December 1st, 2009 I got The Call from Mills & Boon. It seems fitting that my 100th book with Mills & Boon comes out December 1st, on the eleventh anniversary of that call.
I’m always reflective this time of year, because it always makes me think back to that day, but it’s especially incredible this year because of the 100 book milestone.
On that December day in 2009, that I would have written 100 books for Mills & Boon by 2020 wasn’t something I could have even remotely considered. That first sale was so momentous. A two book contract. When I got the offer, book one was done, so my immediate goal was to get right to book two.
When I got that call I was 23, with two kids and one on the way (she was born December 30th, that’s one reason it’s so easy for me to remember how many years I’ve been published!). I hadn’t been on a plane since I was six. We were struggling to pay our bills every month (and mostly dodging bill collectors!). Getting The Call changed my life. It’s not an exaggeration at all.
It’s given me the opportunity to travel the world, it’s helped me provide for my family in a way I never could have imagined. I have met some of the most wonderful, generous, brilliant friends I’ve ever had in my life through this career. Friends who live across the country, across the world, and now near me, all because we met through this industry. My life is richer in a thousand, innumerable ways because of that first contract offer I got eleven years ago.
I’m glad, in many ways, I couldn’t have foreseen all that, though. Because the most important thing to me in that moment, is the very thing that is always important: Writing the next book. So if you’re wondering how I got to book 100, that’s the answer.
No matter what, when it comes to my career my primary focus is writing. There are a few reasons for that. Of course it’s very hard to have a writing career if you don’t have books. But the other reason is that for me, the writing is my first love. For me it’s never been about anything but how much I love books, how much I love stories, how much I love romance. And that’s what grounds me, that’s what’s kept me writing during stressful times in my personal life, hard times in the world and professional setbacks. That’s what keeps me going, always.
One thing being a prolific author has given me is the joy of knowing there can always be a next time. It gives me a freedom in my storytelling, and I think, it helps keep me fresh. What I mean when I say that is sometimes if I’m at a crossroads in a book, and I can see two potential options for a story, I just pick one, and I figure…I can try option B in another book. I think it’s that mindset that keeps it fun. And that’s another thing I’ve learned. That it’s ok for writing to be fun. I don’t have to take myself too seriously.
It’s also okay if some days writing ISN’T fun. (no job can be fun every day after all!)
In fact perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned over the course of telling all these stories is that writing is not separate from life, but is just another facet of your life. There will be highs and lows, changes (always changes), it will sometimes be more enjoyable, sometimes less. Sometimes you’ll have balance, sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll find a great routine, and then it will stop working. Sometimes a story flows, sometimes it doesn’t. There is no destination to arrive at, rather it’s part of the flow of life. There are no magic bullets. There is only the next book.
But that, for me, is joy. Book one or book one hundred. What I love are stories. As a reader, and as a writer. To have been to write this many stories is a gift, and I can’t wait to write the next one.