Five Years Ago Today Something Wonderful Happened…

Apparently today is the five year anniversary of the birth of Ethan Blackstone and his beautiful American girl. July 15, 2012 as reminded to me by Facebook Memories. 
 
After Mr. M and the boys had gone off to camp, I was left to my devices at home and got to writing on my story about a British Lord and the art conservationist come to help him with his collection of paintings. That story was what would eventually become PRICELESS.
 
But what happened later that night was life changing.
 
I found the picture of the nude model posing with her legs up and got an idea for a NEW story. Weirdly possessed by the striking image, I dashed off a chapter and sent it to my friend Franzi, asking her what she thought of my idea.
 

The picture that inspired me.

She told me to write it, and so I set aside Priceless and got to work on this new story instead.

I wrote a story about an American grad student studying in London who did some artful modeling on the side. We didn’t know then the reasons behind her need to make such provocative pictures, but the answer would come later on.

I wrote about a security specialist with a harrowing past from his time in the British Army who looked a lot like David Gandy, and named him Ethan Blackstone.  I gave him a filthy mouth, but made sure he remained a gentleman.  An alpha male in a beautiful suit addicted to Djarum Blacks and obsessed with a girl he saw first in a photograph.

The story was instalove chocked full of cliches and tropes, but I loved it, and so did the few readers I had already reading my historicals.  It combined all of the elements I loved to read in a romance book, but was something I had created from inside my own head.  It took me three solid weeks to write, and then a couple weeks more to edit and prepare it for publishing with a cover, etc.  Naked was my first indie-published book.  Little did I know clicking that publish button would change my life in ways I could have never foreseen at the time.

But change things it did.

Within a week it was moving up the Amazon charts and hitting genre lists.  I can remember clearly the day I came down the stairs and told Mr. M that I was going to break 100 books sold that day and was dumbfounded as to why.  I just couldn’t believe people were reading about Ethan and Brynne and connecting so deeply with their story.  My blog hits had jumped from about 15 to 500+ visitors in a day.  Book blogs reviewed the book and began sharing it around social media.  Sales increased and the book hit the top 100, then top 50, then top 20.  Agents started emailing me asking things I knew nothing about.  I was just an elementary teacher from California who liked to write romance in her free time.  Selling enough books to make a living at my writing gig wasn’t even on my radar.  But exactly five months from the day I was inspired to write this very special story…is when it happened.  I became a full-time writer and started an exciting new chapter in my life.

And the rest, is history.

xo R

Naked for National Nude Day!

I’ve missed it by a day but oh well, July 14th is National Nude Day in the US.  That’s cool, but don’t count on me expressing any desires to actually be nude in celebration or anything, cuz that won’t be happening…ever.  The date is interesting though because one year ago, nearly to the day, something happened that changed my life.

The summer was going as it usually does, kids home all day, husband home with us (both teachers on summer vacation) and various summery activities going on around me.  So the third week of July 2012 comes and that is when the life-changing event happened.  My husband took our two sons away for a week at Boy Scout Camp.  I love that week every summer when they all go to Boy Scout Camp.  It’s my favorite.  I have precious solitude and know I’ll get a lot of writing done.  House stays clean.  I don’t have to cook anything unless I want to eat.  I can swim in my pool without children splashing around in there.  I get to stay up late watching HBO and Showtime without worry that a kid will see what I’m watching.  *all the shows I like to watch are inappropriate for children*  Basically, I am a very happy woman alone with my free time.

I got right to work with a manuscript that needed some attention.  I wrote during the day and then in the evening I combed over online stock photo sights and looked for images that could potentially go onto my book cover.  On the second night of my domestic freedom, I found an image that changed everything.

The picture that inspired me.

The picture that inspired me.

It was a beautiful picture of a naked woman posing in an unconventional way but so perfect everything just clicked into place all in an instant.  A serendipitous moment.  I thought about the picture and what it would be like to be a nude model and meet the man who bought your portrait.  My first indie published book was born in that moment with just the seed of an idea and a picture.  Naked, The Blackstone Affair Book 1 was that story.  I sat down and wrote the opening chapter right then and had to set aside the other manuscript I was working on.  I wrote like a fiend for three weeks until it was done.  I couldn’t stop writing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  The whole idea and story pretty much took over my life for the rest of the summer.

I was scared to self-publish Naked, because I had only written books for one small press publisher and knew next to nothing about how to go off independently all on my own.  But I was blessed with the wise words and helpful encouragement from a dear friend and fellow author, Belinda Boring, who got me to press ‘publish’ on KDP back in August of 2012.  What happened next was a whirlwind-roller-coaster–ride-of-crazy that didn’t really stop until after the holidays.  The books became bestsellers, landed me my super agent, and eventually a traditional publishing contract with Atria Books.  It’s all a blur to me now.  A crazy, scary, unbelievable blur with Christmas decorations and those little chocolate bottles with liqueur inside, mixed in. True story.

Naked went on to make the New York Times and so did its sequels, All In and Eyes Wide Open. Nobody was more surprised than I was, and nobody could have told me then, that one year later I would be a full time writer going to book signings and conventions with lovely people standing in line to meet me.  The whole concept is still bewildering and I imagine it will stay that way to some degree for the rest of my life.

The book that resulted.

The book that resulted.

So back to my original idea for this post–National Nude Day.  It was a good day for me to reflect on what inspired me to even write the book that changed my life in the first place.  A beautiful nude image.  Never give up on your dreams, you never know where they can lead.  Look where a naked picture took me!!!

 

xxoo R