What’s my story? I grew up in Northern California and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 15 years. I come from a family of bookworms, of writers and editors, of wanderers who love to travel and explore the natural world. In my childhood home, television was strictly regulated. Reading was encouraged instead. I visited my local library weekly starting at 6 years old, checking out the maximum number of Bobbsey Twins books allowed. I wrote my first short story, The Ring, when I was 8. I still have it. (Thanks for saving it, Mom and Dad!)

I went on to major in English literature in college and began a career as a writer and editor of nonfiction soon after graduating. Eventually my husband and I welcomed our first child to the world and my writing career took a back burner to the demands and joys of parenting. I continued to freelance part time and took graduate courses in public policy while we added another child to the mix. Meanwhile, I got involved in various volunteer gigs and began a lifelong drawing and painting practice. When I turned 40, I had just begun my graduate thesis and participated in my first triathlon. Things were looking pretty mapped out for me.

But the universe had other plans. Two weeks after my 40th birthday I had a stroke caused by an internal carotid artery dissection (ICAD). Six weeks later, a stent and coils were inserted into my artery due to a rapidly ballooning “pseudo-aneurysm.” Public service announcement: if you’re a relatively young person experiencing stroke symptoms like slurred speech or numbness in an arm or leg, go to the hospital. Even if you feel ridiculous for doing it. Just go. To find out more about strokes and carotid artery dissections, check out The Stroke Blog.

The stroke and its aftermath were a game-changer. I realized that perhaps I didn’t have as much time on this planet as I had imagined. During my recovery, I put aside my thesis and gave myself permission to seriously pursue creative work. I began writing fiction and mapping out plots for a series of pharmaceutical thrillers, the first of which had the awesome working title of The Sunscreen Caper.

Then we had the good fortune to fulfill a long-standing dream: we rented out our house and traveled with our kids for ten months. It was a magical experience. (OK, except for the daily math homeschooling lessons.) Inspired by our travels, I began researching and writing The Girl from Oto. Everything in the book draws on our trip, but it is also influenced by my previous stints living in France and Germany. I loved every minute of writing the story. And it’s not over yet: I’m now working on the sequel, Mira’s Way.

Why indie? I kept an eye on the growing success of self-publishers starting around 2009 and decided that whatever fiction I wrote, I would publish independently. Doing this has been a huge learning curve; there are many hats to wear along the way. But it’s the right path for me. I’m thrilled to be living in an era of extreme disruption in the publishing industry. Things are changing at breakneck speed and trying to keep up with it all is a welcome challenge. I can’t wait to see what lies down the road. (And yes, I plan to finish The Sunscreen Caper one day!)