That was about the time I decided to write a short story about a journalist who goes back in time to interview Alexander the Great.
The story turned into a novel. The novel turned into a series of seven books. Writing that series was like breathing. It was both the easiest thing I ever did and the most necessary. I needed to write that series. It was like a baby inside me that grew and had to be born.
When I’d written all seven books I was stunned. There is a whole month out of my life where I can’t remember what I did or where I was. I think at that time we were in England, in a small stone house with hollyhocks all around it. The twins were nearly seven. It was time to take them back to France so they could go to school.
We moved to France, found a house to rent in a small village, and I bought a computer and typed up my series. It took about a year to type it all out and get it ready to submit. In the meantime I got the twins enrolled in school, made friends in my new village, and became pregnant with my daughter.
I thought that it would be easy to sell my series, but it was a time travel, a paranormal romance, a historical novel, and a campy, tongue-in-cheek spoof all at the same time. I tried every publisher in the book and then some. My daughter was born, learned to walk, and began to talk. And then I found a small publisher in Australia who took it and loved it.
I was a published author!
I told everyone I knew and those I didn’t know. I wrote postcards and letters and posted excerpts and made a web-site. I sent copies to reviewers and friends, and sat back waiting for the royalties to arrive. I was ecstatic. Especially after my publisher wrote to me and said I’d written an Australian best seller. Wow.
Let me just take this time to say that a best seller in Australia is a book that sells more than 200 copies.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But the publisher was so happy I felt I should be happy too. I took my first royalty check and sent it to the bank, and tried not to calculate how many hours I’d worked on the book versus how much I’d made...which would work out to something like 0.03 cents an hour. Then the publisher folded and I got all my rights back to my series. I was back to square one. My glamorous life as an author had taken a serious drubbing. I picked myself up and called my mother.
“I will never write another book. I don’t care how good it was. It was a waste of time, that’s what it was.” I gave a self-pitying sniff.
Listening in to our conversation was my mother’s protégé, Sam. He spoke up. “You should never give up,” he said, sounding very sure of himself. “But if you want to earn money, you should write erotic books. They sell like crazy.”
Sam’s friend, Winston, chimed in. “That’s right. Don’t stop writing. You write too well.”
“If I write and erotic book, I’m using a pen name,” I said. “And if I take a pen name, it will be Sam Winston.”
“That works,” they said.
I hung up and thought about it.
Could I write erotic novels? Some of my short stories were sensual. Maybe I could. But first I had to read an erotic novel. I looked on the Internet – that vast repository of everything and anything – and found several online bookstores. Only one was specifically for erotic books. I bought one. It was pretty good. I liked the writing. The characters were well developed. The sex was hot—and there was sex all through the book. Despite that, there was a plot that had nothing to do with sex and I appreciated that. If I wrote an erotic book, I’d still like it to have a plot and interesting characters. I decided to give it a try.
I wrote ‘Casey Come Home’ and sent it to Ellora’s cave on July 17th 2002 at 3:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. I got an e-mail back from them. “We’d love to publish your book. Here is a contract, print out two copies and send them back signed on the dotted line.” (Or something like that.)
I ran outside and grabbed my husband who was busy washing the car. I spun him around and screamed, “They want to publish my book!”
The sun was shining. The sky was blue. I was once again a published author. I rushed back inside and grabbed my promotional sheet, ready to write notes and postcards to everyone I knew...and stopped. This was an erotic book. Half the people on my list were family members. Some had weak hearts. This was a dilemma. Who could I tell about Samantha Winston? Undeterred, I decided to join author groups online and ask their advice. That was a stroke of genius. Writers love to give advice, and ideas flowed from everyone. It was wonderful. And then I got my first edits.
Edits are interesting. After the first shock, I found I loved doing edits. I was disappointed that the title of my book ‘Casey Come Home’, would be changed to ‘A Grand Passion’, but the new title soon grew on me. And besides, I was a published author.
I just couldn’t tell anyone.
(to be continues...)