My name is Toni Dietkus.
I grew up long ago in the American West in places so remote that books were my peeks at the larger world. We moved often, and when a town had an Andrew Carnegie Library, for me it was like finding the gold my Dad wanted to find. Nothing topped the excitement of opening a book, lights going down, the curtain going up . . . I planned to “pay it forward.”
So, encouraged by teachers, I did my best in various schools, some one or two rooms for all 12 grades, and when my parents moved back to Illinois, I attended college on scholarship, to be a writer.
Marriage intervened. While raising a family and helping my husband build a business, I squeezed in writing classes and novelist workshops and conventions, winning honourable mention at a Pacific NW Writers Conference for the first chapter of my debut Blood Rose. There I met an editor from Conde Nast magazine who edited Ghosts of Winter and advised me, “Don’t give up on this book.” Many “glowing rejections” later, I had bushels of rewrites and several manuscripts in a drawer.
Thinking “write from experience,” I then spent a decade writing for children, delighting young classrooms at story time. When my children were grown, my partner and I high-tailed it to a remote cabin in Montana to live off-grid, which necessitated going long haul trucking to survive and defeated the purpose, but led to publishing a book of letters, Riding Shotgun in an 18-Wheeler.
Now I live in Washington State, and am digging novels out of the drawer. It is a pleasure to edit my writing with a cold eye and the enthusiastic critiques of friends who are voracious readers.
Lately a professional author coach told me, “Stop writing, start selling.” Okay! I’m back in the game.
@ToniDietkus on twitter and www.tonizart.com.