January 20, 2011

The Evolution of Beginnings

The beginning of a new year has me thinking about the start of my career as a novelist. I thought you might enjoy the story behind The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek. Perhaps my story will encourage you to step into the next pages of your own life story.

From the time I was old enough to take piano lessons, I was going to be a nurse like my cousin Irene. Becoming a writer hadn’t crossed my mind until I was nearly thirty. 

In 1983, my hubby, Bob, was a deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department when we attended a retreat for Law Enforcement families at the Forest Home Conference Center in California. That’s when I had my first encounter with a real writer! Carol the writer interviewed Bob and I for a magazine article. As I sat across the table from her, listening to her questions and watching her fiddle with her tape recorder, I began to daydream. Hmmm! A writer?
Following a conversation with Carol about being a writer, I picked up a how-to book on writing and subscribed to a writers’ magazine. I was intrigued, but felt under-qualified. Ever been there? In that place of feeling inadequate, it’s easy to pick excuses from the air. I didn’t have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, journalism, or communications. I had children at home to care for. I hadn’t had any extraordinary life experiences. Doubt and fear plagued me, so what did I do? 

In the fall of l984, I enrolled in a nursing program. Before the end of the first year of college, I lay in a hospital as a stressed-out patient. Watching a nurse switch out a bag of fluids for my I.V., I realized that a nursing career wasn’t for me. 

My thoughts kept returning to writing. The end of 1986, during a walk with my dad, I shared my pesky little interest in writing with him. Like my hubby, Dad didn’t seem to think writing for publication was a far-fetched idea. That summer, I responded to an ad for a correspondence course for writers. In November 1987, my first acceptance letter and rejection letter arrived in the same envelope from a quarterly daily devotional magazine. I moved on to correspondence course units in various genres including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; all the while taking writing courses at the local community college and attending at least two writers’ conferences each year since the Spring of l988. 

In January of 1989, while I walked a dirt road in the White Mountains of Arizona with my dad, I discovered a deserted and dilapidated cabin not much bigger than my dining room. By the time we returned to the house where my family was staying for the weekend, my imagination had planted a garden full of seeds from which the premise for a contemporary novel sprouted. 

Over the past two decades, I’ve taken countless novel-writing courses, focused on learning the craft and writing the story. As part of that process, I started a second contemporary novel. Intrigued by the late 1890’s and the stalwart women of that time, I eventually began writing a historical novel set in Jerome, an Arizona copper mining camp. 

In the meantime, I had several hundred articles and short stories for adults and children published in fifty-plus newspapers and magazines. In 1998, my first two children’s books were published, and twenty-six more followed.

            In March 2009, I was working on the historical set in Jerome when an editor who had seen the opening pages gave me an opportunity to write the Sinclair Sisters’ stories set in a Colorado gold mining camp in the late 1890s. Like Kat Sinclair, the main character in Two Brides Too Many, I am one of four sisters. I knew I’d have a lot of fun writing about the complex sister relationships. I love Colorado. Besides, I’d already done a lot of research on mining camps in the 1890s. My Sinclair Sisters’ stories were another beginning in a long line of them in my publishing career. 

            Two Brides Too Many is now available through your favorite bookseller in traditional book form, as an e-book, and in audio format. Too Rich for a Bride is available exclusively at Walmart Stores until May 3, 2011 when it too will enjoy a wide release. Last week I turned in Beyond a Bride. Next month, I begin writing Book Four in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

            As you embark upon this New Year of 2011, I wish you joy in the beginnings.

Two Brides Too Many (WaterBrook) - Now available through your favorite bookseller.Too Rich For A Bride (WaterBrook) - Now available exclusively at Walmart stores until May 3, 2011.

            Thanks for reading!


Raquel Byrnes said...

What a great beginning! I often wonder where other writers get their inspiration and start. Thanks for sharing.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Mona Hodgson said...

Hi Raquel,
Thanks for reading the article. Glad you enjoyed it.

April said...

What a great post.Thank you for sharing.I have read "Too Brides Too Many" and have "Too Rich to for a Bride" but have not had a chance to read it yet.

Mona Hodgson said...

Hi April,
Thanks for reading the article, and for your interest in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek. Enjoy!

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

Mona: Always enjoy learning about how other writers got their start. Also recall your gracious hospitality and enjoyable time in your home with you and your hubby many years ago while doing research in your area. . .for our Hidden West cozy mystery series!