Saturday, July 29, 2006

Being 50

Phew! Made it!I've just got back from a wonderful week spent in Wales. As those of you who read the posts I was able to make earlier in the week know, I was in Wales running a course on Writing Romance based on my guide to writing - Kate Walker's Twelve Point Guide to Writing Romance.

I had a truly wonderful time. I met some lovely people - had a lot of laughs - enjoyed wonderful food - listened to a magnificent Welsh Male Voice Choir. But best of all, I got to talk to other writers about writing. And I got to talk to would-be writers about how they want to write Romance. And I came away revitalised as a writer because of the enthusiasm and excitement these 'wannabe' writers showed for the books I write and read. Lucy asked me to post a comment here for writers as well as readers and her request couldn;'t have come at a better time.

And that's one of the main reasons I go to Conferences and course - and one of the main reasons why I love to teach writing. Because I get to meet new writers and talk to them about ' how it's done and what not to do. And I get to see them smile and nod and just occasionally I get to see a lightbulb moment when their face lights up and a smile tells me that they've 'got it' - understood something they never saw before. Writing Romance is a very special thing. One of the problems that romance writers - and readers - come up against is the fact that so many people think that romance novels are just 'silly little books', books that are all the same, books that are nothing more than 'chocolate for the mind ' - enjoyable and fun, but in the end not very good for you! I wish they could have been with me in Wales. I wish they could have seen the lady whose husband died very suddenly some years ago, devastating her life. For some years now I've watched her cope with life, tackle her loneliness bravely and with courage - but with that essential spark having gone from her eyes. This time when I saw here there was a new and wonderful sparkle about her. Her eyes were bright and shining, her smile wide and bright. She'd met a new and special man. A man who was not going to replace her husband, in the same way that she was not going to replace the memory of his dead wife, but a man she could love now as he loves her.This lady is no longer young, but who ever said that love is only for the young?

Love is something very special, very wonderful - and writing about love, reading about love, is somethng i'm always proud to say I do.

And I love to see new writers joining the ranks of those published, with their first books shining and brand new on the shelves in the bookshops. I met Lucy at a RWA conference in Denver, four years ago, just before her first book was bought. I was at my first ever conference, over from the UK, at the huge booksigning, feeling rather lost and alone, and wonderfng if anyone was ever going to speak to me. And Lucy came up to my table, smiled , and said 'Presents! Oh I love Presents books!' - and I knew I'd made a friend. We'd never seen each other before. She lived in America and I was from a small town in rural Lincolnshire - but none of that mattered. We both loved writing and we both loved romances - and so immediately we had somethig special to talk about. Something that linked us, made a connection - something we could share. And that's why, when Lucy said she was running this Conference Blogparty, I knew I had to be here. So that I could share in this too.

Not just because I have a book out in August - well, I, but Lucy has already been kind enough to mention The Antonakos Marriage already. Not just because I wanted to promote my how to write guide. (I'm giving one away as one of my prizes - so if you're a writer please say so when you post and I hope it will help you win!) But because I wanted to say that I'm proud to be a romance writer, proud to write those 'silly little books' about the most important force in human lives. Love.

I spent long years of my life studying 'literature' - and I enjoyed it - but I've enjoyed far more the years I've spent writing romance. Creating new books, new stories, new characters, has been such a delight and a challenge that I can hardly believe I've spent 20 years doing it! When I first started out, everyone - teachers, parents, friends - told me that I would never ever succeed. That my dreams of being a writer were just daydreams, never likely to come true. But I didn't listen. I kept going, kept trying - and now just this week I learned that my 50th title has been accepted.

