About Winslow Eliot
Even before I knew how to string letters together to create words, I used to fill up tons of notebooks with scribbly symbols. Sometimes I look at these notebooks now and wonder what the heck I was writing when I was five years old.
When my parents decided that I was ready to learn some geography, they took my brother and me on a trip around the world on a freighter. Most of the time up till then we’d been living on a small Greek island, so I hadn’t yet learned to write. But during that long trip I wrote my first book. The first lines were: “I am seven years old. Next week I am going to Japan.”
From then on, I was bitten by a passion to write. We traveled a lot and I’d write constantly: in the back seat of the car as we drove through Brittany, on a ship that took us to the northernmost tip of Norway, and as we crossed the Jordanian desert under a blanket of stars.
I read voraciously. Anything that had words in it was like a feast. I discovered my first ‘real’ romance when I was on a bicycling trip with some friends in Ireland. I was thirteen years old and we stayed in a youth hostel where someone had left behind a novel by Denise Robins called The Cyprus Love Affair. I re-read that novel so many times I knew it by heart.
After graduating from college, I moved to New York City. I was writing and editing articles (and also belly dancing!) when I met my first editor at a party. She asked me to write a romance novel for a new publishing imprint called Rapture Romance, a division of Signet/NAL. I was so excited I wrote The Wine-Dark Sea in about six weeks, hardly sleeping or eating and instead devoting every waking (and sleeping) minute to crafting my first romance novel. I fell in love with my strong lovely heroine, Lydia, who furiously informs the dark, misunderstood hero: “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the last man in Greece!” But as they cruise the Greek islands (which I had done several times myself), she slowly and deliciously changes her mind.
Painted Secrets, Red Sky at Night, A Distant Light, and Roman Candles were published under my Ellie Winslow pseudonym. They were translated into eleven languages and published in twenty countries. Thrillingly, The Wine-Dark Sea was bought by ITC in Hollywood, and made into a screenplay. Although it was never actually made, I did spend several months in Los Angeles, consulting on the project, which was great fun.
A few years later I sold a thriller romance to St. Martin’s Press. Bright Face of Danger received some terrific reviews (“Don't begin this one late at night or you’ll never get any sleep. Deftly plotted and highly recommended,” wrote a reviewer in Rendezvous Magazine.) I was even favorably compared to Sydney Sheldon and Nora Roberts! But the highlight came one cold February evening: I was on the subway in New York and I looked up and someone across the seat from me was reading Bright Face of Danger. I couldn't believe it! I felt this funny tingle go up and down my spine, and I couldn't help smiling. I wondered what to do – should I introduce myself? Should I shake her hand? I was much too shy and I didn't do anything – just went on watching her turn those pages as fast as she could. She didn't look up for a long time, just kept turning those pages, kept turning them and turning them ... and then suddenly she looked up and leapt to her feet in horror – it was obvious she had missed her stop because she'd been so engrossed in the novel! That was a highlight of my life, crazy as it sounds. Anyway, Bright Face of Danger was a bestseller in France, published as Fatale Vengeance by Harlequin and, most recently, as L’Innocence du Mal (Mira Books and Harlequin Bestsellers 2009).
By this point I was in the throes of my own personal romance: I’d gotten married and had two small children, and discovered that I was one of those people who devote themselves 100% to anything they do. We moved to the country and, although I continued to write, my focus was on raising and educating my children. I started teaching creative writing, literature, history, and English.
When the publishing world turned on its heels after the crash of 2008, even my loyal literary agent felt discouraged. But an event that for many authors and editors was a disaster turned out to be a fabulous turning point in my own publishing career. I met an aspiring author called John Locke who hired me to be his editor. In the course of working together, he encouraged me to self-publish. “Invest in yourself,” he urged me.
So I did. I discovered Telemachus Press and the company’s dedication, transparency, and heartfelt friendliness made me realize right from the start that we could work together. Heaven Falls was published in the spring of 2010 and won the 2010 Reader Views Award in the Romance category. Here’s what was said: “Wonderfully imaginative and filled with a series of rather unexpected twists, Heaven Falls was a truly engaging book … I’ve enjoyed the author’s style, the plot and the highly complex characters. The romance between Tess and Jason was believable, the twists and turns exciting and suspenseful, and I found the descriptions of different essential oils at the beginning of each chapter to be some of my favorite parts of the book. It’s one of those stories that you will not want to start unless you have a long, lazy weekend ahead of you … It won’t let you get much sleep until you finish it.” (Here’s a link to the book trailer if you’d like to watch it.)
From then on the world was my oyster. The freedom to publish the stories that I love to read, and the pleasure of knowing readers enjoy reading them as much as I do, and also knowing that Telemachus Press is always there as my partner and friend, set me on fire. I wrote and published two more novels: A Perfect Gem and Pursued. I also reissued Bright Face of Danger. My fifth novel is called The Happiness Cure, and will be published by Telemachus Press early in 2013.
I’m not just obsessed with great romance stories, but also with helping other writers find their voice and tell their stories. I believe every writer needs a mentor. For many years I’ve been writing my WriteSpa newsletter: It’s an oasis where writers can experience “writing” as a pleasurable, nourishing, rejuvenating activity. I offer fun writing practices, unusual ways of looking at writing, and helpful advice. Claudia Jackson, of Telemachus Press, and I teamed up to compile these into Writing through the Year. It’s a compilation of fifty-two weeks of writing pleasure, divided into four seasons. This fall the print version will be available, as well as an accompanying workbook that you can personalize yourself.
Over the next few years, I will continue to write and publish my novels. As a mentor, I also want to show aspiring writers the pleasure they too can have in the process of writing, editing, and publishing their own romantic stories.