Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Writing Journey -- Continued

My frustrations over not finishing my YA novel Backstage Summer culminated with my discovery of reading romance. I picked up my first "romance" novel sometime in the mid 1990's. I love to read and spent years reading all sorts of fiction and literary novels. One overcast Sunday afternoon, I was in the local grocery store picking up something for dinner for myself and my husband, and as was my habit, I would peruse the paperback section to see what new and interesting stories were on the shelves. I never paid attention to any of the books with obvious bodice-ripped covers, or anything I considered romance. I didn't know anything about the genre so I was a romance novel snob.

I stood and stared at the variety of books when an interesting cover and title caught my attention: The cover was a solid pale-blue color with a small picture of an antique shop. Hmm, intriguing. The title was Hidden Riches. So I picked it up and read the story blurb. It was about a woman in her late twenties who runs an antique/curio shop and rents a room to a troubled ex-cop. Together they become involved in uncovering a smuggling ring, and fall in love in the process. Hmm, sounded promising. I bought it, took it home, and read it.

I couldn't put it down, I loved it! The blend of suspense, mystery, passion, and compelling believable characters captured my heart.

It was my first romantic suspense novel and it's written by Nora Roberts. At the time I'd never heard of her. Now I've read several of the dozens of novels she's written.

I was still fiddling with Backstage Summer, still hiding behind the illusion of actually writing the YA book. Meanwhile I went on a romance novel reading binge. For several years, I read dozens and dozens of romance novels -- mostly longer ones -- and discovered I loved them. I adore the blend of sexual tension, conflict, suspense, and the emotionally satisfying ending. My preferred genres are contemporary, contemporary romantic suspense, and historical suspense. Although the paranormal genre has fast become one of the most popular in romance and YA, it isn't my cup of coffee. :)

In the Spring of 2003, I went through a divorce from my husband, sold my house, quit my job, and moved from Massachusetts to Maine. Each of these changes are monumental in of themselves, but doing them all in one month was life-changing to say the least.

Living in a small cottage in the woods of Maine with my two felines, Coco and Lilly, the idea for my first romance novel blossomed in my mind.

In March of 2004, I joined Romance Writers of America, and became a member of the local chapter located in Brunswick, Maine. I met several romance writers and authors in the group, and felt like I'd finally found my writing niche. I also bought two books on writing romance, and so began my new journey as a writer of romance novels. I worked for several months to understand the dynamics of writing a long, complex novel. I dissected two of my favorite books -- Hidden Riches being one of them -- to comprehend what made it work, and why it worked for me.

And then the long, arduous, difficult road of having a finished manuscript in my hand was before me. I was determined to write and rewrite, and continue on writing until I was finished. Three years later, my first manuscript Summer Light was finally completed. It is a 110,000 word passionate, contemporary romance with elements of suspense. Most definitely my cup of Starbucks coffee!

Summer Light:
Jackson Sweeney is one of the top movie stars in Hollywood; Angela McCabe lives a quiet, academic life. Their worlds collide, their passions ignite during one unforgettable New England summer.

In the fall of 2005, I moved again. I left New England for sunny Florida and reside on a small barrier island on the central west coast. It is the inspiration for my second novel, Island Moon. I have finished the rough draft and am in the process of revising and rewriting.

My third novel, Storms in Winter is set in Lowell, Massachusetts and is also a work-in-progress.

One day I hope to revisit Backstage Summer and complete the novel. My inspiration for much of my writing is still Betty Cavanna. I admire her lifelong dedication to her craft, and although dated, her stories still ring true with her vivid descriptions, rich characterizations, and the emotional connection to her readers.
Exactly what I hope to achieve with my stories. :)


Anonymous said...

Cindy -- I love the description of your falling in love with romance novels. I had the same experience with poetry when I discovered Denise Levertov. Her writing captured my heart and led to me becoming more serious about being a poet. I hope you do go back to your YA book, too.

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Thanks, Robin.

I hope to finish Backstage Summer someday. I'll have to see where my daily journey leads me. :)

Dell Smith said...

Great post. Learning more and more about your life of the mind.
I admit: I'm a bit of a literary/contemporary novel snob. But, my deep dark secret is that I have ideas for a horror/sci-fi novella, a YA novel crossed with George Orwell, and I've been itching to write some crime/noir stuff. So there you go. I grew up reading Stephen King and John D. MacDonald. I still read them once in a while, along with other crime novelists. Not sure you'll ever get me to cross over to the dark side of romance novels. Except for yours, of course.
You really capture the novelist's experience--finding her voice and discovering her passion.