The Long and Short of It
I went to college in Indiana and spent my adulthood in western Pennsylvania. Early in my career I was an English teacher and later worked sixteen years as a technical writer and editor for a major software company. I am also a free-lance copyeditor.
I now live in Phoenix, Arizona, with my husband and cat, aptly named Kitty.
I have always been a writer from the time I was a little girl. My first “work” was a poem entitled “Rain.” It began “Rain, rain, coming down on the little distant town.” It was several verses long and caused quite a stir with my teacher at the time, who thought it showed great promise. She also liked the poems I wrote, which were based on James Whitcomb Riley’s style. I grew up in Indiana, remember, where James Whitcomb Riley is well-loved.
Over my school years (high school and college) I wrote poems and stories, created a comic strip, and produced a church newsletter, which I also illustrated myself. After completing college, I became an English teacher, then a stay-at-home mom, and then a substitute teacher. During my spare time I wrote fiction, mostly parts of novels that I never finished. Eventually my writing took a different turn. I became a technical writer and editor, writing user manuals, technical guides, and online help for a major software company. For a few years I kept up my “unfinished novel writing,” but at one point I put my current novel in a box and stored it away in the attic. My time was taken up with my work, where I perfected my craft and actually finished everything I wrote.
Fast forward to 2010. My husband and I were getting ready to move from Pennsylvania to Arizona. While cleaning out the attic for the move, I found the box containing my last unfinished novel. I took the pages from the box and looked at them.
The book was a romantic mystery, which is still a genre that is a favorite of mine. I had typed most of the pages on an electric typewriter, but some of them were still in long-hand. The pages were not in order. I could see that some of the plot lines were incomplete. The novel had no ending. It was badly outdated, written before the technology revolution, i.e., no mention of computers, cell phones, or mobile devices. The heroine was too old-fashioned; the hero had no real personality. Charitably, it needed a lot of work. Realistically, it was a mess.
HOWEVER.. also in the box, I found a very well-written, clear, perfectly logical synopsis of my main mystery plot, and I could see that my story was still a good one. The book as it was would not do, but I could rewrite it. While I was writing user manuals and product guides, I learned how to organize, write, and edit nonfiction. A novel was something different, but I knew I could do it. Over the years I have read hundreds of romantic mysteries. I knew how they were constructed and how I wanted to write mine.
And that is what I did. I wrote Saving Carole over the next two and a half years, part in Pennsylvania and part in Arizona. I self-published it in September of 2013. In February of 2014 I began writing Saving Ashley. This book took only ten months to write. I self-published it in December, 2014. During that time I also wrote a short book called Kitty in the Car about traveling safely with our cat across the country. In 2015 I self-published The Cat’s in Charge! followed by a third mystery, Saving Sam, in 2016. Soon after that I began writing Really Dead?, a spin-off of Saving Sam. This book features two clever pets, Cindy the cat and Wally the dog, who help their humans solve a mystery involving two women who are supposed to be dead, but maybe aren’t. It was a challenge to write this book because the plot took two paths that had to be interwoven and come together in the end. I finished Really Dead? in 2017 and self-published it in March of 2018.
So the moral of this story is, If you want to write a book, you can do it. Just keep at it. You may even be able to write more than one. Maybe even six!
Above all, don’t give up.