Welcome to Selene Castrovilla's blog!

I'm an author spreading the words. Read about my books at www.SeleneCastrovilla.com

Monday, October 31, 2011

Method to my Madness Monday

            I thought I should address “voice.”
            But what can I say about it?
            “Find one” seems obvious.
            But how?
            I’m afraid the answer is obnoxiously obvious as well: “Look.”
            Just as Dorothy had the ability to find her way home all that time but didn’t know it, somewhere inside you lurks your voice.
            The way to go to it is to write. Write and write and write.
            Don’t worry how bad it is.
            Don’t worry that you’ll fall off a cliff by accident and people will find your pathetic efforts on your hard drive and they’ll say, “Poor thing, no wonder she jumped to her death.” This scenario is unlikely.
            Don’t worry that your story won’t get any better.
            The only way that it won’t get any better is if you stop writing it. (Or if you type the same line endlessly, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.)
            Assuming you’re sane and not possessed by an evil presence (bad marriages don’t count), your story will evolve. That’s the only way anyone’s stories evolve. You know that big secret successful writers are harboring? This is it: They write. Until their stories get better. Shhhh. Don’t tell.
            Yes, there are basic techniques. Of course. But voice is possibly the most fundamental. You get what you give. Give time and effort, get voice. Sorry, the voice fairy doesn’t come. And Santa isn’t going to wrap up your story’s voice in a big velvet bow. Even God is pretty adamant: he helps those who help themselves.
            So help yourself, and start pecking at those keys.

          It’s like Michelangelo said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

            You may not see your voice, but trust me – it’s there.
            The thing about writing is that it requires not only dedication, but faith.
            Trust me – it’s much easier to dig your voice out of the rubble that is your rough draft than to conjure it from the nothing that is your blank page.
            And typed words – no matter how mismatched – do rouse the spirits.
            I spoke at a writing conference this weekend. Many of the attendees fretted: “What will the market be like in the future?”
            “Who cares?” I answered.
            They did.
             “How will we know if we’ll ever fit in?” They soulfully asked.
            “You don’t. Just keep writing.”
            The frowning was widespread.
            Writers write because they want to – because they need to. Shakespeare wrote: “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.”
            The Chinese put it this way: “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
            Sing on, my fellow starlings...
            Sing and soar.
            Hope is the thing with feathers, after all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Revolutionary Saturday!

           Abraham Lincoln said, “...if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
            I say, “If you want to know someone’s character, give them a gun.”
            Throw them in the middle of a war.
            Your real character comes out when you’re fighting for your life.
            I realized this when I started researching the American Revolution. The fact that I wanted to write about a war was a great surprise to me. The prospect of writing about history was shocking. And gosh, if you told me in the third grade that I was going to write about George Washington someday, I would’ve called you a flat-out liar.
            But the universe works in mysterious ways.
            I was led to the story of George Washington’s spy ring when a sick friend happened to mention that a woman hung her petticoats on a clothesline as a secret signal. With that one image I was hooked. Imagine a woman risking her life for such intrigue! Imagine craving something that much.
            When you think of people in the American Revolution, don’t dwell on our differences. They didn’t have cell phones, cars, computers...So what? They possessed wants and needs and passions just as we do. What’s in our hearts never changes.
            The more I researched, the more I realized this. And the more I empathized with these people who sacrificed so much to be free.
            I will tell you stories about unsung heroes of the American Revolution in the coming weeks.
            But let me start with George Washington.
            I truly believe we would not be a country if not for this man. Put simply¸ he refused to give up. He was grace under pressure. Much is made of the fact that he lost battle after battle at the beginning of the war. Much should be made of the fact that he kept going.
            When I read the story of the Battle of Long Island I couldn’t believe we weren’t shouting it from the rooftops. This was better than fiction! But somehow Washington’s crossing of the East River was overshadowed by his crossing of the Delaware. Folks, he couldn’t have gotten to the Delaware if he hadn’t crossed the East River first.
            Washington’s ragtag troops were defeated in a matter of hours. They dragged themselves into trenches, waiting for the British to take them prisoner or kill them. When the British hesitated, Washington made his bid to save his men.
            What happened that August night was nothing short of miraculous.
            Think you know George Washington?
            Think again.
            Because if you want to test a man’s character, watch what he does when he’s defeated.
            George Washington would not surrender.
            A lesson for any time.

