Those who work with Ludima Gus Burton say the 90-year-old Fultonville resident is not just an author, she is an inspiration.
Sally Booth, who has known Burton for 17 years, said she and other members of the Saratoga Romance Writers - of which Burton also is a member - know getting published is not a matter of age. Burton is a reminder of that.
"If she can do it, we can do it," the Gloversville resident said. "That is what we all say."
Ludima Burton signs a copy of her new book, “Never a Cougar,” at Mysteries on Main?Street in Johnstown on Dec. 18.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor
Burton actually did not write her first novel until reaching age 71. Burton, who said she had no plans on being an author while she was a teacher in the Northville Central School District from 1956 to 1978, said it was only a couple months before writing her first novel that she had read the romance book "Partners in Crime" by Anne Stuart.
While she had been into murder-mystery tales before then, that one novel got her hooked on romance.
"I fell in love with the romance genre," she said on her website, www.ludimagusburton.com.
However, it would be nine more years - and five more books - before she got her first book published.
"Romance [writing] seems so simple, but it is not," Burton said. "You have to show the development of the characters, conflict and how they change to become better people."
While the years of rejection were tough, Burton said, it also forced her to hone her craft. In so doing, she joined the Saratoga Romance Writers.
The Saratoga Romance Writers is "...a user-friendly support group which encourages writers to reach their full potential while enjoying the journey from unpublished to published," according to its website at www.telltalepress.com/srwa.html.
The group is an affiliate of the Romance Writers of America, which has more than 10,000 members, according to its website - www.rwa.org.
"The mission of Romance Writers of America is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy," the website said.
Booth said Burton accepts criticism of her work well. Burton also does not try to defend her work and explain away every criticism, which some people do, she said.
"She listens and then does what she wants," Booth said. "That is what we tell people to do."
Burton said the group is small, with only about 15 members, but that can be nice too.
"We are all real friends," she said.
Susan Sherber of Ballston Lake is the president of the Saratoga Romance Writers. She said Burton goes out of her way to help other people and offer encouragement. That, in turn, is reciprocated.
"We are all there to encourage each other," she said.
Burton said without belonging to the group, she imagines it would be very hard for a new writer to get published. Besides holding workshops and constructively criticizing each others' writing, the group also makes sure people know the editors and publishing houses that will publish romance books.
"It is much harder to get published now than it was 10 years ago," Burton said. She said the proliferation of computer technology has made it easier for many people to submit works to publishers.
However, Burton is still getting published.
After her first book - "Only for a Year" - was published, it was followed by "The Tycoon and the School Teacher," " The Love Potion," " The Wedding Cake" and "A Surgeon's Miracle."
Her sixth book, "The Christmas Ball," was, "a sweet Christmas paranormal anthology of four unique ghost stories based on the 'haunted' houses in my family," her website said.
Burton most recently is celebrating the success of having her seventh book published. Titled "Never a Cougar," it is another romance.
It also did not come easily, she said. It was rejected by a publisher before she found one who would accept it.
"She writes a sweet romance," Booth said, of Burton's writing. "She's very good."