The Story of the Story

My first, and latest, novel releases tomorrow!

What do I mean by that? My newest novel, That Missed Call, will be released by Between the Lines Publishing tomorrow, and I can’t wait!

This novel was the first complete novel I ever wrote, started in 1993, when I was a stay-at-home mom. Our Sam didn’t believe in naps. Frankly, he found the world too interesting to waste time on sleeping. He would, however, take time each day when he would happily listen to music (Yanni and Meatloaf), play with toys, or look at books in his crib. He would babble away, and I would sit nearby, working on our old Mac computer.

The story of Kat and Alex started from a snippet of a dream. As it came to life, it took many strange turns and twists. Over the years, I kept revising it and sending it out to agents and publishers. My first full manuscript request made me scream with joy and excitement.

One day, an agent responded to my query. He liked the general story, but wanted me to make some major changes if I wanted his representation. At that time, it was entitled The Dirty Dishes, and it started with Kat stepping in dog feces while running. After all, in the 1990s, that was a true hazard in New York City! I took the agent’s suggestions to heart, revised it, and for a short while, he half-heartedly represented it.

Another round of major revisions, and the process started over again. Then again. Then again.

Then Sam died. Twenty years had passed since I started the book, and with Sam’s death, I stopped writing completely.

Except I couldn’t stop. I love to write. And that story, by then called The Phone Call, was part of my DNA as a writer, and was part of Sam’s legacy. I needed to see the process through, so I hired a superb editor, and within weeks of that editing process, I had my first publishing contract.

That day, the day of being offered a publishing contract, was one of the most emotional days of my life. I screamed with joy. I cried. I jumped up and down. Other than my husband and our youngest son, I didn’t tell anyone that day, wanting to wait until the contract was signed.

Then I went to the cemetery and told Sam all about it. And I cried again. He had so believed in me and my writing, and I so wanted to hug him with joy.

Fast forward to now, and what was once The Phone Call, is now That Missed Call. It is not the same book in so many ways, as so many talented professionals have worked with me to bring it to this point. So while it is somewhat of a re-release, it is actually what I would refer to as a rebirth of a story that started with a snippet of a dream so many years ago.

 

 

Scout’s Teachings

This is Scout. Scout is our half golden-doodle, half bulldog puppy, who just celebrated her first birthday.

Scout is my teacher.

Those of you who know me personally, know that patience is not one of my virtues. I multi-task almost constantly, and I don’t take the time I should to stop and look at the world, to enjoy its beauty.

Scout is helping me with this.

When I was a child, Ferdinand the Bull, was one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the idea of a bull who sat under trees and admired the flowers.

Scout does that, every day.

Now, let’s be realistic, when I take Scout for one of her at least eight walks a day, I really want her to do her business and let me get back to my list of things to do.

Scout is not about to let that happen.

Scout has to admire the beauty of the world. Snow is falling? Scout sits and tips her head back to enjoy the snow. Flowers are blooming? Scout has to look at each one, and smell them as well. The leaves are turning the colors of fall? Scout gazes at them with awe. Rain is falling? Scout has to stop and watch the drops falling into puddles, mesmerized by the patterns in the water.

This picture is of Scout in one of her favorite places, sitting on the back deck, on a chair, staring out at her land and her creatures. Yes, she is always watching to make sure that a rabid squirrel isn’t thinking about coming near her fire pit, but most of the time, she sits, her tag slowly wagging, as she looks around in wonder.

At first, I tried to hurry her up. It didn’t work, and all it did was frustrate me. Scout didn’t care how fast I wanted her to move, she was (and is) going to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the world, and I am learning to adjust to her way of doing things.

It is a good way to live, and I am so thankful for Scout forcing me to slow down, look at the beauty, and smell the flowers once in a while.

October 8, 2013

What is the significance of the date of October 8, 2013? The significance to me?

