Monday, November 9, 2015

The Canadian Prairie Multitasker


My name is Killarney Sheffield. I am a mother, rancher, horse breeder, trainer, coach, farrier, ranch hand, equine and bovine midwife, assistant farm hand, counsellor, maid, chauffer tutor, gardener, chef, and gopher. It is a mouthful isn’t it? If I were to apply for a job in town the application would not be big enough to include at the things I am, can do and accomplish in an average day. It is all just part of being a Canadian prairie wife and mother. On top of all that I am an award winning, multi-published historical romantic adventure author. I hear the gasps, how do you manage to fit that into raising five kids and a ranch? I am the ultimate multitasker. Yes, I can burn dinner, haggle with book editors on the phone, let the dog out and the cat in, all while tugging on my boots to go chase the cattle who have gotten out on the road again. But, you know, when you live in the great Canadian prairies you have to be part super woman and the support in a small prairie community is like nothing you will ever experience anywhere else in Canada. Prairie residents are always willing to lend a hand and their support when needed. There is nowhere else you can walk down the street and everyone greets you by first name and sincerely cares how you are today. And if your cow goes down in the middle of the night and your medicine bag of tricks is empty you don’t call the vet, you ring the neighbour because he has the medicine you need and is more than happy to come over in his pajamas to help save the day. That is just the way we roll out here.

For me writing gives me that little corner of the world that is truly mine. It doesn’t require anything from me and I can create a world of my own, where burned dinner, loose cattle and kids howling that the dog ate their favorite shoe again can’t intrude. Does my everyday life end up in some of my historical romantic adventures? You bet! Some things haven’t changed in the last 200 years! The methods may have changed, but the desire for love and adventure are still there. Of course when you are tied to a ranch 24-7 it is a little harder to explore the jungles of Brazil, sail across the English Channel or gallop across Russia. Writing allows me to go where I wish, explore many different places and cultures, with the help of my computer and the internet that is. I guess you could call me an armchair traveller. And I wouldn’t trade it for a thing! 

So what made me decide to become a writer you’re wondering? Well, it all started innocently enough. I write the occasional article for a local paper or two and one day after requesting one on horse slaughter in Canada an editor mentioned in passing that he enjoyed my articles and he was impressed they needed so little in the way or edits or revisions. He said I should think about writing a novel one day. I in returned laughed because at that time I had three historical romantic adventures in my computer that I had written over the years that I was sure would never see the light of day, never mind make it from a publishing house ‘slush pile’ to across a publisher’s desk. Encouraged by his praise I screwed up my courage and tossed out a manuscript to one of the big three in romance, Harlequin. BAM! Rejection was swift and brutal. I discovered that without any writing credits to my name I would never get a novel in front of the eyes of a publisher in the big six publishing houses. Then I discovered small press. Small press are committed to finding and show casing new authors. I submitted my first novel to a small Quebec press and was thrilled when they came back with a yes and a request for more manuscripts. I went on to publish seven titles with them but began to wonder if I really was good enough to warrant being published. After winning a few awards I was feeling a little more confident but still not completely convinced my calling was as an author. I ventured to submit to a few other publishers and landed with another Canadian house and two American publishers, and I haven’t looked back. 

Are there more books and awards in my future? I surely hope so, but one thing is certain, I will always be proud to be a Canadian prairie woman. There is nowhere on earth better to live, even when I’m cussing the -40C of a harsh winter, the deer eating my freshly planted garden or the my horse suddenly deciding he’s terrified of the cattle he just helped me sort yesterday. Only in Canada is it possible to be the world’s best multitasker.