2013 is a year that I will never forget. A year that transformed me. A year that I never saw coming.
To all of you readers and fans, you have given me more than you will ever know. So now, I give you a small piece inside of me.
I had quit my career back in 2009. At first it was great. Staying home, hanging out with my friends who were also stay at home wives. No schedule, no boss. Freedom. Fast-forward a few years, and somehow I lost who I was. I needed a change. I needed focus. I needed an outlet. I knew in my heart that I never wanted to return to the career I went to college for. It wasn’t for me, but I didn’t know what was me. What job would fit? What job would satisfy? I found myself escaping reality in books, sharing a glass of wine in the late afternoons with my girl friends.
Is this it? Is this my life?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and all that he does for me, which is everything. I said I wanted to not work, he said ‘Okay.’ He gives me everything, but I got to a point where nobody could give me the fulfillment I was craving. But my husband knows me well. He saw me struggling. Knowing I’m a dreamer, creator, and artist—things I have always been—he said,
“Babe, you should write.”
“You’re crazy,” I told him.
“Why do you doubt yourself?”
I doubted because I had never exposed myself in that medium. Could I even do it? Would people want to hear what was inside of me?
I opened my laptop after I finally gave in to my husband’s unrelenting encouragement.
Here we go.
“What do you mean they cancelled? They’ve been on the books for weeks.”
My first words. I didn’t even have a title. I didn’t even know the story. I’m not a person who plans—anything. I never planned the book. My first book. No title. No plot. I just started writing.
Tears. An explosion of emotions. 127,867 words. A novel. My novel. FADING. A tale of a girl who sinks into the despairs of life after being brutally raped. A girl who is fading, but finds a shred of hopeful light within a friend. A friend who would be the man to help her find the strength to pull herself out of her misery. A man that will help her find pieces of herself she had lost.
There is something amazing about starting a journey that you doubt you will be able to complete. But I did it, and it felt amazing. I found a passion. A passion I never thought I would find. And now I had a goal: I would publish this book and hope to God that someone buys it and likes it.
Broke top #50 overall on Amazon
Broke top #20 overall on Amazon UK
Broke top #50 overall on Barnes&Noble
Hit the USA Today bestseller list
What the fuck just happened? Was I dreaming this? Did I really do this?
FADING was still selling consistently. Reviews were wonderful. People like it. People actually liked what I had to say. They were buying my book and enjoying it. Yeah, that may sound small to some, but it was huge for me. HUGE. I’m an emotional person. I always have been. But this…I was an emotional mess. I cried—a lot. I had accomplished something in a few months that I never thought was possible. It was something I desperately needed to feel. I needed something in life to pull me out of the mundane that was beginning to suffocate me. I needed to breathe, and I finally was able to do that.
I started writing book #2, FREEING. Now this was not something I ever set out to do—write a gay coming-of-age story. I thought about it after I published FADING. I talked to people.
“I’m thinking about writing a book about a gay couple,” I told them.
“E.K., you can’t do that. You’ll lose fans,” they said.
“What do you mean?”
“People don’t want to read about two men.”
“Why not?” I questioned. “What’s the big deal?”
“Well, if you’re gonna do it, maybe you could add a female to the mix.”
“What?! Hell no. This is a story about a young man struggling with his sexuality. Fuck that. This is a story that needs to be told. It needs to be an honest to life portrayal. No gimmicks. No formulas to please people. Solid truth,” I said.
So I sat down—pissed off—and wrote the purest story I possible could with the help of a couple of my gay friends.
I signed with Roz Foster from the Dijkstra Literary Agency. I had spoken with other agents, but all wanted me to change my book. Why? Who the hell knows? But what I do know is that people liked my book and writing for what it was. I didn’t feel like I needed to compartmentalize myself so that I am commercially packaged for a cookie cutter publication. That isn’t me. That isn’t my heart. These are my stories. Take it or leave it.
I published FREEING
#1 bestseller overall in gay fiction on Amazon
Broke top #100 overall on Barnes&Noble
Tears. Lots of them.
Biggest victory—hearing from all the gay men who bought and read the book. The emails and the Facebook messages from young gay men thanking me for being strong enough to give them a book they could relate to. That’s all I needed. That was my personal success. I can’t count how many times I was praised for having the ‘lady balls’ to write that book.
Lesson learned: Don’t ever ask someone what they think about your story. If you believe it, write it.
I started writing FALLING. My other two books were sitting on the desks of 9 publishing houses that were interested in the series.
Finished FALLING. 151,283 words in six weeks. To say I lived and breathed this book would be a severe understatement. It was my whole soul. It was everything I wanted my previous two books to be. I knew I was ending this series on the highest note I could. I was proud of myself. Honest to goodness proud. I wanted this book out there. I wouldn’t publish it traditionally. I wouldn’t publish FADING or FREEING traditionally. I would keep this series a self-published series and I would publish FALLING on my own.
Broke top #50 overall on Barnes&Noble
All books in my series were #1, #2, and #3 overall in all fiction genres on Barnes&Noble
Three books in one year. I never thought I could write 100 words back in February.
No longer lost.
No longer questioning.
I found a beautiful way to express myself. Through writing I found what I was missing: direction, focus, happiness, hope. But it wasn’t simply writing. It was YOU. It was all because of YOU. My readers. You bought my book. You told people about my book. You made my dream come true. Every review, every Facebook massage, every tweet, every email—I read them all. You will never know how much you guys have filled the empty parts of me. I love that so many of you have found hope within my words. You tell me your stories. I get the Facebook messages and emails almost daily.
“E.K., I was raped. I never told a soul for seven years. I read your book, and I think I can do this now.”
“I finally told my mother that I was raped when I was 6 years old. I am now 29. Thank you for giving that to me.”
“I still have nightmares. I’m scared every time my husband goes out of town and I have to sleep alone in my bed.”
“My brother died and took his secret that he was gay to his grave. I was the only one he ever told. He died, never allowing himself to love another man because of the shame he felt. I hope gay men will read your book and find strength.”
I could go on and on. What you don’t see are my tears when I read your messages. I cry with you. I cry writing this because it’s hard for me to feel worthy of the accolades some of you give me.
In the end, all I can say is a simple ‘Thank you’ filled with more gratitude than you will ever know.
Thank you to my readers.
Thank you to all of the bloggers that have supported me.
Thank you to my fellow writers who have befriended me.
Thank you to my agent who believes in me.
Thank you to this amazing Indie community for welcoming me, a newcomer, into your world with open arms.
It has been an insane year. One I will never forget. I am excited to see what 2014 will bring! It’s gonna be a great year—I can feel it!