Here’s a shameless plug for my picture books on the American Revolution, published by Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills Press:

The American Revolution Comes To Life
with Little Known True Tales

George Washington In a Whole New Light!
Author and historian Selene Castrovilla unearths two new facets of the father of our country in her picture books about the American Revolution: BY THE SWORD & UPON SECRECY.
Washington’s other crossing. We all know the story of George Washington crossing the Delaware, but he never would’ve made it there if he hadn’t first crossed the East River. Washington’s valiant and miraculous retreat of all his men to safety following his devastating loss at the Battle of Long Island is perhaps his greatest moment – and yet largely unknown. Learn about this amazing feat in BY THE SWORD (Calkins Creek Books, 2007.)
NEW YORK STATE READING ASSOCIATION - Recommended Intermediate Reading
A Kansas Reading Circle Selection

George Washington, spy? Yes, the father of our country was also a superb spymaster – and thank goodness, because that’s how he won the revolution! Major George Beckwith, head of British intelligence operations in the colonies, put it like this: “George Washington did not really outfight the British; he simply outspied us!” Somehow this fascinating and vital part of Washington’s character has been vastly ignored by history – until now. In UPON SECRECY (Calkins Creek Books, 2010) you’ll follow Washington’s most valued spies – Long Island’s Culper Spy Ring – on their most important and exciting mission. Without this contribution, we would likely not be a country.
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, 2010

Read an excerpt of BY THE SWORD:

Read an excerpt of UPON SECRECY:

Order BY THE SWORD on Amazon:

Order UPON SECRECY on Amazon:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Blog Friday

Welcome to the inaugural edition of "Guest Blog Friday!"

I'm pleased to host my friend and co-WestSide Books author, Beth Fehlbaum.

She's the author Yalsa Quick-Pick Hope in Patience.

