Recently I’ve had a few people ask me how to get their stories published. I can’t really give much advice on that, but I can give some pointers on how to get started writing, how to improve your writing, and how to turn it into the kind of writing a publisher may notice.

Most of us don’t start out with a golden pen in our hand. We start by putting what’s in our head on paper or, in my case, in the computer. The first draft may not be the prettiest piece of work you’ll ever produce, but it will get you on the road to where you need to go.

Your first manuscript may be the next best seller or it may be something you cringe at every time you think of it. My first attempt at writing falls in the cringe category. The plot was terrible, the point of view was all over the place, and my characters had absolutely no depth. My first manuscript is neatly filed away where no one will ever see it. But I wrote it and that was a huge accomplishment.

When I realized I had no idea about the craft of writing, I read as many books on writing as I could. I joined a writing group, the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America or OKRWA as most people call it. I went diligently every third Saturday of the month. I learned how to make my stories interesting, how to stay in one character’s head, and how to deepen the emotions of my characters. I learned the craft of writing. I also met wonderfully talented writers who were more than generous with their time and advice.

While I was a member of OKRWA I worked on the program committee, I was vice president, then president, and after that I was the chapter newsletter editor. I gave back to the organization, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. OKRWA gave me the opportunity to grow personally and succeed as a writer. My journey wasn’t without obstacles. Due to some major life changes, I took a break while I went back to school. I actually couldn’t write. My brain was on overload with everything going on in my life. Once I finished my degree and cleared out all the excess baggage in my head, I used the new knowledge and life experience I gained in my writing.

Even though writing is my passion, it’s also hard work at times, but I believe the end product wouldn’t be as sweet if it was easy to achieve. When I submitted my manuscript to Bold Strokes Books, I was ecstatic when I received the email offering a contract for Where The Light Glows. It wasn’t about fame or money, it was much more than that. I had received this writer’s dream. Validation that my work was publishable.

My advice to those of you who dream of writing the next best seller is to write, read, and join a writer’s group. Your dream will never come true unless you pick up that pen and make it golden.

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