NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, September 22, 2014

Circles... and CATHERINE COULTER

I started trying to write a novel after I'd devoured every Romantic Suspense title housed in the Waterloo Public Library system, and local book store. I had plenty of favourite authors (Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann, Karen Robards, Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag, Catherine Coulter) but even working a demanding job, I'd average reading a book every two days. The authors I loved couldn't satisfy the voracious appetite I'd developed, so I decided to see if I could write something myself.

It was in the late 90s when the internet was in its infancy. EBooks were unheard of. Traditional publishing was king.

Being a researcher, I wrote a letter to an expert (one of those pen and paper numbers--to one of my favourite authors) asking for advice. Amazingly, she wrote back (on beautiful thick paper)

Her advice was as follows...(paraphrasing)
1) Just do it! Write everyday. (check)
2) Keep a copy of Strunk and White next to the computer (check)
3) Do your research thoroughly (I'm going to write more about this later)
4) Join your local RWA chapter (I joined KOD which was online and as close as I could get)
5) When you've completed your manuscript go to the local/regional/national RWA conference (check check check)

Ok, there were a couple more points, but...

Fast forward sixteen years to the annual Harlequin Party held at RWA Nationals and I'm in the restroom--THE RESTROOM!!--and in walks the woman who wrote to me all those years ago. Catherine Coulter. I had a total fangirl moment and started gushing about how she'd sent me such a beautiful letter all those years ago (I'm sure she sent hundreds), but she was so gracious and sweet and probably just wanted to use the restroom in peace. What a lovely woman, to take the time and make the effort to pass on that good advice. That's what I love about romance writers. They care. They try to help other writers. See--it makes a difference. I was attending this particular conference as a RITA finalist (did I mention that?? Ha :)) so it felt like the whole process had come full circle. Anyway, I'm sure she doesn't remember me, but I will never forget the influence Catherine Coulter has had on my career and life. 

 

Back to that research thing. When I started on that first story (HER SANCTUARY) there was zero information available on the FBI and even less on art fraud--trust me, I looked. I read as many books as I could find, but I was too broke (by then we were on one income, first house, living in Scotland, with a baby on the way), too unsure of myself, and too British to imagine I could make a trip to Quantico. I'd be laughed at, arrested and deported. So I invented a fictional division for my FBI people. I say this because the resources we have available to us now for research are absolutely incredible. Books, memoirs, websites, and DVDs contain so much information my head spins, and on top of that, the FBI have public affairs people who regularly consult with writers. I still think it's OK to create fictional divisions and to tweak locations and procedures because we're writing fiction, but nowadays it's a choice. Don't judge me :)

7 comments:

Marcelle Dubé said...

What an inspirational post, Toni! Ms. Coulter's advice fell on fertile ground, as they say. She must have recognized a kindred spirit in you when she read your letter. Good for you.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Wow, Toni, the more I learn about you the more I believe we were twins separated at birth. LOL

I attended my very first writers' conference back in 2006 solely because I saw Catherine Coulter was going to be speaking there. A new friend and I went early (it was the first workshop of the day and we'd already finished breakfast, so this was about 20 minutes before it started) and the only people in the room were Catherine and her assistant. We helped lay out handouts and chatted for fifteen minutes before the rest of the attendees seemed to realize they could open the closed doors and come in. ;)

Such a treasured memory! And I contacted her afterwards to thank her. She offered to have her reader read my manuscript and then sent feedback. She was so generous and kind. It continually reminds me to give back to writers who are just starting out.

Rita said...

What a wonderful memory. as for researh and creating, just keep on doing what you're doing. It's working.

Maureen A. Miller said...

Catherine is so nice! She recognized your writing prowess in your well-crafted letter.

One day a young author will run into you in a public restroom and swoon. :)

Toni Anderson said...

Marcelle, I suspect she is universally generous :)

Anne Marie--it's getting a little freaky :) What a nice memory.

Rita--Thanks! Some days it works more than others ;)

Maureen--god help them :)

Elise Warner said...

What marvelous memories, Toni. And to meet her in the bathroom all these years later.

jean harrington said...

Love to hear stories like this one, Toni, of writers helping writers. Catherine Coulter sounds very gracious, indeed, and so are my local chapter of RWA buddies who never fail to help when asked. My latest request, some really wild, thumping country-western songs. Boy did they come through! Gave me over an hour of fun listening and watching on YouTube. Thanks for reminding us how much we all need that boost from our fellow writers.

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