Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Introduction and Fugue

by Aunty Cindy
As soon as I learned how to read (around the age of five) I became one of THOSE kind of kids -- the one with her nose stuck in a book. But being the bossy, first-born that I am, I took it one step further. If I didn't like the ending of the story, I made up my own! In retrospect, I suppose I was writing/imagining one of the earliest forms of fan fic. Who knew?

Way back when I was growing up, an author was someone up there on a pedestal. An exhaulted being that a mere mortal like me could never aspire to be, no matter how many creative writing classes I took. Then I took a writing class through a community service program for adults. (My son was an infant and I was desperate to get out of the house and away from his adorable self for an hour or two per week!) My instructor was a tiny gray-haired grandmother who announced, "Other people get paid for their writing and you can too!"

This was a revelation! I'm sure I sat with my eyes the size of saucers and my mouth hanging open for the entire first class. Thus began my long and very circuitous route to publication. I dabbled in all kinds of writing for a lot of years -- short stories, non-fiction articles, even poetry, and more journals in spiral bound notebooks than I know what to do with.

I wrote my first novel when my son was three years old. He's (KOFF! KOFF!) considerably older than that now! But I didn't get SERIOUS about novel writing until the beginning of 2004. That was when I finally decided to give up my Dreaded Day Job and concentrate on the two things I love most -- writing and travel. I love to set my books in some of the romantic and exotic places I have visited (like Venice, the Isle of Capri, and Northern Ireland) and I try to make the setting as much a character in the story as the hero and heroine.

When I was about half-way through the first draft of the manuscript that became The Wild Sight, I told my critique partners that if this book didn't sell, I wasn't sure I could write one that would. Luckily, I didn't have to worry about that because the book sold to the very first editor (OUR wonderful editor!) who looked at it!

I suppose this post is a very round about, convoluted way of saying that I'm living proof of something... bad dip in the gene pool, flat learning curve, pure dumb-luck, or all of the above! All I know is that right now I'm living my dream and I'm LOVING IT!

Did you have a childhood dream? Or even a more grown-up one that you pursued? Or wish you had? Tell Aunty all about it! Confession is good for the soul, or so they say.

37 comments:

  1. Hey, do you guys have a Golden Rooster? I think I just won him, if you do!

    Aunty Cindy, what a great post. I think a lot of writers have taken a long and roundabout way to achieve their dream. I know I certainly did. But the good thing is all that experience is grist to the mill. In a way, I'm glad I published in my 40s. I wasn't ready when I started out on this quest in my late teens.

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  2. Oh, nuts! I wanted the wooster. Anna, you're too quick for pauvre moi.

    Aunty Cindy--ahem--Loucinda--I really identify with what you said about authors being on a pedestal. I never even dared to dream of becoming one even though I love writing stories. Not quite sure when that attitude changed. Some things just sneak up on you, don't they? But I agree with Anna, the more 'life' you experience, the more you can use in your writing so those years before publication aren't wasted.

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  3. Great post Cindy and I am so glad you kept writing I am so looking forward to this book. I am still in awe of authors you all put so much effort and hard work into wonderful stories that take me to places I probably will never go and I have had so many adventures waltzing accross a ballrooms being chased by spies solving murders being captured by pirates and the list goes on.
    I have been lucky enough to meet Anna Campbell and Stephanie Laurens and one day I hope to meet a lot more of you wonderful authors I just hope I know what to say and don't go all shy.
    Have Fun
    Helen

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  4. Aunty Cindy, I am so happy you decided to stay bossy and keep making up your own stories! Now we all get to benefit from your excess of imagination. *g*

    Looks like the Romance Bandits are in full invasion mode over here. Hello Anna and Christine and darling Helen!

    AC, as to the Dream Not Pursued, I really wanted to be an interpreter. I had visions of myself sitting at the UN with the big headphones on (though I'm sure they have much smaller ones now *g*). In the end (two years into a language degree) I decided that dream was too scary for me. Of course, now I thump myself on the head for that. I could certainly have done it! But if I had I wouldn't have met my darling husband or have my three wonderful children. So I try not to get too wistful about it.