October 8, 2013, was the last day I felt fully comfortable in my skin. It was the last day without the constant weight of grief. It was the last day I felt absolute hope.

Now, before you all get worried about me, don’t. By saying that, I am acknowledging and making space for the reality of my own emotions. Those statements are my truth, but they aren’t the entire story.

October 8, 2013, was the last day we saw Sam alive. It was a gorgeous fall day in Vermont. The leaves were turning; the sun was shining; the air was cool but not cold. Ben played a great game of soccer, Sam cheering loudly in the stands. That afternoon, Sam and I had watched Law and Order together, and he’d helped me with chores. Later, he rode with my parents to see Ben’s game.

On those bleachers, in the sunshine, was the last time Sam hugged us. Full of joy, laughter, and love, he gave us tight hugs before leaving with my parents. Later that night, he called to say goodnight and tell us he loved us.

Then came October 9, 2013.

Since that phone call on the morning of the 9th, I have changed. I usually feel out of my element, almost like my shoes are too big or too small, but my entire body feels that way. Even on the most beautiful and hopeful days, days with love and laughter, there is a tinge of sadness, a weight on my heart.

I’m not alone in this. All who loved Sam deeply, still love him deeply, were changed with that phone call on the 9th. We have all had to learn who we are again.

For me, my emotions are closer to the surface now, both joy and sadness. I think I love even more deeply, and feel freer to express that love. I try to see people with the eyes of love and acceptance that Sam always had. As Twiddle says, I try to “love relentlessly.”

Yesterday, I missed the woman I was on October 8th, 2013. I missed her optimism, her joy, her knowing who she was fully.

Today? Today I know who I am now, or who I am trying to become. Today, and every day, I miss Sam, but I also know my job is to carry forth his love into the world.

Finally!

I am thrilled to share the cover of my latest novel, Letting Go for Love, which will be released in late 2021 by Between the Lines Publishing. It will be available for pre-order on their website, on this site, and on Amazon.

Finally, the beloved Boone from More Than I Can Say gets his chance at love!

The Unsung Heroes of the Battle Against and With ALS

By now, you know doctors diagnosed my husband with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – https://iamals.org/what-is-als/) in May 2019.

To say that we took his diagnosis hard would be a gross understatement. But then, to make it even worse, we had to tell our children the news. Now, again, as you know, we lost our middle son to an accidental overdose in 2013, so our family is no stranger to bad news.

This was different. We were telling our three living children and our friend who we consider our second daughter that not only did their father have, to quote Brian Wallach, a “CURRENTLY terminal disease,” but we had to tell them how the disease was likely to progress, and how much time doctors were giving their father at the time of his diagnosis.

We told them. We cried together. We swore together. We promised to fight this together, and support each other.

And we have.

Our children aren’t the only ones doing this. It doesn’t matter if they are young, or adults. They step up and into a world they never wanted nor expected, and they do it with love, passion, dedication, humor, and strength.

The children of those with ALS are some of the unsung heroes of this hellish disease. They didn’t sign up, or take vows, to be part of such a journey. They choose to stand by their parent. Over time, they take on roles that previously the parent had with the child. For example, helping a father put on his socks. Wiping a mouth. Holding a hand to draw a square. Helping a father shave. They help in so many ways, ways none of us ever expected to need.

For us, our children are adults now. They help in more ways than I can count or list here. More than anything, they help with limitless, unconditional, unwavering love. They don’t shy away from the reality, nor do they hide the emotions inherent in this journey.

It isn’t just the children, but for us, our grandchildren, too. They know their grandpa has a terrible sickness, but instead of being afraid of it, or of him, they look for ways they can help; they ask questions; they accept the reality.

This is two of our sons, and one of our grandchildren, helping us to fix the walkway, so it is easier for my husband to maneuver.

No one wants a diagnosis of ALS. No one wants that diagnosis for a loved one. But, the one thing I am sure of is how amazing the children of those with ALS are – they truly are unsung and unseen heroes.