Monday, November 30, 2009

What I'm Working On....

Well, I'm HAPPY to say that this weekend I finished my second puzzle book. I am waiting to hear back from my editor to approve the changes I had to make before I hit send.

With this complete, I can concentrate on revising a secondary character's story from a full manuscript that I have out with an editor.

That is all for now. Happy writing. Take care!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Family and My Writing

Since I live on my own, I don’t have to worry about spending hours in front of the computer. Most of my writing is done in the late evening. I’m very definitely a night owl. I don’t do mornings! And at least retirement means I can stay up late any night I want to unless there’s a specific reason why I have to get up early the next day.

When I was married, my ex-husband had no interest at all in my writing. That wasn’t the reason why we divorced, I hasten to add! But when I was writing in my 20’s and 30’s, I felt very isolated. In those days before the internet, I knew no other writers and only a handful of my friends actually knew that I was a writer.

My two daughters have simply taken it for granted that I had books published when they were small, but only one of them has actually read my books.

So my ‘writing support’ now comes from my internet friends. I’ve made several through my West Wing stories, and other through the yahoo lists for writers, including two of my critique partners who are members of this blog.

Having been in a situation where I had no-one to talk to about my stories, I really appreciate all the links and support I now enjoy through the internet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Travel safe if you are journeying.
Lump-free gravy, and lots of left-overs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Writing around family life

I did not think to start writing until my children graduated from high school. At first my husband was bothered by the time I spent writing, for this was time I could spend with him. He'd interrupt by asking me to find something for him. He'd call out that I should come look at something or ask outright when I'd be done.

Then our youngest daughter went to film school. Financially vested, he picked up screenwriting protocols and shooting techniques. He watches independent films, and can now debate plot arcs and character development. He notes inconsistencies in sun angle, cloud cover, seasonal leaf color. (He'd be a great script supervisor.) He guesses locations--and is often right.

But while he can be a paper tiger, I am responsible for claiming--and maximizing--my writing time. As a prepublished author, I need to set internal deadlines. I have not yet set whether these should be scenes or targeted word count, but I am figuring it out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How does your family feel about your hours in chair?

My husband and son are used to seeing me in the chair. My husband is glad that it keeps me busy during the day, and my son doesn't understand what I do until the checks come in the mail.

Since I'm a stay at home Mom, it doesn't affect them much. When they are home, we gather in the living room, eat dinner, talk, and watch TV. During the evening, if I'm able to print my work, I'll do it during commercials or while I'm watching my son play Playstation online.

My family and friends are supportive and are looking forward to reading my first novel. I've been doing this for SO long, I have to be honest and admit that I really don't want anyone I know to read it, or at least tell me they read it.

I'm afraid it will be like when you hear all these great things about a movie and then when you go see it, you're disappointed.

Does this make sense?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why did you stop writing and what made you restart?

I stopped writing for a multitude of reasons. Procrastination and time were the key factors.

Before I recommitted to writing, I believed that I could only write if I had large chunks of time. And I could put off my writing responsibilities until the "muse" touched me, until I felt inspired.

All of that was a crock.

Truthfully, I didn't write because I was always putting things off. I was a sloppy and lazy procrastinator. I relished in the luxury of saying I was a writer, but I never put in the daily writing habit.

Also, I didn't write because I lacked the basic discipline of creating a daily writing habit. I believed that I needed the time and space to binge write. When I got the time--a vacation or a long weekend, I wrote, but I took some much time to reacquaint myself with the characters and plot that I didn't spend a lot of time expanding and writing the novel. I was caught in a vicious cycle.

Now, I realize that writing is a daily habit. I acknowledge my faults--not being a good time manager and being a chronic deadline hitter and a chronic procrastinator. I work around and with those things. Once I realized my faults and once I realized why I wasn't writing, that helped me to restart.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stopping and Starting

I didn’t stop completely, but my writing became more spasmodic as ‘real life’ got in the way. My husband and I divorced in the 70’s when my daughters were 6 and 4, so I was a single parent with a full-time teaching job.

A couple of rejections by Mills and Boon in the 80’s were not unexpected because their format had changed and I had absolutely no empathy with domineering males who virtually raped wimpy females to tame them. Not my scene at all!

I didn’t have the time either to research other publishers, so apart from a few short stories at the beginning of the 90’s, I stopped writing fiction.

It’s probably also true to say that when a five-year relationship ended in the early 90’s, I was not in best frame of mind to write romances that had happy endings!

I turned instead to writing articles for the UK Girl Guiding magazine. After my first series of articles, I had my own ‘slot’ in the magazine for about 5 years.

