Friday, March 21, 2014

Signing on the Dotted Line by Anna J Stewart

Twenty (mumble mumble) something years ago, I wrote my first story on a dare. At least it felt like a dare.  A group of friends and I started writing short romances featuring our favorite rock stars of the day (I'll share my heroes with you below) and ourselves as the heroines.  Having recently been introduced to the world of romance novels, how hard could this be? And how much fun!  Little did I know just how much this decision to neglect my education and immerse myself in my own stories (while reading 2-3 romances a day) would change my life. 

When I said I neglected my education I am not joking.  I was asked not to return for my sophomore year (Catholic school) because my teachers and the principal thought I had a substance abuse problem. "No," my mother told the principal during a parent teacher conference.  "She has a book problem."  I could not stop reading.  I could not stop writing.  The stories got longer, the plots more intricate (and convoluted), the characters expanded beyond myself and morphed into new creations I could make dance at the tip of my pen (before computers took over the universe).  Writing these stories became the focus of my world although I did manage to graduate with a pretty good GPA; I learned my lesson, although who thought I had to take sewing to be successful was very much mistaken. I meandered through college, a binder filled with lined paper with textbooks and homework a second thought. I'd sit in class and keep writing my stories, determined to be a writer.  Except...

photo from 4vector.com
To be a writer, one has to actually have knowledge about some things.  Click! Oh, okay.  THIS is what college is supposed to be about. Learning about what interests you. Got it.  So the writing was pushed to the back and became my reward and I embraced the opportunity education provides (and graduated with a 3.8, go me!). I know what you're thinking by now.  Oh, boy, this girl has a problem with back story.  Um, yeah. I do.  Because if I hadn't answered that challenge all those years ago, if I hadn't take a chance and ventured into something new...

I never would have signed my first contract with Harlequin a few short weeks ago.

Yes, it took a long time to get to where I needed to be. I had to join RWA, join my local chapter, find the perfect critique partners and mentor (ahem, Melinda Curtis). I had to learn the craft by taking classes and attending conferences, by reworking the same pages over and over until my voice emerged and I was battling tears. I had to fight mental barriers and decide if being a writer was what I really wanted, and if so, what did being published mean to me? What was my definition of success at a time when there are knock-down-drag out arguments over who is "published"?  This industry, this business, this being a writer is NOT for the faint hearted.  But it's exactly where I want to--and need to--be.  So to all those who started me on this path, to those who helped me along the way and to those who continue to have my back day after day and refused to let me quit...thank you. And thank you to the Harlequin Heartwarming authors for welcoming me with open arms and an enthusiasm I can only hope to pass on.

So let's get down to it...what favorite rock star or celebrity would have starred in YOUR mini-romance? I'll confess, after starting with a member of Duran Duran (stop laughing!), I moved on to Jon Bon Jovi (swoon) --who I readily admit, still makes regular appearances as my hero inspiration.

36 comments:

  1. What an inspiring story. Your journey proves that with hard work, anything can be accomplished. Congrats on signing with Harlequin and joining the Heartwarming sisterhood.!

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  2. Thank you, Tara. I'm so excited to be here (I've said that a lot in recent weeks, LOL). Appreciate you coming by. :)

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  3. Anna, I don't know of another writer I admire more than you. I've watch you grow, I watch your stories be passed over thinking something is wrong if they can't see the genius in you that I do. I'm so glad you it FINALLY happened for you, the world is about to find out just how amazing I always knew you were...bless you and have a fun and exciting ride.

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    1. Aw, Deb. Thank you. You have been there from my very first SVR meeting...couldn't have asked for a better cheerleader. Thank you so much. :) And yay on your new release! I've got Sex, Lies, & Beauty Aides waiting for me on my kindle. I need a fun romantic comedy! Thanks for posting!

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  4. Anna, wow, you deserve to get that first contract. Can't wait to read your fist book. I just started Cerella's The Paris Connection. I too suffer from reading, reading, reading when I should be writing. Ha...and Jon Bon Jovi has found his way toward some of my heroes as had Keith Urban. I must like that mussed hero look. Yet most of my heroes end up with dark hair---so go figure. Great post. Welcome to Heartwarming Friday blog spots, too.

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    1. Hi Roz! Thanks so much for dropping by. Fun to be included with you and Muriel on Fridays. :) And oh, those scruffy boys...nothing better, right? Happy reading! and writing.

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  5. Do you want us to dig out our embarrassing heroes of old? Will it be held against me to say Bruce Willis (hey, he had hair back then)? To this day I'm still the gal who goes for the sharp-witted heroes, ones who aren't so dreamy and have a bit of an edge. This is much deserved for you, Anna. Looking forward to more posts about your journey to holding that book in your hand.

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    1. Heh, Mel. You're outed--and nothing wrong with BW. LOVED him in RED (one of my favorite movies of late). Not to mention John McClaine. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  6. Anna! Congratulations. Am excited for you. Nothing feels quite like that first sale! Unless it's the second sale. (Then you know for sure you're not a fluke!) Good work on remaining motivated. I'm with you on Jon Bon Jovi. When I set up my first office in the mid '80s, I had a giant poster of Tom Selleck as Magnum - he was painfully cute in those days. I still love him in Blue Bloods. I even remember his first commercial for Stetson - the fragrance. He waggled those eyebrows and had killer dimples. Sigh.

