Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thank You, Sandra Marton!

Like many of us, I broke my reader's teeth on Harlequin Romance, having graduated from the YA section in my library (school and public) by about the seventh grade. Was I old enough to be reading Harlequins? Not really, but the Romances were tame back then (as they are now) and when I happened on a stash in my grandmother's living room one summer I was hooked. The books were so much more satisfying than high school stories of summer love that I devoured book after book.

I tried Romance, Intrigue and then stumbled upon my grandmother's (and mother's) stashes of Harlequin Presents and...well, sigh. What junior high and high schooler wouldn't want to be swept away by millionaire/billionaires who, in the words of Iron Man, were 'billionaire, playboy, philanthropists' even before he was?

Yeah, I was hooked and the first Presents author to really hook me was Sandra Marton - From This Day Forward was dog-eared and the pages were beginning to yellow by the time I found it but I was absolutely captivated by the story. I started reading it one more after breakfast and by mid-afternoon I was sobbing because it was over. So I started it again...and then I started looking for Sandra's books all over the house.

I devoured them, too.

But this isn't just a post about my reader self, it's a post about my writer self, so fast-forward about....oh fifteen years.

I entered an RWA chapter contest, I can't remember which one, oddly enough. But I entered a book that I'd gotten some really good feedback on from my critique partners. I sent it in and waited...and waited. And then the winners were announced and....I wasn't one. Although my scores were high, I hadn't quite made the cut. But, bonus, I got some judge's feedback and one judge was Sandra Marton. Personal, happy, freaked out squee from Writer Kristina.

A little bit scared of what she might have to say, I opened her judging sheet and just looked at the scores. Above average but not stellar she-thinks-I'm-great scores. And then I got to the comments, in which Sandra asked me a very innocuous question: Did I really think I'd begun the story in the right place?

Hmmm...Yeah, I thought I did but...

And then, she went on to give me perhaps one of the best compliments I'd received to that point - she said she liked my voice and writing style, that the characters were great characters, but that she thought I was telling the wrong story - that I needed to go back and really examine where this story started, what the real story was and start over.

I was stunned. She liked my book? One of my writing idols liked my writing enough to give me a little tough love? Because, a couple of weeks after, I did go back and look at that book, those characters and that set-up. She was right. There was more of a story to tell and that story began before the book began.

I will always be grateful to have found Sandra Marton's books ~ she writes captivating stories about love that awe me. But I'll also be grateful that she took time away from her own writing to judge that contest...and grateful that she saw enough in my writing to give me some tough love and advice.

Thank you, Sandra!

And now, my Thanksgiving wish for all of you. And old, Irish blessing that is close to my heart:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,


Mary Preston said...

I wonder, did you keep the judging sheet from Sandra Marton?

I love that Irish blessing.

Laurie G said...

What a touching story. I'm so glad that one of your idols became your mentor.

I agree that is a beautiful Irish Blessing.

Congrats on your writing success!

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