I developed a secret addiction to Historical Romance novels during the 1980's. They all had covers like this:
Now you know why I had to keep it a secret. Covers like these? Prolly not the best thing to feed a pubescent adolescent.
Fortunately, today, this is what the outside of all romance novels I read looks like:
Anyhow, I digress. Just accept I had a penchant for Romance.
So, one day I was watching Dr Quinn Medicine Woman on TV and thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to write Historical Romance in the American West?" I knew a fair bit about American History, thanks to My First Job at a living history museum.
So I gave it a try.
Thus was born, "Adelaide", "Kathryn" and "Marinda". (Yeah, I liked the name Adelaide. Moving to Australia fixed me of that soon enough.)
Oh dear. I did not do a very good job of it. I'd barely finished rough drafts of the novels, but they were sad imitations of the torrid 80's Romance I'd secretly enjoyed. My novels were tepid, boring and tedious. Dull. Snooze-worthy. Trunkable. I still had a lot to learn Craft-wise.
Can't even remember much about the novels, other than one of my heroines fell in love with the town Mortician.
Ah well. We all gotta make mistakes. These were mine. About the only thing I learned from these novels was that I should not be writing Western Romance. My feet are firmly planted in the nice, secure world of Speculative Fiction.
Either about this time, or soon after, the misc.writing Usenet newsgroup (and specifically Erin Cashier) put me on to the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy (OWW-SFF, or simply the 'Orkshop). Back then, it was sponsored by Del Rey and was free. Now it requires paid memberships. Still, it was worth every penny to me.
Man, I love that place! It is responsible for taking me from an apprentice writer to a journeyman. I can't recommend it enough. Granted, it better serves short story writers, but the workshop environment taught me more about the Craft than anything else. I also met some really great people who went on to become really great authors.
People you know and read. OWW is The Place that Birthed This Generation of Authors.
I cheerfully trunked those three horrid novels and got back to what I love: Fantasy.
____________________________Her Grace has some pretty bad novels in her trunk. Don't bother asking to see them. They really aren't that good.