Monday, June 13, 2011

Confessions of a Confession Writer

In honor of its RITA® nomination, we are celebrating The Clearing by our own Heather Davis this week, with stories of elders who inspired us, with The Clearly Farmhouse Prize Pack (details listed in yesterday’s post) going to one lucky commenter!

I am delighted to talk about my maternal grandmother. She lived all of her 71 years in Moline, Illinois, and was lucky in love twice, first marrying a railroad worker (with whom she had two daughters--my aunt and my mother), and years later, following his death, a grocery store owner, a widower with four sons. Here she is around the time of her second wedding:


In her last years, she visited us in New York several times, bringing with her a stack of her favorite magazines. By 12 years-old, I was already reading my mother’s magazines like McCall’s and Ladies Home Journal. My eyes always went to the fiction, especially anything to do with romance, so when I got a look at what my grandmother was reading, I knew I'd hit pay dirt.

They were called Confession magazines, and while the titles were often sensational, the actual stories were mostly about love and self-discovery. Here’s a photo of a cover from back-when:


My mother did not approve of me reading these magazines, but my grandmother, bless her heart, slipped them to me secretly. I remember reading one issue in a walk-in closet with a flashlight!

Some years later, sadly, my grandmother passed away, and I went to Moline to help with the closing of her house. There I found a mountain of Confession magazines, which I poured over during the visit, and crammed into every available space in our suitcases. By then, my mother had given up keeping me from reading them. I was older, and I think she rather liked that her mother and her daughter had had this common obsession.

Little did any of us know that this would just be the beginning for me and Confession magazines. Because after college, looking to break into publishing, I decided to try my hand at writing them. I sold the second one I submitted, and at last count, I had about 80 publications to my name, many about first teen loves. Here’s a cover that features two stories I wrote: “Secret Love at a Summer Carnival” and “I Saved My Kisses for My Boyfriend’s Roommate.


I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my grandmother for a) passing on the romance reading gene, and b) bypassing her daughter’s disapproval to feed my romance need and set me on track for the lifetime career that I love!

To be entered in the contest for The Clearing Farmhouse Prize Pack, please tell me the name of a magazine from around your house--or a friend’s or neighbor’s house--when you were a kid! And remember to check back on Sunday, June 19th to learn the winner!

Tina

Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys
www.tinaferraro.com

20 comments:

sunnynikki said...

The magazines around our house were not nearly as exciting I'm afraid. There was Readers' Digest, Country Living (despite the fact that we did not live in the country), and Family Circle. I did often times hit pay dirt at my maternal grandmother's home because while she didn't read magazines she was a member of several romance monthly clubs and the books were delivered in bulk every few weeks. From the ages of about 10 to 22 I devoured them every time I was at her house, even now I pick them up for nostalgia purposes every now and then.

Janie Emaus said...

LIFE was always around our house. Not as juicy as love confessions, but I can't remember a time when a copy wasn't on our coffee table.

TinaFerraro said...

Sunnynikki, those romance clubs were/are an amazing resource!

Janie, we used to have LOOK, too! Remember that one?

yabooknerd said...

oh I LOVED YM and Seventeen

Cara King said...

Wow: “I Saved My Kisses for My Boyfriend’s Roommate" is the best title ever! :-)

When I was young, we always had "Woman's Day" and "Family Circle" around the house, and my brother and I read them cover to cover (because we read everything, even the Niacin counts in the cereals we ate.)

My grandmother, though, had much more mysterious and classy magazines like Redbook (why was the book red? no one could tell me) and McCalls (what is a McCall?)

1110cg said...

We have a lot of photography ones lying around

TinaFerraro said...

yabooknerd, I loved YM and seventeen, too!

Cara, thanks for the thumbs-up on that title, but I'm pretty sure credit there goes to the editor!

And McCalls...it started as a sewing magazine, with patterns. They had a paper doll in every issue with cut and clip on dresses! I loved it! =)

110cg, photography magazines sound wonderful...

emmiefisher said...

When I was a kid my parents used to subscribe to National Geographic. I loved pouring over the articles and even more, I loved tacking the maps up on my wall and looking at all the cool places I'd like to visit some day.

Steph said...

There was always Reader's Digest and the TV Guide around my house growing up. The one I remember most that I enjoyed was this Disney Adventures kind of thing with comic versions of the shows I liked at the time and now wish they brought back. I'm not sure if that was the name of the magazine exactly, but I know it was Disney something from the Disney Channel. I also liked Teen People and Cosmo Girl as I got older.

TinaFerraro said...

emmiefisher, I remember National Geographic from doctor's offices!

Steph, I used to LOVE the crossword puzzle in the TV Guide!

Jessica said...

Oooh! Secret reads are the best kind. Special kudos to you for knowing what you loved, pursuing it, and then claiming it by writing your own!! I used to love Tiger Beat when I was younger and then Glamour when I got older. :)

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks, Jessica, and I do remember reading Tiger Beat and Glamour back in the day, too!

Heather Davis said...

Awesome, Tina. I so want to read those articles, btw!

donnas said...

We always had Readers Digest's around. I thought the fact that they published books in volumes was awesome, until I discovered that they edited a lot. Confessions I have never heard of, but sounds like a winner.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Anonymous said...

Well, we don't have that many magazines, but I do remember one. National Geographic, my dad has been collecting them since he was a kid and still has. They clutter our house and are barely even read, but we still buy them anyway.

Janey

TinaFerraro said...

Donna, I am with you about thinking Readers Digest published full books, too. And I was sort of disappointed later to learn I'd read the abridged versions.

rebecca said...

We had Reader's Digest and Family Circle too--though one memorable magazine issue was the Reader's Digest that I wrote on the cover in pen, making it say "Readers DiEgest (just) the same" only to find out it was one from the library! Got in BIIIIG trouble for that one...

TinaFerraro said...

Haha, cute story, Rebecca! Thanks!

Mahreen said...

When I was younger, we used to get a subscription to Highlights Magazine for kids!

TinaFerraro said...

I loved Highlights Magazine for Kids, Mahreen!