December 18, 2012

Made It Moment: Carlie Cullen

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:04 am

Heart Search

Carlie Cullen may have had the made-ing-est moment ever–because it didn’t involve making it “only” as a writer…but as a strong human being and mother as well. I don’t want to steal a single ounce of thunder from this emotional post. Read on and see how sometimes daring to put words on paper means daring to become yourself.

Carlie Cullen

Isn’t it funny how it’s easier to believe the bad stuff people say to you than the positive?

Two years ago, when in the early stages of working on Heart Search: Lost, my dream of writing a novel and getting it published was almost dashed by someone who, instead of being a supportive husband, took great delight in putting me down. Phrases like, “What are you wasting your time doing that for?” and “Do you honestly think anyone will pay good money to read that crap?” and “If you’re so bored that you want to write, you should go out and get a second job!” and finally, “You’re living in a dream world – no one’s going to publish anything you write!” haunted me on a daily basis.

I’d been writing since I was a child and it was such a huge part of my life. It was my emotional escape and outlet, plus it gave me a great deal of pleasure. When I decided to write my first novel, I was excited and full of ideas. I wasn’t naïve enough to think I would land a publishing deal with the ‘big six’ (although I hoped it might be a possibility one day), but that didn’t stop me. I had a goal, one which fired me and drove me on to achieve something I dreamed about – to see my book on Amazon.

As the taunts and disparaging remarks continued, I began to get worn down. My self-esteem fell through the floor and I doubted myself and my abilities. My writing began to suffer and I started to believe I would fail before I’d even reached a quarter of the way through. But I had a shining light in my life, someone who believed in me and my writing ability, someone who encouraged/cajoled/pestered me to get each new chapter written – my wonderful daughter. She took to grabbing my laptop every time I left the room, to read what I’d just written, and upon returning was greeted with the phrase, “Where’s the next bit?” It became like a mantra. She loved the story and was eager to see where I was taking the characters next. She encouraged me right up until the final words were written, which was two months after the marriage ended and we moved out.

Just under a year later, after several rounds of editing, my book, Heart Search, book one: Lost was up on Amazon. I had achieved my goal and I felt like a kid at Christmas, faced with a pile of gaily wrapped presents. My heart soared and I was filled with joy. I’d proved the doubter wrong when, at the end of the first day, I had achieved sales on both sides of the Atlantic. If ever there was a time to flip someone ‘the bird’, that would have been it!

My daughter and I looked at the screen and she hugged me, saying, “I knew you could do it, Mum, and I’m so proud of you!”

Carlie M A Cullen was born in London. She grew up in Hertfordshire where she first discovered her love of books and writing. She has been an administrator and marketer all her working life and is also a professional teacher of Ballroom and Latin American dancing.

Carlie has always written in some form or another, but Heart Search: Lost is her first novel. This was launched 8th October 2012 through Myrddin Publishing Group and work has started on book two: Heart Search: Found. She writes mainly in the Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genres for YA, New Adult and Adult.

Carlie is also a professional editor.

Carlie also holds the reins of a writing group called Writebulb. Their first anthology, The Other Way Is Essex, was published September 2012 under Myrddin Publishing Group.

Carlie currently lives in Essex, UK with her daughter.


  1. Beautiful story! I’m so glad you didn’t let the negativity get you down. Congrats and best of luck!

    Comment by mountainmama — December 18, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  2. Uncomfortably similar to my story. Although I’ve never been told I can’t write, mainly because I never wrote, I’ve been told I can’t do ‘things’ I wanted to do. I always proved people wrong. Your daughter’s my friend. When I decided to write my first novel, my friend was the only one cheering me, demanding more to read. No Wings Attached is still her favourite book of mine. It’s a tremendous help to have someone begging you to write more, because then you know you’re on the right track.

    I’m glad you moved out. What a terrible experience to go through; your husband should be your friend and supporter, not putting you down. Unless he’s a pro and wants to keep you from making a huge mistake when you have no talent, that is. ;-)

    Love, love the cover and premise. I loved Twilight and the paranormal. So I’ve placed the book on my wishlist.

