All right, no more hints. Here’s the big announcement!
On December 1st, 2021 Galadriel Coffeen and I will be co-publishing our first jointly-written novel.
Right now you can pre-order Jubilant, Book 1 of the Shallic Sea Chronicles from Amazon.com. After publication it’ll be available in kindle format, paperback, and hardcover. And now that all the official marketing information is conveyed, let me tell you about my passion project.
Jubilant started out as a game. Galadriel and I were roleplaying a seafaring adventure across instant messenger, and it just kept going, and going, and going until we suddenly realized we had the draft of a novel. We’d fallen in love with our two main characters, and the world and plot took shape around them.
That first draft was very, very bad. I doubt it’ll ever see the light of day, but it did form the core of an 11-book series. We’ve talked about some short story anthologies, a spinoff series, even a graphic novel and a cookbook! You can see some of the recipes we concocted for our fictional world on Galadriel’s blog Here.
Jubilant is the story of how Lieutenant Wren Elspur of His Ellondese Majesty’s warship Jubilant and Kelta, second officer of the Darias Clan warship Keltorax meet and join forces on a quest to discover why the crews of merchant and courier ships are disappearing right off their decks.
My first career aspiration was to be the captain of a clipper ship. When my friends talked about being doctors or ballerinas I pictured myself with my hand on the helm or perched in a tangle of ropes misted by a high bow wave. Doing the research for this series has given me permission to spend time engrossing myself in a world I wish wasn’t so far in the past.
Unlike Galadriel, who’s always confidently pursued her path in literature, I never pictured myself an author. My thousands of typed pages of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars fanfiction never gave me an inkling that someday I’d be writing this post. I never imagined I had the discipline to finish a draft, nor the stomach for identifying thousands of my own personal failures in the editing process. This may end up sounding like an ode to Galadriel, but the fact that I have my name on a book cover is largely due to her inspiration, example, and encouragement.
You see, during most of high school and all of college I suffered from an undiagnosed case of Major Depressive Disorder. During the time when I should have been exploring my identity, challenging myself and finding out what my talents were, my strengths and interests, I fought for the ability to concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time. I spent all day drifting from one task to another, finding moments of excitement at things I wanted to do, then slamming up against walls of exhaustion before I got halfway through.
I formed some pretty disheartening impressions of myself during those years. Even after the clouds parted and I found my way to enjoying life again I still lacked confidence in myself, but I didn’t realize it because it didn’t manifest the way everyone else talked about it. I didn’t worry about whether I was good enough at things, I simply “knew” what I was and wasn’t capable of.
But all through the darker times and after Galadriel and I wrote stories together, and one day we hit on one that grew into more than a game. When she first suggested that it could be a real book, that we could publish it I laughed and agreed, but I don’t think I quite believed it would happen. I wanted to keep writing the world and characters, so working toward an impossible ending seemed worthwhile.
When it turned into a series Galadriel suggested we draft one of the books during NaNoWriMo. That kicked off this month, by the way. And if you enjoy writing at all you should give it a try. As you’re about to see, it can be life-changing. I wrote more than 50,000 words in 30 days. I began to realize that I could concentrate for hours if I wanted to, and re-discovered that concentration was a skill one could improve. I had the power to change my self-impression.
I learned from her process, and began to discover my own. The series grew and developed, we pressed toward publication. It didn’t feel real, however, until my husband challenged me to set a date. We’re about two years past our initial date, but those two years have been well spent learning and improving. And, finishing graduate school. That did take up some of my time.
Recovery from depression doesn’t end once you’ve adjusted to medication, or after the symptoms recede. It can take years to rebuild physical health, the immune system, pain tolerance, but also to rewrite core beliefs formed during the throes of the disorder. If you have suffered through MDD, or are currently doing so, please give yourself grace in the time after. Please be gentle with yourself. Your Inner Critic may cajole you for still not being up to snuff despite being in remission, but it can be quieted with a little reminder. Rebuilding takes time.
It’s been about nine years since I broke free, and about eight years since the Shallic Sea and its continents were born. Galadriel published her first novel last year, a goal she’s been working toward all her life, and never wavered from. I couldn’t be prouder to be her official Idea Bouncer-Offer (read the dedication after buying her book Here). And throughout those eight years, the same eight years which I have been married, my husband never stopped encouraging me to push toward publication, either.
Neither Galadriel nor my husband had the same idea of myself that I did. It never occurred to them that I couldn’t write a novel from draft to completion. I had a husband who supported my writing habit and graduate school without complaint, and a best friend who showed by example and by innocently suggesting that I just try things just what I was capable of. The result is that, not only are Galadriel and I now ready to release the first Shallic Sea novel, but I’ve even begun writing outlines and drafts of my own independent books!
So, I do hope you’ll consider pre-ordering this book, or ordering one of the hardcopies when they become available. If you like slow-burn, intricate plots, slow-burn romances, nautical fiction, wizard, pirates, and magical monsters then this is the book for you. I’ll keep you updated as we work on future installments of the series, and you can see vignettes, short stories, and worldbuilding articles on Galadriel’s blog.
But I also hope you’ll take two ideas away from reading this post. 1) you can live out more than one dream. I’m a counselor, and a novelist, and I honestly couldn’t tell you which I enjoy more. And 2) as I stated above, healing AFTER depression takes time. Who you are, or were, during depression is not who you are destined to be. When you find yourself feeling the phrase “I can’t,” challenge it. Explore it. Change it.
Until Friday, me hearties, this is your favorite blindfluencer casting off for distant shores!