photo via Michelle Major
Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed of living near the mountains. Spoiler alert: That girl was me, and although I spent the first twenty-one years of my life in Ohio, mountains always called to me. After graduating college, I pointed my car west, found a job on a dude ranch in southern Colorado and set about making my dreams come true.
I didn’t expect those dreams to include becoming a romance author—at that point in my life I couldn’t even see far enough ahead in my future to believe I might be lucky enough to have kids and a family of my own. Then I met my future husband on a blind date, another Ohio transplant. I wasn’t exactly a spring chicken (at least that’s what my mother-in-law told me) so shortly after the wedding, I got pregnant. At the same time I discovered the romance genre and was immediately hooked on the stories of hope and heart (along with all those hot heroes). I figured that becoming an author would be the perfect career for a mom. My sweet babies would sleep through the night and nap on a schedule and give me plenty of time to perfect my craft.
For several years, I was lucky to have time to brush my teeth. Writing was done in fits and spurts during early morning sessions before the kids woke up. This doesn’t include the summer my son woke every day before five a.m. and we resorted to nailing black garbage bags to the outside of his windows every night just to grab an extra few morning minutes.
But here’s the thing—the more I struggled with rejections from editors and agents plus skin-shredding critiques from a pile of contest entries—the more committed I became to making my dream of being a published author a reality. Finally, when my younger daughter started kindergarten, I gave myself an ultimatum: get a book contract or go out and find another job. I’ve always worked. I like working. Being a mom was the hardest job I’ve ever had, but I wanted something for myself. Writing is it for me. And during winter break her kindergarten year, I received the amazing call from an agent who wanted to represent me. Shortly after, she sold my first book to Harlequin.
From there, life became a balancing act. The great thing about being an author is the flexibility to work when you want and where you want. The other thing about being an author is that it’s often a more than full time job. Books to write, to edit, social media, promotions, research, reader events—all the things. All the things I love but what I love even more is being available when my kids need me. That has been the great gift of writing and the reason I’m so committed to getting up at five every morning and carrying my laptop with me everywhere I go. I can’t count the number of words I’ve written at swim meets, in carpool lines, lacrosse games, volleyball tournaments (I’m currently sitting in the high school parking lot waiting for practice to end). I make it work, but there have been sacrifices. Hello, cute wardrobe for the social life I used to have, I’m looking at you.
My son leaves for college this fall, and one of the gifts of this wild year has been being home with him. Yes, I’m home tapping furiously while he and my daughter are in class. And sometimes it’s not easy to write a hot love session when the sounds of a group of kids wreaking havoc in the kitchen is my background music, but writing has given me the best of both worlds. Plus my kids have seen me do something for myself—they’ve watched the high points and the low points but they know their mom works hard for happiness. So to any other moms or dads out there who have a dream but worry about how it will affect your kids, I’m here to tell you that you can make it work. You can have your dream and you can be a parent and both you and your kids will be better for it. Even if it takes years to get there. And if you need someone to believe in you, I’m that person. Just know that I’m here to believe in you until you can believe in yourself.