Infancy: I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on May Day the year John F. Kennedy was elected president. 😳
Pre-school: My first deeply-felt heartbreak happened when my family moved to Poughkeepsie, New York. 😢 My five-year old heart romanticized my hometown, although I had no idea that in the new millennium Scranton would become the setting of the funniest TV shows. I just missed my relatives.
1st Grade: I was five when I first got caught ditching school. I hid under the coat rack in the stairwell of our home. 😈 Probably because I repeatedly got in trouble for getting up to look out the window when everyone else was paying attention to Sister Mary Stayinyourseat.
That same year I committed my first felony. I broke into the Little Red Schoolhouse, a preschool around the corner from my house to play with all the delicious toys inside. When the lady next door threatened to call the police, 👮 I ran home and hid in my basement for hours.
2nd Grade: After learning about Jesus before my First Holy Communion, I, like most of the girls in my class at St. Mary’s, decided we wanted to marry Him by becoming nuns. 😇
3rd Grade: Our family moved across town. My parents, my sister, my two younger brothers, and my grandfather shared a small home with one full bathroom and a toilet. I upped the nun aspiration to sainthood.
4th Grade: The librarians presented me with a little fish pin for reading the most books in the Holy Trinity School library (all on the lives of saints). I referred to the pin as my holy mackerel.
5th Grade: My teacher Mrs. Gates encouraged me to enter a local writing contest. First in my age group netted me a $50 savings bond and my picture in the Poughkeepsie Journal. For an eleven year old in the snail-mail age before the internet or even electric typewriters, $50 bucks was a fortune!
MIddle School: I decided I didn’t want to be called a goody-two-shoes anymore. For the next fifteen years, I dabbled, sometimes drowned, in drink and drugs and boys and all the things that teenagers think they need to do to belong. Sadly, pathetically, I was the country song cliche: 👀 looking for love in all the wrong places.
High School was a painful blur. Literally. I was half-blind, but too vain to wear my glasses except when I absolutely had to see the chalkboard. 👓 In the hallways between class, I frequently snubbed people because I was too near-sighted to recognize them or know if they were talking to me. I was dubbed stuck-up. I certainly didn’t feel stuck-up. Most of the time I felt out-of-place. And trying to fill the lonely hole in my heart with the wrong things never helped for long.
College: I didn’t opt to head down the writing path. Honestly, it never occurred to me. Instead I graduated from SUNY at Oneonta with a degree in Elementary Education and a reckless weekend binge-drinking habit. During my senior year student teaching, I figured out I was on the wrong path. I loved the kids, 👬👭 but my free, independent spirit made being stuck in a classroom feel like jail. I had never actually spent time in a jail cell, but let’s just say, there were a few close calls.
Real Life: So I sold drugs. Legally. For a small British-based pharmaceutical company. 💼 My first sales territories were in the New York metropolitan area. By day, I was a responsible sales representative. On weekends my friends and I danced and drank all night at discos like Studio 54 in Manhattan. At some point during these years, I began writing novels or at least the beginnings of novels. It didn’t take me long to recognize they were awful and throw them out.
At twenty-seven, finding myself single and pregnant, I decided to clean up my act. I quit smoking. The weekend binge-drinking stopped. Then, when my son was two, I got pregnant again. By the same man as my first son. When he wouldn’t commit after number two, I left him. Heartbreak. 💔
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A short commercial break to talk about my romantic life formula:
My love life before knowing God = Loneliness. A man! 💔 Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Give up. Repeat.
My love life after knowing God = Not too lonely (because of new friends, relationship with Jesus) Pray for specific type of man. One test to see if I meant it. Stand firm on promise. No 💔 Meet and marry the man 💖
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Following a particularly cold winter I moved south to the Raleigh, North Carolina area to work in my company’s headquarters. It didn’t take long for me to realize I hated being stuck in a cubicle at the company’s call center (Think Dilbert!) even more than being stuck in a classroom.
During this eighteen month assignment I wrote a humorous script touching on life in the call center. The script was made into a film that was the main entertainment for a large department celebration. The VP and directors told me I missed my calling: I should write. But because I had two dependent sons, both of whom had gotten used to food, I decided not to answer that call.
Instead I interviewed for and received a promotion to district sales manager and moved to Williamsburg, VA. After two years of becoming a workaholic trying to bring my bottom-dwelling district up to the top 25% to free us from the ever-present threat of being fired, the district was on track to attain President’s Club status. They made it. I, however, didn’t get to celebrate with them. Months before my 20 year anniversary with the company, I was fired. In a painful, humiliating way. It hurt like hell. Like a death. 😞
It didn’t take too long to learn that getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me. 😄 My old lonely life needed to die… To make room for a fresh, wonderful new life.
I made friends. More friends than I had ever had, even if you added all the friends I’d ever made in my entire life up until then. True, loyal friends.
And within two months of being fired, I met an amazing widowed Coast Guard Officer named Tim Quiram who literally exceeded all I prayed for in a husband. Trust me, it was a long, detailed list I turned into a prayer. I still have it with all the checkmarks.
I fell in love with Tim and his two boys. 👰 We got married.
The Quiram/Briskey family blended and grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia, the main setting of the Transcender books.
Our four biological sons 👬👬 are close in age so there were some fun times adjusting to new rules. Then, because four teenage boys wasn’t enough craziness, we adopted two teenage daughters 👭 from the land of Ukraine. I studied Russian at William & Mary so I would know when they were talking about me… or boys;)
For several months in 2008 all six children were teenagers. Being the friend’s hangout place, our Williamsburg home always ranneth over with young adults .👭👫👬👬👭👫👭👬
But, as children are prone to do, they grew up.
Will married Kara.
Ethan graduated and moved into his own apartment.
Sophie and Katya moved out.
Now, instead of mothering my flesh and blood young adults, I get to write about a whole flock of new ones. Verona and Ben, Angie and Alex, Leanne, Nicky, and Luka have become my new YA babies.
My life is blessed. And brutal. One of my daughters is living the cliche with a vengeance. It’s 💔 when someone you love chooses to walk out of your life and thumbs a ride on the road to destruction.
Loosing myself in my stories is a blessing.
Thank you for caring enough to read this.