Somewhere, tucked away in a cedar chest or closet shelf, my mother still has the “School Days” scrapbooks she compiled for my school years. The small, bound book offers a page to record the details of each school year from kindergarten through high school. A picture of me graces each entry along with notations about who my friends were, what I liked, and what I wanted to grow up to be.
After the third grade on, the same career goal appears – author. At such a young age, I knew what I wanted to do – write stories and books. Reading was my favorite pastime and I spent hours lost in the worlds opened to me by books. I had a large and always growing collection that included Little Golden Books, cardboard editions of the classics, and books that featured heroines Donna Parker, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew. Even at that precocious age, I scribbled stories of my own and dreamed of one day being an author.
By my fifth grade year, I penned a novel, a blatant take off of Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone With The Wind. Although my heroine’s name was Lilac, not Scarlett and my title was Good-bye Dixie, the stories had many similarities. When one of my poems was published on the children’s page of the local newspaper, I won no prize but I did gain the accolades of my family.
Fast forward to my college years when one of my college professors asked me to meet with him to discuss what I wanted to do in the future and I answered him with my dream of writing. I thought he might shoot down my dreams but instead he told me that I had the potential, that it was possible but whether or not it happened would be up to me.
I went to work just a few months after my college graduation in radio, as a copywriter, and as my tasks expanded to include almost every facet of broadcasting, I began sending off my work to various markets. In time, a few of those articles, some of those short stories, began to find publication. After I married, had twin daughters and then a son, I continued to write and, when my twins were pre-schoolers, I realized that if I did not get started, I might never realize my dream of writing novels.
At a time when most people in my close circle thought I had lost my mind, I sat down to write a novel, and did. Then I wrote another, and went back to revise the first. I graduated from a word processor to a computer and eventually to my laptop. I began sending out queries and submissions to both agents and editors. I got a few responses that encouraged but most of the replies were stock form rejections. I grew a thicker, tougher skin and continued to submit and write.
Just about a year ago, after years of effort, I received my first acceptance for a novel and signed that contract with pride. That first one led to another and then another until, today, a year from that first acceptance, I have a total of twelve signed contracts, five books out, and more coming.
I have gained the right to call myself an author. Most of my works are eBooks but the first, my contemporary romance. Love Never Fails, from Rebel Ink Press, has been issued now in paperback format. Each of the four e-presses that I write for offers a print possibility dependent upon interest and sales. I’ve earned a reputation as an author and it remains a source of joy to me that readers like my stories enough to read more.
Becoming an author, reaching that goal after years of freelancing writing, is heady but it is also hard work, something that most of the public fails to understand. I rise early, work long hours around my other responsibilities, and often write late. I write on weekends, holidays, and every day, no matter what. Once I learned to treat my writing like a job, with the same dedication and purpose, I began to sell my works.
I am not rich and I am not famous on the scale of Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel, but I am an author. My personal tagline explains what I write and why – Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, romance that lives and breathes the power of love. Rebel Ink promotes my novels as “real life romance” because my heroes are cops and auto mechanics, retired Navy SEALs and teachers and farmers, not billionaires and princes.
At my favorite local restaurant, a family sit-down traditional caf