Jun 21 2010
Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Today’s entry is from Nancy Thayer (http://www.nancythayer.com/). She’s not a romance writer, per se, but her book, Beachcombers, is about love, friendship and belonging.
I grew up in Kansas, where the state motto is To the stars with difficulty. Makes you want to jump out of bed and start the day, right? But I've remembered it all my life and it's served me well. I know very few people who shoot in an easy straight line from desire to achievement. In fact, do I know any?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was four years old. My first novel was published when I was thirty-five. When I got a B.A. and M.A. in English at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, it seemed to me that all the important books were about bullfighting and war. It took me a long time to find the courage to write about what I cared about and believed-’that families and friends are what hold the world together.
I spent a lot of time in my twenties experimenting with different genres. Did I want to write romance novels? Serious "literary" works? I sent short stories out to "ladies' magazines" and to university literary reviews. My first published story was about the death of my grandfather. Titled "Doc's Way," it was published in the University of Tulsa literary review, Nimrod. I was sure that was only because the editor was a friend of a friend. The worst thing I did-’but I didn't know it—was to hide away writing, not networking, not joining any writers' groups or workshops. My self-esteem was too low. I was simply too frightened. Oh, how I wish I'd joined a writers' group! I would have been so much less neurotic! If only the Internet had existed then so I could chat online!
Gradually, my short work was published in other reviews, where I knew no one at all. I had two small children and a professor husband and I taught freshman English part-time in various colleges. I was married to the wrong man, so I wrote a novel called A Faithful Woman about a woman who divorces her husband. I sent it to an agent someone had recommended. He liked the book and sent it around New York, but no one bought it.
I also had two stepdaughters whom I loved. One day I sat down and wrote in my own voice about what I cared about: my stepdaughters, my children, my complicated and difficult life. I sent it to the agent, who liked it, sent it around, and after a few months, and to my great joy, Stepping was bought by Doubleday. It felt like an absolute sparkling miracle. I celebrated by handing out candy to my freshman comp classes and telling them not to give up on their dreams.
In my new novel Beachcombers, three young women in their twenties go through similar paths, challenges, and trials as they try to discover where they belong. They discover that family and friends hold the world together-’and now and then we all have good fortune touch us, like a falling star just brushing our shoulder.