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My Mantra: “If the doors are closed, look for a window.”


My parents were my first and best role models for achieving dreams. They came from poor families, and both knew as children how they wanted to spend their lives. Dad wanted to be an electrical engineer, Mom a teacher. Dad’s path became more complicated after he served in the military, losing most of his hearing as a result.

It took a number of years, but they made their dreams come true. They also got master’s degrees, even though the school was a two-hour drive from home, both worked full-time, and they had two children. My parents taught us to believe in our dreams, and to fight for them.

Mom set up a chalkboard in our den; she began teaching my sister and me as soon as we could hold a piece of chalk. Right after I mastered the alphabet, I started writing poems and stories. I told anyone who would listen about my plans to become a writer one day.

The path to my writing career took an unexpected turn when I married during my sophomore year of college. My new husband wanted to become an attorney but lacked funds. I surprised everyone, including myself, by changing my major from English/Liberal Arts to Accounting and passing the CPA exam.

Although I continued writing throughout, it couldn’t be my primary focus while I worked in accounting. That was especially true after I became a supervisor. My husband knows better than anyone (except my mom) how much writing means to me. Once we got his loans from law school paid off, he suggested I quit accounting and write full time. I’d helped him achieve his dream; now he wanted to help me achieve mine.

Then we entered the most challenging period of our life together. In just under two months, his mother and my father died. During that same period, we were in a car accident. I developed incapacitating migraines with severe neck and shoulder pain. It would take years and countless doctor visits to find the cause: three slipped cervical disks and fibromyalgia.

Over time, life has gotten back on track. With the help of many people, I’ve developed an effective pain management regimen. My husband and I enjoy our cat, Dresden, and our shared passion for film and travel. My mom had a wish list for travel; we made sure Mom got to those destinations. Another time, we combined our love of travel and cinema by going to the film festival in Toronto. We also celebrated a milestone anniversary by going to Peru–the altitude was challenging for a migraine sufferer, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I’ve written screenplays and just concluded 3 ½ years writing a film review site called Thinking Cinema. Now I’m working on my first novel, which will come out next year. My author website, danalemaster.com, will go live in early 2019. I invite you to join me there.