Traveled roads leading me here…

We said goodbye to our friends this morning as they headed back to California. It was a great visit—something we haven’t done in such a long time. The weather was amazing while they were here. 

After they left, I settled down at my computer to go over my to-do list, before heading out to enjoy more of that sunshine. I can’t quite believe it’s almost June, and if June goes as fast as May, then July will be here, and time to go on our family reunion.

Every three years we attend a Talbot Family Reunion. (My mother-in-law’s maiden name was Talbot.) The first one started in 1983, when we all gathered in Sedona, Arizona, and I met for the first time many of my husband’s cousins, who I hadn’t met before. 

The upcoming reunion got me to thinking about the speech I penned for the Alumni award that I mentioned in a previous post. In it I wrote, “…Life often gets in the way of what we have planned. Looking back over these last fifty years, I see my own life has taken numerous unexpected turns, sending me off course and down roads I had never anticipated traveling.”

I’ve often considered that sentiment when thinking about the family reunions I’ve attended and wondered if the family ever asks, “Gee, I wonder what Bobbi is doing this reunion?” When looking back at my life, it does seem I’ve done more than my share of career hopping.

Despite that, at the age of 14 I knew I wanted to be an author, and today at 67, that’s what I am. Yet, I didn’t take a direct line to reach my ultimate goal. You might say, I went all over the place.

At our first reunion, In Sedona Arizona, 1983 I was a young mother, with two children under the age of four. I had also recently opened a gift shop up in the mountain community we then lived in—Wrightwood, California. While I have no business in retail (my shop, The Whistle Stop, only stayed open a year) my time there was not a complete waste. On the days I had a sitter for my kids—and didn’t take them to the shop with me—I had my typewriter with me. That year I wrote my first romance novel.

When the second reunion rolled around three years later, I was out of retail and now publishing a community newspaper in Wrightwood. At the third reunion, I was still with my publication, The Mountain/Hi-Desert Guide, so I imagine the family probably thought I’d settled down into a career.

By the next reunion in 1992, at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, my father had gotten ill, so I sold my paper, and I moved with my husband and two kids back to Havasu Palms, to help manage the family business. We were still there the next reunion in Angel Fire, New Mexico, but when we went to the Montana reunion in 1998, Don and I had opened our restaurant in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  Now we were restauranteurs.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t belong in retail. And a restaurant is retail. When the next reunion rolled around in 2001, Don and I were out of the restaurant business and between jobs—both of us substitute teaching to make ends meet. I’m surprised we were able to make it to that reunion, considering things were rough for us back then.

Don and I eventually landed on our feet and got our real estate licenses. So, when I showed up at the next two reunions, I was a real estate agent. But then the market tanked in 2008, so I got out of real estate and returned to my roots—writing.

When our family met in Sunriver, Oregon for the Talbot family reunion in 2010, I was freelance writing for various venues, including Demand Studios. I imagine by that time some of my Talbot cousins might have thought I was flakey—yet none ever said such a thing to me, they are all too nice and supportive—but for those who had paid attention to my various occupations over the years, they might have wondered what I was doing.

I stuck with the writing, and moved from freelance back to novels, and that’s what my career has been the last three reunions—and for the one coming up. So, I suppose I have finally settled into a career—one I imagined back when I was fourteen. 

(Photo: During my time with Mountain/Hi-Desert Guide)

Fans fuel a series…

Five years ago this month I released my first Haunting Danielle book. Back then it wasn’t called The Ghost of Marlow House. At the time I had named it Haunting Danielle, Book 1. While I had intended to write more books in the series, I hadn’t intended to give them each regular titles.

After releasing the first few books in the series I realized what a foolish idea that had been. I went back and gave each book its own title. It was one reason the series name, Haunting Danielle had been so prominent on the covers early on. Although one reviewer once accused me of doing that so it would make it harder for reviewers to find my books to be reviewed. (I have to admit, that theory cracked me up—it also made absolutely no sense.)

Haunting Danielle was a serious genre hop for me. Back then I was writing romance under my Anna J. McIntyre pen name. As a younger reader, romance had been my favorite genre. But romances had change, and as a writer, I had also changed.

I was having moderate success at my romances, and when I tossed out the idea of genre hopping to paranormal cozy mystery a number of writer friends whom I respect advised me not to do it. In many cases that is not bad advice. Genre hopping can be a killer for a new writer’s career.

But I really—really wanted to write Haunting Danielle. I confess, I had no clear picture where I planned to take the series, I just knew I wanted to write that first book.

Now to the title of this blog post—Fans fuel a series.  I sincerely believe that without the feedback from my readers—through reviews, emails, blog comments, and Facebook posts, I would not be preparing to release Book 22.

My Haunting Danielle fans have inspired me as much as that muse sitting on my shoulder whispering story ideas into my ear. And to them, I am eternally grateful. I am so enjoying this adventure, and I hope to continue bringing my readers stories they will enjoy.

How we leave our readers…

Before our family moved to Havasu in 1968, we spent summer vacations at the beach. It was either Newport or San Clemente. Each day there, I rode the waves on my canvas surf rider. The thought of sharks never entered my mind as I swam out to meet the waves. But then, when I was in college, I did something foolish. I read Jaws.

Jaws forever altered my relationship with the sea. Ocean waves became a scary, unsafe place. I suspect I’m not the only person changed by Jaws.

But, it isn’t just about sharks. Writers have been instilling fears—sometimes irrational, sometimes rational—into its readers—or movie goers. I imagine the fear of clowns came from creepy clown cinema. There are probably some people out there who cower behind a shower curtain, and no doubt the need for a child (or even adult) to check under the bed before going to sleep was probably inspired by some horror movie.

I’ve an active imagination, and I am fairly confident that if I wanted to—I could write terrifying books of horror. But, when I consider doing that, I ask myself, do I really want to inspire the type of fear that could possibly linger and prevent the reader from doing something he or she once loved? Like I once loved riding the surf.

A while back I received a fan letter from a reader, who told me she once had a fear of ghosts. The thought of ghosts—the possibility of ghosts—terrified her. But then she started reading my Haunting Danielle series, and she began seeing ghosts—even the possibility of ghosts—in an entirely new light. She was no longer afraid of them.

While it’s a writer’s job to stir a wide range of emotions in the reader—including fear—when the story is over, I rather like the idea of leaving the reader in a better, happier place.