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  • Writer's pictureHolly J

I finally finished writing my 3rd book!!!

I still can't believe I get to write this post. It feels surreal that after 8+ months of hard work, tears, and uncertainty over whether I could actually do this, I finished my book on April 20th, 2020. This was my most ambitious project to date. It's a villain origin story with charming smiles and sharp anger, a tale of one woman going too far after too much pain and grief. It was a projection of my own rage and hurt, and I poured every piece of my heart and soul into this.

To be honest, these past 8 months have been some of the worst in my life. From depression and anxiety to loss and people pushing my boundaries, I was struggling to just breathe. But somehow I managed to reach 100,000 words by December, and somehow I managed the last 50,000 since 2020 started. I don't even know how. At one point, Pacemaker was the only reason I was able to write, and then when the virus hit, it was like pulling teeth trying to reach any goal that I ended up no longer adding my word counts to the plan. It looks like i haven't finished the book at all, but I have and I'd never been so happy that I cried when I wrote the last words. And I've never cried during any of my stories.


  • before September 2019: 19k words. I don't remember when I actually started this, wish I did!

  • from September 2019 to April 2020: 131,082 words

  • highest word count in a single day: 4,400 words

things I learned while writing this book:

  • sometimes I just have to skip around and that's okay!! this was the biggest game-changer for me when I hit those final seven-ish chapters. I was unmotivated and a little lost so I ended up writing the epilogue. AND IT WORKED. I had everything planned out by that point, it was just a matter of connecting the rest of the story to the ending. and I truly believe those chapters are some of my best writing yet.

  • I am not always goal-oriented. I really thought I'd keep up with Pacemaker and that it would be the thing I used for all my future books (I'm still going to try but I'm not going to force it if it isn't working out). but I've since come to find that I don't keep up with goals that well. I don't even when it's NaNo! and that's fine for me. I'll let the muse take me where it wants to go as long as I'm not giving up on it.

  • sometimes I can write when I feel broken, and sometimes I can't. like I said, these were some of the worst 8 months of my life. the writing was so on-and-off and all-over-the-place. there were days I wrote like 50 words and called it good. there were days I hit over 4k. and I had to learn to be okay with all of it.

  • long books are exhausting. I love it and I'm proud of it but I truly don't want to ever write a book this long again.

  • and lastly I prefer word count goals that are between 2k and 3k. I had some super high ones that just about killed me. I liked the middle ground!

This book does not have a title yet but it does have: stories within the story, a dead kingdom and a dead-inside witch, queerness as reality, an unshakable bond between two women that turns into an epic love worth fighting for (but it is not a romance whoops), a lost girl and boy who find a place to call home, a dangerous quest, magical gifts that can make or break a person, a girl who burns with so much ambitious and hunger that she becomes the thing to be feared, and a librarian who seeks to better the world and the people in it. It is, at the heart of it, about how broken you can find yourself and how pain can be a burden, and the ways in which love can't conquer all. It's dark and villainous and equal parts satisfying and bittersweet. And I hope you'll all get a chance to read it someday!

So since April 20th, I've barely written but that's okay. I keep forgetting that it usually takes me a bit before I can sink back into another story. What's currently on my plate is a novella about a girl who makes a deal with a devil, and perhaps another novella if I can find the right story for it. I'm also going to finish a short story this month. But my next book is about Death and love and how people who are meant to be will always find their way back to each other. It's in the same vein as Lovely War by Julie Berry, and I'm SO excited to dive into it for real. Adult fiction is where my inspiration is taking me right now, and I'm here for it.

For the moment, I'll leave you with the snippets I've posted with #MuseMon and #1LineWed and what I've shared for fun on Twitter.

feat. my fave friendship in the book!
one of my fave lines in the book

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