It just so happens that January is a big month for me and not just because Harlequin Heartwarming is publishing my very first book.
I'm turning 40.
I'm not sure how this happened. I mean, I remember very clearly when my parents turned forty. We had a huge surprise party for my dad. All his friends were at our house. You know, all those "old" people. Apparently, that's me now. My three kids tell me all the time that I'm not as cool as I think (ouch!)
But I don't feel old. In fact, since I'm married to my high school sweetheart, I still kind of feel the same as I did when I was sixteen. Okay, maybe I'm a little wiser (at least I hope so) and a lot less motivated to exercise (who doesn't wish they could be as fat as they thought they were when they were teenagers?) I'm more mature, but not OLD.
As my birthday approaches, I started thinking about the saying that life begins at forty. Becoming a published author is a new beginning for me. Since I was young, I knew I wanted a career in counseling. I followed that dream and got my Master of Social Work degree back in 1998. I have been a school social worker for the last fifteen years and really have loved almost every minute of it. I work in a middle school with some of the most interesting adolescents on the planet. I love being someone kids can talk to and who can give them support when they need it most. Anyone out there want to go back to middle school? I didn't think so.
One thing I tell students is that they can be anything they want to be if they are willing to work for it. You can also change your mind or create new goals after one has been achieved. Being an author is my new goal and The Weather Girl is proof that anything can happen if you work hard and take some risks.
I used to write stories for fun, as a way of getting the wild stories in my head out. When I decided to let other people read those stories, I was amazed they actually liked them. Getting published seemed like a crazy idea, though. Until I entered the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write contest in 2012 and made it into the semi-finals.
Suddenly, I began to view the dream as more of a possibility. Not everyone agreed. In fact, at a family gathering soon after the contest ended, my brother (who will probably disown me for telling this story) told me that he thought getting a book deal was pretty much a pipe dream. I went home that day a little hurt and a tiny bit angry, but never more motivated to prove him wrong.
Instead of giving up, I practiced what I preach to those middle schoolers every day. I got to work. I wrote and wrote and rewrote and rewrote. And that pipe dream became a reality.
This is a reality. The Weather Girl is a story about finding your dream and following it even when you aren't sure how it's all going to turn out. And whether you're 12 or 40 or 25 or 85, anything is possible.
Maybe life doesn't begin at forty. Truth be told, I've had a great life so far. Maybe it's good to remember life doesn't have to end at forty. A new chapter can begin at any time.
I can't wait to start this one!