by Mary Paine
Happy New Year!
I’ve seen in the comments section of Equestrian Ink that people are interested in how we got started as authors. My path to publication was windy to say the least. I always had a love for writing and music. I was editor in chief of my high school newspaper, worked on the literary magazine, was active in the choral and drama clubs…Well, you get the idea.
By chance I had an opportunity high school to volunteer at our local hospital and a job in the emergency room followed. Fate is funny, right? I abandoned my intrinsic leanings toward all things artistic and decided health care was the career for me. My father, despite the cost of eleven years of music lessons, was determined to be supportive, although I’m sure he had a mental picture of all those dollars spent on my music sprouting little wings and flying out the window.
I did, and still do, love the health care industry. I earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in epidemiology and was working toward my doctorate when fate stepped in again. The research I had been working on for more than two years lost its funding source and I was informed I would have to start over with a new research project for my doctorate.
Disillusioned to say the least, and not sure we would be staying in the United States as my husband had taken a position with a British company, I took a job doing research for a medical communications company. My boss decided I had a flair for writing and nurtured it. (Hmm…seeing something circular here?) I wound up building a career in medical editing and informatics and before I knew it I was running a large editorial division of a medical communications company.
Still, in my heart I had always yearned to write fiction. The next questions was what kind of fiction did I want to write and how do I get started. Since I was on bed rest with a twin pregnancy, I had lots of time on my hands so I started in writing a novel that wouldn’t require a great deal of research (since I was mostly restricted to the four walls of my room) so I came up with the idea for an equestrian novel, since I know the horse world inside out. The next thing I realized was people want something to hold their interest. Well, I figured romance always holds my interest and mystery comes in a close second. Thus, A Dangerous Dream was born.
Having a completed novel in my hand, my next question was ‘Now what?’ Being a researcher by training, I took to the Internet. I discovered Romance Writers of America, became involved with the organization and learned how long the road was between writing your first book and publishing it. There were a number of routes people took. Some started with smaller e-publishers. Others continued to refine their work to aim it at New York. My husband came up with a good solution for me. He pointed out how much I’d learned from A Dangerous Dream. He said if I published it with a small publisher, wouldn’t I continue to learn from it?
I couldn’t argue with the logic of this. I sent off two query letters to reputable e-publishers and got a contract offer! The experience of publishing was invaluable. I learned a great deal about marketing, promotion, and the importance of developing a ‘platform.’ I also had the opportunity to interact with many wonderful professionals in this industry and begin to build a network.
The best surprise of all was the positive reviews I received for A Dangerous Dream! Praise is a marvelous thing and the knowledge that people enjoy reading my books gave me the incentive to keep going. I’m working on my third novel now and can’t imagine ever stopping.
So for anyone out there who is working on a novel or has completed one and is seeking publication, keep going! You’ll get there!