Monday, July 28, 2008

What Made Me Want To Write

Hardly a day goes by that someone, womewhere - the INternet, the little town we live in, the library - doesn't ask me this question: How and why did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think it’s actually a conscious decision I made. I have been a reader all my life, since I could string three words together. My mother and sister were both avid readers, and our house was always jammed with books. My sister was more addicted to mainstream, fiction, but my mother loves mysteries, especially if they had a little romance.
So I grew up reading books by Erle Stanley Gardner and Ellery Queen – God, am I dating myself. LOL! And any mystery writer I could get my hands on. My real hero is a woman named Elizabeth Linington who also wrote as Lesley Egan and Dell Shannon. She passed away at 67 but she wrote nearly a hundred books, police procedurals, all of them with personal stories interwoven and I was just addicted to her. I still have all of her books.
But the more I read, the more I had the desire to create something myself. To put pen to paper-or fingers to keyboard-and see if I could become a story teller, too.
Raising a family and working didn’t really leave me the time I want to write but I kept notebooks filled with ideas, clippings, photos that suggested ideas, all the things that I use today to craft plots. And when my husband and I retired and moved to Texas, I thought surely this was the time. Especially when my husband say, “Okay, quit fooling around. Put your butt in that chair and write.”
I was sure, based on my past reading, that I would write a mystery. I even had it all plotted out and a profile for each of my characters (many of them based on people I’d worked with who I thought deserved to be shot or hanged! LOL!
Well, my dears, talk about hitting a brick wall. I wrote three chapters. Then I rewrote them. Then I rewrote them again. By the time two months had passed I never wanted to see those (expletive deleted) chapters ever again in this life or the next. I was ready to through out both my computer and my fledgling writing career.
Then I read a book, and it’s amazing how one book can change your life. I read CRY NO MORE BY Linda Howard, and lordy, I was off to the races. I discovered that I craved r/s the way ducks crave water. I started looking for similar authors and pretty soon my budget was shot to hell with book buying.
But I finally realized where my heart lay. I sat down and wrote my first manuscript in two weeks. And let me tell you, it was AWFUL!!!! I, of course, thought I’d written a RITA award winner. What a blow to my ego when no on else thought so.
Although I’ve been very fortunate in my career in a short time, I have yet to sell that first effort. It is now going through its 34th rewrite-no joke-because I think I finally get it.
So if you’re stuck at a point in your writing, or wondering if the success fairy will ever visit you, take heart. She’s waiting right around the corner. Just be sure that what you’re right is from your heart because that’s what works the best.
I don’t think you’ll ever see MURDER AT MASS in print but maybe one of these days you’ll see TARGET, my first romantic suspense and the one that led me to write the others.
And by the way, thank you, Linda Howard.
Stay tuned!
And P.S. - I found a useed copy of the very first romace I ever read. I was in high school and the book is called Seventeenth Summer. Can't wait to read it again.


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

We all owe LH a big thanks then! Because let me tell you, you ROCK at romantic suspense!

Judith Leger said...

Isn't it amazing how reading one great author can open the flood gates of your own talent? Your writing reveals your love too! Never stop writing though I don't need to tell you that! Once it's in the blood, you never lose it.

You reminded me so much of my own Mother and sister. We read all the time. When Mom's eyesight became bad, my sister and I would read to her. She so enjoyed that.

Hugs and wishing you all the luck!

Judith Leger

Allie said...


I'm so happy you picked up that Linda Howard book. I can't imagine a world without your writing :) You're an inspiration!

Allie Standifer

Maggie Toussaint said...

I second Cindy's comment. Thank you Linda Howard for beaming the romantic suspense vibe into Judith's head.
And isn't it funny about our first books. I'm very attached to my own horrendous goober, but it will never see the light of day again. Too many flaws in the story premise.
Happy Monday!

Anonymous said...

The first romance I read was Sweet Savage Love, by Rosemary (oh, no, having a senior moment...) Rogers, was it? You ladies will know. I was 21 on vacation at my aunt's house, and looking for something to read. Up until then, it had been pretty much mysteries, starting with Nancy Drew in grade 2.

I read historicals for a while, until a boyfriend's mother introduced me to the sweet Harlequins. Cupboard Love...anybody ever read that one? The hero was allergic to shellfish.

Finally I found Supers, and felt like I had come home.

Liana Laverentz
Thin Ice (NJRW Golden Leaf and EPPIE Award Winner)
Jake's Return
Available in e-book, print, and on Kindle
Ashton's Secret (coming in 2008)

Anita Birt said...

I also came from a reading family. We were addicted to books but I never really thought about writing myself. Until I wrote The House At Bridal Veil, a non-fiction book. My husband and I paid to have 2000 copies published in honour of our wonderful friends, The Franciscan Sisters of The Eucharist, Bridal Veil, Oregon. The royalties from the book went to them. I noticed all those romance novels on store shelves and thought, I could write them. Like Judith, I hit a wall and had to learn the craft of writing romance. All is well. Five books with Cerridwen Press. I am proud of them and my achievements!

Judith Rochelle said...

A big thanks to everyone fopr the wonderful comments. *blushes* And huge hnugs.