The Writing Bug Has Bitten
by Lori Beasley Bradley
In 2011, I ended my 14-year marriage to husband number three. I moved to California for a year until all the legal stuff was sorted, then I moved myself back to southern Illinois where I was born. After nine months, I remembered why I’d left there in the first place and returned to Phoenix. During this transition in my life, my daughter, Tiffany Beasley Rock, self-published her first and second novels. Both are YA urban fantasy/paranormal. We don’t write in the same genres, but we both write.
I can remember banging away on my old Smith Corona when she was in her highchair. She sat watching and giggling at the sound the typewriter made. Later she found the trunk where I stored all my attempts and rejection letters. She read that stuff and was inspired. She began to write and to read.
We spoke on the phone one afternoon in 2013, just after I’d received a copy of her second book from Amazon. We were talking writing, and she very bluntly told me to get off my behind and publish something. She chided me for putting it off for so long now that self-publishing was so easy. “There is no need to endure rejection letters any longer.” She gave me the info about Create Space and told me to just get to it.
I checked it out and I got to it. I sat down and wrote The Legend of the Swamp Witch. I published it without having it professionally edited, and I was not attending a critique group yet. If you write a book, have it professionally edited and join a critique group!
After writing Swamp Witch, actually having a book I’d written in my hands with my name on the cover, I was hooked. Almost immediately after publishing that project, I began another. I came up with the idea of a story about a young woman who finds herself practicing prostitution in the Old West. This idea had been in my head for some time. I thought about it after watching a History Channel documentary about prostitutes working in the gold mining camps of California. Then I thought about it again after watching the HBO series Deadwood, which did such an excellent job portraying the plight of those women. I wanted to give my own accounting of what might have pushed a woman into that line of work back then. My idea turned out to be much too involved to fit into one book, unless I wanted to write a nine hundred page epic. I decided to break it up into a three-book series:
- Book 1, The Ruby Queen, shows my heroine, Mattie Wallace, entering into the trade after meeting Roxie North, a veteran professional. They travel to Abilene, Kansas, together and spend a season there with the drovers.
- Book 2, The Queen of the Cow Towns, will find the women in Dodge City, Kansas, rubbing shoulders with local famous and infamous characters like the Masterson brothers, Dora Hand, Big Nose Kate, and the Earps.
- Book 3, Crown Queen will bring the ladies to Prescott, Arizona, where they will again consort with Kate and Doc Holliday, who spent time there in 1878 before joining the Earps in Tombstone. Our Prescott had a very lively red-light district that catered to miners, gamblers, and soldiers from nearby Fort Whipple. It was also the state capital, and we all know how politicians enjoy their women on the side. I am looking forward to visiting the museums up there for further research.
My daughter told me once that she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if she wasn’t writing. At first I scoffed at that, but now I know what she was talking about. If I’m not writing, I am thinking about writing. At restaurants, I jot down ideas on napkins when they come to me so I won’t forget them. I have a hard time just sitting and watching television. I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not writing!
Lori is beginning a new project she is calling The Soiled Dove Sagas. It will be a three-book series about two young women who find themselves taking up prostitution as a way to make a living in the 1870s. Lori’s first book is The Legend of the Swamp Witch. Follow Lori on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.