Today, we have Roane author, Susan Illis on her journey to publication & Santa Bebe!
Nearly every blog post or biography I’ve read by an author includes a reference to an early desire to be a writer, usually discovered in elementary school. I’ll add myself to this chorus. But unlike many writers who stayed a direct path, I’ve taken the long, winding road with many detours.
I breezed through my undergraduate liberal arts education, largely because I could write well, and possessed a natural abhorrence for grammatical and spelling errors that convinced most of my professors I was smarter than I really am. Along with my love of writing, I am also fascinated with history. For some reason, I decided studying history would offer more career opportunities than writing. Ahem. Obviously I was not as smart as some people thought (most of all me).
After spending a few fun but frustrating years as a part-time grad student/part-time server, I completed my master’s degree in history and discovered precisely how employable I was. Not very.
I did eventually stumble into a job as an archivist and happily enough, found I not only liked it but was actually good at it. And it paid! Not particularly well, but a steady paycheck is a good thing.
Years later, working only part-time and staying home with my young daughters the rest of the time, I decided to give writing another try. I have two NaNoWriMo novellas, lots of false starts, and a few completed stories to show for my efforts. After many submissions and a depressing number of rejections, I submitted to the Trues market, back when they were publishing several magazines. I enjoyed some success in writing for True Romance—anonymously, of course.
I’d always loved the song Santa Baby, preferring the version sung by Eartha Kitt (I always choose vintage over modern) and it inspired my Christmas story—a young woman, raised in modest circumstances, who after watching her mother’s revolving door of boyfriends and being harassed at her job at a lingerie retailer, concludes all men are assholes and decides if she’s going to get involved with someone, she should look for someone with money. A jerk with money is better than a destitute jerk, right?
I love the main character, Bebe, although she is as dissimilar from me as possible. Blonde (though not naturally), beautiful, with a va-va-voom figure, Bebe isn’t surprised she attracts unwanted attention in the hormone-charged environment of the lingerie shop. She attends school when time and finances permit, but fears she’ll never finish her bachelor’s degree.
Her nerdy neighbor James, however, is a composite of all the geeky, awkward, earnest guys I barely gave a chance to when I was single. The complete opposite of her mom’s boyfriends and the men she meets at work, he genuinely cares for Bebe and secretly does what he can to help her complete her education.
The things Bebe really craves are security, which she equates with money, and tradition. When she realizes that once again, she will not have the picture perfect Christmas she’s always dreamed of, Bebe despairs, but James offers a solution—and so much more.
For me, having “Santa Bebe” included in Roane Publishing’s Winter’s Sweet Kiss was the fulfillment of my childhood wishes, but what do you want for Christmas? A sable? A bauble from Tiffany? Or is it something intangible? Visit my Facebook or Twitter page and tell me your Christmas wish! (or comment below?)
Lily Carlyle decided she wanted to be a writer when she was seven years old, but convinced of the impossibility of earning a living that way, she studied history instead (a decision she still can’t explain). In between working as an archivist and book reviewer and trying to keep her two daughters fed, Lily tries to find time and inspiration to realize her original dream.