“She has a big imagination.”

These words have been used often to describe me as a child and I believe they were the beginning of my journey to publication. Long before I could write a single word, my mind was filled with stories.

Several times, I loaded my dolls into my dad’s inoperable Rambler and took imaginary road trips to far away places. Other times, I became a lion who roamed the mountains looking for missing family members. One summer, I stayed with my aunt and uncle and their front yard became the Wild West where I roped wild horses and met a handsome stranger, who, in my mind’s eye was Little Joe Cartwright from Bonanza. On more than one winter day, my neighbor friend and I became Eskimos tromping through Alaska (our two yards) with our pet Polar Bears. We tried to build igloos, but they never materialized.

The difficult part of having a big imagination was school, because not all my teachers appreciated my doodling, daydreaming ways, and certain subjects only intensified my mind’s desire to wander off. Nevertheless, I began to write my first story in the third grade. I wrote one or two chapters but never finished. In junior high, I wrote poetry and my English teacher encouraged me to enter a contest but by the time I was bold enough to do it, I’d missed the deadline. Throughout high school, I knew I wanted to write. Something. Anything. Everything. Yet making a career out of it seemed far-fetched. So, when it came time to declare a college major, I chose Elementary Education.

At 18, I began my first adult novel but never finished. Notice a trend here? Determination and tenacity did not come to me easily. Then entered a young man who swept me off my feet. Marriage, full-time job, and a move to another state factored into my decision to put college off until later.

After kids, a few college classes here and there, a Children’s Writing Correspondence course, and moving several more times, the dream of becoming a published author had only grown. After my husband finished his training, I wrote and finished my first novel. I was ready to be published.

Except the novel was really bad and the critique group that read the first chapter, constructively pointed out numerous mistakes. Unfortunately, a big imagination wasn’t enough. I really knew nothing about the craft of writing. So, I returned to college and obtained my degree in English. I wrote another novel and attended my first writer’s conference secretly hoping that I’d be one of those few, lucky ones that went home with a contract in hand. However, a decently written, finished manuscript wasn’t enough either. I had a lot to learn about the publishing industry and I’m still learning, still unpublished, but still dreaming the dream.