So if you're a 'would-be' - a 'wannabe' - a 'gonnabe' writer. I'm going to say to you, hold on to your dreams - don't give up on them. If you've tried and submitted and been rejection, don't go down under it. What is it the song says - Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. A rejection is a sign of your courage. It's a sign that you took the risk, took your courage in both hands, and submitted something. And you can never ever be accepted if you never submit. So congratulations to you for being brave - and I hope you'll be even braver and try again. My first submission was rejected too. And my second. The third one became The Chalk Line and that started me out on this wonderful career that I've enjoyed for all these years.
One of the reasons I started out on this voyage of discovery that is writing romance was because a friend of my mothers wrote for Harlequin Mills and Boon (then just Mills & Boon) Margaret Baumann wrote romances way back when I was just a child. She also wrote under the name of Marguerite Lees. When I was old enough, hers were the first ever romances I read. So I was wondering.

Who was the author who brought you to romance? Can you remember the first one you ever read - a title perhaps? Or just a bit about the story if you can't remember name and title. Writers, i'd love to know just who inspired you to think 'I'd love to write like that.' Readers too - whose books caught hold of your imagination and hooked you in so that you wanted to read more and more of the books that the great Charlotte Lamb called 'those complicated little books.'

Thank you all for sharing with me the past years and those 50 books I've written - I couldn't do it without you because if you didn't buy and read my books I'd never have reached this milestone. And I hope you'll stay around for the next 50 - because I don't intend to stop till I reach the 100 milestone. And I hope that I get a chance to see some of you 'wannabe' writers publish your first books - and more - along the way. Good luck! And do let me know if you succeed.

And thank you Lucy for this special chance to party with everyone! I'm so glad I met you at the very start of your career - here's to many more years of writing and many more books!

Kate Walker
Web site: http://www.kate-walker.com/
Blog: http://kate-walker.blogspot.com/

57 comments:

Cathie said...

Kate, this was so beautiful to read this! I was teary eyed! So many congrats on your 50th book.

I was brought through romance with gothic romance by Victoria Holt. I kept a checklist of all her books and made sure I didn't miss a book!
Too my mom introduced me to harlequin books when I was about 14. I used to visit her each night in her room and she'd talk about a book she read and help me pick one off her shelf. Then the next nite, i'd come and bring the book back, talk about it and pick another. I loved that special time with her.

Hugs, Cathie

readingissomuchfun said...

Hi Kate,

Thank you for being to blog with us. That was a really nice read thanxs for sharing.

HUGSSSS
Linda.H.

Lis said...

Congratulations Kate on your 50th book, here's to 50 more (toasting with orange juice this morning *g*)

As a wanna-be/gonna-be writer, I think the first romance that really drew me in was A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux but it wasn't till I read her book REMEMBERANCE featuring a romance author heroine that I realized *gasp* not everyone had stories running through their mind. So I credit that with helping me put pen to paper the first time, though I was trying to write in more of a Danielle Steel style.

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Kate,

congrats to you 50th books!

I was a teen when I read my first romances. The authors were Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood and Jude Deveraux. At that point of time not many other authors were translated into German. Than I stopped reading romances for several years and I started again when I was twenty. A year later I started to read the books in the English original. The first authors there were Susan Carroll ("The Bride finder") , Dara Joy (Matrix of Destiny series) & Sandra Hill (The Last viking). Since then I am absolute Romance junkie.

Amy S. said...

Congrats Kate on your 50th book!!!

Barb V. in NY said...

Congratulations on your 50th book. Here's to at least 50 more.

The first romance book that really hooked me was Nora's Montanta Sky. A coworker lent it to me, and I immediately realized that I had been missing out on a whole genre of really wonderful books. Prior to that I had read only mysteries, or Stephen King-type stuff that gave me nightmares. I am so glad that I am now a romance reader. You can't help but have an optimistic outlook when you always get a HEA.

Cryna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debbie E said...

Hi Kate,

First of all, a huge congrats on selling your 50th book. That's perseverance. I remember meeting you at Romance Junkies and have followed you since.

My Mom use to get Harlequins in the mail - she said it kept her sanity because she had 7 kids in 6 years. I say she was nuts. hehe!

