Please welcome historical mystery author, Nancy Herriman. Nancy abandoned a career in Engineering to chase around two small children and take up the pen. She hasn't looked back. A multi-published author, she is also a former winner of the Romance Writers of America's Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/ Romantic Suspense.
When not writing, she enjoys singing with various choral groups, gabbing about writing with friends, and eating dark chocolate. After two decades in Arizona, she now lives in her home state of Ohio with her family.
I have to write this as a journey story, because that is what getting to this point has been--a journey. A nearly fifteen year journey (I had to count back to be certain). My story is not at all uncommon, however.
The writing started as baby steps. I began with an on-line writing group. Then I took some classes. I became a member of local writing communities as well as national ones. I learned from others’ experiences and read the books successful authors wrote. Most importantly, I drummed up the courage to attend writers’ conferences, where I soaked up knowledge.
And then I began to write. Truly write. I began with two hundred words a day. Then I managed five hundred words a day. I had supportive critique partners who reviewed my work, and I submitted to contests. Those efforts taught me that I needed a thick skin.
After a few years, I committed to Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) on a dare, which came with the frightening goal of 50,000 words in a month. 2500 per day, based upon my calculations. Much to my surprise, I succeeded, and had the bones of my first completed manuscript, a historical romantic suspense that won the Romance Writers of America’s Daphne award.
Because of the award, I gained an agent. Plus, I came to believe that this writing stuff was going to work out. But my agent never sold that book. We received not even a peep of interest. I’m only grateful she kept the worst of the rejections from me. I might have folded if she hadn’t.
In the following years, I dealt with the types of issues life throws at you while working on new manuscripts that also remained unsold. But, as they say, nothing you have written is ever wasted. The effort to simply put words on a page--to compose a character, to develop the arc of the story, to refine dialogue and cut back on too much description--was the journey I needed to be on. I produced two more complete novels and several half-written ones. Eventually, my agent sold one of those novels.
After this, I truly came to believe that this writing stuff was going to work out. But I was soon to learn again that matters seldom proceed as one expects. My publisher closed down their fiction line, and took my new-found career with them. Leaving me to once again start over.
After countless words of encouragement from my agent, I developed an idea for a historical mystery series set in late 1860s San Francisco, a time and a setting I loved, with a strong-willed nurse sleuth and a stoic Civil War veteran detective. My agent loved the idea as well. After months and months of hard work, I had a completed novel. The first book of my historical mystery series, A Mystery of Old San Francisco.
When it sold, I was thrilled. I also knew that the hardest work—polishing, publicizing, working on future books—was yet to come.
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THANK You Ms. Herriman for sharing your road to published author.