People always want to know how a writer got started. What was his/her motivation, inspiration, and where do ideas come from. Well, for me, it began at four years old, in our bedroom, my sisters’ and mine, where I would tell stories when we were supposed to be going to sleep. In the fifth grade, I began writing my stories. Tales inspired by those of the famed 1001 Arabian Nights. Caves of treasures and stories of horses gave way eventually to more horse stories, runaway orphans and other such subjects.
And then . . . in my late teens . . .
. . .my mother introduced me to Harlequin romances.
Mom loved every one of them, but my youngest sister and I didn’t quite share that opinion. While we liked most of them, there were a few we would toss in one corner or another in frustration–my sis because of the manner the characters behaved; me because of that, possibly something in the storyline out of whack, and the poor writing of it all. I don’t know how Mom could get past that, but I could not. I say the books got tossed in corners, but, actually in my sister’s case, they often got tossed in the trash. A more forgiving person was I. Or, possibly, a glutton for literary punishment . . . I would eventually pick up the offending book and finish it.
And this led to my decision to write a romance myself. Mind you, I really never had, until then, any intention of ever writing romances. First of all, I wasn’t starring in one in real life. Mr. Right, Prince Charming, My Knight in Shining Armor–whoever he might be–seemed to be hiding, or off on some decades long quest, or vacation for my lifetime . . . out of my reach at any rate. What did I know about romance?
Well, a longing heart is a good place to start. I wanted to find my soulmate, I knew how that felt. Reading about it, watching it unfold for my siblings and friends . . . well, I could do this! And so I began to brainstorm Thomi, or A Favor For A Favor, now titled All For The Love Of Thomi.
That was in ’72. Between then and the time I finished the first draft, I moved to New York State, and started seeing the guy who eventually became my husband, Not a soulmate, maybe, but a dependable, hardworking guy who was nuts over me. A man of few words whose hold on my hand caused my fingers to turn blue. We married in ’83.
My original story started to change. Before I had a chance to do much with that particular draft, we moved and, wouldn’t you know, my manuscript disappeared off the face of the earth. Took a while for me to accept the loss and get on with it. I had a copy of the first couple of chapters. (This was before computers for me . . . all handwritten . . .) As I wrote the new Thomi, much of what was in the original script got written out. Personalities of my characters changed. Only the first chapter remained the same — well, and part of what happens at the end. It’s much better now. It also got pared down from 1200+ hand written pages to 800. Which, when I finally got my first PC in ’93, translated into 455 pages in Word 10pt Bookman font.
Oh, how happy I was to write my stuff now! Wow! I absolutely hated using a typewriter, and had only used it when doing the final draft that was heading out to agents and publishers. I gave away the typewriter, an electric Smith Corona, and I never looked back. Sure it was a little inconvenient to write on floppies, but I had a WordPerfect program for DOS, so I was writing on the clouds! Thrilled to pieces!
It was then, that I also learned the importance of saving my work OFTEN! And, that my home office setup needed to be changed. We bought an early 1800s center chimney house back then, and my three sons had exciting times chasing each other, and the dogs, round and round the downstairs rooms. One night they crashed through the door between the living room and my office. The door whammed against my computer and shut it down . . . Three chapters shut down with it . . . unsaved . . . Yep, yep. I was not the happiest camper on the grounds that night!
I stifled the urge to hang them by their thumbs from the maples. Instead, I put my energies into rearranging my office so they could have their fun without my fearing the loss of my book babies. I have to say, they were remorseful in having caused the loss of my chapters . . . I admitted that the location of my desk had been an accident waiting to happen anyway, and I ought to have had the brains to save my stuff. Luckily, I recalled all three chapters with fair accuracy, especially the first one. They all came to fruition once more with improvements.
Thomi is the springboard for all the other books I’ve done and/or want to do, as I became deeply attached to my characters and couldn’t let them go. I’m sure many of you, if not all of you, understand how that goes! She and her sisters have been in my head and heart so long that I have to bite my lips when others are talking about their real twins or triplets!
The others in this series are yet to be written. They should have been born by now, but life stepped in to put many things on hold. Which kind of sent me into a pit of depression . . .So, I’m going to start attempting to climb out of that pit, and get some of them done this year.
Don’t want it to take another 23 years to finish those!
Okay, Joleigh-Anna and my hot pepper recipe book didn’t take as long as that.
Now, it did take me a while to embrace epublishing. But when I did, I jumped in with both feet and not much water in the pool. Formed my own publishing company which also went into a slump when my life did . . . I shall turn my attention to it, too.
I’ll ramble more on those subjects on other pages. Add to this one periodically.
Meanwhile, thanks for visiting, and please read my books!