Friday, December 10, 2010

When Did You First Know...?

By our special guest Erica Vetsch

One of the questions I hear frequently from people, when they find out I’m an author, is “Did you always want to be a writer?”

When I first started fielding this question, my initial response was, “No, I’ve only been writing for about five years.” But as I delve deeper into this writing life, I realize story-spinning has been a part of my make-up for as long as I can remember. Now that I’ve been doing this for awhile, I can see the early-warning signs.

It all started in Kindergarten when I was placed at the Orange Rhombus table. Each of six tables had a different colored shape taped to the middle of the top. Six children were placed at each table, and that was where you sat for the entire year. All the cool kids sat at the Purple Ellipse table or even the Red Triangle table. Only dorks, geeks, and other social outcasts sat at the Orange Rhombus table. The kids no one understood. I remember thinking at the time that if the teacher had only called us the Orange Diamonds, we’d have been the cool kids. I was editing and realizing the importance of using just the right descriptors at age five.

By third grade, I’d developed the habit of wandering around the playground by myself thinking about whatever book I happened to be reading at the time. We weren’t allowed to bring books out onto the playground, so I had to carry the story around in my head. There was a particular patch of white clover on the far side of the playground away from the kickball, dodge ball, and the mean girls who wouldn’t let Orange Rhombus-types sit on top of the monkey bars with them, where I could be alone with my thoughts. I would flop down in that green, fragrant patch of clover, watch the clouds tumble by overhead, and relive storybooks and how they turned out, or how I would’ve spun the story differently. Story analysis and deconstruction at age eight.

Fifth grade- a new school and new friends, but I just skimmed along on the surface of this new place. Inside, I brought all my real friends with me. Laura Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) Alec Ramsey (The Black Stallion) Paul and Maureen Beebe (Misty of Chincoteague) Tim Collier (The Scrapper of Camp Blazing Rock) and Cherry Ames (Cherry Ames: Student Nurse et.al.) all came to the new school with me. My literary friends and I lived a vivid inner life together, while the people in the real world despaired of my daydreaming, wooly-headedness, and general lack of paying attention to anything academic. Characters had taken over my world by age eleven.

Junior High/Middle School…let’s just say that time is best forgotten by everyone, everywhere, for all time and eternity, amen.


In ninth grade, all this intensely vivid inner life spilled out onto the page for the first time. I wrote a short story. In the story, a boy complained about his little brother following him everywhere—If I remember correctly, he called the little brother License Plate, because he was always ‘tagging’ him—and when the older brother and his friends ran away from the little brother, the little brother got lost and hurt, and the older brother felt lower than turtle guts and in the end the big brother realized how much he loved the little brother and it all had a happily-ever-after ending when the little brother was found and restored to the family. The positive response from this short-story encouraged me to greater heights of literary folly. I wrote a novel. In a spiral notebook. In pencil. Loopy, teenaged-girl penmanship. The story—entitled Circus Summer—had everything a fifteen-year-old daydreamer like me could want. In order of importance these were:

• A horse. ( A MUST)

• A dog

• A teenage girl

• A teenage boy

• A high-wire act and some clowns.  ( I KNOW! Don’t judge!)

As you can see from the above list, I’m still in shock that this book has never been published. But by the age of 15, I had written a novel. I still have it if Random House or G.P. Putnam’s Sons ever come knocking. 

In college, I honed my skills further, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I had my eye on a certain boy from Minnesota (and over the next year I ran just fast enough for him to catch me—next week we’ll celebrate our 21st Anniversary.) Several other girls in the dorm had their eyes on certain fellows, and at night, we would gather in the lounge down the hall and discuss things (boys!). I’m not sure how it happened, but when the conversation swung around to me, I found myself designing perfect dates for each of the girls with their ‘guy of the moment/dreams.’ Everyone would be quiet, and I’d tell a story—weave a romance—for each girl, from the setting to the clothes to the moment Prince Charming popped the question. I’m sure a lot of it was pretty sappy, but by the time I was 18, I’d found my genre—Romance. And I’d found out how to go for an emotional response in a listener/reader.



Marriage, life, babies, an interstate move, building a house, teaching high school…lotsa grown-up stuff happened, but through all of that, a couple things remained constant. Reading. I devoured books at an alarming rate. And Daydreaming. I would take the characters of those books, or of TV shows or movies I watched, and I would continue their stories, or change them, introduce new characters and spin new adventures. I treasured that not-quite-awake-not-quite-asleep twilight time each night before drifting off, because that’s when the stories flowed the best. As a young wife and mom, I was plotting and brainstorming in the midst of diapers and housework and homework.


A few years ago, I found a place for all the words and stories in my head. I began writing fiction. Fan fiction at first, then my own characters, places, plots, and stories. From the time I first began pursuing publication to holding my first book in my hands was about five years, but as I look back, I can see the path to publication began long before 2005. It started when I first became an Orange Rhombus.

How about you? When did you first know you were destined to be a writer? If you’re an Orange Rhombus, raise your hand! Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Maggie and the Maverick.

