Hello all! I hope no one is falling over in complete shock that I"m blogging again within 5 days of my last one! I truly appreciate those of you that keep coming back and reading my posts. And to those of you who are here for the first time...WELCOME! I hope you like what you read and will come back again.
As many of you already know, I started this blog on the advice of a literary agent that rejected my very first manuscript. She said I was a talented writer, and my story was intriguing; but she couldn't find me on social media. She informed me that most agents expect their authors to have a social media presence before they will sign them as a client. Being the consummate direction follower, I promptly figured out how to start my own website/blog, and opened both a Twitter and an Instagram account. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you are so inspired. I can use all the support I can get!
That literary agent's advice opened a whole new world for me in the social media world, much like writing did when I was a kid. I had always loved escaping into the worlds created by my favorite authors like Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Beverly Cleary, and Madeline L'Engle (I'm sure most of you can name at least one book by each of those children's book authors). But then, I discovered that I could create my own worlds if I wrote the story myself. It was an exhilarating feeling at the age of 7 to realize I had stories to tell. I could make up my own characters and decide their fates. And even though I had some amazing teachers that encouraged and helped develop my writing skills...it all started with my mom.
I remember complaining to her once that I'd read all the books we had at home, and I begged her to take me to the public library. She was busy fixing supper, and the library was closed; so she told me to make up my own story. I didn't know what she meant, so she started the story..."Once upon a time, there was a little girl that had nothing to do. She complained to her mother who was very busy fixing supper for the family. Since her mom was cooking, the little girl had to go find something to do...". Then she told me to keep the story going. I ran and grabbed a piece of paper, wrote down her beginning, and kept on telling my story. Looking back, I guess that's where it all started and I haven't stopped writing since then.
I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. Yesterday would have been her 84th birthday and this Sunday, of course, will be Mother's Day. That particular memory of her is just one of many that have flooded my thoughts lately. She was my biggest cheerleader in all things, including my writing. Anytime I wrote a new story, she would stop what she was doing, listen, and give constructive feedback. Hers was the opinion I valued most, and I only wish she were here now to read my first book. I was able to write it because of her support,
advice, and encouragement. She made me believe I was a writer. She gave me the confidence to be a writer.
In my novel, Murder By The Books, the main storyline is obviously about murder.
But novels can have many subplots and mine is no exception. Jillian's relationship with her mother is a central theme throughout this book (and the many more in the series I intend to write). Jillian and her two older sisters share a close bond with their mother, Joy. Even though all three girls are grown, Joy still plays a large part in their lives. They still go to their mother for advice on life, love, and their problems. Like my own terrific mom, Joy is always there for her girls. And this would be the perfect segue into today's teaser from my novel.
Jillian was truly sorry to see her aunt so upset, but she was wasting valuable time placating her. She was relieved when the screen door slammed yet again, and her pups struck up their usual canine chorus to greet their new guest.
“We’re in the back,” Jillian called out hoping this new visitor could distract her aunt.
“You’re not alone,” observed Jillian’s mother as she entered her youngest daughter’s tiny office with two excited dogs following closely at her heels. “Hello Grace. It’s nice to see you here so early this morning! I’m sure Jillian can use all our help today.” Joy bent down and gave both of her grand dogs a rub on the head and a kiss on the nose.
People often said Jillian’s mother, Joy, was simply a more mature version of her youngest daughter, and just then, it struck Jillian how true that statement was. As her mother stood in the doorway of her office, Jillian noticed how her mother’s wavy auburn hair curled gently around her face the way her own hair often did. Her mother’s striking green eyes were the same ones Jillian saw each time she looked in the mirror. They had the same laugh, the same smile, and the same love of family. Joy had been the glue that held them all together when Jillian’s dad had died ten years ago. The four Edwards women had survived the tragedy and come out even stronger and closer. At that moment, Jillian thanked her lucky stars for being blessed with this remarkable woman as her mother. Her aunt interrupted her thoughts, however, as she continued her efforts to ruin Jillian’s plans for the day.
