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A few advanced readers have gotten their hands on my new novel, The Ballad of Stevie Pearl, and I’m humbled by what they’re saying.

It’s only been a few days, but those getting an early taste of The Ballad of Stevie Pearl have had some pretty encouraging things to say! Wow. I’m always pretty neurotic about this part of the process–I really have no idea if my words are conveying what’s going on in my mind. So much is lost in translation and written language can be quite tricky… any language, for that matter.

There have been some problems–I suck at catching mistakes. Typos. Leaving words out. I am so grateful to my early readers for helping catch these flaws; struggling through an early edition to help make the end draft the best it can be. I always feel like reading my early work is a huge chore–I only want people to see the best version I’m capable of. In our modern society, getting anyone to read a book is a huge ask–having them do some work and help me fix things seems insurmountable. Thank you.

The plan is to still get this novel in the hands of a capable editor. That has been a bit of a struggle… Given our modern social climate, with cancel culture silencing civil discourse, the editors I’ve approached have declined to work on the project… I’m not going to get into this discussion now–I do have a lot of thoughts on the topic, and it’s a serious issue that deserves considerate deliberation. With that said, and especially with the early comments, this book will see the light of day. It will not be kept from you.

The cover you see in the image above isn’t the “official” cover. This is a temporary graphic that I’m using for the editorial copies and advanced releases. However, it has grown on me… People on Instagram seem to like it. What do you think? I know what I “want” for the cover, but the simplicity in this photo may do a better job. I use this picture as my desktop background, I’ve been staring at it throughout the entire writing process. I can’t see it without thinking of Stevie… and that always puts me in a better mood.

Since the books arrived in the mail, I did read one. It’s a totally different experience from the word processor—holding the book, seeing it materialized. It actually no longer feels like it’s mine at that point. It’s now real, with a life of its own. The good news is that it is a very quick and easy read, I was able to finish the entire thing in a day. Even though I know what’s happening, I still couldn’t put it down. I’m still not bored with it. That must be a good sign? I’ve been living with this story since 2015, and I don’t think it will ever leave me.

Gods required attention. Dedication. A reader with a sharp eye, a problem solver piecing together cryptic texts. Symbolism. History. It was not a light read. Everyone could get something from it; the book was entertaining and engaging enough for people without a strong background in mythology—but it really rewarded those who did.

The Ballad of Stevie Pearl is the exact opposite. It’s sugary bubblegum pop. It’s a straightforward tale of two people falling in love, equipped with staggering kick in the pants. It’s meant to be burned through—and then read again, and again, and again. At least I hope… That’s how I feel about it. I could actually read it again right now, even though I just finished it (for the millionth time) yesterday. The soundtrack is a good substitute. Yes, this book has a soundtrack. More to come on that later.

I hope I’m not overselling it. It has little to do with the “masterful writing” but this story is all about the characters. They really bury themselves in you. All of them. Celeste was always one of my favorites—from the start I knew she was going to be rad. Even her boyfriend, Troy, is a good guy. I wish more people like him existed in the world. Franklin, Knox, and Mateo are guys I’d love to hangout with—drink beers and go to a ballgame with—or be pinned down in a foxhole with. Alex is a hero. He is a man, in every positive sense of the word. You want to root for him, and he never betrays you. Stevie… Oh, Stevie. She is idealism. She sets high standards for us to live up to—I hope you’re up for it. I have a lot to say about Stevie, but again—I’ll save that for the future.

I’m not sure if I feel “confident” in this story, but I know I love it with my whole heart. As someone who creates your art and entertainment, a product that you purchase with your hard earned money and give your valuable time to, isn’t that what you want? The creator fully, emotionally, invested in the story they’re telling you? I gave it my all. This is my heart on my sleeve—this is all the beauty and heartache of life I could conjure into a single story. I’m proud to say that. No matter what happens with this book, I can, without question, know that I created something without reservation.

I hope you love it too.