I have been writing professionally for over 30 years. My first published work of fiction was the children's picture book,The Christmas Cactus. My first novel, Around the Next Corner, (Penguin/NAL) came out in 2006 and went on to win the Colorado Author's League award for Best Mainstream Fiction. The same novel in the UK is Second Chance (HarperCollins/UK). HP/UK also published my second novel, Last Known Address (see below).
I've just completed my third novel, which is quite different from my first two. More on that in the coming months.
I was a life long Colorado resident until the end of 2014 when I moved to Washington state. I love it here; more oxygen and a little moisture in the air are very good things! When not writing, I enjoy walking in the woods or along the water, reading, my two book clubs, and volunteering in my community, especially on behalf of women and children.
For a description and review of my second novel, Last Known Address please click on the WORKS page above.
Now available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
If you are interested in books I've recently read and enjoyed, please see my Newsletter page.
On Writing my first novel. . .
The process of writing Around the Next Corner was not only freeing, it was fun. Mostly. The research was hair-raising. That is, I raised a yellow labrador guide dog puppy, the all-time champs in shedding. Raising "Lucca" for 15 months required a monumental commitment of time, energy, emotion and patience. It was the most profoundly rewarding research I've ever done for a writing project.
I got the idea for the novel all at once, a lightning bolt strike of the muse. Could a woman who has lost herself to her roles of wife and mother expand herself and learn new lessons about love and adventure by raising and training a service puppy? And could that dog guide her out of her own particular darkness?
Many of us sacrifice ourselves somewhat to the Great Big Jobs of marriage and parenthood. When our kids leave the nest, we often find our marriage a little worse for the wear. Whether a few strands are loose, or the whole thing is unraveling, we all want to explore what it was, what it is, and can it be resurrected. I was particularly interested in exploring what is biology and what is choice in marriage and mothering. I was interested in the genuine pain of losing oneself, even temporarily, and the humor inherent in all families and relationships. Especially when you add in one rambunctious Labrador retriever puppy named Heloise. And of course, I had to make Deena even more inept at raising a dog than she is at raising teenagers. I had a ball letting Heloise lead Deena through trials and tribulations, guiding her to a whole new sense of herself.
Many people have asked me about the timeline for writing a novel and getting it published. I began writing Around the Next Corner in February 2003, and wrote an outline and three fast chapters. Then I began research on raising a service dog, something I’d thought I might like to do at some point in my life, but had no experience with it when I began my novel, nor did I intend to do it any time soon. I did some research online and soon found a local group affiliated with Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), based in California. Over the next few months I attended meetings and did in-depth interviews with two women who’d each raised several puppies for GDB. To every meeting I came armed with sometimes pages of questions, solicited anecdotes from the group, and took copious notes.
During this time I wrote three more chapters. Then, for the first time, the writing stopped flowing. I needed more specifics about puppy development. I'd had dogs all my life, written about dogs, worked at a Humane Society, but I didn't remember enough of the timeline of puppyhood. And I was learning that GDB puppies were rather extraordinary. So it was then that I decided that I would have a much more authentic and rich book if I actually raised a pup myself. On June 30, 2003, I held my shaking arms out and took in little eight-week-old Lucca, a neutered male yellow Lab.
Over the course of the next seven months, I wrote and raised, and raised and wrote. My daughter and husband helped enormously with both. I finished the rough draft of my novel in February 2004, almost exactly a year to the day after starting it. I was a little less than half-way through raising Lucca. I polished the novel as we spent our last few months with Lucca. In September of 2004, my husband and I drove "our boy" to Oregon for the next phase of his training, and life. A painful goodbye, but a unique and wonderful journey, in every sense of that word.
Finally, in January 2005, my agent and I discussed which editors and publishers should be our top six choices, and she sent each a copy of my manuscript. In early March, I got The Call, saying that we had an offer from NAL/Penguin. I was thrilled! I felt like my book had landed in the best possible place. The next several months I worked with my editor, the talented and funny Tracy Bernstein, tweaking the book even more. On August 14 I received an email from her congratulating me on the finished product. The book was published on 06/06/06.
So, the entire timeline, from idea to published novel, comes to twenty-eight months. And almost exclusively a great joy and thrill, working with amazing people all along the way.
And little Lucca? I’m proud to report that shortly after I had a book contract, he graduated from Guide school, and became a working guide dog in Georgia.