Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

by Lynne Marshall


As a writer I’m always pushing myself to learn and grow, but certain subjects in the fictional field scare the daisies out of me. A year and a half ago I found myself in a situation that if handled one way (the same old way) could have been the difference between being offered another contract or politely being told by the editor that she wasn’t interested in seeing any more projects from me. Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years in this business, and I showed up at the meeting prepared.

I mentioned the heroine was biracial and I felt the door open. Of course it wasn’t just that, it was also the entire backstory I’d written and the fictional town I’d created as well as the group of characters to support a three to four book series that grabbed her attention.

She then made a suggestion—give the town a secret. I took the tip and ran with it, creating a quirky secret that rocked the serene fictitious Scandinavian enclave of Heartlandia, Oregon.

So how could I possibly think I could write a biracial heroine when, in my assumption, those stories had been reserved for writers of color? Remember the old adage when we assume things? (It makes an ass out of u and me). By instinct I asked, aren’t the universal emotions what really matter most in life? Or, to put it more significantly, it’s not about “the color of our skin, but the content of our character.” Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I had a sincere desire to tell Desdemona Rask’s story. That’s what mattered most.

Still completely out of my comfort zone, I earnestly went ahead and wrote the proposal and grew tremendously through the process. I must have done something right, because a few months later I got offered a three book contract to write the series.

A DOCTOR FOR KEEPS July 2014 Special Edition is the first book in the Heartlandia based series:

Her lifelong search for home…might be closer than she thinks! 

Desdemona Rask never knew much about her family. Now she is finally getting a chance to learn about her roots in the town of Heartlandia. For the first time, Desi feels as if there’s somewhere she belongs…but there’s more to her welcome home than she expected! Her grandmother’s next-door neighbor looks like a Viking warrior, and he’s giving Desi all sorts of unwelcome feelings….

Caring for his son, Steven, is single dad Dr. Kent Larson’s first priority. But the boy’s stunning new piano teacher makes him take a second look at his to-do list. Still, he’s lost at love before—how could he risk another heart-battering? Does the doctor dare to go all in?

Romantic Times Reviews: 4 stars.

“Marshall’s sweet romance stars an extra-tall, tentative, handsome Scandinavian and a free-spirited, beautiful nomad who seem an unlikely match, but who yearn for the same things. The author’s eclectic town, terminologies and residents add authenticity, and the little boy is a delight.”

Have you done something lately that was completely out of your comfort zone?  How’d it turn out?

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24 Responses to Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

  1. Joanna Sims says:

    Hi Lynne,

    I think that this was a wonderful post! And, your series sounds like an “out-of-the-box” experience that Harlequin readers are going to enjoy. Congratulations on your new three book series and I look forward to hearing about the next two stories from Heartlandia, Oregon!

    All the best,


  2. thank you, Joanna – on all counts!
    I hope you’re right.


  3. Liz Flaherty says:

    I enjoyed your post–and the book sounds wonderful!

  4. Dyan says:

    What’s interesting is, I would have made a similar assumption. I am glad you broke through and wrote this story. I look forward to reading it! As for breaking out of my comfort zone, not so much! I seem to be very happy in my own little world. One day maybe…

  5. Hi Dyan – I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that way. I like my own little world too, but once in awhile a good shaking up does us good, yes/no?

  6. robena grant says:

    Lynne, thank you for the copy you gave me on Saturday. I started A Doctor For Keeps yesterday. Sailing right along through it and enjoying every word. Love the location. : )

    • Oh, Robena – so glad to hear my book is reaching out and grabbing your attention. The fun part is, I got to write two more stories using the town and the already introduced characters. Gunnar gets his gal next, then after that – the richest man in town, Leif Andersen, finally becomes whole again. not due out 2015. :) !

  7. Lynne, smart move! And I love that going for it and trying something brave and different is totally working. Fabulous cover. :D

  8. Robyn says:

    Oh, Lynne … I swear you wrote this post for me! I am, by nature, an observer who watches, analyzes, and waits to be asked; and much in my life has been filed away as “not mine to do (or tell) … maybe later”. I have been chipping away at my box boundaries quite a bit lately — singing (solo!) on stage, zip-lining, snorkeling, jet skiing, rope swinging (that one didn’t go so well, and likely won’t be repeated!); but your comments here have exposed that most of my forays into the scary unknown are not in areas closest to my heart. Time to change that. Thanks for the kick in the pants! Can’t wait to delve into your latest series … even if reading your work is at the heart of my comfort zone.

    • Robyn — good for you pushing your comfort boundaries – in an external kind of way. Yay on deciding to tackle the internal comfort zone next!

      Thanks so much for reading my books. :)

  9. Caro Carson says:

    Your town sounds wonderful, and now I’m dying to know what kind of secret an entire town could have. Guess I’ll have to read the book to find out! As for pushing outside of comfort zones…you know, I’ve gotten pretty staid. It’s time for a shake-up. Thanks for getting me thinking.

  10. Hi Lynne – I love the premise of Desi’s story and can’t wait to visit Heartlandia via your books. This is a little different but I am (by nature) a total people pleaser yet in the past year I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone to minimize people who suck my energy or don’t enrich my life. It’s been hard sometimes, but I feel much better concentrating on friends and family who ‘fill my well’ rather than run it dry. :-)

    • Hi Michelle – that’s a great way to push past the comfort zone – plus it wounds like a win-win situation. Good for you because life is just too short, you know?

  11. Jane Squires says:

    Every time I spend time with my 2 year old granddaughter, it is out of my comfort zone. I have rheumatoid arthritis so everything is out of my comfort zone anymore. But for the past few years, I have been writing reviews of every book I read. It started slow and has grown. So then I started sharing all the books and people stand in line to get them. It has helped authors to get known. I cannot do much with pain in my body but I can do that.

    • Hi Jane – you are an inspiration, and you have shown us that you don’t let your medical condition hold you back from doing something positive. Thank you for writing book reviews, it is a great service to authors.

  12. Marcy Shuler says:

    Hi Lynne. I love the sound of this book/series and look forward to picking it/them up!

    I’m not real good at going out of my comfort zone. It’s scary out there. LOL

  13. Hi Marcy – thank you so much for considering my books as reading companions.

    I hear you about it being “scary out there” !! That’s the beauty of reading, we can do all kinds of crazy things through the characters, and we don’t even have to leave our living rooms.

  14. Tammy Y says:

    Hi Lynne,

    Love your new cover. I do like to get out of my comfort zone every now and then. I have been to boat shows. (not my thing) car shows – (not my thing) but I did have fun. Heck more than 10 minutes at Home Depot is enough for me. But, sometimes we spend hours there. Going to the Demi Lovato concert with my daughter. I was bored, but it made her happy, so I tried my best to enjoy it.

    • Hi Tammy Y. – That’s the spirit! Sometimes, when we force ourselves to try something different we might discover a new interest.

      I like Home Depot, too.

  15. Lilian Darcy says:

    Sounds like a fabulous book and series, Lynne! Love that your editor helped, too!

    As for comfort zones, my daughter’s horse involvement has had me out of mine for years, and hubby and my new cycling endeavors push me out sometimes, too. Could I sell this as a weight-loss strategy, I wonder???