This content originally appeared on Walmart.com

Everyone has a “How I Started My Career” story. Which is different from their “My First Job” story. Cuz my first job? Well, let’s just say I had two first jobs. One was working for a vet, which sounds great and right up my alley. Dogs! Kitties! Um, yes there were dogs and kitties. But take a wild guess at who scooped all the poo. ALL of it. My second first job was at the senior folks home, and no I didn’t scoop poo, thankfully. But I did serve meals. And I still have a bruise on my butt from the old guys, who, by the way, had quick hands for senior citizens. But I digress… 

My “How I Started My Career” story is a little different. I’d moved on from poo and handsy old men to accounting. It was hurting my brain somewhat, so when I got laid off for being the low man on the totem pole, I wasn’t all that devastated. Well, okay, I was, but mostly because the mortgage was coming due.

This was just over fifteen years ago, during a time I fondly refer to as The Deep, Dark Years of Hell. Alpha Man and I had three kids under the age of five (don’t worry, we finally figured out what caused that problem), I’d just lost the accounting job, and he had officially burnt out on his job driving an ambulance on the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles.

It was not a great time for me to begin a new career. So of course that’s what I did. 

I had no idea what I was doing; it was sheer reader instinct back then. In between diapers and bottles and baby naps (God bless the nap!), I wrote what I thought was a suspense. When I finished, I bought the Literary Guide to Publishers and started sending out chapters.

I was writing my second book when I got a call. The woman identified herself as an editor from Bantam. She wanted to buy my book if I would just add some sex so she could call it a romance…

I about passed out. 

I was standing in the kitchen with a baby in one arm and a kindergartener playing house with the Tupperware all over the floor. I was trying to shush them so I could hear, but all I heard was my middle daughter, a toddler at the time, yelling from the other room, “Mom, WIPE ME!” 

Which was when I accidentally hung up on the editor.

With his uncanny male sense of timing, Alpha Man walked in the door at that very moment. I shoved babies at him, saying, “I sold a book, I sold a book!”

“Cool,” he said. “To who?” 

 Which was when I realized I had no idea. Thank God she eventually called me back (brave of her). I’ve been writing ever since, and I hardly ever hang up on editors anymore. 

A headshot of Jill Shalvis.

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

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