Please welcome, Gloria Alden, my Wednesday guest blogger. Gloria writes the Catherine Jewell Mystery series: The Blue Rose, Daylilies for Emily’s Garden, Ladies of the Garden Club. The Body in the Goldenrod, as well as a middle-grade book, The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club. Her published short stories include “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed” winner of the Love is Murder contest, “Mincemeat is for Murder” and “The Body in the Red Silk Dress” in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in Fish Tales, “The Lure of the Rainbow” in Fish Nets, “Once Upon a Gnome” in Strangely Funny and “Norman’s Skeleton’s” in All Hallows Evil. She lives on a small farm in NE Ohio with assorted critters: her collie, Maggie, two house cats, a canary, two old African ring-necked doves, two ponies, and six rather old hens, plus one loud guinea fowl. She blogs with Writers Who Kill on Thursdays. http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/ Website: www.gloriaalden.com
I am a writer. I write poetry and mysteries. Although I’ve been writing for over thirty years – not counting my teen years – I only started calling myself a writer when my first story. “The Professor’s Books,” was published in the first Guppy Anthology, Fish Tales. Before that I labeled myself wife, mother, Girl Scout leader, teacher, etc., but not a writer.
The first time I had something published was the year I started college as a non-traditional student. My first English professor encouraged me to submit an essay I’d written in class to the ICON, a twice-a-year Trumbull Campus literary magazine of Kent State University. It was an emotional piece, “Saying Good-bye,” about the death of John, my eighteen-year-old son, from cancer the year before. I received many positive comments about it which encouraged me to start submitting poetry.
From then until I graduated, I had at least one if not more poems in each issue of ICON, and I won The Virginia Perryman award for freshman writers covering all of KSU for a short story I entered, but I still did not call myself a writer.
When I entered college as an older student, I was unsure how I’d do. It had been twenty-five years since I’d graduated from high school. However, I thrived. I loved the academic world and was that eager student at the front of the class. Well, maybe not so much in the math and physics classes I took. After that first semester, I always took extra classes, and almost all of them were literature, poetry or writing classes. I was that odd student who loved writing; term papers, poetry, research papers, whatever. Even though my professors liked what I wrote, it didn’t necessarily mean I was a writer.
When I graduated, I became a third-grade teacher. I loved it but missed the academic life so I went on to get a Masters. Fortunately at that time, I was able to get it in English and didn’t have to pursue something relating to elementary education. Again I was in my element; reading, researching and writing. I’m still not sure how I did it because as a teacher, I always went above and beyond what was necessary. It was probably on very little sleep. In those years I was a teacher, and that was the only way I saw myself, not as a writer.
Sometime after I got my Masters, I started my first book, a cozy mystery with a gardening theme since gardening is one of my other passions. I’d planned to write a mystery for some years, but I procrastinated, until my sister, Elaine, came up with the idea that together we should write a book. We worked on it as a team in the beginning. However, since we don’t live near each other, before more than a few chapters were written, I took over the writing. It took several years, but I finished The Blue Rose. But since it wasn’t published, I still didn’t consider myself a writer, only a wanna-be.
Off and on for the next ten years or so, I sent out query letters, and with each rejection, I’d stop sending out query letters for several months or longer before starting up again. But I didn’t stop writing. I finished a second book in the series, Daylilies for Emily’s Garden, a middle-grade mystery, The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club, and went on to write two more books in my Catherine Jewell Mystery Series: Ladies of the Garden Club and The Body in the Goldenrod. I’m now working on my fifth in this series, Murder in the Corn Maze, and have lots of ideas for more books.
Those small successes of having short stories accepted encouraged me finally to self-publish that first book. I felt even more like a real writer at the launch of The Blue Rose when I sold and signed copies. Being asked to join the Writers Who Kill blog several years ago was also a validation that I was a writer.
Many people think about becoming writers without pursuing it. We’ve all heard people say “I could write a book if . . .” and then come the excuses. I think many writers need some catalyst to actually get them started down that path. For me, it was the death of my oldest son. Only those who have lost a child can understand the pain. Over the years I’ve written well over thirty poems for John. I plan on putting them together with a few essays I’ve written into a book. There are several ways to deal with that kind of death; one is to spend your whole live grieving and another that I chose: to do something positive that makes a difference not only in my life, but others. I chose to become a teacher, and it was one of the best choices I could have made to help the healing. The writing just kind of worked its way into my healing process. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think of him often, but I’m content and happy in my life as a writer.