I remember scooping her books and Anne Mathers, Carol Mortimer, Janet Dailey and there were a host of others. We use to enjoy the stories where the heroine would banter back and forth with the hero.

It must be really empowering to work with wannabe authors as you remember exactly how your felt.

Lucy Monroe said...

What a neat, neat post, Kate!

Huge hugs and congrats!

Cryna said...

Congratulations, Kate on your 50th book and toasting a cup of coffee to your next 50.....

It has been so long since I have been reading romance that I am not sure who the first author I read was. But I think that the first Author I read romance from was either Nora Roberts or Debbie Macomber.

I do know that it was my love of reading that got me started in the first place. And I have never looked back. And through the years I have had many a book that has left an impression on me usually something that has hit home and stayed with me because of something that was going on either in my own life or around me.

Joyce said...

Congrats Kate. 50 books, is fantastic!

Danielle said...

Kate,

Congratulations on writing 40 books, what a great achievement.

I have several of your books and enjoy them all.

Kelley said...

Congrats on 50 books. That is terrific.

Frist, I want to tell you that was a beautiful post. Second, I am ashamed to say I used to be one of those people who thought romances were silly. I was close minded and had never given them a chance. I read A Soft Place To Fall by Barbara Bretton and was immediately hooked on romances. They were nothing like I thought they would be. I continued reading, trying to find new authors and realized the happiness that reading romances gave me. They provided me with an escape when I needed one, they provided me with hope when I was discouraged. I fell in love with characters I read and felt like they were my friends. I had always loved writing and but thought I would write childrens books. After reading romances and feeling the way they made me feel, I knew writing romances was what I was supposed to do. It quickly became my passion. When someone picks up something I wrote, I dream to give them the feeling I get when I read a good romance novel. I'd love to share that feeling with the world. I recently contracted my first story. Though it is only a short story, I feel like the doors are opening for me. I'm on my way to bringing people the same happiness I get each time I open a book.

Estella said...

Long live writers who write these "silly little books"!!!!!

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Kate,

Glad you had a great time in Wales. Beautiful country. And what a treat to get to spend a week with other writers.

I always read a lot and I always wrote. But I think reading Jane Austen in college nudged me in the direction of writing about relationships and then a friend handed me a bunch of Harlequins and said, "You could write one of these." She had more faith in me than I did, but it turned out she was right.

My favorite author of those early Harlequins was Jane Donnelly. I still go back and read her Behind a Closed Door at least once every year or so to remind myself of the essence of what makes a good story. Over the years I've found a lot of other great writers who make me proud and happy to write romance, too. (Including you!). But Jane Donnelly was the first.

Anne

Becky said...

Hi Kate! Thanks for blogging with us and sharing that with us. It was a nice read. Congrats on your 50th book.

Jen in WA said...

For the longest time I was strictly a mysery reader. I admit that I rather stuck my nose up at people who read romances. I always assumed that all those books were bodice rippers with no plot or substance. Now, I've seem the error of my ways.

My first romances were probably read in high school... I read some of the Sweet Valley High series and a couple of Danielle Steel's books.

More recently, when I re-discovered romances...well, I think it was a Kat Martin book. Pretty soon after reading that book I was housesitting for a friend. I had finished whatever mystery that I had taken with me and needed something else to read (the choices on TV that night were bad). I checked out her bookshelves... and all she had were romances. I think I picked up a Debbie Macomber book and devoured it. Soon after I snatched up a Barbara Delinsky and a Nora Roberts. Well, let's say that I've never looked back.

Ali said...

Congrats on your 50th book and thank you so much for your words :-) I hope to one day reach 50...of course it would help if I could just reach #1, lol

Mark St. Claire said...

I remember in one of my many personal emails to Lucy, I told her something like she was one of the most 'Selfless' people I have ever met, not in person yet, but someday. And you, Kate, seem to fall into that category also. For you two knowing each other for as long as you two have, I'd say to two are like twin sisters. LOL. You both seem to be on the same wavelength in many areas.

