It was no accident in later years that when I had an answer or a problem that I would go out and search for self-help books. From being a better person and uncluttering my house to pregnancy and child-raising and everything in between, I had a book on it. So when I came to the point of deciding that I wanted to be a writer, it was books that I turned to.
I still have one bookshelf filled with writing how-to books that contains one book that actually put me on the road: You Can Write a Romance...and Get It Published! by Yvonne MacManus. That's where I found information on Romance Writers of America and the date of an upcoming National Conference. I joined immediately, rented a car, and purchased plane tickets...all in one day. That day changed my life.
Although You Can Write a Romance... was the book that put me on the path to--well, not stardom, by any means, but learning and happiness and new friends and more--it was only the beginning. I discovered Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & Conflict, boosting my writing skill to a new level. I met and became friends with author Elizabeth Sinclair, who penned The Dreaded Synopsis (A Writing and Plotting Guide), and have nearly worn off the cover. I've not only used it for writing a synopsis, but for plotting, too. The one book that is always within arm's reach is The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. It's basically a thesaurus, but contains only synonyms, and is nearly three inches thick. I'm on my third copy. The first two copies were only well-worn, but worn out.
But the best thing about all of this is not the books, but the people I've met along the journey. There are my WARA friends and the Ditzy Chix, a group of 10-12 authors that came together in the summer of 2001 to share the ups and downs of being writers. My friend Kathie DeNosky has always been my guide and inspiration, keeping me from throwing in the towel, many times. In fact, we became best of friends at that first RWA conference in 1996 in Dallas, Texas. We still laugh about the day the lightbulb lit over our heads when we realized at the same time what the difference was between Harlequin Temptation and Silhouette (now Harlequin) Desire. The other who makes up our triad of craziness is Kristi Gold, who makes me laugh and makes me think. Listening to one of our three-way phone calls as we brainstorm would leave most people dazed and confused. But even with the three of us talking at once, we understand and help each other, whether it's brainstorming or sharing the trials and joys of life.
So that's it. Books, books, and friends, none of which I could live without and am eternally grateful to each and every one. Without them, I'd be sitting in a corner, gibbering senseless stories to myself. Now I get to share that gibbering with many, many more. What could be better?