posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
Next Tuesday I'm excited to be a guest speaker at the Solano County Library in Fairfield, California as part of their Summer Reading Program for Adults. The librarians asked me to talk about my experiences as a romance reader and writer and I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek at part of what I plan to say.
My mother is the one chiefly responsible for setting me on the winding path that eventually became my road to romance. She loved to read the great old gothic romances by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Stewart.
Back in the day (all right, I'll admit it, I'm a child of the 60s) you could very definitely tell a book by its cover. If the cover had a house with only a single lighted window, it was a gothic! My mom always had a paperback or two lying around the house. She often traded them with her friends.
As a bored young teen, I started picking them up and reading them and--WONDER OF WONDERS!--I liked them! (In fact I liked them so much, that I wound up naming my son after a character in Mary Stewart's The Moonspinners!)
I say 'wonder of wonders' because in those days I was an avid science fiction/fantasy reader and an all-out LOTR fanatic! I read everything from Piers Anthony to Roger Zelazny and anything in between. In fact it was a fantasy novel first published in the late 1970s that convinced me I should try my hand at writing my own novel. That book was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and it was a complete homage to Tolkien.
I LOVED IT! I also decided that if some lawyer from Chicago could do it, I could too (ah, the blissful ignorance of youth). So I made my very first attempt at writing a novel. I wrote the first draft in long hand and typed the revised copy on a portable manual typewriter.
Yes indeed, it was a terrible trial and so was the story! After a few rejections (can't believe I actually had the nerve to send it out) it went into a very large box under the bed and somehow through various moves and a divorce became lost forever. Thank goodness and may it Rest In Peace!
Meanwhile, my rocky road to romance continued. In the 80s I discovered and devoured most of the 'bodice rippers' of the day -- Rosemary Rogers, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Patricia Matthews (remember her?). But contemporary romances pretty much left me cold and fantasy continued to be my genre of choice...
Until one day in 1992 when I was browsing the SciFi/Fantasy section of my local bookstore and I pulled out a book that had somehow been misshelved. I mean, one look at the cover (front and back) and I knew that in spite of its very odd title, Outlander, that this was a romance. My BFF's birthday was fast approaching and I knew she liked to read romances so I bought the book to give to her. Of course, I just couldn't resist reading the first chapter...
...And the rest, as they say, IS HISTORY! I couldn't stop, and finished Outlander in a 3 day reading binge. By the time I gave it to my BFF wrapped in pretty flowered paper with a bright shiny bow (to distract from the slightly cracked spine), I'd already stopped at the library and checked out the sequel, Dragonfly In Amber. And when I finished it, I ran to the bookstore and bought every time-travel romance in sight. Finally, when I grew impatient waiting for Diana Gabaldon to finish the third Jamie and Claire book, Voyager, I decided to write my very own time-travel romance.
This second effort wasn't nearly as bad as my previous sword & sorcery attempt. In fact, an editor at Leisure books actually requested the full manuscript, but didn't buy it. But I also knew I had a lot to learn and started reading a lot of 'how-to' books and taking online classes. I also kept reading romance! By now, I'm happy to say I was firmly on that road.
Eventually, I joined RWA and attended some regional conferences. I also kept reading and writing, and decided to go back to my 'roots' and give romantic suspense a try. My first completed romantic suspense manuscript finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart (sound familiar?). And in 75 more days, that book will be released as The Treasures of Venice! Just goes to prove that happy endings happen in real life too!
Now you all know a little of my story of my road to romance, so it is your turn to share yours! Who helped set you on your own road to romance? What are some of the books you remember most along the way?
Please share and at the end of the day, Aunty will pick one commenter to receive either an autographed copy of The Wild Sight (which just WON Best First Book in the More Than Magic Contest!) , or an IOU for an autographed copy of The Treasures of Venice when it is released on September 1st.