More About the Author
If we writers are the sum of our life experiences, my account balance grew leaps and bounds when my beloved dream home in the Colorado mountains burned to the ground in the wildfire from hell in 2011.
One night my husband and I were looking forward to a much-needed vacation. The next morning everything we owned fit into our Ford Explorer with room to spare.
I like to think I emerged from the ashes a better person and a better writer, more easily able to dig down and bare the truths that are often hard to face. But it's not an experience I would wish on anyone, even the fourth grade teacher who used to rap my knuckles with a ruler to get me to stop scribbling and pay attention to memorizing something or other.
Losing everything you own is a profoundly life-altering experience. Forever after life will be divided into BF and AF. Being forced to let go of long-held dreams and discover how to move on and find new ones is something that changes you - either for the better or for the worse. A dozen neighbors also lost their homes that night. Some of them are dreaming new dreams. Others are lost and bitter, stuck in a past they can't seem to escape from.
I wrote my latest book, Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life because there's nothing worse than standing in your rubble thinking about all the things you could and should have done differently. So I filled Surviving Wildfire with all the latest preparedness and recovery research, along with real-life ah-hahs and oh-nos you won't find anywhere else.
It's not a big book; you can read it cover to cover in a couple of hours. I know it's a couple of hours that will open your eyes and could save your home or even your life. Not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars and uncountable hours of heartache. (survivingwildfire.com)
I came very close to going into higher education; I guess I have an irrepressible urge to find ways to make that internal light bulb go off. That same urge that led me to write Living with Bears: A Practical Guide to Bear Country (livingwithbears.org). I'm really proud that it's become the unofficial bible of living responsibly with wildlife.
I think that's what sets both my handbooks and all my articles and non-fiction apart - it's pretty hard to read them and not be inspired to do something. Along the way you'll find a lot that will have you reaching for the nearest post it note. And even in the face of unspeakable loss, there is always something to smile about.
So be forewarned: start reading and somewhere along the way you're going to be inspired to get up off your couch and go do something. But don't worry, you'll be glad you did.
For how I got started scribbling for a living, read on...
My first "book" was a 90-page narrative written in long hand in the loopy cursive of a thirteen-year-old dreamer. I penned a tale of a lost dog that after many misadventures was finally rescued and lived happily ever after. Throughout high school and college my term papers and reports were returned with notes scribbled in the margins urging me to consider a career in whatever I'd been writing about.
Apparently I was not that quick of a study when it came to my own future; it took me several more years to figure out that the passion my teachers mistook for interest in a field was a passion to communicate.
When the light bulb finally went off I took an abrupt left turn out of the insurance industry and into the world of advertising, where I got to put my ability to write enthusiastically and convincingly about anything to good use. Along the way I also wrote a couple of small mystery novels, several children's books and umpteen million articles.
Fast forward a couple of decades, as my husband and I decide to abandon our corporate careers in the big city before we need to consider assisted living, and turn our dream of living on a mountaintop out West into reality.
We had eleven great years to live our dreams - a lot more than many people have. For that I will be eternally grateful. You already know what happened next.
Where are we now? We're settled into a "new" old log home on the outskirts of Fort Collins, Colorado, with a view of the mountains we used to call home. We miss our old life and all those things you can't replace that add up to a lifetime of memories. We find ourselves reaching for things that are no longer there. At a time when a lot of people are de-cluttering their lives, we still have closets with nothing in them.
I'm doing a lot of presentations, and starting to work on some new projects. Life isn't the same, but it's good. And every day we are thankful for what we do have: each other, our families, our friends, and our chance to make a difference.