As promised, this is the first post in my Take Back the Past series. Since quite a few of the secular romances that I wrote before I started writing Christian fiction are now being re-issued, I’ve decided to give you some insight into my life at the time I was writing the books. I pray that you find some encouragement from sharing this backward journey with me. Even though I don’t write secular romances anymore, those older books represent a part of my history that I don’t want to forget.
A Family Wedding was first published in 1997 as part of Harlequin’s Silhouette Special Edition line, which means that I probably wrote it in 1996. I say probably because with most publishers there’s a year lag between the time that you submit the manuscript and the time that the book is published; with Harlequin/Silhouette, sometimes the interval is shorter. I probably went to contract on the story in 1995, since the interval from contract to manuscript delivery is typically about a year as well.
Anyway, I remember this being a very happy time for me. I had signed a contract to write my fifth and sixth novels with Arabesque and now I had a second contract with the major romance publishing house. I had accomplished a major feat. At the time, there were not many authors writing African-American romance for Harlequin so I considered myself a pioneer. Okay, I’m laughing at myself now but that’s how I was thinking.
I was also thinking that I was about to become a full-time author. I took early retirement (very early) from my job as a systems engineer with a major telecommunications company in 1995. You see, I had gone back to graduate school and was working on my second master’s degree as well. Between work, writing, and school, I knew that something had to go. So work went. That was one of the easiest decisions of my life, even though I thought my mom was going to disown me. I can still hear her voice saying, “Baby, you’re not going to quit that good job, are you?” While I don’t regret leaving my job, there was a lot of wisdom in my mother’s words.
I took what I considered to be a reasonable approach and gave myself three years to make a living wage from writing alone. With contracts from two major publishing houses, I thought I was well on my way. Little did I know what life had in store for me. I’m not a full-time writer today and my career with Harlequin and Arabesque was much shorter than I had anticipated. Let’s just say God had other plans. I’ll tell you the full story when I tell you about writing Second Chance Dad, my second book for Harlequin. Stay tuned.
Before I end this post, I want to pass along a couple of tidbits to the budding writers reading this entry. This time was not all good times for me because there were some people who were unhappy with my sale to Silhouette. It’s inappropriate to go into details, but I learned that you have to follow your own drummer in this business and not be deterred by the negative voices of others. Treat people well, even when they don’t treat you well. The only actions that you control are your own. Looking back, I think I could have done a better job of this myself.
I can’t end the post on such a drab note so I’ll share something positive before closing. I remember being very happy with the editorial support that I was getting at both Silhouette and Arabesque. Monica Harris, who bought my first book, edited all my books at Arabesque and she spoiled me. I didn’t even hope to get an editor as good at Harlequin, but I did in Cathleen Treacy. Cathleen’s no longer at Harlequin; the last I heard from her she was living the life out West, but that was years ago. Monica is now an editor at Dorchester. Thank you, Monica and Cathleen.
Okay, I’m out.