August 1st, 2014

Writer Inspiration: Climbing Over The Brick Wall

My favorite quote is from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (if you haven’t read that small book, you should – it’s incredibly inspiring).

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know a bit of my publishing story:

  • 15 years
  • 413 rejections
  • 3 books written before I got an agent and sold.

Last Saturday, I received Romance Writers of America® highest award – A RITA® for my first published book, The Sweet Spot. I don’t even have words to describe that experience, but for me it was the pinnacle.

People ask me how I was able to keep going all those years. I usually tell them that I’m too dumb to quit, then I laugh. I don’t talk about the real reason. I’ve decided to share my story here, with you, in hopes that it will help someone else facing challenges.

In my early college years, I was in a challenging RN program. I could handle the bookwork, but being the youngest in my class, I didn’t have the maturity to handle the emotional side of dealing with dying patients. Their suffering terrified me.

I wanted to get out, but I had nowhere to go. My home was a middle-class battleground; my hard-working mother and my loveable alcoholic dad were divorcing. The home I knew was collapsing.

So when I met a guy who liked me, I went with him. We eloped after we’d known each other a total of ten days. He took me to his house – an idyllic log cabin on a river in upper Michigan. We were married in front of a roaring fire, with the snow coming down outside. Sounds romantic huh?

There were other cabins nearby, but summer people owned them. It was January. We had a wood stove for heat, but couldn’t afford propane for the stove or the washer and dryer. The mailbox was five miles away, the town ten. We had one car. No phone. No cell phones back then – no computers. He believed that women shouldn’t work; that was a man’s job. So I stayed home all day, cleaning, teaching myself to cook in a Dutch oven and washing our blue jeans with a floor brush.

When he started hitting me, I thought it was my fault. After all, I didn’t even know how to balance a checkbook. But when I got better at all those things, the hitting didn’t stop. For no reason I could discern, at times my sweet husband would disappear, to be replaced by a stranger with angry eyes. I hid bruises, walked lightly and tried very, very hard not to conjure that stranger. I didn’t tell anyone. My family and friends all thought I was blissfully happy. And I worked hard to hide the truth behind pretty curtains.

A book saved my life.

We went to town once a week on Saturday to do grocery shopping and laundry, and every week, I went to the library. I checked out the biggest books I could find, so I wouldn’t run out before the next Saturday. Something clicked when I read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I realized I could take control of my own life.

Suddenly, I saw my paths clearly. I could stay and die, or leave and live. I guess I needed to hit bottom, because it gave me something to push off of. I decided to live.

Don’t call Oprah. That was long ago, and I have a wonderful life and a 27 year-and-still-going-strong marriage to Alpha Dog.

Over the years, I’ve come to cherish the lessons I learned in that cabin. I’ve kept the vow to never again let things ‘just happen’ to me. The experience showed me that no matter how many mistakes I made, I knew how to pick myself up and start over. That time in the cabin taught me to meet life, head on.

Five, ten, even fifteen years isn’t so long to wait for something you want. If it’s something you really want – don’t let the walls get in your way.

Here’s my acceptance speech.

Write on – Peace out.



51o2EYOdqVLToday is the release of the next in my Widow’s Grove series, The Reasons to Stay!

Romantic Times 4 Stars!

Where she belongs?

Free spirit Priscilla Hart doesn’t get tied down, to anyone or any place. Then she arrives in Widow’s Grove and meets her half brother. The ten-year-old tough guy has no one else but her. So Priss stays—for now.

But her sexy new landlord, Adam Preston, is interfering with her ideas. He’s everything Priss normally steers clear of—committed, stable and no rebellious urges in sight. As opposite as they are, each conversation, each touch, each kiss they share feels so right. Can a little gangster-wannabe, an irresistible “nice guy” and an odd assortment of new friends make Priss want to stay for good?


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