Alumna Dr. Tamie Dearen Erratt has been giving people a reason to smile for almost 40 years, first as a dentist and now as a romance novelist.
The USA Today bestselling author has published more than 20 books, including The Limitless Clean Billionaire Romance Series, The Best Girls Sweet Romance Series and Underground Granny Matchmaker Romantic Comedy Series.
“They always say to write what you know, and my husband and I have been working with young people in our church for years,” Erratt said. “We have a Bible study on Wednesday nights and Thursday night dinners for young professionals. A lot of couples have met here. My husband has performed two weddings, and we’ve performed one together for these couples.
“So, the one thing I thought I really knew was relationships.”
Erratt’s patients would argue she also knows teeth. After graduating from what was then Baylor College of Dentistry in 1984, she immediately opened her own practice in Giddings, Texas.
“I was really crazy,” she said. “I had no idea how to run a business. We moved into this small town in an oil boom, and they had a lot of money they needed to lend out. I had written a few numbers on a legal pad, and they gave us a loan. We bought a house and divided it in half, built an office on one side and lived on the other.”
Three-and-a-half years later, her husband’s job took them to Bryan, Texas, where Erratt started a new practice after selling the one in Giddings. She and her associates treated patients for more than 30 years at Brazos Valley Dental Arts before she sold the practice a few years ago and shifted to seeing patients only a few days per month.
Throughout her career, writing was always a creative outlet for Erratt, although she previously focused on poetry and songwriting.
“I was getting close to turning 50, which brought on a midlife crisis,” she said with a laugh. “I thought: I’m getting old and need to prove I can still learn and do something new. So, I bought a MINI Cooper convertible, took up running … did a couch to 5K, worked up to a 10K and did two half-marathons. I got a master’s degree in higher education, and when I decided not to teach, I thought: maybe I’ll try writing a book.”
Erratt, who writes under her maiden name Dearen, said she began writing for fun and originally had no intention of trying to publish her work. She would write a chapter at a time, taking each one to the dental office for her colleagues to read, watching their faces for reactions as they devoured every word.
“In my first book, the girl was kind of based on me, except more outgoing,” Dearen said. “She also had two grown daughters like me and was married … but my husband said I killed him off in the first chapter.”
The book, “Her Best Match,” is about a feisty widow, Anne Best, who leaves Texas for a job interview and adventure in New York City. She finds herself working for billionaire Steven Gherring and teaming up with his grandmother to find him a romantic interest before falling for him herself.
“For Christmas that year, my daughters made it into a paperback for me and figured out how to publish it on Amazon,” she said. “I was thrilled.”
It was 2013, and self-publishing was just becoming a viable option for authors. Dearen said she fired off four more books, creating a series, before many people started buying them. Through the years, she’s studied the industry, learning about marketing and advertising to ensure her books reach the right audience. She networked with other authors and built her own website, all in an effort to grow readership.
Erratt is currently working on a new book in the Underground Granny series, but she’s considering experimenting with a new genre in the future. No matter what she writes, Erratt’s goal is to provide a sweet escape and leave the reader smiling with a happy ending.
“The ideas just pop in my head,” she said. “The personalities are based on people that I know in real life, but sometimes my writing takes a different direction than I expected. Characters will just show up on the page or they will do or say things that I didn’t expect. I have to write the book to find out what happens at the end.”