    Congratulations on making it! I’m sure you’re feeling all the better for it now. I hope you’ll sell millions so that ex of yours will be red with regret.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — December 18, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  3. Such a wonderful story. Carlie has such a wonderful spirit. I’m so glad your daughter was there for you. All it takes is that one person to believe.

    Comment by Joan Hazel — December 18, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  4. I will personally vouch for the sheer awesomeness of this woman! She became my editor for book two in the Tower of Bones Series and is an amazing, driven person. Writing is her joy and her calling. She has helped me to grow in the craft of writing and is now one of my dearest friends. Yay Carlie!

    Comment by Connie — December 18, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  5. Hurray for Carlie! She amazes me with her energy and vibrant love for her daughter, as well as her talents.

    Comment by Alison DeLuca — December 18, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  6. So glad someone who couldn’t dream and aspire to achieve as you were didn’t keep you from making it. Good for your daughter for providing her support. Congratulations.

    Comment by Crazy Travel Adventures By Debra — December 18, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  7. I identified with your story so deeply. For me, I recognized the words meant to hurt. I started the book I finished just months ago four years before, at the beginning of a promising relationship. At first, she was supportive. It was when she saw I wouldn’t become a millionaire overnight that her support was no more.
    “You should get a real job!”
    “Maybe writing should just be your hobby.”
    “Do you think I’m a good writer?” I finally asked.
    “Do you think I’m good enough to get published?” I already had a collection of poetry that had gotten positive reviews in my pocket.
    “I don’t think anyone’s good enough.”
    What a punch to the gut. To my ears that meant, NO! I was crushed.
    Then there was, “You know, sometimes people have to give up on their dreams.”
    Yeah, well, not me! And not Carlie. Congratulations. You are so lucky to have such a supportive “first reader”.

    Comment by D — December 18, 2012 @ 11:12 am

  8. Carlie, what an inspiring story you tell. I cannot say I have an un-supportive husband because mine reads everything I write and is my biggest fan, but I do have family who could care less and have never asked a single question, wanted to read anything I have written or bothered to buy anything I have contributed towards, so I do understand how you felt. What a wonderful daughter you have and I am so pleased one person did not stop you. I do not understand why someone who should be your biggest fan would want to stop you and put you down. Jealousy, an inferiority complex, whatever – he should think you are the best thing since or be truthful about your prospects and give constructive criticism – never put you down. I am happy you carried on and that your daughter was such a discerning person of such good taste and belief and fore-sight, she encouraged and supported you. You are the person you knew you were and the person you knew you could become. An inspiration to us all. Good luck with everything else, but I am sure you won’t need luck from now on.

    Comment by Jane Risdon — December 18, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  9. So sorry you had to go thru all that Carlie. But very glad that it didn’t deter you from finishing your novel and getting it published. Thanks for sharing your moment with us.

    Comment by Kellie — December 18, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  10. Carlie, learning how strong you had to be and how much you endured to get to the point where Heart Search was published makes me even more impressed by you! And I honestly didn’t think that was possible!

    Comment by Johanna — December 18, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  11. Mountainmama – Thank you!

    Stella – I’m sad that you know first-hand how demoralising it is to be put down, but I’m glad you had a friend as special as my daughter to cheer you on with your writing! Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and I wish you every success with your writing.

    Connie – Thank you for your lovely words, my dear friend. It was beyond awesome to work with you and I really look forward to doing so again!

    Alison – You’re pretty amazing too! Thank you :-)

    Debra – Thank you!

    D – I feel your pain and know exactly where you’re coming from. I’m so glad you had the fortitude to keep going with your writing! I’ve very lucky to have such an amazing daughter. Thank you for your good wishes.

    Jane – Thank you so much for your lovely comments. You’re very lucky to have such a supportive husband and I’m so happy for you. As for your family, perhaps it’s jealousy or maybe they’re just scared to read your work in case they don’t like it and wouldn’t know how to tell you (some people are funny like that). Whatever the reason, it’s their loss!

    Kellie – Thank you very much.

