I fancied myself a writer when I first sat down with my blue cardboard three-ring binder, an ink pen, and wide-lined notebook paper to write my first novel. I was nine when I penned the opening lines of my masterpiece, a shameless interpretation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind that I titled Good-bye, Dixie.
I spent most of that fifth grade year in Mrs. Berryman’s classroom scribbling away at the book, adding a page of original illustrations for each page of text. My main character, Lilac, was a strong woman who held down the family plantation during the Civil War with the help of her sisters. I think a few pages of this Magnus opus remain tucked away in desk drawers at my mother’s house but I doubt that anyone but me would ever find value in that first effort.
It was, however, a start that launched a writing career that has spanned decades. That same year, I had my first publication, a poem that appeared on the Saturday morning children’s page of my hometown newspaper. My next publication appeared in those same pages, in a section called “Readers Sharing Creativity” when I was a teenager. I soon moved onward and upward to campus literary magazines, the campus newspaper, and other small victories.
My first sale of my written word was to The Kansas City Star’s Sunday magazine. Since then, I’ve gathered additional credits in various print and online venues on both sides of the Atlantic. Each new accomplishment bumped up to a new level, from regional magazines to some national titles, from selling individual short stories to having fiction in several anthologies.
In recent weeks, however, I have stepped up into a new playing field and reached a level higher than I have been before. In my spare time – which is non-existent – I write novels, full-length works of fiction. Ask almost any writer or would-be novelist and they can attest to the fact that the road to publication is long and difficult. Competition is fierce and without perseverance, few succeed. Many give up trying when faced with rejection from both literary agents and publishers.
Whether it is a good or bad trait is uncertain but I am stubborn, tenacious to the extreme. My mother says I never did quite learn the meaning of the word “no” and that may be right. I also am a fighter, someone who likes to go against the odds and who refuses to surrender. All of these things have stood me in good stead in many situations and without them, I would not be moving up to a new level.
Champagne Books, a Canadian publisher of romance and romantic suspense novels, has accepted my novel KINFOLK for publication. The novel will debut in July 2011, a year from now. I am working on marketing information and offering my input, on request, for the cover art. There will be many other tasks and details involved as I walk the road toward publication and since this is all new to me, it is both exciting and daunting.
I have short fiction forthcoming in several anthologies as well and many other irons in the literary fire so it may prove to be a busy year ahead. Before anyone thinks I may become both rich and famous, please reconsider. Publication almost always comes before payment so I’m still an ordinary gal, scraping together pennies and nickels to pay the bills. I’m not sure how much wealth or fame may flow my way with the publication of one novel but as a career accomplishment, this is immense to me.