The final book in my Virtue series is available today, and I am so profoundly moved and grateful that I almost don’t know what to do with myself. It’s been a journey, to be sure.
Some of you have known me since childhood, and you know that my world was littered with books and stories and imaginary everythings. Some of you sat next to me in classes while I hid whatever I was really reading inside my boring textbook, or hunched over my desk scribbling furiously in a spiral notebook, words that were surely not meant for the class I was in. Some of you became my romantic heroes without even knowing it … and at least one of you knew quite well that you were (and still are) the stuff of dreams.
Still and all, the Virtues might never have been born if my life hadn’t become suddenly quite difficult, if I hadn’t found myself the single parent of two small children with a stack of bills I couldn’t pay, and the very real fear that I was on the verge of losing everything. I couldn’t sleep (obvs that hasn’t changed) so I reached for one of my beloved spiral notebooks and began writing. By the time the sun rose, a had a whole new group of imaginary friends … and a something new for which to fight. The Ackerly sisters may well have saved me.
It would be years before they’d ever grace a bookshelf, but from then on, after my children had gone to bed, I had a distraction from my worries. Before I knew it, Grace was finished. I moved away from my beloved New Orleans to be nearer my parents. My daddy “procured” an old laptop from the junk pile at his office, and the scribbled words became neatly typed rows on a screen. An old dot matrix printer appeared (that amazing junk pile again) and the words from the screen began churning loudly onto the endless ream of perforated paper. I spent hours at the local bookstore learning how to query and learning how to follow up on queries, and how to represent myself (I don’t know that I ever learned to do that part very well.) I set aside pennies and nickels and dimes for envelopes and stamps, and sent two or three of the precious queries with their neatly folded SASE’s out each payday. Mostly, they came back in rejection form
But one day, one of them didn’t.
Mercy is the fourth and last book in that series. I’m not done writing … not by a long shot. But I feel precisely the way I felt when I kissed my daughter goodbye and sent her off to France to find her life. I feel as emotional as I did when I hugged my son and sent him off to the Marine Corps. The Ackerly girls may not be flesh and blood, but they’re some of the best friends I’ve ever had … and I’m so proud and pleased to let go of the youngest and watch her take flight.
I’m not proofreading this. Some things just don’t have to be perfect. I’ll follow up with a post tomorrow with links and such. Thank you so much to all the family, friends, and fans who came along with me and my girls. I shall be forever grateful.