Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and is a former abstinence educator and co-author of RISE To Your Dreams, an abstinence curriculum. But her heart is tuned to suspense. Patricia’s mini-mysteries have been published in Woman’s World, and her debut novel, Shadows of the Past, is the first of three set in Mississippi and will release February 4, 2014. She will present a workshop, Writing 50,000 words in 30 days, at the Mid-south Christian Writer’s Conference in Collierville, TN on March 8, 2014. When she’s not writing, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.
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I was late coming to writing; thirty-five before I even dreamed of characters, sixty-nine before my first book came out. Yep. That’s thirty-four years. Thirty-four years of writing and submitting, and in the early years getting a rejection almost by return mail.
I’ve often been asked what kept me writing all that time, and until lately I didn’t have a good answer, other than I couldn’t not write. But as I considered this post, I realized there was more to it than that. I want to share what I’ve come to realize.
One, I always believed I would be published. Where that came from, I have no idea. Other than that the first thing I ever wrote was published by Woman’s World. A mini-mystery. Then another one a few years later, and in another few years, they bought a third one. That really helped when the rejections came.
Two, I did the discipline. A lot of writers want to “have written.” They don’t actually want to sit behind a computer and write. I wrote every day. Well, not every day, but the days I couldn’t, I worked on the book in my head. When I finally could get to the typewriter (yes, I said typewriter, but at least it was electric) I was ready to write.
Then, in 1987, I bought my first computer, and taught myself to use it. It was a DOS machine, and at first, I shut it down by pushing the button. I’m afraid it took me more than once of not saving my work before I called the guy who sold me the computer—took him about an hour to walk me through the steps of shutting down the computer. Never said I was a fast learner.
Three, I learned the craft. That took a little longer. For a long time I worked in a vacuum. No craft buddies, no critique partners, no Internet, nothing but Writer’s Digest Magazine and a couple of writing books. Finally in 1998 I attended my first writing conference, the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference.
And. Learned. So. Much.
An exciting new world opened up. Since then I’ve attended many conferences from huge ones like ACFW(American Christian Fiction Writers) to smaller ones like the Southern Christian Writer’s Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This March I will be teaching a workshop at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference in Collierville, Tennessee.
I urge anyone who is serious about writing to invest in their writing. Take classes, study books on writing, attend writing conferences. The conferences can be small, like the Mid-South Conference or huge like ACFW or RWA, but make those connections. I still am friends with some of the writers I met in Florida way back in 1998. I even first met my agent there. Of course it was fourteen years before she signed me, but every time I ran into her at a conference, we talked. She started remembering me, and when I finally had a finished, polished manuscript we had a history.
Fourth, and the most important—I relied on God’s help and direction to write. He will guide your thoughts and words. I hope that if God has gifted you to write, you will use that gift, do the hard work of learning the craft and doing the actual writing and leave the rest to Him.
Shadows of the Past
Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve—the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.
Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife—a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.