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Four years ago today, I took a huge leap into the unknown to follow my dream. I’d started writing Daughter of Chaos earlier that year, and although it wasn’t my first book, it was the first one I believed in so completely: the more I played in Darlena’s world, the more convinced I became that the Red Magic trilogy would be IMPORTANT to my writing career. It felt like this was my “it” book, the one that would open doors and help me find my footing as a professional writer (instead of a devoted hobbyist). I believed in that book with my whole heart, and I also believed that Darlena and her crazy goddess-infested world needed me to commit, to own my passion and hone my craft, and so I took a risk.

Four years ago today, I was, for the first time since college, unsure how to define my work. I’d finished up my fourth year of teaching middle school on June 30th at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, and on July 1st, I was no longer a teacher: I’d left the safety of a good job that I truly enjoyed to fling myself into the unknown and devote myself to my writing. I didn’t have a plan, or a safety net, but I did have the burning certainty that I owed it to my work to take that risk.

By the end of the year, I’d found an agent. When she left the business in 2012, I went out on my own, and by the end of that year, Daughter of Chaos had been acquired by Month9Books.

Now, after the release of my 10th title, I can’t believe that it’s only been four years since I made the very real commitment to live as a writer. I didn’t expect to, but I kept teaching (I can’t escape it; I love guiding students to their own dreams), only now I work with college learners, a path I find immensely satisfying, and I became a student again, pursuing a MFA in Children’s Literature at Hollins University, but for the past four years, I have considered writing my profession.

Daughter ended up being my third title to be published, and at the end of this year, the culmination of the Red Magic series will be released, but I’m not ready to feel wistful or nostalgic yet. Instead, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude today: gratitude to the publishers who welcomed me into their houses, gratitude to the readers who continue to enjoy my words, gratitude to my hubby, who supports me every step of the way, and most of all, gratitude to myself for listening to that persistent voice inside me that begged me to jump into the unknown four years ago.

I’m so glad I listened.

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