I’m about to tell you a story I haven’treally shared on this blog. Oh, I’ve mentioned it here and there, or at least alluded to it, but I’ve never told it in detail.

A year ago tomorrow, I was lying in bed crying. Hard. I’d just experienced an awful Thing and I was traumatized, heartbroken, and exhausted. At the time I was slogging through an idea for a story about humanized butterflies–which, to be honest, is still an intriguing concept–but it wasn’t going anywhere. The thought of trying to work on it while I was so sad and angry made me want to rip my hair out and scream.

And lying there in my bed, shreds of a fresh idea suddenly came to me:

Kirk and Uhura.

But as secret agents.

With an adventurous grandma figure.

They were just fragments, inspired by movies and story prompts I’d seen recently–but they were so unbelievably clear in my head that I stopped crying. The very next morning, desperate to think about anything other than my grief (or the butterfly story), I started chasing this intriguing little plot bunny.

Fast forward a year, and I am pleased, overjoyed, and so grateful to the Lord for His clear leading throughout the development of this novel, to announce that I’ve just written “THE END.” Exactly twelve months after that awful night and clocking in at 150,000 words and 297 pages, I’ve completed the first draft of the labor of love I call Lionhearted.

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(*Will-Smith-showing-off-his-family pose*) Clockwise from the top left: heroine Lindy Tremaine, villain Rael Navorre, Lindy’s “grandmother” Margaret Tremaine, Ethan Granger, Princess Erixa Navorre, and Jo Camrin.

Those idea fragments have developed waaaaaaaaay beyond their Star Trek influence, of course! Kirk and Uhura aren’t Kirk and Uhura beyond the fact that I cast Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana in the roles of Ethan Granger and Lindy Tremaine–and she is the main character. A seasoned operative working for the Meridian Intelligence Agency (MIA), Lindy is a smart, stylish, pizza-eating, science-fiction-loving super-spy who uses her job in fashion journalism as a cover.

But she has a tragic past: her entire family was massacred 23 years ago when Prince Rael Navorre rebelled against his father, the Emperor of Valya, and led the oppressed Valyans in a violent revolution. Lindy herself, then only five years old, nearly died during the massacre. She was mysteriously and miraculously rescued, however, and eventually adopted by Meridian’s vivacious ambassador to Valya, Margaret Tremaine–but she has no memory of her life before the massacre or any idea of who she was. And she doesn’t want to know, either. She’s adapted to life on Meridian, and she wants to get as far away as she can from the nightmares that still plague her.

But Lindy can’t run from her past forever…and when Margaret is chosen to mediate a diplomatic conference between Rael and his cousin, the haughty Princess Erixa, MIA assigns Lindy and her best friend Jo Camrin to the former ambassador’s undercover intelligence/security detail.

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Aaaaaaaaand that’s all I can tell you without spoiling the whole plot, heehee! But I can say one thing: the Lord showered His grace upon this novel at every turn. He blessed me with ideas, motivation, and encouraging friends and family who cheered me on even when the going got tough. All the pain and fear I was experiencing when I began the story went straight into Lindy, and yet I can see how we’ve both grown and learned many of the same lessons together. Lionhearted gave me something to focus on while I walked through a time of suffering, humbling, and pruning–and it helped me heal. And for that, I’ll always be so, so amazed and grateful.

So, what’s next? Easy. I’ve got to do some serious editing, haha! But everything I’ve read indicates that letting a first draft breathe is the best thing you can possibly do, both for yourself and for the story. Let it rest, then come back to it with fresh eyes.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll be idle, so here’s Announcement Number Two: I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year!

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FYI, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers all over the world accept the challenge of writing a 50,000 word story in four weeks. It’s always sounded so intimidating to me (write a novel in a month, are you crazy?!), but the timing and circumstances couldn’t be better this year: not only am I in that in-between-drafts stage, but I’m in the throes of a new fandom obsession. And that means fanfiction. 

Since I wrote my review for Victoria I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Lord Melbourne, et al. And while I’m the first to uphold Actual History, I admit I spend way too much time sighing, smiling, and mentally sobbing over the miniseries’ portrayal of Victoria and Melbourne’s relationship. (Look: Victoria is Jenna Coleman and Jenna Coleman is Clara Oswald, therefore the Doctor and the TARDIS are involved somehow and there’s a parallel timeline somewhere–and in that timeline, Victoria and Melbourne are together. I am convinced of it. I cannot and will not recant.)

So I have an idea–a totally alternate-universe, historically-impossible idea where Queen Victoria and the eccentric ladies of Cranford (another delightful British miniseries based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novels) cross paths. There’ll be political intrigue, adventure, hilarity, and copious amounts of small-town drama–and yesssss, it’ll be 100% Vicbourne Indulgence by the time it’s all said and done. My story, my rules 😉

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But it’ll be my NaNo story. And if I’m still giggling over confrontations conversations between Queen Victoria and Miss Pole when I start Lionhearted‘s second draft in December–well, so much the better. Giggles will energize me for the editing process! 😉

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