I’ve been debating for awhile about whether to write about this topic. It seems a bit…pretentious to write about my journey. OTOH, a lot people have expressed an interest, so I figured I’d go ahead and put it out there. :)
I quit my corporate job in 2004 to write. The job paid well, and it was interesting work (up to a point) but it simply wasn’t good for me mentally. (I was basically an ax-man for a large corporation—paid to go in and lay people off.) My parents were horrified, of course. Mom told me, quote, “You’re too smart to be a writer.”
In 2004 publishing was all about NY deals because there was no viable ebook market, not the way there is now. I think there were publishers like Elora’s Cave that sold PDF copies, but super-sexy erotic romance wasn’t something I could write well and consistently, and I wanted a NY print deal very badly. So I tried for something that I thought New York would want.
I spent years writing category romance and later switched to urban fantasy. I did it not because I enjoyed reading urban fantasy—I’d never read in the genre—but because somebody who was mentoring me said it would be a great thing for me to write because (a) I live in Japan and I’m “surrounded by manga”, and (b) urban fantasy was hot at the time. In retrospect I think it was a mistake, and I think a bad mentor can really derail and damage your career trajectory, esp. when you’re new and don’t have much confidence.
Regardless, despite all that I actually got a really good agent with my urban fantasy manuscript. Unfortunately, it was 2008 (Lehman Brother went BOOM that year), and the ms didn’t sell. I had a lot of good rejections, but NYC didn’t know how to market the book and no one wanted to take chances at the time.
Afterward, I floundered for a while because I really wanted to get that NY deal but didn’t know what to write. I felt adrift and lost, and even though I hate to say this, watching my writing friends get NY deals didn’t help. I was happy for them—they had worked so hard—but at the same time I sort of felt sorry for myself. (Self-pity is a terrible foundation for success, or even a clear direction in life. But it’s one thing to know this intellectually, and quite another not to let it get to you emotionally.)
In 2010 I got married; in 2011, our baby was born. Then in 2012, I had this really bad crisis-of-self where I wondered what I was doing with my life. Money was tight, and we wanted to move, but finding a good place wasn’t easy, and both my husband and I were sick for nine full months out of 2012.
Then I decided I was just going to write what I wanted to write and see where things went. Yes, a NY print contract with a decent advance would have been super sweet, but I couldn’t live my entire life waiting for someone else’s approval, especially when I didn’t need said approval to pursue my dream.
Besides, I had inked two e-publishing deals along the way, with two different and fairly well-respected publishers, and honestly speaking neither one worked out particularly well. I made humiliatingly small sums of money from both, and I felt very apologetic to my husband, who was super supportive, and my little boy who, within a month or two of his birth, I had to start putting aside for several hours a day so I could work on edits from the second publisher.
Since I had also published a novel (Vengeful in Love) on my own, and had made far more money with it by uploading it to Amazon and other platforms myself, I decided to write a sequel using a couple of the supporting characters as the leads. So in the midst of buying a place of our own in 2012 and moving in early 2013, I started to write a contemporary romance novel, which became Reunited in Love. I’m not a particularly fast writer, so I sat on that manuscript and wrote another, which was Redemption in Love. Then I wrote another (Sweet in Love), storing them all up and making plans for two more books as well. I did this specifically so that I could create a series using characters that were related in some way, stories that were somewhat inter-connected, and release them back-to-back very quickly. I had heard from so many people that readers really like this, so I wanted to try it.
Let me tell you, it was not easy to write multiple books without knowing how readers were going to react to the stories. 2013 was a very difficult year—more so than 2012—because after the move, I had to micromanage (for six months!) a general contractor in America who was doing a very bad job on some house repairs there, and deal with my insurance adjuster (who thankfully was more professional). I think I lost about 20-30 pounds that year from stress.
It wasn’t until December 27, 2013 that I officially launched the Hearts on the Line series. I privately dubbed the event “Nadia’s career reboot,” but I honestly had no idea what I was going to do if it bombed. I was so worried and anxious that I made myself sick on the Reunited in Love launch day and ended up in a hospital getting an IV to rehydrate my body and having multiple blood samples drawn for testing.
Thankfully the series took off in early February, and I’m so grateful for all the people who took a chance on me. I had hoped and dreamed for almost ten years that I would have a writing career, and now it finally seems to be working. I’m humbled and touched by the support I’ve received from my fans, fellow writers, family and friends.