From School Teacher to
New York Times Best Seller
By Jeff Rivera
While her children ran around her, Ruth Cardello wrote in the basement of her tiny house in spare moments, worked on improving her craft, and juggled her day job as a kindergarten teacher.
Then, when the economic slowdown began, and her teaching career became less stable, she took a leap of faith. Her brother had suggested she self-publish. With her husband's support, she turned her attention to learning the business side of publishing. The rest, as they say, is history.
Her first indie published book Maid for the Billionaire skyrocketed up the charts. Over 200,000 people downloaded it almost instantly. That set her on a path to creating a series that would launch her career as an author and have her turning down a 7-figure deal from a Big 5 publisher.
I had the opportunity to ask Ruth about her path to success and her newest book deal with Montlake Books.
How did you get started as a writer?
I've always been a writer, but I finished my first full-length book in 2004. That would eventually be purchased by Montlake Romance and become Taken, Not Spurred. The first draft of that book was awful. I didn't write it thinking that it would ever be published. I wrote it because I love reading romance novels and I wanted to create a world of my own.
Back then, I didn't know any of the rules of writing a novel. I was in and out of everyone's point of view often in the same scene. Also, I hadn't yet met my husband, so the horse in the story had more of a point of view than the hero. At that time, I was riding my own horse six nights a week. The book was full of horse terminology, horse anecdotes, and a few spicy scenes between the heroine and hero. Fortunately, none with the horse.
But how did you go from tinkering with a novel to becoming a bestselling author?
What do you do when you finish a book? How do you know it's any good? My friends said they loved it, but I had to know for sure. I shared the book with an online critique group. There may be many wonderful groups out there, but my experience wasn't the best. My favorite line from one of my critique partners was that my writing was so awful that it made her want to bash your head on the wall until she bled. Needless to say, I was more than a little discouraged.
But I didn't give up.
I found a local chapter of Romance Writers of America because I've always considered failure a challenge and they tout themselves as a place where authors grow. Now, as the youngest of 11 children, and one with eight protective brothers, I didn't go to my first meeting alone. My brother, Gerry, said he was coming with me and told me that he was pulling me out of there if anyone started tearing my writing to shreds. RIRW of Rhode Island was such a warm and wonderful group of women that my brother joined the group with me and started to write just because of the creative energy there.
It was at one of the meetings that I met Annette Blair. She was traditionally published but had gotten there the hard way. She'd written a lot of books, entered them into many contests, received some cutting reviews, and refused to give up. She spoke about the time she put into learning the craft. She thanked all of the people who were patient with her and supportive of her while she was learning. She spoke with eloquence and warmth that I decided right then and there that I wanted to be her when I grew up.
I started entering contests for my writing. I went to workshops on how to improve my craft. I worked with critique partners. I read as much as I could on the rules of my genre. This was the painful adolescent period of my writing career. I was awkward. I was insecure. But I was also determined.
Many beginning writers reading this are struggling with their craft. How did you learn the ropes? How did you hone your skills?
Want to read the rest of the interview? Click here
Additional thoughts by me:
My Journey Expands
How my writing became a family affair
Last year my sister, Jeannette Winters, who has a full-time job as an analyst, told me she dreamed of making enough money from her stories to pay for the new roof her home needs. I gave her the same list and told her to bring me a completed romance. If she did that, I promised to get her the best editors I could afford, help her choose covers that would fit her books and teach her the business side of self-publishing. She joined the same author group my brother and I did and finished not only one, but two billionaire romances. And they’re good. They’re so good I could cry.
Her first book is FREEhttp://www.amazon.com/