I read my first romance novel when I was in high school. Harlequin and Silhouette editions lined my room until I was encircled by love stories. I read and re-read them until their covers were loose. Authors such as Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, and Judith McNaught shaped my world.
I used to tell everyone I knew that I wanted to be like Danielle Steele one day, that I wanted to write love stories that people would remember, that I wanted to create characters that made people cry and laugh at the same time, and that I hoped my stories would transport a stranger to another world for awhile. Big dreams, I know. Lofty ambitions for a girl who grew up in a small South Dakota town.
But here I am with my debut novel about to be released...and it's scary. The closer the release date comes, the more emails I receive from my publisher, the more details that are checked off that to-do list...the more frightened I become. Why am I frightened? Because this feels so damn good, so right, so real, so unbelievable, so satisfying, so cool, that I don't want the bubble to burst.
I've been telling people for years that I write novels--Kiss Me Slowly is actually my fourth completed novel, but the first one to be published. It's daunting to know that I am now publicly putting my creation "out there". Despite the fact that I've been writing since I was nine years old and have worked for this my entire life, it's both exhilarating and terrifying to have a dream come true.
Over the years, I've heard the scoffing of others about the novels. Frienemies have mocked my efforts with questions like "published yet?" or statements like "maybe it's time to get real". Less than a year ago, a family member said in a snide way, "all you do is write". But, because I'm stubborn, I just kept writing.
Writing makes me happier than any other activity I can imagine. Whether I'm writing an article or a novel, the act of writing thrills me. With the publication of Kiss Me Slowly, I am truly in my element.
Now, don't misunderstand. I no longer want to be like anyone else. I write like Amber Lea Easton and hope that people will enjoy my style. Those greats who inspired me, still do. Other authors continue to inspire me to be better than I think I can be. Without them, I would never have dreamed big. As an artist, I believe we can always learn from our peers and those who have achieved what we dream of accomplishing in our own lives. I'm sure Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, Judith McNaught, Heather Graham, Jennifer Cruise--all the authors I admire--only set out to write and entertain, too. Simple intentions...big impact.
In many ways, I'm still that kid who grew up in South Dakota who used to sit on the roof and stare at the horizon. I hope I always keep a part of that little girl inside of me so that I maintain this sense of awe about what's happening in my life.
Sitting around and writing all of the time DOES pay off.