A recent MBA graduate from the University of Minnesota lands a job at an up-and-coming coffee shop company, and immediately faces the uncertainty of a first career-making job.

That's the premise behind Megan Preston Meyer's first novel, "Firebrand: A Corporate Elements Mystery." Of course, Meyer adds elements of intrigue and surprise, but the former Minneapolis supply chain and operations manager wanted to explore the questions every young professional faces: Am I good enough? Are my experiences as valuable as the other fresh graduates who are both peers and competitors? What to do when you face ethical questions at work?

Meyer, a Duluth native who now lives in Switzerland, took a year off corporate life to write her first book, a children's book explaining the supply chain. She followed with a second illustrated book about the adventures of Supply Jane and her dog Fifo.

Since then, she has jumped into writing full-time and self-publishes her books.

Meyer, who graduated from the U, said there's a lot of herself in Supply Jane and Currant Kepler, the main character in "Firebrand."

She's not alone in taking a break from work life to focus on other passions. Research has shown that people take workplace sabbaticals for a number of reasons. A 2022 survey by the pay and benefits firm WorldatWork showed the number of organizations offering unpaid sabbaticals has increased from 18% in 2016 to 29% in 2021.

If Meyer ever goes back to corporate life, she envisions a more strategic role because of all she has learned since being self-employed.

Meyer said she doesn't make as much money writing books as she did when she held a corporate job, and she's OK with that — and, more important, she said she planned for it. "The most fun that I had, I think, in the entire process, was recording the audiobook [for 'Firebrand']," Meyer said.

On the business end of her publishing career, her corporate experience definitely helped with both aspirational and financial goals.

When she started publishing, she intentionally bought a block of 100 ISBNs, or international standard book numbers, the identification numbers that help people find and buy books. A separate ISBN is needed for each book format, whether it is a hardcover, softcover, e-book or audiobook.

"My goal is I want to use all of my ISBNs," Meyer said.

Meyer had explored finding a publisher early on, but she's committed to self-publishing.

"Part of why I got out of the corporate world was so I didn't have to do what other people told me to do, so I like having control over the entire process," Meyer said.

Meyer plans to write two or three or more "Corporate Elements" books and a third Supply Jane and Fifo book will be ready Sept. 26.

She also has thoughts of turning the illustrated books into an educational curriculum. Those books have landed her some speaking and consulting gigs, but she hopes it can lead to producing white label children's books for corporate clients to explain their business or industry in a simple way.

"To fit something into 24 pages, or 32 pages, you have to distill it down a lot," Meyer said. "That is something I really like doing, and I think I'm pretty good at."

She still has no regrets about leaving her corporate career in 2019. She's learned more about self-publishing, though she wishes she could take a two-week "vacation" in the corporate world.

"I want to go kind of refill my corporate bucket, so that I've got more inspiration for the sequel," Meyer said.