Today I’m responding to another of the most often asked questions writers hear:
How did you get started writing?
I’ve always written in one form or another. As a child I wrote stories, drew the covers, and stapled them into mini-books. My first rejection came at age fourteen when I submitted a romantic short story to Redbook Magazine. I still have the form rejection. I was crushed.
I wrote long hand off and on after that, occasionally typing a story on my Grandma St.John’s manual typewriter. For years I pretty much dedicated myself to my family, and raised my four kids.
I used to read only horror, mystery and main stream novels, but I read a few Victoria Holts I’d received from the book club and found them appealing, yet somewhat unsatisfactory in some way I couldn’t define at the time. On a whim one day, while browsing the store shelves, I bought Lisa Gregory’s The Rainbow Season and LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird. Imagine that out of all the books available, I chose two classic romances for my first taste of romance!
Needless to say, I was hooked from that day forward. I devoured everything either of those two authors ever wrote, and went on to Janelle Taylor, Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey, Francine Rivers, and Kathleen Woodiwiss.
When my youngest daughter went to Kindergarten, I was lost without her. In retrospect, it was empty nest syndrome, but instead of having another baby, which many women do, I decided it was time to write the novel that would launch me to stardom.
All The Tender Tomorrows and Soft Summer Magic are still on a shelf in my closet, along with a few other manuscripts, and rightly so. Looking back on the manuscript preparation, the stories with no plot or conflict, and the volume of editors I sent them to is a humiliating, yet laughable experience. I can’t believe I did that! I was rejected by the best in the business. Repeatedly.
I wrote in a vacuum for years, reading outdated how-to books from the library and sending stuff out to anyone in The Writer’s Market that I hadn’t already pounced on.
My mom, who’s always been my biggest fan, even when I was producing crap, clipped an article about Diane Wicker Davis from the newspaper. An Avon writer, she and her husband had recently been stationed nearby. Diane had started an RWA chapter. I was impressed.
But not in that league! So I continued on my solitary way.
Then one day in 1989, by brother, who is also a writer, brought me the Sunday paper with an article about another local writer from the local RWA chapter. It took me weeks to get the courage to call that number. I was terrified that they’d all be professionals with history and journalism and English degrees, and here was little old clueless me, puttering along on my used Selectric. (I had upgraded – lol)
Well, I garnered all my bravado, attended a meeting, and discovered that though they were elementary teachers, criminal justice teachers, and newspaper reporters, many of the members were moms, and they were all regular people just like me. (Some would beg to differ that I’m regular, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Later, as the group grew and evolved, I served as program chairman, vice president, president, and PAN liaison of my local chapter, the greatest bunch of writers I could ever hope to know. They’ve become my critique partners, my teachers, my mentors, and my supporters, but most of all, my friends.
With the networking in RWA, the teaching and guidance of my local chapter, and a terrific agent who took me on and believed in me, I sold my first book in 1992. Rain Shadow was released as part of Harlequin Historical’s March Madness promotion in 1993, and my second book followed in October of that same year. After the sale of my third book, I quit my job as a merchandising artist and started writing full time.
This month Western Winter Wedding Bells is my 35th published book, and I have two more scheduled in June and July 2011 and a Christmas 2011 novella—contracted just yesterday—to write.
And that’s how I got started writing.