Friday, December 22, 2006


Friday is supposed to be about firsts--hear the news here first! Well, it's Friday before Christmas and the publishing world is a little . . . um . . . slow right now. There's not a lot of announcements, though my SVRWA pal Kimberly Van Meter announced another two book sale to Superromance (yeah Kim!)

So I thought it might be fun to look and see how some of the bestselling authors started their firsts . . . novels that is.

Of course, Nora Roberts is at the top of that list! From her website:

Roberts started writing during a blizzard in 1979 when her two sons were home from school and she was on the verge of going stir crazy. She picked up a number two pencil and notepad and started writing story ideas.

Trivia question: What's the title of Nora's first published novel AND in what year?

From John Grisham's website:
Grisham began writing as a hobby while he worked as a lawyer after hearing the testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. Her words inspired Grisham to write A Time to Kill, which was published in 1988 and experienced only modest success.

Trivia question: What was the title of Grisham's first NYT bestselling novel?

When I heard Debbie Macomber speak for the first time at RWA in Reno, I was moved. I was so happy when she agreed to be our first Reader's Luncheon speaker (go Roses!) which was a huge success. Her publishing story is so inspirational, because it shows how powerful dreams are that you can overcome any obstacles if you believe in yourself.

From her website:
I started out with a rented typewriter set up on my kitchen table and a burning desire to write. I wrote when my husband was at work and the kids were either at school or napping. For meals and homework assignments the typewriter was moved away. I wrote eight books on that typewriter until the “S” broke, and then we bought a computer. I wrote four books in five years before I sold my first novel.

Trivia Question: What was the name of Debbie's first published book? In what year?

For me, I love my computer :) I wrote at night after the kids went to bed because I had a full-time day job in the California State Legislature as a consultant. I couldn't write long hand if I tried . . . but I still remember when I was a kid, about 11 or 12, when my mom brought home an IBM Selectric. It was red. Her office was getting (gasp!) computers and the secretaries didn't need the typewriters anymore. My mom knew I loved writing (she found paper all over the house with partially written stories) so thought I'd like the typewriter. I had it until I went to college.

Do you have a favorite "first" story? If you're a reader, maybe the first book you read by one of your favorite authors . . . I also hope some of the To Be Read authors will share their "first" story . . . Pencil and paper in a snow storm? Moved by something you experienced? Typing on a broken typewriter?


JoAnn Ross said...

Fun topic, Allison. I wrote my first story -- a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallards -- in the second grade with a yellow Ticonderoga pencil in a Red Chief tablet. The teacher gave it a gold star, and I kept writing.

My first full length book was written longhand in an Allstate Booth in a Phoenix Sears store. (I'd taken the pages out of my life insurance rate three-ring binder and replaced them with filler paper.) At nights I'd type those pages on a blue IBM Selectric.

Allison Brennan said...

LOL about the mallards . . . MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS is one of my favorite stories.

JoAnn Ross said...

In my definitely not a happy ending romance, a hunter shot the female duck, who took several chapters to die verrrry slowly of lead poisoning, leaving the drake a grieving widower who had to raise the ducklings all alone. I'd just learned that ducks mated for life, so that seem to be the birth of the muse. lol

Anonymous said...

Love the stories, guys.

I wrote my first novel when I was nine. It was a very ambitious project, too. It was set in Montana. (I lived in Mississipi.) The protagonist was an 18-year-old college student. There was a wild mustang, a mystery and a romance...with the horse. LOL.

My first published novel, I wrote on an old PC - it was state of the art at the time, though and cost more than my current desktop and laptops do, combined. DOS operating system, 20 mb. hard drive. (I figured I would NEVER fill up that sucker. lol.)

Ah, memories.


Nancy Morse said...

I didn't start writing novels until I was an adult, but as a kid I put out my own newspaper called The VooDoo Express. I was publisher, editor, writer, delivery person. It was mostly humorous (at least I thought so) takes on current events. My mom had always encouraged me to go into journalism, but I don't think that's quite what she meant. My big break came when I was nine and won a 25-word-or-less contest on why I like Rin Tin Tin. I won first prize, 2 tickets to the rodeo at Madison Square Garden. I wrote my first novel after I grabbed a paperback from the shelf at the airport to read on a long flight. I chose it for its purple cover.It was a historical romance, and after finishing it I thought, hmmm, I think I can do that. So I bought a Smith Corona and went for it. I was fortunate to sell the first book I wrote. I then graduated to an IBM typewriter, and then to my first DOS computer and daisy wheel printer that sounded like a machine gun. I was so intimidated by it that I didn't go near it for almost a year. It sat in my office while I sat at the kitchen table pounding away on the IBM.

Allison Brennan said...

Faye, I remember when my first computer cost $1000 used--a very basic Mac. That was when I was in college. I love that technology always goes down in price for better stuff.

LOL Nancy. How was the rodeo?

Nancy Morse said...

Allison, it was a dream come true, as you can imagine for a 9 year old whose hero/idol was Rin Tin Tin. They had Lt. Rip Masters and Rusty galloping around the ring and, of course, trusty old Rinty was there. But I'm a sucker for the old west and anything with horses. Did I mention that I used to be Hopalong Cassidy? Long before Rinty came along, I had adopted the persona of Hoppy and my bike was Topper his white steed. There was a time (thankfully, long, long ago) when I wouldn't answer to anything but Hoppy. I'd better stop now - these memories are giving me a headache.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, Nancy, we must be the same age. Rin Tin Tin was a must-watch show for me!

MaryF said...

I was 9, also, and my first story was a mash of Grease meets One on One (the movie with Robbie Benson, who I loved at the time.) Mom read it and her comment was, "In high school, you don't line up to go to lunch!"

Anonymous said...

I made my first foray into romance writing during my lunch hour--at the wastewater treatment plant where I worked (such a romantic place, lol). Though I'd always been a reader, and loved romances, I'd never considered writing one until after I'd just graduated from engineering school.

I never finished writing that book, although I still have the handwritten pages stashed around here somewhere. I'm not sure I'd want to read them!