No One Ever Promised Life Would Be Easy By Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)

Please help me welcome Lois Winston to my blog today. Lois also writes as Emma Carlyle and that is who has done the terrific blog for you all today.

I graduated college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth if you believe my kids) with a degree in graphic design and illustration and went to work as an art director at a small ad agency. someone_book_cover_new_x1000_2Big title. Tiny check. I was the one and only artist on staff, so I really didn’t direct anyone.

One day I was complaining about some injustice to our office manager, and she said, “Lois, no one ever promised life would be easy.”

That conversation took place so long ago that I don’t even remember the names of all my coworkers, but her words have stuck with me all these years later. Over the years I’ve had some hard times while others around me have had great success. I have a relative who I’ve often said could step in caca and have it turn to gold. Some people have that kind of luck. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ve never won more than $7 on a lottery ticket. Get the picture?

I’m constantly reminded of that coworker’s words when I look down the long and winding road of my life as a published author. No one ever promised life would be easy. The outside world (those millions and millions of people who know nothing about publishing) thinks every published author is pulling in the kind of big bucks that James Patterson, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and E.L. James make. Friends and relatives expect you to give them free books because after all, you’re a published author and can afford it. (I can hear the laughter coming from all the published authors reading this blog post.)

The hard truth is that most published authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs. And that includes many authors I know who have hit the NY Times bestseller list. Factoring in the hours most of us devote to crafting each novel, then promoting it, we’d make more money per hour asking, “Do you want fries with that?”

So why do we do it?

We write because we can’t not write. (Pardon the double-negative.) Yes, it’s hard work, often filled with disappointment: You can’t sell what you consider your break-out book. Your last royalty check was less than three figures. Your publisher drops you. Your foray into indie publishing has resulted in sales that might sustain your Starbucks habit but not much more.

And still we continue to write. Because we can’t not write.

No one ever said life would be easy, but the struggle makes us stronger. And better. We keep writing. Keep honing our craft. And keep hoping that someday in the not too distant future we’ll reap the rewards of all that hard work. No one ever said life would be easy, but if you give up, you’ll never succeed.

Someone to Watch Over Me


Dori Johnson is in hiding from the Russian Mafia. Six years ago she committed a series of felonies in order to create new identities for herself and her younger brother and sister. They’ve kept a low profile, living in fear of their lives ever since.

When Niles York, Dori’s boss, offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, she turns down the job, not wanting to risk discovery. However, her brother and sister convince her that after six years, she’s unrecognizable, and she can’t pass up such an opportunity. Reluctantly, Dori agrees to become the face and spokesperson for York’s new retail venture.

Jake Prentiss suspects Dori is hiding a secret, and he’s not going to let her jeopardize his friend’s business. As a former government operative, he calls in some favors and starts digging into Dori’s past. What he finds has him convinced she’s out to sabotage York Enterprises. Too bad he’s falling for her.

Dori is falling in love with Jake, but she doesn’t trust him. He works for the government, and she’s a criminal. But then her life is threatened, and she has to make a decision that could either get her killed or put her behind bars for a very long time.


Six Years Ago

“Dasha! More vodka!”

Dasha dropped the pot and scouring pad into the sink, grabbed another bottle of Stoli, and scurried across the kitchen. She stifled a yawn as she squinted through the tobacco-laden haze of the room at the clock over the stove. Another endless night of playing bar wench and scullery maid to her father and his vile cronies stretched out before her. What did they care that she had a calculus exam in less than nine hours?

Sergei Ivanichek slammed the deck of cards onto the table and yanked the bottle from her still sudsy grasp. “Guests first, stupid girl. Where’s your manners?” With a shaky hand he reached across the table to refill the three other glasses. The bottle clinked against Borka’s glass, spilling a small amount of the clear alcohol onto the plastic tablecloth.

Borka snorted. He stubbed out his cigarette and lit another. “I think Sergei’s had too much. Maybe now we can win back some of that money the thief’s stolen from us tonight.”

Grunting his agreement, Yuri took the bottle from Sergei and handed it back to Dasha. “Pour.”

