A dear friend and mentor, Jane Toombs, died this March. I met her when I attended my first romance writers conference back in 1984. At the time I had submitted my romance novels to publishers in New York City and received a notice (possibly from someone at the publishers) about an upcoming writers conference held in Tarrytown, New York, about thirty miles from my home in New Jersey. I’d never heard of the organization, but I attended it, met Jane and Ruby Frankel and a group of writers interested in writing romances. Hudson Valley Romance Writers of America came out of that original meeting.
Over the years, Jane helped me in many areas of writing. She encouraged me to do the chapter’s newsletter, something very beneficial because I learned to deal with deadlines, edit and reduce the written word as well as adding words where needed. She patiently went through my first chapters and gave me advice on how they could be improved. I attended my first national RWA conference in
with Jane and Ruby, and during
the following years, often had them for roommates. Minneapolis
Editors required Jane to use pseudonyms because they believed her name Toombs would not draw romance readers. She wrote as Olivia Sumner, Diana Stuart, Lee David Willoughby, Rebecca Drury, Jane Anderson and Ellen Jamison. She was prolific in numerous genres besides contemporary and historical romance, including paranormal and horror. An early believer in the expanding market of e-books, Jane remained a pioneer in bringing her books to that medium. In 2007, she was featured in Romance Today: An A – to – Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance Writers.
Jane, always a delight, will be greatly missed.