Or buy Maggie and the Maverick HERE
~~~~~
ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She attended Calvary Bible College where she earned a degree in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at
On The Write Path

117 comments :

  1. There's lots of coffee on the sideboard. Help yourselves.

    I honestly don't know when it began, but it wasn't in kindergarten. Didn't HAVE kindergarten. Started first grade at age five.

    Also don't remember any class groupings.

    But I was ALWAYS a bookworm.


    I didn't actually try putting a story on paper until my youngest started kindergarten. But all that reading had to have paved the way.

    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Erica:


    I’ve read at least six books from your publisher, two were yours, two Myra’s, and I think two were Mary’s. I even have five or six more but the type is too small for me to read at this point. The books are excellent. Have you heard any word about making the books available as eBooks? I know I would read many each year if they were.

    Thanks,

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
  3. It seems like a lot of writers home school. I wonder how many writers home school their children versus the general population? Is it because writers can work from home and choose their hours or is it because of their sensitivity? Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  4. What an fun post, Erica. I enjoyed getting to know more about you. And for what it's worth, I think you're a sparkling diamond.

    Do any of your gal pals from college know that you're a published author of romances? If so, I'm sure they aren't the least bit surprised. Clearly, the writing bug bit you early in life. =)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Erica, Helen I was a book worm too. Even got an award for it in eighth grade :) And I remember writing stories very early as well. So let's face it, since reality is nothing more than our own perception, I say dream on everyone :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I Hi Erica, I loved Cherry Ames read many of the books. Love Sally Baxter she was a reporter.

    I loved Enid Blyton as a child but doesn't seem she was popular in america. Love the magic faraway tree series.

    I am not a writer but had a vivid imagination. I enjoy the heartsong presents books.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovin' the coffee, Helga!

    I meant Helen, of course!!! Ooops.

    Erica, we were obviously separated at birth. I love that progression. It's so ME.

    Cherry Ames... I never liked Les. Too cool.

    I loved Sue Barton nursing stories too. And she married Dr. Wade...

    Oh my, so wonderful!

    And the Penny Parrish books by Janet Lambert.

    I was odd man out but had my friends with me all along. Orange Rhombuses of the world unite!!!

    Love this, girlfriend. I brought breakfast pizza today. It's cold here. I thought a nice, hot country style breakfast was in order.

    Dig in!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh, Ruthy, dear, bless you. After four hours of sleep [I thought those days were behind me when I finished my Masters'!!!! At least when it's not kid-related!], I need that breakfast. Much better than the bowl of cereal I was planning.

    Erica - I was never an orange rhombus but otherwise - wow. Skip the homeschooling the kids, and that's very much like me. Except I'm not published [yet! Positive thinking here!] and I really hope it doesn't take 5 years but everything else...

    Right down to the, er, fan fiction. We won't mention what TV show, with a main character who married his on screen girlfriend and now is a televangelist part time, I thought needed an adopted girl to come in and fall in love with handsome oldest son. /mutter/they brought in that other guy instead/grumble/stupid 'I'm gonna go down with the ship someday' wannabe/glare/.

    Er, where was I? Right. I have several stories written with my BFF at the time [mostly? Me. But she did help]. Oh, the Mary Sueness!!! But I still have them.

    But... Alec Ramsey?!?! The Beebes?!?! The pony is in the kitchen! And I have a little girl who ADORES horses. I can't wait to dig into those with her when she's a bit older. I've always wanted to go to the pony roundup at Chincoteague [sp?]. It's real, you know.

    But anyway - now that I'm well rested and well fed, I must finish getting a final ready so I can pass it out as a take home test in a couple hours.

    I'll be back. Maybe. If I don't fall asleep first.

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Erica

    Seems you struck a chord with me too.

    Book list: check
    MN man: check
    Early symptoms: check

    Had to wait until I was 35 to get my dream horse, and she IS a magnificent Arabian (go Alec!)

    It's all good.

    Never a rhombus though. I'm older, so we didn't get grouped until later, when they had such things as "major works"

    May at maythek9 spy dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wanted to live in the world of stories since I first learned to read. However, it was about 5th grade when I wrote my first story of daring escape (okay, I was ten:))from communist China where my heroine made her way down the Yangtze river to safety.
    Loved the orange rhombus!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Erica!

    I'm too old to be in the 'color classifications'. We just went to kindergarten. : )

    I was in high school when an English teacher and one of my classmates mother-who wrote for Harlequin-encouraged me to write.

    But, I didn't start writing for publication until 1991 with a focus on children's writing. By 1994 I was starting to see short stories and devotionals in print.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I still have the 'books' I wrote and gave my grandparents but I too am from the non-rhombus generation. This was back when we actually finger-painted in kindergarten instead of working on computers.

    Erica, I loved getting to know more about you through your post today! What a sweet story, and close to home.

    Bring on the breakfast pizza. IT's FREEZING around here this morning. Okay it's way less than freezing, right Ruthy? I guess half the country is suffering with us.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That magical moment was first or second grade when we first learned how to write a sentence. Once the teacher showed me that, I thought "This is powerful! I'm going to write lots and lots of stories!"

    ReplyDelete
  14. Erica, so great to see you here! Absolutely LOVE the cover of your book! Maggie and the Maverick, great title, too. Oh sigh...hopeless romantics unite!

    Once an orange rhombus, always an orange rhombus, you just learn to make your imagination work for you. I took a Creative Writing class senior year of high school. The teacher ENCOURAGED us to dig deep into our inner emotions and bring them out on paper. Bring our stories to life.

