Friday, November 13, 2009

My Writing Journey

To begin with, my journey went well. When I was writing my first novel in the 1960’s, I was also reading Mills and Boon novels. Some of them were good, some were truly appalling, with stilted dialogue and implausible plots.

But they had been published. I thought that my novel was as good as, if not better, than some I had read, so I decided to send it to Mills and Boon. I bought a second-hand upright Remington and painstakingly typed it out. How much paper I wasted! One mis-type, one sentence I wanted to revise, and the paper was ripped out of the typewriter as I started again. Eventually it was complete, and I sent it off. No query letter, no synopsis, I just posted the whole thing with a brief covering letter.

I fully expected it to come winging back with a rejection, but about a month later, I had a letter from Alan Boon. He liked my writing but wanted a couple of chapters altered slightly. I did the revisions he asked for, typed the whole thing out again, and sent it off. Almost by return came the contract for that book and two more.

The book was scheduled for publication on the same day as my second daughter was due, 1st May 1968. My daughter was born 10 days before 1st May, and I got the copies of my first book 10 days after1st May.

My first novel, accepted by the first publisher to whom I sent it, and a contract for two more. How lucky was that!

My second novel was accepted about six months later, with no revisions needed. This led to two pieces of exciting news, first that Harlequin had bought the book and published it as a paperback in the USA and Canada, and second that it had also been bought to be serialised in a women’s magazine in the UK.

At the same time, I was also writing short stories and had a dozen or so accepted by different magazines.

The third novel took longer to complete because, once my daughters were old enough for nursery school, I returned to full time teaching. A personal phone call one evening from Alan Boon himself spurred me on to complete the book which again was accepted without any revisions, and again was bought by Harlequin.

Looking back, I should have kept my contact with Mills and Boon going, but in the 70’s the whole format of the M&B novels changed. Instead of ‘Pleasant Books by Mills and Boon’ (no sex please!), they launched into the paperback market with raunchy novels about aggressive, domineering heroes and females who were ‘tamed’ by these alpha-males. Not my scene at all. And they turned down the next novel I wrote because it didn’t suit their new format.

When I completed another novel in the late 70’s, I knew that it wasn’t right for M&B, so I submitted it to Robert Hale who accepted it (again without any revisions).

After that, real life got in the way – teenage daughters, my teaching career, Girl Guiding and the amateur musical theatre. I tried another book with M&B in the early 90’s, but my hero wasn’t sufficiently ‘larger than life’ for them.

I turned my back on writing romance and turned instead to writing articles, and wrote a series of ‘ideas for theme evenings’ for Girl Guiding magazine for about five years.

I came back to fiction writing about 3 years ago with my fan-fiction stories, and found that the whole world of romance books has changed dramatically.

Now I’m on a steep learning curve as I continue my journey.

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