Creative Writing Student, Tara Sheets, Becomes Published Author

Author Tara Sheets

A few years ago, I decided it was time to go after the dream I’d been putting on hold for most of my adult life.  I always thought writing would be a fun profession, but I never thought being an author was something I could actually achieve.  It just seemed too “out there”.  Too mysterious.  In my mind, published authors were people who had somehow mastered the magical art of spinning words out of thin air, transforming them into compelling stories.  It just wasn’t something I ever believed I could do.

It wasn’t until my mother got sick with cancer that I changed my mind.  Before she passed away, she told me not to squander my chance for joy.  She said, “The time is now.  Go after the things you want.” I took her advice to heart, and proceeded to make the first step in achieving my dreams.  I chose Bellevue College because I had been receiving their Continuing Education catalog for years.  I used to glance at the Creative Writing section and think to myself, “Someday that would be fun.” I knew the time had finally come for me to give it a try.

The first Bellevue College Continuing Education class I ever took was from Lois Brandt.  It was called “Write Your Novel in a Month”.  I chose it because the thought of writing an entire book in a single month terrified me. But I kept thinking about that saying: If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.  So I jumped into that class without the slightest knowledge of how to write a book.  During the entire month of October, we worked on characterization and plotting.  We didn’t start writing until November during National Novel Writing Month.  It was the best writing experience of my life.  For the entire month, Lois Brandt guided our class as we joined people from all over the world to write our stories. This class was how my writing career began.

The second writing class I took was a revision class, also taught by Lois Brandt.  It was structured a bit differently, in that we shared excerpts of our manuscripts with each other.  I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was for me to share my writing with strangers. What if they said they hated it?  What if they made fun of me?  Of course, none of these things happened.  Lois did an excellent job facilitating a supportive environment for everyone.  We gave each other constructive feedback that helped us hone our writing skills and make our stories even better.  I feel like this class helped me learn the importance of revising a manuscript for clarity.

One of my favorite Continuing Education classes at Bellevue College was “Outlining Your Romance Novel”, taught by Anat Ben-Shaul.  This class was amazing.  Anat did a fabulous job teaching about the writer’s journey, the importance of plot points, and the importance of characterization and pacing.  She used many fun video clips to show different plotting devices, and she had a wonderful way of honoring the very important genre of romantic fiction. Our class worked for several weeks outlining our stories, and on the last day, we shared our synopses with each other.  I learned so much in her class; I’d take it again if I ever get the chance.  My story ended up winning First Place in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest, and also the 2016 Golden Heart® Award sponsored by Romance Writers of America.

This past year, I got an agent at Trident Media Group in New York City.  We took the book I worked on in Anat’s class and submitted it to the big publishing houses.  I am happy to say that within two weeks I received multiple offers.  I recently signed a three-book deal with Kensington in New York City, and my debut novel, Don’t Call Me Cupcake, will be released May 2018.  I’ve finally achieved my dream of being a published author, and I’m very grateful to Bellevue College.  The Continuing Education classes I chose helped me start on this path to publication.  I would urge anyone who’s always thought about writing to give the creative writing classes a try.  And my last bit of advice is to keep going, you guys.  Perseverance is everything in this business. The time is now, so get moving.  Go after your dream!

Tara Sheets,

Author & Bellevue College CE Student

Last Updated February 13, 2017