About: My Path as a Writer
I grew up with a Smith-Corona manual typewriter and Writer's Market on the dining room table - my mother wanted to be a writer. She never sold anything, but we developed serial bedtime stories together and she was a good first editor.
From the beginning of school, I considered myself a writer and helped compose skits and plays. My tenth summer was spent in the dusty archives of Patterson Library in Westfield, New York, researching captive stories so I could write a novel like Lois Lenski's book based on Mary Jemison's life. The firsthand accounts and those written by interviewers were much better than anything I could write from research alone, so I moved on to other projects. The next year in school, our fifth grade teacher regularly assigned stories of one hundred words. For our mutual entertainment, I would write mine in one grammatically correct sentence.
In my teens, I worked on school newspapers, becoming editor my last two years of high school. While I did not major in English in college, I accumulated more than twenty credits in writing and literature courses as an undergraduate, along with over thirty credits in drama and film, which helps my dialogue and scripts. The Psychology major included research design and steered me into civil service positions.
In 1981 I wrote and pitched my first novel, then stuffed it in a drawer after two rejection slips. I focused on my children for a couple decades. This included supporting them after divorce - as a child protection investigator and then as a special education teacher. The Master of Education degree included research and design. Through those years, I was still using my writing skills for such things as investigative court reports, individualized education plans, and a grant proposal that resulted in $100,000 for Moffat County School District in Colorado.
Late in 2004, Michael Sellers, an independent film producer and friend from college days, asked me to help with a problematic script. He needed a major revision in four days with specific requirements due to costs. The revision helped land enough backing to allow him to return to the original concept and hire a known writer for the final version. However, I got my first paycheck for writing in January 2005, an IMDb Credit as creative consultant on Eye of the Dolphin, and motivation to write for a living.
My first thought after that initial paycheck was to get a novel published. I wrote and polished a new novel with a great critique group and pitched it to agents and publishing house representatives at multiple conferences. Aside from the fact I was not pitching it as well as I would now, Running Away was realistic fiction while Twilight was still the rage and it was a YA/Adult fiction cross. Publishers prefer books that fit one category, because they're easier to market. So, in 2007, I used a "self-publishing company" and paid dearly for their "professional package" that did not live up to its name. However, it did get an Honorable Mention in Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards.
It took a few years to get my book away from that company. I learned to buy my own ISBNs and get my own copyrights, then self-published my next books and new versions of Running Away through CreateSpace - Amazon's new, free POD (print on demand) service. I started helping other people prepare their books for self-publication - editing, formatting, and walking threm through the whole process. As an advocate for responsible writing and self-publishing, I've been published in Literacy Today and Funds for Writers, given presentations and workshops at community colleges and conferences, participated in authors' panels for local television, and been interviewed on the radio. Professional Credentials has the full list and Media has a clip. I wrote a book for teachers, which I no longer update. CreateSpace no longer exists! Amazon now does POD as well as eBooks through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). I publish my own books through KDP and Ingram. I still do some workshops and have services Just for Authors.
Meanwhile, it took several tries to retire from teaching. As a retired teacher not yet eligible for Medicare, it was less expensive to pay for tuition, books, and health insurance as a grad student than it was to buy a policy that was worthless outside of a major calamity. Northern Arizona University offered a Master of Administration program with an emphasis on Professional Writing, so I went for it! The coursework offered practice writing and editing in a variety of professional formats, as listed on the Services page.
Being at NAU also allowed me to fulfill a lifelong desire to be an exchange student. The summer of 2012, I spent five weeks with a family in Lima through International Studies Abroad, taking six units of Spanish at Universidad del Pacifico and going on ISA tours with other students three weekends in a row - desert, mountains, and jungle. Once the initial surprise passed, I was accepted as a peer by people younger than my children. Several are still Facebook friends.
Degree in hand, I at first applied for grant-writing positions in the Bay Area, but the pay offered by non-profits would have meant living with a group of strangers in a closet. By the time COVID hit, I was starting to pick up freelance writing and editing gigs through internet sites. Then Michael Sellers connected me with a lawyer in Los Angeles for whom I now do sentence mitigation work - researching social history, doing phone interviews, then writing up a persuasive report for court. I still do other freelance work and provide author services.
Somehow, I still find time to write fiction.
Books: I've published Running Away: Maggie's Story, Peg's Story: Detours and Tough Times using both KDP for Kindle and IngramSparks for paperback and ePub versions. Distributors, bookstores, and libraries sometimes prefer dealing with Ingram. Tough Times is currently a semifinalist in the YA division of Kindle Book Awards. I'm revising that 1981 manuscript with a critique group.
Scripts: One of my screenplays was a finalist in the Sacramento International Film Festival and Running Away, based on my first book, was produced and is now on Lifetime and other streaming services. I've also written stage and audio scripts.
Short Stories: I have several short stories available through my blog and others that I am pitching to various publications, print and online. "Bad Mommy!" earned an Honorable Mention from a Writer's Digest contest and "Maria Angelica's Baby" is in Best Short Stories from the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2016.