Write Onward and Upward! By Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

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When I first sat down to write a novel, I collected the supplies that I needed – wide-lined notebook paper, a blue cardboard three-ring binder, and a good ink pen. I reserved space in the back of that binder and began writing my story of three sisters in the American South during the Civil War. For each page of text that I wrote, I penned a corresponding page with an original drawing to depict the ongoing action. I worked hard on my magnum opus, stealing time away from spelling, arithmetic, and social studies to write. When my work, titled Good-bye, Dixie!, was complete, I carried it home to my parents with pride. I was in the fifth grade. That first novel never saw publication but it still holds a place of honor in a bottom desk drawer at my mother’s house. And, while my childish scrawls tell a basic story, much of what I wrote is amusing to an adult eye. I have a fond spot in my heart, however, because without “Good-bye Dixie”, I might not be a writer.

From those days in that second floor classroom at Webster Elementary School in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, best known for the Pony Express and Jesse James, to the day last summer when Champagne Books accepted my romantic suspense novel, Kinfolk, I did a lot of living and learning. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I learned to hone my craft, to use my apparent natural gift with words to write things people wanted to read.

When my first published novel debuts next July, I will not be an overnight success and, although this book of mine was first to find publication, it is not the first. From Good-Bye, Dixie! to Kinfolk I spent years writing, learning, revising, and creating. Long before my novel length fiction found a home, my short fiction began to build publication credits.

Beginnings are most often humble and the most important lesson I learned as a writer is never give up. Write onward and upward to reach your dream!

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks in what passes for the suburbs in small town America. Her novel, KINFOLK, will debut in July 2011 from Champagne Books. Other recent accomplishments include short fiction in Mountain Magic: Spellbinding Tales of Appalachia (October 2010 Woodland Press). She is a member of both Missouri Writers Guild and the Ozark Writers League. With two teenage daughters and a son in elementary school, when she isn’t writing, she serves as chauffeur from one event to next.

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