Author's Life · Writer's Journal

A Writer’s Thoughts About Retirement

I write because I love the art of writing. When my first novel was published in 2006, I felt accomplished. I’d reached a lifelong dream. I was eager to promote myself as an author and to tell everyone about my book. I was with a smaller publisher which taught me a lot about editing and marketing. At the time, I had a lucrative office job, and spent my lunch hours and evening hours writing.

Publishing was different then. Marketing was just beginning through social media and online groups. I was able to remain faceless while interacting through blog hopping, and pretending to be my characters in online promotions. So much fun! I dreamed of retiring from my day job and writing full-time.

Years passed, and self-publishing arrived on the scene. My writing group was adamant about being part of the Romance Writer’s of America organization. I had to pay dues to RWA and to my local writing group. But I had made the decision to branch out on my own and be in charge of my own career. I still don’t know if it was the right move or not, but I can tell you there is a lot of knowledge a writer needs before deciding to self-publish. You can’t just write something and shove it out there. Oh, you can, but those are the kinds of publications which began to give self-published authors a bad rep. The members of my writing group looked at me as someone inferior because I wasn’t seeking a publisher through the traditional routes.

Still, I hung on and did my own thing. Mostly because I retired and had new responsibilities with taking care of my mother who now lived with us and my husband who became very ill. I didn’t need deadlines. After suffering the loss of my mother, then my husband, and soon thereafter, my son, I found writing didn’t offer the joy it once did. I struggled along and published a few books, but no longer was I doing any marketing. Eventually, I decided to fully retire and took my books off market.

In 2022, I felt the desire to write more than my blogs. I picked up a book idea from the past and soon it was a published novel. But I didn’t have the money or the drive to do any marketing. Books that aren’t properly marketed will not survive in the overly saturated self-published sea of novels. My close contacts purchased my books, and some even left reviews, along with a handful of strangers who read the book through Kindle Unlimited. My career fell flat. Now as I am writing another book in the series I planned, I am discouraged when I see my published novels are not producing reads.

It discourages me, though I still have the desire to continue writing stories. What will I do with this? I’m on the fence. On one hand, if I remove the books from publication, I won’t have to worry about the small income when tax time comes. On the other hand, I want to think each book is meant to reach one person and hopefully provide hope and open eyes to how God can work in our lives.

Writing can be a wonderful ride but can also get stuck along the tracks of life. What does a writer do when retirement becomes the driving force? What do we do with the stories in our head or he need to feel the pressure of the keys on a keyboard and words filling the blank white space?

Author's Life

And Then There Were Websites

And then there were websites…what a crazy title, right? Let me lead you through why I chose this title.

I am a do it yourself woman, self-taught in everything since graduating high school. During some tight years financially, I purchased a green IBM Selectric typewriter. You might know it’s the one with the little ball that spins to type the letters. At the time, I was working at a university for a non-profit organization. I placed an ad in the college newspaper offering my services to type dissertations, theses, and term papers. That led to some long hours after my family was asleep to complete these papers for my clients. I had only taken personal typing in high school so I taught myself to type, practicing until I was tested at 100 to 120 words per minute when applying for jobs.

After the organization I worked for moved to another state, I had to find another job. I ended up in a position that gave me the opportunity to learn how to use the first Apple computer. Wow, what a difference from the magnetic card contraptions myself and three other women were using. This eventually led to the company upgrading to a universal computer system. I was a fast learner and one who would help whether it was my job or not. Yes, this led to several promotions, the last being Sales Administration Manager at a time the first laptops became tools for our sales force. You got it, I learned how to use that tool as well.

When I retired, I had a lot of knowledge about computers. My husband said I should have been a man because of my love of technology and how I wasn’t afraid to tackle adding memory or changing a hard drive. And this is how my writing career began. I left my position when the company was on the verge of merging with another and took a job in a telecommunications company. Only a few short months later, we lost a huge contract and everyone but a handful were let go. I was one who remained. Four years later, the company ran into trouble again and I was blindsided by being terminated from my position of Reporting Manager to the Vice President.

And that launched my desire to pursue a lifelong passion to write. I looked for another job but, I was turned down on offers because I was over-qualified. During my first ever time of not working, I took several online creative writing courses and began my first novel. A publisher gave me a contract for that book after many revisions. The second followed a year later along with a novelette being published in an anthology. I began to be uncomfortable following the guidelines for romance novels at that time in history, so I began my third novel but in a Christian worldview. I was handed over to a Christian publishing house and that book did very well.

Then came the big indie publishing evolution. I’d already learned a lot about the publishing world, so I decided to branch out. I was able to get back the rights to all my published books. One of them is still in publication on Amazon, Joshua’s Hope. It’s the first one I wrote in the new genre. Being on the self-publishing path, I was looked down on by members of the writing group I belonged to which was part of the RWA. I severed my ties and kept marching to the beat of a different drum.

And them there were websites. I knew I needed a website and a way to interest people in my books. So I learned how to do this myself. I’m not a professional. I cannot create a website like the authors who can afford to pay others to do the work for them. But I was savvy enough to set up a website on WordPress by using the free templates offered. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t find a template that allows me to do what I envision. It’s time-consuming to work on and occasionally I screw things up, but I have perseverance. I have a blog on my website and I am being faithful to post two to three times a week. I’m honest about myself and who I am. I’ve set up a presence on Facebook, but honestly, I’m not a marketing guru. Yes, some pay for that benefit.

Many might wonder why I continue pursuing a career in writing now that I’m a 79-year-old widow. The honest answer is “I love to write!” I love the feel of my fingers on the keyboard and watching the words in my mind flow onto the screen. I love the technology, the writing programs…everything about the writing process.

I look back to the typewriter generation and how I’ve evolved. I was typing dissertations for others one day and then there were websites.