Tuesday, December 4, 2007

And In The Beginning

This post is making a slight segue from contests--back to the beginning.

The very beginning.

Allow me share with you my fondness for vintage typewriters.
This is my first purchase. My second one arrives today, an Underwood N0. 5.

Smith and Corona were actually my original writing buddies. I started out on a portable that I toted to a shady spot under a tree in my backyard. At fourteen, I was thrilled to be able to chronicle my love of romance on the typewritten page.

My romance career began when I stumbled upon books like: Beanie Malone by Lenora Mattingly Weber, and Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse, by H.D. Boylston, at my local library.

One of my all-time favorites as a young teen was a book called Something Foolish, Something Gay, by Glen and Jane Sire.

But I truly knew my calling was to write romance after reading Rosamund Du Jardin’s books. Her Marcy Rhodes collection included Wait for Marcy, Marcy Catches Up, A Man for Marcy and Senior Prom. And then there was the teenage hero Brose Gilman of the Tobey Heydon series. After all these years, I still have a crush on Brose Gilman (Sigh).

As a young adult I devoured all of Emilie Loring’s books which were set in the World War II era.

From there I discovered historical romance and scoured bookstores for the entire Angelique series by Sergeanne Golan, and I soon fell in love with Jude Devereaux and the Montgomery and Taggart families.

A short leap later, and I was on to contemporaries--Janet Daily and all 50 states.

Today I am collecting the gently used editions of some of those first romance favorites. I have all the Love Swept’s that Deb Dixon wrote and even an original Harlequin Temptation, by Jennifer Crusie.

Like my Underwood typewriter those books aren’t old, they’re simply classics.

It’s fun to think back to all those authors who turned me into a romance reader, setting the stage for romance writing.

Take a trip back to your beginnings, back to your first reads, and those breathtaking moments when you fell in love with a classic romance.

Who were your first writing buddies? Your first writing loves?


  1. Tina, love this! The old typewriter takes us back but not all that far, ya know? What an amazing forty years it's been.

    Understood Betsy was my first beloved book and a copy of it (bought from Amazon several years back) sits in a place of honor on my bookshelf.

    But for romance, you nailed it. Sue Barton. Cherry Ames. The Janet Lambert series about the military family with Penny, Carol, and company. Great books, great stories, great characters.

    When I study what I want to create within my own writing, I go back to those that I love/loved and re-work my things to give them that added strength and depth.

    I loved Mary Stuart as well. Loved Agatha Christie but I'm not smart enough to write a good mystery. But romance, that was my first and last love.

    Romance twisted with faith? What could get better than that, girlfriend?

  2. Nice typewriter.

    Thinking of actually writing on it sends me in panic mode. I'm a typo-queen.

    First books?

    Well, Dr. Seuss is The Man. Transistion from him, I don't remember any specific books or authors until I discovered William Farley and the Black Stallion series. Obessed is a fitting word choice. Nancy Drew rocked. The Hardy Boys were cute and entertaining.

    But somewhere after them, my older sister introduced me to Victoria Holt and other Gothic authors, and YA lit was left behind. I became a total romance junkie. Gee, I think I was probably in 5th or 6th grade. Barbara Cartland introduced me to historical romance, and she was sweet enough that I didn't have to turn pages.

    Jude Devereaux became my favorite for years. And not until I started writing and re-read her early stuff did I realize that an author didn't have to write well to tell a great story.

    I never had grand dreams to become an author. But while I was pregnant with #3, I realized the inspy I was reading weren't as complex/dimensional/exciting as mainstream novels. If the readers are cheering for the villian to hook up with the strawberry blonde-and-the-author-keeps-reminding-you-so-you-don't-forget-it heroine because all the hero does is preach, seems like the author might want to rework the story, doncha think?

    Well, I threw that book against the wall and said, "I could write better than that." And my friend Cathy said, "Prove it."

    Took me five years, six WIPs, countless revisions, sucky contest scores, harsh CPs, and another kid to figure out I'm not a gifted writer. I'm a learned writer.

    Umm, a learned writer who makes a ton of typos so enjoy your beautiful antique while I happily enjoy my spell-checker. :-)

  3. LOL, Gina you definitly have a gift. For shooting straight to the truth. I enjoyed your post, related to it and it made me smile. Thanks!!

  4. Gina, sometimes the most gifted writer is the learned one.

    The learned ones don't give up, kid.

