Betty Lee Duran was born on 1942 in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, U.S.A. She was the first of four children, and lived there for her first 12 years, at which point, her father went to work for a construction company building highways all over the U.S.A. As a child of ten or eleven, Betty Lee began writing her first book, a sequel of "Black Stallion" by Walter Farley, her very favorite. Fortunately for the young author, she was completely unaware of the law regarding plagiarism.
Betty Lee attended seven schools in three states during the seventh grade alone. By the time she graduated from high school, she'd also lived or attended school in South Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey. She obtained her Journalism Major in a college in Missouri.
Betty Lee also spend a stint in the U.S. Navy, where she met her husband, a U.S. Marine. She settled down to life as a wife and mother of four daughters in Illinois, California, and Texas. Eventually she went to work as a newspaper reporter; upon retirement from the Corps, her husband became a reporter for the same California daily.
Just before Thanksgiving 1984, Betty Lee was felled by a brain aneurysm which resulted in three brain surgeries, two weeks in a coma, four weeks in Intensive Care, and a recovery so complete that her surgeon called it "a miracle." From this experience she learned, among other things, that a bad hair day is preferable to a no-hair day. Yes, her hair eventually did grow back.
On July 8, 1988, a day she'll never forget, Betty Lee sold her first romance novel to Harlequin as Ruth Jean Dale. More sales followed and the next year she quit her day job as editor of two weekly newspapers to fulfill a lifelong dream of writing full-time. Ruth Jean Dale's books have been translated in many foreign languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, and soon--Russian and Chinese. She's made frequent appearances on romance best seller lists, and was nominated a "Top Ten Favorite Author" by Affaire de Coeur magazine.
Betty Lee met Margaret Brownley when they both ran for the same office of a national writers organization. Though they totally disagree on who won and who lost, they decided to collaborate in a mini-series which feature the same characters. Their friendship has since survived an earthquake, rising floodwaters, family tragedies, beauty makeovers, and a panicky trip through a snowstorm to reach a daughter about to go into labor. They also wrote and sold a two-year story projection for their favorite CBS soap. It seemed only natural that they write a book together, "Spittin' Image", a mystery that turned out to be almost as funny and sexy as they are. Not even living in two different states can cramp their style. They simply send chapters back and forth via e-mail (and have learned to make "Your last chapter stinks" sound like "You've just won the Pulitzer"). Though they seldom come to blows over story lines, they have been known to disagree (loudly) over a dead body or two.
In the early '90s, she and her husband moved from Southern California to a pine forest north of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they live today with one dog and three cats. In addition to writing romance novels, she teaches occasional fiction classes and volunteers at local senior centers to lead workshops on "Writing Your Life Story."
In her spare time, Ruth Jean can be found in her sewing and craft room. With sewing machine and serger, she turns out not only clothing but strange and exotic items such as embroidered toilet paper and photos printed on fabric, which she cheerfully foists off on friends and acquaintances.
Grandmother of eight, in 2001, she retired "temporaly" after her husband suffered from a stroke.