Here we go!
Welcome to my blog. I wish I could say I knew what I was doing, but that would be a lie. A week ago, I was planning a summer of entertaining my children. Now, I’m planning on entertaining the world! Okay, maybe that’s a little presumptuous. I’ll settle for entertaining my friends and family at this point. Anyone else who happens to buy my book will simply be a bonus.
I thought for my first post, I’d explain how I got here. Some people who know me might be wondering how this book came about since writing isn’t my day job. Others might think they know when it started but are probably wrong.
I have always been a daydreamer. Since as far back as I can remember, I made stories up in my head. Unlike my children, I didn’t need an electronic device in my hand to entertain me. My first inspiration?
My mother and her mother before her loved soap operas. Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, Another World, and General Hospital. I watched them all when I had the chance. There was something about the drama and the romance that hooked me immediately. Someone was always dying or coming back from the dead or falling in love with with their sister’s third husband. How those writers come up with all those storylines, I will never know!
So considering the source material, it’s not surprising that the stories in my head were a little … shall we say melodramatic? I also killed characters off, made the characters have unplanned pregnancies, and everyone was extremely beautiful and rich (of course). Most importantly, the hero and heroine always found their way back to one another. Soul mates. True love. That was always the underlying theme. Happily ever afters were a must.
It wasn’t until I was a wife and mother that I decided to put one of these stories down on paper. At first, I simply wrote out dialogue and a sketch of the scene in my head. More like a screenplay than a novel. It was supposed to be a way for me to remember all the horrible things I had done to my poor characters so I didn’t torture them too much more.
The story was terrible. No really. It was terrible. But I loved it. I decided to fill in more of the blanks and put it in story form. I used to drive my husband crazy. I’d sit in the office for hours after the kids went to bed, writing and revising. He couldn’t understand why I was wasting all this time on something like that, especially if I had no plans to let anyone see it.
I wanted to see it. I wanted to see it there in black and white, my characters brought to life by my words. It was a thrill. My husband was the only one who knew my secret until I told two of my sister-in-laws one summer during a vacation up at my family’s lake house back in 2007.
It was like being back in high school and telling someone my secret crush. They indulged me and let me tell them all about it. They listened intently and told me it sounded interesting, bless their hearts. It was terrible, remember?
Still, telling someone made it even more exciting. What if I let people read it? What if they liked it? What if they hated it? There was always that inkling of doubt. Maybe that was why it took me so long to work up the courage to share what I wrote with others. I was a social worker not a writer! I didn’t go to school to learn how to write. What did I know?
I read somewhere that the best way to become a better writer was to read more. So, I did. I love to read. I was always that kid who could consume a book a day. I still have a hard time putting a good story down even if it means forgoing sleep or leaving the laundry unfolded. I read and I read. The more I read, the more I thought – I can do this.
I worked on that first story some more and decided to post it on an online story site. I think when I got feedback from three people I was sure I was going to be a rockstar. The fact that more than one person liked what I wrote was mind-blowing.
Don’t forget it was terrible, though. Let’s just say Grammar Girl would have had a field day marking that thing up with her red pen. I had no idea what a dialogue tag was or how to punctuate anything correctly. My verb tense changed every other sentence. It was a nightmare. And is no longer anywhere for people to read, by the way.
The feedback gave me the courage to keep writing. I wrote several more stories after that, each one a little better than the last. It’s amazing how much you can learn by doing. My writing circle of friends helped, too. Without them, I don’t know where I would be now.
One day, one of those friends tweeted about the Harlequin “So You Think You Can Write” contest. I thought I could write. It was time to really test that theory. Time for me to see what a real editor would say. So, I entered. I wrote The Weather Girl specifically for the contest. I wasn’t sure it was what Harlequin was looking for, but I thought it was original and had fun characters.
I made it through the first round and was told to submit my full manuscript to the editors. Thanks to Sue, Kathy, Nicole, Christine, and my mother for their undying support during that time. They checked and double checked that manuscript for me in a very short period of time. Very short.
I have amazing friends.
Unfortunately, I didn’t advance to the Top 3. I was disappointed, for sure, but I made it much further than I could have hoped for! It was promising. It made me want to see my name on a book.
Then the email came. The one from the editor at Harlequin Romance. The one who said my story had potential and if I reworked it, they would love for me to resubmit it. Then another email. This time from the Harlequin Heartwarming editor, saying the same thing.
Okay, I didn’t die. I thought I must have died because this was too much. I wrote and rewrote. I sent chapter after chapter to my sweet mother who kindly checked for errors. I should mention my mother is my biggest fan and the most wonderful person I know. She is. She really is. I finished the rewrite and, on my last day of school, my eldest son helped me push the button to send the manuscript off to Harlequin for good luck.
Fast forward to this Monday. I was standing outside of Panera Bread with my daughter, waiting on my mother for a girls only lunch date. We were actually FaceTiming with my youngest son, who was already wondering when we were coming home. That’s when I got the call. You know, THE call. The one where the editor says she wants to publish your book.
Needless to say, I did some jumping around outside Panera. My daughter was mortified. My mother showed up just in time to celebrate with me. It was a perfect moment.
The adventure now begins. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next few months. The Weather Girl is slated to be released in February 2014. I can only imagine all the things that will happen before then. I figured this blog will be the perfect place to document the journey.
Thanks go to Jo Richardson, my dear friend and fellow author, who helped me set up this blog and make it look pretty.
Here we go!