When I started writing IN BLOOM I didn’t know I was a writer. In fact, writing was something I’d actively avoided beyond required school papers as I pursued my real dream: fashion design. After graduating from college I landed a job as an assistant designer for a high-end dress line and eventually saw my work hanging everywhere from Anthropologie to Nordstrom. For three years I lived out my design dreams—and then the economy came to a halt. The dress line went under and I was absorbed into a larger company that specialized in lingerie. After a year of trying to fit in and learn the ins and outs of designing intimate apparel, it became clear that I wasn’t going to cut it as a designer and I was asked to shift positions to start the ecommerce website for www.InBloomIntimates.com. I knew as much about websites as I did lingerie, but I needed my job so I dove into my new career as an internet marketer. Web traffic was not easily acquired, however, and I struggled to make numbers. At one point, after Google accused me of selling mail order brides (I triggered an algorithm with a bridal lingerie keyword) and banned me from AdWords for life, I thought I was done for. In a last effort to drive web traffic and engage customers before my employer gave up on me, I decided to start a blog.
The problem was, I still wasn’t a lingerie expert. I didn’t think I could write with authority about a subject I had little passion for and I came to the conclusion it would be easier to write fiction. Inspired by the DKNY PR Girl and knowing I wanted to use lots of wedding keywords, as In Bloom was predominantly a bridal lingerie line, I created a fictional character, Olivia Bloom, who worked for In Bloom and was engaged. The blog was meant to be her live wedding journal, but when I started writing about her engagement I began to wonder who this guy was she was marrying… I didn’t want to go to a wedding where I didn’t know the couple’s love story! So I backed up.
Over the course of nine months I posted two chapters a week to the blog and tweeted in real time as nine of the characters, relying heavily on my personal experiences in the Los Angeles music and fashion scenes to give an insider, behind-the-scenes take to my imaginary world. The more I wrote, the more the story consumed me—waking me up at all hours—demanding to be told. And as Berkeley Dalton fell in love with Olivia Bloom, I fell in love with writing; I found my passion.
When the story ended I’d written an 80,000 word novel and decided the next step was to self-publish. I knew nothing about publishing, however, and wanted a pair of experienced eyes on the story before I officially sent it out into the world. After swallowing my fear of having anyone who knew what they were talking about read it and tell me I was a hack, thus dashing my newfound writing dreams, I hired a freelance editor that I randomly found on the internet. She liked “indie voices” and “little books that could” and that sounded perfect to me. Now, if I’d know what “former senior editor at Harper Collins” meant, I would never have bothered this particular editor with my little story, but ignorance really was bliss. And the timing was magic. In an unexpected twist, she ended up loving the story and asked if she could refund her fee and represent me through the Bent Agency. She wanted to be my agent. I was floored, and gratefully accepted her offer.
After lots of rewriting and waiting (Oh! The waiting…), I ultimately signed a three book deal with Entangled’s Embrace imprint (I also had no idea I was writing New Adult!) and IN BLOOM was published, roughly three years after I started the blog. I still can’t quite believe it, but if I’ve learned one thing it’s to embrace changes and twists in the path—they may be setting you up to follow dreams you never knew you had.