Writing stories has really been a part of my life only in the last fifteen to twenty years. As a child, my writing revolved mostly around sending thank you notes to my grandparents who always would include a dime—in cash—so I could buy a new set of paper dolls. Of course, it also meant I would be writing another thank you letter for that dime and describe the new set of paper dolls. Then in third grade, my teacher stood by my desk one day while I was working on a story. “You really like to write stories, don’t you,” she said. I nodded in answer. I remember those words so well, because I did not like that teacher, and that was probably the nicest thing she said to me all year. But that statement became a springboard for my talks about a particular form of writing.
I always enjoyed writing stories, so did well in school when stories were required to be written. However, it didn’t become a serious interest until about 1987. I took a writing course from the Children’s Institute since my interest then was to write children’s stories. But I still never wrote seriously until I joined East Texas Writers Association. During one of those meetings, the woman conducting that meeting produced pictures she asked us to use as a writing prompt. I got the last one showing a jockey on a racehorse. I went home, wrote a ten page story related to the picture about a horse I named Wind-Free. I read the paper at the next meeting, after which Gay Ingram told me she thought there was a book in those pages. Thus, my first published novel, Wind-Free, was born. After about ten years, I am about to receive the printed copy. I will return to teaching special needs children at Joe Wright Elementary School in Jacksonville in August. So I’m trying to take advantage of these summer days to solidify my writing career by working on another book–this time I’m turning to mystery writing. Cool Murder has a good base, but needs much revising. Thanks to my two critique groups, it is beginning to take shape.—Patricia