This Blog is for writers and print-on-demand authors to vent or praise their publishing efforts, and as a place to offer support, advice and friendship.

Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States

Before my twilight years, I was an activist for social and political change, working for civil rights, women's rights, worker's rights, peace and justice. My involvement in women's liberation of the 70s has been documented in two books: "Feminism in the Heartland" by Judith Exekiel, (The Ohio University Press, 2002); and "Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975" (University of Illinois Press, 2006). Today, I stay close to my computer, writing books for young adults (9 to 90), and currently working on a six-book series set in Southern Ohio, which depicts six generations of the fictional Douglas family from 1803 to 1937 and using the major social and political movements of those times as a backdrop for the stories.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Once upon a time…I was really naïve. Worse, I was hopelessly ingenuous. One day, way back in 1959, while reading a book to my kids from my favorite childhood author, Nancy Drew, it suddenly occurred to me that I could write a mystery myself. It was a no-brainer. I could use my five children as characters in the story and the setting would be our three-story row house.

Besides, I was half-way through a writing course I was taking by mail-order, and had learned two important lessons: “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” I scraped up money out of my grocery allowance and bought a small package of typing paper, then sat at my roll-top desk and hammered out the first chapter on an Underwood upright with a worn-out ribbon and several keys that constantly stuck.

Each day I would read the new parts to my kids that I wrote while they were in school. Their eagerness to find out what was going to happen next, kept me writing until the story was finished. But typing the manuscript was a messy process. I used carbon paper to make copies, which made smudges and required much retyping. But I persevered and completed the book in six months.

I mailed the original copy to Grosset & Dunlap Publishers (after all, they published the Nancy Drew series), and waited anxiously for their response. In just a few weeks, I received my first rejection. Terribly disappointed, I stored the manuscript in my roll-up desk, where it remained for several years. Eventually the desk was sold or given away or just abandoned because it was too heavy to move, and the manuscript was taken out and tucked away in a dresser drawer, or placed on a closet shelf.

In 1967, eight years after my first rejection, I again submitted the manuscript to Grosset & Dunlap, and also Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Only this time I received two rejections. It stung fairly deep, and I didn’t try again for thirty years. Then in 1997, I polished the original manuscript, retyped it on my computer using Microsoft Word, and sent it to half a dozen publishers. After it was rejected by all six publishers, I placed the revised copy on the shelf next to the original manuscript.

I began writing another book, in which I used my great-granddaughter Heather Jean as a model for the twelve-year-old protagonist. But what began as one book, soon evolved into a series of six books (only two are published so far). The first one ("The Foothill Spirits--Book One: Frontier Life & the Shawnees") was published on the internet in 2001. The process was so quick and easy, I decided to dust off the manuscript I’d been hanging on to for forty-two years, and polish it one more time. In 2002, "The Mystery of the Red-Brick House" found a permanent home on the World Wide Web.


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