Monday, November 14, 2011

Changing times

by Cheryl Brooks
Wow! Can you believe it's already November 14th???? Thanksgiving is only ten days away. My turkey is in the freezer, and I've already bought stuffing mix. All I have left to get are the crescent rolls, the ingredients for my traditional cheesy potato casserole, and the pumpkin pie. I baked a pumpkin this year, so I'll have lots and lots of pumpkin to make pumpkin bread with. I'm going to have to wait until after Thanksgiving to bake it though, because I have to work Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights that week. That's one of the downsides to working in a hospital. Someone always has to work the holiday.

Which brings me to a bittersweet decision I made recently. Last year, our hospital was purchased by a large healthcare corporation that led us to believe conditions would improve and that the hospital would grow. However, to our collective dismay, we have found that rather than growing, our hospital is now shrinking. About the only good thing to come of it is that we now stock full-size boxes of Kleenex for our patients instead of the tiny little boxes of sandpaper we used to supply. Staffing has been cut to the point of being unsafe, patient numbers are dwindling, and many services are now outsourced. They're also talking about cutting the ICU to two beds and shipping the more critical patients to their larger facilities, which makes my 35 years of ICU experience superfluous. We're getting put on call so often that full time nurses, many of whom are the sole support of their families, aren't getting a full paycheck. 

However, with a writing career in the wings, a husband who earns more than I do, virtually no debt, and a son who is almost finished with college and another son who actually has a job, I feel that it's time for me to make a change. Therefore, I'm cutting back to four nights a month starting the first week in December. This will enable my coworkers to be more assured of their hours and give me more time to write. I'm hoping to self-publish more books and possibly sell a few to Siren in addition to the books I have published with Sourcebooks.

Like most decisions in our lives, this one was made for me, or rather, conditions have changed to the point that this is simply the best option for all. I would quit entirely if it weren't for the fact that I'd be leaving behind friends that are more like family than mere coworkers. We've been through so much together--marriages, divorces, grandchildren, vacations, life, death, and sickness--I'm just not ready to cut the ties completely. 

The support and encouragement of the truly wonderful people in the Indiana chapter of RWA has also helped me to make this decision. Judie Aitken, a long-time chapter member emailed me not long after Slave was published and invited me to join the chapter, a gesture for which I will be eternally grateful. My critique partner Sandy James, also a member, has helped my writing in so many ways I simply can't thank her enough. Critiquing her work and the work of others in the chapter has been a tremendous learning experience, as well as being a judge in our chapter's Indiana Golden Opportunity writing contest.

I attended our IRWA writer's retreat this past weekend, and, as always, I learned a great deal and had a wonderful time on top of that. Each year, I'm thankful for good health, a loving family, and good friends. But I'm also thankful for all of the wonderful people I've met since I embarked on a career as a romance writer. Family and friends can be very supportive, but fellow authors are the ones who truly understand what it means to be a part of this business. We share our joys and our sorrows and are stronger for it.


  1. Terrific that you're able to cut back on your hours, Cheryl! Sounds like a great plan! Good luck with your books!

  2. Cheryl, such a kind-hearted thing to do for your co-workers! Sounds like cutting your hours will be both beneficial to you and them. Win-win! Congrats on entering another leg of your journey.

    As a side note, I love Sandy James. I've listened to her last two RWA workshops via CDs and am amazed at the amount of information she knows about serial killers and mental illnesses. Great stuff!!

  3. What an exciting new curve in your path! You'll get to keep using your fantastic skills, see your friends and yet have more time to write. Good luck with all your endeavors! Oh, and about the picture of the turkey...I could almost smell it cooking!

  4. Thanks, Terry! I just hope it doesn't backfire on me. ;)

    @Tracey. Sandy is amazing! I'll be sure to pass your kudos along to her!

    Thanks, Carolyn! I simply adore the smell of turkey baking in the oven. Makes me wonder why I don't do it more often!

  5. It's a new road for you in this journey of life. You're standing at that crossroads. And I think you're chosing the right path. As A reader and a friend. I say hit the road running.

  6. Cheryl,
    Enough of all this Thankful stuff! Where are all those good-lookig men you usually share with our eyes? That is what WE really want to feast on. :-)

  7. Congrats on your decision. I don't think you'll regret it.

  8. LOL! Somehow the hunks didn't fit with this post, Amelia. But you know where my blog is... ;)

    I hope you're right, Shana!

  9. Ten days! Ok, I'm officially freaked out right now!

    Since I work in health care as well, I can totally relate to the consequences of large organizations trying to become cost efficient. [shudder] Sounds like you have taken a great step toward having more time to write and still keeping connections at work. Good for you - I wish you all the best!

  10. Thanks, Amanda! It hasn't happened yet, and I'm really hoping the deal won't fall through to the point that I actually have to quit. Not sure I'm ready for that!

  11. I admire your courage, Cheryl! My very best!