Thursday, February 22, 2007

Second Chances

On Saturday, I’ll join several other authors and speak at a program called The Romance of Writing. My topic is writing as a second career.

About ten years ago, after completing two years of night school to earn my master’s degree, I was sure I was on my way to a long career in educational administration. However, just six months after, my husband was asked to move to Cincinnati. Has that ever happened to any of y’all? You’re on one track, just to find out that life has a whole other one in store for you?

Two weeks after we moved, my husband found a meeting announcement in our local paper. Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America was having a meeting at a bookstore near where we lived. That Saturday! He thought I should go.

I’ve always loved romance novels. I always wanted to write a romance, but never thought I could do it. But, well, I wasn’t a teacher anymore and was feeling kind of at loose ends….so I gathered my courage and went.

I can honestly say it was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was also one of the most eye-opening. Truly, I thought I was the only woman who had a dream of writing for Harlequin. Almost fifty women were at the meeting. And though they were from all walks of life, they had one thing in common. Together, they celebrated and supported each other’s dreams--celebrating cheers and tears and giving out information. To me, it was simply amazing.

There was also a booksigning. Lori Foster was there, signing one of her Temptations. I gathered all my courage and stood in line to get one of her books. The smile she gave me was all warmth and full of welcome.

Well, of course I joined RWA, OVRWA, and finally decided to start writing a real book. A romance. During one of those first meetings, I sat next to a gal named Heather and we hit it off and became critique partners. Over the years, two other women joined us, Hilda and Cathy.

Years passed. Now there’s a whole lot of new faces at OVRWA. Lori and I usually sit next to each other at local booksignings, since she’s an F and I’m a G.

And on Saturday, at the library gathering organized by Hilda, two women I now know very well will also be speaking-- Cathy Liggett and Heather Webber. To our surprise, Cathy, Heather, and I are published now, and Hilda’s very close.

So that’s how I began my second career—a surprise transfer, a serendipitous ad in the paper, and the support of some amazing women. Anyone else have a start they’d like to share?


Diane Craver said...

Hi Shelley,
I'll be meeting you on Saturday, but I enjoyed your topic. LOL I used to go to OVRWA. My 6 kids' sports got in the way so I stopped going.I stay in touch with some of these women, especially Dianne Castell. Their enthusisam was contagious when I attended the first OVRWA conference years ago so I started writing fiction.

Marin Thomas said...


Boy can I relate to your story. I earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism but halfway through college I wanted to change my major to history/education. I didn't, because I was on scholarship for basketball and couldn't afford to pay out-of-state tuition for another year to finish the program after my eligibility ran out.

I got married right after college and began working for AT&T. At the time, they paid their employees tuition if they wanted to earn a degree, so I enrolled in night school at ASU and entered a program to become certified to teach high school history. I completed the program except for the student-teaching part and then my husband got transferred to L.A. The program at ASU wasn't accepted by the California Universities and I couldn't make myself start over a third time. And good thing I didn't because hubby was transferred to New Jersey within a year.

So, with a ton of history credits under my belt, I traded my dream of being a teacher in for being a stay-at-home mom. That's when I began playing around with writing. I believe things happen for a reason and we all end up where we're meant to be eventually.

Anonymous said...

hi Shelley - I go by Betty on the e-Har boards, and my real Name is Mary Jane Campbell. I live in Adams County and plan to attend Saturday. I joined RWA but that is it.

Thank you for doing the program. MJ