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Shana Abé

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Joan Medlicott
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I was born on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, back when it was truly paradise. I married at eighteen and had three children. When I was 29 I started back to college and as we moved a great deal, it took me about 10 years to finish a BA in History. Later, I went on to get a Masters in Counseling. Because of my husband's work I have lived in Chicago; New York; Miami and Ocala, Fl.; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Nürenburg, Germany. In 1964 we returned to live in St. Thomas and I began a career in horticulture as Director of the Division of Beautification for the Virgin Islands Government. I am a self-starter and never afraid to tackle something I know nothing about, if I have a passion for the topic. That's how it was with horticulture. I took correspondence courses from the University of Guelph in Canada. I visited the park services of Miami and Miami Beach and learned from them. I read and became proficient in tropical horticulture. I became, to all intents and purposes, a tropical horticulturist. I was divorced and remarried in 1967. In 1973, we moved to Boca Raton, Fl. where I got my masters degree in counseling. Following that I worked as a Volunteer Coordinator at a Senior Center and spent the next nine years developing (people) programs: Friendly Visitors for homebound elderly, in-service training for staff and a lifetime learning program called Horizons Unlimited. It had never occurred to me to write professionally. All my writing had been for organizations. Then, in 1989, a friend and I decided that there was a problem out there in America — many women were living in sexless marriages. We decided to write a self-help book on the subject. We had no clue how to begin, but fools rush in where... you know what. We did just that, learning as we went along. In 1992 Celibate Wives: Breaking the Silence was published. It was not marketed by its publisher, and went nowhere. But, by then, I’d been bitten by the writer’s bug. I knew nothing about novel writing. In fact, my then agent said that non-fiction writers could not switch to novels. I thought, you wait and see. I was certain that I could learn. I took classes, hired an editor, read copiously and kept on going. It never bothered me to be the least knowledgeable writer in a writers group, or to take criticism. I discovered there was a craft to be mastered, and I set out to do that through writers’ magazines, workshops, classes, writing groups. The idea for Ladies came to me in the bathtub and persisted until I sat at the computer to put down my thoughts. I never stopped. When I did not know what came next, I soaked in the tub and the next chapter or twist of plot would come to me. I am grateful to the universe for its guidance. My life is full and active. Besides my writing, I volunteer at a local library sorting, pricing and selling the used books at our annual used book sale. I am on the library board and for the last two years have a been co-manager of the 1st and 2nd annual Western North Carolina Book Fair. Recently, I co-organized a chapter of The Red Hat Society. We call ourselves The Mountain Word Sprites. When we gather, we dress in purple, wear red hats, and just have fun. I live in the beautiful countryside a half-hour from Asheville, NC. Sometimes I wish I lived closer to town, yet the beauty of my surroundings pleases me every day. My husband, at 75, never stops fixing or building something, or helping a neighbor fix or build something. Life is good, and I am grateful.

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