I’m often asked if I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The short answer is, “No.” I was never the type of kid who always had her nose in a book or who wrote stories in her journal every night by lamplight. I was too busy living in my imagination all day like the little boy with the stuffed tiger in the cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes.” I would imagine wild, dramatic stories wherever I went.

After attending Hope College in Holland, Michigan for three years, I married my husband Ken, and completed my degree in psychology at Southern Connecticut State University. Then we set off on a real-life adventure, living in Bogota, Colombia for two years where I taught 4th grade in a Colombian school and Ken performed in the symphony orchestra. With no TV and plenty of time to read, I became an avid reader for the first time in my life. That’s when I began to dream of writing the kind of books I loved—books that made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think.

The demands of our growing family postponed my writing career until Ken’s work took us to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was during those long Canadian winters at home with my children that I finally started carving out a few hours of writing time each day while they napped. The moment I started writing, I discovered how much fun it was to use my imagination again and create wonderful characters and stories. I was hooked! As my children grew, I returned to teaching and learned to squeeze in writing time amid the busyness of family life. For eleven years, I studied how to craft good fiction, and endured all the ups and downs of trying to get published. My first novel was finally published in 1995—and it was the same book I had started writing during naptime: Gods and Kings. It evolved into a five-book series, Chronicles of the Kings.

While researching this series, I had a chance to pursue one of my “bucket list” dreams, volunteering on an archaeological dig. My son Joshua and I traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in a month-long dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience not only provided background information for the Chronicles, it also inspired my novel Wings of Refuge.

In 1992 I decided it was time to resign from teaching to write full-time. Since then I’ve published twenty-three novels and one non-fiction book, Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked. Eight of my novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction, and I was honored to be named to the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was one of only five inspirational novels chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. My novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. She received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Our children are now grown and I’m experiencing the joy of grandchildren. Ken and I live in Western Michigan where the woods and beaches of Lake Michigan inspire me every day.