But as to you question. The first romance book I have ever read was Merline Lovelace's 'Twice In A Lifetime' from her 'Men of the Bar-H' series. It was such a heartwarming story and was also sad. From then on I knew I would be hooked on reading romance novels. I also write romance, well I'm going to. My first book has some romance in it, even though it's a book with ghosts and hauntings in it. But you can still have romance in it.

You can say I'm a 'gonnabe' author. I really don't want to give up on this dream. And I won't. I will be writing until the day I die. I won't be just writing stories, I will also be writing poems. I love writing, there so much fun in it.

Congratulations on the 50th book. That's great, I haven't even finished my first book yet. LOL. But I will.

I believe all the authors that I've read inspired me to write. I have been writing little tid-bits since I was a child, but not as much now. I wish I did start off at a younger age, but now that I'm getting older, it's like now or never. LOL.

Kathleen said...

Way to go on your 50th book! That is a great accomplishment!!

ShelMel said...

Wow Kate - 50 books! That's amazing! Congratulations.

I am a writer, but have only published non-fiction articles, and am a copywriter. I love fiction and my goal is to be a published fiction writer. I know I will reach that goal one day. I have to....

Your post was so encouraging. Bless you!

Kate Davies said...

Many, many congrats, Kate!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this warm, wonderful, romance-writing community. The generosity of the women (and men) who write romance is amazing.

I first started reading romance after the birth of my second child, and was immediately hooked. Not long after, I joined RWA. The very first person I met at my local chapter meeting was Lucy. She rushed up to me with a big smile on her face and welcomed me to the meeting. Her enthusiasm, cheerful good humor, and inviting nature made me feel right at home, avoiding all the usual "new to the group" shyness. She also roped me into becoming the newsletter editor almost immediately, followed by chapter president. LOL

I know that without her support and encouragement, I would not be nearly as far along on my writing career path as I am right now. She is a truly generous and downright wonderful person.

And for all the writers out there, Kate's book on writing is EXCELLENT. She did an e-mail-based workshop for our chapter based on it that was a great big lightbulb moment for so many of us. I highly recommend it!

Judy F said...

congrats on your 50th book. My mom turned me onto reading. Kathleen woodiwise was one of my first reads

Cherie said...

I started of in romance with harlequin historical and one of the firsts one I read that really got my hooked was maggies beau.

Now the books I wish I could wright would be a Luna book for harlequin I love every single one, or like ruby storms keeper of the spirit.

I want to leave my readers with the same feeling of awe as those books left me.

~Cherie K~

Minna said...

Congrats Kate on your 50th book! The first romance book I read was a historical romance written by Caroline Cortney.

lidia said...

The first romance books that I read were wrtiten by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer.

Pamk said...

wtg kate congrats on your 50th book. Quite an impressive accomplishment

Lois said...

Wow, 50. . . that's alot. I can't imagine one let alone 50. LOL My first romance was Sandra Brown's Breakfast in Bed, although a few books after I started romances I discovered this thing called historical and I totally went nuts. LOL :)

But me, write, nah. The most I really have done years ago was poetry. :)

Lois

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

I was 11 when I read my first Mills & Boon. I don't remember the title but it was by Anne Mather and the main plot was the heroine's amnesia.

Kate, it's the great writers of this genre who inspire many of us aspiring writers. I know that I want nothing more than to create the same feeling of happiness in a reader that I get when reading your books.

Sue :-)

P.S. Whoever wins your How-To writing book is in for a real treat - IMHO it is the best you can buy for writers hoping to write for HMB.

Carol said...

Congrats, Kate! Thank you for so many great books!

Meljprincess said...

I am an aspiring writer and I have "Kate Walker's Twelve Point Guide to Writing Romance". It's excellent!
My first romance was Kathleen Woodiwiss's THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. Given to me by my great aunt when I was in my teens.
Congratulations on your 50th book, Kate!

