|photo © Janice Lang|
Reading this month’s “assignment” on the Canadian Historical Brides blog has been fascinating. No two writers, it would seem, do things the same, from our approach to researching and plotting, to the ways in which we find and receive support. While some of us find ourselves on the receiving end of our families’ understanding and encouragement, others find themselves misunderstood and seek affirmation and inspiration in groups of likeminded people.
I consider myself fortunate to have had a number of influential “muses” over the course of my life. Starting in third grade, there was Miss Silverstein, who to my utter embarrassment, read my little stories aloud to the class and hung those gold-starred, neatly-printed-on-loose-leaf products of my imagination on the bulletin board. This was a special honor, considering I wrote them without prompting, just because I wanted to…or perhaps because something compelled me, like an itch needing to be scratched. Then there was Mrs. Barr in fifth grade, Miss Debevoise in eighth grade and Mrs. Cohen in 10th. I’m especially grateful to Dorothy Debevoise, who not only read my first historical novel (poor woman to have been subjected to such a yawner), she also marked it up with suggestions and offered to read it again!
In high school, I switched the focus of my need for expression from penning stories to acting on the stage. I continued to write, but for the most part, except for an occasional poem published in the school literary journal, I wrote late at night when no one in the house was awake to ask silly questions. These scribblings were solely for my own amusement and thankfully have never seen the light of day.
When I abandoned the stage following the birth of our first child, I became consumed with an idea for a novel that came to me in a dream. I knew next to nothing about writing for publication but lots about creating characters, thanks to an MFA in Acting. Back then, in the early 1980s after we moved from Connecticut to Indiana (where my husband accepted a position at a small private Catholic all-girls college), before the internet and personal computers, I subscribed to “Writers Digest” and “The Writer” magazines, pored over each issue from cover to cover, ordered books on plotting and markets. Through the classified section of one of these publications, I found a pen pal with whom I exchanged chapters of works in progress. Maureen and I enjoyed a lengthy working friendship until our lives changed and we lost touch with each other. (We recently reconnected after nearly 30 years; she's writing and publishing again.)
During this time my husband, a retired theater teacher/director and published playwright, read my work and served as a sounding board. In the early years prior to publication, Tim probably knew as much about my stories as I did. Upon returning to the east coast, I found my first writers group. It was an odd bunch, made up mostly of men who saw themselves as God’s gift to the world of fiction while looking down their noses at the few women in the group. Except for Norma Giles, the founder of the group and singular mind, who encouraged me to keep on keeping on, despite the snide, whispered comments and outright guffaws.
Another move followed the birth of our daughter and brought our little family to where we are now, 29 years later. Shortly after moving to Central CT, I found a terrific critique group. Not long after that I joined Romance Writers of America and its local chapter, CTRWA, where I became involved with the best bunch of women ever to wield colored pens. Through their insightful comments and encouragement, I entered Winter Fire in the Golden Heart contest, where it earned a finalist ribbon. For that, I will always be grateful to Nancy, Suzanne, Jan, and Mariana.
I can’t forget my first agent. Ruth took me on because she absolutely loved what has since become “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see the books find their way into print and ebook with BWL.
My dear, departed father also deserves thanks for pushing my first published novel (2001) on all of his friends. He bought a carton-full of Winter Fire paperbacks and handed them out to nearly everyone he knew. I’m sure my mother would have been proud as well.
And where would I be without Matt and Hannah, my grownup kids? Both of them came of age while their mama wrote nearly every day, often into the wee hours, pausing to prepare tea and cookies when the school bus dropped them off and making time to cook dinner, go to parent/teacher conferences, take them to plays their father directed, rehearsals and performances of their own, cub scout and brownie scout meetings, Little League practices, overnights with friends and shopping trips to the mall. Both, I might add, are pretty decent scribes in their own right. If not for them, I never would have learned how to balance my time.
And last, but definitely not least, I am thankful to Judith Pittman, founder and publisher of BWL. I’d been with several publishers before Jude launched Books We Love in 2010. Ultimately, Jude’s vision and expertise in marketing won me over. I’ve been with BWL ever since.
Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, "The Serpent’s Tooth" trilogy: Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from a host of online and brick and mortar retailers. Look for Where the River Narrows, the 12th and final novel in BWL’s Canadian Historical Brides collection, coming in July 2018.