My return to fiction writing was unpremeditated and totally unexpected. As a fan of the ‘The West Wing’, I made contact with other fans and one of them introduced me to fanfiction. She and I exchanged long emails about our favourite characters, Jed and Abbey, and from these came an idea for a story. I started to write it and, almost before I knew it, I was back in the swing of fiction again, with – eventually - an 80,000 word story. I wrote it ‘by the seat of my pants’ and discovered again the joy of characters who took me along with them. I just started with a basic idea, and the whole thing developed from that. Of course, the characters were already there for me, and it helped being able to hear the voices of Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing in my head, as well as the other actors in the show.

I had no intention of ever ‘publishing’ it, but another friend finally persuaded me to post it on one of the West Wing yahoo lists. I was nervous – this was my first venture into fiction for many years, but the response I got from members of the list encouraged me and helped to rebuild my confidence.

I went on to write 4 more West Wing stories, one of which is still ongoing. Another friend, with far more computer know-how than I have, has put them on to the site and I’ve had complimentary feedback there too.

I still had no thoughts of writing anything other than West Wing fanfiction – until I went on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2008. Also on the tour was a best-selling Harlequin writer, Linda Lael Miller, who was doing the tour as part of her research for a Civil War trilogy. She and I talked a lot during the week and her encouragement made me think about writing novels again.

When I got home, I dug out one of the old novels I’d written in the 80’s and decided to re-vamp and update it. It developed into a very different story from my original effort, another example of the characters taking over.

Since then – well, I’ve been writing constantly – and enjoying every minute of it (well, almost!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Writing and blog members

I started writing on a self-dare; inner satisfaction was my engine. I submitted and the response was that I did not know how to craft a story. That is when I got serious—and scared. I was alone.

I live in a rural area of northern Minnesota and run two cottage businesses to support my family. Each word on a soup or seasoning label has to be perfect. Members and friends of my veggie CSA want entertaining and descriptive newsletters. Both of these are great practice, but neither requires a story arc. I have reached out to local writers, but nothing has gelled. My RWC exchanges have been disappointing. Minneapolis romance groups are four hours away, so I take on-line classes, and study books on plotting, editing, submitting, and publishing.

Today’s RWA notes featured an article on a writer’s need for partnering. I want to be multi-published. I need partners who can critique, help and support, and am willing to reciprocate. I want our group to serve our individual needs. Do you feel similarly?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Why did you stop writing and what made you restart?

I don't think I ever stopped writing. I had moments of not writing, usually a week after a rejection letter.

The longest I think I stopped writing was probably about a month during a time I thought I wasn't "qualified" to be a writer.

Let me explain. I was so excited about submitting to a particular editor. Then I read somewhere that this editor liked working with authors who were "educated." Well, that burst my bubble since I never graduated college. I was crushed. After reading that, I started reading author bios and noticed how many successful writers had a college degree. Needless to say, I felt like a complete idiot, the nerd trying to fit in with the popular kids.

Thanks to a writer friend who had convinced that I didn't need a college education (nor did this editor only work with those who had a college education), I wiped the tears, put the chocolate away and continued to write and submit. I found a Harlequin editor who liked my style and story premises, however, the stories weren't fitting into the line I was targeting. Another writer friend told me to "write longer stories", so I did, and that's when I really fell in love with writing.

The rejection letters don't stop me from writing anymore and only after I finish a story, I take a break to read and catch up on house cleaning.

Advice to those who get knocked down and need a helping hand to get back up, remember this...for every minute you don't write, another writer is and he/she could be writing a similar story as the one you're working on. So the sooner you get back to writing, the sooner you can get that manuscript in front of an editor before someone else does.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Writing Journey

In my dreams, I should have been a best-selling author by the time I was 19. I started writing romance in high school, and I had some talent, a bit of tenacity and a lot of audacity.

I knew what my destiny was, and it was only a matter of time before my dream happened.

And I came close. I submitted the first three chapters of my book to Genesis Press, and I got a request for a full manuscript.

I was over the moon. I was living my dream.

But life changed that dream, and the plan to become an author skidded a dead stop.

I couldn't write. I wouldn't write. I couldn't get past the first three chapters. I couldn't figure out the middle. I couldn't write the ending (although I knew it would be happy and glorious).

School got in the way. Life got in the way. Everything got in the way of writing.

I tried to find time to write and became an unsuccessful binge writer. Every few months, when I had a huge chunk of time devoted to writing, I would return to my first novel, If Only For One Night, and got acquainted with my characters again. I let them sit in my head for a few hours or a few days, but then I had to escort them out when the buzzer rang and I had to return to my other responsibilities.