    I did. I wrote a heart warming short story of a teenage girl (of course) yearning for a teenage boy (of course), heartbreak and ending with HEA (of course!)

    I dug deep and pulled out emotions that had me crying by the time I typed THE END. We needed to submit something publishable by the teacher's standards to earn an A for the class. I knew this was it.

    I got a C. Too sappy, she said. Unrealistic.

    This critique coming from a woman surrounded by teenagers oozing hormones all around her?? It wasn't until then that I realized she was only a cute, young English teacher who catered to all the jocks in our class.

    Mean girls on monkey bars all over again.

    Do we ever shake the Orange Rhombus stigma? Do we want to?

    Heh heh heh. NOW I get to write all the stories I want about handsome cowboys rescuing lovely ladies in distress and NO ONE is telling me to stop getting sappy and write realistic.

    I love being an Orange Rhombus...

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was in a special group in grade school also. I was never really told what made us special, but I'm pretty sure it was social awkwardness.

    My mother recently gave me the paper on which I wrote my first story, in first grade. It was about a mouse family celebrating Christmas. Mrs. Mouse got a "knitting kit," which was very prophetic because I'm a passionate knitter now, though I hadn't learned yet in first grade.

    I entertained my brothers all through my growing up years by telling them stories on trips, when stuck in the car waiting for our parents, and at night when we were supposed to be asleep. Although I don't remember any of these stories, my brothers do!

    At fourteen, I wrote, directed, and starred as the prince in a school production of Cinderella. (It was an all girl cast.)

    I started my first novel in high school, which involved a prince and a talking horse. One of these days I've got to find that thing!

    Now I'm writing my fourth novel and am confident that soon one will get published!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey, Erica! Nice story. Mine is very similar. Except I did know I wanted to be a writer, probably from around 6th grade on. But I gave up my dream when I went to college and decided to be "practical." But I wrote two novels, in spiral notebooks, while in middle school and high school.

    I was always a little bit of a misfit. People called me "weird" because I read so much and didn't care to go out partying. Now, those same people call me "famous." LOL!!! Just kidding. Sort of.

    You go girl, with all your releases! Happy for your success. :-)

    Oh, and BTW, that cover for Cherry Ames, Dude Ranch Nurse ...

    words escape me.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ahh....Ponies! With a quizzical expression on his face, my 6yo boy asked his dad the other day, "Is it okay for me to want a pony for Christmas?" (because his girl cousins do, of course) LOL

    I'm glad to hear there are others out there who never really recognized the writer in them for a while. I think we tend to internalize, do a lot of absorbing and may be slow to realize stuff like that.

    Thanks for sharing today. Would love to win a copy of your book! Thanks for the opportunity,
    Emily

    hendrickson_emily(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  18. When did I first know? Age six when I penned a poem to help my parents settle an argument (figured if they didn't know what love was, I needed to tell them.) After that, I was hooked.

    We weren’t allowed to bring books out onto the playground, so I had to carry the story around in my head.

    What a great line. Thank you for writing that. While my teachers allowed me to carry books onto the playground--I suppose they figured it was easier than dealing with an injury--I carried stories around in my head long before I realized that I, me, the geek who preferred books to games, could write anything but cheesy poems.

    So lift your coffee cup and lets toast the wise teachers who had the foresight to put us at orange rhombus tables, thus encouraging us to reshape our thinking about what was cool.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Erica,

    So many similarities! I started writing my first novel in Grade 6 when, after reading my Halloween story to the class, my teacher said I should write a book. My first rejection came several years later! (Took me that long to write and TYPE (as in typewriter) it up!)

    "Bewitched" was my favourite show as a kid, and I always made up different endings/scenarios. And yes, that in between time, just before sleep is the best time for the imagination!

    I stopped writing in high school and didn't start again till around my 40th birthday. I've learned so much since then!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    I'd love to try one of your books. I'm off to the big city today (Toronto) with a friend to Christmas shop! Hope the snow holds off a while.

    Have a good one!
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi, Erica! I always loved to read and still do. I wonder how many thousands I've devoured so far. I started writing at 7, wrote during the elementary years, but then got sidetracked for the next--several decades.

    I don't think I was a rhombus until junior high school. Hard transition.

    I bet most of us are bookworms. It's such a nice thing to be.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a wonderful story you have! LOVE the pictures and your book cover is so sweet and endearing.

    Can't wait to read the story!

    Thanks for sharing and being with us today.

    Cheryl

    ReplyDelete
  22. You definitely are a DIAMOND!

    I loved your comment:
    "I found a place for all the words and stories in my head. I began writing fiction."

    You see, I am a reader only. I do not have stories in my head. I just appreciate all of the writers who do and grace us with their talent.

    God bless you richly,
    Charlotte
    chakasa58 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I didn't know until I embarked on my current WIP.

    In retrospect, I see it more clearly throughout parenthood. I've always created stories for my children using their pictures, toys, you name it. Come to think of it, I've always done that. Seems to me an active imagination has a lot to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Erica!
    LOVE the post. Love the 'story'.
    And I'm a lifelong writer - 'storyteller' (though Mom said it was called lieing.) eyeroll

    My granny bought me my first typewriter from a yardsale when I was 12 years old, because she said "a writer needs one"
    I still have the story I wrote when I was nine. The Secret of the Woods (snicker)
    And I have my first 'typed' story from when I was twelve and a BIG TIME Nancy Drew Fan, called The Tracy Twins and the Mystery of the Log Cabin.

    In highschool I wrote my first speculative fiction(even though there really wasn't such a genre then, I don't think), and my first year of college I wrote my first historical romance - medieval.

