In elementary school, I was one of the writers for skits and plays. My fifth grade teacher habitually assigned one hundred word stories. For our mutual entertainment, I would write mine in one grammatically correct sentence. 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. Those first and second-hand accounts were much better than anything I could write and I abandoned that project. 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 still accumulated more than twenty credits in writing and literature courses. I also have over thirty credits in drama, which definitely helps my dialogue and scriptwriting. Through a few careers, my writing skills were put to use writing investigative court reports, individualized education plans for special education students, various other reports, and a grant proposal that brought $100,000 to Moffat County School District in Colorado.
In 2005, Michael Sellers, an independent film producer, asked me to help with a problematic script - a major revision in four days with specific requirements due to costs. The revision helped sell a backer on the project - so much so that the budget was high enough to go back to the original concept. However, I got my first paycheck for writing, an IMDb credit as creative consultant on Eye of the Dolphin, and motivation to write for a living.
I polished my first 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 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. It's still difficult to sell a cross, even with New Adult gaining traction. My first time self-publishing, I paid dearly for a "professional" package that did not live up to its name. I learned to buy my own ISBNs and self-published my next books through CreateSpace. I began helping others self-publish and speaking on the topic. I even wrote a book specifically for teachers to self-publish, which I've since removed from publication rather than try to keep updating it as the industry changes.
It took several tries to retire from teaching. I went back for a Masters of Administration with an emphasis in Professional Writing. Coursework covered professional and technical writing; professional editing; program evaluation; organizational management; project management; and documentation design. I'm using those skills for my clients. My writing skills are beginning to pay the bills and I'm still working on my own fiction. I've had a few articles and stories published - including a short story in a Saturday Evening Post anthology - and have two novels in progress that I will probably self-publish.