White whale slain

Well, it’s been over four years…FOUR YEARS since I first “met” Alabaster. I remember it clearly. It was November 1 of my first NaNoWriMo way back in 2019. At the time, I was green. Not in writing, I’ve been doing forever, but a novice to the program. Silly me, I thought it would be as simple as sitting down and composing–not unlike this very post. The plot would flow, the characters behave by misbehaving…I mean, why should it work that way? I had written a novel before and a truckload of other things.

I was wrong.

Per usual, I was up at midnight. My fingers poised over the keyboard. AND nothing. Panicking slightly, I decided to exercise. So, hauled up in my closet, trying not to wake my husband or kids, I started practicing yoga. It was at that moment, in a downward dog, if I remember correctly, that out of the corner of my right eye, I saw him. At the time, Alabaster. At the time, he didn’t have a name-–but he had a form and an attitude.

Half-hanging off a bar stool, one cowboy boot planted on the floor and the other heel-hooked on the bracing, wearing a black Stetson look moody, I found my protagonist. Now, let me tell you. I was happy to have a direction. I was NOT, however, pleased by him. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to write a western…in fact, I’ve never read one.

I spent the remainder of the day fighting him, offering every career I understood: historian, lawyer, doctor, professor, art thief (I really pushed this one) but no, he was a soul reaping cowboy and that was that. Fortunately, he was kind enough to come with a fantasy job, which meant I didn’t have to pivot genre…Contemporary fantasy, here I come.

Before the end of the month, I had won NaNo with the future MC of my first completed, completed novel.

But with a mediocre plot and disjointed themes, I put my “finished” 50,000 word novella aside and moved to other projects. Skip ahead a few years and I’m talking to new friends in the writing community and discussing projects with my family. When it came time to share my concepts, many hit, but everyone kept coming back to my reaper–so I revisited it.

I was halfway through editing my first real draft when my computer decided to die. One second, I’m half through my edit and then, on Mother’s Day, 2022, it croaked. Devastated, and suffering from the beginnings of Covid, I’m on the floor, in a ball, hysterical. My husband, the incredible man that he is–along with my sweet kids and supportive parents–jumped in. The next day, a brand new MacBook Pro was on its way and my old one was being shipped off to a forensic recovery center.

During my wait…which turned out to be pushing three months, I started a gift book series, The Natural Inspiration series, as well as starting and finishing my second real MS.

But when FTR came back, I got serious about the project.

Now, after 8 rewrites (a conservative number), thousands of hours reading and editing (here’s to you, Mom, you’re the BEST), some betas, and more hours typing than I’d like to count, FTR is FINISHED and in the hands of literary agents (several of which requested the full manuscript) and it feels surprisingly normal.

I expected to be bouncing off the walls excited, and I’m thrilled and proud, but it feels right.

My little bird (which is a significant topic/theme throughout my 106,300 word novel) is ready to fly.

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