A scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, award winning author Maggie Toussaint loves to solve puzzles. Whether it’s the puzzle of a relationship or a who-dun-it, she tackles them all with equal aplomb and wonder. Maggie writes cozy mystery and romantic suspense under her own name, and science fiction under the pen name of Rigel Carson. For more information about her Guardian of Earth series, Visit RigelCarson.com. Besides being a member of Washington Romance Writers, she’s also a member of First Coast Romance Writers, Southeast Mystery Writers of America, and Low Country Sisters In Crime.
As far back as I can remember, books have been gateways to other worlds for me. I could open a book and my imagination would take flight. As I grew up, there was always a part of me that whispered “I want to write,” but the practicalities of life took precedent. When I moved away from my hometown in coastal Georgia, I corresponded at length with friends and family.
Back in those pre-technological days, there were no emails or cell phones. You wrote a letter, popped it in the mail, and waited a week or two for a reply. College beckoned, as did marriage, family, and career. There were times when I was so busy I couldn’t remember when I’d last read a book. In time, my schedule eased. and I heard that little voice still whispering in my ear. Though I turned my science job into a writing-about-science job, that didn’t satisfy my need to write.
I found myself jotting ideas down on little scraps of paper. I clipped interesting newspaper and magazine articles. I studied faces and products in catalogs, wondering if I were to ever write a book, would my characters look like this? I saved photos of interesting gardens – I might need them someday. About that time, I realized how different my carefree coastal Georgia childhood had been than my daughters suburban childhood, and I decided to write what I remembered about growing up. This prompted calls to old friends and family, and a lot of letter writing. I got it all down and sat back and thought about my accomplishment – I’d written a book. Could I sell it?
Writer’s Market in hand, I made a few submissions, but I never advanced beyond an impersonal rejection letter. On a visit home, I learned that a cousin was now the editor of the weekly newspaper. When contacted, he thought my book was great, and he offered to run one chapter each week as a newspaper column. I was really excited. It wasn’t a book, but it was publication. The columns were so popular that the paper proposed printing a book of the newspaper columns. Suddenly my work was a book again. My mother-in-law did the illustrations, and off to the press we went. The hardcover book, titled Remembering, sold through it’s 500 book print run.
Meanwhile, I took creative writing classes. I wrote several very bad romances based on an old family legend. I got my first agent, but that didn’t work out. I disentangled myself and sought out the local chapters of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. I joined critique groups. I edited a writing newsletter for two years. I learned how to write fiction. I transitioned out of a science career into freelance writing, first as a technical writer and now as a freelance reporter. My knowledge of writing craft expanded. And my luck improved.
The more I wrote, the luckier I became. One contract came in, then another. The journey is different now, different but better. I’ve spent time on the high road and the low road, and I’ve found that the journey is much easier when shared with friends.