Writing as Healing: 
How writing The Patience Trilogy
helped me move beyond a history of childhood abuse
I was eight years old the first time I wrote about being sexually abused:  “Sssh!!!!!!   He likes to squish my boobs!  Last night in the green chair…”
            I wrote those words in a small diary—the kind with a little lock and key—but anyone knows the lock can easily be ripped away.  I don’t know why the secret I felt compelled to commit to paper was safe within that cardboard cover. 
 I hid the diary in the back of my desk drawer and carried it with me when we moved from the house in rural Texas—the one with the green chair in the den where I’d nearly fallen asleep in my stepfather’s lap and he’d felt me up for the first time.  I was so shocked, I’d pretended to be asleep, and the next morning, when he called me outside and told me to “slap his hands”, I acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about.  That experience became this scene in my first book, Courage in Patience (this is the revised, 2011 version; the book was first released by a now-defunct Canadian publisher, Kunati Books, in 2008):
 Less than a year after they married, he gestured to me to sit on his lap. I did so, enjoying the idea of having a daddy like my friends did. I got so relaxed and content there, I dozed off. He started rubbing my brand-new breasts. I wasn’t actually all the way asleep, but it freaked me out so much that I pretended I was.
            The next morning, a Saturday, my mother told me to go outside because Charlie wanted to talk to me. I approached him like I would come up on a King cobra, full of dread and feeling like a tightly wound spring. His back was to me as he bent under the hood of our car, changing the oil.
            "Mom told me to come out here. Said you want to talk to me," I spoke to the sky as I watched a black vulture circle over something dead.
            He mumbled something and I said, “Huh?”
He backed out from under the hood and took a deep breath.  “Kiddo, slap my hands.” He paused as if waiting for my response.
            "What? Why?" I played dumb, hoping that none of what happened in that chair had really happened. I was nine years old, and I already knew what he was doing was wrong.
            "Last night … in the green chair …" Now it was his turn to stare somewhere else.
            I tilted my head and my voice was so high it didn’t even sound like me. "What chair? When?"
            He smiled that closed-mouth smile from his "model" picture.  “Never mind, Kiddo. You can go back inside now.”
            My heart pounded in my ears as I walked away from him. The morning sun was blinding and felt hot on my hair.
When I was in high school, I pulled the diary from its hiding place and burned it in the fireplace when my parents weren’t home.  Couldn’t risk anyone learning the truth about what my stepfather had started doing to me when I was in fourth grade.  The abuse escalated from touching to rape by the time I told, and that was the physical part.  In addition, he played mind games with me and controlled me through threats to leave my mom. 
I became angrier and angrier the longer the abuse went on, and when I was fourteen, I told my mother what was going on.  She neglected to do anything about it.  I drew on this experience as well when I wrote Courage in Patience—because even though twenty-odd years had passed since the day I told her, the feeling of numbness and disbelief were just as raw and overwhelming for me at age 40 as they were when I was 14.  Unlike me, the protagonist of The Patience Trilogy, Ashley Nicole Asher, tells a teacher and CPS acts on her outcry.  She is placed with her biological father in a tiny East Texas town, and her life begins anew.
After the day I told my mother what was going on and she did The Big Nothing,  I endured about six months of her seeming angry and my stepfather ignoring my existence before a switch flipped inside of me and I became The Perfect Daughter.  I did the housework, laundry, ironing, cooking, worked for the family business, began calling my stepfather “Dad”, aaaaaaaaannnnd developed an eating disorder that to this day vexes me.  I also kept writing, especially poetry.  I don’t have any of the pieces I wrote.   Like the diary, I destroyed any evidence on the chance that my mom might find it and be upset.  My whole life was about keeping her comfortable.
Fast-forward to 2004, when I was 38 years old, 100 pounds overweight, on an express train to Crazy Town, and taking four other people—my husband and three daughters—along for the ride.  Simply put, I could not cope with the secrets anymore.  Committing them to paper and burning them hadn’t done jack-shit to deal with the past.
I entered therapy and, true to form, tried to process the agony I was experiencing by putting the pain on paper.  About eighteen months into the recovery journey we were on together, my therapist suggested that I try writing a novel.  It took me about four months of stopping and starting and being stuck on the question of “WHY?”  Why did this happen to me?  Why didn’t my mom act on my outcry when I was fourteen?  Why has she turned her back on me now?  Why does she refuse to know the truth? 
One day, I decided to imagine what it would be like to be someone else having the experience of recovering from childhood sexual abuse  from  one parent, and deliberate indifference on the part of the caretaker parent. That’s how Ashley Nicole Asher came into being, and Courage in Patience, my first book, was written.  I never even planned to have it published; once I finished it, though, I realized that I had been helped so much by the experience of writing it that it might give hope to others on the same journey.  Even though I was thrilled to become a published author,  I was so afraid of upsetting my mom and ruining any chance that she might still come around and be willing to know the truth about what happened to me that I asked my publisher to not be completely forthright  in my bio.  He came up with the story that I knew what it’s like to be an abused child because I’m a teacher and have worked with abused kids in the past.  But, honestly:  nobody bought that story, because anybody who reads The Patience Trilogy can tell that the person who wrote it has lived it.
            I thought I was through with putting my pain on paper.  I wasn’t.  I was still in therapy and trying like hell to accept the way things are with my mom: we have no relationship, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that she didn’t love me with the same fierceness I feel for my three daughters.  Through writing Hope in Patience (WestSide, 2010), I came to acceptance.  It was excruciating to write; I wept when I wrote the scene in the hospital room, when Ashley’s mom tries to get her to admit that her stepfather, Charlie, who has just been killed in an accident, was a good man.  AND— I no longer allowed my fear to silence the person I had become.  I publicly identified myself as a SURVIVOR of childhood sexual abuse on the book jacket of Hope in Patience, as well as everywhere else.
            At the end of Hope in Patience, Ashley begins dating a boy she’s had a crush on.  I explored what it’s like to be a person trying to move on with her life and experience normalcy in the third book in the Patience trilogy, Truth in Patience.  I also gave Ashley the gift of a face-to-face confrontation with her mom about Truth and what it means to her in the life she has carved out for herself.  I have not experienced this myself.
Truth in Patience is not yet published; my publisher, WestSide Books, is for sale, and not currently acquiring new works.  I am in Publishing Purgatory, along with Selene and the other WestSide authors.
            I still have off-days once in awhile, but I made it through the recovery process.  It took six years of intensive therapy; a kick-ass support team comprised of my husband, daughters, and therapist; iron-clad determination to make it through the journey to hell and back; and writing the trilogy of a fifteen-year-old girl who finds Courage, Hope, and Truth in a tiny Texas town called Patience . 

            Beth Fehlbaum is the author of The Patience Trilogy.  Visit her website; friend her on Facebook; follow her on Twitter. And, for goodness sake, PLEASE help Beth and the other WestSide authors spread the word that WestSide Books is FOR SALE!  Beth is wrapping up a month-long campaign which has included making a general pest of herself about WestSide being for sale, AND an offer of a free raccoon to the buyer of the company! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote Contest Thursday!


Today is your chance to WIN!!!!

This week's theme is "character."

Every day I contemplate character - both in "real life" and in my "characters."

