For many writers, balancing their writing with family life is a serious challenge. They are trying to juggle writing around full-time jobs, significant others, children, and who knows how many other commitments. In that way, I suppose I’m one of the lucky few. I’m single with no human children and my cats are pretty self-sufficient. I work part-time from home and can pretty much set my own schedule.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know the juggling act, however. I wrote my first book while holding down a full-time job as a middle school teacher and going to graduate school. Of course, that’s probably why it took me five years to finish the blasted thing. Still, I’ve done it.

Even though I don’t have the typical scheduling problems anymore. I have my own set of problems when it comes to writing and my family – mostly due to what I write. Because I write spanking romance, which is, as many of you know, a very misunderstood genre, there’s always a tension around who you tell and what you tell them about your writing. Different writers handle that tension in different ways. For me, my family survives my writing because they don’t know about it.

Or rather, they don’t know about most of it. None of my family has a clue about any books I’ve written as Ruth. They know about my children’s book and adult coloring book written under another pen name, but even though my romance writing is by far the most successful, they don’t know about. I live in a tiny agricultural community in the deep South. To say my family and neighbors would never understand is probably an understatement. This community is close-knit and deeply conservative. Acceptance isn’t necessarily high in the value list. So, my secret to surviving my family and my writing is to keep it secret.

To accomplish that I maintain multiple emails, multiple Facebook profiles, and am super vigilant about keeping all of that separate. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to stop writing in the middle of something because my mom or my sister or my nephew popped in. I haven’t yet joined the Instagram revolution because I refuse to put the app on my phone or my tablet even though it would probably be a good idea in terms of marketing. I can’t take the chance because my family is far too apt to pick up my phone and use it. My nephew basically claims my tablet every time he walks in the door. There’s just no way to keep them secure, and it’s too important to risk, even for the marketing advantage.

Maintaining this somewhat double life can be stressful. I’ve nearly been outed a number of times. It’s especially hard when I have a new release, and I can’t tell them about it. In March, the first novel I’ve ever had released in paperback will come out. I’m excited about that, but none of my family know. That’s hard.

But it’s also necessary. Revealing myself would be tantamount to social suicide. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to take that risk, but until then, the best way I know to manage everything is to keep my secret a secret.