- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Debby Conrad rises, turns on a bedroom table light and jots down an idea that came to her in a dream or on the cusp of sleep.

Conrad, 60, who, as a teenager growing up in Canton, Ohio, spun romantic fantasies to her sister and friends, did not read books for many years.

But deep in her heart she held dreams of writing them someday.

Twenty years ago she put “writing” on a list of things she wanted to do with her life.

Starting with “Lust’s Betrayal,” a book she wrote in 1996 that languished for 10 years before it was published, Conrad is now up to eight romance suspense novels and counting.

“I found that list in a cupboard, and I thought, ‘I want something to do for me,’” said Conrad, who recently retired as the mortgage manager at Coldwell Banker Select, Realtors.

“I thought of doing children’s books, but my daughters were too old and would never relate to anything like that. But I developed an affinity for romance suspense. Now I write them with passion, and with my heart.”

Conrad, whose husband, Chuck, runs Erie General Tire Inc., was a stay-at-home mom raising daughters Nicole and Ashley when she came to Erie in 1980. Later, she and a friend opened an aerobics studio in 1985. It closed in 1992.

“I injured a knee, and I couldn’t teach aerobics anymore, so I had to find other things to do,” said Conrad, a grandmother of three.

Though her mom had prodded her to read books - she eventually did, and got hooked on mystery and suspense novels __ initially she wanted nothing to do with romance. But when she picked up the book “French Silk” by Sandra Brown, she was mesmerized by the suspense and the romantic elements of the story. Brown would become one of her idols.

Conrad eventually found her niche in writing, but found that getting published can be a nightmare.

“It took 10 years for ‘Lust’s Betrayal’ to be published,” she said. “Editors wouldn’t even look at a synopsis for months, let alone a manuscript. One editor would read it then leave the company. Another would read it then you’d get a rejection letter, and so on. It was frustrating.”

Conrad switched to self-publishing, using the tools and access provided by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iTunes. The e-books are available on Amazon via the Kindle platform.

“I’ve had seven books published in a short time, and they (the online publishers) take care of everything, and then share the profits,” said Conrad, a member of Romance Writers of America’s Brecksville, Ohio, chapter.

“Writing can be a very lonely profession, but then again, I’ve met so many interesting friends through writing,” Conrad said.

“You have to keep track of your ideas, so I write things down in a journal,” Conrad said. “Thoughts are like dreams, and they quickly fade away. That’s why I keep a journal close by.”

Conrad has more time in retirement to focus on her creative writing, but she believes different chapters lie ahead.

“I can continue to put my heart into this, but I would like to get back into aerobics someday. (It was) something I loved to do,” she said.





Information from: Erie Times-News, https://www.goerie.com

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