Five-Hundred-Twenty-Five-Thousand-Six-Hundred Minutes A Journey with Lori Toland
This year has been absolutely crazy. It was around this time last year I submitted my first novel to ever be published. I gave it to anyone who would read it and begged for feedback. Today I’m holding my first paperback “The Replacement Guitarist” and it feels awesome.
I started writing in the sixth grade when I misunderstood an assignment to write about our summer. I thought it was supposed to be what I wanted to do for my summer, which involved jet skiing and going to Disneyland with my Grandma. When my teacher found out I hadn’t actually done those things, she told my parents that I had an amazing imagination.
Over the years I wrote on and off, often getting caught up in real life. When I was 22, I lost a dear cousin of mine in a car crash. To deal with the pain, I escaped into writing. I found solace in the words that could make her forever beautiful and here with us.
My mom and dad encouraged me and while I worked my day job, I continued to write. I submitted my first novel in 2000 and the rejections came pouring in. I got an offer from a new agent who had no idea what she was doing and no contacts but I learned a lot from her on what not to do.
In 2002, I set my writing aside and started expanding my business, working night and day to get that going. In 2003, I met my own hero over the internet, a beautiful British guy who stole my heart. When we met in person outside the hotel I was staying in, it was out of a movie. I fell in love at first sight. He took a little longer.
In 2005, my grandma passed away and for some reason I never thought to pick up my writing again. My hero asked me to marry him that summer but around the time we started to plan the wedding, I got awful news. My mom had terminal cancer. As we waited for my fiancé’s visa, she fought for the chance to see me married. She did see my wedding but she passed away in late 2006.
I lost seven close family members between 2005 and 2007 and stress ate away at me. Throughout it all, I threw myself into work as my husband and my father watched my own health deteriorate. Strangely enough, my pain management doctor asked me a simple question that got me thinking. “When were you last happy?”
I was happy when I had my family. But people had died in my family before and emotionally I dealt with it as well as I could. Death happens and the living have to move on. And I realized I would write to find my footing when my world came crashing down. So I started writing again. It was like riding a bike; I wobbled at first but soon I was speeding down a street.
It’s been hard this year to look back and know how much my mom would have loved seeing me published. She would have been promoting my book, selling every copy she could and listening to me brainstorm my next novel. I wish she was here to see the woman I’ve become and to hold my first book. It’s bittersweet and I miss her.
I’m feeling physically better now, although it has been up and down so far this year. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m pleased that every day I wake up and I’m not sick that day and on the days I am sick, I look forward the next day.
I throw myself into my stories and I’ve learned to let go and cry when my characters cry. It heals my soul. I’ve learned it’s unacceptable to not write and I never run out of ideas and I never stop writing.
Thanks Mahalia for inviting me to share my story of my first year. I can’t wait to read more of your books and hopefully there will be many more!
I have three stories submitted currently now so I have some really exciting works coming up including hopefully a hot Christmas story. But I have a current story out now at Dreamspinner Press called “The Furry Matchmaker” and here is a little blurb about it:
Dave Wallace is on his way to work when the sight of a tiny kitten stranded on an interstate overpass nearly breaks his heart. After he stops to save her, he goes to the nearest vet and meets Dr. Christian Prince, a gorgeous man David assumes is straight and completely uninterested in him. When Dave leaves he knows he’ll never see the vet again… until Christian calls him about the kitten, and maybe more.