Like most writers, I’ve always loved books. My fourth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Wakefield, would read to us a few minutes each weekday: A Little Princess, Tom Sawyer, and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. All the classics. I was an A-B student, but this was always my favorite part of each school day. There’s always been something magical to me about, “Once upon a time.”
Although I always excelled in English classes, I never saw myself as a writer – just an avid reader. I even earned a B.A. in Public Relations from Baylor University, which is through the school of Journalism, so I wrote for the BU newspaper. Still, I thought other people created stories.
One Dark and Stormy Night
In 1995, I was lying fast asleep beside my husband in our bed (this was before we had kids, so I fully expected eight, solid hours of rest each night), when a voice woke me from a dream. It whispered, “I want you to write a book.”
I looked over to my husband, who was deep in slumber, so I decided I must be dreaming. I rolled over to drift off again, but the voice woke me again. “I want you to write a book.”
I pawed around for the TV remote, then saw the television was already off. That’s when I heard the voice for a third time, loud and clear, “I want you to write a book.”
I was awake. I was sober. I was hearing voices.
After that, I spent months of emotional drama: Do I write? Do I not? Am I up to the task? How will I handle my fame and fortune? Who will take care of my children (who aren’t even born yet), while Katie Couric interviews me on the TODAY show?
A friend lovingly said, “Shut up and write.”
I did. Well, sort of.
One Husband, Two Kids + Many Jobs Later
The road to publication has not been linear for me. I’ve completed eight full novels since that voice told me to write a book, yet Pennies from Burger Heaven is my only one published. There have been several ups-and-downs along the way. A few highlights: I’m an award winning short-story author and copywriter, I’ve been paid for numerous magazine articles (my first big, fat check came from Writer’s Digest for the piece, Make the Time for $800).
A few lowlights: I’ve had two different literary agents for two separate novels, then lost them both. I’ve pursued publication for over twenty years, while birthing babies (who are now two college kids), working full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and everything in between, watching our parents grown older and struggle with health issues, trying to find that elusive balance between family, work and my writing. I love being an author, but I’m so much more: a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, board member, Sunday School teacher, volunteer, reader, yoga enthusiast and hiker.
Pennies from Burger Heaven
I never know where my stories will come from. One day, I was driving past the black, iron gates of Llano Cemetery in my hometown of Amarillo, Texas. This is a place I’ve been to countless times because my father is buried there, my maternal grandparents, and all my husband’s family, too.
Still, that autumn afternoon was the first time I heard the voice of a young, homeless girl named Copper Daniels. She whispered in my ear just like that voice so many years ago that told me to write a book. Her story touched my life in ways I never dreamed possible.
That story novel became Pennies from Burger Heaven. It’s won several awards, has over 250+ Amazon reviews. It’s a dream come true because I’ve spent years preparing for it.
Thank you for joining me as we walk it together.
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