I was born a left-handed middle child, bookended by two sisters. That should tell you a lot already. In the small Pennsylvania Dutch area town where I grew up, everything worth going to could be reached by bicycle: school, a nearby stable, the Legion ball park, and the one-room library in the Fire Hall where I’d read most of the books by age twelve. My own literary ambitions began in the fifth grade when I wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a puppet show which went on a tour of all the elementary classes in our old-timey red brick schoolhouse and got me out of several afternoons of class. Immediately, I saw the merits of a literary career.
In high school, I bombarded the school literary magazine and newspaper with my poems and stories, the product of what my mother called “an overactive imagination.” When the time came to choose a college major, the answer was simple: Archaeology, another big interest of mine. I knew by then it was hard to get a start as a writer. However, my parents deemed archaeology an impractical choice they were not willing to finance. I did the next best thing by getting a liberal arts degree in English Literature and loving every minute of it.
After college I landed my first job—as a cashier in a burger joint, honestly. I was taking a summer semester at UNC, trying to get a start on an MA in American Literature. I had another job as a reader for a blind student. He finished his degree. Having figured out an MA in lit wasn’t going to get me a better career, I did not.
I wandered to Germany where I worked as a kitchen helper and a secretary at a military rod and gun club. Then on to California to clean the pool and laundry rooms at the apartment complex in exchange for rent while holding a number of part-time jobs: door-to-door surveyor, men’s underwear salesperson at Penney’s, and typist of classified ads. Unable to afford to buy books, I spent much of my spare time in the local library. One of the librarians remarked I could go down the road to San Jose U., get a library degree in two-years, and make a decent living. Man, I finished that degree in eighteen months.
Clutching my MA in Librarianship, I headed for Louisiana where the oil boom generated taxes that went into building new public libraries. I found a job running an interlibrary loan and reference network for a ten parish (county) area, dream work answering strange questions all day and tracking down books people wanted. The hardest were the seldom cataloged paperback romances that went out of print so quickly, and still do. Striking a deal to trade donated books for the desired paperbacks at a used book store, we solved this dilemma. I had it all—an interesting job, a helicopter pilot husband who worked for the oil industry, two terrific daughters, and a house in the country. And then, the marriage ended.
Desperately needing better paying employment to support my kids, I took on the directorship of a parish library system in the heart of Cajun country and wrote two romances at night and on weekends. The books did not sell, but I did and do love living in this part of the state, almost like a foreign country with a different language , customs, great food, wonderful people, and crazy politics. On the good-bye cake at my first library, the staff spelled out in icing, “She tasted bayou water”, which means I am here in southwest Louisiana to stay. Cajun country is the setting for most of my books.
For the next twenty-two years, I built and renovated libraries, computerized the system, created vibrant children’s programming and an adult lecture series. I met my second husband when he came to speak about Halley’s Comet. We married and had a son. Needless to say, I had no time for creative writing until I underwent surgery and was ordered not to cook, clean, garden, drive, or go to work for six weeks, the longest vacation of my life. Quickly bored, I dug out some old short stories and rewrote them, revised the two novels stored in the closet and wrote two more. By the time I retired, I figured I would die buried under the unsold manuscripts bowing the closet shelf. Seemed like a good time to try to get some of them published—and five years later, I did, Goals for a Sinner, number five of fourteen.
What else do I do besides write? I love to travel, especially long road trips. I used to adore baking and flower gardening, but have given these up for high-fiber meals and painting floral pictures. I keep hoping the Saints will make it to another Super Bowl. I watch professional bull riding on TV. Archaeology is still an interest, anything historical really. I’ve been on a few digs and give tours at a local ante-bellum home. Being an active member of the Heart of Louisiana Chapter of RWA helped get that first book published. And as one friend said, I still have a closet full of treasures.