My daughter, who is three, has an amazing imagination. Her favorite form of play involves making up stories for whatever toys she’s playing with. My dad said that she sounds like a budding author, and maybe he’s right. But thinking back, oddly, I never played that way. I was more of an outdoor girl. My friend Laura had to drag me inside to play Barbies, and she was the source of all the best story lines, not I.
My love of writing started with a love of reading. I’ve always loved reading to, listening to, or watching a great story. There’s no single book that kicked off my love of reading – the Black Stallion novels maybe, I was a little horse crazy. I just remember, from a very young age, spending hours in my room devouring books. If I didn’t get a couple of books for Christmas I was disappointed.
I honestly don’t remember when I started writing my own stories. When I was eight I won second place in a writing contest – although it was more of an essay contest than creative writing. By junior high I was writing constantly. Mostly short stories along the horror or tragedy lines – which is funny to me now since those aren’t my favorite genres. I think my imagination is a little too vivid for horror. As a kid they gave me too many nightmares. As an adult the tragedies give me too many ideas to worry about.
|My First Book
About the junior high time frame I attempted my first book. It was a World War II book about an American pilot who crashed in Austria. It started out as a drama, but swiftly moved to a romance. Even then I had to get the romance in there. About 150-some-odd handwritten pages into it I stopped writing. My first experience with writer’s block. I still have the book (pictured) as well as many of my short stories.
My writing slowed down a lot in high school when some girls teased me about it. I also put aside the short story idea. I was determined to write a book. By my twenties, I was no longer handwriting anything, but that meant being tied to a computer (I know – it sounds crazy – but most people had desktops at that time). About once a year, I would make a new attempt to write a book. All of them romances. All of them only about half-finished. Something about page 100 and I would hit a wall.
Reading continued to be a first love. I still devour books. At least one a week. Sometimes more depending on how busy I am. This year – between raising a family, working full time, getting my MBA, and writing/publishing my books – my reading has sadly slowed down. But I still fit it in every spare second. I can’t sleep at night without reading first (and I don’t mean MBA books).
It wasn’t until Blue Violet – about four years ago – that I finally finished my first book. I discovered my own personal secret to getting past that writer’s block. Two secrets actually. With Blue Violet I learned that if I got stuck on one section, it was okay to go work on a different section and then come back later and finish out where I’d got stuck. I wrote the first draft of Blue Violet in about six weeks. The editing took a lot longer. With Hyacinth I learned my second secret. I am motivated when I have readers waiting for me. It gives me that extra incentive to keep going.
I do have to say that eBooks have also provided the outlet I needed. The fact that I didn’t have to wait to be discovered to get my book out there is huge. I’ve reached so many readers that I might not otherwise have reached. Now I can’t wait to write my third book, and my fourth, and so on. I love what I do!
To anyone who dreams of being an author my advice is this… First and foremost, never – never – never let someone else derail your dreams. Second, don’t stop doing what you love. Even if you have to write a hundred unfinished manuscripts before you finally finish a book. As Dory from Finding Nemo would say… just keep writing.