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  5. Hey, AC. Great post! I truly believe that you can make your dreams your reality if you want them badly enough. Thanks for being a perfect example of that. I'm still working towards my dream and find it inspiriational to read about your road to publication!

    Go Banditas!

    KJ

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  6. Waving Hi to everyone.

    I forgot to add my dream I always wanted to be a mother and I got that and love it. My new dream is to retire so as I can read all the wonderful books I have and the ones that are still coming.
    Have Fun
    Helen

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  7. Are non-Banditas allowed to play here today? ;--)) To my lovely new friend Cindy, great post and a great story. I agree with what Anna said about writing/being published in my 40s. People ask me all the time why, if I knew this is what I wanted to do, did I wait so long to do it? My answer is always the same: I didn't have anything to say before ~38. Now I can't seem to shut up. LOL!!!

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  8. Auntie Cindy, you are such fun to hang around! Just reading one of your blogs puts a smile on my face. No, actually, reading anything by you puts a smile on my face! It's the capital letters, I think. ;-)

    I'm so thrilled you are living your dream after all those years slaving away at the DDJ. I'm living a bunch of dreams right now -- beloved wife, author, and mother, plus I have a DDJ that I don't honestly DREAD, and gives me the opportunity to do some traveling, speaking at conferences, and most importantly, the chance to wear my suits. I love my suits. ;-)

    You gals have a lovely blog here! I send best wishes to all the ladies on the blog, success to Sourcebooks, and many more gorgeous covers!

    Hugs!

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  9. Hi Aunt Cindy,

    I have to say it took me a long time to come to the realization that I was a writer. I still have problems with that some days. I think I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

    When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher but somehow ended up in computers for many years. But every time I'd read a book I did the same thing as you and change the ending. Or think about another way to take the story.

    So it took me a while to get into writing too. I started in 2000 and wrote several books that shall never see the light of day again.

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  10. Hi AC - I always thought I'd be a great artist, as in oils. I do still paint and have even sold a few of my efforts, but writing is so much cleaner *g*. Plus you actually get to keep your darlings even as you send them off into the world. Can't do that well with a painting.

    WOnderful post. Beautiful cover. Very Happy Ending.

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  11. Another Bandita swinging by - of course, you can play with us, Marie *grin*. The more the merrier! (BTW love that your book has a sports star hero!)

    AC - as always, your posts make me smile ... and think!

    I came upon writing because of circumstances - and thanks to the US immigration people who messed up my work permit so I couldn't work over here. But, I'm glad I came to it later, because I have so many more life experiences to bring to my work. (And because it let me make so many great writing friends!)

    I have many unfulfilled dreams - the biggest, being a film director. (Yes, I'm the geek who listens to those voice-overs on DVD's where they talk to you about how they filmed a movie!) But I don't have an unfulfilled life ... and that is the most important thing!

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  12. Great post, AC! I'm so glad you're living your dream because I can't wait to read your book!

    I too thought of authors as exalted beings and certainly didn't think I could ever be one of them *g* That is, until I had my first child and decided Why Not?

    Now I'm teaching my kids that with hard work and perseverance, they can make their dreams come true as well :-)

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  13. AC/Loucinda--great post! I, too, was the kid with her nose stuck in a book at every possible opportunity, and I also stood in awe of authors. I loved a YA series about the American Revolution in the South and especially in my home state of North Carolina. It was written by Manly Wade Wellman, who wrote a lot of YA history as well as adult science fiction, and he LIVED IN NORTH CAROLINA! Did I know this? No. Did I write him a letter? Never crossed my mind, and, now that I'm a grownup and realize that authors are human and love to hear from readers, he's dead. Rats and double-rats!

    I actually did write fan fiction based on comic book characters and am here today because several of my friends said, "You should try to write something you could sell."

