Tracy Cozzens wrote her first book at age 7, only to have her second-grade teacher discover it and read it aloud to the entire class.
In 1992, after more than a decade of crafting words for others, she picked up Jude Deveraux's "Knight in Shining Armor" and fell in love with the romance genre.
Last month the Orchard Park residentwalked away with one of that genre's top prizes.
Competing in a field of eight finalists, Mrs. Cozzens won the Golden Heart Award for Long Historical romances at the Romance Writers of America's national conference in Anaheim, Calif.
"I was thrilled to win," she said. "I didn't expect it at all, even though I've worked hard on my writing for several years. Winning an award this prestigious has boosted my confidence and made me more determined than ever to pursue my goals."
A former newspaper journalist, national magazine editor and currently a corporate public relations specialist, Mrs. Cozzens was a finalist in three separate categories, something that had never happened before in the history of the contest.
In November 1997, she received an offer from LionHearted Publishing for her futuristic romance "One Perfect Mate." She has also received offers on that book from two electronic publishers. Six other manuscripts of hers are being considered by a variety of publishers.
-- Helen Jones