In his poem Harlem, Langston Hughes poses the question: What happens to a dream deferred? In my case, it festered.
This March, it’ll be 10 years since my middle son was in a horseback riding accident that changed all of our lives. It was a devastating experience, but one that I believe God worked for our good. The story of Blake’s accident and of my dream are intertwined, for it was after I left my corporate job to care for him that my publisher found me and my dream of being an author came to life.
The next few years had their share of hardships, but in many ways, they were my happiest. We were living on a little homestead in the Missouri hills. I was in the thick of raising my boys—my greatest joys have come from being their mother. I was writing full-time, my books were doing well, and I was working for my publisher.
I’ve actually been pretty blessed with my career. Not so much with moving up the ladder or making tons of money—I move around too much for that—but I’ve had some amazing experiences and made true friends along the way. But with Booktrope and my books, I was in my element. It was that beautiful thing where you work really hard and a lot, but you love it so much you don’t even notice. With Booktrope, I found my people.
So it was devastating to me on so many levels when they folded in 2016. I lost my job, my friends were scattered, my books were delisted, and it was the final nail in the coffin for my marriage. I went back to corporate life because kids like to eat (the divas). I self-pubbed my books on Amazon so they wouldn’t go away entirely, and I didn’t publish again for five years. The books became little more than an interesting conversation piece at the random meeting.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had some pretty cool jobs since then. As before, I had amazing experiences and made true friends along the way. But it was always there—that deferred dream festering in my soul.
I have journals filled with ramblings. A hard drive full of book ideas and partially finished stories. Every now and then I’d put forth a burst of effort. I’d make a promise to my readers and promptly break it because life always got in the way. But really, down deep, it felt like my dream had passed me by.
And that ate at me.
I truly believe I did well for the companies I worked for. I gave them my all, drove revenue, and learned much. But that didn’t change the fact that as long as I wasn’t doing what I was created to do, a piece of me was missing. The longer it wore on, the more miserable I became.
And then COVID happened, and I found myself at a forced crossroads. I no longer had the corporate job and I had a choice to make: scramble to find a new one or return to my books. My kids aren’t little anymore; they no longer depend on me quite like they used to. Number one is grown. Number two is moving out in the spring. Number three has a year left. I talked to all three of them and we made a family decision that it was time for me to revive my dream.
As it happened, a couple of friends who are still deeply immersed in the book world reached out because they knew of a successful women’s fiction author who needed a second set of hands to keep up with her platform. Introductions were made, friendships formed, and one thing kind of led to another. Ultimately, two big things came from that meeting.
The first is that I launched my own small business putting my knowledge of publishing, editing, and marketing to use so I could keep my head above water (and a roof over it). Dolittle Author Services got its name because friends jokingly call me Ms Dolittle and it lent itself to the tagline “Because sometimes you just need a little help,” which amused me.
The second is that my existing books got cleaned up interiors, reorganized to better align with their various genres, and they got gorgeous new covers. They’re being relaunched (this week, in fact!) in hopes of breathing new life into them before the launch of my next book.
Last week, my editor and I met to put together a game plan to get the next book done on time (I’m not making that announcement until I’m 1000% sure we can meet the goal; I will not do that to my readers again!) But it is coming. Soon. I actually have a full publication schedule mapped out for 2021.
After a five year drought, there will be new books. Lots and lots of books.
Because I do not want to defer my dream any longer. I don’t want it to dry up or fester because the damage done to me when that happens is too much to bear.
So, wish me luck. And, you know, buy my books.
For those of you who’ve been dedicated readers since the early days, thank you for the incredible patience you’ve shown me as my publication schedule has shifted and languished under the pressure of publisher drama and life. I had hoped to release at least two books in 2017, but it seems the only words I had in me were used to document the monumental shift in my world. But I think that’s what was supposed to be, so it’s okay. I will forever treasure 2017 as a year of profound change for the better for me.
But now 2018 is slipping by as well, and it’s time to get some danged books out there.