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    1. Hi Muriel! I think JBJ is a female unifier ...most women just love him. And I love Tom Selleck. I've been watching Magnum reruns lately and they really hold up--he's such a cutie and on Blue Bloods...makes me wish he could be in every series. He has an honorable quality few possess. Thanks so much for the good thoughts and for taking time to post. I appreciate it. :)

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  7. Anna it just goes to show that hard work and a lot of reading ultimately pay off. I am so excited for you and I hope you have bucco sales!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! er, Jansen . Glad you could stop by on your way out to DISNEY! So jealous...happy early birthday and have an amazing time (I know you will). Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. You've reached the first goal. Good luck in your writing. Never had a crush on rock stars, but I certainly do love their music.

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    1. Hi Marion! Thanks so much for posting. :) and for the good wishes. I think I'm in excellent company with you all. Happy weekend!

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  9. Congrats Anna ~ this is just a beginning for you and I see lots of outstanding books from you in the years ahead. Your an inspiration to writers, as yet to be published and published ones, too. Can't wait to hold your first book in my hands and eagerly waiting for all the other ones yet to be written!

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    1. Hi Mary *waving at you!* I'm so happy to dropped in! and I hope you're right. Nothing I'd like more than to just plop my butt in the chair and write, write, write! That day is coming. Hope everything's great with you! LOVE my "active setting" books...new bibles on the writing desk. :)

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    2. I hope that day isn't coming too soon! Kidding!! I can't lose you on the auction. You're too good!

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    3. LOL, Brenda! It's so nice to be appreciated. :) I'm not going anywhere yet

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  10. When I was a young teen, all my heroes were David Cassidy or Bobby Sherman. I know just who you mean from Duran Duran (those lips ) Congrats on signing your first contract. It's awesome!

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    1. Ooooh, Pamela! You reminded me of another one--Shaun Cassidy! I LOVED the Hardy Boys, LOL. And yeah--still have a soft spot for my D2 boys...brings back fun memories. Looking forward to being part of this group!

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    2. We're very glad you're here :) Now, send me a

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    3. Blogger is not liking me today LOL. Send me a photo for the side bar :)

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    4. WIll do, Pam! Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  11. Congratulations, Anna! So excited for you!

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    1. Thank you, Brenda! Your support and encouragement all these years has meant a lot to me. :)

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  12. Hi, Anna! Waving from Bend, OR. Major, major congratulations on signing that contract. Very happy and excited for you!!

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    1. Hi Diana!! We miss you down here!! Thanks so much for stopping by...and for the good thoughts. It's a good year for both of us! :)

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  13. SUPER Congrats, Anna! I'm so glad you didn't give up. The world needs your stories. ;-)

    Hey, I once drove by JBJ's mansion in New Jersey. Yes, I was hanging out the car window hoping for a glimpse of him. As for my first hero... Paul McCartney could still eat crackers in my bed and I would not throw him out. ;-)

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    1. Hey, Aunty Cindy :)

      Thank you. And you've seen his house? How did I not know this, LOL. And I totally get the Sir Paul thing...crackers or not, yeah. Understandable. :)

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  14. Anna, congratulations on your first contract with Harlequin! I love hearing how writers started writing. My first publications were confession stories. I never thought of writing stories featuring rock stars. Sounds like fun.

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    1. Hi Linda,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. :) Writing about rock stars is definitely fun. I even have all those old stories...but the thought of reading them is terrifying! Confession stories sounds like fun, too!

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  15. Anna, I thought I'd posted, but the interwebz must have swallowed those bytes! Congrats on your first sale! I'm so excited to share a Christmas novella with you and Mel. Planning and plotting and creating our family of siblings together has been much fun! As far as hero fodder, I've gone blank. Alan Rickman. Jason Isaacs. But even if I try to start with a person in mind for a hero, the hero takes over and the person recedes. As the character forms in my mind, he makes his own face, I guess. ;-) Congrats again, Anna! I hope you're enjoying every step along the way!

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    1. Thank you, Anna! I am definitely enjoying. Even more now that you mention Jason Isaacs. I LOVE him! His mystery series on Mystery was so good...and I can't help but route for Lucius Malfoy as I watch Harry Potter. He's sooooo bad. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. I loved reading your 'backstory', Anna!! So inspiring. I hearing success stories that follow having someone telling you to stop or that you can't do it or that something is wrong with you when in fact, they're just bad at recognizing a gift. You go girl! I'm so excited for you!

    And I had to chuckle at reading/book obsession being confused with a drug problem LOL...hmmm...guess reading a great story is like a drug ;). My kids have that same issue. I struggle to make sure they get enough sleep for school because I can't get them to put their book down at night.

    Okay, so no rock stars, but celebrity wise...my first crush was on Timothy Hutton when the movie Taps came out (I was a teen). A man in uniform lol.

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  17. Anna, it has been such a pleasure working with you over the last few months and actually meeting you a few weeks ago (right after your signing)! You are such an Amazing person and Inspiring to a lot of people.

    As I read your 'backstory', it reminded me of how I have always read books. Starting in 5th grade (wayyy too many years ago), I would never eat lunch at school because I saved all of my money to buy books through my classroom. I was always excited when the books were delivered. I would sit at my desk (hiding the book inside with the desktop lifted some) reading all through the school day. Yes, all of my friends thought I was weird and I was always in trouble from my teachers.

    I have always wished I could write, but I love reading so much that I would have never been able to learn that art.

    It is such a pleasure to know the wonderful and talented A.J. Stewart!

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    1. Hi Janice! Wow, you just made my evening! Thank you so much for the lovely thoughts. :) And it's great to have you on board the auction team. It's going to be a great year. And nothing wrong with over-reading at all...we're a special lot, that's for sure. Glad you stopped by to say hi. :)

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