In first grade, I learned to put pencil to paper, found a ready outlet for my imagination, and began to write stories. By the time I reached high school, I'd filled a stack of notebooks. This pursuit continued down through the years and eventually, I decided to take my love of writing to a new level. Borrowing money from a friend, I invested in an introductory, creative writing class at Southern Methodist University, then went on to classes in short stories and novels.
Since the classes were expensive, I and some of my fellow students skipped taking more and started our own writers' group. Prior to each gathering we would email our most recent pages to each other, print, read, and make comments in the margins. We met in the coffee shop of a bookstore and the initial question usually was, "Who wants to be the first victim?" We were tactful, but merciless in our criticism of each other's work. That was tough, but we wouldn't have gained much from unearned praise. Of course, the critiquing had to be balanced with motivation to keep striving. In retrospect, I probably learned more from this group than I did in all the formal classes.
My first two fiction tomes presented much in the way of trial and error, although they were beneficial for honing skills. They now sit in three-ring binders on a shelf, testaments to persistence. Over the past few years, I've attended conferences, read a few thousand pages on the art of fiction writing, and published six historical novels, besides a volume of short stories.
My early childhood was spent in Maryland and Ohio, but I've resided in Texas long enough to be classified as an almost-native. Currently, I live outside of Dallas with a geriatric and neurotic cat named Ellie.