The End of the Beginning

My publisher, Loose Id, is closing this month! Sad news, but not the end of the world (though it doesn’t make my life easier either). Since I’m new to writing, the closing of my publisher means the only two books I’ve written so far (Wolf’s Challenge and Bear’s Edge) will be unavailable for a short while. These are the first two books in the Stranger Creatures series and I learned a helluva lot about writing while working on these books, thanks to the help of my awesome editors and all the books I checked out of the library on writing fiction. For me, writing is like sharing a bit of my soul on paper then rearranging it, adding metaphors and challenges, and throwing in a serving of grief and tragedy for which I don’t envy my characters for having to endure such hell.

It’s kind of heartbreaking to know my work will soon be gone from booksellers’ sites, but I’m working on getting both books re-released with another publisher. Book 3 in the series will feature Sean Whitman and detective Nikki Jackson’s search for a happily ever after. Plus, I’m working on a new suspenseful romance series about some sexy firefighters with side jobs even more dangerous than fighting fires.

Truth be told, it’s still weird to think of myself as a writer. I grew up reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, chick lit, anything and everything, but I studied psychology and business in college. After graduation, I promptly chose logical careers where the money was guaranteed. I created stories and poems in my head all the time, just for fun. Sometimes I had no choice. Still, I never intended to actually do anything with those thoughts until one idea caught hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I was supposed to be studying for a certification to take my little personal training business to the next level but I started writing a story instead. Weirder still, it became a love story.

Romance novels were never my thing. Why? Because I had in my mind that romance novels were basically all the same narrative as the ones from the 70s and 80s that my mother and grandmother had lying around- the kind of story where the heroine is too stupid to take care of herself but just feisty enough to be cute while the rakish hero rescues her and laughs adoringly at the heroine’s bratty antics. How could I write a love story if I had to make the heroine a dipshit? Could I do something different?

Suffice it to say, after reading a few books by Shelley Laurentson, Nalini Singh, and Shannon McKenna, I learned things have changed for the better in romance novel land! Because women have changed over the last several decades. Our expectations have changed. Society in general has changed. Women can have careers and not just as lower level employees. We can take an active role in the bedroom too. After a little research, I knew for certain I wanted to be a part of a genre that represented strong female characters asking for what they wanted and being a key part of a relationship with their significant other, not just an afterthought or an inconvenience.

Love is scary. Love can be brutal. Giving someone a chance to hold your proverbial heart in their hands is a risk that can’t be managed by a logical list or a statistical analysis tool. Sometimes those cost/benefit analyses tell you to walk away from love or from a chance at something you’ve always dreamed of. But the factor that makes no sense, that something else, that something more that couldn’t be explained away with a list and a calculator is what told me to keep writing, to pursue a career that promised a steady helping of rejection and aggravation.

As I worked on telling Sydney and Derrick’s story in Wolf’s Challenge, I thought about how people, after suffering a tragedy or heartbreak that shook themIMG_2311, often struggle to once again believe in themselves as well as other people. I wanted to write imperfect characters struggling with their pasts, their fears, and their insecurities, because I wanted to show that even though these characters weren’t perfect, they came to the table with the intention of loving someone and treating them right. Not only has my perception of romance novels changed, but my understanding of love and its importance in our lives has changed. Love is not an afterthought. My willingness to take a risk and try a new career that I love has led to my first two books being published. The end of one path is the beginning of another.