    See - I couldn't decide on a genre then either.
    Can I blame that on ADHD?

    I didn't 'seriously' start writing until 2004 when I took The Writers Digest Novel Writing Course and realized how very little I knew about writing :-)
    Storytelling - yes
    Writing - er...not so much

    ReplyDelete
  25. Erica, I loved your charming post! Thanks for sharing your childhood with us. I just want to squeeze the little girl you.

    I wrote my first romances at twelve. Wish I had them. But along the way, those stories must've embarrassed me and I tossed them. Do you still have your short story and early books? Hoping so!

    Congratulations on your new release, Maggie and the Maverick! Lovely cover.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  26. ERICA!!! Love, love, LOVE this post, which actually is no huge surprise because I love you too -- both YOU and YOUR writing!!

    I actually got tears in my eyes over you being an Orange Rhombus instead of an Orange Diamond (you are SO a diamond, and not in the rough, either!) and laughed at the same time. I can SO see you!!

    The story about you creating romance scenarios for your girlfriends in college is priceless, and how I wish I'd had someone like you to do that for me as I pined away until the age of 28, dead certain no one would EVER want to marry me!!

    As to when I first knew I was a writer, a lot of people know it was after I read Gone With the Wind at the age of 12. Sigh. I SOOO wanted to know what it would be like to have a man want me like Rhett wanted Scarlett!! But your question forced me to crinkle my brow and really think about it, and I guess I'd have to say my first real inklings that I wanted to be a writer came when I was about 8 or so and used to write stories in a notebook about beautiful Amazon women. They'd be in bikinis like Raquel Welch in the movie 1,000 B.C., and the men from the outside world were crazy over them and madly in love. I was always pretty good in art (straight A's), so I could draw people very well and would illustrate all my stories. Which was fine until my mom found them under my mattress and I got in trouble for writing "trash"!! Wait ... I never thought about it, but I guess that would have been my first 1-star review! :)

    Great post, sweetie!!

    Happy Weekend, All!

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  27. Orange Rhombus?

    Really?

    I looked it up because it looked like a parallelogram to me.

    But a rhombus has four equal sides, unlike a parallelogram.

    Just naming you after a rhombus is so scary smart I'm impressed.

    Love your books, Erica babeeeeee!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Vince the small print Heartsong Presents books are better when they're re-released in 3 in 1 books. Erica and Myra have those coming soon. The print is bigger.

    The first from Erica is

    Idaho Brides

    Coming in June 2011

    ReplyDelete
  29. Erica,
    I love your post and I would agree that junior high should be a forgotten season, except that’s when I met a lifelong friend. But my school pictures from those years should be burned on a huge bonfire. :o) I’ve made up stories all my life. I don’t remember a time I wasn’t either telling a story to someone, or out on my own re-enacting stories or acting out those I made up.

    When we were teenagers my best friend and I would make up hypothetical stories. For this process she or I would start a hypothetical situation (some really hot guy asks you back to his place do you go) and depending on the other’s answer the story was off and running. Then throughout the story there would be other questions to guide it along. One night we stayed up until 6:00 the next morning with one story. I’ve actually used bits and pieces of that story in an ms.

    --Kirsten

    ReplyDelete
  30. Breakfast Pizza is a 'country style' breakfast?

    C'mon, Ruthy, biscuits and sausage gravy.

    Bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.

    Steak and pancakes.

    But PIZZA!!!!????

    ReplyDelete
  31. Gorgeous cover for Idaho Brides btw, Erica. Love the COWBOY in the background. Gotta have cowboys.

    YAY!!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. You know what this reminded me of?

    I wrote a sequel to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

    I don't think I even have it saved anywhere. My kids' school put it on for their Christmas Program. I can totally see it as a christmas TV show.

    ReplyDelete
  33. this rudolph thing was years ago, before I was published.

    I wrote plays for the local school and for my church. My first published work for which I earned money was for a play i wrote for my Sunday School Christmas Program.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Erica, your post had me paging through my own earliest memories of writing, which, as best as I can remember, goes back to first grade and "The Enchanted Prince."

    Oh, Melanie, I so relate to the "misfit" label! I recently reconnected with a former high school classmate, and she said she always thought I was stuck up because I never talked to her. I told her I was so incredibly shy and introverted that I hardly talked to ANYONE!

    Yay for becoming "famous" novelists who now live exciting lives vicariously through our characters! They get to be strong and brave and say all the great lines I could never think of fast enough in real life.

    ReplyDelete
  35. TOTALLY fun post, Ericka! I've known probably since late elementary - though I THOUGHT I wanted to be a teacher. What did I know??

    ReplyDelete
  36. Ooo, Mary
    I wrote a squeal to Frankenstein.

    Not quite as cute as Rudolph

    Okay- I wrote a sequel to Spiderman too - but that was a movie sequel :-)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh, Mel and Erica
    I was called 'weird' too, but I never figured out why.
    Huh?
    Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
  38. What a great post! Happy Anniversary btw. :) You don't look near old enough to be married 21 years!

    No books on the playground?? What kind of school did you go to?? I would take 15 minute breaks during my school day (I was homeschooled) and would read, but somehow they always bled into 20 minute breaks. You would almost never find me without a book in my hands. The same is true today. That must be a good thing for this budding writer! :)

    caseymh18(@)gmail.com

    Is Maggie and the Maverick is your Idaho Bride's collection coming out? If so, don't enter me, because I am going to buy it when it becomes available. :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. ACK! I'm late to the party! You're all going to have to live through a Tidal Flood of replies from me as I catch up.

    Now grabbing a slice of cold breakfast pizza and diving in!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Helen, I agree, reading is the first step to writing...I never understand those writers who say they don't have time to read, or they don't like to read.

