I grew up with my nose in a book.
My dream was to write books, adventures, but life had other plans, and I became a former scientist and stay-at-home mom-- of a studious child, a gregarious child, and a child with special needs. Once they were all in school, I took my first writing class, short stories, with critiques by the class lecturer. (She’s still a friend). I took more classes and went to conferences.
This isn't me, but it looks like me after visiting the library, and my grandmother had a tree like this.
Rubies from Burma
Rubies from Burma started out as a short story. At a writers’ conference, I had a lot of positive comments in a workshop, including “these characters seem like they have a life after the story ends.” I'd tried a novel before and gotten stuck, but I tried again with Rubies. I still didn’t really know how to write a novel.
What I had was my characters, and they leaped from my childhood. My socializing parents didn’t notice the fly on the wall as they chatted with friends about scandals and unfortunate accidents and other tidbits not in my approved reading matter. Fortunately, by the time the book came out, anyone who could have guessed where I got my inspiration had either left this mortal coil or lost their memories.
While working on Rubies, I did learn how to write a novel. I learned how to do research. I learned how to submit a novel, and how to write a query letter, and how to bounce back from “not for us” and revise, revise, revise. Just when the book was receiving some encouraging rejections, my family needed me and I had to stop submitting for a while.
But it finally got out...
Sometimes people ask me how long Rubies from Burma took me to write, and I laugh and say “twenty years.” I had eight other manuscripts or partials in my files by the time Rubies was published. That book was how I learned to really write.
And the ending makes me choke up every time.