Isn't it ironic that the word "act" is in "character?"

But then, "act" is part of "action."

Play around with the theme. Get creative! Have fun!

E-mail a quote or original thought about character to Ldymcbeth@aol.com for your chance to win a signed ARC of my novel SAVED BY THE MUSIC!

Deadline: , Saturday

Here’s an example:

“Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.

And another:

“Action is character.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Post this contest on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, and you will also be entered to win a copy (one chance for each posting.) Just comment here and let me know.

Read an excerpt of SAVED BY THE MUSIC on my website: www.SeleneCastrovilla.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Remains

Hello everyone!

Welcome to Hokey Pokey Wednesday – when we do the dance of life ;)

This is something I wrote a few years ago, but I thought it appropriate for my “first dance.” I don’t know why – but something about it really strikes me, just as much as when I wrote it.
Let me know what you think!


My friend Pascale moved. We started carting boxes over to her new place in my mini-van on Friday. On Saturday, the furniture and electronics went in the moving truck. By Saturday evening it was down to those vague things no one ever wants to deal with. You know, the stuff you’ll eventually need but at the moment you’re too friggin’ exhausted to care. Poor Pascale was running on empty, going back and forth, back and forth through her old living-room, trying to sort things out and cope in general, when I became fixated on the pile.

If you’ve ever moved, you’ve seen that pile on the floor. It’s all those scraps, remnants of the moments lived in-between those walls. It’s that mound of crusted objects encased in dust and dirt and pounds of pet fur.

At first glance you think it’s garbage; in fact, it’s your life.

It’s the discards we found easier to kick away or ignore than pick up; it’s the stuff we thought we’d get back to later; it’s the little things we thought were too small to matter.

It’s our lost episodes.

The first things I noticed were the scattered pencils and pens. Over a dozen in various sizes and colors –  dropped, rolled and forgotten long ago. How easy it is to replace a pencil, and yet how crucial a well-placed one can be.

The writing utensils roped me in, but then I saw the eggs. Those plastic eggs people fill on Easter and hide for the kids. I’ll bet anyone who celebrates Easter has a couple of these babies lurking in their corners – I know I do, as I’ve come across them at times. But the astonishing thing was that there were two pink and two orange. They matched and could be put back together, if so desired. I’ve never found more than one half of an egg at a time at my house, and it was usually cracked.

By then I was sucked into the pile, examining items critically and jotting my observations with a pencil I’d plucked. For paper, I used Pascale’s junk mail. Her daughter Amanda joined me, while Pascale scampered and scurried through the house trying to work things out.

We poked through the filth, exposing such treasures as a Milk Dud - unwrapped and hairy; an elastic hair band, and a battery. Amanda liked the battery, and reminded me to write it down several times.

There was an empty candy wrapper with a happy face, and one with the candy still inside. A dual-tipped highlighter. A connector for a glow necklace. A pair of green swim shorts with Hawaiian pattern.

One soccer cleat. Crumpled pages from a magazine. A piece of red curling ribbon – for luck, I supposed.

I found a key, and realized it was for handcuffs – there was something perversely poetic in that, I thought.

“Ooh, there’s a leaf,” Amanda exclaimed, as Pascale flitted by again.

Then came repulsion – I found a snail shell. Amanda said, “Gross! I can’t believe you found a shell from a snail. Who has snails?”

I said, “You do.”

A late discovery came from Amanda. It was a cat’s toy mouse, well camouflaged by dust tufts and mega fur. And even later she made another startling find, crying out, “Oh, Selene! There are two mice!” It was like we’d unearthed a cousin of T-Rex’s.

Not to be ignored, the dogs also had their contribution to the pile: twelve pieces of kibble – seven large brown, one medium red, and four small assorted.

There was a screw, three tacks, and a black twist tie.

A blue hair bead, even though no one living there had ever beaded their hair.

A sheet of fabric softener, and an energy guide for their air conditioner. They had a very efficient unit – nine point seven out of ten. I ran out of room on the junk mail and started scrawling on the back of the energy guide.

There was an unopened package of earphone foam replacements; and an actual piece of an earphone, which was apparently magnetic because a staple was stuck to it. There was a flower-shaped ring my son Casey left there a while back – he’d brought it with another ring, and asked Amanda’s opinion about which one to give to his girlfriend. She’d picked the one not in the pile.

We sifted and sifted while Pascale preped for exodus, muttering unintelligible words and at times seeming to cluck.