Darla said...

I sure do remember the first on I read...Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss!

Tee said...

Way to go on your 50th book...

readingissomuchfun said...

Congrad's Kate on your 50th book YaY!!! and may many more come.

HUGSSSS
Linda.H.

Lori said...

Hello Kate
How exciting to have reached your 50th book milestone. That is awesome. I am a reader and I could never be a writer, my imagination is just not that good...but I cannot imagine my life without the wonderful world of romance and you amazing authors who bring it to me.
I have always loved romance and when I was young I read the Sweet Dreams books, a series of books that focused on the romance between its teenage characters.
The first romance that I read and had an impact on my reading was Golden Fancy by Jennifer Blake. I just loved the story and the characters and I have been reading ever since. I love romance and the happily ever afters of the books that I devour daily.
Thank you for giving us readers a way to connect and explore the world around us without even leaving our couches.
It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Wales and I have to agree that Lucy is an amazing lady!!
Lori

Veronica said...

Congrats on your 50th book. I hope you have at least 50 more.

My older sister introduced me to romance books. I was bored with nothing to do and she told me to read a book. I picked out a book call Forever and Beyond by Penelope Neri and I was hooked forever. That was when I was about 19 years old and I can't imagine not being able to read a book when the mood strikes me. That book is now on my keeper shelf along with way too many more to count.

Amy said...

Congratulations to you for your 50th book. I have loved every book that I have read by you. I am working on your backlist.

Pam P. said...

Kate, that was a wonderful, heartfelt post. Congrats on that 50th milestone.

I started reading all the gothic authors, including Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, then DuMaurier and Anya Seton. Went back to mysteries, then my aunt gave me a Rosemary Rogers book which was ok. The book that got me from the gothics/mysteries was one recommended by a friend, The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and right after I discovered Georgette Heyer.

Sam said...

To be honest, when I was younger I didn't think much about romance books. My ex read them because she said, "I don't have to think" (really her words). As I've aged and matured (though I'm sure I have a long way to go), I've learned that, because of the countless types of people in the world, there is a need for all types of literature.
This genre is no less important than any other, and, as is true in those others, can be as intelligent or as frivolous as the author intends.
I write “main-stream” fiction (whatever that means), sci/fi, fantasy, and poetry. I’ve never written a romance story, though I’m told I should by friends, and one of my stories comes close.
Romance writers are fortunate to have the RWA.
Good writing!

Louise Kovacs said...

Congratulations - and I'm sure you'll make it to 100. Wish I had been in Wales for the conference. That's where I lived as a child. It's beautiful, especially Anglesey.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the big 50. Isn't it funny how romances are dismissed but look how a romance added into a movie or televsion show can make it more popular. I think everyone enjoys two people finding each other and having a happy ending.

Rachael said...

Congrad's on the big 50. Thank you for sharing.

Cynthya said...

I came really late to romance. I'd mainly read mysteries and science fiction before my sister-in-law recommended Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it and started looking for other time travel books, and that led to historical romances and other paranormal romances. Then I found ebooks and branched out into other romance genres and haven't looked back!

Julie in Ohio said...

Congrats, Kate! What a fabulous milestone to reach.

My very first romantic book was WANDERLUST by Danielle Steel. I don't know if she is actually considered romance or chit lit but when you are 13 years old and see the word 'lust' in a title you automatically assume a guy and gal are hooking up. *g*
I went through a stage where I read every single DS book she wrote. Then I stopped for a few years. The next book I picked up was Julia Quinn's TO SIR PHILIP,WITH LOVE. That started my on my current round of "must reads".
The difference now is that I read a variety of authors where before it was only DS.

Annie West said...

Kate,

Thanks so much for this wonderful post. You're spot on - romance is so important in our lives. I'm proud to be a romance reader and writer.

