December 10, 2023
You guys, I'm seriously blown away by how the second edition of FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM is developing. Christine's story is so close to my heart, and I want so much for it be a tool of awareness and impact - but it's having such an impact on me, too.
When I first wrote this novel in 2013, it was part story and part tribute to my mother and her own experiences, many of which I witnessed as a child. I was proud of it then, because it's a good story with a strong female lead, a sweet and beautifully strong male lead, and an incredible cast of truly supporting characters. I put tons of effort into researching all the aspects of the novel as I wrote it...
But you know how people always say things like, "You don't even know what you don't know?"
It's true. I'm working through this novel chapter by chapter, expanding and enriching character development, plot lines, dialogue, senses. I've always been proud of this book and Christine's beautiful story, but as I take it up again and work the words in an effort to sculpt and perfect it before moving into the sequel, I'm deeply aware of my own growth, not only as a gifted writer and storyteller but also as a woman who grew up with the kinds of situations that make Christine glad she and Malachi never had children.
I've also updated the statistics listed in the beginning of the book, as well as the medical research needed for Christine's physical healing to be accurately represented, but there's one thing that's been nagging at me the whole way through...the legal stuff.
When I first wrote this novel in 2013, I sought advice from a local police officer - and was amazed by how much he didn't want to talk. The reluctance was palpable, even over the phone. He was clearly disappointed by the justice system and how so many victims of domestic abuse are left hanging, without adequate protection or avenues of escape - but he couldn't outright say so. He did admit that he was afraid for his job; he didn't want his dissatisfaction to hurt him professionally. When I asked him if it would be okay to acknowledge him as a source of information as a thanks for what he had shared with me, he panicked a little, told me that officially, our conversation never happened, and quickly ended our phone call.
I didn't know enough to feel like I could bluff my way through the legal proceedings...so I glossed over them as best I could, used what details I knew or could learn, and hoped for the best. As a result, there is an important part of Christine's journey that isn't adequately addressed.
But now? This second effort with FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM is going to be enriched in a whole new way, including a glimpse at the legal aspects, thanks to a little help from a very generous ADA. I hope his advice will add, grow, and improve aspects of this story in ways that add justice and good representation to the pages of this novel, but I also have such hope that including these aspects of the story will give a deeper look into the lives of domestic abuse survivors. I want this book to offer understanding, empowerment, and solidarity to survivors...but I also hope Christine's story will help foster compassion and understanding for readers who have never experienced domestic abuse.
I'm getting super excited to dig into the sequel too - STILL FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM is already setting itself up to be incredible!