Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guest Blogger: Pearl Wolf

We have a special guest on the playground today. Her first historical romance from Kensington was released in March. And she has two more in the works. Please scoot over and make room for Pearl Wolf.


I was the youngest, by ten years, of four children (one sister and two brothers), which amounted to too many bosses. My widowed working mother never had to discipline me as a result. She left it to my loving, well-meaning siblings because she was too busy earning a living for us. To escape torture, as soon as I knew how, I wrote fairy tales in which I was a princess, beautiful, bold and benign, magnanimously forgiving my sibling torturers their many sins. I also occupied my time by reading, reading, reading. I still do.

At the age of 79, I’m an orphan who treasures those early years, and the many confrontations (I did NOT go gently into the night, but fought back tooth and nail) for they shaped me far beyond anything I could imagine. Little did they know they were to provide the stuff good novels are all about.

Born in 1930, I grew up during the Great Depression. My mother managed the necessities for us—food, clothing and shelter. But I never felt I was missing anything. There were no rich neighbors and friends and relatives to envy—we were all poor.

My first sale at the age of fourteen was a short article for Reader’s Digest, for which I received the grand sum of $5.00. I never stopped writing, but it took me almost thirty years before I saw my name in print again.

In the meantime, I went to college in 1948, at a time when there were virtually only two careers open to women—nursing and teaching. I chose teaching, but my ‘writing’ dream never left me. I wrote for the college paper, and for the college literary journal.

I taught for twenty-five years in a variety of settings; elementary school, junior high school, high school and graduate college courses to teachers. It was when I became a public school librarian in East Harlem, that I sold my first children’s book: GORILLA BABY: The Story of Patty Cake (Scholastic-c1974) New York City Zoo’s first gorilla ever born in captivity. To my astonishment, 250,000 copies were sold. I still hear from fans, now grown, who loved the book. Out of print now, there are used copies for sale on the Internet.

Anyway, two more children’s books followed before I became obsessed with writing the book of my heart—SONG OF MIRIAM (Hilliard and Harris, c2003). This historical fiction (Russia-1784) is still available by order from bookstores and the publishers. You can read an excerpt on my web site

This was followed by a mystery, DYING TO TEACH (Hilliard and Harris, c2005) based on my years of teaching in Harlem.

But my big break came in 2008, with a new agent who sold a two-book contract for historical romance to Kensington Publishers, one of the largest publishers of romance in addition to other genres.

And here is where it all came together for me; my big family, my teaching background, my dreams. MEET THE FAIRCHILDS on my website. I’m no longer an orphan because they’re my family now. The series begins in 1816 in England with TOO HOT FOR A SPY (2009) in which a determined debutante, Lady Olivia Fairchild, the oldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Heatham, parents of six children, flouts convention by worming her way into spy school. Does she succeed against all odds? You bet! TOO HOT FOR A RAKE (2010) is Lady Helena Fairchild’s story. This one’s finished, ready for publication next year.

I’m currently working on book three in this series, TOO HOT FOR A SCOUNDREL, whose heroine is the dangerous Lady Georgiana Fairchild, who breaks hearts and thrives on danger--thrills, chills and excitement. Lord Edward Fairchild, the heir apparent will have his own book, TOO HOT FOR A DUKE, as will Lady Mary Fairchild, a shy, gifted pianist, in TOO HOT FOR A ROGUE. And then there’s Lady Jane Fairchild, who is a chubby eight-year-old at the start of Book One who spies on everyone else when she’s not eating scones. She is the heroine of TOO HOT FOR A THIEF.

I divide my working day into three parts. The first is writing—I do my best work in the morning—the second is research, left for later in the day, and the third is publicity, writing blogs, answering emails, paying bills, etc. I go to bed happy on those days when I accomplish all three, no easy task.

Writing is a lonely occupation, an all-in-your-head sort of activity. My way of counteracting that is to belong to several writers groups—Romance Writers of America, New Jersey and Florida (in winter) chapters, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Mystery Writers of America, New York City chapter, where I live. I attend as many meetings as I can because I learn a great deal from other writers and they enrich my work. In addition, my writing partner, published author Shelley Freydont, is always available to critique my work and help me out with stubborn problems, as indeed, I hope I am for her.

Do you want to be a writer? Join writers groups! You don’t have to be published and you will make friends and learn a lot. Start collecting books on writing and read them. Read what’s currently being published in whatever genre in which you hope to publish.

Edna Ferber wrote: “Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. It may be absorbing, racking, relieving, but amusing? Never.” (From “A Peculiar Treasure”)

Why do I do it? Because I love it!—Pearl Wolf

Well... uhm... okay... she just took away every excuse my fifty-eight-year-old brain has ever come up with. Did she take away some of yours too?

P.S. I'll be guest blogging on Friday at Riding with the Top Down. Come on over and see me!

P.P.S. Remember to send your big hair photos to Problem Child.


Angel said...

I love that Ferber quote! So true.

Pearl, what an inspiring story. Your new series sounds awesome. I love connected books on family, because you get to know all of the characters along the way, cheering them on when they finally get their own book.

I guess perseverence is the name of the game, huh? As the playfriends know, I struggle with that a lot. But that's one of the benefits of having a group like this. They wouldn't let me quit if I tried. They'd probably tape me to the chair in front of a computer if I tried. LOL


Smarty Pants said...

Welcome, Pearl. What a great story. Its funny how I feel this pressure to sell right now, when really there isn't a right or wrong timeline. Everything happens when it should, I guess.

And yes, Angel, I've got the duct tape right here if you even look like you might bolt.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Awesome post, Pearl! You are proof that dreams do not have expiration dates.

And now I'm off to make my 61 yr old mother read this.....

Sherry Werth said...

Hi Pearl and welcome! I love your post. It's interesting to hear how others found their way to publication. It makes me feel a little better about all this wheel-spinning I've been doing lately. :)
The Fairchilds sound great! I love historicals and especially a family series. I enjoy keeping up with different members of the family through each new book.
A debutante sneaking into spy school! That is a must read! :D

Stephe said...

Lynn Raye Harris said: "Awesome post, Pearl! You are proof that dreams do not have expiration dates."Goodness, I couldn't agree more, with my 49-year-old self! *applause, applause* Now if I could just convince my best friend to think in those terms... :/

Thanks so much, Pearl, for inspiring us with the goodness and struggle of your amazing journey. And thank you, Playground hosts, for providing this venue. I'll never give up the "write."

Christine said...

Thanks for the amazing post! It encourages me to keep pursuing this love of mine--to write. Experience enriches our writing.

I love your writing day--in thirds. That's my goal. Right now it's more like hopscotch writing days--with a teen at home and a husband underfoot, I've learned to redefine the parameters of my "best writing hours."

Virginia said...

I know I am running late but just wanted to drop in and tell Pearl that I admire her for following her dream.

Caffey said...

Hi Pearl! So nice to meet you!! I have loved the new debut line with Zebra and have found so many authors I follow with their releases and now looking forward to yours since I heard it was coming! So beautiful to read about your life and road to being published. I don't want to be a writer, but your advice is awesome for anyone who would want to!! Thanks for sharing this all!