by Timothy Pike
When success happens all at once, it has a way of going to a person’s head. It also has a way of changing someone, and not always for the better. But for author Tiffany S. Doran, success has been creeping up on her so gradually she almost hasn’t noticed.
“I didn’t know whether to run screaming around the house or cry out of excitement,” she says about the moment she learned she’d be this month’s featured author. “This is an absolute confidence booster without a doubt.”
Tiffany’s life has all the makings of a fairy tale. She lives where she was born and raised, in Roanoke, Virginia, a quaint, neighborly town nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. She has three kids with her husband of nineteen years, and she’s not shy about using superlatives to describe her home life. “It’s been the literal best,” she proclaims.
Don’t let her unassuming lifestyle fool you. Tiffany may live in small-town Virginia, and spend her days writing and hanging out with her family, but here at ChapterBuzz, she’s a celebrity.
This stay-at-home mom has her hands full, but insists she wouldn’t have it any other way. And for anyone who has the gall to tell her that being a mother is not a “real job,” she advises them to think again. Even though there’s no paycheck (it “pays me in hugs and surrounds me in love”), between coordinating the busy schedules of her family members, homeschooling her three daughters, as well as caring for three cats, two dogs, and a hamster, she’s basically working around the clock.
It’s hard to imagine that she ever has time to write, but it helps that Tiffany can get immersed in her writing at the drop of a hat. “Writing for me has always come as naturally as breathing,” she says. “There’s something almost freeing about opening your laptop and just writing whatever is on your mind. A story that needs to be told will come out—you’re simply the tool to get it into readers’ hands and imaginations.”
While Roanoke offers Tiffany the trappings of a life that’s fulfilling yet modest, her true dream has been to live in a house on the beach. “Sitting out on the deck, watching the waves crash and feeling the ocean breeze, all of your stress rolls away,” she muses as she describes her ideal setting. “At that moment in time, nothing else matters.”
The trick now is to get her husband on board. “He has always been fearful of the ocean and what it can do,” she explains. Unfortunately, a boat trip last year didn’t do much to change his mind when the choppy ocean waters left him feeling terrible—and her energized. “I had a blast that day,” she says. “Him, not so much.”
So how does she know she can eventually bring him around? Tiffany, you see, is simply the kind of person who gets things done. To her, moving her family to the beach is just another challenge for her to conquer. In fact, I get the sense that it’s her ambition in the face of obstacles and setbacks that’s brought her this far to begin with.
If you’d known Tiffany from a young age, you’d know that a romance novel called Desires of the Heart is exactly the kind of thing she would write.
Don’t let her unassuming lifestyle fool you. She may live in small-town Virginia, and spend her days writing and hanging out with her family, but here at ChapterBuzz, she’s a celebrity. Her novel, Desires of the Heart, sits proudly on the ChapterBuzz Top 20 chart—where it’s been for more than a year—as the enchanting love story continues to melt readers’ hearts week after week.
If you’d known Tiffany from a young age, you’d know that a romance novel called Desires of the Heart is exactly the kind of thing she would write. Before this self-described “hopeless romantic” could even put words on a page, she’d act out stories that were in her head. In one, she was a princess who had fallen under a spell, only to be woken by a handsome prince. Not with a kiss, of course (“I was ten and I thought that was gross!”) But the Snow White-esque story set the stage for many years of filling notebooks with poems and short stories, with no shortage of ideas for more.
Although many of those old notebooks were lost forever to a basement flood, what remained was the mental blueprint for what would become Desires of the Heart, the love story she was eager to get onto paper. “There were so many things that I had in mind as far as characters and plot twists,” she says. “I really wanted to read a book like this, so I wrote it. Whatever I would like to see as a reader, I add into it.”
“When it gets to where it’s the hardest,” Tiffany says, “that’s when you know you’re where you need to be.”
Desires of the Heart was just taking shape when Tiffany found out about the 10K Novel Writing Challenge. The “10K,” that month-long writing marathon named for its main goal of writing 10,000 words, also encourages writers to read other participants’ stories and give feedback. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that people would actually like it,” she says about her manuscript. “The feedback has been phenomenal.”
Making the decision to enter the 10K, however, wasn’t easy. “I think my biggest fear starting out was that people would hate it and it wouldn’t go any further than a notebook or Word document,” Tiffany admits. “Self-doubt is a big thing for me. I had thoughts like ‘no one wants to read this,’ or ‘there’s probably a book out there just like it.'” But despite her fears, she signed up anyway and bravely charged ahead. And for the first several weeks, we all looked forward to the new chapters that Tiffany would post on an almost daily basis.
Then it all started to unravel. Between the demands of homeschooling, looking after all the family pets, and her side gig cleaning houses, Tiffany fell behind. “I was so behind in my word counts, and we had so much going on at home, I threw my hands up and was like, ‘I can’t do this. There is no conceivable way that I’m going to get caught up,'” Tiffany recalls. She was stuck. “I sat back and stared at the half-empty page I was on and cried. I was defeated and frustrated.”
Fortunately, Tiffany is no defeatist, and after some encouragement and supportive words from her family, she knew what she had to do. “I sat back down and continued,” she says, “and I finished that 10K Challenge a day or two before it was over.” And that’s exactly the way Tiffany approaches going after all of her dreams. “When it gets to where it’s the hardest,” she says, “that’s when you know you’re where you need to be.”
And right now, Tiffany knows this is exactly where she needs to be. But at the same time, there’s no denying that she’s steadily moving forward. One chapter, one novel, one new reader at a time. “It’s almost as if everything is falling into its rightful place,” she observes.
From here, there’s no stopping her. Her enthusiasm, the support of her family, a stable home life many only dream of—like the perfect storm, all of these have combined to form the foundation of a successful writing career. “The smallest things in life can bring you hope if you open your eyes to see it and your heart to allow it,” she says. “If I had quit and just walked away, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. And maybe owning a beach house doesn’t have to be just a dream anymore.”
That house on the beach may not happen today and it may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. Until then, Tiffany will continue to write, find success in so many different ways, and take it all in stride.
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