recently returned from the Amish Country Holiday Book Tour, during
which I traveled with two other authors, Shelley Shepard Gray and
Vannetta Chapman. During our nine-day adventure, we traveled from
Shipshewana, Indiana, through Holmes County, Ohio, and ended in
Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. We led a light parade and lit a Christmas
tree in Shipshewana, held book signings in each city, spoke at a
luncheon, held a progressive dinner in Bird-in-Hand, and spent a lot of
time talking and laughing in a van while driving.
I have to admit I felt like
Cinderella at the ball during the book tour. Never in my wildest dreams
would I have imagined that I would speak to large groups and talk to a
reader who had driven five hours from Arkansas to meet me in Canton,
Ohio. And to sign books with a New York Times and USA
Today best-selling author was also a true honor.
However, for me, being an author
is a life of balance.
Unlike my two book tour cohorts,
I work a forty-hour-per-week job for a local city government in
addition to writing Christian novels. While other writers may be able
to write for fourteen hours straight on a Tuesday, I have to pop out of
bed when the alarm blares at 5:15 a.m. and rush to a job located twenty
miles from my house. (It’s nearly an hour ride home after work,
depending upon traffic). Since my husband is chronically ill, my family
depends on the health insurance and steady pay that my day job
provides. (Recently, my husband received a second kidney transplant
through a kidney swap. I donated a kidney to a woman, and my husband
received a kidney from my recipient’s husband.)
Working two jobs has forced me
learn how to be as flexible and agile as an acrobat with quite a bit of
give-and-take. By working ten hours per day, Monday through Thursday, I
can enjoy Fridays off. Although the days are long, I receive my reward
at the end of the week. I can use those days off to write, run errands,
or do something really special, such as volunteer at my sons’
elementary school. Thanks to the flexible schedule, I’ve enjoyed
attending field trips and even speaking to a class about a career as an
order to meet my deadlines, I must be extremely organized. I keep a
spreadsheet of all of my deadlines, and I plan out each novel down to
nearly every last detail. I start off with a synopsis and then outline
the novel scene by scene. Although the outline can grow and change
while I’m writing, I use the outline as a road map to prevent the
dreaded writer’s block.
I fit in writing at every
available moment. After my boys are in bed, I sometimes write until
midnight. I also write on weekends when the boys are busy playing with
friends or going to Cub Scout events. Writing isn’t without guilt, but
I try to make it up to my kids by doing something special with them,
such as taking them to the movies after the book projects are complete.
couldn’t balance this
demanding schedule without my mother. She fills in the cracks with
housework and also caring for my boys. Thanks to her, my boys have
never been in day care. She walks them to the bus in the morning, meets
them at the bus in the afternoon, helps them with homework, and attends
special events at the school when my husband and I can’t be there.
She’s my boys’ second mother, and she’s my rock. Whenever I feel like
I’m drowning in my deadlines, my mother reminds me that I work best
when I’m under pressure and that the chaotic times won’t last forever.
Of course, she’s always right, and I’m very thankful for her.
Much like the story in my new
book, Naomi’s Gift, I’ve found that the Lord
definitely provides. He has a plan for each of us, and that plan may be
very different from someone else’s plan. While Naomi searches for love
in all of the wrong places, she finally figures out the Lord’s plan for
her. My books were published when my husband became ill, which was also
the Lord’s plan for me and my family.
Although working two jobs isn’t
ideal and sometimes it’s no fun at all, I’m very thankful for my
wonderful bosses at both jobs. My careers provide the financial
stability and creative outlet I need.
Although my schedule is crazy
and sometimes I consider pulling my hair out because of the stress, I’m
thankful for both jobs. And I’m even more thankful for my readers who
take the time to read my books.