The final paragraph of this newsletter talks about the goals I have for our relationship. If I manage to fulfill any of them for you, will you consider buying me a coffee a month and becoming a paid subscriber?
**Please leave a comment today! I’m dying to know your responses to “Your Turn”!**
I started writing for fun in 9th grade. Growing up as a voracious reader, it made sense that I’d want to create a story of my own. I had this idea about a group of friends in a small town, how they’d live, be there for each other, and fall in love.
So I guess I was always a romance writer.
Those stories were super PG in their descriptions. If you read my books, you know that I’ve taken the heat up a notch as an adult. ;) But they were still love stories.
I wrote that “novel” in spiral notebooks, sitting on my bed, up too late on school nights. I had a clock radio on my dresser. During those writing bouts, Delilah at Night was always on. (You know exactly what I’m talking about.) Safe to say that my writing was infused with power ballads and love songs, lots of sentimentality and overcoming all odds. I think when I was done I had like 6 notebooks full of that rambling, tangential saga.
Later in high school, I used the family laptop to create a little story I’d concocted as a kind of sequel to that first “book”. It was about a girl who was forced to move home to Nashville from NYC in her senior year of high school. Again a love story–she meets a boy, a musician, who’s dont-give-a-flip attitude is exactly what she needs.
Sound familiar, just a little bit? (If you’ve read my books, it does.)
In college, I wrote another story. I don’t really remember what it was about. Definitely love, definitely still “closed door,” but beyond that I don’t recall. Then, I took a creative writing class where the professor, published in anthologies so clearly a big deal, told us he didn’t want us to write like him.
But he sure graded like he did.
I got nothing out of that class except the certainty of knowing that my focus on rhetoric as an English major was the right choice.
All of those stories are long gone now. The computer I wrote on didn’t make it, obviously. The notebooks I wrote in in college didn’t survive graduation. And the multi-notebooked saga that started it all? It was in a footlocker of my things after I left home. When my parents moved house, they had me go through it to decide what to keep.
I threw it away.
Some of you just gasped, I know. “That was your first story! How could you just throw it in the recycling?”
Umm because it was super cringe? Because some memories don’t need saving? Because I didn’t need them anymore and didn’t want them sitting in a box in my apartment? All good reasons, if you ask me.
So, yes. My early writing career is lost to time and progressing technology. But all of that was dabbling, a hobby that I pursued when it pleased me to do so.
I wouldn’t say I became a writer until the fall of 2014. That was when I had this picture in my head of two desks facing each other in an empty office. Who would be there, and why? Then, from the murky depths of imagination, that old story about the girl (now a woman) moving back home against her will popped up. Maybe she had to be there. Maybe she didn’t have any choice and needed the job. Maybe she had been heartbroken and manipulated.
And maybe there was a gray-eyed, dark haired stranger at that other desk. Someone quiet, laid back, but also desperately needing the job. And maybe…
Not Suitable for Work was born.
In the midst of writing my first full-length, grownup novel, one of the side characters in the story started to tickle my brain. Almost as soon as I finished the first draft of NSFW, I launched into book two. While writing that, I had to stop in the middle to compose a scene that came to me for book three.
That’s how the next three years or so went. Book after book poured out of me, all somehow linked to the original story of Celeste and Ben. I created the world of the Anti-Belles, women in Nashville, TN, learning to love themselves in order to trust the process of falling in love with “the one.”
I wrote madly during any available time I could find. Hours and hours at my desk, with Winston the Corgi by my side. Hours on the couch with my lap desk in front of me, headphones on. No more Delilah, but very deliberate soundtracks for each novel. I would take my work to the park. On vacation. To the local taproom–that was my favorite. I couldn’t get the world I created out of my head fast enough.
All in, from the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2017, I wrote 10 novels, 3 novellas, and the opening attempts of 3 other works.
Looking back on that era of life is dizzying. I remember being consumed. Totally addicted to the stories that my brain was concocting. Drunk on the feeling of creation. It was great. It was also burdensome and difficult to balance with work and my personal life. I’m awed that I lived that way. I don’t particularly wish to ever go back to that kind of madness.
Being a romance writer changed a lot about how I viewed the world. It also changed a lot about who I wanted to be. I was tired of being boss b***h “Ms M” teacher. I was tired of going hard all the time. And, as I started to show up in writing communities as Skye, as a sweet GRITS (girl raised in the South) novelist, I suddenly realized I had the power to become someone new.
Meeting this new version of me was the start of my soul journey. And that, friends, is most definitely another story.
I am not consumed by writing anymore. Now, writing is part of many elements of my life and career. I’m sharing my story here on Substack. I guest blog and contribute to various journals. I co-author books with Sarah. Our Sarah Skye series has been quite a hit!
The series that spun so torrentially out of my mind continues to be my passion project. Books 1-3 are out in the world. Now, the prequel is set to release and take you back to 1986. The Not So Nice Girl is about the previous generation of Anti-Belles. It’s the same world, though–you’ll understand if you read.
Even with my history of fiction writing, it never occurred to me that I’d become a published author. Even when I began writing my Anti-Belle series, I never set out to make novelist my sole profession. Writing is an elemental part of me. It’s a serious undertaking, the idea that my words are worth your time and attention. I don’t take it lightly. Every story I tell, every article I write, I do so with the hope of making you shine brighter. Smile. Tear up. Swoon. Think. Feel lighter/better about yourself.
If my writing does any of that for you, then I am humbly honored.
What was the first book or story that made you laugh, cry, or swoon?
If I have to pick from laugh/cry/swoon, I think the first book I remember really affecting me that way was in how hard I laughed at Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I laughed out loud constantly when reading it and usually at highly inappropriate times, and it definitely influenced my development as a writer and the sense of humor I think I still have today. I'm not longer trying to emulate Douglas Adams in my writing (my first book actually has several passages that looking back make me cringe a little in how alike they are to his style) but it was definitely a formative work for me!