On Returning Home

As you read this, I am in my adopted home state of Florida, being the surprise visitor to my mother’s 60th birthday party. This visit came as a surprise to me too, when my mother’s fiance contacted me to ask if my husband and I would mind being flown into Florida for the party. Well, I never turn a trip down, so here I am, back from the big metropolitan areas (hey, if you could see where I lived in Florida, you’d know why these cities are huge to me) of North Carolina.

Key Largo Palms And Sky

Key Largo Palms taken by Sxc.hu user Winterdove

Every time I return to Florida, it’s the palm trees that get me. I feel at once like I am suddenly home. Perhaps this makes no sense, as I only lived in Florida for eight years. But in those eight years, I attended and graduated from college, I had a long distance relationship with my high school sweetheart, then I married said most wonderful man and started to put down roots in the small retirement community based town of central Florida. I found my first secretarial job, which led to a four year long career as a Word Processor/Transcriptionist/Editor/Graphic Designer/Oh Really What Else Would You Like Me to Do For You? And most importantly, in terms of this blog, at least, I found historical romances and shifted my writing focus from fantasy/sci-fi. I penned a book with a co-writer, which gave me strength to strike it out on my own. (Jenny, if you’re reading this, I love you.) While the book I started working on then, titled Sass, should in its current form never ever ever see the light of day, it was still a start. I had finally made the decision to become a “real” author.

Here’s me and Jenny together.

In January of 2011, I joined Romance Writers of America. I was still living in Florida then, but I had met through Twitter some of the most wonderful women in Heart of Carolina, the Raleigh-Durham-Cary chapter of RWA. My husband, lovingly named MrMonroe on Twitter, had begun to think that maybe there was more for us out there then dead-end jobs and a mortgage payment that was sucking us dry. Maybe, just maybe, we could have a new life.  This thought process was one part of “Oh, holy crap on a cracker, we are going to be in some serious debt like never before, look at that,” one part “BUT LOOK AT THE WRITING COMMUNITY AND OH THERE’S JOBS FOR YOU TOO,” one part “But I don’t want to leave my family and my friends!” and finally one part “We have to do this.”

Here we are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in Raleigh.

After two months of seriously searching for jobs and a house, we were on our way to Wake County. I came a week before MrMonroe because the job I had accepted required me to start as soon as possible. I left the job that had become like second nature to me in Florida, left my family (my dear mother, but more about her later), and got in my battered HHR to drive to North Carolina and start work that Monday. I was terrified.  As heavily documented on this blog, I don’t deal well with change.

But I’m learning that change is a necessary evil. Sometimes, it even brings awesome things. I’m telling you all this story because last month–it’s been little over a month now, actually–I quit my full-time job as an Administrative Assistant. I’ll always be grateful to that job because it brought me to Raleigh and I love it here. I love everything about here, well, okay I love everything but the crazy politics. My first boss become my first real friend outside of writing here and we still keep in touch. But over time, the more committed I got to writing and the more work I did on the draft that is now A Dangerous Invitation, book 1 in The Rookery Rogues series to debut in December, the more I realized working full-time as an Admin Assistant wasn’t what I wanted.

I’ve written a lot on my move previously, so maybe you’ve heard all of this before. Maybe my story of hope and triumph and yadayayda, doesn’t mean anything to you, and that’s totally cool too. We all have defining moments in our lives, moments that don’t make a lick of sense to anyone but ourselves. For me, this past month has been a series of “Jiminy Crickets, I’m a REAL PROFESSIONAL AUTHOR” moments. Okay, those of you who know me know I said something far more profane in those moments, but we’re all happy here at Teatime Romance, so I censor myself (You’re welcome, Aunt Arlene. I know you’re reading this wondering what’s going out of my mouth–fingers?–next). I changed my Facebook occupation to romance author from Administrative Assistant. It was exciting. I made a new Facebook page too. But the most holy crap moment was after I uploaded my book to Goodreads and people began to add it to their to read shelves.


When I made my decision to self-publish in March, I thanked a lot of people, and I’m still deeply appreciative to those people. But on the day of my mother’s 60th birthday (see, told you I’d get back to my mom), I also wanted to say thank you to her. Because normally, when your child tells you that they want to go to college and get a Writing degree, you reply with the words “would you like fries with that?” But not my mother. She has always believed in my writing talent and my voice. Sure, she might not really enjoy the historical genre, but she still reads my stuff when I send it to her. She sends me helpful writing articles and at one point in my life, when I was first starting out, bought the entire how-to-write section of Borders. I kid you not, people. When I listen to stories people tell about their youth, I’m reminded again of how lucky I was to have two supportive parents. While my father is no longer with us, my mom has taken up every bit of his cheering role in my life and done doubly more to make me feel like I could do this. She shares all my social media stuff with her friends and she’s never once asked me why I have to write those books with the sex. Instead, she respects who I’ve become as an individual and the life I’ve carved out for myself.

An old photo of my mother from right after I got married

An old photo of my mother and I from right after I got married – on a family trip to Anna Maria Island. One of my happiest memories.

As a child, I learned how to cope with difficult circumstances by watching how my mother reacted. I learned to defend those around me, to believe strongly in my opinion and fight for what I wanted. I learned that books were things to be valued, and that I had a freedom to express myself as I saw fit. I am the person I am today because of how I was raised, and as I embark on this professional author journey that is both terrifying and utterly rewarding, I am grateful.

So Mom, here’s to 60 more years of rocking it out. And here’s to your daughter doing this crazy author thing with all her heart, even though she’s states away and can’t see you every day. I’m glad you found someone who can make you happy and that you’re living your life to the fullest. It inspires me, shapes me, and lets me know that I’m okay to pursue my dreams too.

So now that I’ve been reduced to my usual state (or so it seems these days!) of weepyness, tell me, do you have anyone special in your life that encourages you to be something more?


4 thoughts on “On Returning Home

  1. What a wonderful journey, Erica!! I lived in Raleigh when I attended NC State, and I lived in FL from 8th grade through my first year or so of college. I have to say my MIL has been be biggest supporter. Tweeted and shared.

  2. Love the post! It’s encouraging to see how you’ve persevered and worked so hard for what you’ve accomplished and how there’s still so much to look forward to. It’s inspiring because I find myself dealing with a lot of self-doubt and fear. Thank you.

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