Wall Street Journal bestselling author BB Easton never intended to become an author at all. In fact, she was a full-time school psychologist and new mom when inspiration struck.
It has been a ride! One with a super steep learning curve and surprises around every turn. And a little nausea—let’s be honest.
I can’t speak for all of publishing—I’ve heard other corners of this industry are much more cutthroat and competitive—but the indie romance community is like one big, (mostly) happy family. I learned early on that whether you’re an author or a reader or an editor or a narrator, everyone in this space is here because they LOVE love stories. We all have that in common, and we all work together to produce and support those stories.
When 44 Chapters About 4 Men came out, I couldn’t believe how many established bloggers, bookstagrammers, and authors offered to read and review it, shared it on their social media pages, and created fan art to help promote it. That book isn’t even technically “romance” (It’s a memoir.), but the romance community welcomed me with open arms
anyway, and I owe a lot of my early success to them.
Oh my God, so much harder. I couldn’t even write for nine months during the pandemic because my kids were out of school, and the news was so atrocious that when I did find some time to sneak away, I couldn’t turn my spiraling thoughts off long enough to write.
But I kept trying, and eventually I wrote a screenplay instead of a novel. I found that writing dialogue was much easier than writing a full-fledged book. Then, once my kids went back to school and I got my life back, I was able to find the bandwidth necessary to turn that into a novel as well. So Group Therapy originally started as a screenplay.
But, even now, writing is still harder than it used to be. When I wrote The Rain Trilogy, I could knock out a chapter a day. Now, the same amount of work takes me two or three days. I think we’re all still recovering from the trauma and compounding stress of the past few years, so be patient, and keep trying.
When I think of my life back then, I think of a woman who was living for literally everyone other than herself. I was always a fun, spunky, artsy girl. I had punk rock hair and paint splattered on just about every band T-shirt I owned. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and knew exactly who I was. Then, my parents and society told me I had to become this thing called an adult. I couldn’t be an artist, they said. I’d starve, they said. So, I grew my hair out, traded in my combat boots for high heels, and became a school psychologist. I married an accountant. We had two kids: a boy and a girl. I had three degrees, a mortgage, and the American dream. And I was dead inside.
I had spent a decade suppressing almost everything about myself—my style, my personality, my irreverent sense of humor, my love of four-letter words—and eventually, there was nothing left but this joyless productivity machine.
And then, I discovered romance novels. I saw so much of myself in those young heroines, falling for the tattoo artist or the rock star or the motorcycle club outlaw that it work something inside of me up. Something that had been asleep for a long, long, time. I started writing stories about my own first loves, but really, I was writing my way back to myself. Remembering who I used to be. Who I still was, deep down inside. It took a few years, but eventually, those stories turned into 44 Chapters About 4 Men, and I haven’t stopped writing (or being myself) since.
That possibility NEVER crossed my mind while I was writing. Even when I published my first book, I thought I might sell five copies. Maybe. That’s the only reason I wasn’t terrified to publish it. I was confident that no one would read it, and it would be my little secret, and I’d be a stressed-out school psychologist for the rest of my life.
Then, the book came out. Thanks to the romance community sharing and reading it, it hit the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers list within a week. The following week, I sold the TV/film rights. It was taking me hours every night just to keep up with social media and handle the business side of this little hobby, and after a few months, I just couldn’t juggle it all anymore.
I didn’t know if I could make a career out of writing, but I knew that I wanted to try. I begged my husband to let me take two years off from my job. I promised that if we went broke, I’d go back to work once our youngest was in kindergarten.
It’s been six years, and I haven’t had to go back yet.
This part of my life is what I call my “happiness journey.” Even though I probably seemed happy to the outside world when I was younger, I was killing myself to be perfect, to be the best, to achieve the next milestone, to check off the next goal. I had a pretty serious eating disorder. I smoked a pack a day. I only slept about four or five hours a night. And my every waking moment was spent striving for something.
Then, I started meditating, and I learned what it felt like to NOT be stressed-out for a few minutes at a time. And I liked it.
Then, I had kids, and suddenly, it didn’t matter how much I weighed or if I had makeup on or what clothes I wore. I was perfect to them just the way I was.
Then, I re-discovered my passion for writing, and I found a form of work that made me feel alive and inspired rather than stressed and empty.
And eventually, through this unlearning process, I created a new definition of success for myself. No matter how good something looks or sounds—book deals, promotional opportunities, TV/film options—I always stop and ask myself, “How does this make me feel?” If the answer is good, then it is allowed to come with me on my happiness journey.
The writers met five days a week in person in Los Angeles, and I live in Atlanta (with no desire to work a nine-to-five job again), so being on the writing staff wasn’t really an option for me. But I took my role of Remote Cheerleader very seriously. The showrunner sent scripts over and had me out to visit the writer’s room before the pandemic, but I really didn’t give much input. I trusted that they would make the best, most addictive show possible, and with 67 million household views in the first month, I think they did just that.
Absolutely! I’m working on a book right now that I’m madly in love with…READ MORE IN THE JULY 2022 ISSUE!
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