I was going to post a cover reveal for A Theft of Magic this week and announce the release date and pre-orders, but my grandfather died on Wednesday and I have spent the last several days existing in a sort of numb haze and not getting much work done.

This is the grandfather who grew up on Roan Mountain, where Etta (the main character of Essential Magic) is from. In fact, Etta Mae Cook is named for his mother, my great-grandmother–Ella Mae Tipton Cook. Much of Etta’s past is based on my own family history (magic and duchesses aside), and my grandfather was a living conduit to that history that is now forever closed.

I don’t know what to do with this grief that suffuses me. I can avoid it, can distract myself by reading books or redecorating my bathroom (I did that yesterday), but when I sit down to write, I can’t. I can write when I’m tired, and I can write when I’m depressed, and I can write when I’m happy, but I’m having trouble writing when I’m lost. The creative well of emotion I have to access is mired in sorrow.

Perhaps if I were working on a different project, or at a different stage of this one, or writing poetry that allows me to more directly channel that anguish into words, I would be more successful. But I’m working on the final revisions for A Theft of Magic and that requires both an analytical eye for details and a sense of the overall emotional arc of the story. I can’t quite achieve that mix of dispassion and connection right now. All I want is to disconnect, to not feel.

The funeral is tomorrow. I am hoping that will help, will force me to engage with the yawning chasm that I have managed not to stare into so far. But it is going to hurt, and once I fall down there I am going to have to find my way back up.

But maybe the truth is that I’m already falling, and I’m just not opening my eyes to see the edges rushing past, or the jagged pieces already tearing at me as I go, or the sharp rocks awaiting at the bottom.

I will manage to climb out. I always have before, and I will again. But I am going to need a little while to move through this before I can focus on my story and helping my characters through their pain toward their happy ending.

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