I think every writer reaches a point in her life where she wonders if she is chasing an elusive dream. In times like these we must remind ourselves that, “God and one are a majority.” He can turn your toughest situations around in a heartbeat. Just like He did for me during the spring of 2007
I was going through an emotional low that and would soon become worse. I had begun to write “Journey To Forgiveness” three years earlier on January 1, 2004, as a New Year’s Resolution. Between January and June, that same year, I had seven chapters under my belt. Then I took a job at a seed factory. The long hours on my feet, took a toll physically and otherwise. My energy was sapped. In the next two years, I added only three chapters to the manuscript.
After a bit of deliberation, I came to a decision. I would quit work on my birthday and finish my book. On July 20, 2006, I did just that. What a birthday present! On November 4th, only 3 ½ months and 12 chapters later, I wrote, “The End” at the bottom of page 340 of “Journey To Forgiveness”. The following months were consumed with edits and revisions.
Then in February 2007, my elderly mother was stricken with congestive heart failure. Everything in my life was put on hold until she regained her strength. In March I sent a synopsis to a recommended literary agency, and waited…and waited. The reply never came.
By April I was questioning the purpose of my life. On April 5, 2007, just past dawn, I awoke with a feeling of dread and uncertainty. I stared at the ceiling silently pleading, “God if you want me to continue writing, I need a sign from you. Am I heading in the right direction or am I just butting my head against a wall?”
I fell back asleep and into dream. It seemed to be just after sunrise. I was an adult in my childhood home, lying in the bed next to my sister when two small boys scampered into the room. The blond, fair-skinned toddler had a smile on his face. He looked to be around three years of age, and the boy with darker hair and skin, looked to be around two. His countenance was sad. The blond child reached his arms up to me and asked, “Mama, will you dance with me?”
I reached down and picked up the blond cherub. Hugging him close, we waltzed around the small room to, “Dance With Me Just One More Time,” a song made popular by Johnny Rodriguez in the mid 70’s. (If you recall, it was a sad song about two lovers’ last dance before their final parting.)
When the dance ended, I looked across the hall to my mother’s room and noticed a small, orange, blinking light. Curious, I crossed the hall to investigate. The light was from an answering machine positioned on my mother’s bureau. The strange part was the cord that ran from the answering machine to a portable, manual, typewriter placed on a small table nearby.
Suddenly my mother appeared beside me. She shucked off her coat and untied her scarf. “Where have you been, Mama?” I asked.
“To buy flowers in Dresden,” was her response. Dresden was a nearby town. Even in the dream, I knew the flowers weren’t a good sign.
“You have four messages on you answering machine,” I informed her. She told me to check them. I pressed the button. The static was so loud it drowned out the message. But that was nothing compared to what happened next. Fire blazed up from under the typewriter keys! I blew it out, then pressed the button again for the second message. More static, and flames burst from underneath the typewriter keys. This occurred four times, once for each message.
I awoke with a strange mixture of foreboding and intrigue. What could this mean? I was sure the blazing typewriter was connected to writing. But how? I penned the dream including the date, and tucked the paper away in a drawer.
A month later my eldest brother, Johnny was hospitalized after he stumbled over an end table and cracked a rib. The rib punctured a lung and his spleen causing fluid to build around his heart. He was flown by helicopter to a better medical facility 65 miles away. We found out later that the accident had occurred the month before, in April, but Johnny had tried to deal with it without medical attention.
The next months I spent praying for and visiting my brother in the hospital.
While he improved, I sent a synopsis to The Wild Rose Press. Then suddenly Johnny took a turn for the worse and was rushed back to the hospital. We drove the 65 miles to see him. When we did, we knew his time was short. Lines ran from every possible part of his body. He did not appear alert and his breathing was slow and shallow. My brother’s once muscular arms had shriveled to those of a withered old man.
My husband, younger brother, and I encircled Johnny’s bed and joined hands. I read the 23rd Psalms and John Chapter 14. We spoke The Lord’s Prayer over him, then released him to God’s will. The lines on the monitor leapt as we sang, “Jesus Loves Me.”
Around 6:30 the following morning, I received the call from Johnny’s doctor, “I am sorry to tell you this, but your brother just passed.” I was home alone. I broke down, then pulled myself together and managed to call family and friends.
After making numerous call, I checked my emails. I found one from Nicola Martinez , editor of the White Rose division of The Wild Rose Press. She requested “the first 50 pages of ‘Journey To Forgiveness.’”
“How could this happen on the very day I lost my brother?” I wondered.
Several months passed before I could completely make sense of the dream. Here is what I have concluded. The blond child I danced with was Johnny. The sad, gloomy boy was my other brother who had close ties to him. The flowers my mother spoke of meant a death. Even the town she mentioned, “Dresden” was the one where Johnny lived.
The four messages on the answering machine stood for “four months”. It was four months from April (the time of the dream and Johnny’s accident) and his resulting death in August. The flames under the typewriter keys? Could that mean that I will set the world on fire with my writing? LOL . I can always dream.
