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“Happily ever after can only be lived one day at a time.”

For those who wonder where the heck I’ve been lately, that quote pretty much sums it up. Like a lot of midlist authors, I got sidelined by the shrinking historical romance market in the early 2000’s. After ten years, nine books, two publishers, two lead titles, more than 1 million copies in print, and lots of lovely awards and reviews, I was offered a contract that I could only call…oh, let’s be kind and say “crummy.” The advance was so low, I could easily earn more at McDonald’s. Or just about anywhere else. (Fellow Dell author Marsha Canham has a detailed and colorful description of those days on her blog.)

It was painful — devastating, to be honest — but I walked away. Kissed New York publishing goodbye. The heyday of historical romance seemed to be ending. There wasn’t room anymore in the market for the kinds of books I loved to write. Editors wanted light, funny contemporary romances — not action-packed historicals with dark heroes and “risky” (i.e. not Scotland) settings.

I hoped the market might shift back, someday. I hoped publishers might be willing to take a chance on “risky” books again…someday.

Meanwhile, a girl’s gotta earn a living. Luckily for me, the economy was roaring full steam in those days, and even someone who had been out of the corporate world for 10 years could land a job. I went back to work in the PR/marketing biz.

I liked my boss. I had nice colleagues. I even got an office with a window. I counted my blessings…and did my best to ignore the book ideas, scenes and characters dancing around in my head.

Why write those books when there was no place for them in the publishing industry?

In 2001, my husband was offered a promotion and his company moved us from Michigan to Minnesota. (Remember when companies used to do that kind of thing?) Instead of looking for a new corporate job, I switched to freelance writing for magazines, because I had another dream I wanted to chase. One that required a lot of time, money and attention.

A dream that had proved even more elusive than getting a book published.

In 2003, that dream finally came true. Specialists had told us we had less than a 15% chance of ever having a child, but against all odds, our years of heartbreak ended with a miracle. On a moonlit autumn night, after 12 hours of labor and lots of laughter and tears, we held our newborn daughter in our arms for the first time.

My name changed that night, to Mommy, the sweetest noun in the English language.

After such a long wait, I wanted to savor every minute of motherhood, so I cut back on my freelancing. Our days were filled with playgroups and lullabies and blowing bubbles at the park. It was everything I had ever wanted, and so much more. Being a mom is the most enjoyable, surprising, emotional adventure and I love it more than words can express.

Two years later, I gave my husband the surprise of a lifetime when I walked into the kitchen one morning and showed him a little lavender-colored stick with a single word glowing in the digital window: PREGNANT. To the amazement of absolutely everyone — including us — we were expecting our second little miracle.

So that’s what’s been keeping me busy since I jumped off the New York publishing roller-coaster. I have a 7-year-old, a 4-year old, a minivan, and a calendar packed with playdates, swim lessons, gymnastics, and school volunteering. We’ve been living happily ever after, one day at a time.

But just when I thought I had left publishing behind forever, my life turned upside down in the most wonderful way.

Because on March 9, 2011, someday finally arrived.

More about that next time.


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