The 12 books of Throwaway’s World will always hold a special place in my heart. They changed my life. They helped shape me into who I am today. And wouldn't be surprised if the characters from them found their way into my new books, even if it's only via a brief nod. But the books tumbling out of my fingers now have taken a different path, just as my life has. Without me even planning it, they seem to be lining up with my own journey.
For the last year and a half, the little coffee shop on the corner of Maple and Main in downtown Buffalo has been pivotal to my world. The people in that shop have helped me through the aforementioned profound journey. In many ways, they gave me the strength to do the hard things. I don’t even think they know how much their friendship has changed my world for the better. So it makes sense that one of the new series I’ll be launching is set in that shop. The characters and stories are fiction, but the heartbeat of the story is truth - the truth of living in a small town, of finding your way in a scary and broken world, of the importance of the people in our lives. This series will deal with a lot of the tough stuff in life, but it’s me. You know there will be hope and love and laughter. Because, for real, without hope and love and laughter, what’s the point? Look for this series to launch with Recipe for Sunshine. The plan is for it to be at least a three-book series, but I have a sneaking suspicion that will turn into more. I'd give a tentative date but have finally learned my lesson: The universe laughs at my attempts to schedule things.
Some of my happiest memories as a child were at the lake. My family spent every spare moment there. Now that I have children of my own, we never seem to get to the lake as often as we’d like, but it still holds our happiest moments. We live for those stolen days in the summer. The lake, whichever lake it is, has its own culture. Its own way of doing things. When I was looking for inspiration for a lighthearted, fun series, the lake was the clear choice. I found an interesting lake town via Google to inspire me, fictionalized it, and there you have it. I was well into this series when my life shifted yet again and I now have the promise of a summer spent stealing every moment I can at the lake. So it’s appropriate that somewhere in the publishing mix is a trilogy set on the water. Again, I don’t want to promise a release date, but look for Tails, California to show up in the near future.
This past year, I launched a website called Hummingbird Charm with a collective of amazing authors. (Seriously, how did I get so lucky to call these women peers?) Anyway, we've been tossing around some ideas for a collection, so I've got my fingers crossed that happens this year as well.
I've got a couple of other projects up my sleeve, as well as quite a bit of blogging on tap. Look for this website to be redesigned soon with more and a wider variety of content. You can also follow my blogging over at Hummingbird Charm and at iSense Sleep, where I'm now the brand manager. They've turned me into a sleep nerd and much of what I've learned there is spilling into other areas of my life.
Thank you, so much, for your patience during my long publishing silence. Thank you for being on this wild ride with me. I hope that you're having an amazing 2018!
I suppose all of the people and places that brush against our lives shape us, but some more so than others. Some people you can know for years without ever truly knowing them. Others, it takes only a short while for them to become the dearest of friends.
If you read my recent series, My Own Ever After, you might remember me mentioning my local coffee shop, Maple and Main. My oldest son and I have spent an obscene amount of time there in the past six months, at first because the internet at our house in the country was sketchy and now because I’ve yet to hook up internet at our new house in town. Over the course of those months, Jacquelyn and Lyal--the mother/son duo who owns the place--have become friends I can’t quite imagine my life without.
We’ve spent enough time there that they hired Dylan to be a barista. Lyal works with us at 16 Hand, making video and graphics. My younger boys mow their lawns. It’s this fun little money loop, where we’re just passing it back and forth between families.
I don’t know if so quickly formed a bond of friendship because we found people as creative and quirky as us, because we can relate to mother/son team who are friends and business partners as well, or because of the sheer volume of time we’ve spent with them this year. Whatever the cause, they've helped me reshape my world into a brighter one.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book event or made any public appearance. I’ve been in survival mode, I guess, barely eeking out a book a year, let alone enjoying those books or my readers. But that, like so many things in my life, is changing.
