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In the Beginning

I am beyond thrilled to share this special early release blog with you today because it's book release day!!

If you haven't had the chance to order your copy of my debut novel, In the Beginning, what are you waiting for?? Click here to get your copy now! Go ahead...I'll wait.............

This book has been a very long time in the making. When I say "very long time" I really do mean exactly that. You see, there were a couple years when I was younger where I didn't write anything. No journaling, no plays, not even vague ideas of something creative to form into a coherent plot later. I was swept up in my education at the time: starring in multiple plays in high school; navigating the complexities of a young relationship; and trying to decide what the hell I wanted to do with my life as I got accepted to college. So for several years, I was just too busy. Writing was on the backburner.

Then, in Spring 2007, I wrote a letter to myself that included this gem:

"...I need to write again...My creativity has been locked away. I did not mean to do so and I'm sorry to myself. I used to swear that I would be well-known for my novels. I still hold true to that belief. I must not let my writing dream dissipate into nothing..."

So I put pen to paper and started writing again. From the looks of my notes, I started writing later that week. Talk about a good pep talk! Somewhere down the line, I created the first iteration of Angel of Death, a stand-alone that I called "Summer Dreams". The idea centered around this family and the business they ran and the things that happened to them. Truthfully, I'm not really sure what the plot was besides the standard romance boy and girl meet, they go through some conflict, and end up together. I think I just had too many ideas for one book.

Something humorous that my husband always makes fun of: I still managed to give my characters names that were either unusual or spelled unusually. Sometimes both! For instance, Zaque and MacKenzieleigh in early versions. Those names didn't carry to the current, published version, though, because their characters didn't fit the story I wanted. Instead, I came up with names like Reygal, Aezra, and Kordelia. My husband always teases me about picking such unusual names or spellings of names, but they really are perfect for the characters. And I can spend hours on name websites searching for meanings, variations, etc. until something just stands out.

Anyway, "Summer Dreams" turned into a trilogy and I started refining it. Albeit, very slowly, but I got there. We had moved to Lexington, KY and I was under the impression, at the time, that it was a safer bet to write about what I knew. So the setting was Lexington with all the familiar places downtown with the exception of what I added for the story. As I revised this concept--because let's be real, it really was just a concept at this point--I created the Barker family.

The Barkers were well-known fashion designers with their main headquarters in Lexington. Don't ask why. I really don't know. This is where the characters that you are going to read about were born. James and Sylvia Barker were in this together. They are the power couple at the top of the food chain. Then, along came Brittany, a young, hopeful model who became James' mistress. The idea was that the first book would focus on James and Brittany and their budding relationship; the second book would focus on Brittany giving birth to their child; and the third would be about the child's life with her adopted family.

Spoiler: That concept was trashed before I could breathe life into it.

Honestly, the reason I scrapped it is because I was bored with it. I remember thinking if I'm bored writing it, there's no way anyone will want to read this! So I spent years--literal YEARS--trying to make these characters into something worthwhile. I realized the story I wanted to tell with these characters was bigger than a trilogy. So I started expanding it. I would write down every character I wanted to include in this shapeless story and give them a reason for existing.

How old were they? How did they know everyone else? What was their main goal in life? What kind of conflict did they have?

I asked a ton of questions to myself and I answered them with pages and pages of notes of answers. Most things were crossed out or deleted (on the computer), but a few things stuck. A few characters stuck. I probably changed their names 84 times before finally nailing down who they were, but their basic personalities remained constant. This was the origin of Reygal, Nole, and Kaylee Barker--the children of James and Sylvia. I also gave Reygal a daughter, although I didn't have a name for her yet. And Nole earned a wife named Harper and they had two daughters, whose names escape me and my ancient scribbly documents. Haha!

It was during this time that I was inspired to write something about Heaven and Angels. The initial idea that struck me was, essentially, what would happen if a Human met his Guardian Angel and they fell in love? So I wrote a 20 chapter novel called "For I Have Sinned" because I decided I wanted it to be tragic and that title really just hit my heart perfectly.

"For I Have Sinned" was the tale of a Guardian Angel from Heaven, named Aryel (there I go again with funky spelled names!), who realized her Mortal, Marc, was in trouble. He was in love with a Dark Angel, named Hope. I'll be brutally honest about this one...the concept was something I absolutely adored. The characters were mediocre. But the plot was convoluted and hard to follow. Every character was two characters and I was never sure if it would come across well to a reader. So I never did anything else with it...

