I’m so glad you stopped by to visit my virtual home.
Unlike many writers, I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. But, I always enjoyed writing stories and poems…mostly when I was sad or confused in my angst-ridden teenage years.
I was thirty-three and pregnant with my fourth and last child when I read A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux. I enjoyed the story so much that I knew instantly I wanted to write my own romance novel. Not because I thought I could do better, but because I wanted to make readers feel good inside, take them away for a few hours of fun and romance. I immediately began to read romance in all genres. And I began to study the market.
Having always been fascinated by knights and castles, I knew I wanted to write a story set in medieval times. Because I loved the idea of being thrown into another time, I decided to start with a medieval time travel. I made weekly trips to the library (no Google at the time) and I began to research the medieval era. Years later, I knew I had only hit the tip of iceberg when it came to fifteenth century England and I still hadn’t written a book! It was time to sit down and WRITE. I had a lot of notes by then, character’s names, and many scattered scenes which I began to put together like a puzzle. Sometime in 1997, when my fourth child was entering kindergarten, I finished that book. Assuming a query letter was really a cover letter, I sent off a letter to a few literary agents telling them about my medieval time travel. I even got a response from an agent asking to see the first three chapters. Yay!
I thought I’d done it…all that hard work paid off. I was jumping up and down and I even had my sisters crying for me. Less than two weeks later, I had my first rejection and I was bummed. Very bummed. Because well, the truth of the matter is, when you get that high, it’s a long way back to solid ground. Oh, well, like I said, I’d read a lot of books, including “how to” books, and I knew rejection was part of the deal. I guess I was sort of hoping I could skip that part.
No such luck.
I joined RWA and my local RWA Chapter in Sacramento in December of 1997 and learned more in that next year than I had in the last three or four years put together. My advice to any new writer would be to join RWA and your local chapter as soon as possible! It’s worth every penny and more. I found a critique partner, met some invaluable writer friends, attended every RWA National Conference I could (It’s expensive, but I budgeted by using my birthday money, sharing a room, and eating only the meals included while I was there so I could afford it).
I must admit that I do have something many writers do not…a one-of-a-kind sister (and prolific reader of all genres) who read my manuscript(s) too many times to count. She took the hatchet to more than one character, helped smooth out dialogue, pointed out awkward sentences, drew little smiley faces throughout, and pushed me onward with encouraging words, always reminding me that I could do it. She also slipped me a few bucks before I left for conference every year so I could enjoy a nice dinner and buy MORE books for us to read. Thank you, Cathy!
Anyhow, in 1999 I wrote a short contemporary to prove to myself that I could write more than one book. I also finished proposals for two more books. But I spent most of my time tweaking chapters to fit contests. You see, I had heard that I needed a contest win to put on my cover letter to agents and editors. That advice made perfect sense to me and worked well for writer friends of mine…so, I sent my first three chapters of three manuscripts to every contest I could find. It cost me a bundle, took much of my time, and I didn’t final in one contest. Not until November of 1999! And I still didn’t final in the Golden Heart after my third try. I figured I was dreaming. I couldn’t write. I was a failure. And then I saw a message on one of the RWA links from an author who said she never scored well in contests, but she SOLD! So I e-mailed her, received some words of encouragement, put my checkbook away and revised my manuscript one more time (must have been fifty times by then…no kidding).
I immediately sent out a query letter to four editors and four agents. Within a week I received a call from an agent asking for three chapters of my medieval time travel. Within two days she called again requesting the entire manuscript. The sad part is I felt like a hardened warrior, there was no way I was going to get overly excited this time (been there, done that) and she hadn’t read the entire manuscript yet…300+ unread pages. Within a week she called and was ready to sign me!!!! Now THAT call made my heart leap with unfettered joy. I felt energized, invigorated, and strangely redeemed. Six years of writing, reading, learning, praying, waiting…and I finally had an agent.
For a week or more, I didn’t care if I ever sold a book. I just walked around the house telling my kids over and over again that I had an agent. Theresa Ragan, former waitress and Legal Secretary turned romance writer, had an agent! Sadly, four years later, my first agent and I parted ways (amicably I might add) because time-travels weren't an easy sell and I was ready to try my hand at writing contemporaries and romantic suspense.
Fast forward another decade. I had a new agent, more than a few near misses with editors, but still no sale. In 2009, my husband tried to convince me to self-publish, but I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of working with a publishing house, so I kept on writing, hoping my agent would make a sale. By the time February of 2011 rolled around, I had just finished my first thriller and I felt re-energized. As I waited for my agent to read my newest manuscript, I re-read my very first romance novel and by the time I read the last page I knew what I had to do. Return of the Rose deserved to be read. It was time to let readers decide if they wanted to read my work. By March 18, 2011, I had released both Return of the Rose and A Knight in Central Park. Hoping to sell a few dozen books, I was flabbergasted when I saw that I had sold hundreds of novels in a matter of weeks. I began receiving e-mails from fans and that’s when I broke down and cried.
This writing stuff is tough on the old innards, but so rewarding after writing The End and especially after hearing from happy readers.
I hope you enjoy my stories. If you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to hear from you.