    Caren, LOL at the interpreter thing. I once planned to major in languages in college and become an interpreter for the UN. Of course, this was after my unpursued dreams of being an archaeologist (didn't want to dig up bones), a fashion designer (didn't want to take chemistry) and a high school history teacher (didn't feel up to dealing with adolescent hormones--and I salute those who do). If I had followed the interpreter path, I might've been Nicole Kidman in that movie she made with Sean Penn--except, oops, she was a murderer! Not the best career path . . .

    Congratulations to the Casablanca authors on a great new blog!

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  14. Hehehehe, Anna C., I think the Casablanca authors must have a golden cabana boy!

    Hi, everyone. I'm popping over from the Romance Bandits to say what a fabuloso writer Loucinda (aka Cindy) is. THE WILD SIGHT is a great book and, having been with it from the beginning, I can't wait until it comes out in the fall. And isn't the cover superb!

    Like Anna said, I'm glad I began my writing career in earnest when I was (cough, cough) older. I don't think I knew enough about life, relationships, and strife when I was younger.

    I had a childhood dream. I wanted to be a dancer until I discovered I had no sense of rhythm, let alone coordination. Then I wanted to be a singer and managed to do a little of that. My trouble was always that I wanted to do TOO many things; thus I came to writing after I'd done all the other stuff LOL.

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  15. Ooops, forgot to say what a great post, Cindy. Even though I'm your most important -- hehehehe -- critique partner, I didn't know that story about your creativ writing class. I can just see this little old lady telling you that you can earn $$$$ for writing. That's the great motivator, huh? Although I suspect most of us would keep on writing even if we never got a dime (in fact, some of us do)!

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  16. Great post, Cindy! And I fulfilled my dream. I'm writing.

    Linda

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  17. What fun post, Cindy!! I love the question at the end. I always wanted to go to New York, and while I was in college I was given an opportunity to study Creative Writing at NYU for a semester. So I packed up my stuff and headed to the big apple-where I lived in Chinatown for 4 months. It was one of the best times of my life!

    I'm glad to see that so many of our readers and authors have lived out their dreams as well!!

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  18. Good Morning Everyone!
    Yes, it is still morning here on the west coast.

    I see our Oz contingent was on the boards at their usual early hour. Sorry, Foanna, no Golden Rooster here. He is strictly for the Bandit Lair. Maybe we'll develop a prize for the first poster too. Hmmm.... maybe a Golden Light Bulb since Sourcebooks uses that as a symbol on the spines of their books.

    You're sooo right Fo about not having the life experiences at 26 that I have NOW. Of course, I THOUGHT I had them when I was 26. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Would have been nice to be pubbed a wee bit earlier in my case, but as Caren points out, then I wouldn't have met all of you and had all these WONDERFUL experiences. (enuff capital letters for you, Kirsten? don't worry, morez a comin)

    AC

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  19. Welcome Mme D-W!

    Still getting used to being called Loucinda. Only the IRS and my mother when she was angry ever called me by my "real" name. But I decided to use it for my "pen" name way back when, because to me "Cindy" sounds like a 5 year old, or maybe a cheerleader. Certainly not someone you take SERIOUSLY, and definitely not pedestal material! ;-)

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  20. Caren/Posh and Nancy,

    I don't think I ever met anyone who wanted to be an interpreter at the UN before, and now I know TWO! I think you'd have both been GREAT and excellent reps for the good ole USA. But the selfish part of me is GLAD to have you here and now. :-)

    Same with all my Banditas, and esp. V.Anna! Never thought I'd be grateful for red tape and resultant snafus (I dealt with waay too much of that in State Service) but if that's what got us our wonderful VA and her hockey hunks then HURRAY FOR RED TAPE!

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  21. As soon as I learned how to read (around the age of five) I became one of THOSE kind of kids -- the one with her nose stuck in a book.

    Sounds like me! In fact, that first paragraph sounds really familiar (except for the first born thing).

    Wonderful post! I am not sure about your question though. I was thinking about some of my childhood dreams and many of them just aren't very realistic. I did once want to be a writer though, but I don't believe I am destined for that...LOL.