Until about five years ago. I was laying on my stomach in bed with the laptop in front of me and a notebook. I was frustrated that no real plot was taking shape around the Barker characters that I couldn't get out of my head, so I was determined that day was going to be the day I flushed it all out. For some reason, I felt like I had to go back to the fashion empire idea and just expand my original trilogy to a series, of sorts. So I put on my iTunes on my phone and set it on the nightstand behind me and started researching different things about fashion and such.

That's when I was struck with an apostrophe!

Either way, lightning struck my brain! "Dance with the Devil" by Breaking Benjamin came on my music and I paused in what I was doing. I remember feeling like there was a slow tidal wave coming for me in my mind. Like the idea was riding the crest of that wave and it was mowing through every other idea I had to wash it away and let me start anew.

While the song played, I immediately started researching biblical tales like the story of Adam and Eve; the fruit that Eve ate; Cane and Abel; and various Christian theories stemming from the first few books in the Bible. I told Siri to play nothing but Breaking Benjamin, not eager to lose this stroke of inspiration. When it did, I suddenly started filling in all those annoying missing pieces.

I remembered "For I Have Sinned" and knew I had to incorporate that story with the Barker family somehow. So I created Heaven with its various cities of Nirvana, Utopia, Grace, and Ecstasy. I created various classes of Angels depending on the tasks I needed them to do. Then I created my own version of Earth.

Murlance and Falshooke Mountain grew to life as the focal cities. James and Sylvia remained the same, but their family was now more defined. They had three adult children: Reygal, Nole, and Kaylee. Each were married, but only Reygal and Nole had a family. Brittany was changed to Harper and she became James' live-in mistress. I suddenly had a character list that was long and detailed. How all of these things would relate back to Heaven, I still had yet to determine, but I knew I wanted it to happen.

Of course, I can't tell you exactly how I figured out how to incorporate it all because that would be a spoiler you're just not ready for yet! What I can tell you is the series became Angel of Death and I realized the story I wanted to tell was so large that it had to cover 22 books. You read that right. I have rough outlines already typed up in my files for 22 of these bad boys! Weren't expecting that, were you?

So that leads us to In the Beginning. Your introduction to the Angel of Death series. This is the prelude to everything that happens in this world that I've built. I'm the kind of writer that has to have music playing when I work. Since Breaking Benjamin inspired the mere existence of the series, I have an entire playlist dedicated to this world that I listen to. On repeat. Every day. It truly never gets old because I feel like I'm transported to the world where I can really see and touch everything.

I swear there are days when I‘m so immersed in my own world that I forget Skyelar and Aezra and Elias aren't real and I want to talk to my husband about them as if I just saw them the other day. I might be going crazy from writing this, but it's worth it. So worth it.

Remember those free autographed books that I gave away to subscribers? Well, if you were lucky enough to get one of them, they include a special little thing that none of the for sale versions have: they have lyrics in them from the song that speaks to the events of In the Beginning.

Having those lyrics in these not-for-resale special edition copies is very special to me because, as I write, the music helps the atmosphere unfold. I wanted to share that with all of you, but copyright law prevents me from doing so--at least in the short time-frame I had. Who knows how long it would take me to get permission to use those lyrics for profit? So I erred on the side of caution and you will not be able to purchase a copy of the book with the lyrics in it. However, I still strongly encourage you to listen to the song to let your imagination be transported to the world I've created. Below is the audio that is on YouTube. I didn't include the official music video here because those images might influence what you think of when you hear the song and I wanted you to have a blank slate of imaginings. Unless you've already seen it, of course!

Long story short: that's how the book you have purchased (which can be purchased here, if you haven't already done so) came into existence. I can't tell too much more without giving away both the short-term and long-term plots. But I can keep giving a few more details as I release the sequels, so keep reading my blog for that kind of fun stuff!

I've got some fun immersive things planned in the near future to really take you into the world of Angel of Death that I really think you’ll enjoy. I hope it will add to your reading experience in a good way. Be sure you write a review for me, too! You can go to my website, my Amazon page, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. That's a lot of places for reviews, I know, but everyone favors different platforms, so I've tried to make myself as accessible as possible.

Thank you so much for reading my blog and buying my book. I am honored to be part of your library, and I can never thank you enough for giving me a chance in my debut. I always said I don't have to make it "NY Times Bestseller" big; I just want to be someone's favorite author somewhere. This is one big dream that I've had since I can remember, and I'm beyond thrilled (if not in a bit of disbelief) that it's finally come true. I hope that you love reading In the Beginning as much as I loved writing it. This series really is so much fun to write, so I can't wait to keep sharing the books with you!

Next week, we'll keep in the spirit of celebrating the release of In the Beginning, and I'll start a short series I’m calling “Postcards”. Consider it a tourist guide to the locations you're going to visit.

Love Always,

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