My first published book comes out on Tuesday. Dirty Little Secret will release from Loose Id, and it's one of the most exciting moments of my career as an author, one of those "firsts" I'll remember for the rest of my life. And it wouldn't have happened without the people who walk beside me in this writing life.
I've been blessed to have one very important influence in my life as an author beside me since the moment I was conceived. My twin sister, Dani Wade, didn't look at me funny when I spent some of our teenage years writing stories. She went to college with me, almost all the same classes even, earning identical degrees in English Literature. She has loved me and allowed me to lean on her when life got in the way and I was trying to find myself, to grow and discover who I really was -- heck, when I was just trying to keep my head above water sometimes! And when I followed her on this path to writing and sent her my first novel, she didn't poo-poo the idea or put down my skill or jump down my throat about crowding into what had been "her" area of expertise for so long.
She encouraged me. She taught me. She still serves as guide and mentor and critique partner and plotting partner and accountability partner and so much more. I would not be where I am today without her. When I think of my best friend, it has always been her, and I can't thank her enough for all she has meant in my life. I love you, sis! You have given me so much; I can't express how much you mean to me.
I was also blessed a couple of years ago (God, has it really been that long?) to meet an amazing writer who has been a source of encouragement to me on a leg of this journey that has involved a lot of rejection, frustration, and confusion. Gina L. Maxwell came into my life when I sent her an e-mail out of the blue one day in response to an old ad for a critique partner she'd posted online. I didn't even know if she'd answer me, but she did, and we struck up a friendship. We've only managed to meet twice in "real" life, but I have learned a lot from this friend. She is something I definitely am not -- outgoing, lol! She connects with people, with readers in a way I don't know if I ever can (she has a gift, let me tell ya!). I admire the way the most beautiful writing just flows from her fingertips, the just-right turn of phrase, the totally HOT alpha males she can create. But most of all I admire how genuine she is. She's all out there, and gives of herself generously to readers and friends alike. She's the one who read Dirty Little Secret and said, "I love this book! But girlfriend...that ending? Uh, no, it's gotta go!" :) So it did. This book would not have sold without her honesty and her encouragement. Thanks, girlie! I'm grateful we were born at a time when becoming friends didn't rely on living close together, because I wouldn't want my life to lack your spark. ;)
Writing is a journey. It doesn't happen overnight, and (hopefully) it doesn't end with the publishing of a single book. To be an author, you have to be in it for the long haul, and I am. But as much as I have the drive to do what I love, my family doesn't love writing! They have their own loves, but guess what? They get dragged along behind my job, just like all our families have to deal with the peculiarities of our jobs. But they have stepped up to support me in every way they can. My two kids ask about how my books are going, do their best not to interrupt when I'm on a deadline, step up to help out when I'm in a crunch and need extra hands to get everything done. My husband is...amazing. I know many authors whose husbands do not support their writing, who get jealous of the time this work takes despite the fact that those same husbands get to do the jobs they want to do. My husband has a demanding job, but he doesn't begrudge me the pursuit of my dream. He doesn't complain that my work makes me as busy as him at times. He doesn't give me a hard time when I disappear for hours with my computer and my characters and leave him holding the responsibility for the household. We work together to make our family all it can be, and he gives my work the same respect I give his. I could not ask for more when it comes to a life mate. I am truly blessed with my children and my husband. They "get" me in a way many writers are not gifted with in their family. Thank you so much, guys. Thank you for enduring the fast-food dinners, the distraction when I'm off in my own world, the stress when I'm trying to meet a deadline. I love you all more than I can say. I can only pray I support your dreams as much as you have supported mine.
On Tuesday, when Dirty Little Secret is released, it will have my name on the cover. The words inside will be mine (well, along with suggestions from my editor -- thanks, Rory!). But in reality, it wasn't just me that wrote this book. It was me, and all the people who walk beside me, every day, every step. They'll walk beside me during this special moment and hopefully many more. They say it takes a village to raise a child; maybe it takes a village to raise and support an author as well. I know I'm very thankful for mine.