Writing a book is hard. Writing a book after having your life changed forever is even harder. Sliding Home is the first story I sat down and wrote after having my son last year and it was hard. Like, can I still be a writer hard.
My identity shifted from wife, co-worker, educator, writer to something more--mother--and it took time to figure out what that meant. Now, over a year later, it feels right and the best thing in the entire world, but I had to learn how all the things that made me me fit together.
The story isn't about motherhood by any means, but it's about defining yourself. Michelle had a rough life and was choosing to be different after one nurse said something to her as a child. I knew after writing Evening the Score (the standalone first book in the series) that Michelle would get her story but she was still a mystery to me. I had a very tough time writing while pregnant. My word counts used to be in the 10K during the weekends, and I think over three months, I barely wrote three chapters. My mind and body were so focused on being healthy for our little human, my writing just stopped. My creative well was dry.
It was after our experience having our son that everything clicked together again. I don't talk about it often but the first five days of our son's life he was in the NICU. It was terrifying and my husband and I still get very emotional when we talk about the birth, that week, what we went through. We did learn that having an emergency c-section isn't that uncommon but it felt like our very foundation went through an earthquake.
That week, where I was healing and we were waiting on tests and news about our baby, we met the nurses of the NICU. These nurses...my eyes sting thinking about them. They were the kindest, most bad-ass, helpful, intelligent, wonderful human beings and made those life-changing few days okay. Seeing our tiny guy attached to tubes and beeping. Wow. SO much beeping. It reminded us of a baby casino and we would smile, hiding our anxiety every time we wheeled up there to see him. But those nurses were the ones who helped me form Michelle--months and months later.
I wanted to write someone who didn't want her past to define her and someone who wanted to rewrite her future to make a difference. I dedicated the story to the nurses who are the backbone of society, all before COVID happened. This past year has just solidified that the nurses and doctors are badass, fierce, and determined to help.
Sliding Home was written as my son napped, as my emotions went from the highest-highs, the lowest-lows, and I learned how to be a mom. I'm still learning, every day, but this book proved to me that I was still a writer. Even if it was slower than my normal pace, or that I couldn't focus because exhaustion took over. For some reason, I needed this book to help me navigate scary new waters where I got to keep a little part of myself just for me.
"If you love sports romance, or sarcastic leading ladies or hot sweet baseball players then this book is for you. It’s hot and sweet and funny..."
This slow-burn, enemies to lovers story has been one of the most fun stories to write. I absolutely LOVE a misunderstood hero who might be all bark and no bite and especially when we get to see layers of them melt away. With less than two months until IWTD releases, I thought I'd share some fun facts about the story.
1) I got "the email" from my editor at City Owl Press right in the middle of an emotional maternity leave. I cried, called my husband who had no idea if my tears were good or bad because let's face it, I was a mess.
2) The start of this story came after my mom lost both her parents within two years. It was so painful to see her come to terms with being 'parent-less' and while I obviously miss my grandparents so much...it was tough to grieve when I was thousands of miles away from my family. This book helped me heal.
3) The story takes place in a college town and I based it off my Alma Mater, The University of Illinois!
4) I waitressed for many years and loved it, so Grace's waitress job (which she loves) is based off the experiences I had
5) I listened to Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd the entire time I wrote their story
I'm also thrilled that there will be at least two more stories in the Shut Up and Kiss Me Series and I've had a blast finishing those stories up while waiting for this release