First off, you may/may not remember how back at the beginning of September, I was preparing to start writing a new WIP. It had been months--yes, literally months--since I last sat down to write a novel, and I was worried I'd not be able to finish another one after Hearts.
I'm happy to say that I proved myself wrong, and finished the WIP I talked about here. So yes, I managed to write another novel. And now I'm giving myself a little break to let the book percolate in my head. It couldn't be at a more perfect time, because on Wednesday, I'm flying to Virginia to meet for the very first time IN PERSON my fabulous critique partner and one-of-a-kind friend, Sarah. I've known her since last August, so over a year now. We met through WriteOnCon, when I was a wee baby writer and still out in the world under a pen name. She read the manuscript IN THE MIDST OF MONSTERS, which later, during PitchWars, turned into A SEA OF HOLLOW HEARTS, and has been a champion for them both from the start.
I think critique partners are an integral part of every writer's journey, and I have been so tremendously lucky with mine. They've all become amazing friends, and I couldn't imagine not having them in my life. I don't know where I'd be without them. (Probably a wreck right now.) They're there whenever I need them, whether it be a text or a tweet or an email I fling their way. They're my biggest cheerleaders when I'm feeling low or uncertain, always there to boost me back up.
This book came at a strange time in my life. I'd just moved from Arizona to Idaho, leaving behind a job and friends and plenty of familiarity. I took this fall semester off from college because I felt burned out on school and wasn't sure where I wanted to go in life. I was, to put it mildly, wandering in the darkness, and I think that's a major part of what formed the book I've just finished writing. (Well, technically I wrote "the end" last night, but I digress.) This book is dark and gritty and honest. I don't hold back with my characters and what they deal with, what they go through, the journeys--both mentally and physically--that they have to take. There's friendship and there's romance and there's heartbreak and betrayal and a dozen other things. But most importantly, this book is about overcoming the darkness inside your soul and learning to shine through it all.
It's a whole different ball game from Hearts. Don't get me wrong, I love my pirates, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I'm still querying that book, and I will still champion that book until the world is sick of hearing me brag about my nutsy pirates and their crazy adventures. But while that one is dark, this book is gritty. It tore me apart and put me back together again. I cried and I swooned and I laughed and I cheered for my characters. And I hope that one day, hopefully someday soon, I can share these stories with more people than just my lovely critique partners and beta readers.
And so, before this post can travel into novel length, and before I get even more emotional, I'll leave you with a piece of music that has been playing on repeat while I wrote this novel.
So, without further ado, here is Souled and Delivered by Evan Frankfort.
I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do.