History was my favorite subject in school. Westerns were my favorite TV shows. My favorite books ranged from mystery to historical romance. Every movie on my favorite list is a historical. So when I began my first novel, guess what? It was a 19th century historical romance epic that took years of research, spanning several states I personally had to visit.
Birthweight was more than a ream of paper. And when I was told by agents or publishers that it was too long, or “sorry, try again,” I wrapped it in cellophane and boxed it up in the garage freezer. For years. Thirty to be exact. Thin-skinned over rejection? Hubby eventually scanned all 700 pages into his computer and then onto a thumb drive that is now in our safe deposit box. But I still have that initial freezer baby—lingering now in a warm file cabinet—waiting to be edited into two, maybe three books.
Fast forward to present. I’ve attended a dozen writer conferences in the last four years, and even pitched the freezer book at a few of the early ones. Still too long. But the advice I was given paid off. Write a shorter book first, build a platform and presence. Then bring out the big one…or divide it into a series. Meanwhile, I had been writing shorter stuff: stories and articles for the local paper, national anthologies and magazines. I entered contests…and placed or won. Good sign. Skin thickened.
When I received an award at a Women Writing the West Conference in Kansas City for a short story, Publisher Rhonda Penders was in the audience. We connected over dinner and she told me to contact her if I expanded the story to novel length as the judge had suggested. A year later, The Accidental Wife was in galley at Wild Rose Press.
My inspiration for the time-travel romance was Diana Gabaldon, whom I met at two of the HNS Writer Conferences. (The only author I know who can get away with creating thousand page books, though each one takes her three years to write.) The Accidental Wife was a Golden Quill finalist—ironically for best FIRST book. The Accidental Stranger was released two months ago and I’m researching now for book three in my “Accidental Series.”
So what about that real first book—put on ice? It could be a good prequel to the present series. But living in Minnesota, I’ve grown accustomed to ice…and skating into opportunities when they arise. I’m on a roll now with thicker skin and a series agenda. My ice age is history.