    It's a hand-in-glove sort of deal in my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Vince, thanks for those kind words!

    I agree, the type is wicked small in the Heartsongs. As Mary so ably addressed, the 3-in-1 Collections have larger type. I'm excited for my first one to release in about six months!

    Squeee!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Eva Marie - I've wondered that too. Are writers more disposed to homeschooling, or are homeschoolers more disposed toward writing?

    It would be an interesting survey. I imagine there would be more of a preponderance of homeschooling moms in the CBA, but maybe not.


    Hmmm...maybe I should set up a survey on SurveyMonkey and see what happens?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Keli,

    Some of those gals do know, and they were the first to say it didn't surprise them a bit.

    It's been fun running into people who knew me a long time ago and hearing that they thought of me as a storyteller from way back.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Ausjenny,

    I've heard of Enid Blyton, and I'd love to read some. One of my favorite authors is the late Essie Summers from NZ. She mentions Enid Blyton in some of her stories.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Ruthy! I never liked Lex either!

    And Sue Barton! I have all her books! Love her.

    When you mentioned Penny Parrish, I about fell off my chair. Is there a better teen-girl book anywhere than Star-spangled Summer? Sigh. David Parrish was so...sigh. :D

    ReplyDelete
  46. CarolM- Love your Fan Fiction admission. Mine was from a 1960's cowboy show.

    Ah, well, it was a great training ground for me.

    And the Misty stories...just last fall a friend of mine adopted THREE Chincoteague ponies and I got to meet them. It was such a great experience, and the minute I brushed their velvety muzzles, I was 9 years old again.

    ReplyDelete
  47. KC, gotta love the MN men! :D

    Yay that you got an Arabian. Did you ever read John Richard Young's series "Arabian Cow Horse"?

    Fabulous books!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Debbie, Wow, an escape from Communist China in 5th grade? I was all about the horses in 5th grade and barely even knew where China was. Do you still have that story?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Rose, I'm so excited to read your book! It seems like it wasn't that long ago you and I and Mary were in Sioux Falls. We'll have to get up a book signing together there!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Debra, do you ever bring out the old stories and look them over? I get a kick out of seeing how my mind worked at 14 when I re-read Circus Summer.

    ReplyDelete
  51. BK, that is so great. You were mighty young to recognize the power of the written word! It took me a lot longer to make the connection.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Audra! I'm glad you didn't let that English teacher stop you. OUCH and Double OUCH.

    Handsome cowboy and stubborn little lady stories are the BEST.

    You go, you Orange Rhombus, you!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Linda B...you've known for a long time you were a writer...I love the idea of the knitting kit and you becoming a knitter...but I am fascinated by the Prince and the Talking Horse. How cool is that?

    Keep pressing on with the writing. I wrote several novels before getting one published, and then the floodgates opened.

    Not as many as Mary, but then, few mortals can keep up with Mary. :D

    ReplyDelete
  54. Melanie, misfits are welcome at the Orange Rhombus table. :D

    Maybe we should form a group...Knights of the Orange Rhombus Table...

    Love it that the folks who thought you were a misfit now think you're famous. And so you are!

    BTW, The Healer's Apprentice was on the bestseller wall at my local Christian bookstore! :D

    ReplyDelete
  55. Emily, I love your son asking about the pony!

    I do internalize a lot of things and am particularly slow putting the pieces together when it comes to my own self. Maybe the teacher wasn't too far off putting me at the O.R. table. :D

    ReplyDelete
  56. Sneeker, I'm raising my Diet Coke in a toast.

    Write On, Orange Rhombus, Write On!

    I love that your teacher let you take books onto the playground!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Sue, I love that your teacher encouraged you to write. And that time just before falling asleep... that is the BEST! So many story ideas drift by. I know I've lost quite a bit of sleep in my life because of an interesting thought just before I drift off. I jolt awake and have to turn it over in my head for awhile.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Cara, bookworms...I always thought--like Orange Rhombus--that there must be a nicer term for book addicts. Why couldn't we be book unicorns with flowing manes and rainbow tails????

    Or book princesses?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Cheryl, I think Maggie is my favorite HP cover so far. It's so perfect for the story.

    Sigh. I love cowboys. :D

    ReplyDelete
  60. Charlotte (I love that name, BTW. It's one of my favorites.) Thank you for coming by Seekerville and for being a reader. As I said to Cara, I think we should be called Book Princesses instead of bookworms. :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. Lance, I agree, it has tons to do with a vivid imagination, and I think we have at least the seeds of that since birth. I know my parents despaired of my daydreaming and wooly-headedness. :)

    ReplyDelete
  62. At my 25th high school reunion, which was longer ago than I'm willling to admit, one of the girls brought this box full of stuff she'd found somewhere left from high school that had a bunch of papers, assignments, etc from her classmates.

    There was a book report in there from me, this is high school. It was insanely long. Like at least four pages front and back.

    I looked at that long, long report and couldnt' remember reading the book, couldn't remember the title, nothing. What struck me was how much i wrote. I thought, "Wow, I was a writer even back then. I just didn't know it."

    I wrote my first romance novel when I was twelve. Then no more novels for a long time. But I was always writing, writing, writing.

    My children's baby books are just COVERED with my scribblings. Margins, the inside of the back cover and front cover, ever blank space.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Pepper, I love the image of you at the typewriter clacking out The Tracy Twins story!

    The cool thing about being a storyteller is...the writing can be learned and shaped and molded as long as you are a storyteller at heart. :)

    ReplyDelete
  64. Janet, I do still have my handwritten copy of Circus Summer. My kids found it one day and they both read it. Bless their hearts, they said they enjoyed it!

