Sometimes—maybe a lot of times—things that don’t seem so pleasant when they happen are pivotal turning points when we look back on them. For me, it was the sudden loss of my dad in 1991.
When I made the decision to walk away from college and a promising journalism career to be married, it required that I lop off a part of my soul, package it up with my dreams and lock it all away.
I didn’t write much of anything for years, but when the emotional backlash from my dad’s death finally hit me, it broke open that carefully constructed vault and I, well, suddenly started hearing voices. Actually, what I heard were songs. Lyrics and melodies would just pop into my head, and after a while, I figured I better start writing them down. They just kept coming, and eventually I realized that I was having fun again.
Over a period of maybe four months, I created a fairly substantial list of sons and even had a couple of local groups perform a couple of them in public venues with some press. I was thrilled to have my work “out there” again. My husband was not so thrilled, however, and with three kids and a complicated life—not mention that I can’t sing!—I wasn’t going to have a career in songwriting. However, the writing genie was out of the bottle and I was going to do something!
So, I found a local writers group and joined in. A couple of people were writing poetry and short stories, but most were writing novels. I’d honestly never thought of such thing, but they seemed to be having fun so I figured I could too. I read voraciously so I certainly knew how they generally went and saw no reason I couldn’t write one. So I did—a 400-page western historical mystery novel. Here’s the opening line to that book: Still holding the warm gun, Maddie lifted her skirt and ran for the buggy.
Now, seriously, it’s a pretty good hook. It gives you an idea of the time period and general setting, and it raises enough questions that you’d probably venture on to the next sentence. The book actually won several writing contests right out of the gate, but never made it to print.
I wrote a couple more books in various genres to amuse myself, but when I finally did what I said I would never do—write in first person—I really hit my stride. Hot Enough to Kill, a humorous mystery, was featured in Redbook, and the second book in the series, Dead Man Falls, won the 2001 WILLA Literary Award for Best Original Paperback. The third, Turkey Ranch Road Rage, was released last year, and I’m working on Killer Moves in all my spare time.
So, you ask, how did it happen that I went from writing funny mysteries to self help books? Well, if you’d read my fictional tales you wouldn’t need to ask that question!
Actually, after the first book came out and the second book was set to be published, life really happened—and not in a good way. A series of deaths in the immediate family, along with resulting kid and financial issues, pushed my already shaky marriage over the edge. For a long time I felt like I was out in the middle of the ocean with no shoreline in sight, just trying to keep my head above water. Eventually, I realized that if I wanted out the churning and angst, I had to quit dogpaddling in circles and start swimming toward something. I started searching for ways to ease my pain, and being a writer, I wrote down what worked for me.
Over the course of about ten years, I started some version of this book at least six different ways, but it just never came together until I’d gotten myself across the bridge to the other side and was really ready to make another major life change. And when the final piece of the puzzle fell into place for that to happen—another thing that seemed really bad at the time but was really a great gift—the book basically wrote itself.
In truth, I wrote The Hardline Self Help Handbook for me—the “me” I used to be. It’s the lifeline attached to the shore—a simple and direct map out of confusion, turmoil and pain that leads to peace and joy.
My journey isn’t over, of course—we are all always learning. But now, when I hit a bump in the road or feel overwhelmed, I can’t pretend I’m confused or don’t know what to do, because the book’s subtitle is always there, taunting me with a challenging reminder: What Are You Willing to Do to Get What You Really Want?
Live your joy!
Paula Renaye is a professional life coach, motivational and empowerment speaker, regression hypnosis practitioner and award-winning author in both fiction and nonfiction. She has been a consultant for 18 years, holds a degree in Financial Planning and is a member of the International Association of Coaches. Her passion is helping people face reality and take personal responsibility for their choices in order to reclaim their own power and live the life they really want. . For special book tour bonus materials and a link to purchase the print book at a discount, visit www.hardlineselfhelp.com. The book is also available at http://www.amazon.com and on Kindle.
Where to buy
The Hardline Self Help Handbook by Paula Renaye is available through most online retailers and bookstores by order in trade paperback and ebook formats.
ISBN 0-9674786-5-0 (trade paperback) $19.95
For special book tour bonus materials and a link to purchase the print book at a discount, visit www.hardlineselfhelp.com.
A printable Companion Workbook is available in printable PDF format from the publisher. See website for details.