No, I didn’t become a lawyer at the ripe old age of fifty, but I did start a new career as an erotic romance author. In the two years since, I’ve published two books with a respected publisher, Sourcebooks, and established a brand as the author of “Sizzling Romance for Smart and Sexy Women.” In August my second book, Lawyer Up, launched. In writing it, I guess you could say I got to play with lawyers, in my mind anyway.
I never in a million years foresaw that I’d become a professional authoress of steamy stories. It’s been both a joy and a challenge. I’ll admit my achievement didn’t spring out of nothing—I had a non-fiction writing background—but still it took guts and a bit of luck…and that secret ingredient—foot surgery—to get where I am today (more on that later).
But first, here’s how it happened: Years ago I stopped working as a professional fundraiser to care for my two young, special-needs boys. Then, much later, when their care was well in hand I prepared to go back into grant writing with a new, more personal, focus on autism. But then, foot surgery laid me up for several weeks and I found myself writing salacious stories with the mood-enhancing aid of pain meds to help me dream up sexy situations…around doctors, of course. Eventually, the result became my debut book, a trio of stories published as Playing Doctor.
However, jumping back to where I had story nuggets, a fiftieth birthday looming ever closer, and a desire to try something new, I found that writing fiction was fun and freeing and so different from what I’d been doing, but it also required a giant leap of faith to pursue it professionally.
You only live once!
Live life to the fullest.
Everyday is a new beginning. bla bla bla.
All clichés but still true. Ask yourself, do you want to get to the end of your days and wish…wish things were different, wish you’d given it a try, wish you didn’t regret might-have-beens? Not everyone is in a place where they can launch a new career mid-life (and in today’s longer living, I’ve decided that fifty is going to be my mid-life), but for those of you that don’t have any real excuses, time’s a wastin…
If you’ve a dream job or goal that seems out of reach, I urge you to start taking steps toward making it a reality. I can’t promise you’ll succeed, but if you don’t at least try then it definitely won’t happen. And you just might find, as I have, that the effort is as much fun as the achievement. As we say in our house, “No duff sitting!” So, if you have a dream—little or big—here are some basic ideas to get you going:
• make a plan and list every step needed to achieve your goal
• inventory your skills and weaknesses; be realistic
• don’t forget to solicit support from friends and family (you’ll need it during setbacks and periods of self-doubt)
• strategize for laying the ground work, whether filling in education/experience gaps or networking in a new field
While the happy-pills and free time recuperating were the catalyst that got me started writing fiction, afterwards I had to take concrete steps to turn my new hobby into a career. For an author this includes attending writing conferences to meet industry professionals, pitching to agents and editors, accepting and incorporating editing feedback, and more.
In my fundraising past, I’d sold other people’s art and now I was selling “me!” Scary stuff. Being told to “take a breath” in my first ever pitch appointment and then to “stop talking” when I didn’t seem to hear that she’d ask for my full manuscript felt awful, but I picked myself up and went back to pitching to anyone who would listen. So, I guess I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and you must want it badly, but still I think I would have regretted more always wondering what might have been. Ultimately, I went home with eight prospects, and surprisingly received an offer from the first lady who I’d pitched. Serendipity. You never know what’s going to happen.
So, for whatever your dream, do the research to find out how to enter the field as well as take inventory of your skills. If something’s lacking you’ll need to make plans to get the education or experience required, but that can be the first step in your plan.
Put the Steps In Your Calendar
• schedule yourself to implement at least one step every week
• expect that you may have to readjust your schedule at times
A plan’s worthless if you don’t do it, so make sure you do something, no matter how small, every week. For a writer this is making sure that you write something every single day. For you, it might be something different, but just make sure you keep moving forward.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
• there will be disappointments, so be ready
• keep striving, but be flexible—success might take a different form than you expected
• celebrate yourself for the effort and for the wins
• Don’t Give Up!
Setbacks may require you to alter your plan but other times you may leap ahead unexpectedly. I have a non-fiction project that hasn’t sold, but I’m exploring self-publishing. It’s a setback but I’m not giving up on something I believe in.
And celebrate your successes. I had a glass of champagne when I got my first offer and then when the book published I threw myself a launch party. When you work so hard to achieve something, you need to take a moment to enjoy the success. Chances are you’ll be back struggling again fairly soon. For me this took the form of rewrites on the second book. I changed editors and in the end rewrote my second book, Lawyer Up, four times. It was a frustrating, emotional period, but I’m thrilled with the end result—a vastly superior book. RT Book Reviews, the gold standard of romance reviews, thinks so to, upping my second book to four stars (the first received a respectable three). Recognize that struggle and setbacks can move you forward too as long as you don’t give up.
Yes, I’ve already said that, but it’s the most important thing you can do to realize your dream. Get started on it today. And don’t forget that there’s an element of luck in everything. If you don’t succeed at first, cut yourself some slack and just keep going.
WARNING — this paragraph is X-rated. As an erotic author I sometimes get asked how I do my research? (wink wink) Obviously, research is important in any field, and today the Internet makes it super easy to learn anything…I mean, seriously, anything! But nothing is as useful as “hands-on” research, and in my field that can be quite…pleasurable. I’ve discovered a whole new world hiding right in plain sight. It’s name is Fetlife and that’s all I’m gonna say, but you can Google it. Oh, and while you’re at it, search on “bunny flogger.” It’s heavenly!!! (believe me, it’s worth three exclamations). Besides researching, I’ve enjoyed writing steamy sex scenes that fit the different professions—doctors, lawyers, and coming up, strong men who work with their hands (yum). In Lawyer Up, I had a great fun writing a sizzling scenario set in a New Orleans courthouse late at night—the stories title, “Of Writs and Writhing,” kinda sums it up nicely.
So this leads to my final piece of advice—if you’re not having fun, you’ve got to rethink your goals. Life really is too short to waste time pursuing dreams that don’t fill you with joy, maybe not all the time but at least some of the time. I’m having a ball with my new career and that’s just as important as any money I make.
You may have noticed that I didn’t really address starting a new career at fifty. That’s because age shouldn’t be a factor at all, unless the looming birthday spurs you to action. Whether your twenty or sixty, if you want something you should go for it. Be realistic about your abilities, but don’t let a mere number stop you.
I’m truly grateful for the encouragement of my friends and family and for the good fortune that has helped me launch a new career at age fifty. AND, you can do it too—at whatever age you are.
Good luck and enjoy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Allure writes erotic romance fiction and is the author of the Meeting Men series for Sourcebooks about real women meeting handsome professional men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have behind closed doors! Her non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and penning a weekly arts column. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.
Kate’s website: http://www.KateAllure.com
Kate’s fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance
Watch Kate’s new Playing Doctor book trailer: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance/videos/vb.603530653080063/664317833668011/?type=2&theater or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHXNhKO8wpg