The story doesn’t end there. Once I shared that story with the group (Take that, Ladies who think I want censorship!). I put the short piece aside intent to finish the novel that sat on my computer screen halfway to the end. In my head, I wasn’t going to be an erotic romance author. Sure, loved to read some of the stories under that sub-genre, but writing it was for others.
Except, writing the novel was laborious, a slog. Back then, I didn’t realize I’d found the sign pointing to a bad plot with a sagging middle. I lost a little enthusiasm for writing. I didn’t want to hear from my critique partners that something was missing from this or that chapter. I needed good news, a pat on the back, dammit, ANYTHING! I didn’t get it for the novel. I found my happy news in the vignette.
Our critique group had hit a slow spot. “Post something,” we begged each other. So, I dug into the archives and posted the barely 5,000 word story. That’s when the sun shone so brightly on me that I stayed up late revising, well past the time that a mother of young children who wake up at 5am should remain awake. (If you understood that sentence, you get an A in reading comprehension for the day.)
Jennifer Blake, a rather quiet member of our critique group, emailed me about my short story. Before I opened the email, I figured I would get a scathing report of my measly skill as a writer. (Why I thought this wasn’t based on what I knew about Jennifer Blake; writers doubt themselves even after they’ve had someone publish their works. We are not always self-confident people. In fact, we’re just the opposite.)
I didn’t get a take down of my bonafides as a writer. I got a flipping great review and amazing constructive criticism. The second sentence had my heart racing so fast that I slipped from the chair to the floor.
It’s well-written and beautifully set up, with lots of local color and nice erotic vibes.
I took that sucker of a story, stomped it around, added some conflict, beefed it up. The queries began the next month. Then, wheeeeee! Publishing began. I had to race to write another erotic romance, because OMG, I was an author now. Just a few words from a best-selling author set me free. I don’t think I could ever thank her enough.