After moving to Discovery Bay from Alameda in 1991, Vermillion and her husband Doug settled into their new neighborhood, but the commute to work every day became too much.

"In 1994, we struck a deal that I could resign from my high-powered banking job to pursue my love of writing with the goal of getting published. At that point, all I had was an ability to write without a clue about the industry itself," she said.

Looking for a way to learn the craft, Vermillion joined the Romance Writers of America, a national organization of writers with local chapters whose members get together and support each other in their writing goals. The group also offers seminars, workshops and regular monthly speakers meetings to help people learn their craft.

"The members of the chapter, many of whom are multi-published, were a gold mine of information and very willing to share," she said. "I wrote volumes, I got an agent, she peddled my wares to no avail and then dropped off the map."

While Vermillion continued to write and submit her work, she received several rejections, but still didn't want to quit doing what she loved. It wasn't long before she decided to take a job at a local bank and go back to work, but she never stopped writing.

Several years later it was time to retire, but Vermillion kept up her writing. She continued to attend her writers' group meetings and learned that the idea of self-publishing was gaining popularity. She decided to give Amazon.com a try.

"One of the gals in my chapter had surpassed selling 300,000 copies of her books," she said. "Gone were the days of having to sell the books yourself. There are many alternatives."

Finally realizing her dream wasn't as far out-of-reach as she thought, she recently took the chance of self-publishing her first book. "Dare to Dream" has already received several good reviews with a four and a half rating out of five on Amazon.com.

The romance book centers on a poor backwoods girl from West Virginia who goes to work for a top fashion house in New York. The girl then meets a wealthy man who offers her a marriage contract, with enough money to help fit her needs.

"The book features passion, deception, misunderstanding and jealousy as the couple struggles to make their sham marriage into the real thing," Vermillion said.

Last week, Vermillion received a notice that she was able to make some sales in the international market with people purchasing her book in England. She is also working on having her book available through Barnes and Noble and the Nook.

She hadn't thought to make this book into a series, but already her readers are asking whether she plans another book. So she decided that she would write at least one more using these characters, and possibly go for a third book.

Vermillion said that people sometimes give up on their dream, but she thinks they never should.

"I kept telling myself that Grandma Moses was 84 when she sold her first painting," she said.