Stories were always important in our family. My grandmother, my mother, my father, and my aunts, and my uncles were all story tellers. I never tired of hearing the stories about what went on in the Oklahoma hills where my parents grew up as neighbors. My older brothers and sisters loved books. Going to the library on Saturdays was a big event at our house, and my older siblings frequently read aloud to me.
It was that love of stories, I believe, that made me decide early on that I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story the summer before I went to first grade. We did not have kindergarten in Oklahoma during those days, so I had to dictate my story to one of my older sisters. I charged each of my siblings, including the one who wrote it down for me, a quarter a piece to read it. That was $1.25, big money for me, and I decided right then to be a writer.
The summer between fifth and sixth grade I talked my two best friends into forming a story club with me. We were to write a story each week and meet at one of our homes each Friday night to read them. My first story was called "Memory Lane." It was a romance, and I thought it was beautiful. I could not wait to get to my friend's house so that I could read it. When I got there, I discovered that neither of my friends had finished their stories. I jerked them out of their hands with, "Here, give them to me. I'll finish them." While we were reading our stories, one of my friends suggested that on the next Friday night we should go skating. The other friend agreed that a skating club would be more fun than a story club.
I went to college at what is now University of Central Oklahoma. After college, I was a teacher of English. In 1969 in Woodstock, New York, I married a young man named Paul Myers. We were married thirty years, when he died of cancer. Paul was my best friend and my partner in everything. Because he was a poet and extremely talented with words, he helped me a great deal with my writing.
Paul and I had three children, Ginny, Ben, and Anna-Maria, all born within four years. For a while, I was a very busy mother, but I still thought that some day I would be a writer. By the time the kids were in upper elementary school, I knew I had to get serious to help pay for their college education.
It took me seven years to sell my first book. I never got just a cold rejection, always a maybe, "Change this and send it back." When the deal would finally fall through, I would sometimes be so discouraged that I would cry. My kids would encourage me not to give up, but I would see them look at each other with a comment in their eyes that said I should just get real and clean up the house.
My first book came out in 1992, and I have done nineteen more since then. All but two of my twenty books are historical fiction. I had a Sunday school teacher when I was a girl who used to say, "If you don't know where you have been, you can't know where you are going." I like to think my books help kids know where we have been.