From the acknowledgements of Healing Haven.
It feels like I have been working on this story forever, and, considering that it took me over three years from start to finish to write the entire trilogy, I’m not that far off.
I first got the idea for this Katie’s story when I was living in Australia in the September of 2016. I have always considered myself a writer and always loved telling stories, but after graduating college five years earlier during the GFC it seemed as though the universe was telling me to put on my big girl panties and get a real grown-up job.
I didn’t have a real grown-up job in September 2016. I was shoveling shit stalls at a race horse breaking facility and going home to an extremely unhappy relationship every evening.
The shit shoveling? I loved it. I was around horses all day with only a handful of people, most of whom I really enjoyed, and it gave me a lot of time to think and daydream about stories. The living in Australia part I loved. Aside from missing my family and friends in Texas (and not having access to real Dr Pepper on a regular basis—that sucked bad), the Aussies are a warm, welcoming, relaxed bunch and I loved exploring their beautiful land.
The extremely unhappy relationship? That part I didn’t enjoy. I constantly struggled in a place where I felt trapped. And if you stay in a bad place long enough, you start to think that you will never get out. My self esteem was gone. I didn’t feel loved or wanted or anything that you should when you’re with someone who truly cares about you. I couldn’t just drive home to my parents or over to a friend—heck, even a Skype call when you’re sixteen hours apart and have sketchy internet isn’t the easiest thing to make happen. And I wasn’t happy with who I had become. My only real escapes from the sadness besides work surrounded by horses were walking the dog along the shores of Lake Nagambie, checking out books from the tiny library that I sweet-talked the kind librarian into giving me a card for, and writing.
So, I picked up where I left off in college with a story about a cocky football player name Smith “Rush” Rocheleau and realized that it wasn’t the moment for his story (don’t worry, it is coming and I can’t wait to tell it). Instead, I was more drawn to his friend Troy and the reading that I was doing about equine therapy. And Tradition, Texas was born.
It was cathartic. I wasn’t strong enough yet to do anything about my own problems, but I could shoulder Katie and Troy’s. While my story is not their’s, I shared their hurt and I could help them. I could fix things for them. Heal them. And that’s part of where I found the strength to start fixing my own.
Fast forward to April 2020 and I’m back in Texas. I’m not necessarily “fixed” since I believe that we are all works-in-progress, but I’m better. I’m happy. And I’m confident enough to send my words out into the world.
Writing this story healed me. My animals healed me. The love of good people healed me when I was finally smart enough to let them. To realize that failing does not make you a failure. And to get up the courage to chase my dreams.
Thank you again for taking a chance on a new author and picking up my work. I truly hope that you enjoyed it. And I also hope that this isn’t my best work. While it will always hold a special place in my heart for being my first and helping to heal me, I hope it is the start of a writing career that I will continue to grow for years to come and I hope that you’ll come with me on that journey.