Unable to Write Today (and a history of how I came to write romance)

There seems to be some sort of cosmic joke going on that I’m not privy to.  My kids were good tonight.  (rarely happens)  And you’d think this would open the door to plenty of writing.  Except I spent the past five hours sitting at the computer with a blank mind.  I managed a couple sentences, but it’s useless.

I hate it when this happens.  As I approach bedtime, I keep thinking something is “off”, and I know what’s off.  It’s the fact that I haven’t filled my happy writing tank today.  Yes, I have a writing tank.  It’s in my heart, and it requires a certain word count in order to feel content.  On days where I write a lot, it overflows and I’m on cloud nine.  When it’s empty, I’m quite disgruntled. 

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be back in gear.  I feel like I wasted the day. You know, when I wrote fantasy, I enjoyed it but never had that overwhelming desire to put words on paper.  I could take breaks from time to time and be happy.  Ever since I discovered the romance genre (and got over the “what will my friends and family think?” fear), I’ve managed to write more books in two years than I’ve written in my life. 

I actually wrote my first story (based off the movie Poltergeist, believe it or not) when I was in the fifth grade.  It was so stupid too.  Then I read my first Sweet Valley High book (#8 Heartbreaker where the first line went something like this: “Kiss me,” Jessica Wakefield said.) And I was hooked.  I read a lot of romances, mostly teens because I just didn’t care for the adult stuff at that age.  Yeah, I know.  These days I don’t care for the teen (aka clean) stuff.  What can I say?  I changed as I grew older.

While in high school, I managed to write (back when I used notebooks) five complete teen stories about this twin brother and sister and their friends.  Yeah, it was a spin off on Sweet Valley High.  I’m not ashamed to admit my earliest works weren’t very original.  I tried my hand at a “magazine” which was really dumb, but at the time I thought it was great.  But my good friend (yeah, just the one  :P) humored me and laughed when I shared it with her.  You know you got a friend when she doesn’t bolt when you bring your writing to her.    

In college, I dabbled in some short comedic pieces about my sister and her looney friends and co-workers.  I remember the name of one co-worker was Gertrude NoApptitude.  Now just so you don’t think I can’t poke fun at myself, my name in these stories was Ima Offended.  My sister was the only rational person in these stories.  Everyone else had something weird going on with them. 

Then in North Dakota when I transfered schools, I started fantasy, a respectable genre that I could show my family and friends.  I returned to Florida to finish up my schooling and began my first romance (1998) which later became Falling In Love With Her Husband.  If you think I did bad with historical stuff in An Inconvenient Marriage, An Unlikely Place for Love, and The Cold Wife, you should have seen the first draft of Falling In Love With Her Husband.  My baby sister had to tell me they didn’t have electric ovens at the turn of the 20th century.  Needless to say, she got some good laughs off my lack of knowledge for the time period because that wasn’t the only thing I had wrong with it.  I also believed a trip via horse and wagon from Virginia to North Dakota could take a week.  So I came a long way.  And this is proof that if I can write historical romances, then anyone can do it!

Anyway, since I wanted to put in a sex scene in that book (and didn’t feel at liberty to do so since that was the “dirty stuff”), I dropped that book and went onto something wholesome and clean: fantasy.  But I didn’t write my next book until I’d married and had my first child.  It was a science fiction/fantsy novel based off my father-in-law’s idea (yes, I gave him credit for it).  I went to vanity presses (back when you could get a good deal for $200–in 2002).  From there, I wrote three more fantasy novels, a couple YA thrillers, and a YA fantasy trilogy. 

Then the Air Force moved us to Nebraska and I got a flier in the mail from this clean romance company/group/whatever you call it.  It was Heartsongs Presents.  Anyway, I ordered a couple books, thinking “Ah, adult romances I don’t have to hide from my family and friends.” And the first couple of books were mildly entertaining.  Then I started reading one and thought, “Wow.  These are all the same.  And worse, they’re…as sexy as a math book.” I just wasn’t feeling the connection between the characters. 

So I sorted through the bin of old story snippets I had in the basement and found what would become Falling In Love With Her Husband.  I finished it in one week.  It was the first draft but it was complete.  I didn’t dare write the “dirty s” (sex) since I would tell my family and friends about it.  I originally published it as Todd’s Bride.  It wasn’t exactly sweet, but it wasn’t sensual either.  It’s hard to explain.  I originally intended to write full-blown Christian romances.  

From there, I wrote Ann’s Groom (because I wanted Todd’s view of things), and this was more sensual than the previous book, but I could still take it home to the family.  Then I wrote An Inconvenient Marriage.  I told myself I’d stop after that.  But then I got an idea for With This Ring, I Thee Dread and wrote it (originally titled Can’t Help Falling In Love).  Then I wrote An Unlikely Place for Love.  Then The Cold Wife popped up.  It was after the writing of The Cold Wife that I realized this whole romance thing wasn’t going away.  And it also dawned on me that one thing was missing from all of those romances, and that something was sex.  I couldn’t get away from it.  So then I gave in and started writing books with sex.  Eye of the Beholder was that next book.  And even better…no electric ovens popped up!  I did heavy research into that book and for the first time, I was finally getting into the historical mindset.

