Talking about myself has never come easy. I just always feel like I come off as conceited, so I’m pretty sure I will never find the need to write my autobiography. I just don’t think I’m all that interesting, though some people think I’m hilarious… Go figure! Through my soul searching for a topic, I thought of a story that I would probably share with my own creative writing class if I was the instructor. I hope my little bit of inspiration is enough to keep others motivated to grasp that brass ring. Or as Ed McMahon used to stay at the end of Star Search, “Keep reaching for the stars!” Yes, I am that old!
In the ninth grade, I discovered I had a passion for writing. I have my English teacher to thank for that! I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to write, but I knew I wanted to be a famous writer someday. I entered a few short story contests here and there, including a Halloween scary short story contest in our local paper. It was a horrible little piece, but back then I thought it was pretty darned good. Yeah, I also realized pretty quickly that horror wasn’t for me. I was FAR from Stephen King status, and not really sure I wanted to be either. He scares me to no end.
Like most teenage girls, when my mother said it was okay of course, I loved to read Silhouette and Harlequin romance novels from the library. They seem pretty cheesy now, but I used to devour them. Of course, the fact that I was reading romance novels like they were going out of style, it made me think, “Hey, I bet I can write a romance novel.” Hmmm, not so much! Everything I wrote was too mushy and corny for me to handle. I gave up on that short lived genre dream.
Years passed… I got married, had a son, was moved from Miami to Maryland for a year and a half, then to Alabama (still here in Alabama). While in Maryland, I got my writing bug back, especially since I was home all day doing nothing else but clean the house that was already spotless. I joined an online writing community and continuously searched for contests to enter, hoping for my one big break. Nothing really piqued my interest right away, but I did meet a few interesting people online along the way. Some of them are still friends and long distance writing buddies to this day.
Once in Alabama I finally found a contest worth entering. This was in 2004, and by this time Harlequin had created several new “lines” for their sub-genres. They were going to launch a new line called Harlequin Intrigue and they needed authors. I was so excited because this was a genre I really loved and knew I could have a little fun with. I am a big Godfather fan, so this was going to be right up my alley. All they needed was for me to submit chapter one of ‘my’ Harlequin Intrigue novel. I got right to it, wrote chapter one, had a few people read it over (including my sisters), then sent it in for submission. About a month later I got a “Gee sorry” letter. I was a little upset, but what can you do. It would have been cool. After the line launched, I bought a few books that sounded interesting when I read the back. Yeah, they sucked, and I was so glad I didn’t get picked and have to be associated with those poorly written books.
Months passed and my baby sister called me one day out of the blue. “Nana, what did you do with that chapter you wrote for that contest?” (She called me Nana because she couldn’t say Marlene when she was little. She still calls me that when she wants something. Mind you, we are 30 and 43 LOL).
“Nothing, I still have it saved on the computer.” I answered her, a bit puzzled.
“Why don’t you just finish it? I really liked it.” I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice.
My baby sister has always been very important to me and her opinion mattered to me more than most. “Do you really think I should?”
“I think it could be a great story.”
We were on the phone for over an hour that afternoon brainstorming the different directions I could take this story, creating characters, and setting a half solid storyline. She was my cheering section and read each chapter as I finished it. She would give me her feedback, and was honest about changes she thought I should make if she didn’t like something. It was an awesome project to keep us close, despite the physical distance between us.
I was on a roll with this thing and I swear it only took me six months to write it. It was my baby and my masterpiece. I was so proud of my mobster/FBI novel. Now all I had to do was get it published. I mean, why do all that work and not try to see if I can get it out there for the entire world to enjoy… Right? Right! I did my research, looked for publishers accepting new authors, then publishers that were taking mystery/suspense novels. I narrowed it down to a few, sent in my submissions, and waited.
FINALLY… a letter! Oooops, no, sorry, “we already have a novel that sounds similar, but thank you for your submission.” What?! Similar to mine?! BS, that was a Marlene original, but what could I do. I received two more rejection letters and let me tell you, they do not get any easier. They all suck and they ALL hurt my feelings. Just when I was about to give up, THE letter arrived! It wasn’t a super duper publisher, but they wanted to publish “Waves of Deceit” for me. I cried like a baby! And of course, I was home alone because my husband (ex now) was at work and my son was at school. I called my mother, and I think I scared her at first because I was crying. I did the same to my husband, but everyone was super supportive and super excited.
Long story short… Never give up on your dreams! All my friends and family bought my book and loved it. I am so proud of that work, it is still my favorite book and characters. I have re-released it with a new cover and it is now self-published. It has dwindled a little, but I still love my novel. So take it from me… take your dreams as far as they will take you. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade and spike it with Vodka! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Prove them wrong and do it better than anyone else! If I had it to do over, I would have moved on it faster than I did, but I am so glad my sister pushed me to go after my destiny. Now, I do not have the same time as I did to get any writing done (cuz I’m in school), but I have several projects I work on during breaks in between semesters. I’m going to get my Bachelors in English, go on to my Masters, teach online courses, AND be a famous author.
Who says I can’t?!