What? You think I should be a college instructor? But I’m a stay-at-home mom with a rapidly emptying nest. I’m a college dropout! How am I supposed to earn all those degrees necessary to qualify me to teach college students? That’s for my three older siblings, all of whom have earned their doctoral degrees and teach in major universities.
Besides, I’m no great intellectual. I just want to be a writer. Look. See this manuscript? I wrote this while my kids were in school. That is, after I did the dishes and laundry and vacuuming.
What? You say I can do both, become a writer AND a college instructor? Sure. And climb Mt. Everest in my spare time.
But, you know what? With a push from one friend, a shove from another, and a lot of encouragement from my husband and children, that is exactly what has happened. (Well, not the Mt. Everest part.) Which just goes to show it’s always best to believe in yourself and your dreams, especially when you’re trusting Jesus every step of the way.
When I was a girl, I did have a dream. First, I would marry my one true love.
Next, we would have four children (two girls and two boys) before we turned thirty. Then, since they would all be grown by the time we turned fifty, I would find something new and wonderful to do with the second half of my life. It just took me a while to figure out what that wonderful thing was.
As our four children began to reach high school and to need me less and less, I started thinking seriously about setting some goals. Having a very busy imagination, I had always wanted to write books. In fact, I completed that one novel, but feared my English skills needed polishing. So a friend at church (a college professor) encouraged me to go back to school. In 1986 I started college the same semester as our eldest child. In four years, I earned my bachelor’s degree in creative writing.
Using what I had learned, I whipped that novel into shape and took it to a writers conference, where an editor liked it enough to buy it. Just after my fiftieth birthday, my first novel, Once There Was a Way Back Home, was published by Crossway Books. Then they published my second novel, The Homecoming. My new career had begun! But by now I had conceived even more dreams for my future through the inspiration of my children.
When our younger son and daughter were college students, I chanced to visit my daughter’s creative writing class. Her instructor, a former classmate of mine, invited me to make a few remarks to the class. That’s when it hit me. Hey, I can do this! I can teach college level writing! This made my friend at church very happy. She had been urging me to continue my education for some time. But once again, I needed more education to reach my goal. In a short time, I was enrolled as a graduate student, and in another four years, I had earned my Master of Liberal Studies degree. My thesis was, of course, a novel. It’s title? Ahab’s Bride.
Master’s degree in hand, I applied for the position of adjunct English instructor at Valencia College. Just two months short of my fifty-fifth birthday, I started another new career, one that still gave me time to write and introduced me to some wonderful college students of all ages. (Picture in public domain.)
During all that time, I continued to write and to submit my completed novels to publishers. In 2004, my master’s thesis novel, Ahab’s Bride, was published by Cook Communications (now David C. Cook). The next two books in the series, Hannah Rose and Son of Perdition, followed in 2005 and 2006. My latest new career, my ultimate dream, had been achieved. (I own the rights to the book cover at right.)
As time passed, I wrote another series of books, my post-Civil War Then Came series. After that, I signed on with Harlequin and wrote fifteen books for their Love Inspired Historical imprint. (The picture at left is by my talented granddaughter, Emmy Santiago. I own the rights, and it is not to be copied.)
And, yes, I continued as a college instructor. I don’t like to refer to myself as a “professor” because I think that designation belongs to folks with their PhD degrees, like my illustrious siblings. And even with a master’s degree, even teaching English literature and humanities, I would never call myself an intellectual. I’m just the same wife and mom who had a dream and had enough encouragers along the way to help me reach my goals.
After sixteen and a half years, I decided to stop teaching. I can’t really call it “retiring” because I worked part time, and my contracts were signed one semester at a time. No benefits, no 401K. But I decided early on that I wouldn’t apply for a full-time position because I wanted time to continue writing my books. By the grace of God, I was able to do both. And even though Harlequin discontinued their Love Inspired Historical line, I’ve continued to write. Stay tuned! I’ll have more titles available soon.
So…what is YOUR dream? What will it take to get you there? Maybe your path will be easier than mine. Or it may take you to the foothills of your own Mt. Everest that you must climb to reach your goal. One thing is sure. If you don’t take that first step, you’ll never make it to the summit.