Renovating Exiled Heart

What’s your favorite television show? I’m game for anything related to home improvement. I love the way the hosts take a house that’s horribly outdated and in need of repair, strip it down to the studs, and rework it. These contractors see the potential, the good bones the house has, and they turn it into something beautiful.

The original version of Exiled Heart was like that for me. It was my first novel ever published and my only one by a traditional publisher. It came out in November 2012. After its release, I moved into the indie market and began publishing suspense novels via that route. Exiled Heart remained the publisher’s not mine. However, I began dreaming of the day when I would get my rights back.

Then it happened. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the publisher went out of business in 2017. Meaning, through the terms of our contract, I got my rights back and could do anything with the novel I pleased. I knew one thing. Ziad al-Kazim wasn’t finished. He deserved a rework of Exiled Heart in my current writing style.

Like a contractor taking a house down to the studs and planning a renovation, I took a good, hard look at Exiled Heart. First, I did the writing equivalent of a walk-through. I read the novel, not through the eyes of a reader but through the eyes of an editor. Boy, did the content ever need a good renovation. Then, like the architect who drafts plans for a home renovation, I once more reread it, this time commenting where I needed to make changes.

After that, I got down to work. One of my biggest challenges was reducing the word count. It was too high, over 120,000 words, which is longer than most novels. Like a contractor removing walls, I removed chapters and scenes. It took a lot of hard work, but I took out over 16,000 words. What didn’t happen was a loss of the plot or the characters. Instead, cutting words sharpened the focus of the novel.

After that, I did what I always do with my novels. I conducted a content edit by using a team consisting of writers and readers. This beta group functioned like inspectors who look at a home renovation in progress. They told me where I needed to change things, what worked, and what didn’t work. Without them, I would have been lost.

Finally, I applied the finishes. I did another round of edits, then proofread the whole thing not once but twice. To increase curb appeal, I employed Dafeenah Jameel of Indiedesignz ( to rework the cover. Has the image shown enticed you to pick up the book? I hope so. Come on in. Open the door, and check out Ziad’s adventures.

Exiled Heart will be available for e-book pre-order on February 26, 2019 and released on March 12, 2019.

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1 Comment

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  1. KT Sweet says:

    Jen, I like the metaphor you use for reconstructing the novel. A lot of hard work. Look forward to reading it. I’ll have time after my move. Karen