This weekend marked a huge milestone of sorts for me. On October 22, 2015, Pretend You’re Mine was published on Amazon. The timing was incredibly fortuitous as I had just gotten canned from my job the day before.
Let me back up a bit, I worked for a conservative accounting firm. And, guessing that the news wouldn’t be well-received, I kept my hobby of romance writing TOP SECRET. During my annual review when one of the bosses showed concern that I didn’t share any personal goals with them, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say, “My goal is to write bestselling romance novels so I can quit this job.”
I wrote and released Undercover Love earlier that year and, while secretly thrilled by its modest success, I didn’t tell a soul at work that my dreams of being a published author came true. But I was so proud of the work I’d done with Pretend You’re Mine that when the book was getting formatted for its debut on Amazon, I finally confessed to some of my co-workers.
It felt sooooo good to tell them!
As the launch day neared, I got nervous and felt like it was something I should share with the bosses. I didn’t want them to find out from someone else and feel like I had betrayed them or disappointed them by keeping it a secret.
So the Monday before Pretend You’re Mine came out, I nervously hovered in the doorway of one of the bosses (I had several). I made my confession and considered it a success when she didn’t seem upset.
On Wednesday I was called into the conference room and told that my services at the company would no longer be needed and that I could have until the end of the year to find a new job.
I was devastated.
I’d struggled with the job from the beginning, but felt so invested in the people and my efforts. I felt like I was a failure, as if there was something wrong with me that I just couldn’t fit into the professional world. I’d been laid off three years prior from what I thought was my dream job at a newspaper that canned seventy people in one day the same year they won the Pulitzer. I’d also spent years working for a university’s alumni magazine in a sweet work from home deal that ended abruptly when my supervisor needed to shore up the department’s budget.
I took all of these “departures” personally, spending half the time feeling like a big, fat failure and the other half of the time indignant that no one recognized my value to their organization. (OK, it was probably more like 20/80.)
So I went home, freshly fired, and the next morning Pretend You’re Mine went live on Amazon.
I can’t even tell you how proud I am of that book and all of the amazing accolades it earned. It changed my life and gave me a new start as the author I always dreamed I would be. Thanks to book sales, I was able to quit before the end of the year. Which, I’ll admit, felt so damn good.
It’s been a year since then. And I never could have imagined where this year would take me. I’ve been writing full time and, by the end of December, I’ll have six published books to my name. I’ve slept late, taken vacations, learned to sail, and written almost every single day. I make my own schedule and worship the flexibility that I now have.
Of course, it hasn’t been all Champagne and sandy beaches. This is the hardest freaking job I’ve ever had in my life. Sometimes I sit at my computer for twelve hours a day trying to make the story perfect for you (and for me). Sometimes I hit a wall, a thirty-story brick wall that seems insurmountable. I don’t have stubborn or short-sighted or “this is the way we’ve always done it” bosses to blame mistakes on. I worry about running out of ideas. I worry about having too many ideas. I worry about disappointing readers. I worry about embarrassing family members when they read the sexy parts. I worry that the next book won’t sell. I worry about dumping all of the household stuff on Mr. Lucy because I’m glued to my keyboard. I worry about not being there for friends and family when a deadline looms. I worry about suddenly sucking at writing.
But I keep doing it. Because I love it. Because this is what I’m supposed to do.
So thank you to Mr. Lucy for supporting my dreams and telling me that the best thing that could happen to me would be to get fired, to my family who isn’t remotely surprised that this is where I am today,to the indie publisher who took a chance on me, to the people who believed in me, and even the people who didn’t believe in me. Because of all of you, I pushed hard to make this happen and I’m so proud to be here today!