Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Writer's Journey

All through school my teachers encouraged my fiction writing. My journalism teachers in high school critiqued my work and cheered me on. I wasn’t as lucky in college because my journalism advisor told me I would never have a future in fiction writing and I should go into newspaper writing. Stubborn me wasn’t going to let her words follow me. I continued writing short stories and journals for myself because I couldn’t stop.
There were some detours along the way. I changed college majors because my advisor wasn’t going to give me any feedback on my fiction work. I got married and lived out of state when my husband was stationed on the East Coast. I still wrote for myself and learned that my uncle’s stepdaughter, who shall not be named and deserves the ultimate punishment, found all my notebooks, took them and then claimed she ‘accidentally’ threw them away. A lot of punishments still roll through my head when I think about that. Do I hold grudges? Maybe. Just a little. Okay, a lot.
I was always a reader, namely gothic romances and mysteries. Then one day I was cruising the library. Oh yes, back in the Dark Ages we went to libraries for reading material or bought our books at bookstores. Shelves quickly filled up and any we didn’t want to keep went to used bookstores so we could turn them in and discover new authors and genres. I was in the mood for something new to me and I discovered Harlequin Romances and Harlequin Presents. Romance books back in the late 1970s weren’t as plentiful as they are now. I took a few, read them during my lunch breaks and after work and went back for more. At the time there were only two US authors writing for Harlequin and I didn’t know why there couldn’t be more. Plus, like others, I kept muttering “I could do this”. My husband, only patient for so long said “shut up and do it”.
It’s early spring 1979 and I’m trying to figure out where to begin. Then my BFF and I took a ballet class. I thought, why not use that? A ballerina who falls in love, discovers her alpha husband is a little too alpha for her and she takes off unaware she’s pregnant with his child. Then you fast forward to her living a new life with her young son and naturally, Mr. Alpha comes back into her life and discovers he’s a daddy. What can I say? That was popular back then. I rewrote the first five chapters several times until I was happy with it and once I was finished I was afraid to submit it. It turned out to be easier to just sit down and write a second book. I wrote during my lunch hours, after work and on weekends. No computers then. I typed on a little Corona electric typewriter and pages I typed at work during my breaks were done on an IBM Executive typewriter which was proportional spacing. Not fun when correcting errors!

Except then I had two books finished. Time to put up or shut up. There were advertisements that a brand new romance line from Simon & Schuster called Silhouette Romance was looking for North American authors who were previously unpublished. I qualified and the two books were submitted in early November, 1979.
Any author will tell you once a book is submitted you want to not think about waiting to hear if it’s a yay or nay. Easy to say, not easy to do.
Then it was my wedding anniversary, December 17, 1979. I took a client to lunch that day and funny thing, we discussed my writing. He knew about it and asked how it was going and I told him I got the nerve to submit the two manuscripts. I returned to my office and within a few minutes I got THE CALL. Silhouette loved the books and wanted to buy them. Yes, I squealed and screamed and amazing building security didn’t show up since the offices were next to a bank.
Did I want to use a pseudonym? No way! Did I have more ideas. Oh yes!
A month later I was fired from my job because of the books. My husband and I talked it over. Did I give full time writing a try or would I look for another job and write part time. We decided I’d try full time and see if I could do it. Luckily, I could. 
So that was the beginning of a journey that’s still going on 35 years later. Naturally, my writing began in the womb. What can I say, I was a very precocious baby. 
Even better, I received the rights back to my early books and they're available as ebooks.  It's nice to know they're still out there.

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