How did I get here?

Seriously, how did I get here? ‘Here’ being a pre-published author, terrified at the idea of strange people reading my books. (Okay, yeah, I’m kinda strange myself, but I’m used to me.)

Nearly two years ago, I was trying to recharge myself creatively and took an acting class. I was there to see if I wanted to go back onstage at our local community theaters. Another student was there because she writes screenplays, and had been told that she needed to take an acting class before writing for actors. (Excellent advice, by the way!)

She and I got to talking and she told me about a weekly writer’s group she belonged to. The writers included poets, novelists, short story writers, screenwriters, and the genres covered the writing map: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult.

Something went ‘click’. Moments of ‘click’ happen very rarely in my life, and I’ve learned the hard way not to ignore them. I’d written bits of stories, along with some truly awful poetry, starting in my teens. I wondered if I could do more than that. So I went. And I’ve gone ever since. When it was my turn to write, I started with historical romance. It is my favorite genre, followed closely by fantasy and science fiction. Most of my previous writing attempts had been placed in past eras.

I abandoned my first story because I couldn’t get the characters to DO anything. Then a wonderful heroine appeared in my imagination, and the book now titled To be Seduced was conceived.

After a year, I was having a wonderful time writing Richard and Bethany’s story! I loved my characters and my work was well received by our critique group, including the men. But I wondered how it would hold up outside that trusted circle. So when I saw a first chapter contest offered by the East Texas Writers Guild that promised a critique of every entry, for a very reasonable fee, I thought ‘why not?’ That the judges of the finalists were all editors and agents looked pretty cool too, but there was no way my entry would get that far.

Wrong. My entry finaled. This thrilled me to pieces, because the judge for the historical romance section of the contest was Hilary Sares of Kensington Publishing. I couldn’t say much to my family, as they tend to regard my writing as yet one more weird thing I do. But the idea that a New York editor was reading my stuff resulted in numerous happy dances in the privacy of my living room. I ended up winning my category, and Hilary requested my manuscript. Eventually Kensington offered to buy it, and it is now in the good hands of Peter Senftleben.

I am pretty sure that if I turned my experience into a synopsis for a future book, it would be rejected by any respectable agent or editor. I can’t blame them. Stuff like this doesn’t happen.

Except it did.

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