Horray!  People were even talking like they did back then too!  So anyway, now I have about 20 titles up total in the romance genre.  I did revise those earlier works and added sex in them.  I also combined Todd’s Bride and Ann’s Groom because I no longer wanted to get preachy in my books (since I decided writing pure Christian romances were out for me) and renamed it Falling In Love With Her Husband.  I then told my family and friends the dreaded news: I put sex in my books, and then I ran before they all condemned me for writing trash.  Just kidding.  It turns out most of them were cool with it, though they didn’t like the idea of my going self-publishing.

But I self-published because I couldn’t find a publisher who was willing to take Christian romances with sex in them, and I didn’t want some editor talking me out of writing sex or writing the Christian values I wanted in my books.  I wanted to write it my way.  I also didn’t want to have to worry about selling books so a publisher would keep publishing me.  It was as simple as that. 

So that was how I got to write what I do today. 

And this post turned out to be nothing like I thought it would.  I expected to talk about my frustration over not writing today, and instead, I went off on a tangent that turned into a bio on my life.  Well, if you ever wanted to know, here you go.  😛

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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16 Responses to Unable to Write Today (and a history of how I came to write romance)

  1. rmriegel says:

    It’s interesting to learn these things about you. I’ve always wondered how you got into the business. 😛

  2. Mary says:

    It’s tough trying to fit into a pre- formed mold, isn’t it? I’ve tried all my life, and never succeeded! Imagine, being yourself, who you ARE, and finding there’s an audience for it!!?? Thank you, Ruth!!

    • It is hard to fit that pre-formed mold. I tried for years and never felt fulfilled in the writing area. To be honest, I expected a lot of people to be turned off by what I write because it isn’t done anywhere else (at least not that I’m aware of), and the fact that people like you read my stories and enjoy them has taken me by complete surprise. A good surprise, of course, but definitely a surprise. It makes me feel less “odd”. 😀

  3. Mari Miniatt says:

    Good for you Ruth. I never liked how strict the Christian romances were. If everything else supports the values, why look down at the sex.

    Sometimes self publishing is the only choice. Especially if you have a novel you know will sell, but the publishers don’t want because it doesn’t fit what’s hot, and an agent doesn’t know what to do with it.

    • Thanks, Mari. I think the Christian romance market needs to grow up. I read through all their nitpicky guidelines and don’t see how you can write real people with real problems. I tried getting into them, but they feel flat to me.

      Self-publishing has opened the world for a lot of us, thankfully. And it’s nice that we’re proving our novels do sell despite the traditional publishing industry saying they won’t.

      • So question. Would you write Christian Romance again if you didn’t have all the guidelines you had to follow?

      • I’d probably still self-publish because I don’t see the benefits of handing over a significant portion of my royalties to someone else when I have to do all the work myself. I don’t care if there is a stigma and some people will never read a self-published book.

        As for Christian Romance, I consider what I do writing Christian Romances, but I don’t like to get preachy because it turns me off when people get preachy, and I skim those parts of the books I read anyway, though it’s been a good year since I touched a Chrsitian Romance. I’m sick of hearing how perfect so and so is. Give me real people with real problems. I can’t relate to Miss Perfect.

  4. I didn’t know that you started another blog over here. 😦 I feel so left out. Just kidding. 😀

    • This is my new “Myspace” blog. I made a post right before I closed my account over there. I figured since I already had WordPress and love it over here, I might as well set up the Myspace one here. It’s been awhile that I’ve been debating it and thanks for how well Myspace botched up their new look, the decision was an easy one.

      Sorry you felt left out. 😦

      Happy belated b-day. I sent you a card which you probably got by now. 🙂 Now to work on Christmas ones this weekend.

      • I was wondering why everyone was moving from MySpace. I’m never over there anymore. It was just too much of a hassle to sign in. It was forever booting me out.

        Thanks for the birthday wishes. I did get your card yesterday. I loved it!

      • Glad you got the card! I saw it and immediately thought of you. 😀

        Yeah, Myspace was the safe place where I could rant and rave and no one cared because only a handful of people ever checked out the blog. Now I have to monitor myself because, as it turns out, a lot more people like WordPress than Myspace. 😛

  5. You know me so well. 😀

    Can you blame them for liking one over the other? LOL People don’t have to have a WordPress account to read, subscribe, or comment. .You know you can make your WordPress blog private and invite only those you want to read it. That way you don’t have to moniter what you say. ;D

    • I’m thinking about making it private or doing a blog that is private with only a few who can have access to it. Venting helps me cope.

      Yeah, Myspace was already enough of a pain, and this just made it worse. WordPress is more user friendly. I don’t know what Myspace is good for except maybe music?

  6. I want to read those comdedic ones form college! They sound fun!

    I remember writing in notebooks! I still have several with old ‘books’ in hem from high school and junior high. I thought one day I might type a couple up fr fun, but I don’t know. I know they’d be sooo horrible I’d cry! LOL!

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