I began writing this book a very long time ago—December 2012 to be exact. I don’t usually keep track of dates this closely. I have quite a few stories I have started and stopped, left in word files on my old laptop. Most will never to see the light of day. When I tell my students that I write for enjoyment and sometimes nothing ever happens with it or worse yet, it gets deleted, they are horrified. Why would I do all that WORK for NOTHING!? But that is a story for another post. This post is about the long and winding road to ONE BROKEN DAY being out there for people/teenagers/readers to take in.This is about working on a very emotional book for a very long time.
The reason I know the exact month and year that I started ONE BROKEN DAY is because the inciting incident behind it was the terrible tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. As a parent, a teacher, and a human being, I was deeply affected by that event. I, like many others, could not wrap my brain around it nor could I make any sense of how something like it could happen. Sandy Hook sparked national conversation about so many issues from gun violence to mental health and more.
One part of the story that I became interested in was the family of the shooter. Many people felt that there were warning signs, and that the perpetrator’s family (I will not name him here because part of what he wanted was notoriety in death) should have seen what he was capable of. In the days that followed, some blamed his family for not stopping him. His brother, in fact, was arrested at gunpoint in the aftermath.
As a result of my pondering this tragedy, I found myself considering what responsibility we all have for the actions of the people we are close too. My husband being in law enforcement in a small town has made this an issue I’ve dealt with. Some people dislike me simply because I am married to him. Does closeness to another imply you are somehow responsible for their actions? Is everyone, in fact, culpable for the actions taken by those they love? Surely, we can distance ourselves and leave everyone in our lives if we don’t like how they act but does the world ever let us leave our family-—blood or otherwise? Maybe we are always stricken with guilt by association when it comes to them. These are just a few of the questions that led me to write this book.
Despite how heavy it sounds, ONE BROKEN DAY is not an overly sad novel. It is actually filled with humor and love and many universal, coming-of-age themes. In the story, the fictitious Lizzie Berringer must face all of the ordinary things of life as well as the tragedy of her past. Does she deserve a normal life after what her brother has done? Can she forgive herself for not seeing the warning signs?
I wrote 25,000 words that became ONE BROKEN DAY in one week over Christmas Break 2012. I had never written anything that fast, and I have not done it since. The road from 2012 to 2017, however, has been a winding one. First, the story was put aside while I focused on publishing my first two books: EVER NEAR and EVER LOST (yes the third one, EVER AGAIN, will be written). Then, the path to publishing the work included landing an awesome agent, Meg Ruley, going on submission at the big pubs, and getting a revise/resubmit from Harper Teen that was ultimately a “no”. There have been approximately one thousand and one rewrites since that first 25K words, too. In the end, ONE BROKEN DAY is finally being published. It is being published because I want it to be. It is being published because it’s a beautiful, timeless story about growing up.
It has been an emotional journey getting to this moment, and I hope that when you read this novel, you will feel all that I have put into it—the heartache and the fear and ultimately, the triumph that it represents, both for my characters and for myself. God help me, I still love getting lost in a good story, especially the ones of my own making.
Thanks for reading.