When I first sat down to write a novel, I collected the supplies that I needed – wide-lined notebook paper, a blue cardboard three-ring binder, and a good ink pen. I reserved space in the back of that binder and began writing my story of three sisters in the American South during the Civil War. For each page of text that I wrote, I had a corresponding page with an original drawing to depict the ongoing action. I worked hard on my magnum opus, stealing time away from spelling, arithmetic, and social studies to write. When my work, titled Good-bye, Dixie! was complete, I carried it home to my parents with pride. I was in the fifth grade. I have a fond spot in my heart for that first manuscript because without “Good-bye Dixie”, I might not be a writer.

From those days in that second floor classroom at Webster Elementary School in my hometown of St. Joseph, MO,to the day ten years ago when Champagne Books accepted my romantic suspense novel, Kinfolk, I did a lot of living and learning. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I learned to hone my craft, to use my apparent natural gift with words to write things people wanted to read. I spent years writing, learning, revising, and creating. Long before my novel length fiction found a home, my short fiction began to build publication credits.

The most important think I did over those many years is write. I wrote stories and poems, essays and research papers, for The Crowder College Sentry and The Crowder Quill and for The Winged Lion at MSSU. I wrote radio ads in my first post college career job and news copy as well. I inherited a monthly newsletter, The Winning Spirit, that went out with the monthly billing at KBTN.

During my radio years, I wrote and gained my first fiction bylines along with a variety of magazine articles in many places. After I was married, I continued to write and managed to send out a few articles that were published in places like "The Ozarks Mountaineer" and "Backwoods Home Magazine."

I wrote for a few newspapers over the years before finding my space at The Neosho Daily News but much earlier than that, I decided it was time to write a novel.

Becoming an author - which is defined by writing a book - was always the dream and long-range goal.

So, with twin toddler daughters, one day I realized if I didn't get started on that dream, it most likely wouldn't happen. So, at a time that many people might think was crazy, I started writing novels. Kinfolk wasn't my first effort but it was the first that was accepted by a publisher. Since then, I have continued to write and I have more than twenty books or novellas out in the world. I am working on two now in my small amount of spare time after a hiatus of a few years.

But I had to begin somewhere - and did.

Beginnings are most often humble and the most important lesson I learned as a writer is never give up and get started writing.

-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author.