I’ve always been captivated by the creative process, be it writing or my artwork. My mother was a talented artist – she was also my hero and I wanted to emulate her abilities in some fashion. Since my artwork wasn’t near as good as hers, I sought another outlet where I could be my own person, but still share part of myself with others.
You’ve all heard this one before - “There’s a book inside me, and someday I’m going to write it.” I just didn’t know how and when mine was going to get written, until about four years ago.
I was dating my husband, and having had several failed relationships prior to meeting him, I decided to keep a journal. It was essentially about my experiences with dating when you’re half a century old. Plus I had the additional bonuses of all those decades of baggage behind me to either learn from, or to send to that special place I call The Memory Cemetery.
One day while I was relaying some funny instances about my previous Internet dating snafus in the journal (which eventually became part of my blog), I began thinking about others who were floundering in the same dating swamp that I had been.
I wondered if I were to write a book about lessons I’d learned and what to avoid, how helpful it might be - this would be the book I needed to write.
My muse had other ideas, that dang pixie! She’s got a wicked and sometimes twisted sense of humor, and she kept niggling me to embellish my experiences into fictional accountings. Like what could happen to a ditzy, middle-aged woman who’d been out of the dating loop for three decades – an innocent who’d barreled into Internet dating, where she meets scammers and weirdoes, and how one should never give up hope for future happiness.
Thus, Dinosaurs & Cherry Stems was created with the help of my husband and best friend, Joe. If it weren’t for him, there’d be no Dinosaurs & Cherry Stems!
Now, this is where my new career jump-started for real. Dinosaurs had the great fortune to attract the attention of a successful, internationally read author, who loved the story and reviewed it favorably. We soon began chatting via Twitter and exchanged emails.
Next thing I knew, we had graduated to phone calls, about all things writing and otherwise.
This talented lady advised me I should consider writing a series about my POV character’s shenanigans, because book series were the best way to get noticed in today’s competitive publishing world. Even though I had several manuscripts I’d planned to revise and publish as stand alones awaiting in my hard drive, I immediately dropped them.
With the encouraging advice of my new friend, I began Book Two of the Cindy’s Crusades Series called The Sugar Ticket.
My author friend is Annie Acorn of AA Publishing LLC. As our friendship continued to thrive, both personally and professionally, Annie made me an offer no one in their right mind could refuse – an opportunity to become one of her From Women’s Pen authors.
The From Women’s Pens write short stories for the Annie Acorn’s Christmas Treasuries, which she’d been publishing for several years. AA Publishing also publishes their other books and we’ve all become good friends.
Annie had told me the Treasuries are quite popular and sell well all year long. She then sweetened the pot further – by offering to publish any shorts I write for her as stand alones, as well as having them included in future Treasuries.
I was thrilled and immediately accepted. My husband (by then we’d been married a year), and I had decided to travel to Virginia to visit relatives. During this trip we made arrangements to meet up with Annie Acorn, several of her authors, and her IT man Andre for lunch. There, I was presented with a contract and the greatest challenge of my writing career yet – to write a Christmas short for a future Treasury starring characters pulled solely from my muse’s imagination.
A Super Sandy Christmas was born two months later in December 2013 and now appears in Annie Acorn’s 2014 Christmas Treasury, along with Two Miracles for Christmas, a Cindy’s Crusades short.
Since then, I’ve written The Christmas Cardinal and A Valentine’s Day to Remember (another Cindy’s Crusades short), which will be included in Annie Acorn’s 2015 Valentines Treasury next February. We’re also working on a treasury of spooky stories for next autumn called Spirited Tales.
My most difficult, personal challenge remains half finished and is a nonfiction piece about what it was like to be raised with a handicapped sibling in the late fifties – early sixties, and what it’s like to now be his guardian. Because the subject matter is sometimes painful, this work in progress is far from what I love creating – humorous stories that make readers chuckle. However, with Annie’s encouragement I’ve been able to get Part One finished and I hope to have it completed come spring, in time for my brother’s birthday.
In the meantime and just for fun, I’m penning a short story called My Sexy Chef. This tale is about a young junior editor who becomes seriously infatuated with a Creole chef and how their relationship develops/interferes with her new career. This one is also challenging, but I’m having a fun time with the characters, because they’re so different than any others my muse has concocted – so far.
The third novel in my Cindy’s Crusades Series, You’re Gonna Get It, is also in progress and I hope to publish it by summer 2015, but you never know. The vast opportunities for creating stories is ever changing, as most authors will agree, so I’ll leave you with this:
Aspiring writers: Write your story from the heart, pay attention to your muse, and set yourself up with a great editor. Then, if you’re lucky like me and someone in the business offers the hand of enhancement in regards to your creativity, make sure to grab that helping hand and hold it precious – you’ll never regret it.
Thank you so much for allowing me the literary privilege of sharing my journey with you and your readers, Merrie. I’m forever grateful.
Susan Jean Ricci and her husband Joe live in a lovely New Jersey town near the sea. Together they have seven children and nine grandchildren.
An award-winning, internationally read, From Women’s Pens author and humorist, Susan is best known for her series of works titled Cindy's Crusades that includes two novels, Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems and The Sugar Ticket, the short chronicle Twilight and Chickadees, and a collection of short stories titled Heart Marks the Spot.
She has also published what she refers to as her sometimes controversial rants in the Asbury Park Press. Her nonfiction articles have appeared in Parenting Teen Magazine, Aim Intercultural Magazine, and Good Dog Magazine.
Susan has won several awards via the Writer's Digest 78th Annual Writer's Contest and the Philadelphia Writer's Conference.
Her short stories A Super Sandy Christmas and Two Miracles for Christmas appear in Annie Acorn's 2014 Christmas Treasury and as stand alones. Her short story The Christmas Cardinal will appear in Annie Acorn's 2015 Christmas Treasury and can also be purchased separately.
Susan's books are available at the following sites
B&N Author Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Susan-Jean-Ricci?keyword=Susan+Jean+Ricci&store=nookstore
Annie Acorn’s 2014 Christmas Treasury: http://www.amazon.com/Annie-Acorns-Christmas-Treasury-Anthologies/dp/1940272556
(All of her books are also available on Kobo and ITunes).