Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Not So Glamorous Writing Life

For several years, I attended a writers’ retreat that was held in a somewhat rustic location. Among the lists of what to bring (and what not to bring) where instructions that encouraged attendees to “dress in whatever you wear when you’re writing.” That always gave me a laugh ‘cause no one—not even door-to-door salesmen—see me in my writing clothes. I’ve heard there are authors who dress, wear makeup, select jewelry and shoes for the day before sitting down to the keyboard. I’m not one of them. My writing day, and those of my writing friends, is more about hard work than glamour.

A couple of months ago, I told you about attending Blaze author Candace Haven’s Fast Draft workshop, and how that amped up the pace of my writing. Candace encourages writers to form groups that hold individuals accountable for meeting daily word counts. Lately, several graduates of her course have taken that accountability to a new level by working together. No, we don’t write each other’s books. But we do meet frequently in each other’s homes for days we like to call writing marathons.

Of course, we all know what happens when you put three or four women in the same room—we talk. And email/internet shopping/texting can be such a distraction. Then there’s lunch and coffee and breaks to deal with. We found out quickly that we needed rules to keep our get-togethers from dissolving into coffee klatches. So here they are:

Arrive on time. 15 minutes, max, of chit chat while we settle in, power up our laptops, grab a cup of coffee. The house phone is taken off the hook, internet connections are severed. Cell phones are muted and stored out sight (where, hopefully, they’ll remain out of mind). No Spider Solitaire, Mah Jong or other computer games.

Here’s the kicker--Each participant must write 1000 words before the group can stop for lunch. (I’ve heard a few tummies rumble as everyone waits for me to make that goal.)

After a quick lunch break, it's back to work. The afternoon session is usually even more productive, and several of us routinely hit the 3000-word mark before the day is over.

So, no, writing for a living is not a glamorous life. It’s hard work. It requires persistence, dedication and it’ll put calluses on your gluteus maximus. :)

But seeing your work in print, especially as a Harlequin American Romance, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


All authors have stories of how they started writing. I’m no different. I’d read so many wonderful Harlequins that I wanted to try my hand at writing one. I had an idea for characters and a plot so I started writing longhand in a spiral notebook (a true panster), just playing with it and enjoying it more than I’d ever thought. I wrote for a solid year when I could and I had about ten notebooks full. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until my husband gave me a computer for Christmas. I was in business. That book, The Silent Cradle, made the rounds of rejection, over and over. I finally put it away and started on another and another, which I never finished, but I was hooked on writing.

I finally finished another book and sold it. It took two years. I was still ecstatic. While my editor and I were working on revisions, she asked me about The Silent Cradle. Yes, she was one of the editors who had read the manuscript. She remembered the plot and wanted me to send in another proposal on it, keeping in mind that I’d have to rewrite the book. Again! I did and she bought it. The Silent Cradle was titled The Christmas Cradle and became my 10th book and my first Harlequin American in 2004.

This book is very close to my heart because it was my first attempt at writing. I rewrote it so many times I’ve lost track. The final manuscript hardly resembles my first clumsy effort. I learned by trail and error. I’m so happy it’s been given new life with a re-release and a new cover. I love it. What do you think? Which cover do you prefer?

Happy New Year!!
The Texan’s Christmas – Dec ‘11