    Great post. Well-summed.

    Smiling in WNY,


  5. As an adult, the romance writer that hooked me was LaVyrle Spencer. I especially loved her historicals. She made me laugh and cry. Like Gina said, it was only after I started writing that her headhopping bothered me. No matter how hard I try, I can't replicate Spencer's power over readers' emotions.

  6. Tina, how cool that you're collecting old typewriters and books. Have you been to Key West to see Hemmingway's typewriter and office? Neat stuff. When I got serious about writing, I used a word processor.

  7. Oh, what fond memories this post brings back, Tina. Like you, I loved Jude's Montgomery family, with the Black Lyon being one of my all time favs. It's still on my keeper shelf and I read it once or twice a year. Some of my first loves were almost anything by Lynne Graham, Kathleen Woodiwiss's Shanna and Johanna Lindsay's Hearts Aflame and Savage Thunder. Wow, makes me want to go and read!!

    Carla - who loves your beautiful 'new' typewriter!

  8. Ruth Logan Herne said...
    Gina, sometimes the most gifted writer is the learned one.

    LOL. Thanks, Ruthy. Considering all the craft of writing books and articles I've read in the last seven years, I figure I must be abundantly gifted (and broke). ;-) Now if I could only get an editor to confirm it. The gifted part. Not the broke part because the bank does that quite well.

    Okay, as I was reading over the comments, I realized that I rarely post anywhere without mentioning my kids. I'm as bad as Rudy Guiliani with 9-11 or the Democratic party with Global Warming. Somehow I have to astound y'all with my brilliance without playing the I-have-five-kids card. Sorry 'bout that.

    So I promise, here and now, I won't mention my chitlins on this blog or on any writing loop or in any writing group unless their mention is directly writing-related.

    Despite that I've never kept a New Year's resolution, I'm feeling rather good about this one.


  9. Thanks Carla.

    And mega congrats to Carla who was a 2007 GH Finalist along with Gina and I in the Inspy Category. Carla not only won but sold her book to Steeple Hill Historicals.

    She and Gina will be guest blogging in March as Golden Heart 2008 calls approach.

  10. Tina, great post. I love old typewriters too. I have an old Royal in it's original case with a cardboard display of how to hold your hands on the home keys. :) And paperwork on how to change the ribbon. The copyright says 1937. I bought it at a garage sale when my daughter wanted to help me write stories so I set her up in her own "office" beside mine.

    Good to know you have a passion for these old things. If I ever get rid of mine, I'll know who to give it to.

  11. Oh, Jess, my kindred spirit. I am so excited the new baby is coming home tonight. And it only cost me 15 bucks.

    The keys alone go for three dollars each at antique stores.
    And have you seen vintage typewriter jewelry?? Love it.

    put typewriter in the search.

    Viola!!! Heaven!!

  12. A while back I read a really old Sandra Brown book.
    In recent years she's gotten really, really edgy. Too edgy for me.
    But this one, I read it and it was so beautifully done. And I could say I get why they said, 'we want more'.

    Here's hoping that someday our books will all be classics. :)

  13. And as for the old ways, anybody ever have to deal with a mimeograph machine. Yeesh.
    And I remember when I got to use a computer at college.
    I had to walk all the way across campus because the COLLEGE only had one and getting to use it was a big deal.
    And I remember a typewriter, also at college, that they could type a letter once, then the typewriter would retype the letter as many times as they wanted.
    It was like a miracle to watch that thing type away. OOOOOOOOHHH!!
    Gonna go crank up the jalopy now for my weekly trip to town to trade butter and eggs for supplies.

  14. Oh, and...to the anonymous tyrant, NO ONE IS FOOLED.

  15. I can relate. My first typewriter was a manual one, sort of a plastic child's typewriter thingy, and I think I got it when I was about nine or ten for Christmas. I typed up a storm on that cheap piece of junk. :-) Then I got an electronic typewriter. I think I was about twelve or thirteen, and I typed my first full-length novel on it. It was a romance. As if I knew anything about romance. But I'm sure it was genius for a 13-14-yr-old.

  16. What serendipity. A news article today was about a typewriter that was mistaken for a bomb, thus closing down a street in Florida. It was complete with photos of what a classic typewriter actually looks like for future reference.

