Today I'm happy to welcome my good friend A.L. Parks to the blog. Her new book Returning Home released this week. A synopsis and a link to buy are at the bottom of this post, but first I wanted to give her the chance to tell the story of how writing changed her life.
I have always wanted to write. I started young, as so many authors have, with little shorts about things that seemed important in youth. I continued that love through college, getting an undergraduate degree in English. Then I had to get a job. It never occurred to me that I could write for a living. Back then, before this whole Indie Author Revolution, it took years to find an agent, a publisher, and get a book deal.
There was not a lot of support for that at home. So, I did the next best thing – I went to law school. I always loved the law, loved the idea of going into the courtroom, fighting for justice. Becoming the next (albeit, female) Perry Mason. If you don’t know who that is…well, Google it, Young One! I loved being in the courtroom. I worked in criminal law and family law. Not all that different, and believe it or not, practicing family law is a lot more dangerous than criminal law. People get cranky when you mess with their money and their kids.
So, after a failed marriage, finding a new love and marrying him and the Navy, I started moving around. The practice of law was just not in the cards for me anymore (the Bar exam is not something you want to take every two years…long explanation that deals with state reciprocity. If you really want to know, message me, but I am warning you, it is boring). That’s when I decided to write.
I remember it like it was yesterday. There are moments and events that happen during a lifetime, and are so profound that every part of it is clear many years later. For our parents, it was Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, and the assassination of President Kennedy. For me, and many in my generation, it is the Challenger explosion, and 9-11. The day I decided to write, though, is that type of moment in my life.
I love watching ID, the Investigation Discovery channel. While I was unsuccessfully trying to find a job after another change of station for my husband that landed us in the DC area, I was a stay-at-home Mom. And while I did the cleaning and laundry and cooking, I had this ID on the TV. All the time. From the moment the kids and hubby were out the door until they came home. It was intriguing to me; the stories of people – usually good people – put in situations were they mentally broke and made horrible, life-altering decisions. And not just for themselves, for others that were affected by their actions. I was fascinated by the stories. And then one day, one of them jogged a memory, and that memory turned into an idea.
And that idea reawakened the writer in me.
So, let me backtrack just a bit, because this is a pretty interesting story. While I was living in San Diego, an attorney with a small, family law practice hired me. The idea was for me to come on board, take over the family law business and allow him to move into a new area – surrogates and adoptions. Noble cause, helping couples have a family. And I was fine with taking over the part of the business that dealt with the break-up of families. It’s what I did.
Things, however, are not always as they seem. The old adage that something is “too good to be true” - well, it is an old adage for a reason. It didn’t take me long to realize that this attorney was not who he claimed to be. After some discussions with other people in the business, I learned that this man had been suspended from practicing law three times during his career, and was finishing up his fourth. My first visit to his office had me seriously considering turning him into the State Bar for even more sanctions – maybe even disbarment. There were papers and files and confidential material out in the open, phone calls that were not to be answered, and angry clients trying to get into the office (that was kept locked during business hours). I’m not kidding. Files were stacked on the floor. Papers with personal, confidential information were lying around in the open for anyone to see. And people came to the door, demanding to speak with him. His receptionist and paralegal had walked out the previous week, and never returned. He claimed to have no idea why.
I turned down the offer.
A few months later, I was watching the news and nearly fell out of my chair. A man had been arrested for conspiracy to have his wife murdered. The man – no other than my almost partner. It was odd seeing him being taken to jail in handcuffs. The former paralegal was interviewed, and stated that it was no surprise to him that the attorney was involved (allegedly) in that activity.
I didn’t know that attorney that well, but I wasn’t surprised either.
And that was the memory that was sparked while watching TV years later. I jumped up from the chair, ran to my computer, and started writing a story about an attorney whose partner is arrested. She agrees to represent him, but along the way begins to question his innocence – and whether or not other deaths can be attributed to him.
I have not finished that story. I may never finish it. Its function may have been solely to be the catalyst that got me moving, inspired me to follow my dreams. It also was unable to compete with the characters in my head that finally woke up and started screaming their story at me. That one is done…and will be published next fall.
So what is the moral of this story? This cliché: Follow your dreams. I will add this, however: Listen to that voice in your head. And never, ever let someone else decide your life’s path.
- RETURNING HOME -
Available now on Amazon
Clarissa wants nothing to do with her father – even in his death. But she can’t escape returning to Newport to settle her father's estate. The safe world she has established starts to crumble and secrets she has locked away threaten to be exposed. Meeting Griff, her father’s partner, provides the only peace and happiness in the darkness that suddenly surrounds her.
Griff has built his custom bike shop from nothing into a thriving success. After the sudden death of his silent partner, Griff finds himself in a fight to save his business from the grieving widow. But falling for his partner's headstrong daughter may cost Griff everything.
Brandi has become accustomed to certain amenities in her life - money and men. She refuses to allow the death of her philandering husband to inconvenience her comfortable lifestyle. Setting her sights set on her husband’s very young, very sexy partner, nothing will get in the way of what she wants - even if it means destroying Clarissa to get it.
ABOUT A.L. PARKS
Born and raised in the Rocky Mountains, A.L. Parks has spent the last 25 years moving all over the United States. Married to the Navy - well a man in the Navy - Parks has lived in various places throughout the United States. She currently resides in the Washington D.C area, with her husband, four children, and one spoiled German Shepard.
2013 marked her debut in publishing. Her first novel, Strangers, released on her 45th birthday. She was amazed at how many people fell in love with a story about two people dealing with grief, and finding love again. Abby and Bryce were the perfect couple to introduce Parks as an up-and-coming author.
She released the first of the Return To Me series (an anticipated 4.5 book series) in December 2013. A wonderful Christmas romance, The Return introduced readers into the whirlwind romance of Eve and Jake, and proved that second chance romance can be even better than first love. Book two, Return To Newport, followed the struggles that come while on a journey to happily ever after.
Parks unique style of writing, along with her depth of characters and emotions, is carving out a niche in romance for those who crave love and romance a second time around. While many current novels focus on first love, Parks' novels seek to find happily ever after when first love has failed. They are a testament to second chances at true love that lasts forever.