I wrote my first story, a murder mystery, when I was about ten years old. I know I was influenced by my mother’s love of mysteries. She’d take me to the library every week and we’d go to the area of the stacks where all the book bindings had a yellow sticker with a Sherlock Holmes type imprint. I loved walking along the cool, dim rows between bookshelves reading titles that evoked bloody images. I know, sick, huh?
The other person who influenced that first story was my brother. We didn’t get along very well. His take on a spoiled, nosy little sister always poking into his business was less than positive. Our arguments usually ended with me yelling and him laughing at me. Since my mother didn’t want to hear about my perceived wrongs, I had to find some place to vent. So I wrote. I made my brother a character in my murder mystery. He was the corpse!
I never finished that story. It was enough that he’d gotten what he deserved and my character, doing the detecting, had taken the high road to avenge his death. My best friend thought the story was wonderful, but I’m pretty sure I never showed that particular writing effort to my mother.
After that first attempt at authorship, I wrote poetry (usually noir, feeling sorry for myself) and a few short stories. During my babysitting years, I wrote about naughty little kids. I can see now that writing was an outlet for me. After my parents died, I wrote short stories about each one of them and, when we sold the family home, I said goodbye to that last constant in my life and wrote about it. Other than that, I didn’t think about writing for years. We moved around and life with my family kept me busy.
I began to write again when I worked on Cape Cod. The solitude and the landscape fired up a desire to write a mystery. With no idea about the intricacies of the genre like suspects, clues and red herrings, I didn’t get very far.
We moved back to my hometown and another plot emerged. It was about two high school girls and their adventures at the beach (my childhood with my best friend). This story lasted for about fifty pages. While writing it, I noticed paranormal elements unintentionally creeping in. The next unfinished project, a cozy, also surprised me with a psychic bent. That unconscious tendency toward the supernatural was the reason I named my blog Haunted Pen.
By this time, I wanted to finish a story, but realized that I needed help. With suggestions from my Guppy sisters, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Seeing the daily up and down totals of the others gave me the impetus to keep going and finish my manuscript which, by the way, featured a ghost. I finally understood that I like to write things otherworldly.
I joined a Guppy critique group and took online workshops to help me edit and fine-tune the story. Another NaNoWriMo gave me the urban fantasy that I’m currently editing. This weekend, I’m headed to NECRWA (New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America) conference and a critique from one of the Agents there.
With all the available help for aspiring authors today like writing groups, writing workshops, and writing conferences, I’ve become much better at my craft. And I still use the pen to take care of my problems. In the last book, I killed off a not-so-nice former boyfriend. It felt great!