I worked for a large daily newspaper in the days before Craigslist and match.com taking classified ads which included Companion Connection ads. We had to read all the ads back to the customers and we could hear one another reading them back. There were strict guidelines to what we could and could not accept. One guy wanted to say no VD ever. Not allowed. Weight in proportion to height was allowed. It was mostly young people who placed those ads. One guy wanted the first sentence to say “Let’s go to Vegas.” Not allowed.
Talking with each other on breaks, the general consensus was it was better for the woman to place the ad and pick from those who responded rather than answer an ad a guy placed and wait to be chosen, duh?
In those days before spellcheck, you had to pass a tough spelling test to get a job on what they called the adboard. Spelling came easy for me, a gift from God, a misspelled word literally jumped off the page for me, likely because I always had my nose in a book.
You also had to pass a typing test, which I passed because I had started writing a romance book and devoured Harlequins and Silhouettes voraciously when I wasn’t being mommy to my two children, a wife and part-time college student. So I learned to type fast during nap times.
I submitted romance queries and sample chapters through the U.S. mail and got enough rejections to paper one of my children’s bedrooms. I actually landed an agent, who submitted my 50K contemporary romance but got no offers. She dumped me after a year and I gave up writing romances for years. I finished my degree and quit the classifieds to cover local news as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper chain.
I covered a few murder trials, learned a lot about police work, politics and schools and watched as my daughter and son dated then married great people, in short, got some real life lessons.
Romance still called to me. I still remember the hope mixed with fear from those people putting themselves out there in the Companion Connection ads. It’s still about connections – to characters and to readers – and hopes for happily ever after.
So I tried again, joined my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and have fun writing books with happy endings, what all those Companion Connection people were hoping for.