Elizabeth Dearl and her pal, Casey

I'm Elizabeth Dearl and I'm an author of mystery novels, mystery, fantasy and romantic short stories, and various articles.

Okay, now I'm supposed to tell you something about myself. I've always found it a little weird and a little uncomfortable to talk about myself, but here goes.

Confession. Elizabeth is my middle name. My first name is Siri. It's a Norwegian name -- my mother was Norwegian. Apple ruined it for me. I can't be in a public place these days without someone yelling my name into an iPhone and asking "me" where the nearest pizza place is or how to get to Elm Street. I used to hear, "Oh, what a pretty name! How unusual! How do you spell it?" Now, I hear, "Oh. Like the app?" Grrr, Apple. Thanks a lot.

I'm a Texan, born and raised. I grew up in a small town called Sweetwater, and I now live in Sugar Land. Apparently, I either have a sweet tooth or an affinity for towns that incorporate a sweet theme.

For some reason, as a child, I hated having to ask adults to read to me. I wanted to read books for myself. Thanks to a wonderful grandmother who was patient enough to teach me, I learned to read before I started kindergarten. Once I realized where books "come from" (in other words, learned what authors are) that became my dream. I wanted to write things for other people to read.

As the saying goes, though, life gets in the way. I worked at some non-enjoyable jobs over the years (security guard, assistant manager of an apartment building, secretary). My husband has been in law enforcement ever since leaving the military, and told me to try for a job as a police dispatcher. I did, and I loved it. I went on (while working as a dispatcher) to attend a reserve officer training school, and became the first female reserve deputy in Fort Bend County, Texas. I loved that, too, and worked at the Sheriff's Department on my days off from the police department. There, I was happy to work for their I.D. division (sort of like CSI, but not as fancy). Crime scene photos, fingerprint analysis, gathering of evidence, etc. Soon after, I attended a full police academy, and was thrilled to graduate valedictorian of my class. I became an officer at the police department where I had been a dispatcher and was promoted to Telecommunications Supervisor.

As much as I enjoyed law enforcement, I had never forgotten my dream of being a writer. When we had an opportunity to buy a small bookstore, I thought that would be perfect. I could be surrounded by books and perhaps have time to write (something I simply had no time to do as a cop). Well, I did enjoy being surrounded by books -- and by book lovers, my customers -- but time to write? No. I realized that if I was in the middle of writing a scene and someone walked in and asked me for help in finding a particular book, looking up and saying: "Do you want something?" (in a rather irritated tone) was likely not a good way to earn repeat customers.

Eventually, we sold the store and I began pursuing writing on a full time basis. Not easy, as any writer in the world will tell you. Rejection slips are like tiny doses of death, and it's tough to keep trying. Finally, though, I sold a short story. Then another and another. It kept me hopeful. And then it was on to trying my hand at a novel.

Along the way, I became an instructor for Writer's Digest School. I taught both their snail mail correspondence courses (which have now, in the computer age, been discontinued) and online for their Writers Online Workshops school. I ended up writing and developing a mystery writing course for them, and a separate mystery writing course for Barnes and Noble University. I enjoy my students so much when I take on teaching a course.

I've been married to the same guy, now a retired police detective, for a very, very long time, and he's been so encouraging. Having that kind of support system makes all the difference in the world, especially considering the number of people who ask, "What do you do?" and when you reply, "I'm a writer," they respond with, "What a nice hobby. But what do you DO?" Our two wonderful dogs keep me happy, even while they strive at times to drive me insane. In my spare time, I get pleasure from container gardening. My favorite plants to raise are Venus Fly Traps. Anyone who knows me will not be at all surprised by that preference.