Eight years ago, my dad took a trip to New York. He split a limo with some other out-of-towners and drove to my hotel in Midtown Manhattan. I’d been staying there on the 29th floor for a little over a month. Dad helped me collect my things, we hopped in a taxi, directed the cabbie to a Penske rental place in New Jersey (he wasn’t too happy about that), and then we drove a truck to a storage place nearby that had been keeping all of my earthly possession safe since I arrived in the city. We packed up everything we could–having to leave a few things behind that wouldn’t fit in the truck–and then we started the long drive back to Dallas.

To say there was a little uncertainty in my life was an understatement. When I’d left Texas in December 2006, I’d broken the lease on my apartment and sold my leased car. Before I left New York, I’d quit my job with the company I’d worked with for seven years. I owed money on the broken lease. I owed money on my car. I had credit card debt. I was a little lost.

But on that long trek back to Texas, I wasn’t lectured about anything. If Dad asked me what I was going to do with my life, it wasn’t in a nagging way that made want to burst into tears because I had no answer… but I honestly don’t think he even asked me. I think he just understood that I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. I think he knew that my decision to move to New York was a mistake. I also think he understood it was a mistake I had to make. He knew I would have lived my life with regret had I not given it a chance.

While it may have been a mistake at the time, it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I went to New York, I had never met Nate, Emi, Jack, Livvy or Jon. There was no conscious thought to get into writing. I didn’t feel like I had any story to tell. I took a month and a half off, read What Color Is My Parachute? and worked through the exercises, and switched gears entirely. I decided to go into retail, where I met a woman named Mitzi who introduced me to Twilight. “You’ll love Edward Cullen,” she said… and I did. But something in me felt that I could write a better love story, especially one that was more age-appropriate for thirty-somethings like me. I was inspired… and I knew exactly where this love story would take place.

While I couldn’t live in New York on my own, letting Emi live there allowed me to experience a little bit of the life I’d fantasized about through her. I’d been exposed to enough of the city to know how people got around, to know the layout of the place, to know some basic landmarks, and to know exactly where Emi would live. New York inspired the Emi Lost & Found world, and had I not taken a leap of faith eight years ago, this story likely would never have come to fruition.

I do believe all things happen for a reason.

Anyway… two weeks from Saturday, my dad will be taking another trip to New York, and I’ll be going with him. I’ve always felt bad that he only got to see the city from a limo and cab for about an hour… and that was it. We’ve always talked about going back, but we wanted the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower to be completed. So we’re taking a long weekend, and I cannot wait!! I think it’ll be emotional for a few reasons. For one, I’m just grateful for my dad and thankful that he was there for me that day eight years ago, and the difficult days that followed. He and my mother helped me out a lot, and I very much appreciate what they did. And secondly, it’ll be awesome to see the home of my characters… there’s no doubt the city is much more special to me now than it was back then. I simply cannot wait to get there.