PART ONEWhere does an author’s career start? Is it that first acceptance? When you sign your first contract? How about when you can finally quit that day job you’ve hated for 20 years?
I used to wonder about this. Everyone had opinions, and I thought I’d mine with you.
I began creating stories as soon as I could differentiate between what was real and what came from inside me. I didn’t realize that most people didn’t have characters inside them jabbing at them to tell their stories until I was probably in my twenties. I thought we all tamped those voices down or that possibly I should steer clear of physiatrists. Now, when you’re married to someone who just might have you committed, and have a couple of tiny tots running around the house, you really don’t want to take that chance.
Let’s back this up to when I really began story telling. When I was very young, I had very bad eyes so my story telling took the form of verbal rantings or the creation of plays. I would imagine of the two, the verbal ranting was the more desirable form, at least my many little friends must have thought so. When it was just me going on about sea captains and mermaids, or war heroes and their many skirmishes, or the cowboys and their lady loves… ad nauseam… at least they weren’t pressured into learning lines, putting together backdrops and costumes and making fools of themselves in front of the neighborhood. Heck, I bet even the moms and dads we dragged into Fia’s back yard breathed a sigh of relief when a month went by without the hand-scribbled invitation failed to show up at their door.
But, I loved those days of sword fighting and deciding why one seaman had to die while another sailed away with the fair lady. (Who, by the way, was never me) The freedom to let those characters tell me their stories and I willingly, no greedily, took all of it in and pretended it was me who had the stories just waiting to escape. School was just a means of learning how to spell and create sentences, clumsily at first.
My teenage years were very difficult and school took a backseat to simply trying to deal with some unsavory episodes. I skipped a lot of school, yet I still managed somehow to hit the English class and do very well in it. I needed the knowledge for what I know now was a dream I had.
I remember shutting out the world and writing. It was called free verse poetry then, and I’ve got to assume it was trash because I was never trained or knew the rules. I simply let my thoughts flow and filled pages with dark fantasies.
My writing was a therapy of sorts perhaps, get it out and on paper, fill the book then destroy it before anyone could see the outpouring of anger and hurt. That did change though; slowly over time and I wish I’d kept those books. Those memories and scrawled pages meant so much to me then, I just wish I could sift through them now.
I met my sweetie during my final year in high school and honestly, he’s been my rock over the years. I think we kind of saved each other. Married too young, parents a few short years later, again too young, but we loved each other and managed to take care of each other and our children. During that time, I guess my muse gathered information and inspiration for later. LOL! That’s what it feels like now. Yet, late at night when the household was asleep, I would sit curled up on the couch with the same kind of notebook I’d been writing in for years and I’d slip into my erotic world.
I wrote BSDM pretty much exclusively back then, with the woman the dominant and some poor man (usually) the submissive. Sometimes it wasn’t a willing submission to begin with, but he always ended up more than happy to do as he was told, if only she’d let him climax. Sometimes he was allowed, often not, he was teased some more. Oh, I was such a harsh mistress.
I wrote like this for years. Clandestine, alone and destroying the books when they were filled. Over the years, I’ve wondered how many actual stories, or even books, I filled only to trash. How many ideas and characters?
It wasn’t until my kids were grown and gone that my writing dreams came back into my life. Oh, and it’s also when I graduated high school.
What, I didn’t mention that earlier? Oops!
Well, I didn’t and in hindsight, it’s something that tore at me for years. It’s difficult to push your children into doing well if you didn’t finish yourself. I never hid it from them, but I didn’t hide much from them as they were growing up.
It still surprised me when my kids and my husband decided it was time for mom to go back to school. Now, you can laugh and think about all those young guys I could ogle while studying trig, but that’s not how it happened. I got in touch with the school district who were more than helpful when it came to digging out my records. When they showed me the courses I would need to take if I actually went to school, I opted for another way… Please find me another way!
There was, and I’m surprised you didn’t hear the sigh of relief. There was just no way I was prepared to compete in a gym class with 17 year olds, no matter how much I knew and they didn’t. Correspondence is an amazing option and one I embraced with both arms and all of my psyche. The only course I didn’t have to take, and this broke my heart, was English, in any form. My hubby, lord love him, was such a help and encouragement. While taking history, he had oodles of cute quips for me. Things like, ‘Sweetie, you’re doing so well. Not surprising though since you were there for most of it.’ He did have his shoes on and the door open while he said this one. Man isn’t brilliant, but he’s not stupid either. LOL
It took me almost a year, but I did it and I had the most amazing grad party ever. All my closest friends and family got together and we partayed, like only those who have been around can partay!
What’s all this got to do with how I got published, you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Life and the misfortunes of our years leave us with such an amazing gift. Experience.
All the time I was studying and working on history or trigonometry or biology, my muse was busy plotting. Yup, the ugly little gnome has been crouched in the corner listening and chuckling, while he stores all those plot bunnies away for future use.
We got our first computer very shortly after this and you know, it was strange, I was really nervous about getting it. I knew, somewhere deep inside that when I got onto the internet my life was going to change dramatically. It was the same feeling I got when I saw my husband for the first time. I knew something amazing was about to happen.
I couldn’t have been more right. It took awhile, but I found my way to a group that was hosted in the Excite network called Erotica Writers Too. The woman who ran the thing called herself Aphrodite, an author of extremely flowery works who took a liking to me. She was a nice lady who thought that with some hard work and dedication, I had a chance of being published.
I never met Aphrodite. I never even knew her real name. She vanished one day; a rocky relationship among other things took her offline. I took over the group and wound up moving it twice before I finally had to call it a day. During that time, I met some wonderful people, one or two are still friends. Derek Musgrave comes to mind, fellow author and good friend.
For years, he and I urged each other on, shared editing chores and bounced ideas off each other about how to become published. I remember finding publishing sites online, and being so overwhelmed with the possibilities that I simply didn’t know where to begin. Guidelines—what were those? Contracts—I’d have to figure those out too. There just seemed to be so much I didn’t know, would never figure out and I desperately wanted to.
I also met my first publisher during this time. Roy Larkin, owner, editor, chief cook and bottle washer of Amatory Ink. He took me under his wing and while he declined my first submission, he showed me where I was going wrong and pointed me in the right direction. Somewhere on my hard drive I still have all of the emails and lessons, and man did I have some work to do.
All righty, that's it for the beginning of my journey here. If you're still awake and interested, join me next month on the 14th for the second part. I'd really love to hear how others made this amazing journey.