The thing about the spare change was the lack of it. Two quarters and two nickels. That has to be well below the national pile average, unless someone beat us to the rest of the bounty. Brother, can you spare a dime?

I said to Amanda, “These are the things everyone finds their homes when they leave. In the end, we’re all the same.”

She said, “Not everyone has snails.”

I said, “How do we know that?”

It’s my contention that everyone does have snails – at least one; or something grotesque and fascinating like that. Something sliming away in the night while they sleep. Something small and a bit icky. It’s one of the common denominators of being human.

We found a flexible CD protector, a mysterious black and white plastic thing, and a black plastic something Amanda picked out of the rubble, saying her brother Tommy needed it or his X-Box. We found a votive candle in a plastic holder, which she also put aside. Then she found some plastic pieces missing from her dresser. What a bonanza for Amanda!

We found brown lip gloss – “Not very attractive,” said Amanda, dropping it back in.

A shard of wood.

A water bottle cap, and a Bud Light cap.

“There’s that snail again,” said Amanda, with renewed revulsion.  She smashed it.

A crystal bead from a bracelet, another battery, endless rounds of plastic ammunition for air-soft guns.

And dust. Lots of dust.

This is what remains.

As I write this it occurs to me that it’s the same in writing as in leaving. The truth lies in the details mixed in the pile on the floor.

Meanwhile, Pascale had gotten it all together – whatever she’d been doing. She was through. “You done with that garbage?” she asked us, holding up her little blue broom and dust pan. Her facial expression said, "You're done with that garbage."

“Yes,” I said. You don’t want mess with Pascale when she decides it's time to go.

With quick precision, Pascale swept up our “fun,” as Amanda called it. I thought of it as something else, but what I couldn’t say. Pascale dumped it into a big black garbage bag and hit the light switch. The room went dark. We exited, stage left.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dinner or a novel?

Hello again!

Welcome to Tightrope Tuesday!!!

Yesterday I wrote about how I overcame my fear of writing a novel & pounded out two in three months.

But how did I manage parenting at the same time?

The answer is: poorly.

You would think that the hard part was managing to keep the books separate in my head. No, it seemed that the deeper I swam in the manuscripts the more adept I became at swimming.

The hard part was drying off. Coming back to reality. Life.

Let me just say that I hate cooking. I always say: “We can make dinner, or we can write a novel.” I choose the novel!

Maybe there’s a genetic gene missing in me, but I get no thrill from serving up dinner. I’m glad when people appreciate my offerings (I happen to be good at basic things – the secret is keeping it simple) – but tearing myself away from my computer to boil water for rice and chop garlic is about as appealing to me as a thirteen hour plane ride with no leg room and someone snoring next to me.

Even worse is planning a meal. I dread that question: “What’s for dinner?”

Shop-Rite claims to have the answer, but I shop in Stop & Shop. I would guess that even in Shop-Rite you have to hunt down their aisles for the answer. Honestly, don’t we have to do enough searching in our lives? Supermarkets should make announcements: “Dinner for tonight: Grilled pork chops marinated in whatever sauce with whatever sprinkled on them and a side of whatever.” You can see how much I care.

It’s just FOOD!!! Whatever!!!! Can we get back to writing, or what???

So let’s just say that while I wrote two novels simultaneously, there was lots of Chinese food involved.

I should’ve dedicated the books to the people at the Chinese take-out place.

I was still married at that time, and my ex is a devoted dad – but he didn’t cook dinners back then. Funny how we both cook separately now – is it a rivalry? Hmmm...The psychology of cooking dinner for your kids. You see how I think of things – as possible topics.

Anyway, how I managed to take care of my kids while I wrote the books is kind of a blur, but they did survive. I like to think I passed on my work ethic to my son Michael, who is quite devoted to his schoolwork. Casey is a little tougher, but he’s coming around. I love to look up words with him in my WRITER’S FLIP DICTIONARY.

I know I’ve set an example to follow a passion – and Michael is doing that with law.

But there is a price for passion, and that is often everyday life. When I’m typing an idea and Casey is staring at me from the staircase because he wants me to give him a ride somewhere, it’s hard to concentrate. (Mental note: Lock myself in a room where he can’t get to me.) Just kidding ;)

A writer friend of mine told me about someone she knows who hangs this sign on her office door for her kids: “I don’t love you when I’m writing.”

Ouch! Massive shrink bills ahead!!!