    Such good children.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Julie! You are such a sweetheart!

    I'm giggling over the illustrated Amazon Women stories! You have been pushing the envelope for a long time!

    Since I am artistically challenged, I doubt my stick-figure drawings would've raised any eyebrows.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Mary, it's scary on a lot of levels how prophetic Orange Rhombus turned out to be. :)

    ReplyDelete
  67. Kirsten, I LOVE that you and a friend spun stories and that you've been able to use some of that in your stories.

    My jr high pictures...there should be a law against such atrocities!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Mary, give us the highlights of Rudolph Part 2.

    You got paid to write for church?

    ReplyDelete
  69. Myra, I'm glad you met up with that high school classmate and you got to sort of set the record straight.

    I love the idea of a first grade Enchanted Prince. Do you still have that story? From such small seeds, romance authors grow!

    ReplyDelete
  70. Joanne, I was a teacher before I was a writer...though since I homeschool, I guess I'm still a teacher. :)

    What's cool is, all of life's experiences are grist to the author's mill.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Casey, thank you for saying I don't look old enough to be married 21 years. You are my new bestie, and you can sit right beside me...if you don't mind sitting at the Orange Rhombus table.

    Our homeschool breaks tend to be rather...fluid...when those breaks are spent reading. :)

    ReplyDelete
  72. Mary, what was the book you did the book report on? I'd love to know what you were reading in high school!

    ReplyDelete
  73. We interrupt this program for a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:!!!!!

    GUESS WHAT COLORADO AUTHOR'S BOOK I'M HOLDING IN MY HOT LITTLE HAND????

    HINT: IT'S NOT AUDRA'S!!!!

    OH, HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!
    THE SKIES ARE GONNA CLEAR AGAIN!
    LET'S SING A SONG OF CHEER AGAIN!
    HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

    REGARDLESS OF PREVIOUS COMMITMENTS I AM READING THE RANCHER'S REUNION THIS WEEKEND!!!!

    YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  74. I can't remember the title, Erica. I read through that whole report hoping somewhere, deep in the recesses of my brain, the memory would emerge. It's kinda scary to think a person could....even years ago....read a book then totally, UTTERLY forget it.

    It was probably assigned. Maybe it was a short story or something.

    I remember once reading a book at at the 3/4 point I read some turn of phrase adn thinking, "Oh my gosh I've read this before."

    That struck me as a very bad thing. For a book to be that forgettable.

    In high school I was reading a lot of Readers Digest Condensed books. We had a subscription.

    I read all the regular kid books in elementary school (I'm old, Erica, these were REGULAR when I was young) Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew.

    But high school...I can't really remember. I do know I was the bedrock of my English class. i seemed to be the only one who read the assigned stories and it was pretty much just a year long conversation between me and my english teacher.

    ReplyDelete
  75. TINA'S BOOK IS IN NEW YORK????????????

    I'LL BET IT'S AT MY HOUSE.

    I NEED TO DRIVE TWENTY MILES TO GET THE MAIL.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I wouldn't mind the orange rhombus table one little bit.:)

    ReplyDelete
  77. Erica,

    I love learning all this about you. And you know I'd have sat at that Orange Rhombus table with you. I was an odd kid. No surprise I turned into an odd adult.

    A Wrinkle in Time kickstarted it for me.
    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  78. Wendy, I think we're going to need an Orange Rhombus stadium section. I had no idea there were so many out there who felt like did.

    But as we now know...Rhombus shapes are just diamonds tipped sideways! :D

    ReplyDelete
  79. WOOHOO on the Rancher's Reunion reaching Upstate New York and Outer Mongolia! Soooo stinkin' exciting!

    And Mary...I can totally re-read mysteries because I can never remember whodunit. :)

    ReplyDelete
  80. I was always different. While the cool crowd seemed to like me well enough, I made friends with the orange rombus kids simply because they were nice and more genuine...and I've always had a soft spot for the underdog.

    I would love to read your book. Please include me in the drawing!

    lr dot mullin at live dot come

    ~Linnette

    ReplyDelete
  81. Is Orange Rhombus....universal? I thought that was just a name Erica's school had.

    Or is Orange Rhombus a state of mind???

    I went to a one room country school house. I was the only kid in my grade most of the time, though there was one other boy for a few years.

    I missed out on the whole 'reading group' thing.

    I was both Valedictorian and Special Ed. It was a lot of responsibility and yet I managed.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Mary,
    I just spewed chocolate truffle all over my computer screen.
    LOL
    "I was both Valedictorian and Special Ed"

    It takes one special personality to handle that type of responsibility and ...er...mental agility

    Oh, how I needed that laugh. Am grading 55 final exams as we speak.

    NEED. MORE. CHOCOLATE

    ReplyDelete
  83. Erica, the BESTSELLER WALL?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? I am so moving there. Where do you live again?

    ReplyDelete
  84. Mary, we really are living parallel lives.

    I was the only student in my grade, too! I was voted most likely to succeed...as well as most likely to need therapy...

    :D

    ReplyDelete
  85. Linnette, thank you for reaching out to us Orange Rhombus types. You made getting through school bearable!

    ReplyDelete
  86. I have wanted to write ever since I could write. I still have all my novels and short stories and poetry in a file cabinet downstairs. Most of it is awful, but I will not part with it.

    And I was also a social outcast all through school. Quite suddenly and completely out of no where, as soon as I hit the dorm my freshman year in college, I was - boom - Miss Popularity.I still haven't figured that one out.

    I also haven't figured out how to get published. Some day.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Melanie, s'true!

    And I seem to live in the Orange Rhombus capital of the world. Either that or it was daydream while driving in front of me day. We're expecting a foot of snow starting late tonight, and folks are already driving weird!

    Oh, and now you can say you are a best-selling author...and it will be true! :)

    ReplyDelete
  88. Hi Erica, Thanks for joining us in Seekerville.

