Meet Author Michele Pariza Wacek

Michele Pariza Wacek

I taught myself to read when I was three years old because I wanted to write stories so badly.

With that auspicious beginning, you’d think I would have written hundreds of books by the time I was forty.

Well, it wasn’t hundreds. Not even close.

It was two. (Actually three, if you count the first book I wrote at 16 on my parents’ old Apple computer and saved on several floppy discs, all of which have long disappeared. It’s probably for the best. I’ve read some of my stories that I wrote in high school, and, well … some things are better off not seeing the light of day.)

So what was I doing instead? I was building a very successful copywriting company. (Copywriting is writing promotional material for businesses, nothing to do with protecting intellectual property or putting a copyright on something.) 

For years, I poured my blood, sweat, energy and life force into building other entrepreneurs’ businesses.

I was very, very good at it. 

But, unfortunately, it came at a pretty high cost. 

My own writing dreams.

Somewhere along the way, I had convinced myself I couldn’t do both. I couldn’t write copy for my clients and fiction for myself.

I’m not sure where or when that lie started, but I do know it got a big head of steam in 1998, when I started my copywriting company.

I had gotten myself a SCORE business mentor (at that time, there were very few business coaches) and when he heard I wanted to be a freelance copywriter, he brought in a retired freelance copywriter to talk to me.

I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to pick her brain. I was sure she was going to share with me all sorts of great tips to build my freelance copy business.

Instead, all she wanted to do was talk me out of becoming a freelance copywriter. 

“It’s really tough to freelance. It’s a lot easier if you just go get a job in communications or marketing.”

“I just quit my job.” (I had been working in the communications department of the City of Prescott—yes, a government job.)

“Oh, you shoudn’t have done that. Can you get it back?”

“No, I can’t get it back.”

“Well, it’s really tough to be a freelance copywriter. It would be better if you had a job and could pick up writing gigs nights and weekends.”

“I can’t get my job back.”

You get the idea.

This went on for awhile before she finally said. “Fine. I see I can’t convince you, so here are a few tips to get you started.” I dutifully wrote them down, although they weren’t anything I didn’t already know.

I suspect if the meeting had ended there, things would have turned out much differently. You see, I was very confident in my copywriting skills. I had been freelancing off and on for years. (I had never been very good at holding down a job for long periods of time, so the freelance projects would tide me over in between jobs). I had no doubt I would find a way to make my freelance copywriting business work.

And I did. I built a multiple six figure copywriting company that I still run to this day.

Copywriting was never a problem for me. Fiction writing … well, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

Meet Author Michele Pariza Wacek

So, I said to the retired freelance copywriter, “Part of the reason why I’m so excited about starting up my freelance copywriting is because I’ll have time to write my novels.”

She got a look of horror on her face. “Oh, no! You can’t tell ANYONE you write fiction. They won’t take you seriously as a copywriter.”

Boom. My fate was sealed.

Even though not one thing she said was right, not even her so-called tips, for whatever reason, I believed her about the fiction.

And my fiction writing became my dirty little secret.

So much so that it was only years and years later—2014 to be exact, when my mother was dying of cancer in the ICU, when I was finally jolted out of that lie.

I was alone with her in that freezing cold room (my mother had been burning up so the nurses had lowered the temperature as low as it could do, so we were all bundled up with blankets and sweatshirts and hats when we stayed with her). My mother was incubated so she couldn’t talk. I was next to her, holding her hand, crying and trying to read to her. 

Everyone was sure she was at death’s door. The doctors, the nurses—everyone.

All I could do is sit with her, crying and reading, while in my head I repeated two mantras.

Let go and let God.

I’m not going to die with my books inside me.

As it turned out, my mother was not about to die. At least not yet. She had a miraculous recovery the next day (the doctors couldn’t believe it) and she lived ten more months.

But that experience changed me. And one of the ways it changed me was it put an end to the terrible lie I had believed for much of my life.

I began to write again. (Not so coincidentally, my first book I wrote after the ICU experience I titled It Began With a Lie.)

I also started to tell my friends and clients about my fiction books. All of them loved that I was writing fiction. None of them stopped taking me seriously as a copywriter.

But, more importantly, for myself I discovered I was so much more at peace when I was honoring my creativity rather than suppressing it. Even though it seems counterintuitive, by giving myself space to write fiction, I discovered everything else worked so much better. 

For years, I had said I was “too busy” to write fiction and I needed to “save” my writing for clients.

As it turned out, that was another lie.

Currently I’ve published 10 fiction books, with another one coming out in April. I write all things mystery, from psychological thrillers to cozy mysteries, and I currently write in three interconnected series: The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries (my cozy mystery series), Secrets of Redemption (my psychological suspense series and also the series that The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries was spun off from) and The Riverview Mysteries (my standalone psychological suspense books).

I’ll be sharing more about these series and how they all interconnect in an upcoming post.

If you’d like to read more about my writing journey, I have a whole series of posts on that will walk you through the full journey.

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