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.
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.