Saturday, November 23, 2013

Folio's Writing Detours

I began writing novels decades ago, and having just prepared my daily post for the 359th Fighter Group's Facebook page, I paused to consider how far I've traveled on my writing journey. And the directions I've turned.

My first novel was high fantasy, and when I won 3rd place in a contest, I just knew I was on my way, that editors would line up to meet me! Talk about high fantasy!  But I was smart enough to attend a Life Long Learning class on how to get published, and that detoured me into my first critique group and dear, dear friends of Uff Da Cum Laude.  Our writing has grown together as has our love and respect.

The path widened into a two-lane road as I attended conferences and learned even more about this [insert verb of your choice] business.  Years passed.  More close friends discovered.  I drafted my second novel, then a third, and I joined my second beloved critique group, the Sisters of the Quill.

And then, a highway exit loomed!  My first agent!  Down shift and accelerate!  Oops.  Hit the brakes. A complete re-write of my third novel, but no sale.  Alas, my agent had personal problems, so I made the difficult decision to let her go. A dead end?  No. Because the re-written book was better than the original.

Another conference, another agent, a fledgling this time.  She liked my voice and suggested I write contemporary romance.  I tried, but my heart wasn't in it.  We parted ways and she's now a successful agent representing only romance writers.  An opportunity lost when I didn't signal and turn right into romance?  Perhaps.  But I followed my heart. The highway was before me, and I sold that third novel to a small press.

Manuscript number four earned first place in mainstream in two contests, but the story remained firmly under 60,000 words.  So I never queried an agent, instead sending it to the long-term parking lot. I rolled on.

A detour loomed, one I never anticipated, and after transcribing the World War II diary of my late father-in-law, my husband and I drafted a book around it.  Non-fiction?  Me?  World War II?  Yep.

After learning how to drive in the non-fiction world, we contracted with a military history publisher, were nominated by the Air Force Historical Foundation for the best WWII book reviewed in Aviation History, and became firmly entrenched with the 359th Fighter Group Association and good friends with its Historian.

For several years now I've prepared a daily post for the 359th's Facebook page.  I've facilitated the return of an ID bracelet to the son of a fighter pilot, communicated with men from the Netherlands as they sought information about crash sites, and had the honor of becoming friends with 90-year old veterans.  Now, in my mind, I regularly fly Mustangs and Thunderbolts in addition to negotiating county roads, and it's fulfilling beyond belief.

This detour is special.  Preserving history.  Honoring the men that fought for freedom, who gave so much.

Yes, I'm a fiction writer and I adore it. In fact, I have three manuscripts in progress, with that long-shelved mainstream to be self-published in the spring. But I feel particularly blessed to travel in the wake of the 359th Fighter Group.  A journey I never anticipated.  A detour well worth taking.

~ Folio


  1. Indeed, detours worth taking and so many people made happy by your contributions to their historical knowledge and their memories. And did you really mean to say this? "best WWII book reviewed in Aviation History" (? We should have celebrated you more, sister!)

  2. Fogg In The Cockpit is so much more than a history book. It bursts with the life of Howard Fogg, a person so worth getting to know. I'm happy to belt in and go with you as you drive all the roads!

  3. What a COOL detour, Janet! And look at all you've learned---how many LIVES you've enriched! Priceless! Keep up the great work!