I was searching for my first book’s manuscript on my computer and came across this article my father wrote about my book. He used to write a column in our hometown local newspaper. His review made me happy and I wanted to share it. My dad loves opera, serious mystery novels, and the Far Side. I’m sure it is the Far Side part of him that found appreciation in my little Chick Lit novel. Thank you, Daddy. I love you.
My Daughter, the Novelist, by Rick Thurman (7 March 2012)
This column provides me with an opportunity—and I’m unabashed when I say this—to do some bragging. After all, not everyone can say that he is the father of a novelist!
Some time ago (maybe ten years ago, maybe longer) our daughter Victoria began writing accounts of some of her experiences on various dates. I suppose that I was idly interested in her “hobby” at the time I first heard of it, but I became increasingly impressed as I continued to hear references to this activity. Eventually she announced to us that she was writing a novel about a young woman whose experiences with men were suggested by her own. Last fall she entered the ranks of published authors as a result of following the path that more and more writers are taking these days: self-publishing.
Her novel is entitled The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield. The title character, who goes by the nickname Deli, is a 24-year old woman whose mother has always emphatically warned her that “all the good ones are taken by the time you’re 25.” As a result, Deli is searching, almost desperately, for Mr. Right. Her search is both frantic and hilarious. Maybe it’s hilarious because it’s so frantic! Victoria swears that many of the adventures, or misadventures, Deli has are almost precise accounts of her own encounters with the opposite sex.
I must say at this point that I have next to no interest in or experience with “chick lit.” It is probably true that this novel is the first such work I have ever read. I began to read it with interest, of course, because the author carries my DNA, but I was not many pages into it before I began reading it for itself—as an interesting and well-written story.
Indeed, I was truly impressed with the quality of the writing. I had had long experience with Victoria’s delightfully eccentric sense of humor, and I was pleased to find that quality exhibited in full measure on almost every page. I was almost more impressed, however, to see what a good writer she is! To be honest, I don’t know to what degree skill in writing may be inherited. While I would like to claim some credit for the merit of the novel, I hardly dare do so. (When she asked me to proofread and edit the galley pages, my first question to her was, “Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end?” She assured me that it does. I don’t know why I was so skeptical!)
I had a very bad experience at my first job out of college and I moved back home to recoup. What was going to be a temporary layover in my life journey, ended up being two years. (My whole life is filled with long stories, so I’m just going to keep moving forward with my Delilah story.) I turned twenty-four a month after I moved back home. Then I turned twenty-five and twenty-six. Still at home. I remember going on a date and later that night, my dad said, “Victoria! He is a redneck!” But who else was I going to meet in a redneck southern town? It was slowly dawning on me, that I needed to kick myself out of the house. But I still didn’t know how to do it.
One morning, before I moved out, I woke up and a title for a book was given to me by God (the Universe). It just flowed through my mind. The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield. It would be about a southern girl approaching twenty-five and realizing if she didn’t leave the small town, she may end up an old maid. Her mother told her all through her growing up years that “all the good ones are gone by the time you reach twenty-five.”
It came from the fact that my mother told all of us kids
(five) that all the good ones are gone by the time you reach twenty-five. Well,
there was no hope for me, I was already well into my twenty-sixth year. But
maybe my character would have better luck than me and I could live vicariously
through her. So, I started writing a novel in October 1996. A novel about a
young woman coming of age in her twenties. I had no idea at the time that I had
been a part of a collective consciousness forming the genre Chick Lit. “Bridget
Jones” was published in 1996. But I didn’t know this until the movie came out
in 2001. I read a couple Jane Green novels in 1998. I still didn’t know the
significance of these books. I was still writing my book.
I moved to Memphis in November 1996 and then moved to
Atlanta in November 1997. Still collecting experiences to add to my book. I
went to a Microsoft Office seminar once in Atlanta with one of my first
corporate jobs and I was telling the instructor about my book. When she heard
the title she said, “That sounds like a best seller!” I have never forgotten
that. And why should it not be? The book was Inspired and given to me by God.
This story means so much to me. I will never give up on it.
I moved to Denver in 2000 and met some amazing creative writers. (Which is a whole other blog story.) In 2005 I found out about Pikes Peak Writers Group and their annual writing conference. Wow. I had never joined a writing group before. I had just been floating around trying to figure things out on my own. I went to the conference and was so amazed. I found my people! I never knew life was so LIFE before. I never knew how I could be so connected to my dreams before!
