back in the saddle

Holy crap! I can’t believe that almost an entire year has gone by since the last time I’ve updated on the comings and goings of my writing. So much has happened in the last 10 months that it feels like the blink of an eye.

In the spring of 2016, my family lost one of its most important members. My Papa, John Abbott, passed away after a long, long battle with cancer. Though he was technically my grandfather, and not my father, he was more of a father to me than anyone else. Getting the wind back in my sails after that took some effort.

In the summer of 2016, I made the 3,000 mile move from Anchorage, Alaska back to my family’s home in Cairo, Georgia. While I wasn’t sure in the beginning if the move would be temporary or permanent, I have 100% decided to stay now. Goodbye, Alaska! You will be… well, you won’t be missed that much, but I will definitely think of you fondly when it gets to be 110 degrees here in the south.

In the fall of 2016, I underwent Gastric Bypass surgery, something that I had been working towards having done for almost a year. In the last 3.5 months, I have lost 91 pounds! It had been a massive lifestyle change and I’ve basically had to relearn how to be a person.

Now, in the first couple months of 2017, I’m in the process of getting some of my various ducks in their proper rows.

Firstly, my wife and I have been stuck doing long distance for almost seven months now because she’s still up in Anchorage. Soon, she – along with my three fur babies, who I miss just as much – will be down here with me and things can get back to their own version of normal.

Step two, my mother and I have been tossing around a new business idea that we are both very passionate about. I’m going to do my best to keep it close to the vest until we have everything up and running, but I can’t wait to share the details later this year!

And lastly, possibly most importantly, I’m getting back into writing. In the last few days, I’ve printed out one hundred pages of plotting, world building and character development for the Gifted series. Together, Case Maynard and I are gonna knock that out of the park ASAP. And I will get The Assassin’s Wolf (Book 1 of the Desires of the Otherkind series) published this year. My next round of querying starts today.

This last year has tested me in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect. Emotionally, physically, mentally. 2016 is one that will definitely not be missed. But now that it’s in my rearview, I’m ready to move forward and get this show back on the road.

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the gifted series

Lately, most of my posts have centered around my work-in-progress novel, The Assassin’s Wolf. TAW has been taking up a lot of my time lately, as I’m excitedly rushing to finish the first draft, but it isn’t the only project I have in the works. In fact, there’s something else that’s been building up for much, much longer that I’m just as excited about. (And maybe sometimes even a little more, because of the direction it’s going in. But don’t tell TAW I said that. I love all my children equally.)

A lot of you reading this have probably heard me talk about Gifted in the past, or maybe you’ve read that blurb before while perusing my site. But today I’d like to give you guys the origin story of Gifted, and how we got from where it was in the beginning to where it is now.

In 2009, my mother, Case Maynard – geez, mom, you sure do get a lot of plug time on here – wrote “Revelation, A Sins of the Father Novel.” The book was about Meara Cassidy, a Florida lounge singer and waitress with the unique ability to discern between good and evil – or, more specifically, angels and demons. The book was intended to be the first in a series about an oncoming war between the ultimate forces of good and evil, featuring Biblical creatures such as angels, nephilim, fallen angels, and demons.

Case copyrighted Revelation in 2010 and decided to self-publish in 2011. However, almost immediately after that she connected with Bill Scharpf, who was really interested in her story. Bill has worked in the entertainment field for just about always. Although he’s known mostly for his stunt work – on some amazing, big budget films and TV shows, I might add (just check out that IMDB page) – he’s also a producer. He suggested to Case that, together, they could take Revelation and move it to TV.

After barely two weeks online, Case pulled Revelation off the market. She wanted to wait until she had a TV deal, make any changes to the book she needed to, and then try to sink a deal with one of the big five. Isn’t that the ultimate dream?

Together, the two of them worked on this idea for three years. It was slow going at times, as they were both busy with other – actively paying – careers. And there was a struggle really getting their feet off the ground. Not for lack of commitment, or for lack of interest from production companies. Plenty of companies, including some pretty big names in the industry, loved the concept, and wanted to know more.

The problem came with the writing. Although she had written an awesome book and built the whole, incredible story, Case didn’t have much knowledge of TV. And Bill, as enormously talented and well versed with TV as he was, wasn’t a writer. They tried bringing on professionals in the industry, but no one really seemed to grasp the characters and themes that made Revelation great. So, even though there were plenty of companies who wanted to get their hands on the idea, Case and Bill simply didn’t have enough to show them to move forward.

