Writing Romance and Living the Ex-Pat Life in Jamaica

I’m American, but live and work from Negril, Jamaica — at least for the next few years. It’s a life I never expected to have, didn’t plan for, but wouldn’t trade for anything.

I never planned on becoming a writer. It wasn’t a burning passion or a dream that I always coveted. I came to writing kind of by life circumstance; a twisty, windy road that got me to living and working from an island paradise. Following is my story.

My Journey to Becoming a Writer

I went to college in New York City (Hunter). I worked for a large legal publishing firm during college, and after. I was with the company for almost 10 years. I left and went into business with my sister. We owned/operated a boutique editorial staffing an outsource firm. We took on projects like copy editing, proofreading, word processing and coding (back then, SGML) from small and large firms like Random House and McGraw-Hill. We used freelancers to get the work done; and also sent temps on site for companies that needed it.

After the 9/11 attack, business was abysmal — it was true for a lot of businesses in my sector (editorial, media, publishing, advertising). Also, things changed in my personal life around this time, so in 2004, I closed up shop and left New York for Atlanta. That’s when I started freelancing full-time.

Starting to Freelance Full-Time

I’ve been a freelancer writer, editor, proofreader and copy editor since 1993. After closing up my business in New York though, I had no “company” behind me. It was just me. Things were tough for a few years, until I fell into writing SEO content for clients. This was in 2007. It changed the whole trajectory of my career in that I learned how to market online, which helped me achieve success first as a self-published author of non-fiction, how-to books (mostly on how to start a freelance writing career, online marketing, self-publishing and small business in general).

Self-Publishing: Hey, I Can Really Make a Living at This!

In 2010, I looked up and realized that over half my annual income that year had come from ebooks and seminars that I wrote, developed and taught. So I started to focus less on writing for clients, and more on my own projects.

Writing Romance

Enter 2013. That year, I wrote my first romance novel. I knew of a friend who had success in this genre, so I gave it a try. I didn’t have raving success right off the bat, but I saw the potential. And that’s when my career took yet another turn (I told ya mine was a windy road to writing for a living!).

I still write non-fiction books, but turned my focus to romance writing fully in 2014 because these types of books don’t require any updating, unlike a lot of my non-fiction titles. Once a book is done; it’s done and can sell for years.

Since I started writing romance almost full-time in 2014, I’ve churned out over 30 titles — some total bombs, and some pretty good successes. And that’s where I keep my focus — on the successes. You never know what’s going to resonate with readers, so I finish one, and just move on to the next one.

It’s how I’m able to make a living as a full-time writer — from Jamaica no less!

Living and Working from Jamaica

I visited for the first time in 2009. Due to some twists and turns in life, I needed a change — and for a host of reasons, Jamaica fit the bill; the low cost of living and a more relaxed lifestyle are two of the biggest benefits.
I visited many times between 2009 and 2014, when I made the move permanent — at least for the next few years.

Because I have a mobile career, I’m able to live and work from anywhere there’s an internet connection. And that’s what I love about being a writer.

Why write romance? Part of it is a strictly business decision. It’s the widest selling genre of fiction by far. If you can craft a decent story and cultivate a loyal audience, it’s not terribly difficult to make a living as a full-time writer in this niche (you do have to be prolific though; this is extremely important).

The other part is love — what could be better than writing about love, especially when you can do it with a 270-degree view of the ocean (which I have from my apartment here in Negril).

And that’s my story of becoming a writer. I hope it’s inspired you on some level to pursue your dreams — whatever they are.

My latest novella is “Destined for Thee: A Multicultural Romance.”