Say hello to this week’s guest blogger, Gayle M. Irwin…
I began writing books in 2007. However, I’ve been a writer for nearly 30 years. My career began at a small, western Montana town newspaper as a reporter and photographer. Less than 10 years later, I became reporter and editor for the West Yellowstone News in West Yellowstone, Montana, covering not only the community but also national park and national forest issues, such as the wolf release debate, the bison slaughter outside the park’s boundaries, land exchanges, and tourism. I moved on from daily and weekly journalism jobs in 2000 and became a freelance writer, an endeavor I continue pursuing in addition to my book writing. My first published book was a children’s chapter book about my adopted, blind dog, Sage. I used her story to encourage kids to face challenges in life with perseverance and courage as Sage did. We visited schools and libraries for nearly five years. After her passing 2012, I continued to write children’s books, each one teaching life lessons. A few years later, after taking additional creative writing classes at the local college, I expanded my authorship, and in 2019, my first romance novel, Rescue Road, published. Through this clean, contemporary story, I weave the topics of pet rescue and adoption, something for which I possess a deep passion. The second book in the series, which I’m calling “Pet Rescue Romance,” released in May. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is a second-chance story, both for the human characters and for the animals in their care. A third book in the series, a holiday novella titled In the Shadow of Mount Moran, is scheduled for release in November. All three stories take place in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
- My biggest challenge is time. I juggle a part-time “day-job,” freelance writing for magazines and newspapers, and book writing and marketing. Plus, I blog on my website, 2 to 4 times a month. I don’t have children or grandchildren, but I have elderly parents (who live out of state), and though I try to visit several times a year, 2020 presented the additional challenge of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place/travel bans. I’d love to see 24 hours in a day become at least 28 – and 30 hours a day would be even better!
- I chose writing for children first because of the lessons that dogs can teach us. I started with Sage, my blind dog, but then expanded my children’s line to include dogs I adopted after her passing. Dogs teach people valuable lessons, including friendship, loyalty, trust, joy, and so much more. Therefore, I try to instill some of those lessons into my books. I also support pet rescue and adoption, and when I decided to become a romance novelist, I saw opportunity to weave that important topic into my stories for adults. Since I mostly write middle-age, second-chance romance, that concept bodes well for pet rescue and adoption – animals are given a second chance through rescue and adoption. Additionally, my marriage is a later-in-life love story, so I have experience in the joys and challenges of falling in love and marrying during one’s 40th decade. Although there are more “second-chance romance” and “later-in-life love” stories in print these days, I find there’s room for new voices like mine, especially weaving the topic of pet rescue and adoption into such stories. I’m grateful to be part of this niche!
- Although I’m not a fulltime writer (not yet anyway!), I enjoy creating stories and sharing them with others. I’m a member of various writing groups, in my community and online. I believe having other authors provide feedback and encouragement is vital to growing as writer. A scene in Finding Love at Compassion Ranch developed from an idea one of my writer friends provided. Input, constructive criticism, encouragement, ideas, and feedback from others helps to make an author’s story better. Having those different sets of eyes and listening ears strengthens us in areas where we are weak or where we think we’re making sense with our words and discover we’re not. My encouragement to writers is to become part of a group and share your work in order to make your story the best it can be.
- I’m working on the third book in my “Pet Rescue Romance” series. The title is In the Shadow of Mount Moran. The setting is outside of Jackson, Wyoming near Grand Teton National Park. The book is scheduled for release in November 2020.
- In May 2020, the second book in my “Pet Rescue Romance” series released Finding Love at Compassion Ranch. You can find this book, as well as the first in this series, Rescue Road, and my children’s books, on Amazon.
Here’s a link to my Amazon page: amazon.com/author/gayleirwin
I also have a website where you can learn more about me and writing and read my pet blog: https://gaylemirwinauthor.com/