It’s been a while since I thought about what I wrote in the years leading up to my book sale. My history of writing has fluctuated from exciting, boring, and educational.
1) College Newspaper Articles. Man, was I the schiznit or what when I was in college. I was the cool newspaper reporter, turned news editor, turned editor-in-chief. I lived, breathed, and often slept in the newspaper offices—it was my life, and I loved it even though it was beyond stressful, and sometimes the stories were a stretch. We were all digging for the best stories, the highest drama or controversy. Those were the days…
2) Yankee Magazine Stuff. My first real writing assignment was the featured event in the calendar of events listings. I remember being so excited to actually use full sentences instead of: “Apple Pie Festival. Pies, ice cream, hayrides, clowns. Free.” Now I had enough space for 50 whole words!
3) Historical Fiction. My first attempt at a children’s story was historical fiction, based on the Orphan Trains. I joined my first in-person writers workshop, and the praise I received there was intoxicating. Other people loved my work! The instructor seemed shocked every time we met that I could actually write. He even once suggested my pinning “the voice” down so solidly was a fluke. Thanks a bunch. Actually, really…thanks! It gave me the push I needed to keep going.
4) Children’s Magazine Non-Fiction. Fiction is my first love, but to break in I knew I needed clips. So, I went the non-fiction route with Cobblestone and Appleseeds, and other children’s magazines both online and in print. I queried heavily for about two years, writing a handful of articles and two fiction stories. These short stories really helped me see the value in the rule of “less is more.”
5) Adult Romance. Like Susan, I experimented with romance. Or at least I thought it was romance, until I realized there was no sex in it. So it was “sweet” romance, I guess. Point was, I fell in love with telling the story, not worrying about what genre it fit into, or who it might sell to some day. I just had a story, and I wanted to tell it.