- by Patricia Rosemoor
It all started with a challenge.
Having discovered Angelique on a trip to Europe, I devoured every historical romance I could find. Some were great. Some not so much. It was months later over breakfast with me suggesting to a friend that I could write a better story than the one I was reading that launched my career as a novelist. My friend challenged me to write my own historical romance, thinking, of course, that I never would.
Despite her skepticism, I wrote a hundred and fifty pages and a synopsis and sent it out. And then the rejections came and I quickly gave up, thinking this was not for me. Months passed and another story rattled around in my brain until I couldn’t resist. I tried again, this time finishing the novel. More rejections, but better ones, including a phone call from an editor saying she liked the writing but bought a book that was too similar—could I try my hand at a contemporary because they were starting a new line and needed writers? Me write contemporary? I was flattered but my heart was with historicals, so, fool that I was, I turned her down.
I soon changed my tune when the series contemporary market exploded. I developed at least a dozen proposals, received at least 43 rejections (a number I pulled out of a hat once—it was probably much more). I was getting nowhere, but I couldn’t stop.
Soon I realized that I had an addiction—I was a fiction-writing addict!
And then I got married. I’d been playing with fiction off and on for four years with lots of compliments but no sales at that point. I decided to give it another year, and if I didn’t sell by then, I would stop. (Hah!) That was the same year my late husband Edward and I married. During the day, I had my other career as supervisor of television production at a community college and an excruciating twenty-five mile drive into and out of the suburbs, which made an eleven hour day for me in good weather, twelve in bad. At night and on weekends I wrote. Most nights, it was up to Edward to provide dinner.
Eleven months and three weeks into that year, I won a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award and sold my first book to the editor who judged it. She forgot, however, to make an offer and didn’t call until three weeks after I won the award to do so. She said she hoped I would take her offer since she’d already put my book into production. Not only was “A CHANGE OF HEART by RoseAnne McKenna” a contemporary, it was a young adult romance. Two more sales in the next six months—both adult contemporary, one with writing partner Linda Sweeney—made me think maybe I could do this as a living.
Which meant I had to work harder, write more, be more flexible. For five years, I had two careers and basically no life except for the Friday night dates with Edward. Fridays were the ONLY day I didn’t write. I wrote on my birthday, on Thanksgiving and even on Christmas Eve. My life narrowed and I lost non-addicted friends. Other fiction-writing addicts were the only people who seemed to understand what I needed. The last year I worked in television production, I also wrote three Intrigues myself and then two more novels with Linda.
One week after I quit my day job, Dell’s Candlelight line–and Linda’s and my two book contract (on which I had quit my job)—died. My friends urged me to get back my production job and my steady mortgage-paying paycheck. All I wanted to do was write. Which meant I had to punt again. So far I’d sold YA and romantic suspense myself and romantic comedy with Linda. I–and we–expanded from that.
New lines, new publishers, new subgenres—long contemporary romance, short contemporary romance, traditional romance, paranormal and yes, finally, historical romance (with soft-edged horror). Over the years, we wrote as Lynn Patrick, Jeanne Rose, Patrice Lind, Roslynn Patrick and Roslynn Griffith. The fever never abated. I wrote whatever I had to so that I could stay afloat in this crazy business. Linda finally decided to take another career path.
I added erotic romantic suspense and urban fantasy to my writing repertoire. No matter how many books I sold to how many editors to how many publishers, it never felt like it was enough, never felt like I would have security in this business unless I kept feeding that addiction.
Then real life interrupted. My world changed seemingly overnight when in a single year I had to put one aunt in a nursing home and lost another aunt I was close to, plus I lost an uncle, my father, and finally my husband Edward. I was forced to slow down and re-evaluate my life. I pulled back from my addiction and I realized that I didn’t have to write everything—I could pick and choose stories that would abate the fever and bring the joy back into my writing. Of course that meant writing something different again—thrillers in an urban fantasy world with romantic subplots—with my new partner Marc Paoletti.
The pace picked up again and a year ago, I was so stressed by deadlines that I was almost ready to walk away. I needed time off and vowed that I would do that this summer. I even built in two months of down-time. I did take two weeks off and worked on my garden and some other non-writing projects. And then the siren call of a thriller manuscript that I hadn’t been able to sell lured me back to the computer. I totally reworked it—fingers crossed that it sells this time.
While I’ve managed to slow down, I just haven’t been able to stop even when I built in that two month hiatus for myself. I sold the first of 84 books twenty-five years ago this month. How did I decide to celebrate that anniversary? By writing this blog, of course.
Which makes me think I’ll probably always be addicted to writing fiction.