Hello From The Heart Of Dixie

Kim here to start off the new week and the next round of introductions. To steal a line from the beloved Minnie Pearl… I’m just so proud to be here.

Growing up in an ink spot of a town in Alabama, I was surrounded by a family of storytellers. And every one of those stories – no matter how funny or sad – was wrapped in a warm blanket of humor. Those stories sparked my imagination. So, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been writing similar stories in my head.

While I created storylines for music videos starring Barbie and Ken a good half dozen years before anyone had ever heard of MTV, my real passion for writing was sparked in Mrs. Shellhorse’s fifth grade Language Arts class. She had a box of story starters meant to provide entertainment to fill the minutes between spelling tests and grammar worksheets. But for me, those little index cards were the match that lit the flame of a passion that is still very much alive twenty-nine years later.

Of course, sometimes, the flame of such a passion dies down to a smoldering ember. Reality pushes aside childhood dreams. Although my high school guidance counselor would beg to differ, I knew writing wouldn’t put money in my pocket. Instead, I followed in my mother’s footsteps – a degree in Special Education.images

Oh, I veered off course slightly. My degree was in Special Education for the Hearing Impaired. Still, chalk dust was in my blood…until I did my student teaching. That was a real system flushing experience. But since that was the last thing an education major does before graduation, what was a girl to do?

Yep. You guessed it. Graduate school and a Master’s degree in audiology. Then a career as an audiologist. Still, through it all, the fire for writing still smoldered.

The ember burst into flame again when I stumbled across romancefanfiction.net. Along with a renewed passion came some of the best cheerleaders and friends an Alabama girl could wish for. Four ladies – an Iowan, two Canadians and a Kentuckian – who have held my hand, dried my tears and celebrated the smallest glimmer of inspiration for a story to the biggies – like obtaining a doctorate in audiology (AuD.) while working full time as a pediatric audiologist and writing in snippets of time in between – all through the vastness of cyberspace.

So there you have it. The story of an unpublished contemporary romance southern writer who tries to wrap her stories in a warm blanket of humor. I am humbled that the newbie I am gets to be a part of such a fantastic journey along with the rest of you. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us. And, like I said at the beginning, I’m just so proud to be here.

A Line (or two) from Linda

Funny thing, being a writer. Like the Reading Rainbow show I watched when my kids were younger — you can go anywhere, do anything, become anyone. The funniest thing about me being a writer is that I stumbled upon it quite by accident. I saw a book at a yard sale titled, 25 Careers Women Can Do From Home, or some such thing. I flipped through its yellowed and torn pages, stopping at the chapter on writing. I went to the library, picked up a few books on learning to write, and that evening told my husband I’d decided to become a writer and I figured that within two years, we could both quit our jobs. I was serious.

That was about 15 years ago. We’re both still working, and I’m still learning the craft. I sometimes think I probably could have transitioned to full-time writing by now had I just settled on one type, but to me the writing world is like a roving dessert cart. How can I possibly pick just one? (Lorna’s suggestion that we share what “type” of writing we do made me smile.)

My first foray into the field stemmed from my days as a newspaper typesetter. I almost instantly got promoted to copy-editor (I blame my grammar-nazi father for that), and within weeks began submitting my own copy to the editor. The next thing I knew, I held the title “Sports Writer.” To date, sports writing has been some of the most fun I’ve had in my wordsmithing work.

Magazine articles came next. I still write for a few statewide periodicals but have actually attained a few national bylines. One of my biggest thrills in my hope of becoming the next Marjorie Holmes was the day I received a rejection letter from Woman’s Day on original letterhead, signed in ink — my first non-form-letter rejection. I danced around the room waving the letter around.

Somewhere shortly after that I had a heart-to-heart talk with my mother, which resulted in my first book, The Prodigal Daughter. The book begat a speaking career, and I still speak to groups from time to time either about reconciling relationships or various writing topics.

During the book-writing process, a friend of mine introduced me to what was then called American Christian Romance Writers, an off-shoot of American Christian Writers. The group has evolved into American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and now has nearly 2000 members. I may hold the record as the longest standing member who is not yet published in fiction. It’s that lack of focus thing again, although I have completed a novel (an inspirational historical romance) and am currently working up a proposal to pitch it.

linda and dave barry_2My true writing love, though, is humor. If the writing fairy stopped by my house right now and waved her wand, I’d wish to be transformed into a columnist. The next Erma Bombeck or maybe Dave Barry but with less sarcasm. (I’ve actually had my picture taken with him as well as with Erma’s daughter — that should count for something!)

My humor columns are nearly as diverse as the rest of my writing career has been, and include topics such as Overweight & Underorganized, Navigationally Challenged, To Insanity and Beyond, and Think Outside the Beltway (political commentary). Betsy_Bombeck_and_Linda

It would be a dream come true to have a collection of columns published some day. That nearly happened last year, but sadly, when the economy tanked, so did my would-be agent’s hopes of selling the project, which merited me yet another very nice rejection letter. Such is the life of a writer.

Although it makes my husband crazy, today I no longer worry whether or not my words will be published, which may be why many of them aren’t. I just write what I’m thinking at the time and post much of it on my blog. I hope you’ll stop by there sometime and say “hey!”