Wednesday, September 4, 2013

About Heart and Home by Jennifer Melzer

I wish I could say Heart and Home was a direct byproduct of losing my mother, but the truth is I started writing it in 2006, the year I graduated from Bloomsburg University. It was the first time I'd ever participated in NaNoWriMo, which at the time seemed like a ridiculously silly thing to do, especially considering I was literally about four weeks away from graduating college. But I had a fabulous writer's group in my corner, and it was going to be fun.

It was actually a lot of fun. As I started writing, I immediately fell in love with Janice, my main character. She was smart, a little tired, but she seemed to know exactly who she was and what she wanted from life. As the words flew from my penny pencil... wait, sorry, I lapsed into A Christmas Story for a second there... As the words flew from my fingertips, I found myself falling in love with Troy Kepner, alongside the few friends in my writer's group who were reading chapter by chapter as I posted the first draft on our site.

And then life happened, as it all too often does. I graduated, found myself overwhelmed with freelance work and the 70,000-some words I wrote between November and January got pushed aside. I started working on other projects and nearly forgot it existed until my laptop took a dive last fall and I realized it wasn't saved on any of my thumb drives. 

I managed to snag the extremely rough draft from my old writer's website before the site up and disappeared about a week later, but even after salvaging it, I didn't go back and work on it. Not until after my mother died.

I sort of lost myself after she died. A part of me hanging suspended over the last four years of my life, wondering if I could have been a better daughter, if there was something (anything,) I could have done to stop the inevitable from happening. Maybe if I'd just listened to her more often, been less begrudging when she'd ask me to do something, more tolerant, more patient, more understanding, less selfish... It might have changed everything, though now I truly doubt it. 

I was a wreck, which is to be expected when you lose the woman who made you feel safe during some of the most vulnerable years of your life. 

Words had always been my comfort, but after she died I didn't even feel like words could comfort me anymore. Everything I tried to write felt contrived and silly, and I really started to worry I was never going to write again. 

Then James and I came back from a well-deserved and much-needed vacation in Edisto, South Carolina. I was feeling refreshed and ready to tackle words again, but where should I start? As I was combing through story files for the fantasy novel I'd been working on, I came across Heart and Home, pulled it out, started reading. 

It was amazing how quickly I found myself relating to one of my own characters, sharing a deep and instant bond with Janice McCarty.

I knew Janice. Not just because I'd manifested her, but I understood what she was going through. I felt like my family history was lost when my mother died, that the last person in the world who knew everything about my ancestors was gone, and with her a part of my own identity. Even worse were those moments of wondering if I even knew who my mother really was, if there were friends in her past who knew secrets about her that would have made her seem like someone else entirely.

It was like me from seven years ago knew I was going to need this story right now, that there would be a part of me who wished my mother would haunt me, just to feel I hadn't really lost her. 

So, with that being said, Heart and Home is far more personal than I ever expected it to be when I started writing it, and I am incredibly proud of it. To all those who've picked up their copies and started reading, thank you. I hope you enjoy it, but most of all, I hope wherever my mother is right now she's got her own copy and she knows I finished it for her.

Heart and Home is available electronically* from Dragon's Gold at AmazonAll Romance eBooksBarnes and NobleKobo and Smashwords.

*Print and audio editions coming soon.  

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