A boxing taco. That’s the subject of the first story I ever wrote, which I read to the other second grade students in Mrs. Moore’s class at Morningside Elementary. Their laughter was like medicine to me, a shy and often frightened child.

Writing became my passion. An uncle in the publishing business showed me how to submit articles, poems and short stories to teen magazines. By twelve, I had my first piece printed on the back of a Sunday School “take home” paper. I kept the $8 check in a scrapbook, which I still have. During junior high, I read Sweet Dreams romances and decided I could do that. So I spent my afternoons after finishing my homework on an old Apple computer, writing two romance novels by the time I was thirteen. (Hopefully, they will never see the light of day!)

I continued to write through junior high and high school, and got a Professional Writing degree from Baylor University in 1993. In 1995, I began doing PR writing for a seminary my new husband was attending, which honed my skills in interviewing, research and meeting deadlines.

But after working for a year for barely minimum wage, I decided I could make much more money (and have lots more fun!) freelancing. Since 1997, I’ve freelanced part- to full-time and have had a ball. Though my husband has made the bulk of our “paying-the-bills money,” mine has come in handy with extras and has allowed me to be home with my three year-old at a formative time in his life. God has smiled on us.

I’ve written profiles, travel articles, devotionals, how-to’s, poetry, short stories and book proposals. Though I’ve yet to break into the book market, I have learned that persistence pays off. Sometimes I have to send a piece off twelve times before it’s published, but most (80-90%) of what I write does get published. I query or submit (depending on the market guides) to the right editors, with the things they seem to need, and then forget about it and move on to the next project.

Currently, I’m shopping two proposals around and am working on two more. My biggest blessing this year was attending my second networking conference–held at a publishers convention–where I met tons of editors and other writers. Many assignments and “nibbles” on my book came from that three-day investment. Plus, I was re-energized to pursue this sometimes frustrating, often lonely, but always interesting, career.

My biggest advice to beginners? Do your homework. Listen to others who’ve gone before, and take their advice. Get to a writing conference–as fast as you can! And don’t be afraid to tell people, “I’m a writer!” You never know where it could lead.

Dena Dyer grew up in Dumas, Texas on her family’s ranch. Her passions include being a mom, writing, performing, speaking and teaching. After graduating from Baylor University with a double major in English and Music, Dena toured nationally with a music theater group. On that tour, she met her husband, Carey. The two of them perform weekly at Granbury Live, a music theater in their hometown. Dena has written for over 80 print and online publications, including Woman’s World, Texas Highways, CBN.com, God’s Little Devotional Book for Grandparents, and the God Allows U-Turns book series. She lives in Granbury with Carey and their son, Jordan. For more information, visit her website: https://www.denadyer.com