I had not completed “Delilah” yet, but I joined a class taught by a coveted literary agent to gain feedback on my first few pages. Boy, was I slashed and trashed. No one volunteered to read first, and I had so much confidence in my story that I decided I would be brave and go for it. I read the first three pages with confidence and then she tore it to pieces. I wanted to crawl under my chair and die.
“Nobody laughed because we didn’t know what was going on!”
On and on it went. I personally don’t think anyone was listening to me, because
they were probably too nervous about reading their own story. And I can also
say, NO ONE volunteered to go second.
I dragged my little story and broken heart home with me and began re-working it. A couple of months later I saw an email come through from Pikes Peak Writers to enter a contest, mimicking American Idol. You could read any place in your book that you wanted to read from. It had to last three minutes. And the sign up was first come first serve. I immediately signed up. I had two weeks to prepare for the event. I bought crazy pajamas to act the part of Delilah. I re-worked my favorite chapter (Welcome Guests) to read for the three-minute time slot and I memorized it. I could not wait for everyone to be introduced to Delilah the proper way.
My friend who lived in Colorado Springs invited me to spend the night at her house and I invited her to be my guest at the event. We sat at a table in the back of the room. There were a little less than a hundred people in the room and I think fifteen contestants would read. There were four judges, one being a Hollywood screenwriter, one an editor, and two authors. I think my number to read was twelve. So I had a long wait. I was very nervous. I left the table to go change from my dress into my pajamas. When I got back to the table my friend was gone and none other than Ms. Slash and Trash herself was sitting in her place! Gulp.
“This seat is saved,” she said. She recognized me and my lame beginning. Sigh.
“Oh, it’s my table and my friend.”
“Oh, I didn’t know. She just asked me to make sure to save
“Okay. Thanks. Hi,” I nervously smiled.
Sit. Sit. Sit. Wait. Wait. Then my friend, Pam finally came
back over and started a conversation with Slash and I. Whew.
Halfway into the readings of serious literary stories, or
young adult fiction, the Hollywood screenwriter hollered out to the room,
“Anyone got any Chick Lit out there?” I raised my hand. Oh my goodness! I was the only one, and he was really wanting to hear
my story. Then it was my turn to read. I stood at the podium with a
spotlight shining on me and ninety people in front of me. All eyes were on me. Gulp.
I decided it was best not to go from memory, but to just
read from the paper. (Of course, since I had it memorized, I just used paper as
a guide.) I did all the voices and Southern accents and dramatizations. After
the second sentence the whole room burst into laughter. YES! Take that, Slash!
Laughter rang out throughout my whole three minutes and I was in heaven. At the end the judges took turns telling me their opinions. It was all so good. “What a way to meet your dream guy- in handcuffs with your mail!” “How many of us have had our underwear stolen from the laundry?” Everyone agreed it was hilarious and relatable. The only real criticism was that I needed to expand more on one area when the cops come to the door. (Which I later did, in a way that really happened to me in fifth grade and I doubt those judges would have ever guessed it would have worked so well.)
After the remaining three contestants read their stories,
the judges left to deliberate on the four main prizes to be given. First thirty
pages to be read by Donald Maas… People’s choice (voted by everyone in the
room), first thirty pages to be read by Slash and another thirty-page reading
prize by another agent.
My name was called. MY NAME WAS CALLED! I got up to walk to the stage and then they had me turn around and told me I won the Ms. Slash and Trash prize. (Of course, they used her real name.) Oh my goodness!
My oldest friend, who I am still friends with today, Laura, and her family always went out west for summer vacations. I have known her since we were four. Her father was a geology professor at the same college where my dad taught English. My family spent our summers in New Hampshire at my grandmother’s house and visiting with our cousins. We had the East coast experience, but her family had the pioneer experience. The West. I remember looking at pictures at Laura’s house upon their return, of Colorado, Montana, Utah… Oh wow, did I want to go see those mountains in person.
