Life is full of things you do for the first time.
Some you don’t remember, though family members will (unless they missed them because you managed them when no one was looking, of course). Things like the first cry at birth, the first time you smiled and it had nothing to do with having gas, the first time you managed to turn over on your own, sit up, crawl, take that first step.
After these things, you stepped up the pace on those firsts you were accumulating – the first words that actually were words, the first sentence, even if it was only three words long.
Other firsts were things that only you would have realized, though not been able to articulate, like the first time you recognized your mother, your father, siblings if you had them or other family members or caregivers if your parents had to return to jobs shortly after your birth. The first time your taste buds said, “no way, this stuff tastes terrible!”
I was the first born of the new generation and there are lots of pictures to prove that. My brothers didn’t have quite as many, or pictures of them tend to have me in them. Same with my first cousins ‘cause, oh, look, there I am, too!
Then there’s the first day at school – it was traumatic for me because I was shy. My 3-year old niece was thrilled to not only be going to school (pre-school, naturally) but with the idea that a BUS was going to pick her up. She knew about school from her three older cousins who sorta consider her a sister rather than a cousin because their mothers do so many things together. She was really hyped on being a real sister – a big sister – when her brother was born a year ago.
We all know that once school age is reached there are further firsts in store. The first friend who isn’t a neighbor, the first grade you receive, the first time you get a crush on a member of the opposite sex (or the same one, though for me it was always a boy). My crushes were always silent ones. While no one believes I was ever shy these days, I was painfully so as a child. But others weren’t. I remember that during the winter when recess kept us in the classroom that we had a mock wedding between a boy and girl (I don’t remember who, only that he was one of the popular boys and didn’t mind the ceremony). That idea was probably spawned because our teacher was engaged to get married and would teach while standing near the window at the time of day when her fiancé, a pilot stationed at the air force base, had told her the flight path exercises for the day would take him over our school. Even back then I thought that was romantic.
My mother and father were always kissing each other, hugging. My maternal grandparents, too. The fraternal ones…well, I think Grandpa would have liked to cuddle his girl sometimes but Grandma had broken the notion of such foolish ideas in him long ago. That was sad, though I only thought so much later. And certainly fodder for stories in the future.
But back to our firsts.
There was the first “organization” I belonged to: the Girl Scouts. The first time I went away on a vacation by myself…well, with my best friend – I think that was 6th grade and we spent two weeks in the wilderness Girl Scout camp living in a tent with two other girls. My first vacation as an adult occurred the year I turned 21. I did the bravest thing I’d ever done – because none of my friends wanted to go along (they wanted Hawaiian beaches), I got my first passport, got on my first plane, and went to England – by myself – for three weeks. Oddly enough, I inadvertently collected fodder on that trip for the first of my novels to ever be published, though my trip wasn’t as romantic – or dangerous – as my heroine’s was.
For some, the high school years supply more firsts than mine did, at least in the romantic line. I went to an all girl’s school, and although the all boy’s school let out 15 minutes before ours did and a lot of them were hanging about outside when we burst through the doors, no one noticed me in the crowd. Every year I gave them a chance to notice me by going to a school dance with my friends. After never being asked to dance (note that shy element), I waited another year before going again. Same thing happened all four years. Not even the boys I went to grade school with noticed I was there.
But then, they couldn’t measure up to the boys in the books I read. I was madly in love with Tom Swift Jr. (okay, it was the early 60s) though neither of the Hardy Boys interested me and I thought Nancy Drew could do better than Ned.
I wrote my first story when I was in the 7th grade. By high school, far more stories were in my secret treasure trove. Senior year I shared the spy story I wrote, a long ago tossed in the trash thing that might have reached novella length called Valhalla. The fact that it was a spy story simply shows that James Bond movies were the blockbusters of the day, and on TV we had The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E, Secret Agent Man, and The Wild, Wild West, which was a spy story. Today some call it early Steampunk but all the gadgets were simply the Secret Service’s answer to what Q turned out for James Bond.
Made the first decision that really irritated my parents senior year when I decided that, despite being in the college prep classes for four years, I didn’t want to go to college. (Twenty years later, I went back and picked up a BA then moved on to an MA.) That, of course, led to the first in a long line of boring jobs.
My first date finally occurred after the first time I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. I was 21. One of her cousins took a fancy to me. One time out together was enough for me to find him dull and him to find my sense of humor knew no bounds…or at least that he didn’t understand it. My first kiss also occurred that year, with a different guy, one a different friend set me up with, and I remember I didn’t care much for it, but a bit more practice and I was hooked. Not on him, though. I returned to reading when looking for romance.
By the time I was 23, I’d picked up the dating pace, and went through four guys that year – married the 4th one. We’re still good friends although the marriage bombed out at 5 years.
It was after that that I really put my mind to churning out stories and actually submitting them.
The first rejection letter made me cry although it was encouraging and the editor made some suggestions and said she’d like to see it again if I rewrote it. I did so at least three more times, but also wrote two other books over that time. Stumbled upon a 2nd husband (did a lot of romantic “research” between husbands) and became a mother – well, step-mother – for the first time.
And then came the first encouraging call. An agent liked that many times rewritten historical and want to sign me. Three weeks later the even better call came – and editor I’d sent Nikrova’s Passion to wanted to go to contract on it. I was quite happy to direct her to my “agent”. By the end of the year all three of the full manuscripts I had been collecting rejections on sold to publishers. I thought I was on my way to success.
Well, currently, I’m on my way to success for a third time – because the writing career tanked a couple of times since then – with a switch in genre from historical or contemporary romance to urban fantasy PI mystery adventure comedy…and the first SERIES I launched into. Since moving into a series frame of mind – because it is quite different from writing standalone titles, of which I did before (with the exception of the 7 YA Saved By The Bell books I did on a work for hire contract in the mid 1990s) – I’ve begun writing far more series related tales.
Whether you’re planning on a career as an Independent publisher of your own work or on one with a traditional publisher (or hybrid of the two), word is that SERIES are the way to snag an audience and keep them poised and waiting for more.
That involves more than merely one story. It requires a wider scope to world-building, to character creation and…well, many more firsts.
If you’ve been considering or already working on an idea for YOUR first series, the upcoming workshop here at Savvy Authors might be of interest to you: The Newbie Guide to Writing a First Series with Beth Daniels . It runs May 6 through June 1st. Register now!
Believe me, writing your first series is involved, but it is so much fun!
Although she’s had “prequel” novellas available at Amazon since last year, the first of the Raven Tale novels, Raven’s Moon, launches from Burns and Lea Books October 8th this year.