    Now my dream is to do something in the author/publishing world...author assistant, editor, etc....something. Or even own my own bookstore. But I doubt that will ever happen.

    My other dream is to get paid to read :o)

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  22. KJ, Christie, Donna, and Wonder-Beth,

    WOO HOO! We are in full-blown Bandit Invasion Mode now!

    KJ, I expect to hear that you got The Call ANY MINUTE! But glad I can serve as a good example for you and anyone else. Far better than the other option... A TERRIBLE WARNING (as in, if you can't serve as a good example then...)!

    Christie, after reading "Every Night I'm Yours" I can honestly say you are a GREAT story-teller!

    Donna, I'd love to see some of your paintings. As you know, my DH is also an artist. But if painting led to such a YUMMY hero as Lord Nicholas "Bed"Chambers, keep painting, m'dear!

    Wonder-Beth, I'm eagerly awaiting "Not Without Her Family!" Less than a month to go! YAY! And yes, having children definitely changes a person's perspective! Even if, like me, you are only trying to have a few moments AWAY from them!

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  23. Helen,
    I never get tired of hearing how much you LURVE reading! I highly recommend retirement and I'm sure you will be there someday soon. I'm also jealous of your 4 kids, because I want to be adopted into your family! As I keep telling you, DO NOT be surprised when I show up on your doorstep one of these days!

    Jennifer, our other Reader Extraordinaire! Never say never about owning that bookstore, Girlfriend. And I recommend you talk to Danielle about ways you can get paid to read. Now THERE is a DREAM JOB!

    Of course, YOURS is pretty grand too, Kirsten, oh Beloved One! :-) YAY on those power suits and thanx for your (and everyone's) good wishes!

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  24. (((HUGS))) Jo-Mama! You really are my head cheerleader, and those Rockette kicks aren't too shabby either. :-) Golden Cabana boys?!?! NOW you're talkin!

    And Nancy, I really identified with what you said about not writing to Manly Wade Wellman (what a GREAT Southern name!). Years after the fact, I found out Marguerite Henry, who wrote all those "horse" books I devoured as a pre-teen, lived in San Diego. But did I ever write and tell her how much those books meant to me? She died just a few years ago in her late 90s.

    Marie and Linda, my Sourcebooks Sisters, thanks for joining in the madness this morning. We Banditas tend to get a bit... er, um, rowdy? But I'm sooo glad both of you jumped into the fray and are pursuing your dreams! Linda, with all your years in the biz, you are a WONDERFUL inspiration! Thanx again.
    AC

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  25. What a great subject, AC! I'm loving reading about everybody's childhood ambitions.

    You want to know my dark secret? My unconfessed ambition to this day? I would love to sing & dance on stage. Not a leading role--god forbid--but to be part of a theatrical production? Oh, I've always wanted to try that.

    And you should know I have no particular talent in either singing or dancing. :-) I can carry a tune but with no great style, & I'm relatively coordinated, but am not an astonishingly graceful dancer. But a girl can dream, right? That's why I have five--count 'em FIVE--unpublished novels holding up my bed. :-)

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  26. Danielle,
    Thanx for the comment and the compliments! WOW! Living in NYC Chinatown for 4 months sounds like such a LOT OF FUN! Good on ya, Mate (as our Oz girls would say)for pursuing that dream. Will you be coming the San Francisco for RWA National? If so, *I* will personally take you (and any Banditas and Casablanca authors who want to tag along) to Chinatown for dinner. I know some GREAT hole-in-the-wall places... bet Linda does too!

    Susan/Smoov, WELCOME to Casablanca! Once we get a few drinks in you in SF, we'll get you and Jo-Mama to give us a bit of The Chorus Line routine! ;-)

    Okay, I need to get some actual work done today, but again HUGE THANX to everyone for preventing me from being Nigella NoFriends!

    (((HUGS)))
    AC

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  27. Hey Auntie!

