I finished the first draft of THE BOOK OF ESTHER. There are no words for how this makes me feel. Partly because I’m not totally sure how this makes me feel. Writing a contemporary YA redux of a biblical story whose high points involve genocide plans and hanging is a challenge, to say the least. But it’s a really, really fun challenge, and for all the work this manuscript needs (which is hahahahahaha SO MUCH), I’m pretty excited about the way that stuff came out.

The thing is, I like writing cute romances. I like setting stuff in places like college and boarding school and even Hollywood sets. What I don’t usually do is write books that involve bullying, sexual assault, and assorted other pretty terrible realities of high school. The truth is, I kinda suck at it. I cried when I wrote my first bullying scene for this book, and one of my biggest revisions is gonna be to do more showing it and less telling it, because after that first one, telling instead of showing was about all I could handle.

But when it’s done, and it’s done well, as I hope that by the end of multiple rounds with my incredibly gracious CPs and betas it will be? I know it’ll be worth the challenge the same way all the reduxing was. When I stupidly forgot to put a trigger warning in an e-mail containing a scene including flashbacks to a sexual assault that I sent to a few writer friends and still got a response from one saying that she’d gone through something like that and I’d described it well, it felt damn good. (Well, I felt like a jerk for forgetting the trigger warning, but otherwise, obviously.) And while all my characters do some seriously questionable things, I’m proud of the journey taken by the title character. I think she’s pretty awesome.

And if you’re one of the fabulous people who’s graciously agreed to beta it (and at present I’ve got seven of you down, so thank you thank you thank you!), I hope you do too. (Or that I can fix it if you don’t!)

And now, I’m just going to follow the wisdom of my gorgeous CP Gina and enjoy the Holy-Crap-I-Just-Wrote-a-Novel high.