I once knew a girl who loved words. She would gobble them up, one book after the other, as much as she could, from the time she was very small. She didn’t always know what all of the words meant, but that was part of the fun. She lost herself, you see. She lost herself in the words; in the worlds that the authors made for her. She escaped there, and she loved every story. Every smart, brave heroine with a quick wit, or shy girl, or funny girl.
And as she grew up and discovered love stories, she fell even more in love with books.
I still love them. Every page. Every heart-wrenching, sob-stealing, swoony, funny, tender moment.
Nora Roberts novels were my first loves. I’ve never made it secret that she is my hero. She is a smart business woman, and she writes one hell of a love story.
No one writes like her. No one.
She introduced me to the McGreggors, the Stanislaskis, the Quinns, the O’Hurleys. Oh my gosh, the Calhouns!
And in my twenties, she brought Eve Dallas and Roarke into my life.
I write family sagas because of Nora Roberts. She’s the queen of the genre. I revisit those families regularly. I love the way she weaves their stories together. I love getting glimpses of the couples that I’ve already read and what their family looks like now. I so enjoy watching those families grow, and I often wonder what they’re doing now. She didn’t just give me characters to entertain me for a while, she gave me a family to invest my heart in.
Men to fall in love with.
Children to make my heart melt.
Dogs to make me smile. (Who can forget Foolish from the Chesapeake Bay Series?)
And women that I pulled for. Women I wanted to be.
I secretly believe that I am Eve Dallas. Roarke is mine. #SorryNotSorry
Also, I solve murders in my spare time. Just sayin.
But I digress.
I’ve been a writer my whole life. It’s not what I do, it’s who I am. I’m also a reader. I want to inhale all of the words. I love this industry. It’s challenging, yes, and it’s more work than I ever anticipated, but it’s everything I ever wanted.
I’ve been writing romance novels for close to twenty years. There are countless novels on disks and in my computer that will never be published, and shouldn’t be. They were my learning curve. I practiced for years before I decided to self-publish, and there are still days that I wonder if my work is good enough to put out there for others to read. Every release day is a test of my nerves that I don’t wish on anyone.
But oh, what a thrill it is as well to know that the characters I’ve loved and nurtured and watched fall in love are finally out there for all of you to enjoy too. And I do sincerely hope you enjoy them.
Working all of those years honing my craft so I could eventually write love stories for a living was worth it. Every rejection. Every class. Every story that was pitched and started over.
All worth it.
And now, twenty years after I first sat down and began to shape a story of my own, something amazing is about to happen.
Every year, I sit down with my team and talk about what my goals are for the coming year. At this time last year, I’d hit both of the USA Today and New York Times lists. I’d signed on with a publisher out of New York, and I was writing full time. What was the next goal?
I wanted to receive an invitation to sign books with Nora Roberts at her bookstore in Boonsboro, MD.
That was it. That was what I wanted. And it seemed… crazy. I remember my publicist saying, “That’s a good goal. It might take a couple of years to achieve, but it’s good.”
I said, “That’s okay.”
And then in October of last year, that invitation came. I was with my publicist, KP Simmon, when it happened. I don’t remember what my reaction was. I’m pretty sure I simply said, “I’d be honored to. Thank you.”
But then we left the room and had a good cry together.
So, this Saturday, I’ll be in Boonsboro, MD signing books with Nora Roberts at her bookstore. It will feel surreal, and I’m sure that when it’s all over I will return to my room at Nora’s Inn (I’m staying in the Eve and Roarke suite, by the way) and have another moment with tears.
I’m signing books – with my name on them – with Nora Roberts, y’all.