“Yes, Joy. That’s exactly right. I came here to help your daughter, but she won’t listen to reason,” snapped Grace.
Joy knew her twin sister well enough to recognize when she was having an episode as the family liked to call it. She could also tell by the look on her daughter’s face that Jillian was losing her patience with her eccentric aunt.
“Grace, are you here because you had a vision? Did it involve Jillian or the opening of her store?” asked Joy.
“Yes, it involved our Jilly. She is in danger. The leaves in the bottom of my morning teacup were quite clear. Something bad is going to happen. Jillian needs to just go home and stay there,” Grace stated vehemently.
From behind her aunt’s back, Jillian emphatically shook her head no at her mother. She knew nothing would satisfy her Aunt Grace except an accident or tragedy to validate her vision. Jillian also knew there was nothing that would make her abandon her store just hours
before the grand opening. Only a very calculated move was going to ease this stalemate. Jillian hoped her mother could devise a plan of action that would put an end to this nonsense.
Joy began to move slowly around the perimeter of the room picking her way amongst all the books, boxes, and furniture crammed into this tiny space her daughter called an office. “Jilly, you really need to clear out this space. There is entirely too much clutter in here,” her mother said. “A person can barely turn around in here without knocking something over.” As Joy made this remark, she faked a stumble into Jillian’s desk and knocked her printer onto the floor. The impact smashed the printer into pieces.
“Oh Jilly! I’m so sorry,” said her mother.” I don’t know how I could have been so clumsy.” Her mother looked up sheepishly at Jillian and gave her a sly wink.
Aunt Grace pounced on the opportunity to prove herself right. “See, I told you. I knew something bad was going to happen, and now it has! Your printer is ruined, kitten. Now you can’t print all those adorable fliers you designed to advertise the opening of your store? Oh, this is terrible,” wailed Aunt Grace.
Earlier in the week, Jillian had shared with her mother that she’d planned to pick up a new printer. She needed one that could better meet the needs of her business. Her mother had now used that knowledge to set up this current ruse. Understanding what her mother was attempting to do, Jillian joined in the act. She picked up the pieces of the printer from the floor looking quite put out at the sight.
“It’s completely ruined,” Jillian sighed. “Now, I’m going to have to stop work and go get a new one. I don’t have time for this!” She turned to her aunt and said,” I should have known better than to dismiss your concerns, Aunt Grace, I do appreciate you trying to warn me.”
“Anything for you, kitten,” Aunt Grace said, smiling with self-satisfaction now that her prediction had proven to be correct.
“I feel just awful that I broke your printer, sweetie,” continued Jillian’s mother. “Why don’t your aunt and I go pick up that new one you showed me last week? We’ll leave you here in peace, so you can get some work done. We could even pick up some lunch and bring it back to the shop. Say, about noon? How many people are you expecting today to help?”
“Well, if you both plan to join us, there will be seven of us for lunch” Jillian said. “And thanks for volunteering to get the new printer for me. That will really save my day.”
“Ok, sweetie. We’ll get out of your hair and head to the mall. We’ll see you back here in a few hours with lunch from your favorite place,” her mother said as she ushered Aunt Grace out of the office. As she looked back over her shoulder, Jillian smiled and mouthed the words, “thank you” to her mother whose quick thinking had saved the day.
Jillian's mother resembles my own mom in so many ways. Probably because the character of Joy is loosely based on my own mom, Jan. Since she's not here to read my book, I wanted to honor her memory in the only way I knew how- making her a part of the book itself. When my book finally makes it to the bookstore shelves (fingers crossed), please be sure to read the dedication page. And remember, it all started with my mom.
If you are a mother, I wish you the happiest of Mother's Days. If you are lucky enough to still have your mother in your life, find a special way to let her know how much she means to you. If like me, your mother is no longer with us; do something special on Mother's Day to keep those wonderful memories of her close to your heart. And as always, I'd love to hear from you. Share something special about your mom. I'd love to hear your stories!
Until next time.