I firmly believe every journey begins with a step. Just one step.
My writing journey started with a nudge from my husband.
One cold, winter day twelve years ago, I’d just finished reading a book that was horrible. I turned to my husband, Captain Cavedweller, and said, “I can’t believe a publisher put this into print. I can do better than this.”
“So do it,” he said, throwing down the gauntlet of challenge, then returned to watching the football game I’d interrupted.
On a February day, much like this one, I worked up my courage, sat down at my computer, and decided to give writing a romance novel a try. For months, the idea for a story had been simmering in my thoughts, but I hadn’t known what to do with it. Now I did. I had a challenge thanks to CC and a purpose – to take the story in my head and write a book. The contemporary sweet western romance was about a 30-something couple on the brink of walking away from their marriage. I titled the book Heart of Clay.
Although I had no idea what I was doing, the words poured out and in less than three weeks, I’d written a full-length novel. I spent the next several months rewriting, editing, and enduring a few anxiety-driven panic attacks. Finally, I decided it was ready to submit to an agent. Visions of royalty checks, fame and fortune danced in my head as I eagerly sent out one letter after another, attempting to convince someone my book was the next bestseller just waiting to happen.
A few months later, I’d received my 67th rejection letter, most of them stating they weren’t interested in a romance with a cowboy. (Isn’t it always a good time for a cowboy romance?) In spite of the multitude of rejections, many of them arrived with personal notes that were encouraging.
Frustrated yet determined, I reached out to a good friend who happened to be friends with the author Jane Kirkpatrick. She introduced the two of us and Jane kindly allowed me to pick her brain for ideas. To this day, I consider Jane a dear friend and mentor. But in that first conversation we had, she suggested I give digital self-publishing a try.
I was clueless. Self-publishing? What was that? So, I dove into researching the possibilities and what it would entail. It took me less than a week to decide this was what I wanted to do. I loved the thought of having complete control over all aspects of my books. It seemed like an ideal option for someone like me who prefers to pilot my own boat. Rather than immediately upload my wanna-be bestseller to all the digital book outlets available, I followed the advice I’d found on self-publishing websites that recommended indie authors build their bookshelves wide and deep, meaning authors should ideally have a variety of books (the width) and a number of books in a series (the depth).
I jumped into writing two more full-length sweet romances and a short story, all connected to Heart of Clay, creating a series of three books with a prequel. I titled the series The Women of Tenacity. I liked that word, tenacity, because my dad had mentioned more than once that I had a tendency to be tenacious.
In June 2011, I released all four stories online. Nervous, excited, and uncertain, I had no idea what to expect. Within a few hours, some awesome, wonderful person purchased a Kindle version of the second book in the series – my very first book sale. That month, I sold a whopping 12 books.
Despite my lackluster sales, I was hooked on writing sweet romances and the self-publishing process. So I used every spare minute to write.
That November, I released The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan, the first Christmas book I’d written and also the first book in the popular Grass Valley Cowboys series.
Throughout 2012, I continued working full-time at my day job, working part-time with a home products direct-sales company, and writing in my spare time. In November of that year, I published my first historical romance. I had no clue what it would involve to write a historical book, but I’ve always loved history and thought it might be interesting to try.
I hadn’t planned on writing a holiday story, but it ended up being titled The Christmas Bargain, about a banker who accepts a bride in lieu of payment on a loan during the holiday season. The story is set in Hardman, Oregon, which is now a ghost town, but at one time was a bustling stop on a stage route. I had such a good time writing that first book, there are now nine books in the series with plans for more.
It was while I was writing The Christmas Bargain I discovered how much I enjoy doing the research for historical stories. I love digging up little tidbits of history that I can incorporate into my books to add depth to the stories and the characters, while offering a glimpse into everyday life during a specific era.
By the start of 2013, I gave up the part-time direct-sales job, determined to spend more time writing. That spring, I released the first book in my Pendleton Petticoats series about a bride from Chicago who comes to be a farmer’s wife.
Aundy, has been one of my readers’ favorites.
The summer of 2013 was a pivotal point in my writing career. I was working between 50-60 hours a week at a job that was becoming increasing stressful and challenging. Every spare second I had went to my writing.
On a hot summer morning, not long after I arrived at work, Captain Cavedweller called me at my office and encouraged me to give my notice and begin writing full time. “You can do this,” he said. In spite of my fears, I took a leap of faith, buoyed by CC’s belief in me.
It was a huge leap—to leave behind the security of a steady job and paycheck, to walk away from benefits and paid vacation days—but I’m so glad I took it and I’m so grateful for my husband’s support that made it possible.
So I gave my notice and left my job on August 9, 2013, to begin the career of my dreams.
Every day, I feel so blessed to be able to do something I love so much. Writing has always been something I loved, and now it’s my career, my hobby, my joy – my bliss!
When I sat down to write Heart of Clay twelve years ago, I never, not even once, imagined that I’d be celebrating the release of my 100th book. But here I am!
The Snowman’s Sweetheart, my 100th book, released January 27.
It’s been an amazing, incredible journey to get here that started with one step, one little nudge in the form of challenge from Captain Cavedweller. I’m thankful for every single step on this marvelous adventure. And I am deeply, profoundly grateful for each and every person who has touched my life during the journey. Thank you for reading my books, for offering encouragement and support, for extending friendship and wisdom, and leaving my heart so full and my life so blessed.
I have a special giveaway of a $100 Amazon Gift Card.
Just hop over to this form to enter for a chance to win.
And before you go, I’d love to hear about a special step in your life’s journey.