I was lucky. I was blessed. I got started in publishing before you could upload your manuscript to PubIt or create your own works on Kindle or fall victim to PublishAmerica. I fell into traditional publishing. I was blessed.
My story started when I was nine and my teacher asked me what I would be when I grew up. "A writer!" I declared emphatically. After all, I loved books and my teachers all thought I had talent. At age nine I published a poem in a national magazine for children and thought I had it made.
I was eleven when I narrowed my ambition to becoming a novelist, fifteen when I made it my summer job to write and submit to magazines. When I had accumulated more than 200 rejections, I finally started throwing them all away. I didn't sell a word, but I got a quick and useful education in publishing -- at least at the magazine level.
By the time I had a couple of English degrees and was earning my keep by teaching, I knew I needed much more education. Still, both foolish and undaunted, I wrote a book. Having no idea what to do with it, I put it in a drawer.
Enter Debbie Gordon. As Brooke Hastings, she had written a small stack of books for the Harlequin empire. I happened to bump into a friend of hers while traveling. I was reading a book on how to write and publish romance novels and the friend told me about her buddy, Debbie. I made notes.
Later, while making videotapes on writing and writers for my college English classes, I met Debbie. Near the end of our interview, I confessed I had a manuscript in the drawer and she told me that if I polished and mailed it by the end of the month, she'd notify her editor it was coming.
That was in October 22 years ago. My nine books have been written in spare moments around a 30-year teaching career and a large family. Along the way, I've acquired a marvelous, practical education in the publishing industry.
I've been blessed, and I'm grateful.