I was that nerdy kid, you know, the one who instead of riding bikes or climbing trees in the summer holidays, spent time indoors writing novels or reading them. My first attempt at mystery writing was a joint effort with my neighbourhood chum. Though it didn’t see the light of day, that first writing experience set the wheels in motion which followed me until I decided to become serious about the craft.

I have boxes of handwritten stories and poems to testify of my childhood love of writing, and still have my Grade Five winning entry to an elementary writing contest (in which I had the amazing opportunity to meet successful authors and learn about the publishing industry). My bookshelf has a dedicated section to my high school years’ collection of literary magazines and school newspaper articles I wrote and worked on. I think a box in my crawlspace even holds my portfolio of writing samples accepted to College Journalism programs and orchestral programme notes I wrote while taking a detour to study music.

The first time I was ever confronted about considering a career in writing was by my English Professor.

“Have you ever considered writing for Harlequin?” He stared at me, glasses resting on the edge of his nose as my eyes grew wide and my mouth hung open.

What?! Those bodice-ripping-high-heat-hide-the-book-so-no-one-knows-you-read-them type of story? I honestly thought he was crazy and obviously didn’t know me, the good Christian gal I was supposed to be. There was NO WAY I was going to touch that one with a ten foot pole (little did I know that before I would graduate Harlequin would introduce their very tame, faith-based romance line, Love Inspired).

After College I “fell” into the non-profit world and ended up writing all kinds of things. When I started writing grant proposals I was reminded how powerful the written word could be and thought I’d found my calling. I plugged away for a few years in fundraising until life interrupted me (marriage, kids, you know – the stuff romance stories are made of!).

photo: Ylanite Koppens
Photo: Ylanite Koppens

Three years ago I began writing again, this time for a volunteer run magazine put out by our local Multiple Births club (yup – I joined that club too – I’m a Mom of Twins). Wanting to encourage other parents of two, three or more babes at a time, I began writing about issues our own little family faced. One particular article I wrote struck a chord with some members and on a whim I submitted it to Writer’s Digest Magazine’s 87th Annual Writing Contest. It received an honorable mention and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get serious about writing.

Not many months later, Harlequin announced an upcoming Romance Blitz. All an aspiring author had to do was write a first chapter and submit a synopsis (a what?) and send it off to their editors, and wait an excruciating two weeks to receive a critique, and possible invite to submit a partial for consideration.

The Romance Blitz was the intiative and encouragement that propelled my journey and ignited the flame for writing again. I received such wonderful feedback (and a full request for that manuscript that was ultimately rejected) that it drove me to work harder. I entered contests, and lost more than won, but it was those wins that again, inspired me to persevere.

Fast forward to 2019 and 2020: After months of waiting, writing, revising, re/submitting and crying over rejections, my second novel found a home! I’m beyond blessed and totally blown away by this next chapter’s beginning.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to my dream of becoming traditionally published.