    Great post! I'm ready to read your book right now!

    My ambition was always to be a horse breeder, and I've done that, though on a very small scale. Unfortunately, to be a successful breeder, you actually have to SELL one now and then, and so far, with the head count in the barn up to five, I haven't done that!

    It's interesting that authors are still on that pedestal, but the truth is, along with all the work, there's a fair amount of guts and luck involved. Mary Stewart said it best in "The Crystal Cave" when she said, and I quote:
    "The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path--and that takes courage."

    So, here's to all who take the plunge!

    Cheryl

    P.S. My REAL dream is to be a rockstar!

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  28. No surprise here, but I was won one of "those" kids too, and I was even odder since I was born into a family of non-readers. Sometimes I felt like I'd dropped off the face of the moon.

    Congrats again on your first sale, Cindy. Your cover is stunning.

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  29. "The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path--and that takes courage."

    GREAT quote Cheryl! And you know I'm a BIG Mary Stewart fan too. ;-) Maybe that's what I'm living proof of: you too can be a speed bump in the path of the gods!

    I just finished reading "Slave" and what a rollicking, fun read it was! Hope you like TWS.

    Great to see you Trish!

    My sister and brothers weren't much on reading either. Luckily, my mom was. But none of them ever "got" this writing bit of mine...

    You and I need to stand side-by-side, our fists in the air and shout, "I'm a mutant and I'm proud!"

    Cindy

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  30. Aunty Cindy,
    I am with you on being the kid who made up her own endings to stories. In my version of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy never went back to Kansas!

    Christina

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  31. LOL, Christina!
    I like YOUR version of Wizard of Oz much better. MY version would not include the wicked witch. I never read the book, but as a child I could NEVER watch the movie because the witch scared me sooo much! Of course, as an adult (an old and somewhat crotchety one) I now TOTALLY SYMPATHIZE with her.

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  32. Danielle, that sounds wonderful. I think you have to be very young to appreciate an experience like that!

    Donna, I too would love to see some of your paintings. It's sure a good things you got GREAT covers for "Mrs. Brimley" and "Trouble with Moonlight"!

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  33. Ha, ha on the Chorus Line, AC. Did I ever tell you about my teacher friend who learned to tap dance at age 60??!! Her husband built a studio in her home and she still dances with groups. I think that's admirable!

    So Susan, it's never to late!

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  34. Cheryl, you will be very pleased with Loucinda's book. It's great!

    Thanks to all you Casablanca authors for letting us pushy Banditas invade your blog. We're truly a rowdy bunch.

    But I have to say that when Cindy was contracted by Sourcebooks, I ordered and read most all of your books. Yay! Casablanca authors tell really interesting and unusual stories! You rock!

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  35. Hey, thanx for that rousing testimonial, Jo-Mama!

    And that's a GREAT story about your tap dancing friend.

    There's nothing like a rowdy Bandit Invasion to shake things up! THANX A BUNCH to all my banditas for making my first post here a great success!

    AC

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  36. That's a funny story, Cindy. Just how much *coff, coff* older is he?! My aspirations matched yours for the most part - after I was 12 and my mom bribed me into reading a real book - anything that wasn't a comic book. That book was the Flame & the Flower by the late Kathleen Woodiwiss and it knocked my socks off. I decided right then it was what I was going to do, too. I wrote my first manuscript - BY HAND - when i was 14 years old. Oddly enough it didn't sell. go figure. lol
    Can't wait to read the fruits of your labors!

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  37. Love your post, Cindy! I wanted a Dumbo (the elephant) when I was a kid. My mother had to gently explain real elephants were not cute and cuddly like that!!! And I wanted to teach. Writing enabled me to do that! But although I never thought of being a published author, even though I've made up stories all my life, several years ago, that's what I decided I had to do. I started out with children's stories, talk about tough market to break into, though one story went to a senior editor who loved it...but another was too similar that they had recently published, so I shifted to the next similar thing...romance. LOL!!! And found my niche with the paranormal.

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