Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kristin Bailey Takes the Truth

Today we have a great guest truth from author Kristin Bailey, whose book Legacy of the Clockwork Key releases in March from Simon Pulse as the first in a steampunk-inspired trilogy. Our clockwork hearts are beating harder already!

Here's more about Legacy of the Clockwork Key:

When a fire consumes Meg's home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key only Meg can use— that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg has no choice but to follow. She has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect, and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg will be swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny.

Kristin took this question, submitted by Elodie: How did you reveal to your friends/family that you were an aspiring author?

I always loved the game Truth or Dare, but I will confess to being a bit of a chicken while playing, so I was usually a “Truth” girl.  In all fairness, this had a direct correlation to the nasty imaginations of some of my friends and their talent for thinking up truly humiliating dares.

So, how did I confess to my family that I was an aspiring writer?

The truth is, I didn’t.

I was outed.

To fully appreciate the delicacy of my dirty little writing secret and the furor that ensued, we need to travel back in time, oh, I won’t confess how many years exactly, but it was that weird and terrifying time in my life known as the day I graduated from college.

Suddenly, the pressure was on. I figured I’d get my teaching credential, settle down as a middle school Language Arts teacher and call it a life. But the further I went along that path, the more dangerously depressed I became. Eventually my roommate at the time, who happened to be writing a book, blithely suggested I should write a book, too.

I will never forget it, because in that moment I remember feeling this pull deep in my chest, like some cosmic strand of the universe had just threaded itself through my soul. That may be a little over the top, but sometimes it pays to listen to these sorts of things. So I followed that voice in my head that said “Yes! DO IT!!!” and I wrote a four hundred page novel.

Dear God, it was awful.

But I had accomplished something wonderful and for the first time in my life, I felt like I had a calling. So what did I do about it? I kept it my deepest most treasured secret. I had no intention of telling anyone, especially my Mom.

Now here is where I feel I need to interrupt our story for a little disclaimer in defense of my mother, whom I love very much. She had a rough time growing up due to her father falling deathly ill as a child. Consequently, my mom is a little bit of a personal financial security freak, and frankly, I can’t blame her. Unfortunately, my whimsical soul never followed her line of logic.  I wanted to be an animator for Disney! She talked me out of it. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a zoo! She talked me out of it. It didn’t matter what childhood dream I had, the first thing out of my mother’s mouth was always, “That’s great honey, but there are very few people who ever make it in that profession. You need a secure job that pays enough so you can support yourself.”  To this day, I’m not exactly sure what my Mom was trying to say to me, but I can tell you how my brain twisted it around (if those were even really her words). What I heard in a constant refrain from the youngest age of my childhood was, “That’s a nice dream, honey, but you’re not going to make it. I don’t want to see you fail, and that’s what’s going to happen. So, why don’t you just drop it before you get hurt and do something safe, like teaching.”

Once again, and louder this time.  Mom, if you are Googling me and this comes up. I know you didn’t mean it that way and I love you with my whole heart. You’ve been my biggest cheerleader, and I couldn’t have gotten to this point without your support. Thank you, Mom! Love you!

Okay, back to our story.

So, with my new found passion for writing, I decided I would be an author, and I knew exactly what I would hear if I told my Mom about it. Writing as a profession is not exactly known for its high success rate and steady paycheck. I decided that writing meant too much to me to let anyone, even people that I love, take it away from me by feeding my self-doubt. I needed to believe in myself, so for the first time in my life, I asserted my independence by keeping my dreams with the only person who could make them or break them, me.

Naturally, this didn’t last too long. Writing a book is exciting and I had to tell someone, so I told my future sister-in-law. Feel free to insert your own little strain of ominous music right here.
Sure enough, one evening, my Mom was lamenting to the rest of my family that I seemed so lost and I didn’t have passion for anything or any sort of direction for my life. That’s when my sis-in-law chimed in. “Well, she’s written a book.”

“I think I heard the “WHAT?” from my apartment ninety miles away.

The next morning, I answered the phone and found myself in the middle of one of the angriest phone calls I think I’ve ever received. It went something like this. (My memory might be slightly fuzzy, but you get the idea.)

