This July, I’ll officially be “over the hill.” Turn eighty years old. And I’ve never been happier, more content, or excited to wake up to a new day each morning. For my outlook on life, I credit my faith, my husband (of sixty-three years), and my writing journey that began at sixty-eight years old.
Since I learned to read in first grade, books have been my passion. Reading them, that is. Never once did I think, one day I want to write my own. Even now, a dozen years and nine published books later, I shake my head in awe at how much I’ve grown to love every aspect of writing. Okay, I confess—not so much the tedious search for boo-boos in the final proof of each novel that I’ve written, read, and reread umpteen times.
It all began with a challenge from my best friend, who’d always said we could write a novel about our lives. So I did. And another. For those first two books, I contracted with a small publisher in Oklahoma (now defunct). They were fictional novels based on my brother’s and my life stories. The remaining seven are strictly fiction.
In 2012, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers organization (ACFW), participated in their Scribes (critique) program, wrote blogs, and gleaned a wealth of writing information from some great, seasoned writers.
When my publisher went under, I hired an editor and book cover designer, learned to format, and began publishing my own books. While active in the ACFW organization, four of us—participants from diverse backgrounds—clicked. We formed a critique group and named ourselves The Four Critter-teers. At the time, one hailed from Across the Pond, one from the Midwest, one from the East, and the fourth (me), from the Deep South. I must do a shout-out here. I would not be where I am today without the input, encouragement, prayers, and help from my fantastic, beloved friends and writing partners. Priceless.
Were there ups and downs? Too many downs right from the beginning and it would have been easy to give up. Quit. While I was in the editing stage with a looming deadline for the first book, my husband had open-heart surgery. During the second novel edits, we had a house flood that encompassed every room except the master bedroom and bath—a two-month long recovery ordeal.
There were many other fiascos dealing with remodeling, my husband’s auto accident, broken hip socket bone graft, and more health issues. But the worst was the death of a grandson. Writing through grief was the hardest of all and yet therapeutic too. Somehow the writing bug never left for long. Again, I give my critique partners credit for always encouraging me to write again.
The year 2020 was challenging to say the least. One of its redeeming factors is that I wrote my eighth and ninth books while forced to stay home. I can’t wait to see what story God lays on my heart to write next. Recently, a critique partner asked what my next book plan is. All I know for sure is that I plan to “write” out the rest of my life and enjoy every moment.