So I quit. I gave up, shelved my manuscript, hid all my writing books, and gave away all my Writers Digest magazines to the Greenbelt branch of the Prince Georges County Memorial Library System.

The day I made my donation to the Greenbelt library, I almost cried. I had accumulated so much from those magazines, and here I was, tossing it all way. The bookshop volunteer looked at me and smiled. "You'll come back to writing again."

I shook my head. "M'am, I'm done with writing. I can't do it. I'm not good at it."

She smiled again and told me that I would come back to it. I asked for my receipt and left. At that moment, I felt like a failure. I was a failure. I let myself down. After doing so much with my life, I couldn't do the one thing I always wanted to do.

I cursed writing to hell and pushed it out of my life.

For the few years after that, I was done with writing. I read romances, mysteries with reckless abandon, and I read some horrible pieces of tripe that made me think I could do better.

I never did.

Until January 2009 when I was making a list of resolutions. The list was filled with the same old:

1. Be nicer

2. Drink more water

3. Get married (or at least date) someone who has Bill Gates' money and The Rock's body

4. Have a successful semester as a teacher and researcher

5. Win Powerball

Then, my hand wrote, "Start writing again." The rest of resolutions had to do with writing: starting a novel, submitting to a competition, I didn't know where it came from. It was not at the forefront of my mind. I had thought about getting back into writing, but I catalogued those thoughts as miscellaneous, random pipe dreams.

Since I believe in happenstance, luck, serendipity, angels, the Great Pumpkin, and God, I don't question the logic of the universe. What happens is meant to happen. I was supposed to be a writer. That's been my calling, my dream. And God was telling me to just roll with it and to put in the work to make the dream come true.

So I rolled with it and started putting in the work.

I joined the local RWA chapter. I went to some meetings. I started dissecting the novels I was reading. I connected with other authors. I found a writing group. I made moves, and it felt good. I felt like myself again.

That brings me to the present. I have resigned myself that my first book needs a fresh approach so it's being gutted and reworked. I have an abundance of ideas that keep spilling out in unexpected places and at unexpected times. (One night at Ruby Tuesdays, I used a whole dispenser of napkins to sketch out an idea. My server was not pleased.) I am learning how to manage my time and how to schedule my writing. I'm back on track. I'm no longer 19 with my eye on the bestseller charts, but I am older, a bit wiser, and more determine to be a successful writer.

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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How has my Writing journey gone?

For me, writing has been a spiral track. I have written non-stop for hours, and been too terrified to open my laptop for months. I have pantsered into plot craters, and delighted my inner critic with unexpected plot twists.

Five years ago, I wrote “Stormy Hawkins.” To save her South Dakota ranch, a shy, hard-working woman hires, then falls in love with, a hunky hand, who turns out to be a rich speculator intent on taking her land. The plot features kidnappings on dangerous Missouri River riverboats, and betrayals in St. Louis’ high society. I submitted to several contests, and received scathing reviews. Poor execution.

Mortified by my ignorance, I enrolled in Writers Digest fiction classes. For the advanced class, I wrote “The Bride Wore Black,” a time-travel. Career-minded Angel Foster is wooed by a fellow teacher, French-sexy Jeremy Dumont, who swears she is the love he has been seeking his whole life. Just when she softens to his advances, a student accuses him of fathering her unborn child. Unsure what to believe, Angel is seriously hurt in a suspicious car accident. Captured by a spell chanted by Celtic priest Jermande du Montfort (Jeremy in his previous life), she wakes up in 1400’s Brittany in her previous life body. As Angelique, she is betrothed to the sadistic cousin of the King of France, who is determined to wipe out Celtic culture in Brittany (a practice that continues to this day). Angel needs Jermande’s help to get back to the present, back to the bargain she struck with him in the past that will define her future.

I sent it to an agent, who wrote a personal rejection letter outlining my story’s weaknesses. Not a traditional time travel. Bleeding profusely, I dove back into classes and books, determined to right my wrongs. Over time, I concluded I had two stories. Unable to dismember my baby, I outlined a suspense about an herbalist determined to prove her father did not murder her mother, and the new physician’s assistant at the prison who feels he will never redeem his life after a drunk driving accident cost him his full medical degree.

I was too unconfident to start writing this one. It was safer to say I do not yet have the skills. I turned to writing weekly essays for my CSA. These have been well received; a local newspaper reprints them. Several have been published in a national magazine, as well as regional publications. Neighbors and strangers tell me how much they like them. CSA members ask when I will put them into a book. I am getting braver, and I think, better.

