As with most things in life you don't really know how something will turn out until you try and writing and publishing a book was no different.
Let me just start by saying when I finally decided to publish that first story I had loads of encouragement and well wishes. This was wonderful. What I didn't have was a clue.
I am constantly being asked where I get my ideas for my stories. To be honest some have been hanging out in the attic of my brain for a very long time. Others are fresh and new and come to me through a snippet of conversation, the words of a song, or just seeing people getting on with their lives. Sometimes they come to me fully formed by and event, or tiny moment in my life.
The stories are there but how to translate what's in my head into a comprehensible piece of material that looks something like a book is a whole other ball of wax.
My collection of short biographical stories in Growing Up American are still a hot mess. One of these days I'll pull them down, rework them and send the whole tangle of jumbled up grammar, misspelled words, and inappropriately formatted prose to my editor.
That book proves one thing. I didn't know what I was doing. I had so much to learn and so many new challenges to face it's a good thing I was clueless or I may have given up. Inevitably I made plenty of mistakes. I thought I had figured out how to format my book as I diligently read through all of the guidelines in kindle, ran countless grammar and spelling checks and did loads of rewriting. I even had a friend do some editing for me.
The first thing I learned on this journey was that I CANNOT EDIT MY OWN WORK. I laugh at this fact every time I think of it because I am actually a highly trained, highly qualified, and experienced English teacher. I teach reading and writing on a daily basis and must mark students work, writing and exams. Which is just fine but my brain will not comprehend what I want when editing my own work. You can also see this fact proven out in some of my early reviews.
So get an editor everyone says, and yes that is very good advice. The thing is editing is an art. Truly it is, and with all art it is worth the price. However, there is more to getting an editor than to sending your manuscript to someone and having them fix all of your mistakes. You must find someone who gets your voice. I'm truly thankful for my editor. She's great, and not afraid to stay up all night meeting deadlines.
So now that's done what else do you have to worry about you might ask. Learning, and learning and learning. Every day you learn something new in writing. As a writer I have grown with every piece of work. I've discovered my voice and how my own words should sound to me on a page. I've discovered what marketing is, how you create sites and webpages and so many other things. Don't even get me started on figuring out how to get a cover that I like. It's all work even if it is work that you love.
Now here I have to stop and tell you about the single most important discovery I have made in my writing journey this last year. Aside from the patient support of 'my everyday hero' who knows I'm crazy and loves me anyway, Pioneer Hearts site has been the best thing to happen to me as an author. Pioneer Hearts is a site that is dedicated to Historical Western Romance and has the best people.
I found this group when reading a book by one of my favorite authors Kit Morgan who invited me to visit. Not only did I find a place where I can learn about new authors in my genre, I got to meet new friends and fellow fans of this genre and discuss the books. Another favorite author, Kirsten Osbourne asked me to join their author group and the rest is history. I'll be honest it is truly amazing to work with these remarkable ladies and very humbling to see how much I learn every day. If you've never been to this site I strongly recommend you check it out.
This past year I've published eleven different stories and if amazon is kind I'll have number twelve out soon. It's been a remarkable journey so far and I can't wait to see what comes next. My mother always says that we should never stop learning. Her mother used to say the same thing and I remind my son of it all the time. This life is beautiful, if not always easy, we should learn as much as we can.
As I continue this journey in writing, I have loads of new stories to tell, it is my fervent prayer that at
some time in some way my writing will touch the life of someone reading it and that their world will be a little better because of it. We are told not to hide our light under a bushel basket but to let it shine so I'll keep my light in the window as long as I can.
Now come and meet some of my friends who have had their own writing adventures:
Meet Cathryn Chandler:
A lifelong reader of romance and romantic suspense, Cathryn Chandler loves nothing more than a lazy afternoon with a good book– except of course her wonderful (and now all grown-up!) daughter, her extended family, (which is spread out from coast-to-coast), and her always happy dog, Livvy! Cathryn has lived on, and enjoyed, both the east coast and the west coast, and visited most of the states in between. Cathryn and Livvy currently reside in northern California, across the bay from San Francisco. website/facebook/amazon/goodreads
Meet E.E. Burke:
Weave together passionate romance and rich historical detail, add a dash of suspense, and you have books by bestselling author E.E. Burke. Her chosen settings are the American West, and her latest series, The Bride Train, features a cast of unusual characters thrown together through a misguided bride lottery. Other series include Steam! Romance and Rails, which follows the lives of dangerous men and daring women caught up in a cutthroat railroad competition. Her novella, Victoria, Bride of Kansas, part of the unprecedented American Mail-Order Brides series, is a Kindle Top 100 Bestseller and a semifinalist in the 2016 Kindle Best Book Awards. E.E., also known as Elisabeth, has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA's prestigious Golden Heart®. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream--writing stories readers can get lost. Website/Facebook /goodreads/bookbub/amazon
Meet Jacqui Nelson:
Jacqui Nelson writes Historical Romance Adventures featuring female spies, scouts, cardsharps and most recently a Wild West trick rider. Her love for Westerns with grit and passion came from watching classic Old West movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada. She currently lives in the much milder climate of Canada's south west coast where she can post pictures of flowers year-round on her Facebook and Twitter pages. She's a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® and Chanticleer® Laramie® award winner, but her best reward is hearing from readers who've enjoyed her books. Fall in love with a new Old West... where the men are steadfast and the women are adventurous. webpage/ facebook./twitter/goodreads/bookbub/amazon.com
Meet Kathleen Ball:
Sexy Cowboys and the Women Who Love Them... Finalist in the 2012 and 2015 RONE Awards. Top Pick, Five Star Series from the Romance Review. Kathleen Ball writes contemporary and historical western romance with great emotion and memorable characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists including: Amazon's Best Sellers List, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, Desert Breeze Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing Best Sellers list. She is the recipient of eight Editor's Choice Awards, and The Readers' Choice Award for Ryelee's Cowboy. Winner of the Lear diamond award Best Historical Novel- Cinders' Bride There's something about a cowboy.... Kathleen Ball website/Facebook Fan Page/ amazon/ Twitter / goodreads
Meet Zina Abbott:
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks. Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Twitter