The first time I ever thought I could be a writer was my senior year of high school when I wrote an essay about a bike race between my sister and I that ended in us crashing into each other at the finish line. I'd always loved writing stories before then--had notebooks full of them--but when my teacher chose my essay to be read aloud in class and I heard everyone laugh in all the right places, it made me realize the potential of telling a good story.
I grew up in Mesa, Arizona through summers where the bottoms of my shoes melted to asphalt and winters where I could wear shorts every single day (which I did one winter, just to prove I could.) I used to sit inside on those hot summer days and devour book after book. I read so much, my mom had to put a limit on my reading. More than anything, I loved genre fiction: Baby-sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and eventually all of my mom's Robin Cook and Mary Higgins Clark novels. And romance. I had a soft spot for all things romantic.
I graduated from Mesa High and went on to Brigham Young University for a few years where I took a creative writing class. There, I had the experience of my first critique group. That made me cry. And cry. And cry some more until I believed that I had no talent for writing whatsoever, and I dropped my English major. I then proceeded to major in communications, business (and the unfortunate summer of accounting and statistics pre-recs), nursing, and English teaching.
For my junior year, I transferred to Arizona State college and while there three very important things happened to me:
1) I met my husband at a church Valentine's Day dance. I introduced myself to him, he asked me to dance, and the 11 years and 4 kids later, meeting him is still the best thing that's ever happened to me.
2) I took an ethnic literature class as ASU that expanded my world view. My professor pushed me more than any other professor had done before. She didn't let me settle for "good enough" and in meeting after meeting with her, she encouraged me to reach deeper and never go with what's on the surface. At our final meeting, I turned in my last paper, one that I had labored over for many, many hours, and I had no idea what she'd think of it. After reading it, she asked if she could save it to show her classes next year as an example of the kind of writing she expects. I again found confidence in my writing.
3) Stephenie Meyer came to speak to one my YA lit class. It was a small class--only about twenty of us--and I had read Twilight in preparation of her coming. Twilight had just come out about a month before, so it wasn't popular yet like it would soon become. She was so down-to-earth as she told us about her journey and for the first time I thought: Writing books isn't an impossible dream. I could write a book and get it published. She's a stay at home mom with an engineering husband, just like me.
So I fell in love with writing. I graduated from ASU with a degree in English literature, and my husband and I moved from Mesa to Tucson, where I knew no one. I had lots of time on my hands, so I started to write and I wrote my first book--a YA romance. Since then, I have written 4 full-length novels and 3 novellas. Cedar Fort, a regional publisher out of Utah, picked up my first novel, an LDS romance. It became a Whitney Finalist, an award recognizing excellence in LDS fiction.
In the meantime, I had four children, all pretty close together in age. My oldest has Down Syndrome, which I blog about a lot, because it has not only shaped who I am, but those experiences with him and the world it's opened me up to can be seen in my writing.
I like writing books that make me do exactly what my Ethnic Lit professor taught me to do: Reach deep, go beyond the surface, and don't settle for "good enough." I love stories that make me laugh and cry, make me angry or giddy--no matter what, they make me FEEL.