My journey from writer to author

Since I was fourteen, I thought of myself as a writer. I reserved the title author for someone who was/is published. So I’ll begin at the beginning on how my winding road from writer to author.

In elementary, the teacher assigned us to write about an object and give it a personality and story. While my classmates looked around with blank faces, my words manifested on my paper as if they had already been there. I decided to write about a piece of chalk. How crowded it was in the box with the other chalk. The day it got chosen from the box. I was so excited when I got my paper back with an A and “excellent story” scribbled across the top.

I was always making up stories. I remember setting the plot and characters with my neighbors. We played my stories. One I remember quiet fondly was space vampires. I did not want the kids biting each other or me, so the ‘space vampires’ used two fingers to ‘bite’ their victims. Everyone went along with me so maybe they thought it was cool.

Then we moved. During fifth grade. And I went through the ugly duckling stage which part of me thinks I never came out of. There was no one to play with that summer. I walked my dog up and down the streets for kids to play with, but found none.

Later I found two friends on my street and the characters and plots came back with Barbie dolls. And yes, I was one of those weird girls who played with them until I was like sixteen. But it wasn’t the dolls, it was the characters, their stories, their lives that I craved.

During my teens, I developed a fondness for poems. I wrote them all the time. And lyrics to songs. Nothing ever came from them except getting accepted into HBU’s creative writing degree program. I was nineteen and had an English teacher that was amazing. I found out he also taught creative writing and the next quarter was going to be poetry. I showed him a few of my poems. He said they were good and asked who wrote them. I did! He told me I should sign up for his creative writing class. At this time I was a music major, but disillusioned with the amount of time and lack of talent I had. As soon as I was able to choose my courses, I signed up for a regular English class and his creative writing class. My music counselor said I could not do that. I told her to call him, and he told her I could. Looking back, I wish I would have signed up the next course for his short story writing class.

Not to name names, but in my twenties I showed someone one of my poems. They took it to work with them and said they read it out loud. They told me everyone laughed at it. If I had listened and believed that they were correct and my writing was stupid and funny, then I would never be a published author. Around this time I discovered Historical Romance books and began losing myself in them. Divorced, it was when I was living back with my parents that I started to write stories. I was reading a Christian book about a Viking that with no logic I saw, just got saved. I threw the book down in disgust. I can write better than that. And so I started to write my first novel.

During this time, I was dating my now husband. He loved fantasy and all kinds of other books. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to read books with ‘magic’ in them. I couldn’t even watch Disney movies. Yet these were the stories I desired. If I had known that CS Lewis and Tolkien are accepted in Christian circles, I would have read them over and over again. My husband recommended Terry Goodkind. I read the first book-it looked intimidating. It was the longest book I had ever read. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through it. But I did. And I loved it. I then devoured all the books in the series. Then went on to read other fantasy and paranormal romance books. Anything. I was addicted to reading and had to be reading something. During this time I wrote my second, third, and fourth novels.

Then I saw the movie Underworld. The idea of a vampire biting an Elf took shape. What kind of abilities would this dark gift give my hero? What if there was a cure? Would he sacrifice everything even love for it? Thus The Garnet Dagger was created. This was before the Twilight craze. Then I wrote the second book in this trilogy. I was shocked that it took me less than four months to write the second book. Then I wrote the third and final book.

I sent off queries to several publishers, but never got a positive response. I didn’t send out regularly. Maybe one or two a year. I wrote more stories. I even tried to write a purely historical romance, but magic/fantasy crept in with two characters coming forward and telling me and the reader that they were Druids.

Then I decided to rewrite my query. Maybe it was too intellectual? So I rewrote it with the opening of a question. Everyone knows what happens when a vampire bites a human. But what if the victim is an Elvin?

I sent it to one major publisher, but they said vampire stories were saturated right now. Drat. It wasn’t when I first wrote the story in 2003. But I didn’t give up. Months later I saw an ad for romance stories and sent in my query again. This time they asked for my manuscript.

After jumping up and down, I sent it. Then I was accepted by Crimson Romance and my debut paranormal romance, The Garnet Dagger will be out March 25, 2013.

What I’ve learned through all of this is to follow your dream. Don’t believe in failure or negative talk from others. It may not happen overnight, but keep at it. Good luck.

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