We’re on the brink of a new year, which naturally brings about reflection of the year to pass and the one to come. It’s been a whirlwind year for me–a thrilling, inspired, breathless ride, and one of the most amazing observations I’ve made is this: I’ve been a published author for more than twenty years now, and I’m every day surprised by the wellspring of generosity amidst authors in general.
In a rare moment of openness, let me confess that I retreated from this industry a little wounded. Not entirely because of the publishing industry itself. Life handed me some pretty tough lessons. Until then, I can’t say I’d lived a charmed life, because I certainly hadn’t, but I was quite blinded by idealism and innocence. I think that’s probably the moment we all grow up: with whatever age it arrives, our loss of innocence. Things like death, divorce, disappointment are the catalysts. While I still admittedly cling to much of my idealism, today the idealist in me walks side by side with the realist.
But back to my story: A bit more than ten years ago, I walked away from writing to find steadier ground. I probably didn’t intend to stay away so long. But in the interim my father fought a bitter battle against cancer and then died. My mother fought cancer and won (so far). And I got divorced, among other things. One year turned into two, and then into three and more. And then one day as suddenly as it had appeared, the fog cleared, and I picked up the laptop and started to type away. Some people had dutifully remained by my side throughout–because they were as stubborn as I am and didn’t accept my introverted need to deal with life alone. These people are my rock, and I see that so clearly now. They are the ones who not only propped me up when I couldn’t feel my legs, but they challenged me to thrive. They were my family, my dearest friends. I will never take a single one for granted, and if I have only one New Year’s resolution, it’s to make certain every one of them knows how much I love and appreciate them.
But there were others who, while I didn’t speak to them daily, or in some cases, rarely, when I did talk to them, they continued to bolster me. Among them are my dear friends Pamela Morsi, Sherrilyn Kenyon and agent, Helen Breitweiser, who never stopped believing in me or my ability to tell a story. I would have to say I credit Helen with pushing me to write my first contemporary suspense, Speak No Evil.
But the gist of this article is really this: After what felt like an eternity, I came back to a much-changed publishing landscape, and friends who I believed were friends were … eh, not so much. I found support in the most surprising places that in retrospect shouldn’t have surprised me at all. In fact, I found the greatest support system in my wonderful fans, who I will not begin to name here, because there are so darned many this article would end up a mile long. But among friends who I loved and hadn’t spoken to in far too long, I was humbled and thrilled to reconnect with authors like Harlan Coben and Lou Aronica. I found open arms amongst the Jewels of Historical Romance–a sisterhood I cherish beyond words: Authors Laurin Wittig, Glynnis Campbell, Cynthia Wright, Danelle Harmon, Jill Barnett, Brenda Hiatt, Lucinda Brant, Cheryl Bolen, Lauren Royal, Colleen Gleason and Annette Blair. And then there were authors like Deb Stover, Rebecca Paisley and Shelly Thacker, among many others, who not only welcomed me back heartily, but cheered me on. However, the one place I was most surprised to find such amazing support was amidst the new guard of writers appearing on the publishing horizon–authors like Suzan Tisdale and Kathryn Le Veque, who never published traditionally, and who one might think had the most to lose by heralding more competition into the book arena. But unlike so many, these writers get it: We are not stronger divided. And there truly is room for EVERY well-written book, no matter whether it’s published traditionally or indie-published. Our only real competition should be ourselves, NOT our fellow authors. Our readers only want (and deserve) one thing from us: our best books. And they are willing to embrace every last one of us. So for all of you who welcomed me back into the fold: a very sincere, very emotional, and heartfelt thank you. This time, I’m here to stay, and hopefully, I’ll be telling stories until I’m old and gray.
Happy New Year’s to all my friends, old and new!