This Writer’s Life: A little bit of my story

Posted by on March 26, 2012

A little bit of my story.

Like many writers, mine is a stereotypical story: I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a little kid. Then, somewhere along the line in college I discovered journalism. My love and obsession with it outpaced anything else I had ever wanted to do.

And the reality lived up to my expectations. Even though I never became the big foreign correspondent I had dreamed of becoming, I loved every second of it.

As a journalist, I got to see and do amazing things. I met countless celebrities, I flew in an FA/18 jet over Big Sur, I raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and I hung with gang members and shook President Bill Clinton’s hand.

But I also sat with grieving mothers, yawned through boring city council meetings, and looked face-to-face at some of the scariest people on this planet. One man, a convicted child serial killer, still haunts me to this day.

I interviewed him in jail, spoke to him on the phone, and corresponded with him by mail. I am a chronic declutterer, but for some reason, saved everything to do with him. Mainly because of my connection with one of his victims and her family.

When I left California and moved to Minnesota, I carted around a big box of reporter’s notebooks, newspapers and letters all dealing with my interactions with this serial killer who preyed on kids.

I thought of writing a nonfiction book about him, but felt like it was something I had to do instead of wanted to do. I did wonder, however, if I’d ever get this monster out of my head. Then, I realized I can write a novel and fictionalize the story, only keeping my conversations with him true and making up the rest. Voila!

I didn’t get much headway on it with two little kids at home and set it aside.

Then in the fall of 2010, two things happened that made this novel possible.

I applied and was accepted to the Master Novel class at The Loft Literary Center and my youngest started kindergarten.

For the first time in seven years, I had two and one-half hours to myself. That’s 150 minutes of glorious time to myself. Of course, I was tempted to do all those things that are about one million times easier without kids along, such as trips to the market to buy food, but I restrained myself and planted myself in front of my computer.

I knew if I finished my novel by the end of the Loft class, my instructor would read and critique it. The class ended in November, so I would have to hustle.

So every morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., I wrote. By November, I was finished with my first draft.

Then I made a rookie mistake and began querying agents in January. Dumb. My novel was nowhere ready to go. I joined three writing critique groups and spent the next year revising furiously. To my surprise, I found I liked revising even more than writing the novel itself. I also started querying again. I was very lucky that I had quite a bit of interest and even luckier to sign with a superstar agent last week.

That’s my story so far. The next step is getting the book published!

With all this excitement, I’m going to be blogging a lot more now. I have some ideas, which include featuring recipes, photos, inspirational items, and other writers on my blog.

I’m thrilled that the first writer I will feature is Owen Laukkanen. His five-starred debut crime fiction novel The Professionals comes out Thursday. I’ll have an interview with him on Wednesday that I know you’ll love! Mark my words this man is going to be a household name in the mystery genre and quite probably beyond.



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