    And hey, I've got news for you. The Orange Rhombus table IS the cool table. woo hooo. Cause you were in it. woo hoooo

    I'm like you. I didn't actually start writing until far into adulthood, but even as a child I was always making up stories in my head. We traveled a lot and as we drove through a town, I would make up stories about all the characters that lived there.

    And of course the horse is a must. Those stories were my favorites as we drove through the west and all that ranch land.

    Well all that practice turned out good for you because your books are wonderful. Thanks again for joining us.

    Ruthy I was on the road all day yesterday so missed your fun interview with Helga. And Helga better hear me, cause she hasn't disclosed my secrets yet. Because I know some of Helga's secrets. hmmmm

    Of course, I'm perfect so what is there to tell. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  89. I'm going to have to dig deep to find "the hints that I was a writer." I didn't write stories or daydream constantly, not the classic, "I've written stories ever since I had a crayon in my hand."

    The only thing is, I and everyone I knew just figured I was a writer. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I barely talk, but if I send you an email, you have to scroll and scroll and scroll some more. My first novel length works were typed in emails. And the fact that I edit my emails at least 3 times before I send, to make sure everything is said just right, and then hours later I wish I had changed something.

    I read so much, the worst teenage stunt I pulled was staying up late at night under the covers with a flashlight to continue reading.

    Once at camp, I made up bedtime stories, but seriously, that's the only time I can remember story telling.

    I always said I wanted to be a teacher (and became one) but secretly wanted to be a copy editor so I could read all day.

    In college as an English major I always got complimented that I wrote well, but as you all know, well written essays do not equal well written fiction, no way, no how.

    I absolutely love grammar.

    I kept a box of ideas for stories, but really never had the need to write.

    Then I just decided, if I think I can write and everyone else thinks so, why not try? Esp. if for some reason I can't stay home anymore, would I always wonder if I could have?

    And that's how I became a writer, just because everyone thought I could for some reason that they couldn't explain to my satisfaction.

    rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  90. When did I know?
    About a year and a half ago.

    When did I suspect?
    About 6 years ago.

    I've recorded the story of my current WIP (and first I've ever actually tried to write) on my blog at:

    http://andreastake.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-am-jazzed.html

    My story writing prior to this time consisted of :

    1.) a horror-type story (I barely started and never finished) that was inspired by a very spooky building we passed everyday on the bus in Jr. High, and

    2.) a story I wrote for an assignment in Sophomore English, in which a girl somehow ends up with two dates to the Homecoming dance. I think one of the boys got grounded, thus solving Girl's terrible dilema.

    I got a decent grade on the assignment, but that in no way reflected the quality of the writing (it was terrible). After that I decided creative writing wasn't my schtick. From then on, I stuck to analytical writing, and research papers.

    As an adult my very first thought of writing anything was after reading what is, to this day, one of my favorite books, I thought to my self, "What if they had a daughter, and she did ...."

    The scenario I dreamed up is the inspiration for a story I intend to write one day. Very moving, about a young woman, inspired by her grandmother to become a teacher in a school for the deaf, and the wonderful way God uses her to bring healing to a family that has endured terrible tragedy.

    It was only when God dropped a story basically half-written into my lap and said, "Okay, you finish it" that I began seriously considering writing a novel. Now I have a cast of characters for a trilogy, plus the "school for the deaf" story mentioned above, running around in my head driving me crazy. (It's a short trip, and I don't need directions)

    I'd love to win Maggie and the Maverick. Love the cover, and though I've never really been drawn to cowboys in real life, or movies, I love them in romatic novels. Strange.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  91. I've read one of MJ's manuscripts. It turns out, all those people were right all those years.

    She's my best friend, and my best drill-sergeant. I can't wait to see her published.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Oy Boy!

    When I went to first grade we had five rows of ten desks. We all sat at individual desks. We weren’t little socialists! And if we caused any trouble a nun would whack us with a yard stick. With God’s help, we knew how to behave.

    If there were more than 50 students in the class, they would start another first grade class. We had three first grade classes when I went to St. Peters.

    BTW: we would have told everyone that a rhombus was just a diamond like on playing cards. We’d be the cool kids.

    Vince

    P.S. Mary: If you would just download the book, you could have 50 pages read by the time you could get to the mail box and back!

    ReplyDelete
  93. Breakfast pizza is total country breakfast, Mare.

    Bread dough base.

    Sausage.

    Bacon.

    Eggs.

    Cheese.

    Green peppers (if desired)

    Onions (ditto)

    Side of home fries, well done.

    Seriously, it don't get much mo' country dan dat.

    ReplyDelete
  94. Star Spangled Summer?????

    OH MY.

    No one remembers those books. No one.

    I love you more now.

    I did not think that was possible.

    ReplyDelete
  95. I haven't read any comments in like 5 hours so I'm not really jumping in the convo...

    But I got a Rocky Mountain Hero today!!!!!

    WOOHOO!

    ReplyDelete
  96. Maybe breakfast pizza is from the country around ROME.

    ReplyDelete
  97. This is a hard question for me because my writing has taken some ups and downs.

    In middle school, I once announced that I (and I hope everyone can forgive me for ever uttering this phrase) "hated to write."

    My teacher's response was "this is coming from somoeone who just took 2nd place in a writing contest."

    In high school, I had more fits and spurts. I wrote a lot of poetry. (Then, like now, I always chased that bestselling trend.) I won a local essay contest. (Earned a $100. Ironically, this is still the most I've ever been paid for any single piece. At a 100 words maximum allowed, I got a dollar per word.)

    I discovered eventually that I did like to write. And that part of me has to write. (I penned 750 words in a coffee shop this morning before starting work, though I still didn't get up as early as Ruthy.) This thing is that just can't do anything conventionally.

