My fans ask it with a squint in their eye. They ask it with a hint of a smile–because they love Bailey–and a hint of concern–they know Bailey’s life in an abusive foster home is a wreck.
I’ve never seen the point in evading the question. In fact, I’m surprised more people don’t ask.
“Yes,” I tell them. “I’m Bailey.”
To clarify, I was never in foster care. I was never physically abused. I was never sexually abused. But I was mentally and emotionally abused for the first twenty-six years of my life. So while our exact circumstances were different, the ways in which it affected us are the same.
My fans absorb what I say. They nod quietly. Their eyes are full of sympathy. They ask no further questions. It would be impolite. It’s not their place to pry.
And until recently, I was okay with that. My abuser suffered brain damage and is incapable of comprehending the harm she does. I feel no need to blame or harass her for things that aren’t even entirely her fault.
Nor do I feel the need to kick the bee’s nest. As often happens with mental illness, my abuser vehemently denies her illness and takes strong offense to anyone who suggests there may be something “wrong” with her.
But the longer I write, and the larger my platform grows, the more I ask myself what my role is in this world. Do I have a passion? A charity? A cause? I have your ear. (Thank you for that, by the way.) What do I want to speak into it? If I could choose some good to try to do in this world, what would it be?
The words that come back are these:
Take care of your heart. Take care of your spirit and your soul. Take care of your emotions. Take care of your mind.
In short, take care of this thing we call your mental health. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t.
I write about broken people. Bailey believes she’s worthless, invisible, and unlovable. Tommy struggles to talk about matters of the heart and believes he’s too much of a failure to help Bailey. Ryan believes the narrative that he’s shifty, immature, and unreliable–and he doesn’t believe he could break that mold. Monica tries to bury her pain under a fierce exterior and flawless performance.
Yes, it’s a suspense series. But ultimately, it’s not a story about stopping the bad guy and saving the world. It’s the story of how broken people fought bravely to not be broken anymore.
That’s what I write about in my novels. And increasingly, it’s what I want to write and speak about more openly, with the veneer of fiction removed. The stories I tell are real stories. Mine, yours, a lot of people’s. There’s power there. The kind that can save lives and change the world we live in.
Going forward, you might see me writing more about what happened to me and how it led to the stories I write. As I do, I hope to normalize conversations about our mental health. About our hearts and what’s going on inside them.
We’re all broken, somehow or another. That’s just life. With my words, I want to inspire people and help them to be a little less broken.
There’s a comments section down below. How about dropping a note of encouragement, a prayer, or a positive intention–for you, for me, for anyone you know, for the other fans, or the world at large. Let’s spread some joy.
Through the course of writing the Mailboat Suspense Series, one thing has come to mean more to me than anything else: the light I see in your eyes when you read my books.
At readings, book signings, and book clubs everywhere I go, I see the same thing—this unmistakable spark of life, love, and hope. Those of you who’ve read the books know that they’re so much more than a mystery series. They’re a prism that scatters light and darkness across the canvas of your mind, promising that light will win out in the end, if only we can figure out how to hang onto hope, friendship, and our most authentic selves.
You might have guessed that I’ve been through some pretty dark places myself. I’ve walked through that darkness, found myself, and come out the other side determined to scatter light as far and wide as I can.
To date, my books have already out-sold most traditionally published books. The pre-orders for Book IV (The Shift in the Wind) were five times greater than Book III (The Captain’s Tale). And I’ve been approached on two separate occasions about my film and TV rights. The sun keeps rising on my dreams, and I plan to keep sailing towards that light.
But it saddens me that, as the author, I get to bask in the joy and the fun of these stories all year long, while you only get to experience it once a year when I release a new book. I know how hard it is for you to wait while I carefully craft every word.
At the same time, releasing my new books and watching the light rekindle in your eyes is my favorite part—and I only get to experience that once a year, too. The time in between can feel very long and lonely.
Meanwhile, growing a business is no small undertaking, especially a creative business. It’s challenging enough to cover current expenses, never mind expanding. You know I have thrilling plans on the horizon—for instance, those audiobooks you keep asking me about.
Guys, I have a solution that can help with ALL those problems.
Let me introduce you to Patreon, a platform where truly avid fans can show their support for creators they love. Like a nobleperson of old, you can become a patron of the arts, helping keep the wind in my sails while I captain the ship toward that glittering horizon.
Best of all, like the stalwart sailors you are, you’ll be taking an active role in helping me bring this story to as many readers as possible—helping me mount the brightness I forged from darkness at the top of a lighthouse. I’ve lost count how many people have told me that this story brought them to a better place, or inspired them to throw a life ring to someone else.
So come aboard! I can’t wait to see you on Patreon. The sunrise is waiting