The bio in the query letter I used to mail or email to potential publishers or agents said I’m a Missouri transplant living in Chicago. Which is true, but, like most people, the Where I Live is only a smallish part of my story. I am definitely and decidedly a Midwestern Gal, though I’ve lived in Colorado as well and have recently returned to Missouri’s Lead Belt area. It’s certain I have what my dear mother called a wanderer’s soul. It seems my nature has applied to many of my paths, not the least of which is this road to my literary adventures.
I love words, language, writing, grammar and books books books! My parents were avid readers and they passed those habits down. I believe anyone who enjoys recreational reading more than just casually-in-the-doctor’s-office has the idea in their head that they could/should try it, too. I started as a freshman on the high school newspaper staff and the itch just grew from there. During my life I’ve written professionally for newspapers, an alternative press magazine, commercials and an unholy schlew of personal journals. All while keeping “day jobs” at universities, book stores, live music theatres, television stations and an equally unholy schlew of restaurants. I have a habit of saying I’m a Jane of All Trades, Mistress of None. In the back of everything, during every career change, every fluctuation in salary or zip code or time zone, I have yearnedcravedlongedfor the chance to just sit down and write the books that I have in my gut. But, you know, that doesn’t necessarily keep the lights on. So, I stalled and postponed and distracted myself with doubt and excuse and “steady gigs.” I started several projects and just let them sit in my imagination’s dry storage. Characters, outlines and plot points all just getting dusty. Waiting for me to put on my big-girl pants and let them out to the light of day.
I’m exceedingly fortunate to have a support system that encourages my creative meanderings. In late 2009 my husband, Ryan (originally a California boy, but he’s got a good big streak of Midwest grit running through him, too), started seriously urging me to quit my day job and just finish writing The Farmer’s Story. At the time, I was 11 chapters in, with no end in sight. I’d been getting progressively more crabby for some years, feeling whatever talent I’d once had was just ebbing away with age and the wear and tear of Life As We Know It. Ryan made a plan that allowed me to leave my stressful full-time employment in early 2010–in a recession!–and just focus on my characters. The Farmer’s Story was published through AuthorHouse in September, 2010. Now, I’ve finished my second novel and am actively hunting a new publisher. I’m into novels 3 and 4 and the husband is still allowing me to gamble our financial future by keeping a part-time job and working hard to write full time. I am not exaggerating when I say that without his faith in me none of this would have happened.
I am certain that first novel was not technically perfect. But I love it. And I love those messed up people. When I’ve been asked “what’s it about?” I always throw up in my mouth, just a little bit. But I’m getting more comfortable saying The Farmer’s Story is about a man and his family who have lost a great deal, and must find their ways through the hard parts that come after loss.
My query letter for the first says novel it’s a story “about shared grief and the potential to move beyond.” Which is entirely true. It also says The Farmer’s Story is one to which we can all relate. Standing With Buffalo is that same kind of story. I’m more than sure The Philosophy of Wolves and Good Men and whatever other novels follow will be as well.