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A BIT ABOUT ME . . .

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"Never say never!" When I was fourteen I spent the summer typing one of Dad’s manuscripts (a Western) for a quarter a page on a manual typewriter from his rough draft in long-hand, and I told myself I’d never be a writer. Well, here I am, eating my words, although I must admit typing and spell-checking those manuscripts is much easier now, even though the creative process is still sometimes elusive.

I'm the baby of the family, but my brother and sister are seventeen and fifteen years older respectively, so I grew up pretty much as an only child. I spent the first nine years of my life in the foothills of the Manzano Mountains in central New Mexico where my father's parents had homesteaded and farmed pinto beans. My dad later ranched on the Hewett homeplace, while my mom worked in town at the bank. Mom and Dad also owned a museum for several years, so I spent a lot of time there—usually inspecting the latest shipment of Mexican jumping beans, which we sold to tourists in the gift shop.

Grandad and Jenna in the Model ADad also restores antique cars—mostly Model Ts and Model As—from assorted heaps of "junk" that rust away in people's pastures, so I grew up with that, too. When we moved into town, he used to like to embarrass me by putting on his funny driver's hat and taking me to school in one of his "old cars" and honking the funny-sounding horn at my friends. Aaayuuuugah! Aaayuuuugah! I’d hunker down in the seat and try very hard not to be seen. Of all the antique cars he's ever had, my favorite was the 1909 Sears, originally from Sears, Roebuck and Company. It was a true horseless carriage.  Now Dad drives my daughter in parades, and she loves it. 

I loved horses as a child, so Dad often told me bedtime stories about the wild horses in the Manzano Mountains.  Our family trips usually consisted of picnics and visits to the numerous Pueblo Indian ruins in the area, or arrowhead hunts along nearby hillsides and arroyos.

Mom is gone now, but she's also been a strong influence on my life. Her one-armed father farmed cotton all over Texas, and she and most of her many brothers and sisters spent only the winter months in school because of farm work. Despite that, she read everything she could get her hands on and still managed to keep up her grades and graduate high school. Whenever I wanted to know the definition of a word, she’d answer "Look it up!" Another thing she said that always infuriated me was: "We killed ol' Can't and whipped ol' Couldn't till he could." That may sound like a cruel thing to say to a child, but Mom was never mean. Far from it. She was a sweet and caring person, with more hugs and kisses than harsh words, but she was determined not to allow me to wallow in self-pity and failure.

I live on a cattle ranch now with my husband of thirteen years, whom I married when I was a senior in high school.  I know it's hard to believe, but even as young as I was I knew he was the one for me.  Lucky for him he had the good sense to agree.

We live about twenty-one miles out of Corona, New Mexico. Corona is predominantly a ranching community with a population of about two hundred. Our ranch is located near an old ghost town called Pinos Wells, which was a stage stop between White Oaks and Santa Fe in the 1870s. A few years ago local internet access changed my research life and made long-distance critiquing a whole lot cheaper, since one of my critique partners lives in New York state, one lives in Kansas, one in Oklahoma, and my closest partner lives in Albuquerque, about one hundred miles away.

I started writing my first novel when I was nineteen, but I never finished it. That manuscript will never see the light of day (uh-oh, there’s that word again—twice!), although I do like the beginning scene and plan to use it in another story. Since that first attempt, I’ve placed in several writing contests, and I’ve been submitting articles, short stories and novels for the last seven years.

At first I didn't want to write about the West. As a New Mexico native and granddaughter of early homesteaders, the West didn't seem particularly exotic or exciting to me—it was just life. Now I realize what an important adage "Write what you know" can be. And New Mexico alone has enough interesting history to provide the backdrop for at least twelve or thirteen more novels.

I’ve recently signed a contract with Avid Press, LLC, and my Western historical romance, THE AWAKENING FIRE, will be released this summer as a mass-market paperback and as an electronic book.

 

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