Three years ago today, I was writing a story about a woman at the end of her rope who finds herself faced with new possibilities when she runs into a handsome idealistic doctor on the Strand, a 22-mile bike path that stretches from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance Beach. Her story was inspired by John Legend’s song, All of Me, which I heard while I was stuck in L.A. traffic. I had no idea what the song was at that time but because it was probably played three times during that drive, I was able to memorize a line or two and then ask myself: can a man truly love a woman THAT much? At least, as much as John Legend sings it? Or did the words just make for a good song?
What if she had so much baggage?
I caught myself then, at how jaded I was about this whole thing called love. Either that or traffic was really getting to me because it was also hot on that freeway and the cars weren’t moving – and I may just have been running late and feeling overwhelmed from doing too many things like running a private practice full time, teaching nightly massage courses at a junior college on the other side of town and (the reason I was stuck in that freeway) agreeing to do chair massages from 7pm to 11pm for a private college on another side of town (not the side I taught my massage courses).
I was already writing then as well, mostly it was fan fiction because I believed that anyone could steal my original stories if I posted them online and so I figured fan fiction was a safe way to practice the craft and see if I could nail conflict, plot, characterization and arcs. I wrote about spies and lovers caught in a deadly web of intrigue and danger, pretty gritty fare with sex that was a bit on the overly dramatic side.
I never even considered myself a contemporary romance writer then either.
But something about that song nagged at me and so I sat down and started writing. I had no idea what I was going to write. I did not know who my heroine was going to be. I just knew that I needed to start writing. Write it and they’ll come, that’s always been my mantra. It’s like opening the door to my mind and allowing the characters to walk right in and tell me their story.
So this month three years ago, Samantha “Sam” Martin was born, and along with her, Erik Maystrom whom I’d actually already written into an earlier story back in 2013 (never completed at 90K words) only to set the book aside knowing that even though I couldn’t use it, I had the perfect hero just waiting for his perfect match; his widowed sister, Olivia Firelli, and his best friend, Josh Morin, an undercover detective who loved building furniture without power tools (precursor to Dax, apparently).
It’s because of them that even though it’s deeply flawed, wordy and so unpolished, Finding Sam ranks up there among my favorite books. You also never forget your first time and in this case, the first time I actually finished an original story and stamped it with the words, The End.
Only it wasn’t the end. It was the start of whole new adventure–my one true passion–one that would bring me more characters, more stories… and more joy.
What about you? How did you get started?