A few months ago, my life went way, way off the road it had been travelling. In effect, my life took one hell of a sharp turn, and it has now ended up here. ‘Here’ is me as a full-time Romance Writer. ‘Here’ is me actually making a living off the royalties from writing Romance books. And the most astounding part? It started off as a joke.
In February of this year – almost 9 months ago now – I was fired. Oh, I was just one of many: the CEO of the company went on some kind of slash-and-burn thing and started by firing the Chief Operational Officer and then worked his way down to upper management. I was the Chief Operational Director for a region; I was doing well; I had built up great teams. And I was still fired.
The CEO told me to my face that he had no real reason for firing me, but he offered me a massive settlement package. I thought about it for 3 minutes and accepted it. After losing my job, I took a week to hang out in my p.j.’s for most of the day and watch too much TV and generally slob around guilt-free. Then I tried to find a new job, with no success whatsoever. I didn’t worry too much at first, since I had a comfortable financial cushion. Besides, I had the second book in my Contemporary Literature trilogy to finish, and I focused on that.
I did the NaNoWriMo Summer Camp in April and finished my novel early. It was a heavy book, dark and troubling, and I decided to use the last 2 weeks of camp to start another book. I debated beginning the third book in the trilogy, but I couldn’t face another ‘heavy’ book… so I joked with my fellow NaNo bunkmates, Angie and Ruby, that I should write a ‘Sexy Cowboy Book’. Just for the hell of it, you know. Total joke.
Writing a Sexy Cowboy Book (or ‘SCB’ as Angie, Ruby and I called it) was fun… amazingly fun. It was light and I was guaranteed a happy ending (in my Literature books, no such guarantee exists). I wrote it in two weeks and then I just saved it in my Dropbox and forgot about it – until Angie and Ruby encouraged me to publish it on Amazon.
Well, what the hell, right? So I decided on a nom-de-plume (not my real name, since I didn’t want to confuse people who knew my Very Dark and Serious Literary Novels), started this blog, designed a cover with my very talented husband, and threw the book on Amazon as an e-book on July 1st. Then I went back to job-hunting.
And that was when the sharp turn in my life began: ‘Open Skies’ sold. And sold and sold. And sold some more. I blinked in disbelief when I dropped by my author’s sales reports on Kindle Direct Publishing and I saw the royalties adding up in to the hundreds and hundreds of US dollars.
I got e-mails from people asking when the ‘next book in the series’ would be available for purchase. Ummm…. what next book in the series? I mean, sure, ‘Open Skies’ had ended with an open door for a second book, because I figured what the hell, maybe one day I’d write a second book as another ‘light’ writing exercise. But actually planning a second book? Nope. I hadn’t done that.
Well, I had nothing better to do, seeing as I was still unemployed, and so I wrote the second ‘Open Skies’ book, ‘Open Arms’. And it sold. And sold and sold and my royalties became serious. Like, enough to pay our mortgage.
That made me stop and think. That gave me pause.
Two books, written in one month, selling well enough to pay our mortgage? That’s not a joke anymore, is it? That’s – an opportunity.
And I grabbed it. Hard, with both hands. I wrote a third ‘Open Skies’ book, ‘Open Eyes’, and then I decided to start a new series, since I was feeling the need to write about a whole new group of people, with different dynamics and in a new setting. And that was how the ‘Fighting For Love’ series came to be.
So, now here I am. It’s the end of October, and since publishing my first-ever Romance novel on July 1st, I’ve published 9 more books. God, I have actually written and self-published 10 books in 4 months… and they sell well enough that I am earning a living. Every month is better and better – and October’s sales of the ‘Unseen Enemy’ series have blown me away.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I talked about it, and we admitted that we both see Romance Writer as my current profession. We laugh about it sometimes, since neither one of us can believe that what started as a joke after being fired has become my job.
It also means that I work at home, so when our kids get sick (as they have been since Thursday of last week, and they are still here at home now), I’m available. OK, no work gets done, but I just checked in on my royalties, and sales from the past week have been astounding. So even if I’m not actually writing, I’m earning on my existing books. And I’m not gonna lie: that feels pretty damn good.
You know what else feels good? Not reporting to a boss. Not rushing to and from meetings, trying to pick up my kids on time. Not having to take late-night phone calls from Head Office because something’s all messed up. Writing Romance books has given me a freedom and flexibility that I didn’t even know I wanted until I actually got it.
And so this has been my evolution from Chief Operational Director to Romance Writer. I treat Marysol James like a small business: I have an official website, I send out newsletters, I stay active on social media. And I write every day (except when the sick kids are home. Then Marysol’s life screeches to a halt and I’m just Mommy). But normally? I write 7 hours a day… it’s a job and I take it seriously.
No, I’m not job-hunting any more. I have a job. And it’s one that I love and am grateful for… and I’m eternally grateful to every single one of you who has ever read one of my books. It’s because of you that I made this huge life change – a change for the better.
So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.