She did as she was told, then wiped up the puddle. After a loud belch, Sergei resumed shuffling, dealing each player several cards. Yuri and Vanya studied their hands, but Borka left his cards on the table, reaching for Dasha instead.

“Lovely,” he said, wrapping his large, hairy arm around her waist. “You’ve grown into a real beauty, Dasha. I remember when you were no bigger than my knee. You’ll make a good wife.” He lowered his hand and stroked her backside.

Dasha jumped. Borka howled with amusement. Tightening his grasp, he pulled her down onto what little lap he had. The cigarette dangled from the corner of his mouth, ashes dropping onto her. One fat hand stroked her cheek. The hair-coated knuckles of his other hand grazed across her breast.

Dasha stiffened and winced. As much as she wanted to grab the vodka bottle and smash it over his head, she knew better than to cross any of the men sitting around her father’s table. So she clenched her fists and bit her tongue.

Borka roared with laughter. “What are you now? Fifteen? Sixteen?”

Instead of answering, Dasha tried to squirm free. Borka’s expression grew lecherous. “I may be old, but I’m still strong as a bull.” He winked at the other men. “In every way that counts.”

Yuri elbowed Vanya in the ribs. “And that’s no bull.”

The four men yucked it up.

Dasha froze.

“Seventeen,” said Sergei, answering for her. He gulped down another shot of vodka.

“Seventeen?” Borka’s beady blue eyes grew wide with excitement.

“And the boy?” asked Vanya, motioning across the room to her brother Yusif.

Sergei glanced at his son. “Thirteen,” he muttered around his cigarette, but his eyes gleamed.

Dasha knew that look. Her father was as easy to read as a street sign. It was the same look that came over him whenever he made a killing at the track or at the craps tables in Atlantic City. Sergei Ivanichek worshipped a green god with multiple zeros. She exchanged wary glances with her brother. He, too, had seen the glint in his father’s eyes.

“I’ll take them both,” said Borka. His hand slid up Dasha’s thigh. “My bed has been cold and empty for too long. Vanya can put the boy to work on the docks.” He turned to his second-in-command. “Yes?”

Vanya nodded.

“How much?” asked Sergei.

Borka shrugged. “We’ll work the details out tomorrow, my friend. Tonight we celebrate.” He removed the cigarette from his mouth and raised his glass in a toast. The three other men followed suit. “To my new bride!” he said, settling his free hand between Dasha’s legs.

All four men downed their vodka in one gulp. Then grabbing the back of Dasha’s head, Borka forced his tongue deep into her mouth, muffling her frightened cry. “Ha! You have much to learn, Dasha,” he said, breaking the kiss, “and I will enjoy teaching you.” He pushed her from his lap. “Pour another round, girl!”

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lois-winston-low-res-file_2Emma Carlyle is the pen name of award-winning author Lois Winston. As Emma, she writes romance, romantic suspense, and chick lit. As Lois, she writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series which Kirkus Reviews dubbed, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum,” as well as women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction. Visit Lois at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Twitter:

18 thoughts on “No One Ever Promised Life Would Be Easy By Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)

  1. Hi Lois, I couldn’t agree more with you post. We can’t not write. So we write and hope for the best. Great excerpt. I enjoyed it and will look for the book.

  2. My dad said the very same sentence to me when I was a teenager. I’ve never forgotten them. My kids swear I’ve said them to them, but I’m sure I haven’t.

  3. Great minds think alike! Your post — regarding the day job — was a conversation I had just the other day with one of my RWA chapter mates. Lucky for me, I enjoy my day job. Thanks for the post, and best wishes with your book.

  4. Lois/Emma~

    Thanks for the insightful post. You said what we all know – we can’t not write. Non-writers don’t understand this, but we do. Best of luck with your sales!

  5. So very true! We authors are certainly not writing for the fame, the glamor or the money. We sit at the computer for hours every day, day after day, and it can take months to produce a novel that way. Why else would we do it other than that we’re so compelled to it that we can’t ignore it.

  6. This blog struck a cord with me. It is so true and so sad. I’ve seen many really good writers give up from all the hard knocks that came their way. It is hard to pick up and carry on, but we must.

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