On my first day in kindergarten, the teacher led me to a green carpet by a chalkboard at the front of the room. I don't really remember how I felt on that particular day. But I do remember a little girl crying and hugging her mother's leg. The other parents hovered in the background. No one in the room—the mother, the teacher, the other adults—could convince her to join us.
I didn't give it a thought at the time. I just unfolded my crisscrossed legs and got up. Not really worried that I may be breaking the rules, I walked over to the little girl, took her hand, and led her to my spot on the carpet. Our hands intertwined and we sat together waiting for the first day of school to start.
As I grew older, I became a victim. I found myself trapped in my bedroom. I was addicted to reading and I would try to get my hands on every book by Judy Blume. My mother became worried about my interest in reading but it didn't matter because it didn't stop me. I read everything I could get my hands on: Roald Dahl’s work, The Phantom Tollbooth, and other types of fiction.
What do kindergarten and reading have to do with becoming an author? Even as a child, I was not intimidated by the adults in the room. And reading opened up new worlds for me. These life experiences fostered becoming a writer.
I wanted to tell a story. I wanted other people to hear the voice inside my head and that's what compelled me to begin my writing career. I'm not perfect and I never expect to be, but what I do expect is for my imagination to continue to run wild and my muses continue to talk to me, for my fans, readers, and myself. I expect to be entertained because that's what reading has always been for me.
So I started writing. I accomplished something, fearlessly put it out in the world, and if people liked it that was great, if they didn't, oh well, I could live with that too. But what surprised me the most was that people liked it, even while I was learning my craft. My muse became a 6-foot-tall, dark haired, olive-skinned mobster. I'm a huge paranormal romance fan but that isn't what I ended up writing. Mafia romance fiction—who would've guessed?
I had no help. I didn't know one editor. I didn't know anyone else that had self-published and I barely was able to find a cover artist. But I learned what I could and I posted my first e-book, Mobster's Girl, on Amazon in 2012. I discovered a large fan base for Mafia fiction. I started getting Facebook messages and emails from people wondering when the next book was coming out. Mobster's Girl sat on the Amazon Top 100 list in the category of romance and family saga.
Now that I've been doing this a few years (10 books so far), my writing has become stronger. I lean on a core tribe of other writers for support and I have people I can turn to for the ins and outs of publishing. And I encourage anyone else who has a story to tell to follow in my footsteps and put fear and self-doubt behind you, because in the end it's your story and only you can tell it.
Amy Rachiele is a Historical Writers of America board member. A former teacher of at-risk students, she is the author of ten self-published novels. She has a master's degree from Rhode Island College in English and Secondary Education and is a member of the Romance Writers of America, BroadUniverse, and Writer Unboxed.