    Johanna – Wow! I’m pretty speechless by your wonderful comments – thank you so much!

    ~ Carlie

    Comment by Carlie Cullen — December 18, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

  12. Oh em gee. These are the kinds of things I grew up hearing…UNTIL I met my husband. Thank goodness he’s supported me through my many, many (MANY!) years of failure.

    Grab that daughter and hug her. She’s a true inspiration.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — December 19, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  13. SavvyBlue – I’m so sorry you had that sort of childhood. It’s bad enough when a spouse puts you down, it must have been so much worse to hear it as a child. I’m happy you’ve got a wonderful husband who appreciates and supports you.

    I hug my daughter every day and tell her how special she is!!

    Comment by Carlie Cullen — December 19, 2012 @ 11:35 am

  14. Hey Carlie, I think you’d just finished Heart Search – Lost when we ‘met’ online last year. I love this post – it’s hugely inspiring, especially for those of us who’ve ever been put down, about our writing, or about anyone else.

    My mother was the one, in my case. All through childhood, then finally, after I’d been published in a few magazines with short stories (which mum and dad read and enjoyed), I thought I’d write the novel that was burning a hole in my head.

    My mother visited at a time when I was at a low ebb, having had to take out two injunctions against a violent stalker when I was newly divorced and on my own with the kids. You can imagine how trying that was. Mum looked at my computer screen and asked what I was writing. I said I was writing a book. She said (and I can laugh at this now, she never changes): “WHO are YOU to write a BOOK?” Forgive the capitals but that was how it was.

    Other than emails to friends, the odd poem, the odd attempt at a short story, my writing seized up (the book stayed at chapter 8) until 16 years later – at the time I met you, doing Nano last year. Just as in childhood I allowed my mum’s words to affect me, and to paralyse my creative spirit. Well, I had some therapy and I’m over that now. Like you, I’ve completed my first book (a different one) and one day, like you, I hope that one or another one will join yours for sale on Amazon.

    One thing’s for sure. I’ll have more confidence in myself, I have a very keen supportive husband who loves how I write, enthusiastic kids, just like your fantastic daughter – and I shall never ALLOW anyone’s negativity to put me down, cripple my spirit or otherwise harm me again.

    I wish you all the best with Heart Search: Lost. I’m getting an e-reader for Christmas so I shall buy even though I’m not wild about vampires. I have a feeling I could be wild about yours! Well done, you! You deserve all the happiness in the world and sorry I’m almost writing another blog post here! :)) xx

    Comment by Heather Mitchell — December 23, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  15. 1st para should say ‘anyTHING’ else! Lol. I hate doing typos – inner editor. Ha. x

    Comment by Heather Mitchell — December 23, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  16. Heather – thank you for sharing YOUR story. I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for you to receive negative comments from your Mum and my heart goes out to you. I’m so pleased that, like me, you were able to overcome the heartache and emerge a stronger person. Revisit that story – it was meant to be told – perhaps now is the right time to finish what you started. I think it will heal you even further once it is completed.

    Thank you for all your good wishes. I feel blessed to have met you and feel we will be friends for many years to come.

    I wish you much happiness and success.
    Merry Christmas!

    Carlie xx

    Comment by Carlie Cullen — December 24, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  17. I think my favorite line of this was: which was two months after the marriage ended and we moved out.

    Damn straight!

    Congratulations on achieving your dream, Carlie. What’s the next one?

    Comment by Abigail Sharpe — December 27, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  18. Thank you for your lovely and supportive comments, Abigail.

    The next dream? To publish book two in the trilogy and get an agent and publisher.


    Comment by Carlie Cullen — December 27, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  19. Way to go Charlie! How wonderful that your daughter provided the love, support and encouragement for you to live your dream! I’d like to flip you ex the bird myself but as they say living well is the best revenge. You managed to disentangle yourself from someone who was sapping your life-force and trying to snuff out your creativity – don’t look back just spread your wings and soar! You are providing your daughter with the best possible example. Happy New Year to you both.

    Comment by Victoria King-Voreadi — January 7, 2013 @ 6:39 am

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