Monthly Archives: April 2012

How writing saved me.

It’s been nearly four years since I wrote MAGESTIC DREAMS and what started out as a “story” for my daughter (twelve years old at the time), has now become the novel that brought me back to life.

It’s no secret, my daughter loves books. She is a hopeless romantic (like me), and she won’t read a book that doesn’t have a hint of romance.  That being said, she really digs the magic (fantasy), mystery, and danger in her YA fiction. We’d talk about the stories, what she liked, what she hated, and what she would have done different had she written it.  I have (and still do) read a lot of the same books and her critique is usually right on.  So, when I told her I could write her a story that had all the elements she craved, I was a little skeptical, but she wasn’t.

I had an idea for a storyline but I didn’t have a plan, an outline, or a clue, so I just started writing.  A few weeks into the project, something magical happened.  These characters that had come from my imagination suddenly became real.  A plan would not have helped me because I wouldn’t have stuck to it anyway.  Many times, the characters would take my hand and lead me through the events that would unfold.  And I followed.  Every time I sat down to write, whether it was 11 o’clock at night, or 10 in the morning, I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.  One day, while sitting on the front porch with my husband, I read him my latest chapter.  He looked at me and smiled when he said, “Honey, that’s it! That’s the end.”  My heart fell to my feet.  How could this be the end?  I wasn’t ready to let them go, I was too attached and I had to know more.  So, I vowed to continue the story in a second (and third) book, which I did, but that is for another blog post.

I researched how to make a paperback book, printed my manuscript, sewed the packets together, glued the spine, and created a cover.  Six months from the day I started, I handed my daughter MAGESTIC DREAMS in book form (and completely unedited **OOPS**).  She loved it, typos and all.  After being passed around to a few friends and family members, all of whom stoked my ego, I began to think about finding an agent to get my book published.  I was not in a hurry, for there was a TON of editing that had to be done.  Editing is like a job, it’s work, so I slowly pecked away until I eventually let it sit for months at a time.

Then tragedy came in the form of a phone call, on the very day my 17-year-old son and his best friend had ventured out of state on their very first road trip.  The Georgia State Troopers were trying to get in touch with us about a fatal car crash.  After a lifetime wait of 45 minutes, our worst nightmare was realized.  Our son, Justin, was killed instantly when the car he was riding in hit a tree.  His best friend, Adam, passed the next morning.  On June 2nd, 2010, our world stopped. There were no timelines, no plans, and no answers, just this pain in my heart that took my breath away and brought a never-ending flow of tears.  Even now, as I write this blog, I can feel the ache.  Though it is further from the surface, it is always there, and I suspect it always will be.  I spent the next year in a fog.  Watching Justin and Adam’s awesome group of friends finish their senior year of high school was bittersweet. I love those kids and I am so proud of them!

So, how did MAGESTIC DREAMS save me?  I didn’t care about that book anymore.  It just didn’t seem to matter.  My God, I’ve just lost my son, who cares about a story I wrote 3 years ago?

Several months after the accident, my sister-in law, Kelly, as well as my dear friend, Kelly (*funny* two Kellies), asked me if I found it “odd” that I had written the book before the accident, that maybe I was somehow meant to write it.  I had to admit, there were some pretty incredible happenings during our time of sorrow that seemed to be intertwined in the story.  No, there is no tragic car accident, and I didn’t predict my son’s death, but there is hope and that hope sparked a new life in me.  Instead of allowing my thoughts to take me back to the same old question of why, I read MAGESTIC DREAMS from cover to cover, edited like crazy, and sought publication.

I had a few good nibbles.  One agent in particular loved the premise of the story but requested I make a few changes.  I tried.  But the changes didn’t feel right, so I rebelled.  After a long talk with my husband, we decided to forgo the agent.  (Easy for him to say when I had to do all the work!) There would be no three-book deal complete with a new boat, but he didn’t care.  He believed in me and that was all that mattered.

So now, I have reached the end (*whew* finally).  MAGESTIC DREAMS is now available in paperback on Amazon.com and will be available soon in Kindle format.  Barnes and Nobles will be my next venture but give me some time.  Book Two is in the works and it will be a milestone for me when I can get back to writing the last half.  This book launching takes some serious effort!

In closing, I would just like to share a little bit of that hope I was talking about earlier.  If you haven’t read the book yet, you might not get it.  For those of you that have, I hope this will give you something to believe in!

The morning the book went live on Amazon, I had conflicting feelings.  I was happy, of course, but did I have the right to be?  After all, I couldn’t share this with my son.  Would he be proud of me for finally finishing?  I sat on the front porch, not sure whether or not I was going to laugh, or cry.  I did neither.  I just sat there, smiling as I stared at the yellow flower that had bloomed overnight.  One yellow flower.  You see, days after Justin’s death, a single yellow flower bloomed beneath the shade of a pine tree that was surrounded by a thick brush.  Later that winter, we cleared the area and made a garden.  We call it Justin’s Garden.

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Categories: Why I write | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

10 things you may not know about me.

  1.  I love scary movies
  2. I don’t have a favorite color, I like them all.
  3. It took 6 months to write Magestic Dreams but it took 2 years to edit, and I still don’t think it’s done.
  4. I believe in love at first sight.
  5. Once a week, I play cards with a small group of ladies.
  6. Every wall in my house has been painted at least three times and a few even more.  I haven’t found the perfect color scheme; I’ve just run out of steam.  Lucky for me, I don’t have a favorite color.
  7. My pets include a mini dachshund that no longer fits into the “mini” category, two indoor only cats, and one stray cat that sleeps in a bed, lounges on whatever surface in the house he prefers, drinks milk from a saucer, and demands a front door exit at five in the morning (thanks honey for letting me sleep).
  8. I hate to cook but once a year, my daughter and I bake our little hearts out for about a week.  Ornamental cookies, gingerbread men, brownies, you name it, all with the good intentions of gift giving for the Christmas holiday.  Only a quarter make it into decorative tins and out of the house.
  9. Spring is my favorite season of the year.
  10. In writing, once I give a character a name, I can’t change it.  It’s like a name given at birth and I just don’t have the right.
Categories: author YA fiction | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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