What better way and place to change it than with the inaugural book event at Maple and Main? I will be one of three local authors appearing at Breaking in the Bookcase on June 1 from 6 – 8 pm. I truly hope you can join us that night, for so many reasons. The top three being:
That's a question I get a lot, what order my books should be read in. I usually dance around the answer because I intended to make the books so they could all stand alone. But, as I near the launch of two completely unrelated books, I have to admit that the 12 books already released really are all part of a world that was created when I launched Throwaway. So I bit the bullet and labeled the books as a part of series: Throwaway's World. The books have been labeled 1 - 12. So what order did I decide on? Pretty much the order they were released in, or something close to it: Throwaway, Suddenly a Spy, Jailbird, Ties that Bind, Ring of Fire, Tumbleweed, Devil in Disguise, Roses in Ecuador, Fool's Game, Waiting for You, Vance Davis Dossier, and Finding Broken Arrow.
Sure, some of the books are romantic suspense, some are more romantic comedies, and others are contemporary western romance, but they all explore the same themes of hope, love, and second chances. All intertwine around the characters that are introduced in my founding four: Throwaway, Suddenly a Spy, Jailbird, and Ties that Bind. I guess the different genres make them an unusual series, but that's pretty fitting for me. I've never done anything the normal way. I think I have an aversion to it.
If you're wondering what this means for the rest of the stories for the planned Remuda Ranch series and what's next... as the books I'm working on have unfolded, I decided to reswizzle a few things.
My next two releases will be my memoir, My Own Ever After, which is currently being released in installments on Mondays. My next fiction piece will be Recipe for Sunshine, which has turned into something much more women's fiction (think book club book). It has romantic elements (I love love too much to not have a love story woven throughout) but it's more of a look at all of the relationships that form our worlds: the sisterhood of friendship, what happens when love dies, how we each handle marriages gone wrong, the relationships we envy... all set in a small town full of unique and quirky characters.
After those two, I plan to add to the world created by Throwaway. I reserve the right to change my mind, but that's the plan.
As always, thank you for being on this journey with me. I am forever grateful for each and every one of my readers and their impact on my life!
I know I've been quiet on the blog for the past month. But this time I'm not going to apologize because I've been writing like a madwoman, and it feels great!
I'm really excited to say that the third and final installment of the Vance Davis Dossier is finally available for sale on Amazon! It might be a year later than I planned it, but it was worth the wait. (For me anyway... I just don't think I could love Vance more if I tried.) When I started writing these short stories to bridge the gap between Devil in Disguise and Finding Broken Arrow (Vance's upcoming full-length novel), I had no idea where they would take me, where they'd take Vance.
The journey wound up being my favorite of my writing career. (And I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about Finding Broken Arrow, but more on that later.)
So, without further ado, I present to you Vance Davis Dossier 3: Redemption
When the human trafficking ring he’s intent on destroying proves bigger than he imagined, Vance finds himself trekking across America’s heartland to take down an insidious evil hiding in plain sight. But regardless of the outcome, will he ever be able to find the peace that has continued to evade him? In this third installment of the Vance Davis Dossier, our hero’s life takes an unexpected turn that will forever change his destiny.
With the holiday craziness fast approaching, Booktrope thought it would be nice to give you an early present, with over 200 books free for your Kindle right now. Load up and treat yourself! Check out the full list here.
From my own collection, you can get Jailbird, Ties That Bind, and Ring of Fire free all this week!
There are several Vox Dei (Christian) titles free this week, too. Get that full list here.
So fill up that Kindle, and remember to take some time for you in the craziness of the holidays!
A mom isn't supposed to have favorites. I'm not sure if the same applies to writers. I hope not, because I'm kind of partial to Vance. It's made me a little crazy how many obstacles I've hit with trying to get his story out there - sometimes it seems the entire universe is conspiring to keep these stories from happening. Or maybe it's more my own inability to focus... whatever the reason, I'm thrilled beyond words to finally be able to reveal the cover for the second installment of the Vance Davis Dossier!
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