Reinvigorated

Ten months. Ten months exactly.

That’s how long it’s been since my last—and only—post. I had grand plans. I was going to write a new post every week. Send out query letters. Get active on social media. Exercise…oh wait. Wrong topic (although, I should probably do that too). But life always distracts me.

So what have I been up to over these past several months? Well, I’m still writing, bouncing back and forth between a few different manuscripts. I’ve done a lot of editing. I entered a few writing competitions and got great feedback and suggestions. I’m even a finalist in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence writing competition for my manuscript, Forever Yours (winners to be announced in November). But I stalled out.

I’d like to say it’s just because I’m busy. Yes, I’m busy. But I don’t think I’m any busier than the average working adult. Although, taking writing seriously is very time intensive. A task that I think will take me an hour or so ends up taking me four hours. Maybe it’s just me—maybe I’m just slow. But now I’m just making excuses, and I shouldn’t because I know what the problem was…

I had “impostor syndrome”!

Check it out. It’s a real thing, and it’s something many writers experience. Basically, impostor syndrome is a fear that you’ll be exposed as a fraud. Maybe I don’t know anything about writing romance. Maybe my writing isn’t any good. Maybe I send out my manuscripts and get laughed out of the room.

But all of that went away after attending this year’s Emerald City Writers’ Conference hosted by the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America. If you’ve ever thought about writing romance, come to the conference. You’ll be surrounded by an amazing group of supportive writers who have a passion for writing romance. This year I attended as many of the events as possible (last year I was on dog duty with my husband out of town), and I had a blast. When the conference was over at 3PM on Sunday, a sinking feeling lurked in my stomach.

Until I got home and sat down at my computer.

ECWC was just what I needed to remind me of why I write. I write because I love it, and I want to share my stories. So, here’s take two. Let’s see where things go this time!

 

 

The First Step

The Dog and the Chihuahua in the Pet Shop: my first book. Yes, I know Chihuahuas are dogs. But picture the excitement on my six-year-old face when I learned how to spell “Chihuahua.” I should note, this book was originally titled, “The Dog and the Dog in the Pet Shop,” so the Chihuahua really stepped things up.

The story and illustrations (or “pictures” as I called them because I couldn’t spell “illustrations”) were all original. It was a story of two pups waiting to be adopted in a pet shop, saddened watching all of the other animals finding forever homes until a pair of busty twins with perms finally took them home. Why busty permed twins? Good question. Not sure six-year-old Jo had any idea. And why a book about two sad puppies? Well, probably because my siblings and I desperately wanted a dog, so perhaps this was my not-so-subtle way of convincing our parents they should buy us a dog (we never got one).

That 10-page book fueled my passion for writing. Dozens of books followed, most of them saved by my mom or former teachers. I dreamed of being a writer someday. But I eventually wrote less and less and almost forgot about writing completely.

Fast forward to 2010. Although I hadn’t “written” anything in years aside from essays and school papers, I always had stories floating around in my head. I toyed with the idea of writing my stories down, but something held me back. At the time I wasn’t sure what it was. I think I know now…

Embarrassment.

Fear.

Time.

Who would want to read my stories? What made me think my stories were anything special? And was I really contemplating romance?

Yes, you read that right. Romance. Hold that thought…

Eventually, a friend convinced me I should go ahead and write (thanks, Friend). I figured, what did I have to lose?

Well, apparently not a whole lot when you don’t share it with anyone. But I loved it. I loved writing, and I loved my characters. I loved their backstories, their motivations, their dreams, as if they were real.

I bounced back and forth between a few different manuscripts when finally my husband said, “Enough already.” Don’t get me wrong–he supports of my writing. But he asked me whether I wrote for myself purely as a way to kill free time or if I wanted more out of it.

Cue return to romance.

For a long time I grasped at the hope that my works fell into the “women’s fiction” genre for no reason other than that I, like many, carried a stigma towards the romance genre. Yet after writing three manuscripts, I finally came to grips with the fact that I AM a contemporary romance writer–AND I LOVE IT! I’m a romantic at heart, despite my sometimes no-nonsense outer appearance. But I love a great love story, and I want to share my stories with everyone.

So here I am. Putting it all out there. Hoping my stories will make others as happy and giddy as they make me. I hope one day you will read my stories with a silly, lovestruck smile causing your significant other to ask you, “What’s so funny?” like mine so often asks me when he catches me smirking while writing.

This is just the first step of many so please check back for updates. For now, thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more soon.