Discover what you love to do and give yourself permission to do it.
I’ve written since I could grasp a crayon. Eons ago, my long-suffering mother typed up my penned pieces about country life in the Shenandoah Valley and sent my duckling tale to an editor at Southern Living Magazine. I found myself on the phone, praised for my talent, and referred to an editor at Progressive Farmer, better suited to my earthy offerings.
The freelance column was cut before my stories were published, but the bug had bitten. Then tragedy struck. My young nephew, Matthew, was killed in a farm accident. My humorous vignettes didn’t allow for the enormity of my emotions, so I stopped writing. Depression led me to a counselor. One thing she said that resonated was: “Find what you want to do and give yourself permission to do it.”
What I wanted to do, but hadn’t dared, was to write historical romance novels. No clue where to begin. I didn’t live in the British Isles, couldn’t lay claim to their vast history, but my ancestors could. Come to think of it, they’d arrived early on the scene in America.
Research into family genealogy unearthed fascinating accounts. Turns out, we had an ancestor at Jamestown, and my Scots-Irish forebears were among the first settlers of the Shenandoah Valley in the early-mid 18th century. They had names like Houston, Patterson, Finley, Moffett, and McLeod. These clannish people often intermarried, so I can tie in with many other early American families including President James Madison. My great-great-great-grandmother referred to him as ‘dear Uncle James.’ I’m also related to the Shawnee warrior hero, Wicomechee, featured in my historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song, the first novel I ever wrote and rewrote—repeatedly. The child, James, in the novel, is in memory of my nephew.
Other tragedies followed, and I’ve always returned to my writing.
The inspiration behind the old homes in my novels comes from my father’s Churchman family homeplace, Chapel Hill (circa 1816) in the valley, and other plantations I’ve visited like Berkeley, Shirley, and Carter’s Grove. The Old Dominion is steeped in history. Named for the ‘Virgin Queen’ Elizabeth 1st, Virginia is the site of more battles than any other state in the union, encompassing the French and Indian War, the Revolution, and that most uncivil of wars, the Civil War. We also have more ghost stories, possibly because of all the battles. Whatever the reason, the valley is filled with paranormal accounts, some of which I’ve experienced.
All of this has resulted in my writing historical, paranormal, and YA fantasy romance, plus nonfiction. I have seventeen books out, many published by the Wild Rose Press, and some Indies. My recent release, YA fantasy romance The Hunter’s Moon (Book 1, Secret Warrior series) is set in our Virginia Mountains with mystery, adventure, and magic. Book 2, Curse of the Moon, will soon follow. Release date TBD.
A sneak peek of The Hunter’s Moon:
Seventeen-year-old Morgan Daniel has been in the witness protection program most of her life. But The Panteras have caught up with her and her younger brother. Her car is totaled, she’s hurt, and the street gang is closing in when wolves with glowing eyes appear out of nowhere and chase away the killers.
When a very cute guy who handles a bow like Robin Hood emerges from the woods and takes them to safety at his fortress-like home, it’s the first sign that Morgan and her brother have entered a hidden world filled with secrets…
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