By Lois Winston
Many authors mention in their bios that they always wanted to be a writer. Not me. I wanted to be an astronaut. That dream died a quick death due to a right brain that quakes at the sight of anything requiring math skills and a body prone to motion sickness. Some dreams just aren’t meant to be.
I got the urge to write well into my adulthood. While on a business trip, I was attacked by a rabid dream. After a ten-year publishing journey, that dream became Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, which was published nearly seventeen years ago.
The story is a romantic suspense about secrets and revenge and the steps some people will go to protect the former and achieve the latter. I’ve always been fascinated by both secrets and revenge. Who among us doesn’t have secrets? Who among us hasn’t harbored revenge fantasies? Is it possible to get through junior high school without a hefty dose of both?
Years ago, I knew a woman who went to great lengths to project the ideal marriage. She constantly bragged about how much her husband loved her and what a perfect marriage they had. Then I learned the secrets behind the lies. She was carrying on an affair that her husband discovered when he tapped his own phone. Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Marriage were anything but. Although Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception isn’t about that marriage, it got me thinking about public persona versus private reality.
So there I was on a business trip back in 1995, and I guess I was subconsciously thinking about Mr. and Mrs. Perfect Marriage when I had this dream. And what was even spookier was that each night for the next couple of weeks I dreamed another “chapter” of the dream. Eventually, I was dreaming up chapters during the day as well as at night. Finally, I decided to commit the dream to paper. Fast forward a few weeks and I’m the proud author of a 50,000-word romance that spanned thirty-five years.
Talk about clueless!
Of course, I didn’t know I was clueless. I thought I’d just written the greatest romance of all time. But when I pushed my baby out of the nest into the world of publishing, she flew right back with her beak stuffed full of rejection letters.
I’d been bitten by the writing bug, though, and I’d already started a second novel. I’ve also got a stubborn streak as long as the island of Manhattan. I wasn’t about to be deterred by rejection letters or lack of knowledge. Undaunted, I handed over my VISA card to a friendly salesperson at Barnes & Noble and walked out with an armload of how-to-write-a-novel books.
Those books introduced me to several national writing organizations where I met some generous people willing to offer advice and share their publishing experiences. Some have remained good friends to this day.
Ten years after I first had that dream, after attending countless monthly writers’ meetings and numerous workshops and conferences, I eventually got enough of a clue to sell my first book. Talk Gertie to Me, a chick lit novel, debuted the following year in 2006.
I never forgot about that first clueless effort, though. I liked the characters I’d created, even if the story needed major surgery. I didn’t think the characters deserved to spend eternity under the bed with nobody but the dust bunnies and me ever getting to know them. I went back and rewrote that book. Many, many times. Eventually that 50,000-word romance spanning thirty-five years transformed into a 90,000-word romantic suspense that takes place over several months.
My publishing journey continued and eventually segued into the world of humorous cozy mysteries, but along the way, I continued to write more romance, romantic suspense, and chick lit. I’ve now published twenty-one novels, five novellas, several short stories, one middle-grade book, and a nonfiction book on writing.
There are many paths to publication. Some people are lucky enough to find the straightest, most direct one. They write a book, send it off, and eventually receive a contract offer. For most of us, it takes years of honing our craft before we’re offered that golden ticket. For me, the journey was certainly worth taking.
What about you? If you’re a published author, how long did it take you to see your first book in print? If you’re in the middle of your own journey toward publication, how long have you been working at your dream? Does it often seem like you’ll never succeed? Don’t give up! Perseverance is everything.
USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.