I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, number three of nine kids born to Walt and Marle Schofield. My dad was a high school art teacher when I was growing up, and my mom stayed home with us. I owe them a great debt of gratitude for the things they each taught me that brought me to this point in my life. My mother loved to read, and my dad was a talented artist who used his art in every aspect of his life. Those two examples gave me a love for reading as well as the drive to develop my own gifts. I always loved to write, and as I grew up I decided I wanted to be an English teacher. I never really considered becoming an actual writer, definitely not a novelist--I only wanted a job where I could write for fun (since then I've discovered most English teachers don't get to do this either).
I graduated from Olympus High School in 1992. The following December, my high school sweetheart, Lee Kilpack, returned from his mission. My older sister got married a few weeks after his return, and when we announced our plans to marry, my parents asked us to wait until after March. We decided we could do that, and got married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 1, 1993. I figure one of these days Lee is just going to say "just kidding," but until then I'm enjoying the ride.
We took over guardianship of Lee's niece, Lindsy, just two months after our wedding (she was nine at the time) and began providing 24-hour elderly care in our home so that I could stay home and Lee could pursue a degree in nursing. Our daughter Breanna was born the following April, 1994. Madison was born in March of 1996, and Lee graduated with his RN a few months later. After his graduation, we no longer had to do the in-home care (it had been over three years; we'd had enough), and Lee began his career as an administrator of an Assisted Living facility for the Elderly (something we knew oodles about). Lindsy moved in with another aunt that year. Within a couple years Lee was building and managing his own facilities, and in 2000 owned the fastest growing Assisted Living Company in Utah.
During the bed rest associated with my third pregnancy, I was unable to get up more than 30 minutes a day. I watched every TV show and read every book I could get my hands on. When I ran out of these entertainment options, I started writing what I believed would be a short story; something I had always enjoyed but had never spent much time doing--now I had nothing but time on my hands. The short story got bigger and bigger until it was a 300-page novel. When Christopher was born in December 1998, I was still stuck home and had the time to put the finishing touches on my creation.
A few months later I had the members of my neighborhood book group read the manuscript and tell me what they thought. Their responses were so positive and reassuring that I sent it off for publication. It was rejected by three publishing houses before I came down from my pride-colored-cloud and learned enough about the structure of fiction to make the changes it desperately needed. In November of 1999, the story was accepted by Cedar Fort Inc., and the following spring I held the finished product in my hands: Earning Eternity! What a feeling.
Our caboose, Kylee Jo, was born in October of 2001, two months early, and my writing took a little break while we ensured she got off to a good start. I finished Surrounded by Strangers in May of 2002, and it hit shelves spring of 2003.
Through it all I have been encouraged and supported by my wonderful husband, who is the main reason I ever dared to dream of this in the first place. I truly don't know where or what I would be without his friendship, love, and support. I've also had family and friends whose enthusiasm and encouragement mean the world to me and have kept me writing when I fall into a slump. I believe that God gave me two gifts in regards to my writing. First, he gave me the ability to put five words together in a way that makes sense. Second, he gave me a passion to tell stories that lift and inspire; that's what keeps me writing. I don't pretend to expect anyone's life will be changed because of my books, but I do think I share the message that the gospel is perfect, but the Church and its members aren't. When we expect the church to solve our every problem, we become pretty bitter. If nothing else, I hope my books show that the hard choices are the important ones; they're the ones that change our lives for better or worse. The gospel is what helps us know which choices to make.
I'm blessed to have four great kids who were young enough when I started writing that it seems normal to them that I spend my free time typing. I've developed a habit of doing everything in spurts; sometimes I'm writing 4 to 8 hours a day, sometimes I'm spending that same amount of time cleaning, doing things with the kids, reading, or catching up on callings and projects. Sometimes I'll go weeks without writing and then spend a week or so doing nothing but. I revise each book as I go, and then when I've finished the whole thing, revise it at least 4 more times from beginning to end. I know many writers make sure they write every day, and they don't revise as they go, but for me this is what works.