30 Years a Storyteller
It’s surreal to me to be at this end of my career, looking back on 111 stories over the past 30 years. Exactly 30 years, this very month.
The biggest part of my writing journey began one sleepless night when I was a young mommy with a colicky baby. I wanted to read as I sat up rocking her, but she was so miserable she would smack the book out of my hands. So I held and rocked and soothed, and imagined a story instead of reading one.
The next day, the story stayed with me, and I found myself compelled to write it down, longhand.
From that night long ago I somehow wound up here, with 12 grandkids and 2 great-grands and more than 100 titles. And to be honest, it boggles my mind.
I want to share the story of how it began. I was a young mom of five little girls, 5 to 13. I’d been writing and trying to publish books for several years by then. My legal pad story had become my first unpublishable novel, and there were a couple more to follow. But I got better with every practice book.
I did not go to college. I was a teenage mom with a GED, too busy raising my daughters to think about taking classes. Instead, I took the kids to the public library every week and scoured the shelves for books on writing while they played and read. They loved the library. I also borrowed many books on touch typing. Manuscripts were supposed to be typed. I was going to need to get good at it.
I eventually found a writers’ group that met on the only street I could find in Syracuse, an hour from home, and I made the best friends of my life there. Every month we’d meet and share our work and give and receive feedback.
Most of what I know about writing I learned from those women, and that monthly critiquing session. And I learned as much from others’ work as from reading my own. This was the best possible education for a writer. We had one published member, author Maria Greene, and soon another, author Garda Parker, and they were full of wisdom and advice and talent.
But I had a deadline. I had to be published by the time my youngest daughter went to kindergarten. At that point, I was going to have to get a real job and help support the family and I wouldn’t have time for my writing anymore.
So I wrote like mad, and my work got better. I had submitted my fourth novel, TWILIGHT PHANTASIES, to a new line called Silhouette Shadows. It was a paranormal romance line, and all the woo-woo writers like me were doing handsprings of joy to finally have a place for our kinds of romances.
The older authors had told me never to put all my eggs in one basket, so I had also submitted a romantic suspense novel to Silhouette Intimate Moments.
While waiting months to hear, I suggested to my writers’ group that we should organize a conference, helped organize it, invited the speakers, including the editor who had my stuff at Silhouette, and seated her at my table. I was giving myself every possible opportunity to make my dream come true. The clock was ticking.
Just before the conference got underway, my editor broke the news that she had to turn down TWILIGHT PHANTASIES. I was devastated and didn’t hear much of what she said after that. Fortunately, she repeated it in a letter, and the news wasn’t as bad as I had thought. She wanted me to do some revisions and re-submit.
I still had my other book, RECKLESS ANGEL under consideration, but it had only been out for 3 weeks, and publishers took months and months to respond. It was August. My youngest was going to Kindergarten in September. I was out of time.
And then one day, it happened.
I had been out for groceries. The two oldest girls had stayed home. When I came in, they said my agent had called and that I should call her back because she had good news.
Well, I knew it couldn’t be a sale. It was too soon, but I calmly put the groceries away and went to call her back. Her first words were, “You did it, kid! Silhouette Books wants to publish RECKLESS ANGEL.”
I will tell you quite honestly that I got tears writing that just now. It was such a powerful moment, a moment that changed my entire life, my entire future. It was the moment I became what I was always meant to be: a storyteller.
Well, those children knew what this meant to me. They’d been with me the whole time, rejection after rejection. Especially the older ones. I got the info on the offer from that same editor at Silhouette, though I did so sitting on the floor because my knees had given out. I wrote things down. I kept my cool. I hung up the phone, and then I told the girls, Mommy just sold a book. Mommy is going to be a published author.
The shrieks and screams and cheers were so loud it made me glad we didn’t have close neighbors. We hooted and hollered and hugged and danced and cried all through the house. I’m so glad my five little girls were a part of that moment.
A few weeks after that, the phone rang again, this time with an offer on the revised TWILIGHT PHANTASIES.
One year later in 1993, those two books were released back-to-back, RECKLESS ANGEL in September and TWILIGHT PHANTASIES, book 1 of the Wings in the Night series, in October.
And the storyteller known as Maggie Shayne was officially born to the world.
My favorite takeaway from this? A very large part of me turns 30 this month!
And so does the longest-running series of my career, Wings in the Night, which started in October 30 years ago, and continues today. I only just released book 24, YOUNG RHIANNON IN THE TEMPLE OF ISIS this summer, and I have more planned.
Wow. What a ride it’s been, and still is! I love my job!
As part of my 30th Anniversary Celebration, Oliver Heber Books has packaged Wings in the Night, books 1, 2, and 3 together for a special release at a super special price. And look! Pandora made it onto the cover!
My multi-pronged 30th Anniversary Celebration is going all through September and October. There’s a giveaway on my website and lots more to come, so check it out.
Fall is my favorite time of year, and this fall is one of my most special ever. I’m going to relish every moment of this September-October party, and fill it with appreciation for my muse, for the stories that somehow just keep bubbling up. I’m going to treat myself in every way I can think of this fall. I’ve earned it.
And I highly recommend it. Treat yourself! You’ve earned it, too!
As an autumnal, all Hallows sort of treat… try a little bite of Wings in the Night.
I’m Maggie Shayne.
I was born a storyteller, and I will cross to the other side a storyteller, and when I get there, I’ll haunt some young writer who’s still on earth by whispering my stories into her ears, because I’ll still be a storyteller. I think that’s what our muses are. Storytellers gone by. I am so incredibly blessed, because I got a really good one. I love her.
My stories are Paranormal Romances like my groundbreaking Wings in the Night vampire romance series, (the original “Twilight” vampire novels) and my wildly popular Fatal Series, (rom-com ghost mysteries with a Scooby gang you’ll want to join.) I’ve also penned two epic witch series, The Immortals and The Portal trilogy, along with fantasy romance quartet By Magic
My stories are also small town contemporary romances all about family, loyalty and love, like The Texas Brand Series, The Oklahoma Brands, and The McIntyre Men.
I have spun Romantic Thrillers like my career-best Brown & de Luca series, The Mordecai Young Series, The Secrets of Shadow Falls, Shattered Sisters.
All info about my books and my CoffeeHouse blog are at MaggieShayne.com
I also write spiritual self-help books. I blog and teach about natural magic, the law of attraction. I offer personal readings, and I have a little magic shop. You can find all of that at BlissBlog.org
I love who I am, what I do, and everything about my life. I especially love my readers, because, let’s face it, storytelling would be pretty pointless without them. You. I love knowing you as much as possible, via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, my newsletter and my blogs. You can also follow me on BookBub.
So pick a story, any story, and then curl up in a comfy chair, and wrap your softest blanket around your shoulders. Fill your favorite mug with your favorite warm beverage and fall into my worlds for a little while. I think you’re gonna like it here.