It’s been twenty years since the release of my very first book, Admission of Love. In fact, I’ve been so busy writing that I missed it by a week or so. That’s fine. Nothing can change how reaching this milestone makes me feel. I remember writing the book by hand and my mom gifting me a word processor to type it up and send it to publishers. Two offered me a deal and I went with Arabesque. No regrets.
Admission of Love led to such an amazing career for me, but also some trials that even on reflection shock me. Trials that have led to me being a loner in this industry. I have no clique or crew and that is by choice because of authors, at times, behaving badly.
I bring this up because those authors who choose to behave badly leave such a stain on the industry. There is a nastiness beneath the surface that reveals inner-issues many need to address and conquer. I doubt I am alone in discovering acquaintances, foes, and strangers trying to intrude on my career as if their movements were unseen and their voices unheard. Like me, maybe other authors who have suffered through foolishness chose the high road and said nothing publicly. Still, in private I am shocked at the audacity of people.
On this, my moment to celebrate twenty years of living my dream of being a published author, I couldn’t ignore that I wish this stain of other’s bad behavior was not left on me and my career. If I could ask for the one thing I would change it is for authors to choose not to behave badly. That goes for veterans and newcomers. Focus on your own lane. Your own work. Your own destiny. Do better. Be better. And watch you have more and be more.
I choose not to mention those who have slighted me by name–and there are a few. Again, as I have so many times over the last twenty years I take the high road–even when it means saying nothing and leaving the narrative up to them to be told. Still, I want them to know that I know. And if you’re pulling these childish and insecure stunts with others they probably know, too. Move better. Do better. You are not invisible.
I am most proud that I did not let these actions of those I know, barely know, or don’t know at all to stop my movement forward in this industry. That’s my advice for those looking to be included. Never let anything or anyone curb your will to BE. Be on the shelves. Be in the stores. Be in the hands of readers. Be on the lips of those who will spread the word about your work. Be on the mind of award givers and reviewers. Be on bestselling lists. Just BE. In whatever way you seek. I hope you do not suffer the knocks I have taken these last twenty years. And if you do, take their strikes against you for admiration, envy, or even fear of what you bring to the table. I had to learn that. I had 20 years to do so…
From this small town in South Carolina that I rarely leave, I journeyed on. I took the blows. I notched my chin higher. I wrote until my fingers went numb from typing and bled my emotions onto each page. For my readers. For my gift of storytelling. For my desire to never be unwritten…
20 years. Still here. Thank God. (#HowDidIGetHereTheyDidntWantMeToBeHere 🙂 )
Thankfully, there is far more good than bad. I am grateful for it all. Even the adversity. It toughened me–maybe too much. My guard is up. I don’t even like asking other authors for blurbs. But I’m coming out of my shell some. Reaching out some. Responding more. Lowering my guard from being–in the words of Fat Joe and Remy Ma–ALL THE WAY UP. I’m even considering mentoring a new author–something I have never done. Fear of betrayal is a bitch.
*Releases a long sigh.*
Forty-five books. New deals. Foreign editions. More indie books on the way. And some more stuff I’ll keep to myself for now.
Life is good and the readers are THE BEST. Y’all make it all worth it. Your excitement at a new book keeps me motivated. It drives me. Y’all make it FUN. I love you and I don’t even know you. Please believe that.
So there’s more to come. Hopefully another twenty more years.
And another twenty…