    And that part of me hasn't changed.

    ReplyDelete
  98. I loved Cherry Ames! So fun to see her mentioned here! . . . This was a great post, Erica. I remember having my parents and teachers ban books from certain areas (like the kitchen when I was supposed to be starting dinner) and having to reread the story in my head. And I also rewrote stories that didn't end the way I wanted them to. Sometimes I couldn't sleep until I'd imagined a better outcome for a favorite character . . . I enjoyed this post and learning a bit about you. Now I'll be on the lookout for your books! Blessings! reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  99. Cherry Ames, Rest Home Nurse.

    Student Nurse.

    Senior Nurse.

    Dude Ranch Nurse. (swwweeeet!)

    How about Practically Perfect? I loved Penny and Josh.

    Tippy.

    I'm all ver klempt.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Star Spangled Summer sounds familiar...

    I was into Boxcar Children and Trixie Belden mostly with horse books and some other stuff thrown in to keep me 'well balanced' LOL!

    I didn't know what a rhombus was either..looked like a parallelogram to me!

    I thought I posted earlier but dont' see it so guess I forgot to send it. My mom's report yesterday is a large mass in the left front of the brain - can't be operated on but the biopsy a week from Monday should let them know what it is. It could be cancer(I think the doctor is leaning that way) but he says some can be treated with radiation and chemo. He kept patting her knee and calling her 'sweet' and saying 'it will be all right' which is usally bad IMO. I'm trying to be positive but I sure wish life would end like the HEAs in these romance novels. The possibility of both parents battling cancer is overwhelming.

    man I missed the country breakfast pizza..oh well I'll have to catch it the next go 'round.

    Vince, I'm with you on the bigger print. I'm trying to re-read books I've had for 20 yrs and can't believe I used to read them with no problem! I love the large print now if I can find it - even using my ereader more since I can make the words bigger!

    Susanna
    smith938@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  101. Erica, sorry I'm late. GREAT POST.

    I wrote my first at 14 after reading Rosamund DuJardin.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraDecember 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Thanks for sharing with us. I am not a writer yet but I have always been a bookworm!

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  103. Penny Parrish, Trixie Belden, Vicki Barr (flight stewardess) were all great. Tina, I'd forgotten about Rosamund Dujardin. I loved reading about Tobey and Brose! Another author I enjoyed was Viola Rowe. She wrote Practically Twins, Freckled and Fourteen, and other tween girl classics . . . Wonderful memories!

    ReplyDelete
  104. Sandra, you're right, the Orange Rhombus table turned out to be pretty cool after all. :)

    Glad you got home safely from your travels.

    ReplyDelete
  105. Chris, maybe the folks at your college were more sophisticated and clued in to just what makes a person cool! :)

    I'm glad you still have all your stories and poetry.

    Poetry is one thing I reek at even more than drawing. Everything I write ends up sounding very like Dr. Seuss. Though, come to think of it, that guy did okay.

    ReplyDelete
  106. MJ, I love your path to becoming a writer. How creative is God to make us all so different?

    ReplyDelete
  107. Andrea, how neat about the spooky building you walked past being the foundation of a story for you.

    It sounds like you've got a lot of stories in the works.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Walt, Orange Rhombus types never do anything conventionally.

    welcome to the club!

    I don't know that I could stop writing now even if I wanted to...which I don't!

    ReplyDelete
  109. Renee Ann, I LOVED rewriting books that didn't end the way I wanted them to, or more often, ended before I wanted them to!

    ReplyDelete
  110. Susanna, I'm so sorry about the burdens you're carrying. Cancer is a horrible disease.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom.

    ReplyDelete
  111. Tina, was it Wait for Marcy or Practically Seventeen? I about wore out my copies of both those books. The Image Cascade link I shared with Ruthy...they have all of Rosamund's books too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  112. Laura, being a bookworm is the first step! :)

    ReplyDelete
  113. I went to a small country school so we were not separated, but I was always reading hiding a book on my lap during class and reading. After our first child I started writing. I started seeing through a child's eyes. I sent articles hand written into a church publication and they bought them. I wrote through the years, if something struck me.I got serious about my writing in my retirement years.Please sign me up for a book.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Oh my goodness, an Orange Rhombus! You are so right--an orange diamond it is; it's just a matter of perspective. And yours, Erica, is better. My son's baseball team was even less subtle--the Green Skunks. Some adults need a refresher course in childhood.

    Another Cherry Ames fan. Haven't heard about her in a long time.

    I wrote short bits and poetry from at least fifth grade, but never analyzed my early years like you did. Fascinating to see how you followed your passion even as a youngster. Looking forward to reading MAGGIE AND THE MAVERICK.

    Blessings,
    Mary Kay
    Mary [at] marykaymoody [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  115. I can't remember exactly when I started to write seriously, but I know I've loved books since childhood. I remember receiving the school librarian's certificate for the most books read during our summer break in elementary school. Once I found "Lad, a Dog" I devoured all the Albert Payson Terhune books. I wonder if that was a precursor to becoming a breeder of Shetland Sheepdogs so many years later, and eventually establishing my own professional dog show business. :)

    It was neat to learn more about you here, Erica. I'd love to win one of your books, but I'm not sure if I'm eligible since I won one of Glynna Kaye's books on September 25th here at Seekerville. If I'm still eligible please put my name in. If not, I'll just sulk a bit and wait for a different opportunity. :)

    caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  116. I have a short story about a red pony I wrote when I was five. Mom allowed me to use her special floral notebook paper for it!!!! And she (a journalism grad and newspaper/magazine editor) taught me how to write a cover letter to submit it, to. Obviously, she never sent it, because I still have both. :) And my parents were constantly reminding me about not reading while walking. Lol

    ReplyDelete