I was born in Ohio and grew up in Canton—home of the Football Hall of Fame—yet I hadn’t set foot inside the building until the summer of 2005. Although it was quite interesting to visit, I have to admit I am not a football fan. Sorry if I disappointed you.
I now live in Erie, PA and have since 1980. Currently, I work as a Sales Manager for a mortgage company.
As a girl I spun a lot of tales, including dreams and romantic fantasies. I would then elaborate on those stories and force my sister Kitty and sometimes a few friends to listen while I went on and on. In junior high I gave a report on a book I had imagined in my head about a girl and her mother being stuck in an elevator all day long. (It just seemed so much more interesting than the books I was considering reading). However, my teacher asked the author’s name and she wanted to see the actual book. Busted!
I was never much of a reader during my youth and I went 20 years without reading a novel before deciding I wanted to write. (You can close your mouth now.) No one was more shocked than my mother who said, “You can’t write a book.” And I asked, “Why not?” She responded with, “Because you don’t read.” “Well,” I said, “it’s not that I can’t read. It’s just that I haven’t tried it in awhile.”
That was in the late 80’s. After that, I didn’t think about writing much, assuming my mother might possibly be right. Maybe I should read a book or two before trying to write one. But I didn’t have any interest in reading anything longer than a magazine article. So, I decided it would be best to put the writing dreams on hold for the time being.
In January 1992, I was going to accompany my husband to Phoenix on a business trip. Before going home to pack I was planning on stopping at the drug store to pick up some crossword puzzle books to entertain me on the plane. My friend Lorraine suggested I get a book to read instead. I stuck my nose up, of course.
Ignoring me, she went on to tell me about this great book she was reading and how much I would like it. “This woman is wandering around town with amnesia, $10,000 in the pocket of her raincoat and blood all over her dress beneath the coat.”
Okay, so it sounded quite intriguing. She rattled off the title of the book and the author’s name, neither of which interested me, as I had no intention of buying the book. “See Jane Run by Joy Fielding,” she said. But once inside the drug store, while looking for my puzzle books, there was See Jane Run on the shelf, starting me right in the face. I couldn’t help but pick up the paperback and at least read the blurb on the back. It sounded very mysterious. What the heck? I decided to buy it.
I started the book on the plane and finished it that night in the hotel room. I loved it! (And I recommend it highly to anyone who loves suspense.) The next morning I went to a nearby bookstore in Phoenix and another friend led me to a bookby Mary Higgins Clark and one by John Grisham. I finished both during the next 4 days. At the airport, (before our return flight) I was desperately searching for something else to read. My husband realized I already had an addiction at that point. I couldn’t wait to call my mother and tell her I could now read!
The next time I went home to visit my mother she had a bag of books waiting for me. I picked through them, tossing out all but the mystery and suspense books from the bag. (I had already decided I was going to write in one of those genres.) Over the next few months I read the books she gave me, and although I enjoyed them, nothing grabbed me. None I had read gave me the inspiration to sit down and pen my own novel
On my next visit home, Mom had more bags
of books. Again, I sorted through them, gagged when I came to anything
that even hinted of romance, and kept only the mystery and suspense novels.
I noticed my mother pluck a book from the discard pile and toss it back
in my bag. Curious, I picked it up. “French Silk by Sandra Brown,”
I read. “Is this a romance?” I asked her. My mother lied and said, “No.
It’s a suspense,” and then placed it back in the bag. I pulled the book
out again and opened it to the center and began to read a few paragraphs.
I looked up at her. “Are you sure it’s not a romance? Because it sounds
like a romance, and you know I don’t want to read any of those silly books.”
She smiled, took the book from my hand, set it on top of the other books
in the bag, and said, “I’m sure.” “But—“ I started to say, and Mom said,
“ Just read it. You’ll love it.”
Don’t you hate when your mother is always right?
