Writing Through The Pain: When Life Does Not Imitate Art

It’s out! Finally! That’s right, after all of this time, Shadow of Sin – AKA Erin and CJ’s story – is out in the world, and I couldn’t be more excited.
You might have noticed that this book took me a long time to write. A long, long, time. In fact, this is the first new release I’ve had in nearly two years. Truthfully, this was the hardest book I’ve ever written.
And it had nothing to do with the story or the characters. What made this story so difficult for me to write was… life.
What most of you don’t know is that while I was writing this book, my marriage was falling apart. While I was trying to write the story of two characters falling in love and finding their happily ever after, what I thought was my own happily ever after came to a stunningly painful end.
There were days, weeks, months, when it was all I could do to get out of bed, take care of my kids, and deal with the fact that the life I thought I had, the future I had taken for granted, was gone.
I’m a fucking romance writer! How can I be getting divorced??
I couldn’t read – forget about write – a romance novel. Seriously, divorce and romance do not mix. Any time I got my Amazon “recommendations in romance,” my lip would curve into a sneer and I’d think, “Yeah, whatever young lovers. Call me in 15 years and let’s see how this whirlwind, hormone driven, drug like fugue works out.”
And yet, Erin and CJ lingered on my hard drive, 50 pages into their story. Poking me, nudging me, reminding me that I had promised them their story. And they were WAITING!!! And deserving.
I got mad. At at my ex, at myself, at fate, the universe.The death of my marriage had taken so much from me, I’d be damned if I was going to let it take away my creativity, my love for this work.
So I cracked the laptop. Outlined some chapters. Wrote some pages, and felt pretty good.
And then there were the days that I opened up the manuscript, sat down to write the story of two people falling in love, and broke down in tears. There were too many days like this, so many I despaired that I would never finish this book, finish any book, ever again.
Time passed. The pain dulled, my brain and body settled themselves into a steadier state. And last summer I went to the RWA national conference for the first time in several years. While there, I did hardly any business (except a meeting with my beloved agent which was more of a wine and gabfest than a business meeting). However the time spent with amazing writer friends both old and new, left me reinvigorated. While I had to let go of a very important part of my identity – I was no longer a wife – I still held another part: I was and am still a writer.
And no one can ever take that from me.
So I came home, got my ass in the chair, and I finished the draft. I sent it off to my amazing friend and critique partner, revised revised revised. And now, here it is, ready for you to enjoy.
Through it all, you, my readers, were there. You told me how much you loved my books. You asked for Erin and CJ’s story specifically. You reminded me that regardless of how sad, scared, and angry I felt, once upon a time I had brought joy to your lives in the form of my books.
And that I had brought joy to my own life through writing.
I am eternally grateful to all of you who stuck with me, for letting me know that you enjoy my work and that you wanted more.
I am also, of course, so grateful to my family who have given me unconditional love and support through all of this. And thank you to my amazing friends who saw me through the darkest of days, let me cry on their phones, their couches, sometimes literally in their laps, and reminded me how much I was loved.
Thank you my old friends, my mom friends, my writer friends. You know who you are, and I love you, all you wonderful women.
But I have to give a special shout out to Monica McCarty, who I met at my first SFRWA meeting way back in 2003. She has now seen me through the birth of my first (and second) child, the publication of my first (and 23rd) book, and now divorce (and ugh, match.com). She has held my hand (mostly over the phone) every step of the way, and she is one of my favorite people on the planet.
So now it’s time for me to step into my new, unknown future. To write a new story for myself. And I promise I will continue to write stories for you.

  • January 18, 2017

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