Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Story About A Story

You might not be aware that Linda S. Browning won first place in the Mystery Times Ten 2013 short story competition  Why do I mention this? Well, I'm Linda S. Browning. I wrote a short story entitled No Wake about two widows who let their curiosity run rampant and windup embroiled in a murder mystery. The characters, Leslie and Belinda, and their antics are sort of like “Murder She Wrote” meets “Laverne and Shirley.”

I'm immensely proud to have my work published by Buddhapuss Ink, as the lead-in story in their compilation: Mystery Times Ten 2013. Heck, I'm ecstatic to have my work published period. Put it on the back of a cereal box - I'm happy! So how did I wind up writing that short story?  Well, that's another short story . . .

When I was 15 (a long time go) I wrote a short story that was sappy and filled to the brim with torchy relationships. I had never experienced a torchy relationship so I made them up. My best friend at the time, Lynne--a tall, gentle, kind, and feminine girl to my short, herky-jerky, manic self--listened to all my sappy short stories and thought every one of them was brilliant.

So, at the age of 15, I mailed my sappy story to a teen magazine, confident that I would soon be published and on my way to fame and fortune. I waited for what seemed like forever for their response to arrive. When it finally did, I tore it open in feverish excitement. It was a letter of rejection. The rejection letter itself wasn't nearly as devastating as the salutation: “Dear Leslie”.  

They hadn’t even bothered to get my name right. I was as devastated as only an emotional, dramatic 15-year-old girl in the late 1960’s could be. (I told you it was a long time ago!)

Obviously life went on. I grew up, married, and worked in office management positions, transitioning to social work after earning my college degree. I played around with writing from time to time, but never again pursued publication. That “Dear Leslie” letter haunted me.

Thanks to my husband’s success, I was able to retire before the age of 60. That's when I started to hound him for my own laptop. I had a novel in my head and it needed to get out. After writing the novel I started fooling around with short stories and discovered the world of short story competitions courtesy of a string of Google searches. One of the first stories I wrote and entered into competition was No Wake. The heroine’s name is Leslie. Leslie is short and herky-jerky manic. Her best friend, Belinda, is tall, gentle, kind, and feminine. You may have noticed the similarities between Linda and Lynne and Leslie and Belinda; they're completely intentional I assure you. 

That's when it happened. I got an email from Buddhapuss Ink's publisher, MaryChris Bradley: “Linda, You took First Place – Congrats!” Not only had I won first place, but I was to be published! She even got my name right! 
The best part is that Lynne is still my best friend in the whole world. We can go years between get togethers, yet when we do, we pick up right where we left off. It doesn’t matter whether we are 15 or 50, or 61 (well, I am. Truth is Lynne isn’t quite 61 yet.) I had to put that in here because she will undoubtedly be reading this and wouldn't want me to make her older than she is. Our ages don't matter, we turn right back into those two best friends who always had a ball together. Girls will be girls . . . fortunately, forever.

Are there more published stories in my future? I certainly hope so. But if not, well, at least my dream of publication has come true. What's the moral of this story you ask? Never let your dream, or your friendships, fade. It may take longer than you thought it would for your dreams to come true, but when they do, they are all the sweeter when you can share them with a friend who "knew you when."

Now, I think I'm going to create my own BLOG, and call it “DEAR LESLIE.”  It seems fitting.
 © 2014 Linda S. Browning

Linda Browning found her love of creative writing again after requesting a laptop for Christmas in 2011. She'd dallied in various crafty endeavors like quilting and painting, but it was her thirst for storytelling that really stuck. In her own words, "Life is good and at 62 years of age…I’m finally getting going." Her short story, No Wake, was a winning entry in Buddhapuss Ink's 2013 Mystery Times Ten collection. You can follow Linda at her blog, Dear Leslie, here. She is also on Twitter

And yes gentle reader, and Lynne, Linda's crazy senior citizen sleuths will soon be starring in their own series of cozy mysteries. Watch for the first one, Dare Devil, in 2015 from Buddhapuss Ink! 

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