I've always had the itch to write. Over the years, I started several books, but each of them petered out after a couple of chapters. That was pre-desktop and laptop computers, and the stubby pencil routine was too tough. Yet, the itch never quit stinging. Then in the mid-90's, with a desktop computer at my disposal, I started another story. This time, I stuck with it and about 130,000 words later, I wrote THE END, then sat back and waited for the riches to roll in. NOT! One of the worst books ever written.
Undaunted, I began a sequel and plowed through to about a 100,000 word BAD book. Not as badly written as my first one, but still bad. Then, a revelation settled around my ears. I read all the time, never went anywhere without a book. Why not learn from what I read?
While my original plan was a three-book series with Bad One and Bad Two, I gave up the idea and decided to write a first person, private investigator story. For a year, I concentrated my reading on such books, absorbing as much as I could from the techniques of many successful authors. The first result of my learn-by-reading program was JAKE'S BURN, an Ace Edwards, Dallas PI, mystery. It wasn't a breakout novel, but I had learned enough to write something readable. JAKE'S was small-published and received good reviews.
Over the next years, as I continued to learn-by-reading, five more books in the Ace Edwards series were small-published. After book six, I decided to move away from Ace and his cast of characters.
Since I now live in South Florida, I invented a female PI. But I've read so many female leads who were little more than men in skirts, I knew I didn't want to write one of those. Or she was a super women who could whip a congress of gorillas while having her nails done—not for me. Or, she was some frail young thing, but always managed to win in the end—nope. With the help of some wonderful ladies in my critique group, I wrote a Beth Bowman, female PI, mystery set in South Florida. I believe Beth can be accepted as a real woman. She's soft when she needs to be and hard as nails when the situation calls for it. I call the book DEATH BY DIAMONDS. When it was finished (and edited and re-finished and edited some more and re-re-finished, etc.), I began to shop it. I queried Terri Bishchoff at Midnight Ink, who asked for the manuscript.
Time passed, and I moved on to another book. THORNS ON ROSES featuring Tom Jeffries, a S FL PI, was small-published in August by L&L Dreamspell, a couple of really nice people who love books. It's another shift in my writing—an avenger story. Tom Jeffries is a hard-edged man with the experience to back him up.
At SleuthFest during the first weekend in March 2011, I was lucky enough to meet Terri, and she told me she liked Beth's story and my writing. I was overjoyed and came home waiting for the acceptance email to arrive. Time dragged on and on and . . . Just when I was ready to give up the idea of being published by Midnight Ink, a company I have the utmost respect for, lightning struck. Terri offered me a two-book contract for Beth.
On, November 1, I signed the contract and mailed it to Midnight Ink via Overnight Express. As I sit and look back over the fifteen years or so of my writing education, I can truthfully say, the lumps were worth it. Without all of those knocks on the head, and my learn-by-reading program, and the wonderful small presses who were willing to publish me, I would not have the contract. I'm proud, yes. But I also realize how lucky I am. There are so many talented writers who are never given the opportunity I have. Now I just have to hope I live up to Terri's and Midnight Ink's confidence in me.
And, of course, when the books are published, I hope they will be loved by readers across the country and, perhaps, in foreign countries.