I remember part of a conversation I had with my gay BFF when I was in college. I don’t know what I was manifesting, but it must have been quite a bit, because he told me, “God never listens to me. He is too busy listening to you.” This is a reminder to me, for one, about the Law of Attraction and how attitude is everything, but I didn’t know that then, and two, that I have been asking God (the Universe) for things for a long time. There are about three things that really showed me that what I believe in, I can manifest. What I work hard for, I can accomplish. And it is not always in my timing. This is one of them:
When I was twelve, I started asking for calendars with
photographs of America. When I was in college, I found a coffee table book on
sale, with photographs of America. By the time I left college, the binding was
broken and fell open at the Colorado pages. I didn’t see how I would ever get
there. And my naivety led me to dream that someday my husband and I would go
there together. Well, that never
When I was twenty-nine and living
in Atlanta, I started working for a computer company through a temp agency. We
were working on contract at an insurance company. I had only joined the
corporate world the year before with a computer software company (that was
bought out and I lost the job). I promise you I did not know anything about
computers, my first day at that job, I had to ask them how to turn the computer
on. But I stayed after work every day studying Microsoft Office to catch up
with the rest of the world. I only really ever wanted to be an artist and an
author, so I didn’t know much about being an administrative assistant, but I
knew how to help people. At the new job I was working for two lower managers. I
was supposed to get a permanent job with them four weeks after starting. I
asked them every week after the first month, “When will I get to be permanent?”
“Soon,” was always the answer.
Meanwhile, (my first day, actually) I noticed they had an
office in Denver, Colorado. Holy **it!!! I am asking for it!!! I had not asked
God for much in those last few years. I had turned into a pessimist. But no
longer! I had wanted this dream since I was twelve and husband or no husband, I
was going to ask for it and trust God for it. Sometimes you just have to do
things on your own; you cannot wait on someone else to show up and hold your
hand when the opportunity presents itself. So now you know why I was so eager
to get on board permanently. I decided the first thing to do was to make
friends with the admin in the Denver office so I could know when a job opened
I started the job in June and things were going so well.
Kelly (the Denver admin) and I were getting to be good buddies. Deep into
October I finally got the permanent job. And this is where you have to believe
that God’s timing is everything because you do not know what is going on behind
the scenes. All I could see was, I
wanted to go to Colorado and they were prolonging my chance. Would it even
happen? Had I bugged management too much about being on permanent? Would I just
be a temp forever? What I could not see was that the admin for the director of
my department, who lived in North Carolina, was moving on to a different job
and the director wanted me to be his
admin. I was floored. (Yes, God can give you things greater than what you even
asked for.) I would be working for the two upper managers and in my job offer
discussion, they told me to name my salary. Holy **it!!! I only just learned
how to turn on a computer a year earlier, making $12.50 an hour. A year later I
was being told I could ask for any salary I wanted! I did my research for a
range and I asked for the middle. I didn’t quite get what I asked for, but close
to it. A significant increase. What
would I do with all that money?! (Save it for Colorado.)
At this point in my dream not a single solitary soul knew
anything about it. I have since learned, that I was very smart not to bring
other people into a fledging dream. Let the seed take root first. So for five
months I was the only one who knew. The same week that I was hired on permanent
I was relaxing at my desk and decided to call Kelly.
“Hey! What are you doing?” I asked.
“Filling out college applications for Texas,” she casually
said, as if it were just another day.
I jumped up from my seat, “WHEN ARE YOU LEAVING?!”
“Why?” she asked.
She became the first person to know my secret plan, though
she couldn’t understand why I wanted to move to Colorado. (She was from New
York, which explained it.) Kelly kept my secret.
Then came time for the Atlanta office Christmas party. I was
asked to take charge of planning it. The wheels were turning in my dream-filled
mind. The Denver VP was coming to Atlanta for our party. Hmmm. So I sat him at my table beside me so he could go ahead and
get to know me and know he liked me and would want me to be his admin. Worked
like a charm. He loved me. However, he did not have a clue what I was planning.
My oldest friend, Laura, just happened to have gotten
married in Michigan in August and moved to Denver in September. Now it was time
to pull her into my plan. In February I flew out to Colorado (for the first
time ever!) to see her and meet Kelly! Yes, yes! Colorado was everything I
dreamed of and wanted. In April (yes, April)
Kelly called me.
“It’s time to tell them,” She said. Wow.
Here it is. My moment has come.
The next day I talked to my boss and she talked to hers. He
asked me how I even knew there was an opening. I told him Kelly and I talked
all the time. He smiled and said, “Well, I need to talk with her boss.”
About an hour later, Ricky came over to my desk and said, “Now
are you sure you want to do this?”
OMG. I had been
planning for so long. I was so used to not having it, I never reallllly thought
about what it would mean to have it. I would be states away from my family. I only really had one friend out there.
I think the color drained from my face in the split second I was thinking this
and then came the thought I will always remember when starting something new. “You’ve
been here and done this. GO!”
I looked at Ricky and said with full confidence, “Yes. I’m
He smiled and said, “You’re going.”
I moved in mid-June 2000 and lived in Colorado for eight years on my own.
I am working on another project with God now, but I cannot
tell anyone. It needs to take root.