Five Things My Dad Taught Me About Writing

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by Rebecca DeMarino

I love listening to family lore and studying genealogy. The discovery of threads that weave together to make us unique is a thrill and the fabric for my novels. I like to think that I inherited my love of baking and gardening from my mom’s Horton side of the family. With my dad, I share a love of reading and writing.

For my dad and me, writing stories-rather than reading them-came later in life. I was writing my first novel when my dad started his first. We finished our first drafts-mine an inspirational historical romance and Dad’s a western romance written in true Louis L’Amour style-about the same time. Here are five things he taught me along the way:

1. READ YOUR GENRE: A little more Louis L’Amour? When my dad began writing his novel, set in southern California in the 1860’s, he’d already owned and read every Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey novel written. This became apparent when my siblings and I became his temporary caregivers. We discovered two deep drawers full of Louis’ books in the kitchen while looking for pots and pans, and a closet full of Zane’s in the hallway while looking for sheets! While writing his novel, Dad’s own voice, pace and story arc flowed naturally.

2. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH: Dad amazed me with his research. He drew on his own experience, to be sure. He was a Navy pilot, and we moved a lot, but we always had a horse or two. Stationed in southern California for several years, he knew the territory right down to Jack Rabbit Trail. But he also learned to use the internet to research period clothing, Texas Rangers and what his setting would be like in the 1800’s vs. the 1950’s and 60’s when he lived there. A couple of more recent trips down to Highland Springs, California, brought him fully up to speed.

3. PROOFREADING: Dad really taught me this at a young age. He was my very first proofreader when I was in school. He not only read my reports, he would tell me why something didn’t work. I learned to rewrite. And rewrite. He was also, along with my husband, a first reader for my novel.

4. NO EXCUSES!! Dad was eighty-six when he began writing his novel. When it was about 90% completed, he required open-heart surgery and two days later suffered a stroke. It was not easy, but he went on to finish his novel. If you would like to read more about his recovery, please click here. If I ever feel daunted-Jane Kirkpatrick teaches about the “harpies”-by my writing, I only have to think of my dad and know he accomplished his novel by never giving up.

5. ENJOY THE RIDE! Dad still lives by himself on his ranch with his horse, Cotton. My siblings and I keep a pretty close eye on him, and still take him to church on Sundays. We were able to self-publish his book and Ken Raney did a beautiful cover. Dad celebrated his 90th birthday last month. Great barbecue and a gorgeous horse cake (it looked like Cotton!) were highlights of the event. But a highlight for me was watching people line up to have him sign their copy of his novel. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the ride.

Rebecca De Marino and Dad
Rebecca DeMarino lives in the Pacific Northwest and when she is not writing, enjoys reading, running, baking and gardening. Tracing her family roots became a passion while on a trip with her mother in 1999. Her debut novel, a historical romance based on her ninth great-grandparents and set in 1600’s Long Island, will be published by Revell in June of 2014, the first in a three-book series. Rebecca is represented by WordServe Literary Agency.
You can find more information about Rebecca at or on FB at

Comments 0

  1. Yes, yes, Rebecca! I remember featuring your dad and his book on my blog several months ago. You dad is a man after my own heart when it comes to those treasured western authors!

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