Martina Evans decided early on that she wanted to write a book. There were, however, a few obstacles to be overcome.
“At eight, who do you go to to say, ‘I want to write a book?’” posits the Baltimore-based family law practitioner.
Even when she began writing in earnest, in the spring of 1991, “life got in the way.” A single parent, Evans entered the University of Baltimore, where she earned a joint MBA/JD before graduating in May 1994. Within a couple of years, Evans established her own law practice.
But Evans early ambitions never waned. She continued to write as time allowed – primarily fiction focusing on interpersonal relationships. She attended a few non-credit writing courses offered through the Johns Hopkins “Odyssey” program. Over time, her practice grew, and her son graduated high school and went off to college. Hence, the time seemed right, Evans recalls, when she found a bit of inspiration while attending a relative’s bridal shower in November 2004.
“We were playing a game of ‘Tell [About] Your Worst Date’,” she explains. “All women – and whoever told the worst date story at the table won a prize. And I thought, ‘Wow, that would be a great idea [for a book].’ So a couple of people gave me their stories that day.”
Evans spent several months compiling stories, making notes. Then, another attorney – himself a published author – offered a suggestion.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you include men, also?’” Evans explains. “That night, I went to a birthday party and I asked a few men, and they had stories. So I started compiling men’s stories, too.”
Evans worked to incorporate the project into her daily routine. “Not a morning person” by her own admission, she would often awaken at 4:00 a.m. and write for a couple of hours before starting her day. Some nights, she would simply skip watching television in order to get more done.
“The hardest part is getting to the computer,” she admits. “Some mornings, I would maybe type two or three words. But that’s okay – that’s two or three words more than you had before.”
The fruit of Evans long-held dream and hard work was Worst First Dates and the Lessons Learned, published in late 2007 under her own imprint, Eintou Books. Her own work included, Evans collected 40 first date-related stories representing an age range from 20 to 60. The book’s broad-base target audience, Evans explains, includes those who are “single, married, about-to-be-married, newly-divorced – whomever.”
“Because I practice family law, I do divorces, and some of my clients….they laugh – you know, ‘Maybe you should write one about ‘Worst First Divorces’,” she notes. “[Other] people say things like, ‘I’ll see you on Oprah!’ Things like that.”
Evans celebrated the book’s publication with a release party and signing on December 8 at Morgan State University.
“It was the perfect fit,” she says. “They said, ‘We’re here to help you – we’ll work with you.’ Once I got the venue, I just put everything else together.”
To get the word out, Evans drew upon her extensive social and professional networks: family, friends, neighbors, clients, her church, and the Black Writers Guild of Maryland.
“This was a challenge, because I was a little shy about really putting myself out there,” Evans admits. “But the people who had done it already – accomplished authors – were so encouraging. Even the people who contributed stories – they were helpful and encouraging. It was difficult every step of the way, but I knew that I had to get it published.”
Evans also found support in her chosen profession. “As attorneys, we have the benefit of honing our writing skills, and that certainly helped me,” she explains. “We’re [also] disciplined. When I have a case that I’m preparing for, I’m focused, and I knew there were points in time where I had to be focused to finish this.”
Evans has also branched out into other writing formats; most notably, she recently completed a screenplay, which she subsequently submitted to the Baltimore Screenwriter’s Competition.
“It was something that just came to mind that I thought would be fun to write,” she explains. “It’s an urban fairy tale, actually, loosely based on Cinderella.”
Evans describes the act of writing as “therapeutic.”
“It’s creating characters and situations that maybe no one has ever seen – or I have never seen – and then being able to evoke positive change in people’s lives,” she adds. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done, and I’m glad that I did it.”
For now, Evans is mulling a few ideas for other books, though she has no plans to publish anything else in the immediate future.
“I just want to see how this does before I actually go on to the next one,” she chuckles, “and enjoy it!”