Confessions of a romance addict. When I was in high school, my best friend and I devoured Harlequins. So in a fit of inspiration, I decided I could write romance. My first attempt was seventeen pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last Harlequin I’d read. Since then my love for romance hasn’t diminished. Even when I read other genres, I really appreciate a good romantic sub-plot.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. Daydreaming is my thing. I’ve wondered often what it would be like to live a different life in a different place with different people. My daydreaming made me feel guilty until I got the brilliant idea to write it instead of dream it.
So in the spring of 2005, I hunkered over my old IBM desktop and started writing. My first manuscript was the story of a has-been country singer and a brand new best selling author. I had an enormous crush on my hero. Jack was based on a real person, and I wrote him maybe a little too real. And who couldn’t see me in my heroine Sara? After all, what did I want to become? I got my first dose of constructive criticism when I gave the finished manuscript to my mother-in-law to read. As a former editor with a magazine and a voracious reader of romance, she had plenty to say.
Lesson #1. If you’re going to make your heroine even remotely resemble yourself, don’t write her doing anything spiteful, selfish, or just plain uncool. Readers of romance need to like the heroine, especially if the reader is your mother-in-law.
So with that vital lesson behind me, I tossed that manuscript into the dustbin of my hard drive and set out to create a heroine that didn’t resemble me in the least. My next manuscript had a great group of characters, the nucleus of an ensemble cast. I was so enamored with these characters I wrote a four book series set in Colorado. My mother-in-law liked these characters much better than Jack and Sara.
Do you remember your first manuscript? Who were the main characters? What lesson did you learn from your first experience with the world of publishing?