The summer our son arrived from Spain–July 2016–was a whirlwind of day trips and excursions. I did not write a single word all summer–save for my newspaper columns–and the experience served to reignite my wanderlust. Traveling, seeing the world, and experiencing different cultures is extremely important to me, but it was something that had been tucked into a drawer and put aside once my daughters were born.
Before my daughters were born, my husband and I traveled to Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Dominican Republic, among other places. After our daughters were born, we quickly fell into a predictable routine of going to the beach every summer. Sure, my husband and I got away once in a while, and we did the requisite trip to Disney when the girls were at the right age to enjoy it, but we were no longer seeing the world.
Tokyo & Kyoto, Japan:
Sydney & Bondi Beach, Australia:
The Great Ocean Road; Melbourne, Australia & Mount Cook, New Zealand:
But the reality is that traveling and seeing the world requires cash. And in three short years we would also have three daughters heading to college in quick succession. If I wanted to travel more, I knew I needed to do more to boost the family’s bottom line. So I accepted a part-time job as a Market Research & Development Associate for a virtual marketing and consulting company. I also hired a Spanish tutor and, eventually, enrolled in a community college course to pursue my Spanish education.
In the 18 months after I took the marketing job, my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica, Iceland, and Amsterdam, and with the girls we went to Spain and Dominican Republic. Next month I will spend two weeks in Peru and, in February, we will take the girls to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Traveling made me happy and nourished my spirit, and going back to school to learn Spanish fed my mind. But something was missing: writing. Would I ever get back to it?
From July 2016 – July 2018, I didn’t create any new content, but I continued to submit my manuscript–WHAT’S LEFT UNTOLD– to various agents and publishers, though I’d started to doubt it would ever go anywhere. In fact, I wondered if becoming a published author simply wasn’t in the cards for me. I felt very unmotivated and had become so far removed from the writing world.
In a Hail Mary attempt to salvage my sinking writing ship, I took to Facebook and sent up a virtual plea to my fellow WFWA writers to talk me off the ledge, to convince me not to give up and to keep trying. And one person threw me a huge lifeline. A published author–who had just landed a new agent and was about to release a new book and embark on a book tour–took time out of her busy life to meet me for lunch. We discovered we lived only an hour apart and chose to meet at a restaurant mid-way between us.
This person shared her journey with me and, most importantly, encouraged me to keep going, to not give up. Sometimes all it takes is that one person to make a huge impact, to keep you moving forward. So I want to take a minute to give a big shout out to the person who did just that: my friend and fellow author, Cara Sue Achterberg, a woman with a heart of gold and an awesome new book, Another Good Dog.
Find Cara and her books here:
After my lunch with Cara, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband who encouraged me to pursue my passions and my dream of becoming a published author. While I like a lot of things about my marketing job–the extra cash, the people I work with, the virtual environment and flexible hours–I am not particularly passionate about the work, and it takes up valuable hours in which I could (and should) be writing.
As we headed to OBX for our annual family vacation, I was giving serious thought to moving on from my marketing job. But then a few things happened: three people resigned and the company secured two new contracts. In short, we now had twice the work and half the people to do it. And, in a show of good faith, I was given a raise. How could I possibly leave now? Maybe, with a little more discipline, I could do both? I wondered. Plenty of people have full time jobs and still manage to write novels, right? I decided to stay.
But, as the saying goes, when it rains it pours. After making this decision, two major things happened within the space of a week. One is that we adopted a dog. We’d had several months of ups and downs as fosters with a rescue organization and decided we were ready to adopt. He is a great dog–a big, oafy, 90-pound Labrador–but even good change is stressful and we were all adjusting.
The second thing that happened is that I received an email from the owner of a publishing company that went something like this: I tried to call and never heard back so I thought I would reach out again via email. Are you still looking for a publisher for your book?
I tried to call. I tried to call. I tried to call. These four little words kept resonating in my brain because agents and publishers almost never call. Unless they are interested. As it turns out, while we were away on vacation, a series of powerful storms had swept through our area and several lightening strikes were reported. When we returned home, we found our landline had been fried and we’d lost all of our phone messages from that week. In a cruel twist of fate, after two years of submitting my book, the one week in which a publisher had called is the week our phone line was zapped. Thankfully, rather than concluding that I was no longer interested and moving on to the next person, the publisher took the time to reach out again.
After a brief period of freaking out and with little time to prepare, I had a phone conversation with the publisher. I was so nervous I can honestly say I did not represent myself very well on the phone, and part of me wondered if, after hanging up, the publisher would change her mind! Thankfully, she didn’t. A few days later I received–and signed–a contract to publish my first novel (!!!!) with Red Adept Publishing: https://redadeptpublishing.com and https://www.facebook.com/RedAdeptPublishing
Currently, I am in a queue for copy edits and cover design. (A cover design!) And I am simply over the moon to have finally found a partner for my book. I considered self-publishing but really wanted to have the validation and the expertise of an agent or publisher behind me. Now I have it.
While I wait, I am once again trying to learn more about social media. I recently set up a twitter account (@SherriLeimkuhl1) and sent my first-ever tweet! You can also find me on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sherrileimkuhlerauthor and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/sherri.leimkuhler.
And, I have also tried to breathe life back into this website by taking readers on this journey with me. It has been cathartic to write it and, hopefully, in some way, it will inspire others to never to give up and to keep chasing their dreams. To follow the road–no matter how long and winding–wherever it may lead.
And, most of all, to simply keep evolving.