In March of this year, I made plans for a new addition to the Stealing Hearts series, a Pride-themed story that I tentatively titled Open Hearts and set in the same universe as the Thief of Hearts and Healing Hearts novellas. I outlined and took notes (like a good Virgo), began writing, and even had a plan to release in June. And then, of course, a whole truckload of stuff happened that I couldn’t have imagined if I’d tried.
I had a negative beta reader experience. One of my writing relationships changed in a way that I did not expect with no timetable to re-form. And, of course, COVID-19 happened to us all.
Overnight, my family’s world shrank to a two-bedroom apartment. My day job in IT became (and remains) very, very hectic. And I had to make what felt like very significant edits to a book that was already scheduled for release, an exercise that sapped my self-confidence almost completely.
I freaked. And I didn’t feel able or safe to discuss the full extent of my freaking out with anyone.
Happily, positive things happened in the middle of the mess. My family has remained healthy and gainfully employed. My day job has been unbelievably fulfilling (even as it tries to kill me). A project team I led at that day job was awarded one of the company’s highest annual achievement recognitions. I learned to bake bread! My brother and his girlfriend had a baby!! And, thank all the holy things, I was still writing. A LOT more slowly, thanks to the damned day job, but words were happening.
A full three months after my original planned release, the one-time novella Open Hearts is now a novel with a shiny new September(ish) release date. The characters, Jae and Emmett, surprised and guided me in ways I’d never have expected that made writing their May-December romance a true hard-won pleasure.
And if I’m still putting my self-confidence back together, that’s okay. I’m happy and feel good and I am definitely ready to move forward with all the new projects my heart and head can handle.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk (I totally mean that, by the way).
Keep an eye out for Open Hearts, Stealing Hearts #3, this September!
Some hearts are made to be opened.
Jae-seong Bak has never been in love. He prefers to let his personal life take a backseat to his career as a nurse, especially since no-strings hook ups with men he’s glad to call friends have always felt like more than enough.
After years of moving around the United States, Jae takes a job in his home city of Boston, arriving just in time to celebrate his brother Ty’s engagement. In reconnecting with friends and family, Jae befriends Emmett McNeil, a young chef and Ty’s future brother-in-law, whose own bad luck with love hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for life.
As the summer passes and Jae and Emmett help their families plan the wedding, the spark between the two men ignites, though each agrees to keep their hook ups under wraps in order to prevent potential drama. Taken off guard by the depth of his feelings, Jae backs away, only to find that going back to being just friends with Emmett is much harder than he ever could have predicted.
Now, standing with Emmett as their siblings make their vows, Jae must decide if he’s really content to hold the man he loves at arm’s-length or if taking a chance on more is in the cards.