The oldest of four children, I was born in 1960 in Edmonton, Alberta – my mother’s hometown. But in 1967 my family moved to Calgary – my father’s hometown. (Why is it families always end up in the guy’s city?) Anyway, I’ve been a book lover forever. My mother taught language arts, and we were all encouraged to read, read, read – especially during the winter when it was cold and got dark by dinner time!
I started writing at an early age too (I was destined to be a writer, actually, since I share the same birthday as Dr. Seuss). In grade 3 I wrote my first poem (see below) for a class assignment. It was published in the school bulletin and won a ribbon. I sure wish I had a copy of that bulletin!! After this, my grandmother gave me a copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses, and I was hooked on writing poetry! Here’s my first (brilliant) published work:
I see a little monkey,
Who swings from tree to tree.
But then he stops swinging
And winks an eye at me.
I made a funny face
The monkey did the same.
I wish he could come home with me
For he was very tame.
I continued to write throughout school and university, but I never got serious about it until I was MUCH older. In the meantime, I grew up in Calgary, did a lot of skiing, spent summers in Windermere, British Columbia, and traveled a lot with my friends – to Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Europe, Russia and Africa. I earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1982 from the University of Calgary. I wasn’t much interested in business, but I wanted to get a job that paid well (so I could afford my own apartment and more trips). I certainly didn’t consider a career in writing as I was MUCH too practical!
When I graduated I got a, then prestigious, job at Arthur Andersen. Soon, I was sent to Denver, Colorado for a 6 month assignment. While there I met my future husband, Jay – but we only dated for a couple of months before I went back to Calgary. We couldn’t bear the separation!!! Actually, we maintained a long distance romance for three long, expensive years, until Jay finally proposed. Our phone and airline bills were horrendous! We got married in 1986 in Calgary, and guess who had to move?
You guessed it! Shortly after moving to Denver, I took a correspondence class in children’s literature and started writing short stories and poems. I needed a hobby since I had to leave all my friends and family behind in Canada (sniff, sniff). I really enjoyed the writing and many of my pieces were published in children’s magazines.
But during this time we started a family. Steven was born in 1989 and Casey in 1991. Boy, were we busy! I was now working part-time, still in the information technology world. And though the money was good, it was starting to lose its appeal. I toyed with the idea of writing for the book market, and maybe even making a career out of it.
However, when Rachel was born, in 1994, I temporarily put these plans on hold.
Luckily, I found that I couldn’t stay away from writing forever. In 1999, inspired by a writer friend, I decided to go for it. My goal was to get a manuscript accepted before I turned 40. My other goal was to quit my job so I could write full-time (in between taking care of three kids, a husband and house). I wrote a number of stories and started submitting to publishers. I joined a critique group and started going to writing conferences. My writing steadily improved and, that same year, I got a call from Kids Can Press – they wanted to publish JASPER’S DAY! It was a dream come true! (Now that I know how long it can take to get published I realize it was an outright MIRACLE.)
I’ve never looked back and, in a leap of faith, I quit working a regular day job in 2002. Since then I’ve been writing, dabbling in real estate and, most recently, working very part time at the rec center I go to. I also keep busy spending time with my family, traveling, going to yoga class, swimming, walking, hiking, biking, reading, movies, going out for dinner and, as often as possible, visiting friends and family in Calgary!