    "Typewriter Mistaken for Bomb, Shuts Down Street"

  17. OMIGOSH, Tina, what a WONDERFUL post!! You took me back to some of my firsts with Rosamond Du Jardin and Emilie Loring -- two of my all-time favorites, along with Victoria Holt. Of course, the book that really pushed me into the arms of romance was "Gone With the Wind." Sigh. What a book!

  18. Tina, the picture of the old typewriter sure brings back memories. I started to learn to type on my grandmother's Underwood in the center of her livingroom rug when I was a little kid. In high school typing class was one of my favorities because I was already familiar with the keyboard. I didn't increase my speed by much, but I still love to type. Good thing for a writer.

  19. Tina, Great post. Aaah nostalgia. I'll have to say my favorites that got me started in romance were Gone with The Wind, Daphne DuMaurier, Rosemary Rodgers and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

  20. Oh, I have to answer these questions. My first writing buddies were my high school friends, Lourie and Sonya. We'd write stories in a notebook and pass it around to each other. The stories were always romances, of course. I also wrote detective stories, but even in those, there was romance.

    Before I wrote my first novel I had read Jane Eyre, so I tried to make my story sort of a gothic modern-day romance in which the heroine thought the hero had murdered her father, or something like that. I was only 13 or 14. I also loved Gone With the Wind, and the last book I started writing, just before I quit writing at 19, was a Civil War story.

    Thanks, you guys, for this blog. It's so much fun to chat with you. :-)

  21. Wow, Tina, great memories! My first typewriter was my mom's old Royal portable in a black suitcase-looking box. I loved it. Still have the ancient "Great American Spy Novel" I started on that typewriter. Single-spaced and all. I graduated to a cheap-o electric, which was nice but not as fun. Eventually got an IBM Selectric, on which I typed my first Institute of Literature course assignments. Went from that to a Kaypro II computer. Went through 3-4 computer upgrades over the years until I ended up where I am now, on my adorable MacBook Pro!

    Oh, and my favorite author back in the day was Phyllis Whitney. Also loved darkly romantic gothics.

  22. Myra, I loved Phyllis Whitney also. I think I still have one of her books from waaaaaay back.

  23. I was a Phyllis W fan too. Her books were so scary. From her I went to Mary Higgins Clark.

  24. How fun, Tina! You got me thinking back to the book that set me on the road to reading, then writing, romance: Jude Devereaux's A Knight in Shining Armor.

    Great typewriter! My first one had those correction cartriages you pop in and out. Can you imagine using that for a novel??!!


  25. Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, those books about young girls in the Civil War. I think the titles were usually the names of the girls. I was a frequent library visitor, so didn’t actually have the books to keep, and can’t remember the names. But I read everything.

    In sixth grade, I had read everything in our small school’s elementary (we were so small each teacher had her own tiny “library”… a bookcase. My teacher sent me to the Jr High/High School library to pick out a book! Wow! I loved it.

    Except then she wouldn’t let me do a book report on any of the books we had. I had to pick something with at least 300 pages. I KNOW that book was at least 1” thick!

    I read Barbara Cartland, Phyllis Whitney. I simply can’t remember them all!

    I never owned a typewriter, although I learned to type in school on a manual typewriter. We had one electric typewriter we all got to practice on for just a bit. I majored in computer science in college and fell in love with computers, although it was nothing like the PC’s we have today.

    I’m not sure I would have had the perseverance to write long-hand or using a typewriter. Not as much as I have to revise.

    Great post, Tina!

  26. I have two copies of Knight in Shining Armor. I love that book so much.

    I also adore another Jude called Sweet Liar.

    "He kissed her the way she always wanted to be kissed, had dreamed of being kissed, kissed her the way fairy tales are supposed to end, the way all the books say a kiss should feel--the way no one had ever kissed her before."

  27. Ahhhh (said with a huge sigh).



  28. I first fell in love with reading. My dad gave me a bunch of old books from my grandpa. So believe it or not, I started out on science fiction from the 1930's-1950's. (Okay, that was after my 4th grade teacher gave me The Island of the Blue Dolphin.) Then I went to mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I started reading at 4 yrs. old! Of course my dad taught me on Disney stories:-) I still love the sound of his voice in my memories of Hiawatha, Peter Pan, and Cinderella. But my introduction into romance? I cut my teeth on Gone With The Wind at around 14 or 15 yrs old!