Terry Hurt could be one of the characters in her novels: a young woman looking for something, she doesn't know what. Herself perhaps.
But when Mrs. Hurt found herself, she was somewhat older than the characters she created for her first successful young adult book.
"I was 29 and had decided to leave my first husband and go back to school," she recalled from her Eldersburg home. "I had a teacher at Essex Community College tell me I had writing talent and was creative, but I had never considered writing as a career.
"I was into crafts, I mastered everything I tried, but nothing ever really satisfied me until I found the writing," she said. "Writing is the biggest thrill of my life."
With encouragement from her Essex instructor, Mrs. Hurt got a job on the student newspaper and started writing poetry. When one of her poems won an award, she was on her way.
"That inspired me more than anything else," she said. "So I started taking creative writing classes."
In November, her "Promises of Summer" was published by Odyssey Books Inc., a small private publishing company in Silver Spring.
"Odyssey was looking for something to show how hard teens have it, especially from the city and those from broken homes," Mrs. Hurt said. "I was writing from my point of view of girls who had no father in their lives and who go out seeking a replacement."
Although Mrs. Hurt had to make some character changes in the book to fit Odyssey's market, her story theme remained intact. "Promises of Summer" has since received positive reviews.
The young adult book was not Mrs. Hurt's first attempt at writing books. She had written a series of three mysteries, using the same character, for 8- to 10-year-olds that an agent is trying to sell for her.
She also wrote a talking animal book that has not sold because "everybody told me nobody buys animal books, they all want problem books, so that's why I wrote 'Promises of Summer.' "
The 43-year-old writer, from Brooklyn Park in Anne Arundel County, has published a few feature articles in the Mount Airy Shopper and has tried to write some magazine stories.
But after many rejection slips, she gave that up.
"I didn't have the patience for that, sending out stories to all these magazines. Then I realized they were probably getting thousands of stories from people all over, so writing a novel seemed easier," she said.
Mrs. Hurt currently is working on another young adult novel, about a high school senior who falls in love with a Navajo Indian boy. The twist, and lesson, focuses on the girl's surgery for a benign breast lump, something that's quite common in teen-agers, Mrs. Hurt said.
"There aren't any books out on that, and I'm hoping the American Cancer Society will endorse it," she said.
Mrs. Hurt knows about breast diseases firsthand: She's also a radiologic technician with advanced certification in mammography. She works on call for Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown.
When she's not working, she writes from a converted closet where she has set up a computer, printer and other writing necessities.
She's also become a speaker since the publication of her book. She and another local young adult writer spoke to classes at Mount Airy Middle School in May.
"We talked with the students about our books and being a writer and how you don't have to be great in English to be a good writer," she said.
"It was inspiring to see how many were interested in writing, so we tried to give them as many hints as possible."
Recalling her own childhood, Mrs. Hurt said she used to read anything she could get her hands on.
"I think anybody who reads has the ability to write a good story if they aren't scared to death of not doing it perfect. I mean, I still don't know what a dangling participle is," she said with a chuckle.
Around the two jobs, Mrs. Hurt is married to Ray Hurt, 41, who she met at Essex Community College, and mother to J. D. Shipley, 23, and Sam Shipley, 18, from her first marriage, and Ray Hurt II, 11.
Someday she would like to be a full-time writer.