Romance writing a novel outlet for IT consultant
Wednesday, March 07, 2001
Special to AEP Now
By: Kay S. Holt
SHREVEPORT, La. -- As word begins to spread, most of her co-workers in Information Technology and other departments at AEP-Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO) are doing a double-take. "OUR Winnie Griggs? Winnie Griggs, principal IT consultant in Shreveport? For REAL?"
It's not a matter of doubting her ability. She has more than proven her capabilities during her 25 years with the company. It's more the cognitive dissonance when you're browsing your favorite bookstore for a good romance novel, and you see that name on the shelf.
Winnie Griggs, romance author. It requires a mental reconciliation with the likelihood that a math major with a career in information services has published a romance novel. It's there on the shelf in front of you! How does this happen? Could this be a left brain/right brain leakage issue? Or can one person actually be both left- and right-brained?
Winnie Griggs. Winnie Griggs. Come to think of it, it even SOUNDS like an author's name.
Though initially surprised when hearing about the book, her supervisor, Clay Watts, said, "Winnie is unusually observant and tries to clarify issues so that everyone knows exactly what´s expected. She has the gift of using a few well-chosen words to communicate quickly and clearly. These same qualities which are such great assets at work have, no doubt, also contributed to her writing success."
Winnie has always loved reading - everything from mystery to science fiction, fantasy to thrillers. "Romance," she said, "has always been my favorite genre."
In junior high school she began writing for her enjoyment, filling countless notebooks with original stories. Much later, after her children started school, she got serious about her long-time hobby and began work on a novel -- a romance novel.
Director of Application Services Zan Blount has worked with Griggs for several years. Blount said, "She's a rather quiet, extremely capable technology and project management professional. On a personal level, I've seen the sparkling humor, incredible intelligence and dedication to values Winnie brings to everything she does."
In 1996 Griggs joined North Louisiana Storytellers and Authors of Romance (NOLA STARs). The local chapter meets monthly, with guest speakers and discussions sharing writing and storytelling techniques.
She began entering writing contests in order to get objective feedback on her work. She was encouraged when her entries began to place and win. In May, 2000, she received "the call" from her agent with the good news that her manuscript had been accepted.
Griggs said, "I was thrilled! My agent called with the offer, I signed a contract with Leisure Books, Dorchester Publishing Company, in July, and What Matters Most hit bookstore shelves (in February)."
The Americana-style historical novel, set in 1890s Northwest Texas, has all the essential elements of a good romance - the petite, feisty and strong, yet vulnerable woman, a handsome stranger, and an electrifying chemistry between the two.
Blount said, "What Matters Most has a well developed story and characters, an engaging style and a truly good ending. Winnie is very talented. It's no surprise she's accomplished her dream of publishing this book."
Griggs said, "I've completed three novels. The first one, which I call 'my learning book,' took me three years to finish. My second, What Matters Most, took two years. My latest, Something More, scheduled for release in November, took about 18 months. I try to write some every night. Sometimes it's only a paragraph, or it may be 10 pages."
Griggs is a little shy about notoriety. Initially content to keep her literary achievements low key, she said, "I even considered whether I should use a pen name. I decided against that, though, since writing is the one thing I do that's really 'me.'"