Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have The Wild Rose Press author Debra St. John sharing a lifelong passion for writing and her latest release, Christmas at the Corral.
I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little girl. My favorite days were trips to the library. Each and every time I headed right toward those wonderful yellow books in the mystery section to get my Nancy Drew fix. I wanted to be Nancy. Or at least hang out with Nancy. Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and Laura Ingalls Wilder were also early favorites. And although I devoured the printed word, I wasn’t one of those kids who scribbled stories. I was content to read them.
Then in high school I discovered romance. I purchased a subscription to Harlequin American. Oh the joy when those four silver books arrived each month. It took less than a week to read through them, and then the waiting began for another month. Such a lesson in patience. It was then the niggle to do some writing started to nudge me. I even tried my hand at writing some romance during my high school days. However, having no actual experience with romance, the attempts were pretty lame. And quite amusing to look back on now. But the desire to write a romance ‘someday’ always lingered in my mind.
Act Two: Scene One
Fast forward quite a few years. That dream to write was still there, but that’s all it was. Just a dream. I never did anything about it. Never really knew how to do anything about it. Then one New Year’s Eve out at our favorite bar, a friend was snapping pictures. She commented she was going to use one on her ‘inspiration’ board. I asked her what she meant, and she said she was a writer. As the conversation progressed I learned she belonged to a writers’ group. I perked up. She took me to my first meeting of the Chicago-North RWA chapter, and I was hooked. I joined the chapter and soaked in as much knowledge as I could. Took advantage of my first critique session with a fast beating heart and sweaty palms. Submitted to some contests. Won a few. Over the years held the positions of secretary, manuscript chair and president for the chapter.
But still, I wasn’t really doing anything to actually get myself published. I had one manuscript finished, but other than a pitch (and eventual rejection) to an editor at a local conference, my dream was still that.
Act Two: Scene Two
Finally, it just hit me one day. I decided I either needed to get serious about the whole getting published thing, or just forget about it. I asked a published friend about her small press publisher. She wasn’t too keen on them as she hadn’t had a great experience, but said she’d heard good things about a new small press: The Wild Rose Press. I checked out their web-site, liked what I saw, and submitted what they asked for. Within three months my dream came true! I was offered a contract for my first book: This Time for Always. That was in 2008. Since then I’ve written ten other books for them and have one pending contract right now. Over these last seven or so years I toyed with the idea of writing for a ‘bigger’ name publisher, even getting a request for a full from Harlequin. I never heard back, but to be honest, I didn’t try too hard to follow up.
For me, writing is still a hobby. Yes, it’s a thrill to see my name in print on the cover of a book, and I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t be a bigger thrill to have my name on a Harlequin book (because that’s how my dream started), but I’m content and more than happy with the status of my writing career. I love writing for The Wild Rose Press whose owners, editors, cover artists, and marketing staff are a joy to work with. A small press fits my needs. I have a full-time career that I love, which means writing at this point in my life takes a back seat. I have other priorities and responsibilities that come first. And I’m okay with that. I enjoy writing. I do it when I can. There’s no expectation to write so many books in a year: I contract one book at a time.
Will I ever be a New York Times Bestselling Author? Probably not. But you never know…maybe there’s an Act Two: Scene Three still to come. As long as I never stop dreaming, anything is possible.
So, dream big. And don’t be afraid to work hard and reach for those dreams.
“When you put your mind to a certain thing, it can happen. The biggest thing is nothing is impossible. All it takes is imagination.” – Michael Phelps
Maggie Pearson has no time in her busy life for love, but an immediate attraction draws her to a mysterious stranger at The Corral, a local bar. However, any romantic feelings are ruthlessly squashed when he accuses her of having an affair with his brother.
As a divorce lawyer, Van Rawlings has seen the ugly side of marriage too many times to believe in love. But having gotten off on the wrong foot with Maggie, and genuinely contrite over his faux pas, he offers to help her with an upcoming Christmas charity dinner. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes he’s never met anyone like Maggie, who gives so generously of her time.
Can Maggie and the magic of the season help Van believe again? In Christmas and in love.
Debra St. John has been reading and writing romance since high school. She always dreamed about publishing a romance novel some day. Her dream came true when she started writing sultry contemporary romance with sexy heroes and spunky heroines for The Wild Rose Press. Although she’s a country gal at heart, she lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, who is her real life hero.
She is the author of The Corral Series, which includes her debut release, This Time for Always, a Champagne Rose and Rosebud bestseller at The Wild Rose Press. This Can’t Be Love and This Feels Like Home complete the series. Christmas at The Corral is the first book in the Holidays at The Corral spin-off series. Valentine’s Day at The Corral and Fourth of July at The Corral are coming soon.
Her holiday stories are A Christmas to Remember, An Unexpected Blessing (Thanksgiving), and The Vampire and the Vixen for Halloween.
One Great Night, Family Secrets, and Wild Wedding Weekend round out her bookshelf.
Where to find Debra…
Debra, thanks for sharing your writing journey. I’m impressed by the number of books you’ve written in seven years. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016.