Friday, June 17, 2011

From a reluctant reader to a published author


 I used to have a hard time reading fiction because I always had my own stories swirling around in my head.  So I stuck to non-fiction as I enjoyed reading for information more than for entertainment. I did like  listening to my husband talk about the fiction he was reading like Frank Peretti's Piercing the Darkness, etc. and sometimes he would read passages aloud, which I enjoyed.  He started reading George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia to our boys when they were very small, and they loved it!  They also enjoyed a children's version of John Bunyon's Pilgrim's Progress (The Little Pilgrim's Progress).  These stories captivated me and I began weaving tales of my own for our sons while I convalesced after several surgeries that kept me bed ridden for weeks on end. My little boys snuggled up with me and I read them the tales I wrote. When I was better we continued to enjoy them and sometimes we would act them out.  They were enchanted. I still have this series of stories and have long wanted to get them published.  In fact, that is when I started dreaming of the possibility of becoming a published author. When my sons were older, the early stories we read were enjoyed again as they have reread some of them, attended an amazing play of Pilgrim's Progress, and have seen The Chronicle's of Narnia on the big screen.  But what amazes me is fond memories they hold, we all hold, of the stories I wrote for them.

A dozen years ago I borrowed a copy of Christian fiction from the library of my mother's church, Catherine Palmer's Finders Keepers. The Victorian house on the cover captured my attention since I have an interest in architecture and home design. I brought it home and was swept away into a wonderful new world and have been hooked on Christian fiction novels ever since. Catherine Palmer remains one of my favorites!

After reading the sequel to Finder's Keepers (Hide and Seek), I borrowed Lori Wick's historical series, The English Garden, set in regency England. Thus, my entrance into the realm of historical fiction. 

As I read these books I imagined writing stories like these of my own. It wasn't long before I started to write historical fiction for myself. Since then I've filled dozens of notebooks full of my stories. Although early on I had explored the publishing market for my children's stories, I never moved forward because I lacked the confidence to do anything with my writing. I knew absolutely nothing about the craft of writing, especially fiction for adults.  I was in the habit of writing freely to get my ideas down on paper, mostly in narrative form. Then I started toying with dialogue as I had seen in the novels I read. Reading fiction was the only education I had on how to write it.  Then one day I discovered some websites that talked about how to write fiction.  I also found author websites and began to learn more about them and how they got their start in publishing.  I couldn't afford to purchase writing books, but I absorbed everything I could learn from the internet. These were my first steps toward pursuing my goal of becoming published. 

My book!
Since then, I have worked hard at networking and have joined the national organization for Christian writers, American Christian Fiction Authors, joined a local writing group in my state, and have and attended writing conferences. I've continued to work on my craft making a habit of learning something new every day. I've met authors on line and in person, found a writing mentor, and joined a critique group, and writing loops online, and have learned about the publishing industry.  And, of course, I have continued to write, and write, and write...and am happy to say that now I know how to write correctly! This year I signed with a literary agent, have signed two book contracts, and continue to work on other projects. After all of these years I look forward to my first novel releasing in January 2012 and my second in May 2012. So that's my story of how I went from a reluctant reader to becoming a published author!


8 comments :

  1. It's so interesting reading your unique journey from reader to author, Carla. God is so creative in how He prepares us! When I see a C. Palmer title I always think of you. Fun making this writing journey together. Can't wait to hold your first book in my hands!

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  2. Thank you, Laura! You are a great inspiration to me, and always so encouraging. It's been quite a journey and I'm happy, too, to travel with you!

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  3. I am so very proud of you and the woman you have become. You exemplify the quote (from Oprah), "Success is when preparation meets opportunity."
    And especially when the Lord is in it.
    Love from your Mom

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  4. Thank you, Mom! I literally couldn't have done this without you. You will forever be my favorite editor! And you are so right about the Lord being in it.

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  5. Very encouraging, Carla. I hope to meet you at the conference, if you're going.

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  6. Thanks Renee. I don't think I can make it to the conference this year. :( I would so love to meet you!

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  7. Great story! I have never been a good reader but I watched dozens of classic old movies as a young girl - and still do. That is where my story bug bit me. I too am working hard at the craft and learning the business. Directing a writers conference has opened up doors and opened my eyes to see how much work this writing thing is! Congrats on your successes.
    Jan
    www.jancline.net

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  8. I discovered Catherine Palmer about a year ago, and love her stories.

    Thank you for giving us a view into your journey. I'm looking forward to reading your book. :)

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