In January of this year (2016) I stepped away from the book world. After two years of being in the industry, I realized it had changed me, made me a person I didn’t like. Maybe I had been that person all along and the book world just intensified it. Either way, it wasn’t good for me. My life had become toxic.
I started out writing a story in 2012 that had been in my head for years (not the X-Treme Love series that’s currently published). My daughter gave me the courage to start writing four years ago, and so I did. It was easy, the words poured out of me, the story unfolded effortlessly. It was an amazing experience for me when I was finally able to write those last words and call the book “finished.” What the event should have been called was “The Beginning of the End.”
As I wrote more books in that first series (again, this was not the X-Treme Love series), writer’s block took hold. It wasn’t really blocked per se, it was more that I couldn’t find a way to culminate the family’s saga in a way that tied up all the loose ends, solved the mysteries and stayed true to all the books in the series. The series spans over 40 years so you can see how it might be mind boggling. So I stepped away, took a breather, and let the fate of the members of the Lauchlan family percolate in my mind.
During the respite, my best friend, daughter and I took a trip to Ireland and Scotland. It was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was blessed to finally see all the things I’d written about in my first few books (this series is set in a castle in Scotland – see the picture above). There are no words to describe the first time I saw Inverary Castle, the structure I based my books around. I’d studied it for months and written about it extensively. My story suddenly came to life in a very real way. It truly inspired me, but after I returned home, I still wasn’t able to finish the series. It’s a murder, mystery book and to me, those require much more time and effort.
As I waited for an ending to come to me, another story emerged, Rory’s story. When I started this new series (X-Treme Love) I had no direction other than I knew I wanted these books to help people. I wanted Rory and Hindley’s story to be gritty and raw, full of angst and twists. This was completely opposite from my first series that was still brewing in my mind. I wanted to give these new characters real-life problems and bring them through their trials and obstacles to a better place. I wanted to give readers who struggled with these same issues (illiteracy, self-harm, sexual abuse) hope for a better life and a way through their own struggles. That is why in the end of each story I included a “resource” section. I’m a crusader by nature and I wanted to lead readers through their own battles…or so I thought. I think I did that with my X-Treme Love series.
But somewhere along the way, after I hit the “publish” button in September 2013 for Skater Boy and My Skater Boy (now re-titled Extreme Risk and Extreme Devotion), something changed within me. This crazy, insane book world took over and I became a person I was no longer happy with. Instead of helping people, I became obsessed with becoming popular and successful. (Success I later realized comes in all shapes and sizes and not the ones I bought into).
Over the next two years I was swallowed up into a chaotic industry that my personality just couldn’t handle. I have low self-esteem anyway and a tendency for paranoia and people pleasing. Mix that with an insatiable need for approval and acceptance by the public and I was just a disaster waiting to happen. Bad reviews, missed “likes” on social media, poor sales, etc, were all the ingredients needed for a meltdown.
Without even realizing it, all the weaknesses of my own personality surfaced like dead fish and I didn’t like the feelings they evoked. Even as I sit and write this blog post, I’m filled with the need for this to be “The Next Great Blog.” I want (and have a sick need for) people to read it and be inspired, then contact me to do speaking engagements, guest appearances on talk shows, and ultimately buy my books making me a world-wide sensation. You can see this unhealthy thinking and motivation is is not good for anyone. I lost my way during the last three years, I changed, and today I still work to curb those attributes about myself that I feel make me weak. In reality they just make me human. In truth, I’m actually pretty strong.
And now I want to move forward, change in a different way and share my journey in the hope that maybe my story rings true for you. Perhaps you’ll find some of my struggles are yours as well. And through the process of evolving, we’ll both find hope. It’s a daily struggle, I won’t lie. I succeed and fail every day. But I think the end goal is worth the work, worth the risk, the extreme risk. (Did you like that shameless plug for my book?)
Look for How I’ve Changed (Part Two), more of my tragedies and triumphs, coming soon…