What I do know is that God wrapped his arms around me through it all. I believe He was showing me that my manuscript acceptance and my brother’s death would coincide? The email from Nicola was a special gift to ease the hurt of my loss.
My first release, a White Rose, Inspirational, titled “Journey To Forgiveness” is about healing from past wounds. It deals with physical abuse but doesn’t leave the reader without hope. A blend of humor and tears, those who read it will laugh, cry, and laugh again as they are drawn into the intricately-woven story and the likeable characters in the book. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Truly, it has been a “journey” for me. I only wish Johnny had been here to share the joy on the day it was released. But…who knows? He may be smiling down from heaven giving me a “thumbs up” as he winks, then applies his best Elvis voice to say, “Atta girl, Sis.”
Excerpt from JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS:
When Jenny Hinson returns from using the phone in the Kankakee depot, her vanity case is missing. She had tucked it safely underneath a bench, or so she thought. The only thing there was a half-empty coffee cup…
Jenny placed a hand over her heart to still its erratic beating, then turned to the station attendant. “Sir, did you see anyone leave with a small blue vanity case? I pushed it under this bench before I made the phone call….and now it’s gone!”
The attendant rubbed his bristly chin. “No, young lady, I didn’t see anyone. “Wait!” he retracted. “A tall, blond man—rugged looking…” he flexed his arms to emphasize, “…poured a cup of coffee and sat down on that bench. He must have left while I was in the storeroom, which couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes ago.” He pointed. “See, there’s his cup.”
Jenny ran to the door and flung it open. A blond man languished near the loading ramp conversing with the porter. She could see the edge of a square, blue object underneath one arm. He will not get away, or my name isn’t Jennifer Annabel Hinson!
“Guard!” Jenny’s shout awakened the small, elderly man dozing against a light pole. She pointed to the would-be-thief. “Grab that man! He has my luggage!”
The groggy man shot to attention and shook his head before his eyes focused on the blond man near the train. Twirling a billy-club, he hobbled toward the culprit as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.
“Stop right there, mister, and hand over my luggage!” a female voice shrieked. Austin whirled to lock gazes with a petite young woman. She stamped toward him, bronzed curls flying around her face. He chuckled at the sight of her fierce eyes shooting daggers with each determined step. Obviously, she owned the object in his possession.
The breathless guard reached Austin’s side to gasp, “Hand over…that case…young man…or face the consequences! Son…didn’t your mother…teach you…it’s wrong…to steal? What is…this world…coming to?”
Austin ignored the guard to peruse the pretty instigator. She was cute…but definitely not happy. Slender hands gripped either side of a tiny waist. Flushed cheeks and a set jaw promised a volcano seething just below the surface. Austin grinned. He could almost feel the rumble as those flashing turquoise eyes seared into his twinkling blue ones. If looks could kill…
She stopped and planted her feet in front of him. A strong gust could have blown her away, but she stood solid, like a seasoned oak. Flinging up one hand, she glared up at him and spat, “You have some nerve…stealing my vanity case!”
She tossed her head and wisps of golden curls whipped about her face, beneath a navy-blue hat. Fists and grit her only weapons, the young woman stood prepared for battle. And as feisty as she was, she just might win. The animated face mesmerized Austin. Long, thick lashes encircled narrowed, turquoise eyes. Could she be any lovelier when she wasn’t angry? Was she ever calm? He doubted it as he gazed into those turbulent eyes.
Not one to pass up an opportunity to tease, Austin propped a hand on his hip and dangled the vanity case from two fingers. Flitting his curly lashes, he mimicked in a feminine voice, “Little lady, there’s no need to panic. I’ve decided against the dress. Why…it’s practically obscene. Doesn’t even come close to my knees.” He swiped a spot at mid-thigh. Adding fuel to the fire he clucked his tongue, slapped a hand to his cheek, to drawl, “Not to mention that dreadful color. Why-y it just plum washed me out!”
Color rushed to the young woman’s hairline. She shook her fist near his chin. “How dare you go through my things…you…deranged moron! Men like you ought to be committed!”
The train whistle blew a final warning. The young woman turned her head at the shout. “All aboard that’s going aboard!”
When she grabbed the case from Austin’s dangling fingers, its contents scattered over the ground. “Now, look what you’ve done!”
She knelt to gather her things. When Austin bent to scoop up the dress, she snatched it from his hand. “Get away from me!” Stuffing most of the dress inside the case, she snapped it shut and fled up the ramp.
Austin yelled after her, “Wait a minute! We weren’t properly introduced.”
She whirled, gripped the rail and glared. “You imbecile!” I hope they never let you out! The young woman disappeared inside the passenger car, holding onto her hat with one hand, gripping her luggage with the other.
Austin scratched his chin as he watched the train disappear over the northern horizon. Hmmmm. The little spitfire was headed for Chicago.
JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS, a White Rose, inspirational romance, is available in print online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target.
Available in e-book at White Rose Publishing, www.whiterosepublishing.com ,
Kindle, and several other sites.