I recently had a request from Barbara Meyers on my Twitter feed wondering where she could read my Bio. She’d been reading some of my book reviews, which I post up on Amazon usually and sometimes re-post to my Twitter feed. But her Bio request sent me on a major jaunt through my hardrive files (I seriously need to do some housekeeping in there!) and do you think I could find a Bio? Where the hell had I put it? Eventually, I came to my Nanowrimo information and found one there. Anyway, after giving it an edit and an update I’ve decided to post it here too. Thank you Barbara for prompting me to do this! It’s been a good exercise for sure. Coincidentally, I’d only just read a sample of ‘White Roses in Winter’ and really enjoyed it; downloading the full version to my Kindle just before the Bio request came in. I’ll be sure to post up a review when I’m done, Barb.
Bio for Gaylene May Atkins
In 1975, English and Home Ec. were my only School Cert passes. I’m proud to say those subjects are still high on my list of life’s passions today! And miraculously my parents let me leave school at the end of the year—just after my 15th birthday to take an interim job for a farmer as his land girl, cook/housekeeper; while I waited to start my chosen career. Hairdressing College began in early March of 1976. Then I was working full-time.
Fast forward to 1990. By this time, I’ve been married for almost eleven years and living on a farm in the central King Country of North Island, New Zealand. From hairdresser to farmer’s wife in ten short years. During those early years of marriage there wasn’t always happy times. We were unable to have children successfully and losing babies no matter that they are not at full term, is heartbreaking. But you learn to adjust and do other things, and I learnt to nurture others. Animals, people, other family that needed some TLC for a time or friends babies and children. And by cooking meals for all sorts of workers that came to the farm – I loved every minute of it. I also upskilled and worked part time, becoming useful at the local Post Office behind the counter as well as working at the local ‘watering hole’ — a community club and central meeting place. Upskilling again I gained the legal qualifications to run a place selling alcohol, but never took on the manager’s role. I could see that would have been a step too far, and by then I’d gotten ‘over’ dealing with people who drank too much and became obnoxious. Host responsibilities are very hard to explain to people who have maybe had one too many, they just want another drink. And besides that I had other plans…I’d decided I wanted to write a book, or several… but as I hadn’t paid much attention in typing 101 (at Ohura District High School), I knew I’d need to up-skill (again) and learn the basics. Then I’d get a computer and write my books! Which I did.
Who knew I’d end up being such a good typist? Not me, that’s for sure! From that up-skilling experience, I ended up with a full-time receptionist/secretarial position with a government department. This was unplanned but became necessary, as there was an economic downturn in the mid 90’s and NZ farming forecasts and prices were at ‘another’ all-time-low. While working, in my spare time & on the weekends, I started to write the first of several novels. Like many writers, I knew those first efforts ‘were shockers’. Over the years I’ve learnt writing, like anything else, is an acquired skill and it is definitely an art form/craft. But first, you have to learn how to do it. Then you’ve got to practice… get your butt into the chair every day and develop a writing habit.
There are a couple of people (Jaci & Jenny) and one major group that have helped shape me as a writer and a person. The most transforming and influential group is, RWNZ (Romance Writers of New Zealand Inc). Joining this organisation in 1996 changed my life. What a fabulous and professional group of writers to belong to. However, RWNZ is not just for romantic fiction writers; the skills writers of all genres need are taught within the framework of this group. Within RWNZ I became the convenor of the Central North Island C2C (Coast 2 Coast) branch. A voluntary position which I held three times, serving two year stints each time. This group of serious writers (and friends), who write across the genres, have been a constant source of inspiration and support for me; and sincere thanks to you. Over the years, I’ve entered and placed in RWNZ’s competitions and of course I’ve ‘submitted’ and ‘yes’ been rejected, by their traditional romance publishers, too. I’ve also entered national comps (Sunday Star Times – without success, I might add). And been lucky enough to help within RWNZ as a judge over the years and it’s always a privilege to read competition entries. The standard of talent shown in entries was always ‘mind-blowingly-outstanding.’ I wish I’d written every one. Varied topics. And not just romance either… gutsy stories, literary and with heart and imagination. Which is all ‘grist for the writer’s mill’ and made me want to try harder!
Ah, but is she published? I can hear you asking yourself this…? In short, the answer is, YES!
2008 saw me complete a Freelance Journalism Certificate, something I’d always wanted to do and I managed a merit pass. From that I’ve had some glossy articles (with my own photographs) published, some poetry (prior to the journo course), and I’ve done voluntary writing for local organisations for many years – booklets, newsletters, flyers etc.
Flick forward to 2018 and another ten years have just flown by. My darling OH and I sold our 154 ha farming property and moved 10 months ago and we’re ‘reinventing our lives’. I’ve upskilled yet again and learnt about SM (Social Media) and building a ‘platform’ for when you are published. And I’m also in the process of completing my registration to become a Bowen Therapist — body self-healing or energy healing has always been of high interest to me. This particular modality, ‘Bowen Therapy’, is about the body healing itself and your client finding balance in; the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. I follow the Mind, Body & Bowen stream which is a recognized teaching and is part of the on-going education of Bowen therapists.
I love my life as a partner/wife of almost 40 years, a writer and healer. I’m very grateful for the life I’ve lived so far; and the lessons I’ve learnt thus far. It is still my ultimate goal to be multi-published in book-form-digital, audio and hardcopy!