I began writing fiction in earnest when I was first unemployed, back in 1991. I think the title of the first novel was Best for Last, because the Vanessa Williams song was stuck in my head. So, I joined Romance Writers of America and the Indiana chapter, out of Indianapolis and sent the thing out to enter the Golden Heart competition for unpublished authors.
The result was some interesting evaluation sheets. Two judges loved my excerpt and one even gave me the phone number for her agent. Another two marked it as fine, but not outstanding. To be fair, the judges were pretty overwhelmed with entries that year. But, two absolutely hated it. One said something to the effect that she was so very tired of "damaged" heroines. My heroine had been raped in high school and called the hero, her overweight friend, to help take her to the hospital. They meet again several years later and truly fall in love. The other judge said (and I can quote this), "People don't talk like that." I found it particularly humorous, as I had lifted an actual conversation with a male friend for that particular excerpt. Also, I later read one of her books (a Harlequin Presents) and thought it was poorly written dreck, with absolutely no romance or compelling features. But, I digress.
I continued to submit excerpts to various writers' contests and workshops, some in conjunction with RWA and some with the local writers' guild, of which I served as president and board member for a good dozen years. Each time, I got good reviews and encouraging words. After I read my scene at a writers' retreat, a fellow author chided me for having the heroine call a male friend. I felt justification and gratitude when another participant said she'd been raped and her male friend was the first person she called. Even got a chance to pitch to Melissa Senate, then of Silhouette books, who asked for a partial and synopsis. I never did anything with that, because I could not for the life of me write the synopsis. I'd written the whole book, but couldn't write the synopsis!
Twenty plus years later, I know I wasn't ready. "Fate and faith puts us where we need to be," I have one of my characters say in my second completed novel, Seven Days and I know it's true. This one is a kazillion times better and I have several synopses, in different lengths. I have three other novels in various stages of completion, involving the same family and I've used the time of my second unemployment to work on my craft. I know we'll see the hero and heroine from my first novel again in the third book in my series. They are not ready yet, either.
So, now I am ready. I'd like to thank all those who have shown faith in me and my writing. I'd also like to thank those who knowingly or unknowingly gave me what I needed to help round out my characters or stories. A friend gave me a canvas bag for Christmas that says, "Careful, you might show up in my novel." It's true. I'd especially like to thank God for sending what I needed across my path, for encouraging me along this journey when it seemed too hard or too frustrating.
Come along and join the fun!