Hi, TB here.
If you told me during the summer of 2013 that I’d be releasing the 11th book in my A Woman Lost series, affectionately known as “the Lizzie series,” I would have laughed my head off.
A Woman Lost, the first Lizzie book, was a single story I wanted to get out of my head. One book, and that was it. I had many more stories in my head that were screaming to get out.
The problem was, so was Lizzie.
Of all the characters I’ve written, Lizzie is the one I feel closest to. While many tell me they think I’m Lizzie in real life, it’s simply not true. I could list all the differences, but I won’t. Are there things in the stories that are inspired by my life? Absolutely. (If it’s really embarrassing, chances are it’s based on a true story.)
What I will say is Lizzie is very close to my heart. Through her, I learned to love myself. She’s like my beacon, guiding me safely through life and letting me know that no matter what life throws at me, I will survive. There might be some bumps and bruises, but I’ll get through it and there will be humor and love in the pain.
The most important life lesson I learned from Lizzie is a simple one, but let me tell you, it was the hardest one to get through my head.
I don’t have to be perfect.
You might be thinking, no one’s perfect. Why did you strive for that?
Because I was told from day one, I had to be perfect. Better than everyone else. Top of the class. The best soccer player. No one could see a flaw, weakness, or even a tear. Lock it all up and only show perfection for all to see.
Talk about pressure for a kid who never wanted to disappoint anyone! But when you expend all your energy trying not to disappoint others, you let yourself down every single day by not following your own path, but the one chosen for you. At least, that was the case for me.
It’s scary to do a 180 on your life at the age of 39 (10 years ago!) and say, “No, I don’t want to do what’s safe. I want to follow my heart.”
That’s what I did when I hit the publish button on A Woman Lost in the summer of 2013.
It took me 3 days to work up the courage to actually tap that button. I would simply stare at it and then walk away, shoulders slumped, feeling terrible about myself.
When I finally did hit it, something big changed inside me. I didn’t fully understand it then, but I do now.
When I was striving for perfection, I wasn’t really striving for anything, because I was too scared to fail. If you don’t try things that scare you, it’s impossible to grow as a person.
I learned how brave I can be by publishing, not just the first book, but the more than 30 books that followed in the past decade. I still freak out each time I launch a new book, but I keep smashing that publish button after I work up the nerve.
Publishing the first Lizzie book was the moment when I finally started living my life for me and stopped trying to be perfect. Which will be a lifelong project. One glorious mishap after another. Just like Lizzie.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary, I’ve just published A Midlife Woman. As I mentioned before, it’s the 11th book in the series. (But actually the 12th because there’s a prequel, and did I mention Lizzie is terrible with numbers?)
Even if you haven’t read the rest of the series, you can definitely jump in with this book and get a feel for the characters and humor. But you can also start with Book One. Or maybe Book Zero. (Which was written after Book One, because Lizzie being bad with numbers is based on a true story.)
One other thing! When you publish twelve books over ten years, book cover styles change a lot. Not to mention, it’s hard to come up with that many covers over the years that go well together.
When it came time to get a cover for this book, I was at a loss. I really wanted to start over with fun covers for all the books. Unfortunately, covers can get expensive, so I didn’t think it would happen. That’s when Miranda MacLeod, my co-writing partner (and co-owner of IHS), stepped in and saved my bacon. (As a side note, I love bacon.) She not only designed the cover for A Midlife Woman but went back and made new covers for all the other books, including the box sets!
I’ve collected them all here so you can see the new covers (and pick one up to read if you’re so inclined). Please note, the paperback covers are not finished yet as they take more work than the ebooks. If you’re looking for paperback versions with the new covers, Miranda tells me it will probably be another month or so.
Finally, to all of you who have supported my career over the past decade, thank you! These books, and I Heart SapphFic, exist in part because of you.