Mom (angry voice): Your sister was over for dinner last night. She said you wrote a book!
Me (calm, but inside hearing the Scooby-Doo ‘Ruh-Oh, in my head): Yeah, I have.
Mom: And you’re going to send it publishers?
Me: That’s the idea.
Me (after a sigh and a pause where I gathered more courage than I’ve ever had to muster in my life.): Because I knew what you were going to say, Mom, and I didn’t want to hear it.

That is the moment where I became an adult. Very few people are lucky enough to know the exact moment they turned in their ticket to Neverland, but I do. With those words, I knew in my heart that I was responsible for my own successes and my own failures, and I wouldn’t be afraid of either. I knew in that moment I could choose the path of my own life and I could decide what I wanted to do with it even if that path was difficult and frightening. In that moment, I stood up to someone I loved and respected and told myself that I loved and respected my own wishes even more. That was the moment that my future became my own, and it was amazing.

My Mom was stunned into silence. I’m afraid I may have gut punched her. She confessed later that she was very afraid I would cut her out of my life, and that was the line in the sand. She decided to be supportive of my writing career and keep her fears to herself no matter what, so long as I was safe and happy. She’s been true to that promise ever since. That book never sold, (I told you it was awful) and my mother was right along with me through all of that frustration, but then she was just as big a part of the joy when I did sell, and now she couldn’t be more proud

So what’s the moral of this story? I don’t really know, but I’m pretty sure I’ll lose points with all my fellow Moms out there if I say it is, “Don’t listen to your mother.”  So, instead I’ll say this. Don’t listen to any voice that would doubt you. You are the only one who can decide what your fate will be and your own determination, persistence, and strength in the face of adversity is what will get you there. People can stand on the sidelines all they want and say, “You’ll never make it.” You are the only one who will determine if that is true or not.

The game is only over the moment we stop playing.

So, good luck in whatever your dreams may be.


Kristin Bailey likes adventure and pumpkin pie. She has also confessed to a weakness for Jelly Bellies. When she’s not writing, she stays busy as a military wife and mother of two young children. She also has a tendency to spoil her pets.  Her debut young adult novel, Legacy of the Clockwork Key will arrive on bookshelves on March 5, 2013. 

You can learn more about Kristin and her book on her website, Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Kristin! Love the moral of listening to your own heart, not outside voices.

  2. Thanks Megan. It's a hard lesson to learn. I like pleasing people, and telling someone "I'm not going to do what you want me to," has always been difficult.

  3. Aw, that was so inspirational. I, too, kept my writing a secret for a long time. I think it was more out of fear of failure and having to admit that failure to others though. But that was wrong of me, too. Failures are necessary and only help us grow. We should celebrate failure because it means we're trying to accomplish something.

    Thanks for sharing, Kristin!

  4. You're welcome!

    I know what you mean about fear of failure. I find sheer stubbornness goes a long way. I struggled for nearly ten years before I finally did sell a book. I remember the year just before I sold was horrible on me mentally and I was about to give up.

    A real jerk said to me, "Maybe you're just not very good," in so many words.

    I remember being so angry, and deciding then and there I would NEVER give up, because if I did, the effort and time I had spent up to that time would have been wasted.

    I was "pot committed" to use a poker term.

    About four months later I sold my first book.

  5. Great story!! Look how far you've come now. :) I was also hesitant to talk about being a writer at first, because I wasn't confident that I had the skills to earn that title. Plus, I always (still!) clam up when people ask the dreaded, "So, what's your book about?" For some reason, I get so flustered talking about my work. I seriously need to get over that, haha. :)

  6. That question is a tough one. Sometimes it feels like people are really saying, "So, tell me about your book so I can judge it, right now."

    There is a lot of anxiety and insecurity that we have to train ourselves to let go of, bad reviews, not so helpful comments from loved ones, etc. It's not easy.

  7. "The game is only over the moment we stop playing." <-- love that last line. So true, too. Thanks for sharing your story, Kristin. Thank goodness you never gave up :)

  8. Unfortunately, mules have nothing on me. LOL

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristin!

  10. Great moral, Kristin! It's so important to have faith in ourselves and be able to block out those that don't. :)

  11. This is a great story, Kristin. Thanks for sharing!