When I was growing up, I was completely obsessed with reading. I read anything and everything I could. To think that I could escape into a book and be anyone I wanted to be, and live anywhere at all I wanted to, was a magical thing. My imagination ran wild with the possibilities. I could be Jane, and live with Tarzan in the jungles. I could be a princess, and be stuck in an ivory tower waiting for the handsome prince to rescue me. I could be anyone but who I actually was.

Who I was, was a little girl living in South Georgia with a loving, but slightly dysfunctional family. We lived in a trailer first, where I shared a room with my big sister, whom I absolutely adore. I think she was probably more than ready to have her own room in the new house we moved into. Omg, moving into that house felt like moving up in the world. It had shag green carpeting and a plethora of wood paneling, but it was a genuine house. I was proud of it up until the day I heard someone on the school bus making fun of the peeling blue paint on the siding and the loud red paint on the front door.

Books helped me escape a world I couldn’t control. I couldn’t stop my dad from being an alcoholic. I couldn’t make myself as rich as the other little girls, who all wore matching outfits to school. I dressed myself every day, since my mom worked long shifts, and let me tell you the outfits I came up with were legendary. I wish I could say because they were so cute, but…anyway, I digress. Books were my obsession, and became even more so, when…

I discovered my mom’s romance novels when I was twelve. My mom read endlessly, when she wasn’t working her butt off. I often had to say her name multiple times to get her to look up from the book she was reading. I wondered about the fascination with the couples on the front cover, and what exactly was that man doing to that woman? Uh. Anyway, one day I picked up one of those novels and fell in love. I was head over heels with stories where men and women could live happily ever after, where someone could find The One. Based on these stories, finding The One shouldn’t be hard.

Fast forward, twenty years or so, and finding The One was like finding the needle in the haystack. But guess where I found him? He happened to be standing right next to me. My husband was my first guy best friend. I was always uncomfortable around real-life guys. They seemed nothing like the men in my books, and all of the guys who had vaguely resembled a genuine book hero had flopped and turned into assholes. But, my hubby stuck by my side, and one day I just looked at him differently. I’m not sure when it happened. I noticed he was cute long before that, but maybe it took alcohol to give me the courage to finally kiss him. So that was how our love story began. Alcohol, and my turn at being the bridesmaid for the umpteenth time, was how we started. Weddings are prime hook up spots, I’m telling you. Yep, definitely writing a book about it. But, for another time…

I always thought I would either become a writer or a doctor. I genuinely wanted to help people, but writing fed my soul. I listened to my rational side, and went into medicine. (No, I did not become an MD, but I do work in the medical field. I don’t want to reveal my secret identity, so I’ll just leave out a bit about what I really do except to say I work in healthcare in the community.) I love my job. I really do, but I couldn’t give up on the writing part.
2020 was hard on everyone. My year started out horribly. My dad and I were close throughout the years, even though he battled his own demons. I tried to be there for him. In January of 2020, I had to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) order for him. His organs were failing, and he wasn’t going to make it. Surprisingly, he made a sudden turn around, and a few weeks after I was able to take him home. Less than a week later, I got a call from my aunt that would change my life. He had died, at home, alone. Devastation does not begin to cover how I felt.

The pandemic hadn’t hit yet, but I was already sliding downhill into depression. I have two young kids, so full depression isn’t possible. With two little ones, you have to get up and live life even if you don’t want to.

When the pandemic hit, I was skeptical at first. Then, I had my first patient pass away from it. Then, my second, my third and so on. We became familiar with having to comfort families, and I tried to provide solace where I could. I hadn’t yet finished grieving myself, so how could I help anyone? I tried and my coworkers tried, but every day was draining. I missed seeing the familiar faces of those that we lost, and it became almost normal to check the obituaries if we hadn’t seen one of our regular patients in a long time.

So, I turned to writing. I had written a book before. I tried unsuccessfully to finish it for a publisher while I was on maternity leave with my second baby. They liked the first part of the book, but sent me a standard rejection letter for the last part. I was gutted. But, while under quarantine the first time (I ended up being quarantined three times), I started writing a story about a girl who was a little like me. Okay, a lot. Ronnie was sweet, but loved to read her dirty novels, and wasn’t too sure of guys in real life. Sawyer was the bad guy, who secretly craved to be good.

This novel has taken the better part of a year. I put it down, I picked it back it up again, I got an editor, put it back down again, edited, then yada, yada, yada. You get it. I’m a procrastinator. I love my characters so much that it’s hard to let them out for the world to see. I once had an editor tell me that I was too close to my stories, and that I should write stories that were easier for me to let go of. Well, screw that. I read what I read because I want to feel real emotion.

I hope that’s what this novel does for you. I hope it makes you happy and sad. I hope it makes you a little teary-eyed, but in the end gives you that warmth that comes from a good happy ending.

I’m in the midst of writing more stories, which I hope to release soon. My next novellas will be about falling in love during the pandemic. The pandemic made me think about how love changes us. When everything is falling in around us, love is that life raft that we can cling to. Wouldn’t it be much better to cling to that than hate, or unhappiness?

I’ll also try to include some book recommendations as well, because I’m still obsessed with reading. I read after the kids and my hubby have gone to bed, which means I don’t sleep much, but who needs it? Ha, I probably do. Anyway, hopefully someone out there reads my ramblings and falls a little in love with my characters like I do.

So, this is me attempting to make one of my dreams come true. What’s your dream? Is there a dream you have given up on, but wish you could do anyway? Whatever it is, I hope you try. I’m trying because if the pandemic and my dad’s death taught me anything, it’s that we have limited time. Maybe my book will sell one copy. Maybe it’ll sell over a hundred or a thousand. It doesn’t matter. Trying is the hardest part.

I start each chapter of my book with a quote from a character. I’ll end each post here with a quote. This one is from my hero, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”

Keep reading, and keep dreaming.

Harper Michaels