A Writer’s Journey


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.
So that was the beginning of a journey that’s still going on 35 years later. Naturally, my writing began in the womb. I was a very precocious baby.
The nice thing is I received the rights back to my early books and was able to put them up as ebooks. It’s nice to know they’re still out there.

The Evolution of a Writer

Any author will tell you that writing is a journey. Sometimes there are smooth roads, other times there are hills. Then let’s talk about those Alps for writers.

My first book was published thirty-two years ago this December. This was a year after my agent called me with the news that a brand spanking new publisher called Silhouette Books wanted to buy my first two books.

The best part was I wouldn’t be a one book writer and it was time to see if I could write more books. Plus, I was fired for selling those books, so I said sink or swim time.

What a journey it’s been

Just like the transition from childhood to adult, it’s an evolution of a writer.

Back in the late 1970s authors were expected to write books with only the heroine’s point-of-view, craft alpha heroes who were usually quite a bit older than the tender-hearted virgin heroines and we won’t even go into the bitchy ‘other woman’ that tended to make the sensitive heroine believe there was no way the brooding hero could love her. And love scenes were behind closed doors. Yawn!

Romance writers were the red-haired stepchildren. Wild to say since I’m a redhead. Story had it romance writers always wore pink, smiled constantly, ate bonbons, and chirped instead of talked. So not me at all. I avoided pink like the plague, smiled but not as if I was in a beauty pageant, preferred See’s Bordeaux, and was shy so talking in groups wasn’t always easy.

Even back then I knew I wanted to write ‘more’ and I pushed the envelope any way I could. So many of us felt the same. It meant coming up more with more innovative storylines, and strong characters that stood out. I tried to break a rule with each book.

I wrote the hero’s point of view in Dancer in the Shadows, my first book. I couldn’t understand why it had to be deleted, but I was determined it would happen in a later book. After all, that third and fourth book were simmering in my imagination

I got to do that and more as I wrote hero oriented plots, role reversal stories such as my male housekeeper book, Caution Man at Work and Guardian Angel that featured a female bodyguard, and other books with a variety of stories. I know this author/avid reader wanted more so why shouldn’t other readers.

Yes, it meant a lot more work, but it was worth it, because it allowed me to grow as a writer and even as a person. It hasn’t always been easy and there were times I wondered whether I should continue writing, but every writer will tell you it’s not something you can easily quit. Your imagination won’t allow it.

We never remain stagnant. I mean, how boring would that be? No way I want to be the same person I was 34 years ago when I started my first book. I wanted to move forward, change my hairstyle a few million times, the way I dress and how I think.

I always knew I couldn’t write what I wrote in the beginning because I’ve progressed so far. And I’d like to think it’s all for the better. That my evolution knew what to do with me.

Even now, I wonder what my next evolution will bring me.

What about you? Do you feel you’ve evolved over the years? That even if there have been bumps in the road, you’ve kept going?