In each little girl there lurks a storyteller…
For this girl, it started with a love of reading from an early age. I didn’t learn to read easily. My mother had been a first and second grade teacher for nine years before I was born. She often quipped that I was the only child she couldn’t teach to read. Between second and third grade, I spent one summer going weekly to visit a very nice reading teacher, Mrs. Hayes. One of the drills I remember the most was speed reading. At such an early age, it was a skill that paved the way for a love of reading into adulthood.
That same year, my mother gave me Little House on the Prairie to read on an airplane ride to Hawaii. I devoured the book and my mother ended up buying me the entire series, which then had to be divided up among the family luggage to get back home.
My family had a love of fishing, hunting, camping and skiing. There was always a lot of down time and before one of these “puppies in the whelping pen” camper and later motor home claustrophobic experiences, we’d go to the bookstore where each of us could get four or five books for the trip. The memories are still so vivid, I can tell you which books I read for certain trips.
Fishing at Paulina Lake equaled three Choose Your Own Adventure books by RA Montgomery.
Fishing at The Chewaucan River equaled Anne of Green Gables.
And most impressive of all, while my family was duck hunting at Summer Lake outside of Paisley, Oregon, I got a good look at a romance novel for the very first time. It was my mom’s copy of Vows by LaVyrle Spencer. I was thirteen, but Mom told me I probably wouldn’t like it.
Au contraire mon cheri!!! I read it, I loved it!
The next time we went to a bookstore, I bought Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
At the ripe age of fourteen, I tried to write a manuscript, a young adult mystery about a brother and sister, named Sam and Laura Carson. I wrote it long hand and finished it on a pheasant hunting trip to a place called Cow’s Hollow near the Idaho border.
I sometimes think books were the drug I used to deal with all the fishing and hunting around me as the only thing I can really stomach killing is my competition and fictional antagonists. I remain, aside from my beloved sister-in-law, the only member of my family not to hunt.
It wasn’t until two years after my divorce that I accidentally got reacquainted with my old friend, writing. A friend suggested that I journal my feelings about my divorce from the abusive alcoholic ex-husband. My mind was having a hard time dealing with the fact that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors in anyone’s marriage. In this case, my ex enjoyed telling me that no one would believe me and that he was the voice of reason. If only I would listen to him, we could be happy…
The journaling experiment lasted about a page. I started referring to the journal as ‘the book of hate’. A year later, I had a draft for The Voice of Reason, the story of a woman who murders her famous, marriage counselor ex-husband and gets away with it.
Scenes from that manuscript have finaled in five contests, including two 1st Places.
And when I read my ex-husband’s obit a few years ago, I called the medical examiner to make sure he died of natural causes. (Rest assured: He did.)
The bottom line is this: Writing is always there to help me through good times and bad. I am beyond lucky to have found such a wonderful passion. And the best part, other writers not only understand that passion, they have a form of it themselves.