I'd been playing at writing for many years—starting and stopping, composing poems and essays, working on bad autobiographical pieces—when I met fellow Girl Scouts mom Nancy Robards Thompson, who had just published her first book. She convinced me to go with her to the next meeting of the local Romance Writers of America chapter meeting.
Honestly, I'd have never gone if Nancy hadn't prodded me. But at the first meeting, the members were so warm and friendly, and I learned so much. A whole new world opened up to me. Soon I had my first critique partner.
It wasn't long before I saw a huge positive change in my stories. I went to a small writers' conference the following year and met agents and editors and went to dozens of workshops that taught me even more. It wasn't long before I was offered my first contract.
I have no doubt that my original critique partners, and those that came after, as well as my RWA chapter and RWA in general were instrumental in building my career. I'm so grateful to that community, and to Nancy, for introducing me to the world of romance writing. It's one of the things for which I am most grateful.