This brings me to now. I know the Universe is abundant. We get what we need, when we need it. An inner readiness to write a publishable novel has drawn me to this group. My pledge is already paying dividends: I am halfway through re-outlining “Stormy Hawkins.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

How has your journey gone?

As every writer will tell you, the journey is an emotional roller coaster.

In the beginning of my writing career, I had a judge from a contest tell me to find a new hobby. I entered the contest for feedback because I KNEW I needed help. Had I been a different person I would have tossed the computer through the sliding glass doors and said "forget it," but I didn't.

I'll never forget the first time I really understood deep POV. I was reading Pamela Britton's first NASCAR book. The way she wrote was like nothing I'd ever read before. POV jumped off the pages and slapped me upside the head! I GOT IT!! What a great moment as a writer.

Little moments of learning like the above keeps me going. The little tickle I get in my belly while I'm writing makes me enjoy what I'm doing, in spite of all the rejections.

So far, the journey has been a long and crazy one, and I wouldn't change a thing. There were things I needed to learn before I sold, people I needed to meet to help me get there, and confidence I needed to build to handle my reviews once the book is released.

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but with the CP I have now, and the friends I've made along the way, I feel that I am on the right path to a journey of bigger and better things!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What triggered me to write?*

This can be a multiple-choice question: What inspired Tiana Johnson to write?

a. Bad writing, simplistic plots, horrible grammar

b. An urge that she had in her gut

c. Revenge

d. Because she makes sense of the world through stories

The correct answer should be E: All of the above.

But I have 15 minutes to write before a faculty meeting and I am working on minimal sleep. (Side note: Fake eyelashes + glue + a first-timer experimenting with a new look = an irrational fear that the first-timer's eyes would seal shut for eternity if eyes were shut for more than 20 seconds).

So, I'll make it short.

I can't remember a day when I wasn't telling stories, reading stories or creating stories. I carried books with me everywhere: to bed, to school, to the tub, to playground. I was always immersed, wrapped up in some book, be it Pilgrim's Progress, a Choose Your Own Adventure, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Sweet Valley High or a Harlequin.

Along with the book, you'd often see a notepad and a pencil for scribbling notes and ideas. It's a habit that I still keep. Look in my purse, and you'll find a bound notebook, an assortment of pens, and paperback books galore.

My family and schoolmates considered me odd. But my grandmother and mother put up with it. My grandmother would vacuum around me so I wouldn't have to close the book I was reading. My mom and dad indulged my book whims and wishes and would let me roam the aisles of the local bookstores until I was tired.

A few years ago, I realized that this desire to tell stories and make up stories wasn't abnormal as others in my life saw it. This came when I sat in on a graduate rhetorical theory seminar. Before your head hits the table in boredom, I learned a few useful things out of the class. One, I learned how to fall asleep with my eyes open and with minimal noise. Two, I was exposed to Walter Fisher's narrative paradigm.

The short but sweet version of the narrative paradigm is that human beings are natural storytellers. We string the pearls of our lives--the beginnings, the loss, the heartaches, the triumphs, the minutiae, the boring mess, the everyday lived experiences, the conflict, the ends--together to communicate to discuss our experiences and to help others know our situation and our lives.

I write because I can and I must. I write because I am not good at much else in my life. I create stories because it's the universal way. I am a natural story-weaver and a born storyteller who understands the world through and because of stories. I write and create because it's how I am able to grasp onto something certain in this slippery and confusing world.

*My caveat: To quote Dorothy Parker, "I hate writing, I love having written." Writing continues to be a draining yet life-giving force in my life, and I hate the demands and taxes it places on me. But I do love the rewards of seeing and revising the words I have written on the page.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What triggered me to write?

Originally there was no trigger. Writing was (and is) something that is part of me. I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, and started writing when I was eight or nine.

I scribbled my first stories in an exercise book and used characters from my favourite school stories by Enid Blyton and pony stories by Ruby Ferguson. From these I moved on to original stories about the characters who lived my head. School, pony or theatre stories. I was stage-struck in my early teens, and wrote several plays which we performed with my Girl Guide group. I now shudder when I think of some of them!

In my mid-teens, my stories were written for my friends, and were usually about anyone we happened to have a crush on at the time. I’d probably be sued for libel if any of those stories saw the light of day. I’m not sure if fan-fiction had been invented back in the 50’s, but essentially that was what I was doing.

I wrote all the time. Not just stories, but long letters to my friends and a detailed diary. I simply wrote. It was as natural to me as breathing.