I remember the first romance I ever read - Victoria Holt's 'Mistress of Mellyn'. A Cinderella story with a twist. And from that moment I've been hooked on romance. Then I discovered Harlequin Mills and Boon and I haven't looked back.

Glad you enjoyed your time in Wales. It's clearly inspired you!

Annie
http://www/annie-west.com

bamabelle said...

Kate,

What an eloquent post. I'm so happy you have achieved such a milestone. I know you are a wonderful writer, but you also seem like a truly lovely person. I love the story about how you and Lucy met. I adore a good friendship story!

Laurie said...

Congratulations on ##50 WOW that's AMAZING!! I've read several of your books and enjoyed them all.
There are wo books that I remember reading in the very beginning : Linda Howard's "White Lies" and Lavyrle Spencer's "Forgiving". Both are very different but I was hooked. My library of books is so large that my husband constantly says that there's no room for his stuff.

Laurie said...

Congratulations on ##50 WOW that's AMAZING!! I've read several of your books and enjoyed them all.
There are wo books that I remember reading in the very beginning : Linda Howard's "White Lies" and Lavyrle Spencer's "Forgiving". Both are very different but I was hooked. My library of books is so large that my husband constantly says that there's no room for his stuff.

Pat said...

Congrats on your 50th book. Continued success.

Brandy said...

I was introduced to romance in jr. high. A friend gave me a Harlequin Presents to read, something about a man, his brothers widow and he thought she was a gold digger, she becomes ill and he finds out how nice she really is. Wow, can't believe I remember all that! Anyway, that led to exploring the entire romance gnere from Victoria Holt and Barbara Michaels to Jude Deveraux and Christina Dodd. I stil read her and have discovered so many great authors new to me over the years. I suspectI'll be reading romance till I can't hold a book anymore.
Congratulations on your 50th book!

Marcy said...

Ah Kate, you really are a sweetheart! That's why you're our Queen!

I think the first book I remember reading was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss(sp?). But once I started I never looked back. LOL Who cares that people may say the books are 'chocolate for the mind'? Life without chocolate is boring!

Hugs,
Marcy

Cherie Japp said...

Congrats on the 50th. I loved Phyllis Whitney in junior high and then I got into Diana Palmer's romance and I have been hooked ever since. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post with us. i was touched.

Lisa T said...

Major congrats on your 50th book. What a wonderful accomplishment. I remember the first romance I ever read. It was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. It had everything...betrayal, challenges, sex, and of course, love. To this day I still remember that book.

Lynette said...

First of all, congrats on reaching your 50th book, Kate. I live in Wales myself and wish I could have been at that conference to hear you speak!

My first introductions to reading romance were via some romance magazines when I was a teenager, they were called: LOVING and LOVE AFFAIR. No one seems to remember them. I can't even remember if they were British or American now, but what I can remember is that they were written in the first person and very true to life. In fact, they inspired me to start writing stories which the teacher went on to read out to the class.

Author wise, it would have to be Irish author, Edna O'Brien, but again, no one I speak to seems to have read any of her work. I enjoyed Girl With Green Eyes, there was a thread of romance running through it. I think I was about 17 when I read that. I was staying at a penfriend's home in Sweden and it was one of the only English books they had there.

Raising a cyber glass of champagne to you, Kate!

Lynette

Marcail said...

Oh, you said her name-- Charlotte Lamb. Even her name I loved-- so refined and elegant. She swept me away and gave me romantic adventures were men really were heroes and women were cherished.

catslady said...

I too started out with the gothics - stewart and holt and then went on to steele and rogers but it most definitely was Kathleen Woodiwiss that I remember really getting me interested.

Many congratulations on your first 50 :)

Kate Walker said...

Hi Lucy and all the winners - Congratulations to you - and to my winners, I'v e put a set of parcels in the mail today so I hope the prizes reach the winners soon and that you enjoy the books you've won

Thanks to everyone gor joining in

Kate