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I was born in California and moved to Arizona when I was six, and have lived here ever since. I spent a lot of my early years on my belly in dry arroyos hunting sand rubies, converting the propane tank into a stagecoach and exploring the Sonoran desert on my horse.

When I was growing up, my family and teachers always said they liked my stories. English classes were a breeze for me. Although I worked on my high school's newspaper, by the time I got to college I pursued my dream --- veterinary medicine.

So…that was good for the first year when I discovered (well, I'd had a clue or two earlier) that I had little aptitude for math and science. Unfortunately, heavy doses of both are required for a vet degree. I then pursued journalism for a short time before landing on literature and creative writing.

My next confession has a lot to do with the rest of the story. I'm a cowgirl. My family ranched for years and I still break horses, train them, gather cattle, track, and do a lot of trail riding. While I was in college I was on the Quadrille team (kind of a fast ballet on horseback). We worked the Tucson and Phoenix Rodeos one spring, which was great fun. And better yet, we had excused absences from our classes! Well, I found hanging out with horses and cowboys was a lot more fun than attending Chaucer, so I dropped out of school. I flew up to British Columbia and spent some time on my brother's ranch there before returning to Arizona and settling in to work.

My first real job (other that that as a wrangler at a kids' camp one summer) was with the telephone company. This was followed by a job training tellers for a bank and giving tours of their downtown office. After a couple of years of that, I decided to return to school and finally graduated.

Writing still eluded me. I went to work selling real estate and ended up managing a real estate office. Politics came next. I ran for the Board of Supervisors and ended up the party candidate. Fortunately, I lost the general election. But I gained a new skill - running political campaigns. And I did a few - for mayor, state senator, and governor even for a presidential campaign here in Arizona.

Within months after the birth of my now grown son(WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Thanks for the mention, Mom) I finally returned to writing. The timing was perfect. He slept, I wrote. And my first novel was born. After that I never looked back. There was always something I wanted to write about.

My first book, Enju (Northland Press; 1982), was a historical novel that chronicled the life of Eskiminzin, an Aravaipa Apache whose people were slaughtered during the 1871 Camp Grant massacre.

My freelance work went on to cover a broad spectrum - advertising and editing, writing television and radio spots, political speeches, training manuals, brochures, articles and, of course, books.

My next published book was Lyons on Horses (Doubleday; 1991) co-written with horse trainer John Lyons. America's Best (AMC; 1995) followed, a World War II novel set in the Philippines. I turned to mysteries with the 1999 publication of The Last Song Dogs (Bantam), the first in the Trade Ellis series. The Sporting Club will be out in February of 2000 and will be followed by the third book in the series, which I'm just finishing up.

I'm also working on a nonfiction project, Feathers Brush My Heart, an anthology of stories from women who have received some kind of afterlife gift from their mothers.

I still live out in the country in Southern Arizona with my husband and our assorted menagerie. When I'm not writing I can usually be found riding one of my four horses and I still drop everything when a neighboring rancher calls me to help round up cattle. As I write this, one of my dogs, Missy (the prototype for Trade's Mrs. Fierce) is curled on the Navajo rug in my office. Looking out the window I see a red-tailed hawk clutching something in her talons as she flies through the orchard. This is her eighth year in the same nest in the old cottonwood and I suspect she's taking lunch to her children.

This really ain't a bad job at all.

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