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December 5, 2011

BJ Daniels on Unforgettable Gifts

Posted by Katherine


USA TODAY Bestselling author B.J. Daniels began writing novels after a career as a newspaper journalist. The author of more than fifty titles for Harlequin Books, she has won numerous awards, including a career achievement award for romantic suspense. B.J. has been a long-time contributor to the Harlequin Intrigue line.  Readers can find more of her Intrigue novels throughout 2012, including a sequel to CRIME SCENE AT CARDWELL RANCH.  Fans can also look forward to her first big romantic suspense novel for HQN Books, coming out in August 2012. B.J. lives in Montana with her husband and their two springer spaniels. When she isn’t plotting her next book, she snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Thriller Writers, Kiss of Death and Romance Writers of America. Here she talks about some of the unforgettable gifts she has received throughout her lifetime.


It is that gift-giving time of the year and I’m reminded of the amazing gifts I’ve been given --- ones that have changed my life.

The Gift of Freedom to Write

I’d sold four books when my job as a newspaper editor went from part-time to full-time. I had to make a decision, a tough one since my husband and I had recently married and were strapped for money. We had been living on my newspaper job while he paid alimony and child support that ate up most of his salary. While going full-time at the newspaper would give us a little more money, it wouldn’t give me as much time to write books.

It was one of those crossroads that are often hard on a marriage, especially a new one. My husband Parker had told me early on: “I never want to stand in your way. Quit. We’ll make it.”

Giving me that freedom to write against all odds, I quit. It was a gamble, but my husband was willing to gamble on me. That day, he gave me the most amazing gift. Freedom to write.

Not that we didn’t have some tough years. We lived in an old house with hardly any heat and in Montana that’s a problem. I used to work in fingerless gloves, a winter hat, coat and snowboots. But I kept writing --- and fortunately, selling books.

Today, after selling more than 60 books since that day, we couldn’t be happier with that long-ago decision. It strengthened our marriage, his faith sustaining us during those hard times.

The Gift of Time and Talent

My daughter Danielle has read everything I’ve ever written from the time she was old enough to read. A journalism major and avid reader, she worked for a while as a copy editor and designer. Now she and her husband own a graphic design business, Crossroads Creative, in Seattle.

But she still finds time to read anything I need read. Her gift of her time and expertise is invaluable. She and her husband design and maintain my website, help me with any computer problems and are great for bouncing off plotting ideas. My daughter also designed my covers for some short story ebooks as well as formatted them.

My daughter is that rare individual who makes everything look easy. She is a port in stormy weather. When I don’t trust my own judgment, I go to her for sound advice.  She is my most precious of gifts.

The Gift of Giggles

After a recent tough deadline, I was exhausted. But it was Thanksgiving and we were going down to spend it with my stepdaughter, son-in-law and their five children ages 11 to 18 months.

Within minutes of arriving at their home, I was curled up on a bed giggling with the two oldest girls. I’d always heard what a gift grandchildren were, but the truth is: They take years off your life.

I came away from the Thanksgiving weekend completely revived with so many wonderful memories that make me smile just thinking about them. The hugs alone are enough to keep me going for weeks. There really is no gift like grandchildren.

The Gift That Began It All

 A storyteller extraordinaire, my father gave me my love of stories --- and boats. He also gave me his middle name, the name of a boat builder he was named for. As a girl, I spent many camping trips listening to stories around the campfire. It sparked my imagination and made me want to write stories of my own.

My father, who only had a fifth-grade education, was an amazing builder. He also wrote poetry. But it was his storytelling and his determination that I could be anything I wanted to be that are responsible for me becoming a writer.

Fortunately, he lived long enough to see me published. Before he died, he made me promise that Parker and I would have fun. Life is too short, he said. He lived what he believed, working hard --- and playing just as hard. No one had more fun than he did.

Following his example, I work hard, writing stories --- and play just as hard, spending as much time as possible on water. Often I feel his presence and know he would be delighted I took his advice to heart. It was his gift to me and maybe the greatest one I’ve ever received.

Read more about BJ Daniels on her website