UAlbany MagazineUniversity at Albany

Making Dreams Come True

By Ludima Gus Burton, B.A.’46

After teaching social studies and English in Averill Park and Northville, N.Y., for 30 years, New York State College for Teachers graduate Ludima Gus Burton retired from the classroom. But the Farrell, Penn., native soon took up a new career: writing. Here’s her story.

I made my dreams come true. If I can do it, so can you.

When I was 71 years old, in 1991, I wrote my first novel in six weeks. What triggered this fantastic accomplishment? I was too lazy to go to the Amsterdam, N.Y., library for my usual bag of books. I said to myself, “I’ll write my own book” – which I did.

A couple of months before, I had read my first paperback romance novel. Since I only read murder-mysteries, the title – Partners in Crime by Anne Stuart – fooled me. I fell in love with the romance genre.

I wrote my first novel in pencil. On my way home from taking my grandson Matthew to his bus stop, I would think of what I would write next. I wrote 10-15 pages a day. Then I had to buy a word processor, learn to use it and type my handwritten pages.

I thought my novel was perfect.

Alas, editors didn’t, and Lessons in Love became my first rejection. In the following nine years I wrote five more books. The rejections kept coming until my folder was more than four inches thick. Those simple, easy romances were the hardest thing in the world to get published.

Did that deter me? Hell, no! (Please forgive the language from an older woman!)

I realized I had to learn the craft. I joined Romance Writers of America and Saratoga Romance Writers, went to many conferences, attended workshops and read how-to books.

Finally, in 1999, Avalon bought my first book, Only for a Year, followed quickly by The Tycoon and the School Teacher (2000), The Love Potion (2001) and The Wedding Cake (2005).

PublishAmerica published my fifth book, A Surgeon’s Miracle, when I was 87. At age 88, I sold my sixth, The Christmas Ball [Cambridge Books, 2008].

I’m not finished with dreaming. I want to create a memorable character who will live with readers forever. Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables is real to me; so is Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind.

Then, because I’m so proud of the immigrant heritage we all in Farrell have, I want to be published in Poland. They love romance in Poland.

I will never give up on my dreams.

And don’t you, either.

Ludima Gus Burton recently celebrated her 90th birthday by publishing her seventh book, Never a Cougar (WriteWords, Inc.), on the Internet. As a trade paperback (Cambridge Books), it will be available on and through bookstores. Burton resides in Fultonville, N.Y.

The World Within Reach

Alan Zaremba, B.A.’71, M.S.’72, has published, Organizational Communication and Crisis Communication: Theory and Practice. Organizational Communication provides an overview of the principles and practices of organizational communication using familiar, real-world examples and interviews with actual practitioners that help students connect theory to practice. Crisis Communication adds theoretical coverage and practical application to the more traditional study of crisis communication through case analysis. Zaremba is associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern University.