Anyone remember the celebration scene in Dances With Wolves when Costner is called upon to tell the story of his buffalo kill one more time? And he says, “No, no, I can’t tell the story again. Oh, all right, one more time.”
After, yes, 25 years, I’ve told my first sale story so many times that I feel like everyone in the world has heard it. But the Lakota had heard Costner’s story a few times already, too. Oh, all right, ongi. One more time. (Grinning. My big bullseye. V is for Victory. Love this story.)
In the Beginning, I was not a Romance reader. I was an English teacher, Lit major, mother of 3, wife of an Indian cowboy/rancher, Eastern dude gone West. Oh, and a writer. I was always a writer. But I was about 35 years into my journey when I started writing a story for fun–longhand, pencil, spiral notebooks–and was coaxed and cajoled by my Indian Cowboy to let him see what I was doing. He loved the first half–White teacher goes West 100 years ago–and wanted to read the second half. Which meant I had to write a second half. When it was finished, he had no doubt that I could publish it. (My Indian Cowboy was and is an avid reader, you see. Westerns, from Zane Gray to Rosemary Rodgers. Secure in his manhood, his only problem with Romance paperbacks was that they were too thick for the back pocket of his jeans.) Anyway, the book was Private Treaty, and it was eventually the first book purchased for Harlequin Historicals–although published as #2. But that’s another story.
My first book was the one you see here. Private Treaty got me an agent, who said we’d sell it sooner or later, but could I write a contemporary category? “They’re selling like crazy.” I said, “Sure.” I had no idea what he was talking about. (I had just made peace with the fact that I’d written a Romance, and the probability that I was–and am–a cradle-to-grave romantic. Indian Cowboy (nod to Christie’s “Surfer Guy”) had done some rodeo, so I went with that theme. Eastern teacher became Eastern journalist gone West. I attended my first RWA conference as a double Golden Heart finalist for Private Treaty and Someday Soon, which won Best Single Title Contemporary. I met Leslie Wainger, who told me the book was on her desk and she was eager to read it. “I hope you like it,” I said. And I had nothing for the next 9 minutes of the 10 minute editor appointment.
We had two offers on Someday Soon. Victory Dance! It could have been published as a Ballentine single title, but we accepted Leslie’s offer at Silhouette, which I know now was a good career move. I loved this first cover. Franco Aconero (sp?) was the artist, and every detail I described (Silhouette always gets author input) is included, right down to the green and black “buffalo” shirt. I had one like it.
And the full circle part? After a dozen years or more, I’ll have two new Silhouette Specials out in ’09. In Care Of Sam Beaudry is scheduled for May and The Prodigal Cowboy for December. Rumor has it that readers are hungry for straight contemporary romance again. In the 25 years since I started publishing, the genre has spawned myriad sub-genres, and each gets its turn to be the new hot thing. What goes around comes around in this business, and a little bird tells me that human boy meets human girl is coming around again. I am so there.
So help me out. Did you start out as a category/series romance reader and/or writer? Have you drifted away? Have you gone around and come around? Or has it always been good for you? What changes have you seen in category romance? (Can my cowboy hero cuss?)
Have you found yourself coming full circle in your journey? In what ways?