Tammy Hornbeck started writing at age 15 in the group home where she lived in Waxahachie, Texas. It was her way to heal from the trauma she had experienced in her young life.
She had been placed in the group home after being removed from her parents’ care a year earlier because of abuse. Counselors, psychologists and pastors all tried to get her to open up, but the only place she felt safe was in her writing.
It would be 33 years before Hornbeck would actually gain the confidence she needed to believe in her work and actually start calling herself a writer. Confidence that was gained through the encouragement of her pastor at God’s Helping Hands House of Prayer.
“I wrote poems for friends and families for holidays, but was essentially a closet writer,” Hornbeck said. “I never thought I would be good enough to publish or that anyone would care about anything I would write. It took the support and encouragement of my pastor to be brave enough to share my writing with others.”
Hornbeck began to share her writing, first in the form of poems that she read to the church congregation, and later with her first book “Faith, Hope, and the greatest of these is LOVE,” which she published through Amazon’s direct self-publishing tools.
In the beginning, as a teenager, Tammy said God helped her deal with the trials in her life through poetry.
“Although I knew it was a God-given gift, I was still not ready to surrender my life to Christ. Years later, after making that decision, my writing took a new path,” Hornbeck said.
While she had attempted college when she was younger, Hornbeck didn’t find her true collegiate home until she made her way to Cameron University at the age of 38.
“I was always an English major, but I wasn’t one because I wanted to be or believed myself to be a writer. I just thought I would teach English in high school and write on the side. I would be writing to write, not writing to be published,” Hornbeck said.
The turning point came when she was asked to read some of her writing in front of a crowd at Cameron during one of the English Department’s sponsored functions.
“I read one of the stories from my Directed Writing course titled ‘The Truck,’” Hornbeck said. “The response I got truly changed how I felt about myself as a writer.”
Now, Hornbeck works full time as a special education teacher in Hawaii and has just released her fourth book, a memoir called “Breaking the Silence.” The memoir represents a culmination of her progress as a writer, progress she credits partly to her time at Cameron, but mostly, and most importantly, to God.
“When you grow up in an abusive environment, your world is really small and you don’t know how to dream,” Hornbeck said. “Belief in yourself is impossible. I’m going to continue to write the books God wants me to write.”
All of Hornbeck’s books are available on Amazon.