After finishing French Silk I ran to the local Barnes and Noble and bought every book on the shelf by Sandra Brown and read them over the next few weeks. I was hooked--not by the suspense elements found in some of Sandra’s books, but by the romance itself. I loved her wonderful characters. The stories were filled with passion and emotion. They made me laugh and cry. And I knew that was what I wanted to write--Romance. I, too, wanted to tell stories with memorable characters that would make readers laugh and cry. I started thinking that perhaps there were other authors out there who may have written romances that I might like just as much as Sandra’s books. Duh! And sure enough I found thousands of books on the shelves from which I could choose.
I consumed hundreds of books over the next few years—books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, Jayne Ann Krentz, Barbara Delinsky, Tami Hoag, Karen Robarbs, Lavryle Spencer and, of course, Sandra Brown—all of which I adored. I was now an avid romance reader, but still had not done anything to pursue my desire to write
In the fall of 1994, I was cleaning out some cupboards and drawers and came across a “list” I had written the year before. First of all, let me explain; September 1993 was not a good month. I fell and had to have knee surgery. I could no longer teach aerobic dance, nor could I play tennis—two things I loved doing. It was on one of those gloomy September days, hobbling around on crutches and feeling sorry for myself that I jotted down all of the things I wanted to do in life but had not yet tried. Finding the list a year later had me staring at it in awe.
Topping it was “Rock singer”—my teenage daughters would have disowned me had I even suggested doing something that would embarrass them. (Not to mention that I couldn’t sing.) I instantly scratched it from the list. “Home Economics Teacher”—this meant going back to school, and what would be the guarantee I would find a job in my field? Scratch again. “Restaurant owner”—I had a friend who was in the restaurant and catering business. She worked much harder than I cared to. Scratch that idea, too. There was only one thing left on my list. “Writer.”
Okay, it was time to get serious if I wanted to have something to do once the girls left the nest. In 1995 I took a Creative Writing class at a local college where we had to write, read our work aloud and have it critiqued by others. This was good for me as it was something I had never done before, and it forced me to actually write a few short stories. When the semester was over, I asked the professor what courses she thought I should take next? Her answer was, “If you want to be a writer, go home and write.”
Alarm bells went off. I panicked. Could I do that? Just start writing without taking any more classes? Without someone showing me how to do it? Well, I did learn one thing. The course did not teach me to write, but it did teach me how to accept and offer constructive criticism. Was it enough for me to start? I decided if I wanted to be a writer it was now or never. Time to quit stalling.
Later that same year I wrote my first novel. I sent out query letters to agents and editors alike and then sat back wondering what I was going to do if multiple publishers wanted my wonderful first novel I had written. J Needless to say, I did not sell that first manuscript. It is one of those books that I consider a learning tool for what not to do if you want to actually get published. I needed some professional guidance, but didn’t know where to turn. Then an agent told me about RWA (Romance Writers of America), an organization for romance writers to learn about the fundamentals of writing, marketing, etc. I joined the national organization in August 1996 and that same month went to my first chapter meeting at NEORWA (Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America) in Brecksville, Ohio. This is the closest RWA chapter for me—100 miles away. And although it is a long drive, it has been worth every mile. I have not only been a member for 10 years, I am also the chapter president and have been for the past 3 years, and I have been the contest coordinator for the past 6 years. I have made some great friends through NEORWA, and I owe them a lot.
During the last 10 years of writing, I have finished 14 manuscripts, published one short story, won and placed in numerous writing contests including the Molly, the Maggie and the Golden Heart. (Some of you may recognize these prestigious awards.) My work was often requested by agents and editors, but there were no contracts offered along the way. I take that back—I was offered a contract in 1998 for one of my novels, but I ended up pulling my manuscript out of the queue when I suspected the publisher was not going to be able to fulfill the promises made to me.
But finally all my hard work and patience has paid off. It has been a long 10-year journey on the way to publication, as is the way for many wonderful writers. It takes talent, persistence, and a little luck. But I made it, and I plan to write many more stories to please my readers.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey.