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Chapter 1:- THE ROAD TO PUBLICATION

THE ROAD TO PUBLICATION


BY JOAN HALL HOVEY



(Previously published in The Writer Magazine)



 



Like you, I started out as a story 'listener'. Both my parents were avid storytellers, and I needed only to hear the words, "I remember the time when..." to feel that rare and exquisite pleasure in the anticipation of a new story. The dark, scary ones were best - stories my father told of the man with the cloven foot who showed up at the card game, or the discovery of a young girl's body in the woods behind the school ... the town drunk found dead in the cemetery, his face as granite-white with frost as the tombstones surrounding him...


From the time I could find my way to the Saint John Library, I was a constant visitor. For me, the library was a magical place - a hushed, warm haven where, through the pages of a book I could travel to far off exotic places in my imagination. I could experience vicariously all the joy, romance, terror, tragedy and triumph of the characters in the stories.


Among my favorite authors were Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Bronte, Shirley Jackson and Phyllis Whitney. Far too many to list here. I am forever grateful to them all, for it was through reading their works that the seed to be a writer was planted in me. I wanted to join the ranks of those authors who had given me so much pleasure, and in turn tell my own stories. I had learned about the power of words.


Reading is, of course, where it all begins for all writers. Although it might surprise you to know that a number of aspiring writers have told me they didn't have time to read. Or that they didn't read because they wanted everything in their own work to be totally original. Sadly, I don't expect to read much of their work in published form. So the first key to publication is to Read! Read! Read! Nothing you didn't already know. But it's true; we learn by osmosis. And we learn by doing.


When I first set pen to paper with thought of publication, I didn't know bad literature from good. I devoured it all, and learned from it all. I came across the True Confessions in the market section of a copy of Writer's Digest Magazine, and it seemed possible to me that I could write one. I was right. That first story was titled: I Didn't Kill My Husband, But I Might As Well Have. Pretty bad, I know. But looking at the models on the page portraying the characters in my story, not to mention my cheque for $125.00, I felt like I'd won the lottery. The only downside was that my name wasn't on my story. You don't get a bi-line from the confessions. The stories are supposed to be true. Or at least read like they're true. Everyone I wrote sold. I seemed to have a knack. But I never approached the writing of these little stories lightly, or with tongue in cheek; I always wrote from my heart, in all seriousness. When I could no longer do that, I stopped writing them.


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