Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest post: Amy O'Neill on writing her first novel

My name is Amy O’Neill and Krazy Book Lady has been so kind as to let me do a guest blog for my first novel, Finding Home from my California Dreaming Series. I’m really excited to finally release this contemporary romance. I’ve been working on it for almost three years, but have finally been able to self-publish it myself a few weeks ago.
Finding Home has a special place in my heart. Not just because it’s my first novel or that it signifies the first steps on my path to be a full-time romance writer. Finding Home holds my heart because, ironically, through writing it I found my own home, figurative and literally.
I started writing Finding Home one day while I was experiencing a moment of down time in my “regular” job. I was sitting, thinking about beautiful San Diego and how wonderful it was to vacation there on my honeymoon with my second husband. It was a great way to start a new marriage, full of vibrancy and life. As I thought about it all, I began typing and created Avery Scott. 

Avery is a lot like me, almost too much so now looking back. She grew up in a small town, thinking her life had to be one way, and finding out that it only has to be the way you are happiest. She moves to San Diego after a bitter divorce to start life anew. It was almost what I would have done had I not been a single mom. Vicariously I could live through Avery and the journey of finding love again. And realistically I had found my own love with the ‘perfect’ man.
Through Finding Home, Avery learns to stop living so much by a plan. She learns amazing things happen when you let go and follow your heart. She is helped in the fact that the leading man, Damien Focelli, has his own demons he is overcoming. Damien is also learning to live life again after the tragic loss of a child. For years he struggled with his grief and drowned himself in alcohol, until one night when divine intervention steps in to save him. Just in time for him to meet Avery.
From each other, they learn about letting go and opening up. As I was working on this story, I learned from others how to let go creatively and be open when expressing myself through my words. Looking back, I also learned what real love was. Yes, this may be a work of fiction, but the solidity of the love Damien has for Avery was inspired by my grandparents. It didn’t strike me until much later that my new husband was never in my thoughts when I wrote Damien, like the way Avery was molded after me.
Then the night came, after just over a year of marriage, when my husband informed me he didn’t want to be married. It was a difficult time and, needless to say, Finding Home got put on the shelf. How could I write about love when I obviously didn’t have a clue what was going on in my own romance.
All the time I was dealing with the subsequent divorce, the manuscript for Finding Home lay at the bottom of my hobo bag. For months I pushed around it looking for gum, or a pen, or money. Until one day something made me take it out and read it. That was the day I realized that even though one dream was ending, I still had the dream of being a writer that was all mine to live out.
So, now just over a year later, Finding Home is finished. And I have found my own home. I moved into my very own home with my son. And unexpectedly, love found me as well. My new leading man is similar to Damien in that he has had to face his own demons to find something and someone who was truly genuine.
Along this journey, I have had to let go of plans, trust in my heart, and put myself out there. Yet I would not change anything for a moment. Avery and Damien had their own struggles to face – a little bit of conniving on his part, some stalling on her part, and a whole lotta crazy with a stalker that could stop them in their tracks.
Luckily my real story is minus a stalker. But I promise there are more surprises, drama, and, of course, romance as the California Dreaming Series continues with two more releases. For now I am returning to small town Midwest life with my second novel, Taking Chances. This story is about finding out what could happen once “the one that got away” returns!

About the author: Amy O'Neill lives in Southeast Michigan with her son, boyfriend, and two rambunctious dogs. In addition to writing romance, Amy works full-time as a receptionist. She enjoys being a girly girl and watching her son grow into a man.

You can find out more about Amy O'Neill and her adventures in self-publishing at her blog and on Facebook.

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