I attended the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference
in Anaheim, California, to sign copies of my new release, A
Plain Death, in the B&H Publishing booth. A
Plain Death is the first novel in the Appleseed Creek Mystery
Series. It’s about how an unlikely friendship between a high-tech woman
and a runaway Amish girl leads to the death of an Amish bishop. It was
an honor and joy for me to sign copies of A Plain Death
at ALA because I am both a full-time author and a full-time librarian.
Yes, I call both of these occupations full-time jobs because that’s
what they are. I spend five days a week working as a library department
head and seven days a week working as a mystery author.
While signing books at ALA, I
chatted with librarians about juggling my two careers. One asked, “When
do you sleep?”
I joked. “I don’t sleep.” Or at
least I half-joked. I should have said, “I don’t sleep as much as I
For me any night I get more than
five hours of sleep is a historic event and worth celebrating because
typically five hours is how much rest I can grab on a light
day. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give up my book contracts even if I were
guaranteed eight hours of nightly blissful oblivion for the rest of my
life. I love both of my jobs.
Because I work at a small
college library, my job is varied and rarely do my days go as planned.
One day, I might be sitting at the reference desk answering students’
questions. The next, I might be crawling on the floor, trying to fix a
staff member’s computer. The next, I might be writing a report to help
the college’s accreditation efforts, and the next I might be giving a
student a lecture why eating a full Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner
complete with biscuits and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy in the
library may disturb other students studying (been there, done that—will
never look at KFC the same way again). That’s what I like about my job.
I would not be happy if every day was the same, and as long as the
library server, my arch nemesis, is working, it’s a good day.
To my surprise and relief, I
learned that being an author was just as varied as my day job. It’s not
just writing the stories, which is my first love, but it is tweeting,
writing blog posts, connecting with libraries, having book signings,
talking on radio gigs, and so much more. Just as I don’t know how my
day may turn out at my library job, it is the same for my job as an
full-time careers with so much variance may seem like a lot, but it’s
something that I’ve prayed for over and over again since I was in high
school. Even at a young age—thanks to my father who was a realistic
electrical engineer—I knew that I would have to have a another
occupation, preferably with a pension and dental plan, to support my
dream of being an author.
However, all those teenaged and
twenty-something prayers seemed to bounce off a glass door as God said,
“Wait,” a word I
dislike but every author has heard it
before and will hear again. Every time I heard “wait” in the form of a
rejection letter, rejection email, or the black hole, meaning no
response at all, I didn’t understand that “wait” was there for a
I was younger, I was unable
to fully dedicate myself to dual careers. In college and graduate
school, I heard “wait” because I was full-time student obsessed with
straight As. In my early twenties, I heard “wait” because I was living
on my own for the first time and learning the hard way that there is no
grocery store fairy who delivered milk, bread, or toilet paper to my
front door. In my late twenties, I heard “wait” because I was nursing
my father through cancer and hospice until the Lord called him home.
Those were the reasons God very gently said, “Wait.” During those
periods in my life, I didn’t understand, but now, knowing how much work
being an author-librarian is, I do and am grateful that God put a red
traffic light in my path.
My father passed away when I was
twenty-nine, my first novel was published when I was thirty, and at
thirty-two, I have had three novels published and am contracted to
write five more. When the waiting had passed and the traffic light
turned green, instead of whispering “Now” in my ear, the Lord shouted
it and nearly burst my eardrum. I never expected this kind of success.
After years of hearing “wait,” all I expected was a bruise on my
forehead from beating it against that glass door. So as long as God
keeps shouting “Now,” I will gladly go without sleep to live a dream He
granted when the time was just right.