Writing fiction took a backseat during my university days, there simply wasn’t the time. I started teaching, got married and had a baby. When my baby daughter was asleep in the afternoons, I started writing fiction again. In longhand on paper, with all the crossings-out and tearing up of sheets of paper which that involved. I wrote a novel, an extended version of one of my teenage stories (with names changed, of course!). At the time, I had no intention of submitting it anywhere, I was simply writing for myself. Maybe it was my escape from baby-talk, bottles and nappies. I decided to submit it to Mills and Boon and it was accepted. Two more novels followed, and several short stories for magazines.

My writing became more spasmodic when a demanding teaching career and bringing up two daughters as a single parent took all my time and energy. I still wrote articles, but abandoned fiction/romance writing. I felt that I had lost my muse.

What triggered my return to romance writing? Three words – ‘The West Wing’. I was totally addicted to the TV series, found online groups about 3 years ago, and also discovered fan-fiction. After a discussion with an ‘internet friend’ about the characters in the show, I started writing a story, originally just for her. It was supposed to be a short story, but once I started I couldn’t stop. My muse had returned. My friend persuaded me to post it online and I continued to write West Wing stories.

The next trigger came with a chance meeting with a best-selling Harlequin writer when I was on an American Civil War battlefields tour in 2007. She encouraged me to start writing novels again.
Since then I’ve completed two which are currently with Mills & Boon and Harlequin, and I’m working on a third.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Was there an Experience that trigged the desire/need to write?

When my parents divorced, I was 7 and it devastated me. As a kid you blame yourself. What did I do wrong? Or what didn’t I do? Why did daddy leave? ETC. I instantly knew that I had to take care of my baby brother and I needed an outlet for my hurt and anger. I started to keep a journal. I started to draw pictures and tell a story that went with those pictures. I wrote my thoughts down.

When I was 13, I read my first romance novel. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. Immediately I knew I wanted to write romances. The very night I finished that book I began writing my first romance novel, Unexpected Love. I still have that story hidden away. It was awful, didn’t make sense and very short. But I finished it and I’m proud that I took that first step.

Since finishing my first novel I have gone on to finish 7 more. All of which need major edits. Some I may get to in time, but others I will leave the way they are, hidden with my first finished piece. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t write. That doesn’t always mean I sit down at my computer or with a notebook. I’m constantly writing in my head. Getting to know my characters, the place they call home, there family and friends, there jobs and the plot of the story.

And let’s just say if I didn’t write I would probably be locked up in a padded room from all the voices I hear in my head and the many arguments I have with my characters at 3 in the morning.

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What triggered my desire/need to write?

What triggered my desire/need to write?

I think I have always needed to be a writer. I was unaware for years, preoccupied with more immediate needs. I was a reader, though. I loved words and I loved stories.

As a child, I devoured the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Imagination? Check!

In high school I underlined the entire The Red Badge of Courage. Excising every unnecessary word? Check!

I slept with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress under my pillow. Setting as a character (and un-salacious sex scenes)? Check!

After moving to our northern Minnesota farm, I gained visceral appreciation for sayings that salt our language. ‘Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn?’ I stood on a ladder and hammered nails into red metal siding when we built our barn. 60-feet long and 12-feet high (plus roof) is a big—and stationary—target. Verbal imagery bridges the divide between telling and showing.

What triggered me to write was a disappointing read. The author a) wasn’t close to her characters, b) had met her word count, or c) had a deadline breathing down her neck. (cliché alert). My writer seed sprouted.

Romance is the genre I love. Storytelling is the craft I am still learning.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

What experience triggered me to write?

After I had my first puzzle book published, I wanted to receive another book cover in the mail (for me, that is the most exciting part of publishing). I went to the library and picked up three Harlequin Blaze books; Brazen by Carly Phillips, Out Of Control by Candace Schuler and I can't remember the last one. After reading those, I was hooked. I found Vicki Lewis Thompson, and so many others.

I came up with a plot idea. Wrote the entire story in 50 single spaced pages and I was hooked. I went into chat rooms online and that's when I learned I had NO IDEA what it took to be a writer. I read books, took a writing course at Brown University, met people online, joined RWA and local chapters.

I started submitting to contests, editors, agents. The more rejection letters I received the more determined I became to do this. After five years, the tears on a rejection letter had stopped, the week of depression and not believing in myself had stopped, and the emotional roller coaster ride a writer goes through came to screeching halt. The skin had thickened and I wrote because I couldn't give up.

Finally, after seven years, the tears became happy ones when I got the ecall. I'm an example (as many other writers are) that persistence and believing you can do anything really is what it takes to get what you want.

When the journey has been this long, and when you actually reach out and touch the light at the end of the tunnel, it makes all the tears worth it! Of course, it could be years before I make another sale, but for me and those who know me, selling just one novel was confirmation that the impossible can be possible!

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