It’s been *checks watch* one billion years since I last wrote. The world is a different place. Stranger. More… aware. And hopefully changing, for not just the better, but for the very best.
Personally speaking, many things have happened since I last posted. I am in the process of switching careers after leaving my job in news writing (and trying not to let that decision stress me out too much). I’ve started walking almost daily, and I think I’ve finally found an exercise routine I can remain faithful to.
And I’ve begun querying a novel. Again.
But let’s back up. Because two years ago, I was reworking Awakened, my college senior thesis. I got pretty far into it, too. I was about halfway through the second draft, making many structural changes to the original story. I was turning my novella about the politics of an ultra-religious community into a mystery novel detailing a death in that same community.
It was an interesting story. I was excited to tackle the rest of it, especially after working for months on the new outline and characters. I fully expected to query it one day.
Then… kismet happened.
By chance, I stumbled across a young adult fantasy series. It came into the world after I left high school, so I missed it. As an English major in college, the classics and other literary novels buried me, and after I graduated, whenever I wasn’t at work I was writing or trying to tune the whole world out through Netflix. I forgot, for a while, that I used to tune the world out through reading.
So, in the summer of 2018, when Books-A-Million held a “penny a page” promotion, I scooped a copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, which I’d heard was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, my favorite fairy tale growing up. What followed was a full-on swan dive into a magical world of faeries, the monstrous and the lovely. I was caught up in Feyre’s journey, as she transformed from starving huntress to savior of Prythian, a land held captive by an evil queen. I’d long thought I was over such stories; even at the end of my teen days, my tastes bent more towards suspense and literary, and I hadn’t even looked up a fantasy novel in years.
But this book…
It took me back to days spent in boring classes, waiting until the final bell rang so I could begin reading again, or else propping the book up under my desk to read in secret. It reminded me of days when all I’d do was read, when I had nothing else to attend to, no responsibilities to fulfill. When I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses, I had many, many responsibilities. But they all went to the back burner.
I put writing Awakened off as I devoured the first book, then the rest in the series. I rode the twist and turns of the plot, gasped as characters revealed their true natures, and just utterly lost myself in that world. Not a small amount of guilt nagged me, as I knew I should be writing. But nothing could compel me to stop reading during every free second I got, until I finally reached the last, glorious words of the series.
And when I finished, I tried to return to Awakened. But I couldn’t. It was like an actual force kept my fingers from typing the next lines in the story. It wasn’t that I didn’t love what I’d outlined; it just wasn’t time for me to write it.
Because after my return to fantasy, I realized I didn’t want to write a real-world mystery. I wanted to write about magic. I wanted to write a book about unexplained occurrences, a world full of powerful beings, and a heroine who conquers all. I spoke about this on Kayla King’s website last year, saying I wanted a teen reader “to become lost in my words, forgetting her adolescent troubles if only for a minute.” That holds true, but I also wanted to write about a world where there are answers to very real issues, even if those answers involve supernatural help.
And so I wrote The Marked Ones, a novel about 17-year-old Lilly Norton, who, at her most hopeless moment, calls out for help and is answered by a mysterious, cloaked creature. In a Dr. Faustus-type deal, Lilly agrees to become Marked by the creature, and it unleashes her every impulse. Though she tries to use this new potential for good, Lilly fears the nature of some of her desires is darker than she can accept.
After writing draft after draft for nearly two years, I’ve finally decided it’s time to start the querying process. I’m no novice to it; the first book I queried got no bites. The Marked Ones is already doing a bit better in the trenches, but the waiting is nerve-wracking. Still, I keep reminding myself I’ve done all I can do with it, and all I can do now is hope.
Anddd that’s what I’ve been up to these last few years. As The Marked Ones sits in limbo I hope to post more on A Writer’s Life For Me. I’ve got a long list of things I want to write about on here, and I can’t wait to share them all.
So, I’m very happy to be back, very hopeful for my future career, and, as always, very excited to read the words of future authors! Happy writing, everyone!