May 5, 2016
Writing my first book was a lonely struggle, but I got lucky the second time around.
I started writing Winning Texas, my second suspense novel, as I entered the University of Tampa’s master’s program in creative writing in June 2013. When I graduated last summer, I ended up with a working draft of my second book – and so much more.
For two years, I had the privilege and pleasure of being part of a creative community of writers who nurtured my work in a tender, caring way. My mentors were experienced novelists who helped me see the flaws in my writing without crushing my spirit. My fellow students read my chapters carefully, finding plenty to praise in the small critique groups that can quickly turn negative in academia. Or so I’ve heard. My groups never did. I hope that I was as gentle and helpful with my fellow students’ work as they were with my writing.
Today, as Winning Texas, my journalism-and-politics thriller is released by Black Rose Writing, I am grateful to the writers who helped me get there. It doesn’t quite take a village to produce a book, but a few dozen kindred spirits can make a novel so much better.
When I wrote Saving Texas, my first book, I was living in London as an expat while my husband worked for a Charlotte-based bank. Especially at first, when I knew no one, it could get horribly lonely. The weather was cold and dreary and I needed distraction and hope. Starting a novel based on a lifetime of reporter’s adventures was my answer. I’d sit at my kitchen table dressed in layers and write while the wind rattled the windows in our third-floor flat. Eventually I got the job done, but it was pretty much like solitary confinement with a thesaurus.
Grad school was gloriously different. I was still writing alone, but I knew that my fellow students were sweating through first drafts in steamy Miami, or snowy New York or cold Connecticut. Then we’d all come together and talk about our work in Tampa.
I will read from and sign copies of Winning Texas on Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Rd., in Charlotte.