Marie Ferrarella sold her first book to Harlequin in 1983 and hasn’t looked back! Her 250th title for us will be published next year. Her energy and spirit is unrivaled, of course, but we wanted to know if there was another secret behind her creative mind.
According to the legend in my family, I was more or less born talking. The leap from talking to creating stories was a relatively short one, at least for me. By the fifth grade, I was spinning my first multi-chaptered western saga each day during recess in the schoolyard. It was the first time I had people other than my mother paying attention to me.
However, it wasn’t until college that I began entertaining the idea of making a living with this skill that came so effortlessly to me. Today, thanks to Harlequin and some pretty terrific editors, I have 272 books to my name. Ah, but the road from college sophomore to here was littered with enough rejection slips to wallpaper every room within a spacious two story house. My mother was ever- encouraging—some teachers and editors were not. I specifically remember that little gnome of professor (way beyond the normal retirement age) who spent twenty minutes telling me that everyone who had ever told me I could write had lied to me. I finally gathered up my nerve, informed him I’d send him a copy of my first book, and walked out on him.
Then there was that highly regarded editor who flatly informed me that I didn’t have what it took to write a large book (I’m Polish and Polish women are exceptionally stubborn so that just goaded me to work harder just so I could show this editor that “yes, I so.”). Yet here I am with a great many large books to my name.
And now here is my one piece of advice to you: If you really, truly want to be a writer and believe in yourself, believe in your talent, then don’t let anyone stop you or tell you that you’re not good enough. Never give up, never surrender. Just keep trying until you punch through that invisible barrier that separates you from being part of the published masses.
Then, after you have that first sale under your belt (because it will happen) and you do the happy dance and send out birth announcements (which is what I did), get ready for your next big battle—because it doesn’t really get easier after that first sale. You have to keep proving yourself. In my experience, the first two hundred sales are the hardest. After that, it’s a piece of cake. The lovely editors at Harlequin recently blew me away by offering me three contracts: one for two books, one for three and one for ten. I am truly living the dream—but only because I didn’t give up no matter how many times I was rejected.
Now go and write something—and believe.
Her editor Patience Bloom adds, “If there’s anyone who proves that working hard gets you where you want to go, it’s Marie. She just keeps writing and delivering consistently engaging stories. I’m not sure how she does it, but Marie never lets anything stop her from writing. Her attitude and her process are truly inspirational. And it goes without saying that she’s a remarkable person.”