I established this page to provide Pen’s Pals with a little background on myself–how I got started writing, and the process of getting published and putting out books. My writing journey has taken some interesting twists and turns.
I started as a Minnesota farm kid. I grew up in Lincoln County, near Tyler, doing the chores and attending school in town, before moving to the Twin Cities. Twist In the Road #1 came when I went to college, the first in my family to do so, and then somehow ended up going to law school on the East Coast. Twist #2 came a scant eight years later, when I hung a sharp left and became a stay-at-home parent, battling health problems. Twist #3 was more of a wide, sweeping turn into becoming an author of crime fiction.
I started reading. I’d done plenty of reading before, of course, but I didn’t start reading fiction until adulthood. As I kid, I was interested in history and biography – facts of all kinds. I’d sit for hours and read the World Book Encyclopedia (weird, I know). But now I got into thrillers and espionage fiction. Robert Ludlum, Thomas Gifford (The Wind Chill Factor), Bill Granger (The November Man series). And then . . .
I started writing. I realized that what I missed most about my job was writing. Now, fiction is a big jump from business and legal writing. But I decided to try. I was hooked almost instantly. However…
I got rejected. Agents and publishers, inexplicably, decided they could do just fine without the stuff I sent them in the ’90’s.
And rejected. To the point where, in 2001, I quit writing. I’d tried quitting before, but this time I made it stick. I had a family, plus the health problems, and just couldn’t justify the time and effort, when literally nobody wanted to read my stuff. It’s dead, Jim. But, six months later . . .
I won the lottery on 9/11. I didn’t actually win the lottery, and it wasn’t exactly on 9/11. It happened a few days earlier, on September 5th, 2001. That’s when I got the call from Salvo Press, telling me I’d won their national contest for best mystery novel with my entry, Bound to Die. I learned later that there had been over a thousand entries – not Powerball odds, but maybe the literary equivalent. Two years later I published my second book, Poised to Kill. Alas, both titles are now hard to find, since Salvo Press was acquired by a bigger company. But both are well worth reading. Case in point:
Bound to Die was runner-up for a Minnesota Book Award. I lost out to John Sandford. But he’s sold a few million more books than I have, so no hard feelings. Unfortunately Sandford, who’s one of my favorite authors, couldn’t make it to the awards ceremony, so I never got to meet him. Anyway, I was on my way. At least, I thought I was. However . . .
I quit writing for ten years. Unfortunately, my health problems caught up with me. Our daughter, child number two, was born in 2002, and two kids proved to be approximately one more than I could handle. It took ten years, from 2004 to 2014, by which time our kids were older, before I was able to resume writing. And the forced inactivity, though regrettable, has made me profoundly grateful for each new book I’m able to write.
In 2014, I wrote Downfall, beginning the Pen Wilkinson series. I was back, with a new character. As of this writing, I’ve published six books in the series, along with some short stories. I’ve been able to get out and meet readers. I’ve corresponded with many more, and I’ve generally had more fun than should be legal. The best part, of course, has been sharing it all with my Pen’s Pals.
Do you have a writing journey? A lot of my readers have thought about writing themselves, or have actually made the effort. I’d love to hear your story – just drop me a line.