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I'm very lucky to be a writer. I love my job and I'd do it for free, though I'm always happy to cash royalty checks. I write because I love it, because I can't imagine life without writing.
When I worked full time - when Michael and I were first married - I wrote on my lunch hour, my coffee breaks and in the bathroom. I fell asleep at night dreaming plots and scenes and listening to my characters talk themselves to sleep. When I wasn't dreaming whole books, I dreamed of quitting my job - I was editorial assistant on Flower and Garden Magazine - and having all day to write, write, write.
Part of my dream came true when our sons Christopher and Paul - guess where I came up with my pseudonym Paula Christopher? - were born. I got to stay home, but forget writing all day. So I wrote at night. I tucked the boys in bed at eight-thirty, kissed Michael nighty-night about ten, turned on my electronic typewriter and wrote until 3 or 4 in the morning.
The first book I had guts enough to send to New York sold. LIKE A LOVER was published by Avon in October of 1984 as part of their Velvet Glove line of category romantic suspense novels. I sent it in only because Michael threatened to make wallpaper out of my manuscripts if I didn't do something with them.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right book on that first sale, but that doesn't mean I've never been rejected. I have a drawer full of thanks-but-no-thanks letters. Most writers do and most writers will tell you - if they're being honest - that they've suffered through a slump. I did, a 4-year dry spell between THE DREAMING POOL and my first sale to Temptation, when I couldn't sell my grocery lists. How did I survive it? I kept writing the best stories I possibly could, and I made up my mind the only way New York was going to get rid of me was with an AK-47.
I started writing in sixth grade when my class formed a Writers Club. The kids who could write wrote stories and the kids who could draw drew pictures to illustrate them. By and by, everybody lost interest but me. I kept on writing.
All through junior high and high school I'd race home after school, lock myself in my bedroom and write novels - long hand, in pencil, on notebook paper -- because that's what I loved to read. All of my stories had a girl and a boy and a horse in them someplace. A few of my stories still do, like THE DREAMING POOL and SECOND SIGHT, two of my personal favorites.
I didn't realize I was writing romance. I was a junior in college before I heard the term romance novel, when my creative writing instructor - looking down his nose at me, of course - said the vignette I'd turned in, which ultimately became part of REMEMBRANCE, my first book for Temptation and my first RITA nominee - would make "a very nice little romance novel."
These little novels now account for 52% of the mass-market books sold in the United States. Someday I'm going to go back to Central Missouri State University, look up my creative writing instructor and give him the raspberry. Even though he gave me an 'A' in the course.
From writing in long hand I graduated to an electric typewriter, then an electronic one, and finally a computer. I'm on my third PC now.
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