My parents gave me a manual typewriter for Christmas when I was eight years old. I wrote about forty pages of a story about cats, The Cat Council, but it didn’t have a plot that I can recall, and most of the names for the cats were the results of typos. Hissfur, for example, was what happened instead of “his father.”
My next effort to write a novel came from the master’s program I did in Conflict at Eastern Mennonite University. My advisor asked me what I wanted to do for my thesis, what I would do if I could choose any project in the whole world.
“Write a novel evaluating the American legal process as a conflict management system,” says me.
“Then do that,” he replied.
I had pages and pages of head-hopping, ranting, digressing, fun, without much of a sense of character arcs or even dramatic arcs, but I got the degree, and I could use a few elements of the book in my first published contemporary, A Single Kiss
As for writing a romance novel… I was in my late forties, a voracious reader of romance novels, but it had never occurred to me that I might write one. I was working late at the office, trying to finish up some legal motion or pleading that had be to filed at the courthouse the next day. I’d reached the point where I was so tired, progress was slow I decided to treat myself to one chapter of a romance novel I’d been saving back for a low moment. This was from one of my keeper authors, and like the last candy bar, I had held it back until I had no other ammunition in my emotional arsenal.
No author hits one out of the park every time, but this book was a disappointment. I didn’t throw it at the wall, but I certainly set it down and muttered to myself, “I could do better than that.”
I opened up a new document on my computer and wrote, “A Young Person to see you, my lord.” The book turned into Gareth and Felicity’s story, and from there flowed the entire Lonely Lords series as well as the Windhams. I had a signed publishing deal by the time I was fifty, and at age fifty-five had maybe thirty-five titles under contract. Best five years of my entire professional life!