I was born Joy Elaine Shelton in Gadsden, AL in 1952 to wonderful, hardworking parents, both of whom grew up on rural farms in Alabama surrounded by large families with strong faith-based values. My father was an agriculture engineer and my mother was a nurse. My older brother and I were devastated at an early age, I was five-years-old, when our father drowned in a frog gigging accident. My mother was seven months pregnant at the time with my younger brother.
With the prospect of raising three young children on her own, my mother was encouraged to continue her education, prompting a move to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend the University of Alabama. Within a couple of years, my mother met and married a professor at the university. We moved to Colorado and found the culture quite different from the south, but it was friendly, welcoming and very accepting of cultural differences. As I was about to begin junior high school, my mother left with us and a baby brother and returned to Alabama, once again a single mother.
I graduated from Tuscaloosa High School and attended Auburn University, receiving a degree BA in Sociology. I began my career as an assistant buyer with a local department store. My career in retail management took me to Birmingham, Pensacola, Atlanta, and Indianapolis, where I met my husband of twenty-eight years, Terry York. Both of us being in big box retail, we made many career moves from Indiana to Michigan, Missouri and finally, Hudson, Ohio, where we spent eighteen years. My son, Collin, is an aerospace engineer working in Indiana. I also have two lovely step-daughters, Leslie and Staci.
Taking a break from my career, I was able to pursue two of my passions, writing and community involvement initiatives that promoted children’s education and developmental grown. Encouraged by the legacy of my father’s volunteer work with youth groups before his death, I worked with various nonprofit organizations, parent groups, on committees with the local school system, and on levy committees for school funding. I was elected to a four-year-term on the Hudson City School Board of Education serving one year as Vice-President and two years as President. I also resumed my retail management career.
I joined national and local writing groups, including The International Women’s Writing Guild and The Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. Most of my previous experience was business writing; years of writing monthly articles in the newsletter, business strategic plans, articles for local newspapers, and pamphlets. An antidotal story I submitted to the Cleveland Plain Dealer was published.
The first thing I learned about fiction writing was to write what you love and what you know. The Bloody Shoe Affair: A daring and thrilling adventure with the jailer’s daughter is a fictitious story set in a fictitious, southern rural town inspired by the personalities and relationships of real people, my cousin and me, and a wonderful rural family. My cousin was truly the county jailer’s daughter and from a small, southern town and just as vivacious, spunky, double-dare-you, and as beautiful as Lily. I, on the other hand, was the skinny, shy and an extremely insecure fraidy-cat. I love her dearly and will always treasure the special relationship we continue to share.
Terry, and I have moved back to Alabama where I am now working fulltime on the sequel to The Blood Shoe affair. I hope to have it out within the year.