I decided I wanted to be a writer in about 5th grade. I read a story I'd written to the class and they laughed! I was hooked. But that was back in the days of typewriters, and I wasn't a very good typist. Still, I sought out writing opportunities wherever I found them, mostly writing short pieces--a poem in a free local paper, articles in my college magazine. When I graduated--after a brief stint in law school--I went to work writing federal regulations for the USDA school nutrition programs. (Anyone remember ketchup as a vegetable?) I started writing a book, and I had an essay published in The Washington Post.
And then I had kids. Thinking back, it wasn't my four sons that stalled my writing career. Until the youngest was 5, I was still writing. I had an article published in Parents magazine and was writing--and submitting--picture book texts. I even collected a number of "good" rejection slips. No, I think it was taking over both the neighborhood summer swim team and the cub scout pack at the same time that did me in. That and hitting the peak carpool years--with four sons in almost every possible kid activity, I lived in my minivan. If laptops had been invented then--and I'm not sure they had--I didn't have one.
I believe getting published requires a lot of work, dedication, perseverance, some talent--and a dash of luck. When my oldest son was getting ready to apply to college, I started looking ahead to what I would do when I didn't need to be a hands on mom 24/7. I looked back at all the effort I'd put into writing, and I decided it was time--maybe past time--to see if I could make my dream of publication come true.
I read all the old writing magazines I'd saved. I made myself sit down and write all the way to "The End" and then revise and write some more. Finally I joined the Romance Writers of America to get access to the Beau Monde chapter and all their Regency expertise. And I stumbled onto the Writing Regency loop.
The deadline for entering the Golden Heart--RWA's big contest for unpublished writers--was coming up, and the "loopers" were beating the bushes for manuscripts. If the Regency category (this is the old, short Regency category that's no longer around) didn't get a minimum of 25 entries, it would be cancelled--and not for the first time. Well, I had this manuscript. Susannah Carleton, author of a number of published Regencies, helped me write my first ever synopsis, and I sent in my entry. And here's where the dash of luck comes in--I made the finals. (I've come to realize that reading tastes differ wildly, so if I'd gotten a different group of judges, I might not have done well at all.)
Editors judge the final round. One of those editors so liked The Naked Duke that she got my contact information from RWA and called me out of the blue. The rest, as they say, is history.
Monday I'll start putting up Chapter 2 of The Naked King--Chapter 1 is already up on my web site. And don't forget to enter my contest. Details are in Tuesday's (May 10) blog.