order. Then the wind shifted, the sky turned a lovely shade of dark blue, six dogs barked and it was simply time for me to become a full-time novelist.
And here I am-working on novel number eleven.
I am now living in Florida with my partner, Madonna Metcalf who is a Court of Masters Certified Sommelier and a Certified Wine Professional. (Whooo!!!) We co-own a wine lounge, The Wine Madonna, in downtown St. Petersburg where I hope to host your bookclub soon. My daughter, Rachel, is twenty-four and working and living in the Tampa Bay area at a job I barely understand - finance, investments, whatever....she's smart and I'm counting on her for my retirement. Her twenty-sevenyear old brother, Andrew, has just finished writing his first novel, is working on his graduate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, works as a counsultant for a Florida company, lives on a sailboat and paddleboards all over the place...just in the water though.
When I am not writing - I am thinking about it. I also try very hard to work out five or six days a week because I refuse to give up my wine. I also swim, ride my bike, golf, pine over the motorcycle I had to sell, am a pretty avid bird-watcher, hike, kayak, sketch little do-dads that resemble absolutely nothing, read everything I can get my hands on, fish a little bit with not much luck, and seriously believe that all the characters in my book are real.
Stay tuned. I'm just getting started.