I ALWAYS love my kids, and they know that. But they also know they have a growing number of adopted siblings who I must nurture in my manuscripts. Like new additions to the family, they need extra attention. And, like real babies, they call to me in the middle of the night! I could never leave my kids wailing in the crib – nor can I ignore my characters’ cries.

Being a writer’s child is tough. But it’s also not so tough, I think.

I’d like to think I bring empathy and honesty to the dinner table, even if the steak is burnt because I needed to jot an idea down.

What I remember most about that time when I wrote the novels is what five year old Casey said when I finished: “Mommy, please don’t ever write two books together again.”

I didn’t write two novels simultaneously again, but a month later I was struck by my darkest novel, EVOLUTION. That sent me into a deep depression, and literally altered my personality. My poor kids...

The good thing was that I wrote it over the summer. I do tend to get these things out fast. Like Stephen King said: Write a novel in a season.

I think my kids have survived relatively unscathed. If not, I’ll have to chip in for their shrink bills. It’s only fair.

Monday, October 24, 2011



Here we are, on my new blog.

Thanks for joining me!

For clarity (yours and mine), I’ve decided to schedule topics for certain days:

[Semi] Madness to my Method Mondays– Sharing writing tips in a reader-friendly way.

Tightrope Tuesdays - Walking through parenthood without a net.

Hokey Pokey Wednesdays – That’s what it’s all about: stories about my strange life, and humanity.

Quote Contest Thursdays – For my giveaway, I’ll give a topic and whoever submits the best quote on the subject wins.

Guest Blog Fridays – I get the day off! Ka-chow!

Revolutionary Saturdays – Tidbits about the American Revolution, from a human perspective.

For my first Method Monday, I’d like to address all those people I meet who say they’ve “always wanted to write.”

My answer to them: “Didn’t you have a pencil?”

If you want to write, write! Don’t worry about technique, style, that dreaded “voice” – we’ll get to that later. PLEASE don’t worry about genre or who your audience will be. Write for yourself. Write something true. Write something real.


I was, too. Any writer who says they’ve never been scared is either lying or totally zoned on Xanax. Come on – writing is terrifying.

Do it anyway.

For inspiration, I’ll share how I wound up writing my novels SAVED BY THE MUSIC & THE GIRL NEXT DOOR:

I was in The New School’s MFA Creative Writing Program. You need to write a thesis for your master’s degree, and in this case it was supposed to be at least 70 pages of a novel (could be short stories also.) Though I’d always known I was a writer, I never thought I could write a novel. I was completely intimidated, and thought you needed some sort of permission from the gods. But I had a story I wanted to tell. It was tough because it was autobiographical. Writing something about yourself is like opening up a vein and bleeding onto the page. So there I was stalling...thinking about things like what the weather would be like in the book (summer = hot. ’Nuff said.) Anything to avoid writing it.

Concurrently¸ I needed to write a paper comparing two works of literature. I chose THE CATCHER IN THE RYE as one, because it was my favorite book as a teen. Reading it as an adult, it occurred to me that all Holden’s problems stemmed from grief. His brother died. Instead of pulling the family together and dealing with it, Holden’s parents shipped him off to boarding schools, where he’d flunk out each time.

Holden’s descriptions of his brother Allie were so poignant. I wanted to see their relationship – some sort of prequel.

Then, one day, the TV was on in my sons’ room. You know, one of those times when no one is actually watching, and yet...it’s on. It was MTV. Now I know it was the first season of THE REAL WORLD. At the time, I had no idea what I was watching. I saw a boy who had AIDS getting a blood transfusion, with the tube in his arm – and a girl was holding his other hand. I thought, “Oh my god. It must be so sad to not know if your boyfriend is going to live or die.”

I went to sleep with Holden and Allie and this boy and girl in my head. When I woke up I said, out-loud: “Jesse’s dying.”

Then I said, also out-loud, “Who the hell is Jesse?”

I was writing – or trying to write – about Willow and Axel, the characters in SAVED.

I’d dreamt THE GIRL NEXT DOOR in its entirety – and I was annoyed! “How am I supposed to write two books when I can’t even write one?” I grumbled.

Talk about being ungrateful!

But soon enough, I realized it was an incredible gift from my subconscious. I was struggling so much with SAVED. My inner mind said, “Hey, crazy girl. Just sit down and write. One scene at a time. Here, I gave you another story to show you how it’s done.”

So I sat down, and I wrote.

I wrote the two novels in three months.

The end.

(How I dealt with motherhood while writing two novels in three months is another story...
Maybe tomorrow’s...
Tune in and find out!)