Monday, April 27, 2009

Gypsy Lady . . . writing the first novel

Originally published in December 1977, by Avon Books, GYPSY LADY was my first book. Not only the first book I'd written that was published, but the first book I'd ever written. Fate is a funny thing and fate very definitely played a role in my becoming an author. 

I'd always been a voracious reader and my husband, Howard, once said, "Gee, if we could turn the time you spend reading, into writing, our fortunes would be made." He was kidding, but the thought stuck. I even, at his insistence, signed up for that Famous Writer's Course you used to see advertised all over the place. It was a three year course, 36 lessons (I think). I played at it and after four years (they gave me a year's extension) had only completed 6 lessons. After awhile, I realized I wasn't going to finish the course and so put it away. A writing career obviously wasn't for me. 

Probably a decade later, while I working as a draftsman for the Solano County Assessor's office, the Solano County Parks Department moved into offices down the hall from the drafting department. Dean Kastens was the Parks Director and his secretary was, Rosemary Rogers. Yeah, that Rosemary Rogers. Rosie had noticed me in the ladies lounge reading on my breaks, noticed what I was reading and we began to talk and a friendship sprang up. 

Friend or not, no one was more surprised than I was the day she burst into the ladies lounge with the news that she'd sold her first book! Like many beginning authors, Rosie had never breathed a word that she was writing a book, much less had submitted for publication. Wow. Pretty exciting stuff, I can tell you. 

Naturally, I was curious (read fascinated). Here was this friend, someone I knew personally, that had had a book published. Over the course of time, the notion that I might write a book took hold -- especially, after I got to read SWEET SAVAGE LOVE. Talk about knock your socks off! It was incredible and at that time, like nothing I'd ever read. 

While Rosie worked on her second book, THE WILDEST HEART, as I watched her fingers fly across the typewriter (yes, it was that long ago), the idea of writing a book, a historical romance, sort of came to the forefront of my mind. 

One day I was taking my coffee break at her desk and she was grabbing a few minutes to work on THE WILDEST HEART and she said something like, "I've got them up on this damn mountain and I don't know how to get them down." I stared at her in amazement. "What do you mean, you don't know how to get them down -- you're the author! You know everything," I said. She said, "I don't know everything. I know how the book begins. I know certain things will happen. I know how it will end -- but I don't know how to get them off the mountain." 

Don't ask me why, but that was an "ah ha!" moment for me. I looked at her a long moment and finally said, "You know I think I could do that." She looked back and said simply, "Do it!" So I did. GYPSY LADY was the result of following Rosie's orders. 

Now having decided that I was going to write a book didn't make it happen any time soon. For eighteen long months all I had to show for my efforts were four handwritten pages in a yellow, lined, legal tablet. Yep. That was it. Eighteen months worth of work -- four pages. I dreaded going to work on Monday because the first words out of Rosie's mouth were, "How much did you get done on the book?" 

Eventually, it dawned on me that if I was going to write a book, that I was going to have to concentrate, put in the hours, spend the time and write the bloody thing. It was hard, I was working full time, but with Howard's encouragement and understanding, the pages began to add up. We rented a typewriter and the legal table scrawl finally began to look like a manuscript. 

When I had about 250 pages, Rosie ripped it out of my hands and sent it off to her editor, Nancy Coffey at Avon Books. To my stunned delight, in due course (months later) I got the letter: Avon wanted to publish GYPSY LADY. And that dear reader, is how GYPSY LADY came into being and I became a writer.


Coming - the characters from Gypsy Lady - stay tuned!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Good Morning: Well, the heat spell that CA has been suffering through has finally broken. Thank God! 90 degree heat in April is just not fair. Rain would be nice. We've actually begun to irrigate our one, lone pasture. If we don't get more rain, it's really is gonna be a long, hot summer.

I'm continuing to make progress on TEMPTATION COMES CALLING. Not a lot of progress, but the pages are adding up. Peck. Peck. Peck.

It's been a disruptive week for us. Monday we had to be in court dealing with a right-of-way dispute (someone trying to take away a right-of-way we have used for years). Not fun. And, unfortunately, no middle ground. To add to our already full plate, we're dealing with an American Shetland Pony mare who is giving us fertility problems. Our nearest vet is an hour and a half away so the mare is down boarding at a nearby farm. We were lucky enough to have a friend deliver "Doll" to the farm on Sunday, but we'll have to pick her up today or tomorrow. Now that might not sound like a big deal, but it'll be a 3 hour (or more) round trip -- and that's just the driving. Sometimes living back-of-beyond has its drawbacks, but generally we love it...except when we have to make several trips away from home in one week.

Plan on working on TEMPTATION COMES CALLING this morning. Think I'll attempt a murder.... Wish me a good day. Ta, Shirlee ToTo No

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My First Blog

Hi Everyone: This is my first blog and since I've never even read a blog, I'm really not certain what I'm doing. My webperson says I'm just to pretend I'm sending an everyone! Gulp! And since this blog site is connected to my author site, I assume that those of you that read my blog want to know about books.

Currently, I'm working on TEMPTATION COMES CALLING -- that's the working title, the publisher may change it. I hope to have it done by mid-summer and if all goes well, it will be out July 2010. 

SCANDAL BECOMES HER will be published as a mass market in June 2009 and SURRENDER BECOMES HER, featuring Marcus Sherbrook (Julian and Charles's cousin) will come out in trade format in July 2009. No ghosts or serial killers in this one. More of a traditional historical romance. 

TEMPTATION COMES CALLING, will pick up a character from SURRENDER BECOMES HER, but I can't tell you who it is until after you've read TEMPTATION COMES CALLING. Not trying to be mysterious, just not wanting to reveal too much before you've read the book.

I hope that you all will help me with this blog. What do you want to see? If you want me just to muse off the top of my head, that's okay -- just remember that you asked for it :-). 

If there's something you want me to discuss, tell me. Just give me some guidelines so I don't bore you to death and humiliate myself. 

Ta, Shirlee