Crystal is guest blogging this week about her new release, Shackled Heart.
**Crystal is offering an ebook copy of Shackled Heart to someone who comments below!**
**Congratulations to Susan Snodgrass & Ann Ellison, winners of Shackled Heart drawing!**
Take It Away, Author Crystal Joy!
I’m so excited to talk about my latest release, Shackled Heart! It’s a contemporary romance novel that took me seven years to write and publish. Sharing this novel with readers is a dream come true! (Click to Tweet!)
Crystal Joy’s “What Ifs…” That Birthed Shackled Heart
Charlie Grimm was in my head for a long time before I wrote the first draft of Shackled Heart. At first, I wanted him to be a man who had to go back to his small Iowa town, but didn’t want to. I wondered, what would make him not want to go home? Here was my thought process: Maybe he’s haunted by the past mistakes he made when he’d last lived in Maple Valley. What if he committed a crime there? If he committed a crime, then he would’ve gone to prison. If he went to prison, what kind of crime did he commit
Shackled Heart and Author Crystal Joy
The novel begins when Charlie is still in prison, waiting for his parole meeting. It took a lot of initial research to develop Charlie’s perspective. I’ve always been a rule-follower, or in other words a goody-too-shoes. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to commit a crime and live in prison for several years. (Click to Tweet!)
Shackled Heart Gets Personal for Crystal Joy
Then life intervened. After I wrote the second draft, someone I love went to prison. Suddenly, I had a close-hand look at what a person goes through while incarcerated. As a result, I put Shackled Heart away for a while. I couldn’t separate my life from Charlie’s story and it hurt too much to write the book. (Click to Tweet!)
Eventually, as the shock and pain lessened, Charlie’s story still tugged at my heart, and I knew it was a book I wanted to publish. (Click to Tweet!)
The Story Takes Shape
Enter Mackenna Christensen (nicknamed Mac). She’s the heroine of the novel and Charlie’s parole officer. Thankfully, the research for her character was much easier because my dad was a parole officer. I could call him at any time and ask him questions. Fun story—I was talking to him on the phone and asking him a question about parole when I went into labor with my son. I’ll never forget that moment!
Even though the research was easier, Mac’s character was initially hard for me to relate to. She grew up with two alcoholic parents who didn’t love her. Her idea of love is very jaded and she believes love can’t possibly exist; otherwise, why wouldn’t her parents love her? In her mind, to believe in love would mean that she is unlovable. (Click to Tweet!)
Author Crystal Joy’s Journey to Understanding Her Characters
Mac is very different from me, but when the person I love went to prison, I grew to understand her character arc—experiencing her anger, compassion, and love for Charlie (not that she views it as love, at first). Once I understood both characters, I wrote two more drafts and went through multiple revisions and edits.
Like I said earlier, sharing Shackled Heart with readers is a dream come true. Charlie and Mac’s story is very dear to my heart because of the personal experiences I’ve had over the last few years. This may sound odd, but writing those initial drafts truly prepared me for real-world experiences. (Click to Tweet!)
From the very beginning, Charlie’s story was meant to be about loving someone despite their past mistakes. I hope that readers can see and feel this as they read the novel. All too often, society quickly labels someone once they’ve made mistakes. They are a prisoner, criminal, liar, thief, murderer, or a “bad guy.” But they are so much more. They are a person, they are human, and just because mistakes landed them in prison doesn’t mean they are unworthy of our love and compassion.
I hope Charlie and Mac’s story shows the stilting power of guilt, the necessity of forgiveness, and the beauty of falling in love. (Click to Tweet!)
A Synopsis of Shackled Heart
After losing his wife in a horrific car accident, Charlie Grimm believes that he deserves to pay for the life he stole. Haunted by his irreversible mistakes, Charlie vows he’ll never fall in love again, and who could see past his criminal conviction anyway?
MacKenna Christensen strives to support all of her parolees. But when she discovers Charlie is her client, she refuses to help him. She can never erase the gruesome images of his wife’s death. Yet when she sees Charlie’s anguish, she realizes he’s not the reckless monster she imagined.
As the disdain between Charlie and Mac turns to desire, guilt tears them apart. Is Mac willing to take a chance on a client at the risk of losing her job? Can Charlie forgive himself and open his heart to Mac, or will she become one more regret?
About Author Crystal Joy
Crystal Joy lives in Iowa with her family. She has two young children, who love playing with dolls, building blocks, and riding bikes. When she has a free moment with her husband, they love to dance awkwardly, watch reality TV, and visit real locations from their favorite books.
You can learn more about Crystal Joy at her website www.crystaljoybooks.com. If you want to sign up for her newsletter, “From My Heart to Yours,” you’ll receive exclusive giveaways, opportunities to enter contests, and noteworthy news. Click on this link to sign up: http://eepurl.com/cHgfZ9
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Lord, how marvelous are Your ways in all of Earth. You promise to straighten our crooked paths and remove the rocks along our way. Crystal Joy serves as a beautiful example of a young woman who has held to Your promises. We pray You will expand her territory and bless every single word she writes for You.