Behind the Scenes: A Beautiful Girl
A Beautiful Girl is the story that almost didn't get written, yet it has inspired, nurtured, and restored the emotional well-being of many who have read its pages.
Inspiration / Muse:
I remember listening to The Story of Beauty by Destiny's Child, thinking it would make a meaningful story for those who have been abused. Never did the thought cross my mind at the time that I'd be the one writing this story. In fact, I didn't want to and fought the idea once it planted a seed in my mind.
I'd seen many movies about young women whose lives had been shattered by others they trusted, but the story usually ended with a downturn, leaving the viewer to wonder if the woman ever thrived in this new reality, post-abuse. I grew discouraged because I'd lived through, no, clawed through my own #metoo story, and I've graduated from just surviving to thriving on this planet.
Once I'd decided to write the first word, I wanted the story to inspire others to keep striving until their lives represented what they wanted for themselves. I'm not just talking success: good job, decent friends, positive social etiquette. I'm referring to a deep sense of love for self, a looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, "I love you," to your reflection kind of thing. That might seem trivial, but for an abuse victim, it's the most challenging thing, to love your broken self so that healing can begin. The goal? A healthy self-esteem, not based on looks or the past, but on the internal beauty struggling to burst out of every pore, every word, and every task in order to develop strong characteristics. I wanted this book to inspire courage.
Writing the words only took two months, but the emotions swirling through my heart and mind felt like a lifetime's worth. Every heartbreak, disappointment, and self-loathing I'd felt, bled over the pages. The process of expressing those hurts acted as a sort of therapy in addition to the ones I had undergone over the years. Since the manuscript was written from the end of October thru the end of December, I spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws' house and the travel time writing out some of the more disturbing scenes. I hadn't realized I was hugging myself until my husband spoke to me, asking if I was okay. I knew I was fine but Sara in the story wasn't. I'd slipped into her head for a moment and wanted to rescue her. I believe that was a foreshadowing of how others would be helped from reading about Sara, A Beautiful Girl.
Meaning behind the cover:
The cover on the book is the second try and the one I connected with. When I'd seen the girl on the original cover, she didn't match the girl in the story. I needed someone who seemed vulnerable with inner strength instead of someone who looked mean with well developed biceps. Although victims come with different features and from all walks of life, Sara had a certain persona I wanted to represent accurately.
Even the font and colors on the original cover caused me some angst. The t's were topped with carots, making the title look a bit too festive, and red and green reminded me of the holidays, not the painful journey Sara would live through in the story. The mostly neutral colors except for the red-checkered dress which contrasted with the girl's demeanor, and the broken font which represented Sara's broken spirit was the perfect match to this inspirational story.
Impact / Tribute:
To date, many people, women and men, older and younger, from different ethnicities, have read Sara's story. Some couldn't stop reading until the last page in one sitting. One expressed disappointment in having to disembark from a plane before she finished the next chapter. Another confessed that he hadn't dealt with being abused as a child and that he now knew he needed to deal with his dark past in order to have a brighter future. Teens who lacked self-esteem found it again after living Sara's story and reading about how she progressed through the story. A teen who hated reading said it was the first book she'd ever read all the way through and that she loved the story. A grandmother sought me out in a book event to tell me how the book helped her previously suicidal granddaughter get the help she needed.
The real-life stories go on and on. Over time, I realized that this was no ordinary book. It contained life-giving energy born out of love. I often tell people that God dictated the book and I merely wrote down the words. To date, I've not written any other book in just two months. Other than correcting typos, I've left the story with its original editing. A Beautiful Girl doesn't need to be perfect in everyone's eyes for its perfection comes from all the lives it inspires.
So, I dedicate this story to all the beautiful girls and boys. Don't ever give up on yourself. You are worth much more than you may realize. Peace and Love to you all.
The second in the Behind the Scenes series is planned for March 21, 2020.
at 6:00 AM