Taking Back the Past – AFW

A Family WeddingAs 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.

11 thoughts on “Taking Back the Past – AFW

  1. Angela

    I found this post moving and a tribute to the wonderful author you are. I’ve learn one thing about writing an faith. A lot of readers who are not into things spiritual may not be inclined to pick up one of your current books, but I know readers. They read one of your reissues and they’ll run to pick up all your books and discover your new faithfilled stories.

    The stories you wrote years ago spoke to me of love, pure and unwavering between a man and woman. What you write today, just differs a bit, you just define where that loves comes from.

    You continue to be one talented authors.

    Wayne

  2. Hey,

    I need the rest of the story. Cliffhangars make me crazy!

    Actually as an aspiring writer I look forward to learning from your experiences. Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings,

    Rhonda

  3. Rhonda, great point. I want to be be a writer as well, and the things I’ve learned from Angela’s writings and journal entries have been priceless. Angela thank you for taking the time to share your heart with your supporters. That means alot. I look forward to the next entry!!!

  4. Hi, I didn’t get to your mail of Feb. 6 until today. (Shame on me, I know.) I am still in very turbulent times–I was originally going to say–“have been through…”–when I remembered an e-mail that I just got.

    Anyway, I thank you for your letter and also for this posting. I had just gone to the new Kimani Press section of eHarlequin site and seen the new cover for “A Family Wedding”. I thought for a while that it was a totally new book, but knowing that they had reprinted several other “African-American” books previously, I decided to check things out at the source, so to speak. I knew you had written several books for them because I made it a point to get any known books by “A-A” writers in order to show my support.

    As an “outsider white-skinned person”, I never know how to differentiate when I feel I need to. I know somebody is affected adversely by any kind of designation and I feel the same way. I also reject what it says in the Kimani Press “African-American books for African-Americans” (or something to that effect). Because I’m white, I can’t read these books? I think I’m going to write them, or do any of you think that would be a mistake? I don’t even know if all the comments here are by A-As.

    I go even so far as to reject gender reminders like “Men should open doors for women.” So women shouldn’t hold doors open for men? Common courtesy demands that I hold open a door for man, woman, child or whomever.

    I agree with you, Wayne. I think that once you read a “secular” book by an author who writes stories you like, you follow them wherever they go–well not always. Some of my formerly favored authors have gone on to write about vampires and the like and I haven’t followed. But they will certainly try a faith-based book and with prayer on the part of those of us who believe, they can be a great tool for outreach. Felicia Mason is another example.

    One author I enjoyed reading wrote in her bio that she is a born-again Christian. I wrote her and told her that it was nice to know that she was writing. However, it made no difference in what she wrote. She is now writing numerous books with “magic” in the titles. Is she just talking about the magic of a sunrise or is she talking about the paranormal magic? I don’t know. I haven’t bothered to find out. If I were a writer, I couldn’t just ignore the Christian part of myself. I might not immediately come out with it either–just like many writers didn’t, e.g, Terri Blackstock, Francine Rivers, and others that I’ve discovered–but I certainly couldn’t write any bedroom scenes and my fundamental (double meaning, I guess) values would still be obvious.

  5. Wayne, Ronda, Geigh and Sigrun, thanks for commenting on this point. I really did want to encourage those who took the time to read. I’ve had quite a writing journey and I’m enjoying the reflection time. I’ll continue with the saga this coming week, and will try to post at least once a week about my journey.

    Sigrun, thanks for on-going support. I appreciate your sharing of your reading experiences. It’s always good to “see” things from ther reader perspective.

  6. Hi,
    I read your book “The Amen Sisters and could not put it down until I finished it, I would like to purchase more of your books. I think they are great and real life in the church. I did find one the Wedding Story I just purchased it. I love the Lord very much and appreciate authors like you because whether we want to face it or not things do happen in the church we are not perfect but striving to. Keep writing, thanks

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