Mentally was another matter. I can't remember a time when I didn't love stories and reading, or when I didn't make up worlds in my imagination. But I didn't put those stories down on paper. I did try my hand at writing a few times, but got frustrated when my detective couldn't solve the mysteries I set for her. So I kept inventing worlds in my mind while I got on with my life.
A large part of that life was music, since my love for it also goes back before conscious memory. I began piano lessons in second grade, after spending a year or so picking songs out by ear, and by the time I reached fifth grade, I had decided that I wanted to be a piano teacher just like my own beloved teacher. This ambition carried me through to a degree in piano from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. After a year of teaching high school choir in East Chicago, Indiana, I moved to the city of Oaxaca in Mexico, a trip that extended from the originally planned two months to a year.
I love Oaxaca, and someday I'll set a book there so I'll have an excuse to go back. However, jobs for foreigners were scarce, so I looked for another teaching job, this time in the southwest. I'd gotten addicted to mountains on my horizons. Along with a job, I found and married Bill Daniel. Along the way we've raised two children, Jason and Crystina.
A few years after we started the family, I realized that old dream and became a piano teacher. Whereupon I found, somewhat to my dismay, that the dream once achieved wasn't what I wanted. But that was all right; another dream had captured me by this point. I started studying programming at a local community college, and landed a contract with them to develop some custom software. I had a new career: I was a free-lance programmer.
This lasted for several non-profitable but enjoyable years. (I always laughed at articles on the average pay of programmers. Now you know who pulled the average down.) And it led, at long last, to finding my true career as a writer.
A former teacher, Don Lancaster, asked me to be his assistant on a new RoundTable on the online service GEnie, as it was then called. I accepted. Almost the first thing I did after figuring out the software was to go to the Science Fiction RoundTable, the SFRT. I started posting messages, getting into conversations, making friends... in short, joining my first online community. It was lots of fun, especially since so many of these people occupied honored places on my bookshelves.
Then came the day that Susan Shwartz asked when I intended to start writing.
Bear in mind that through all those years, all those places and jobs and occupations, I kept reading and telling stories to myself. But until Susan made her suggestion, I hadn't contemplated actually writing, actually putting words in a row on a piece of paper or phosphor screen.
Susan, however, had read me all too well and knew what I wanted even before I did myself. All it took was that slight nudge. I joined the SFRT's Online Writers' Workshop. I wrote a very short story, more of a character sketch than anything else. I got good feedback on it, and I was hooked. Less than a year later, I had my first book contract.
Since then I've written eight books (all but one published), sold short stories to assorted anthologies and magazines, with several new projects in the works. I'm the managing editor of Wordwright, an online critique service. I have more friends than ever before, members of my community, the community of writers and readers, linked via electronic ties.
I'm still telling stories. I just have a larger audience these days. Via the web, I travel the world from my southern Arizona home, shared with Bill and two cats. Via my imagination, I travel others worlds of words, my own and others.
Wanderlust can take many forms.
last updated 07/15/00