Passion can find you when you least expect it. I was thirty-three, pregnant, and on leave of absence from work. The minute I finished Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor I knew I wanted to be a novelist. The feeling of escapism that I experienced blew me away. I started writing my first novel the very next day, a time-travel romance titled Return of the Rose.
Nobody took me seriously until I took myself seriously first. Many of my family members thought of my job as a hobby. Working from home and not bringing in a paycheck made it difficult for people to take my work as a writer seriously. It was up to me to set boundaries when it came to protecting what little writing time I was able to carve out of each day.
Finding an audience isn’t easy. I had done enough research in the beginning of my writing journey to know that it might take me a few years to find an agent or a publisher. Never in a million years did I think it would take me two decades to find an audience.
You have to really want it. There were a lot of naysayers out there. I had friends and family telling me that writing is competitive and that my chances of ever getting published were close to zero. The critiques I received were harsh. Seeing red pen marks scrawled across every page of my four hundred page manuscript was debilitating at times. I learned to listen to feedback and now have very thick skin. No one is going to love everything I write. That’s okay.
Staying motivated is important! Entering contests and attending conferences kept me on task. With each rejection I knew I was one step closer to achieving my dream.
You know you’ve found your passion when nothing can stop you! A decade into my writing journey, I began to feel defeated by the rejection. I stopped writing for six months. I was so unhappy not writing I realized I could never stop. Creating stories was just too much fun. It was no longer about seeing my book at a bookstore or making a living as a novelist, it was about my love of writing.
Your voice will change over time! It took me years to find my voice. I first tried writing to the market. I felt a strong pull to switch genres to whatever was popular. When I first started writing, I thought I would write time travels forever. Those books never got picked up, so I began writing contemporary romances. Those books didn’t sell either so I switched to writing suspense. By the time I wrote my first thriller, nearly two decades after finishing my first novel, I knew I had finally found the perfect fit for me.
I had to be flexible if I wanted to write while raising four kids. There were soccer, basketball, and football games to go to, meals to prepare, and laundry piling up. If I wanted to write a book, I needed to find the time to get it done. I wrote early in the morning, late at night, and in the car while waiting for kids to get out of school. I gave up watching Oprah, my favorite talk show, to have an extra hour a day to write.
If you really want it, you must go for it! Writing is tough. Being a mother is tough. Life is tough. I’ve learned to do whatever I must to make things easier for myself. I no longer compare myself to other authors. I don’t take criticism to heart. I always try to learn from my mistakes. I am now satisfied as long as I know I’m doing MY personal best.
Dreams really do come true. Timing was everything. My fourth child, the one I was pregnant with at the beginning of my journey, was going off to college. I had written a dozen novels with no payoff, and it was time for me to find a paying job. I saw that a friend had self-published on Amazon and I decided to do the same. Months after, I was selling thousands of books. A year later, the same publishers I had been declined by for years approached me! In 2012, I signed with Thomas & Mercer, a mystery and thriller line, and my life changed forever. Don’t ever let anyone stop you from going for your dreams. You must believe in yourself. You can do it!