It was long, frustrating, and tiresome – and then, in 2014, Case came to me. She had asked me about working with her on Revelation in the past, but at the time I’d been a teenager with little interest in getting serious about my writing. (Or working with my mother. Oh, the horror.) This time, though, it seemed like the stars aligned, and the request happened to come at exactly the right moment. I was intrigued. I asked for all the information that she and Bill had, what exactly I needed to do, and then set off.

Step one was coming up with an episode guide. I was tasked with writing out summaries for three seasons, with thirteen episodes each. Of course, I wasn’t alone. There were more than a handful of long, late-night phone calls between Case and I where we dissected changes we both wanted to make, celebrated when new ideas fell seamlessly into place, and lamented every minute of writer’s block.

Step two was writing the show’s bible. Case and I did this in tandem, each of us making changes here and there, passing it back and forth in emails like girls writing notes to each other in class. It became, and I don’t say this lightly, our baby. It was the 48 page amalgamation of her extraordinary idea and years of endurance and my fresh ideas and knack for ingenuity.

A lot changed between Revelation in 2009 and the bible that we finished in 2014. In fact, it was no longer Revelation at all – it had become Gifted, the story of not only Meara Cassidy but eight other characters who were all unique in some way, and all destined to play a big part in the coming war. The location had been changed from a Florida college town to the swampy city of New Orleans. Details about the characters and their lives had transformed. It was still the awe-inspiring story Case had written that had attracted Bill and production companies in the first place, but it had changed just enough to make it even better.

When we stepped back and looked at what we’d done, the three of us realized something. We had struck gold. We just had to keep pushing forward.

Because of that, I was slightly less terrified when I went into step three – but only slightly. Step three was writing the pilot. I had never, not once, written in script format. It was completely alien to me. I was beyond intimidated. But I was determined to make it work. So, I pulled up the scripts for pilot episodes for some of my favorite shows – and there were a lot of favorites, I’ve been a certified TV junkie since forever, another reason Case wanted me on board – and read them over while comparing them to what I was actually seeing when I watched it play out on my screen. This gave me the guidance that I needed to sit down and get to work.

Case went nuts when I emailed her the first draft a few days later. Bill loved it, too, and we moved forward from there.

Over the past year, so much has been happening. Of course, sometimes there are slow periods. It seems like everything moves slower than I’d like it to in this stage. Plus, Bill has a very busy career, and Case and I both have day jobs and books that we’ve been diligently working on. But the whole time, the pilot and bible have been in the hands of some amazing production companies. They’ve all offered feedback here and there and the pilot and bible have changed a few times under suggestions from experienced script writers and executive producers. Each time, it just keeps getting better and better.

Which brings us to the present. At this very moment, a seriously brilliant production company – who shall remain nameless, just in case – is giving very heavy consideration to turning our dream into a reality. I won’t say too much – don’t wanna count my chickens before the eggs hatch – but I will say that Case, Bill, and I are very, very excited about where this is going. Things are happening more quickly now than they have ever before, and it seems like any day now I could be opening an email telling me that we got the greenlight.

If all of that weren’t awesome enough, Case has asked me to help her rewrite the book that started it all. The Gifted novel will be co-authored by the two of us and completed sometime later this year. I feel so, so touched and honored that she wants to share this part of it with me, and I know that it’s just going to keep leading to bigger and better things.

Which is a point that I would like to end this post on. Those who know me personally know that I have struggled a lot in the past, particularly with mental health. I had a long, dark period of being too depressed to function like a real person. There was a time in my life that I genuinely believed a happy and successful future was a categorical impossibility for me.

Though there are still moments where I grapple with my health, I am a wholly different person today than I was a year and a half ago – and I think I owe that, in part, to Gifted and my mom. Working on the project has given me a renewed sense of purpose and direction. It has strengthened an unbreakable bond between my mother and I that I am eternally grateful for. It has given me hope and inspiration and a drive that I once lacked. If it weren’t for Gifted, I would never have had the motivation and resolve to make a career out of writing.

The past year of working on this project has been a blessing, professionally and personally. And I have a feeling that what happens next is going to be even bigger, even better, and will have the potential to change my life forever – again.