At that first RWA conference, I learned so much about writing and I realized I had a lot to learn before starting a new book. I began to study writing: reading books on craft, going to workshops, joining writers groups, and finding critique partners. I spent a lot of time learning the process, but you know what taught me to write more than anything? Reading Nora Roberts. I spent months taking her books apart, dissecting them chapter by chapter, scene by scene, trying to figure out how she created such memorable characters and stories I wanted to stay up all night reading. Once I'd learned how to put those pieces together, I tried again and wrote The Selkie Spell.
Since its release, The Selkie Spell has had over 100,000 downloads (including both free and paid) and consistently landed on bestseller lists at Amazon. I recently released the third book in the Seal Island Trilogy, The Selkie Sorceress, and thanks to my readers, I am now living my dream and working as a full-time writer. To celebrate finishing my first trilogy, I thought it would be fun to take a trip to Nora Roberts' hometown, Boonsboro, Maryland! Luckily, one of my best friends just moved into a house a few miles outside Boonsboro, so she gave me the grand tour. :)
I arrived late afternoon and we popped into Dan's Restaurant and Tap House to grab a pint and watch the Kentucky Derby. Dan's is rumored to be owned by one of Roberts' sons. I have no idea what he looks like, so I can't say if we saw him or not!
We passed by the Inn Boonsboro, which Nora Roberts owns. The guest rooms are named after famous literary couples from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Thin Man, and The Princess Bride.
The next morning, we went for a stroll through neighboring Antietam National Battlefield. I couldn't help thinking of the romances Roberts' has written that include ghosts from the civil war era. I imagine this battlefield offered some inspiration.
It's a beautiful place, but I'll admit, it starts to feel a tad unsettling after a while...
Then we headed back into town to Nora Roberts' Turn the Page Bookstore, which is run by her husband.
Look! There she is! No, just kidding. That's actually a cardboard cut out of Nora Roberts, but this entire back room is filled with her books, DVDs of movies based on her books, and the table in the middle contains a line of Inn Boonsboro soaps, perfume, and candles.
In all seriousness, I would like to say thank you to Nora Roberts, for teaching me how to write and for unknowingly showing me the path toward my dream of being a writer. Maybe one day I'll get to shake her hand again and tell her that.
What about you? Readers, what was the first romance novel you ever read? Writers, is there an author or a book that changed your life, and made you realize you wanted to become a writer?