I could tell you about my favorite books for Word Book Day but I’ll tell you about the first book I wrote and published instead.
Finding Sam is set in Southern California’s South Bay cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. It was my second attempt at writing a novel set in the area, the first still sitting in my hard drive and probably will never see the light of day.
In Finding Sam, Sam Martin is a single mother who’s had a hard life and is trying to get out of the mindset of one who lets things happen to her (through no fault of her own) to one who’s going to make things happen. But she needed a catalyst to do that and it’s Erik Maystrom, a wealthy and idealistic community doctor who lives on the Strand.
I think the first draft of Finding Sam hit 145k words. The first editor who read it came highly recommended and was known to be so tough that most authors quaked in their boots sending her their manuscripts. She was known to throw those literal bricks at you. Naive me went ahead and sent the first 10K words anyway.
I think she must have known I was new because she was kind in her note. She told me to read books on how to write romance because I had missed crucial elements like the heroine has to meet the hero in the first chapter, etc. It gutted me to read her comments, especially since I never labeled the book romance. When I told her that, she said that if it was Women’s Fiction, then it wasn’t too bad although she insisted that I wasn’t ready to publish, that I had to find my voice.
Months later, I decided to publish anyway, if only to see what lay behind that Publish button. I sold 3 copies, one of those purchasers being me. After going through a bad bout of imposter syndrome, I’d go ahead and unpublish the book two months later and then republish it after an author recommended it on a podcast.
I’ve always been a voracious reader since I was a child. I read everything that was within my reach: Bible stories, fairy tales, condensed Reader’s Digest novels, Rumi, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Book of Mormon, my mother’s secret collection of Harold Robbins novels. Books were my escape from the things that were happening around me. When I started writing in eighth grade, my stories were my retreat as well. I could make up whatever I wanted, stories set outside my hometown and country, thanks to the Almanac, Reader’s Digest, and Life Magazines. It was safer that way. I wasn’t incriminating anyone in stories set in Jane Austen’s England or in the bazaars of Morocco.
My ideal house always had a library, no matter how big or small it was. I could live in a studio apartment and it will always have a shelf of books or boxes where I could store them all. My favorite places whenever I travel is a bookstore or a library. I guess if ever I get lost somewhere, that’s where you’ll find me. We can go to Chinatown for the best dim sum and I’ll still manage to find the only bookstore there and come out with tons of books.
Books will always remain my escape, both reading and writing them. Happy World Book Day! What are your favorite books?