Oh my, long is the word! Winding is apt, too – let alone the many wrong turns and lengthy rest stops taken along the way!
As a child, I loved writing fantasies – influenced no doubt by Enid Blyton’s ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ stories, which I devoured every night long past my bedtime by the light of the street lamp outside my bedroom window.
In my teens, I was happy to experiment with moody, dystopian, apocalyptic … aren’t all teenagers programmed that way?
In my early twenties, I wrote my first romance. This new direction was an unexpected one. I’d picked up a couple of romances to read (more by accident than design), quite enjoyed them despite my inner sceptic, and in the arrogance of youth, decided I could do just as well myself, if not better.
Well, it wasn’t bad for a first attempt. Even though it was rejected by the publisher I sent it to, their reply was an individual one, complimenting my style and suggesting I submit something else.
Encouraged, I wrote another. It was rejected – with a generic letter this time. I started a third. That was rejected too.
By now I had two small kids, a house to run, no sleep and no time. I gave up.
Over the next few years I looked after my family, returned to work, went through a long patch of ill health, and appeased my creative streak by pottering down side roads to visit various other crafts.
In the meantime, my daughter was doing nothing but write, and clearly loving it. My fingers began to itch to hit the keyboard again. I’d had an opening scene for a humorous chick-lit novel in my mind for ages. The day I decided to type it up and see what happened, it was like opening the floodgates. The characters seemed to just take over and go their own sweet way. Two years later – it was quite a long book and I’m an obsessive edit-and-polisher – I began sending it to agents. It was a long process: post it off, wait weeks if not months for a rejection letter, re-polish it, send it somewhere else. When another two years had gone by, I decided the manuscript should take a long rest at the back of the drawer, although I still hope to find a home for it one day.
Undeterred (well, quite a lot deterred, actually, but with a spark of determination still hanging on in there), I went back to writing straight romance, and ‘Warm Hearts in Winter’ was born. It took me about six months to write (I still work full-time) and three months to polish it to within an inch of its life. As I wrote, I researched romance publishers, and when I read about Astraea Press, my instinct told me to go for it. To my delight, they offered me a contract, and a few months later here I am, a published author (well, almost … September 30th isn’t too far away now!)
It’s been a long haul – not just the writing, but the learning process. Because I was aiming for publication, I spent hundreds of hours learning how to improve my writing and trawling the internet for information about writing and the writing world.
Was it worth it? I hope so! However it goes, I’ve had a fascinating journey rediscovering my love of words, and now I have the chance to see those words published. I’m not complaining.