Thursday, August 14, 2014

FROM VET TO NOVICE: Life as a Civilian Romance Writer by Rhonda Eason

August 9 – 16
From Vet to Novice: Life As A Civilian Romance Writer
by Rhonda Eason
Many moons ago I was an airman for six years in the Air Force. I was glad to serve, but when I was tired of living a structured, disciplined life, I decided to branch out on my own. Civilian life was confusing at first. You mean no one cares if I come in to work five minutes late? There are no repercussions if I wear my skirt two inches above the knee? It was a transitional period that, for the most part, I would come to enjoy. But there was something else that was different. Something that I would not relish and that left me a bit depressed.
The military provided me with an instant community. No matter our socioeconomic background, we were individuals who could relate on some level to the difficulties of basic training, fears about the ongoing Gulf war, and frustrations regarding internal bureaucracy. When I began writing SWEET SECRETS, I wanted my character – also a military veteran - to mirror my own life in some way. I wanted her to struggle with losing friendships, beginning anew, and recapturing a sense of belonging.
It was an easy enough well for me to draw from as I understood what it was like to seek friendship in a world where everyone already had enough. And so, as my character reverted to the one thing that always filled her spirit: food, I reverted to the one thing that always filled mine: stories. During the past couple of years as I have seriously pursued becoming a professional writer, I have had to force myself to break out of my introverted shell and become part of a community, specifically a writing community, instead of relying on a community to organically emerge around me as it had during my military service. By doing so, I have taken a solitary venture, and converted it into an opportunity to learn more about the business of writing and to commiserate with other writers who are also actively building a sister- and brotherhood of likeminded individuals.
A community is valuable, no matter how big or small and can be easy to find if seek it out. I found my first core group of writing buddies when I took a writing class at Gotham. I picked four of my favorite writers from that class and created a critique group. That small group of peers provided me with the encouragement and valuable critique that allowed me to finish my first book.
As that group disbanded over time, I found other communities—online and in-person—to share pages and discuss characters, plots, and publishing news. Writers, like military personnel, like everyone really, need a community of likeminded individuals to help us achieve our goals and to empathize and nudge us forward when we don’t.♥
Rhonda Eason is originally from Detroit, Michigan and is a proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She is the author of the women’s fiction novel, JADED, due out in August 2014 by The Wild Rose Press. Rhonda is currently working on a romance novel set in Jamaica and a family drama, both due out in 2015. Rhonda is also the creator of The DeMarco Diamond Series, an erotic series of short stories self-published under the pseudonym Cherise St. Claire.

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