Today, I am a published novelist.
I dreamed and I worked and I fretted and I worked and I wanted to quit but I didn't quit and I dreamed some more and I fretted some more and I worked and I worked and I worked and here it is: the product of all of that.
I think my eighth grade self, writing in her notebooks and dreaming, would be very proud. I know last year's Raine O'Tierney is proud!
Okay, enough of the self-pats on the back. Let's get down to business. What's this novel I'm yammering about? And where are the GIVEAWAYS we were promised?!
Twelve-year-old Autumn's world is shattered when her beloved Great-Pop, Tommy Johnson, suffers a stroke that leaves him comatose. With everyone around her resigning themselves to the inevitable, Autumn is the only one not willing to give up. She and Great-Pop have more secret stories to share with each other, after all. More stories about Roy McMillan—the great love of Tommy's life whom he lost fifty years ago.
Autumn struggles to keep Great-Pop on this side of death's door. But how can she compete with the beautiful and mysterious Valley—a place of surreal magic where the sun never fully sets? Especially when there's someone familiar in the Valley who will do everything he can to keep Great-Pop from returning to her.
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“No,” he said. “You wanted a story I never told anyone. Well, this is it. It’s a story about friendship.”
“I thought he was your love?”
“All good loves start out as friendships, princess,” Great-Pop said, his hands warm and firm on her back. “Do you want to hear?”
Oh how she wanted to hear. More than anything she’d ever wanted before. Autumn nodded quickly.
“I noticed him at church first.”
Autumn looked around the yard. The sun was burning out of the sky, leaving a swath of sunset colors in its wake, and near the edges of the yard where the juniper bushes grew, tiny bursts of green illuminated the growing darkness as the fireflies came out to dance.
“He kept his hair long, which wasn’t the style at the time.”
She thought again about Joey Sullivan on That Rocks! It was the best show on television, and all the girls in her grade thought Joey was the cutest. Of course he was her favorite too. He had a really great smile with a dimple and really long hair, almost as long as hers. He tied it back in a ponytail.
“And he dressed really casual for Sunday service. My step-momma—your great-great-grandmother—used to say that his family was poor trash and that the bank ought to do us all a favor and take those acres of dust they called a farm and drive them out of town. Step-Momma was a snob, and we were poor too. But we weren’t poor like the McMillans, and that made her think she was better than them.”
It was the first time she’d ever heard him say anything about his stepmother. She decided anyone that had anything bad to say about the young man her Great-Pop loved wasn’t a good person, and she immediately disliked the great-great-grandmother she’d never known.
“What did he look like, Great-Pop?”
“What color was his hair?”
“And long,” she repeated for herself. Joey Sullivan had blond hair, so she had to adjust for that.
“With bright blue eyes.”
She fixed that too.
“So you talked to him at church?” she spurred him anxiously. She wanted more!
Great-Pop moved quietly over to the rust-stained iron chair next to the bushes. “I met him at the little library. The librarian there was an old maid named Miss Palmer, and she was mean….”
Check out my interview over at The Hat Party and comment for your chance to win an e-copy of Most Beautiful Words.
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