Happy Launch Day to me, Happy Launch Day to me … sung to the tune of … well, you can guess. Think cake. Think candles. Think best wishes for this next year, because as of today, Newport is officially out there in the world, figuratively “born.”

But, wait. What’s that other piece of music I hear swelling in the background? (And, believe me, this song always swells.) It’s “Time to Say Goodbye,” that 1996 European hit sung as a duet by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. It’s sappy as anything … and totally appropriate because, yeah, as I watch Newport go public, I realize that it’s time to say goodbye to these characters I’ve lived with for so long. I’m going to miss them.

Most authors know much more about their characters than they share in their writing. I usually know everything about mine, from their childhood fears to how they take their coffee (if they take it at all). Because I “see” and “hear” them as I write, I am aware of their facial expressions, gestures, and the timbre of their voices. Best of all, it never feels like I create these people, but rather that they reveal themselves to me as we continue along our mutual path. This means that I’m always learning fresh information about them, and our relationship never feels stale.

It’s very hard to let go.

For a while after I begin a new novel, I feel unfaithful to the old gang as I turn toward a new one. The new characters aren’t instantly thrilled with me, either. We have a stiff relationship at first. It takes time for us to trust one another. But I know that soon we’ll become familiar enough with each other that they’ll start spilling their secrets, and I’ll be off on another adventure. After all, Newport‘s characters were once strangers to me, too.

In addition to missing these characters, I worry about how the world will treat them. I wrote Newport because I wanted to share their stories. Some readers will like the book, some not so much. No author can please every reader. But it can be a roller-coaster ride, and I hope my characters don’t get too beaten up out on their own. Like any parent watching a child achieve independence, I want others to treat my “babies” kindly.

So, I hope you’ll allow Newport to temporarily transport you into another world. I hope you’ll leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. And, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. (My contact info can be found here on this website.) But, mostly, I hope that I’ve done justice to my characters, and that you’ll be able to see beneath their surfaces and flaws to understand why they act the way they do and who they really are. I want you to get to know them the way I did because, ultimately, Newport is their story. I’m honored that they allowed me to tell it.

Goodbye, Newport friends.

And hello to my new confidantes.