Welcome to 2017!
For many of us, January is to be a time for resolving to clean and organize, and for new beginnings. New year, new (insert goal here). I hope you love my new website, and overlook any glitches I’m still working out . *smiles*
January is also for reflection as well as for making plans for the future. Each of the books I’ve written so far owns a piece of my heart, and I’m excited about those I have scheduled for the upcoming year. I have so many people to thank for encouraging me to follow this writer’s life, even though, like anything worthwhile, it has been neither fast nor easy.
Like newbie authors sometimes do, I started my writing career backwards. In September, 2012 I sat down to write with the goal of putting the voices in my head to rest. 52 days later—surprise!—I had written an entire manuscript. Characters with a story just begging to be told. 116,000 words of pure brilliance. When I was done I did a quick round of edits, then—isn’t she beautiful?—sent my baby out into the world. Like any proud mama I entered her in contests, sat back and waited for the praise to roll in. Yeah, I see you rolling your eyes out there. You know what happened next.
Thankfully, not all of the judges were spitting mad that I wasted their time. At least a few had constructive, even helpful comments and suggestions. Sure, they were still hard to accept in the beginning, but this is where my stubborn German ancestry came in to play. This was not personal. This was business. Toughen up, Ruthie.
The bottom line was, I still liked my book. Still loved my characters. They deserved for me to do their story justice. I needed to be a better writer for them. So I joined RWA National and Desert Rose, which was the nearest chapter. And I started taking workshops. Yeah—sigh—not until now.
Through networking on the loops and the many workshops I enrolled in, sometimes two or three at a time—so not recommended—I got an even better idea of what I did wrong in my book and, more importantly, how to fix it. Because I believed it was fixable.
For example, evidently my story really began on chapter four. Who knew? I resisted that change for months, but eventually realized that everyone had the same advice so there must be merit to it. I nearly cried when I cut those pages. Of course I saved those beautiful words—I’d weave them into the story elsewhere, right? Nope. See? Smarter already. They’re still lost somewhere in my cut file, along with their 30,000 siblings. I had a lot to learn.
The next thing I did, and I vehemently believe this was the turning point in my writing, was I found critique partners. I put out an SOS to the Desert Rose Chapter and then on the RWA loop and had several responses. It was a process, delivering and receiving sample pages and sample critiques to find writers I was compatible with. But in the end I found two women who have become like family to me.
Not like hair-pulling, one-upmanship kind of sisters, no. More like I love you but I’m going to tell you that sucks only because you’re a much better writer than that kind of sister. See? We have each other’s backs. Truthfully, we started our relationship a little more restrained than that. At first, we bounced ideas off each other, we shared links to cool websites, recommended workshops to each other. Sometimes we needed propping up, because that day our writing sucked. If you’re a writer, you know what days I’m talking about.
I finally published Twice in a Lifetime in January, 2014—three years ago, this month—after countless revisions and endless editing. But it was finally the story I wanted to tell. After a few false starts—unfinished manuscripts languishing in digital files—I started writing Heart of Dixie, a sexy small town story set in fictional Moreover, Tennessee. I published it last November. Somewhere between these two novels, I also wrote and published two novellas for charity anthologies. I re-published Home for the Holiday as a follow-up to Twice in a Lifetime last October.
First Class Distraction was intended as a short-story spinoff of Heart of Dixie . . . Until Blake and Sophie got on that airplane headed east, and I realized their story didn’t end when their flight landed. My first release this year—probably late spring—is still untitled, but it will be Blake and Sophie’s story, all the way to their HEA. I love being back in Moreover with all the gang!
If you’re a member of Ruthie’s Hopeless Romantics (and if you’re not, you can join here), you may have seen that my other release this spring will be as part of a coloring book. Proceeds for sales through Amazon will go to charity, and I will also offer copies through my signed paperback order form and at signing events. Stay tuned for more details . . .
And as always, thanks for hanging out with me! My readers totally rock!