Thursday, October 4, 2007

LIfe Comes Full Circle - Again

A long time ago, when I first set out to write romances, one of those little kismet things occurred that seem to happen from time to time. Maybe all the time if we're paying attention. I received in the mail a catalogue from USF's Continuing Education department. Listed in the course offerings was a class called "How to Write Romance Novels."

Well, that was well-timed, wasn't it? I signed up immediately. At that time, I knew nothing of RWA, there was no internet, no way of connecting with other aspiring authors. I was groping in the darkness, teaching myself by reading a lot of books. Still not a bad way to learn, but I needed details.

This class was led by Lurlene McDaniel. Maybe you've heard of her. She's sold about a jillion books in the Inspirational Romance and Young Adult categories. She's won Major Awards. And she's a truly charming and giving lady.

Every week, Ms. McDaniel gave us assignments. If you've wanted to write, poured out your soul onto pages and pages of lined notebooks, but always kept that spiral bound treasure chest stuffed under your mattress, having "a professional" read your work can be truly frightening.

I wrote a scene that pitted my hero and heroine against each other in a tension-filled exchange that ended with a kiss. !!! With trembling hands, I offered the pages to Ms. McDaniel, then tried to live through the next week, waiting to see what she would say about it.

I will remember this moment in vivid clarity until the day I die. She waited, of course, until the end of the night to hand back our assignments. As she was passing them out, she said, "I don't usually single out one student, but Susan did such a good job of making her characters come to life..."

I swear, it makes me tear up right now thinking about it twenty-some years later. The older we get, the more clearly we see our past. We have what we refer to as defining moments. That was definitely one of mine.

Faithful Readers, you know the rest. I sold a book to Silhouette, I took some time off to be a single mom, then I sold five more books and a short story to three different publishers. I edited and proofread for three different publishers.

Tonight, I close the circle. Tonight I begin teaching "Writing Romances" at the University of South Florida's Continuing Ed program. I am grateful for the opportunity. Another grand adventure begins for me. And for the students in the class. I promise to give them my very best. Maybe some years from now, one of them will be writing about the defining moment in his or her life that began in this class.

Have a great day

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