No, I didn’t suddenly decide to write a book.

A couple days ago, someone commented that it was so cool that I had suddenly decided to write a book. It made me smile, because The Phone Call has nothing sudden (other than the publishing contract) about it.

When our middle son was born in 1993, I stayed home for his first two years. That son didn’t ever take naps, but he would sit for about an hour once a day in his crib and look at books and listen to music. So when he would take his break, I would sit down at the computer and write. Over his first two years, I started writing the story of Alex and Kat, knowing them so well in my mind, and wanting to bring them to life on paper.

There were moments of great progress in my writing then, and moments of despair, such as when we finally got a new computer, and our oldest decided to check it out when we were out on a very rare date. She checked out the computer, and in the process, deleted more than 100 pages of the novel. Countless tearful hours later, I had to admit that the part deleted was trash, so she had probably done the world a favor by deleting it.

Over the years, I kept coming back to the story, picking away at it. That middle son, it was a fascination for him. Every time I’d work on it, he’d comment that one day when it sold, not if, we were going to out dinner, and he and his siblings could order anything they wanted — when you are one of four kids in a financially strapped household, choice in ordering is a big deal. As he grew, when I walked away from writing, he’d nudge me back to it, always with the smile and the “one day, Mom, one day.” His belief in that novel, and in me, was a joy to behold.

Years went by, I finished it, and kept working on other novels too. Then, when that son passed away, there was a long time when I didn’t even think of writing fiction at all. One day, I finally realized how much I missed it, and how much I needed to honor his belief that it would someday be published. I pulled the thumb drive out, printed it out, and sat down with my favorite purple gel pen and started to edit. Months later, it was done, and it was sent out to a group of literary agents and a couple publishing houses that don’t require that you have an agent.

And when that contract arrived, I did the last thing that I would have expected, I burst into tears. So many years had passed since the day I first sat down at the computer, and it was finally a reality. So yes, when it is finally published, we will go out to dinner, and my children can order anything they want. And my middle son’s spirit will be right there, celebrating with us.

Knowing Myself

As I have written about on this page, I write fiction and am also writing a sort-of memoir about the grief process of losing our son. I had set the goal this week of completing two more chapters on that memoir, and as the week comes to a close, I have only written about a half a chapter. The trouble with a control freak like me is that I feel I haven’t met my goal, and that bothers me. But the truth of the matter is that this week the grief was too close to the surface for me to be able to write about it in a somewhat detached way. This week we celebrated the fourth of July, and could hear our good friends (and Sam’s good friends) celebrate with their annual family party. I kept trying to get the strength to walk over to the event, because we love those friends and Sam loved going to that party each year, but somehow I couldn’t muster the strength to do it. Our grandchildren came for the day, and it hit me anew how sad it is that they are growing up without their Uncle Sam around. We went to a local ice cream social, and all I could feel was how much I used to love going with all of our kids, and somehow, the empty chair seemed emptier than usual. Then, in this last week, the old maple tree across the road started to break apart, which has bothered me more than I realized. That tree has been part of our lives for all the time we lived in our house. The neighbor who lives there is in her 90s, and we heard how sad she was that the tree was dying, as she had wanted the tree to outlive her. That hit really hard, because we posthumously planted a maple tree for Sam because of his love of trees, and we love and pamper that tree because it symbolizes him. Somehow, hearing our neighbor’s distress about her tree made the symbolism of our tree even more vivid.

So, as the week winds to a close, I had to recognize that maybe what I need to accept is that I can set reasonable goals in regards to fiction, and hold my own feet to the fire about those goals, but I need to recognize in myself when I can’t touch the other writing because it’s too painfully intense.

Maybe my accomplishment this week was learning something new about myself.

Remembering what is important…

Today started where yesterday left off, some house issues with both of our sets of parents. Around running around for them, I kept trying to connect to google docs to get some editing done, with little success. So, finally, we took a long drive with our youngest, crossing Addison County, to get ice cream. The absolute beauty of the landscape, the rich conversations as we traveled, then seeing a horrible accident, all reminded us of what is important. The computer issues will get solved, the editing will get done, but love and time together is what is most important.

Who is Anna Belle Rose?

A good friend asked me about my pen name, pointing out that my real last name, Francoeur, has the French word for heart (coeur) in it — wouldn’t that be perfect for writing romance? The real Annabelle Rose was my maternal grandmother, a feisty, funny, loyal and loving woman. She believed that you should eat dessert first, chocolate was a must every day, loved the Red Sox and the Celtics, knit constantly, and read romance novels. She taught me unconditional love, fiercely believed in me, and every day I wish she had lived long enough to meet my husband and children. So, in her honor, I took part of her name as my pen name.