Message From The Author

Author's Message

When I was 10 years old I sold three feature articles to my local newspaper, earning $25 for each one. Despite this immense commercial success, my mother, a writer herself, discouraged me from trying to make a living as a writer. Eventually I concluded she was right. While $25 seemed like a huge fortune at the time, as an adult I realized it was probably not enough to live on for more than, say, an hour.

For me, however, writing is a compulsion. Over the years I wrote a couple of historical romances, considering writing to be more of a hobby than a career possibility. I sent the first one out to publishers, just to see what would happen, and got three Dear Author rejections. The second novel, THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, I felt more confident about. When I finished it, five years after I started, I sent it out to Bantam. And they bought it!

So now I tell people proudly that I write for a living. However, Im also a stay-at-home mom. And while I love taking care of my two daughters, I find that mixing kids with writing can be a trifle…frustrating.

There are the days, for example, when my four-month-old, Elizabeth, insists on being held. She doesnt want to lie on the floor, or sit in her car seat, or even be entertained by her older sister. She wants to sit on my lap. And like any baby, she gets what she wants…or else. When Elizabeth is irritated, the decibel level makes it impossible for me to type, let alone concentrate.

Having vanquished Mommy, she sits on my lap and stares with great interest at the blinking cursor on the screen while I attempt to type with one hand. (This seriously reduces my typing speed down—to about a paragraph an hour.) Seated on my lap, Elizabeth gurgles with delight, giggles, and then commences to spit up on the keyboard.

My three-year-old, Victoria, doesnt believe in making my life simple, either. All too often I hear a constant stream of, "Mommy, can I draw? Mommy, can I type? Mommy, can I have a snack?" As far as my kids are concerned, I exist to serve their needs. Little details like paying the mortgage dont concern them.

Writing historical romance has other occupational hazards as well. One of these drawbacks occurred to me the day I received the cover for my novel. Victoria took one look at the bare-chested hero adorning my cover and said in a shocked tone, "But Mommy, he gots no clothes on!"

Despite such hazards, however, writing historical romance has one enormous benefit—its fun! Back in the days when writing was just a hobby, I was an underwriter for an insurance company, a job which consisted of equal parts answering the phone and reviewing a hundred applications for insurance a day. Calling my job dull was a vast understatement. Now, as a novelist, I review only my own writing, and I dont have to answer the phone if I dont feel like it (I do usually pick it up for my husband and my editor).

True, there are days when none of my characters will do what I want them to do (characters have a mind of their own, impossible as that may seem) and days when my writing has to take a back seat to the needs of my daughters. But writing is, undeniably, a lot of fun, and challenging too.

Im typing this article, by the way, with one hand.

Write to Ellen via e-mail at or visit her web site at

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