Working Title: The Texture of Glass
This Book Is In Development
Isabel Dillon, the granddaughter of successful songwriter Meladee Dillon, is following in her grandma’s footsteps while nursing a past that has locked her inside herself. After several years of open mic shows that lead nowhere, she takes the plunge at the local Make-It-Here, Make-It-Anywhere venue. Instead of being the push she needs, the audience heckles her and a creepy guy stands inches from her while she sings. Trying again elsewhere, she gets a scare from a drunk guy and walks away from performing. James Gilbert swears off music after an accident ends his career plans, until he’s captivated by an intense but wary songwriter at an infamous run-down bar in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Unable to get her full name, he spends weeks searching for her while battling to recover from alcohol addiction. Running into her accidentally at Presque Isle feels like a sign, and despite his reservations, he decides to help her career, even if she’s not sure she wants to start again. With family and friends warning them both to be careful of the other, and through plenty of red lights and miscommunications, their connection strengthens to the point they can’t ignore it.
Creative types are often uncertain. Art is so subjective. We only have opinions and our own instincts as validity and credibility. That makes doubt in ourselves and our skill unbelievably common. At times, that doubt can build up to extreme enough levels that we have to walk away, do other things, and consider where we are and where we're trying to go and if we can be okay with not getting there enough to continue the journey, anyway. Stepping back isn't quitting, although it can feel like it. Stepping back, allowing space and distance, is simply part of the creative process. I've been there. For months. And now, like Isabel, I'm regrouping and going at it again, maybe in a slightly different way.
I was watching a bit of the St. Patrick's Day parade live from Dublin, Ireland this morning and was amused that the first thing I tuned in to was a Texas Cowboys band. Then came a band playing a Journey song, and a band from Dayton, Ohio. In between was an Irish dance group. But what a small world we live in to be able to watch a parade in Ireland while sitting in Pennsylvania and seeing Americans over there in a city I've visited in a country where I have ancestral roots. In The Texture of Glass, James gets the same feeling when he happens to meet the granddaughter of a songwriter he's followed for years at a local hangout where one of his favorite bands maybe got started. Call it coincidence or fate; I call it a small world.
I often love the beginning of my stories all the way through most of the rewrites and edits ... until I don't. And then I rewrite that, also. Beginnings are rough. Endings are rougher. Especially with this book. I've struggled to get the ending right for far too long, but I think it's there. But if beginnings and endings are rough, marketing is a pure b..... Okay, but it is. Over the 18 years I've had books released to the public, I've yet to figure out the whole marketing thing balanced with what I'm willing to do and not, balanced with available time. Let me just tell you: it does not balance. Does not. So, it's a constant experiment. After five years of working on this story, I had to take the dive and put it out there. Currently it's in BETA format, and a free read. Yes, the whole novel, which has not gone through the final edit, is available to read free. Temporarily. Find it here if you're interested in sharing feedback before the final version. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1098694
We all do it. We see something or hear something and fill in the parts of the story we don't actually know with assumptions. It's human nature. It's also devastating to relationships of all kinds. Human minds don't like voids. If we don't know, we assume or presume or otherwise fool ourselves into thinking we do. So often, we're very wrong. OFTEN we are very wrong. Especially in these days of social media where we talk to people we don't really know, we get ourselves into all sorts of messes by using our own experiences and thoughts to define how we feel about something that's said, or even the person themselves. The harm it causes is often unfixable, unless we're lucky. ---James is lucky Isabel is more open minded and forgiving than many, and yet, she does have her limits.
In times of stress and anxiety, we generally choose to stick to the known, our usual routines, as a comfort factor. It makes sense. Even in normal times, it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone, so when an offer of something different and fun comes along, we have to consider it. At least the more cautious among us have to think about it. However, times of stress can be exactly the time to try something new. The change of pace can pull us, even momentarily, out of the deep rut that's more likely to pull us further into anxiety than to bring any real comfort. Isabel is extremely caution-oriented, but when she gets the offer to try something different with someone she's barely learning to trust, she decides to take the plunge. That's a pivotal moment, more than she can realize at the time.
Humans are social creatures. If there's one thing we've all learned so far this year, it's that the absence of socialization, the face-to-face conversations with others who understand, or at least are willing to listen, causes inner strain. Sometimes, it causes far more than strain, including depression, fear, and anger. This is why we attach, why we watch for that person who can fill that need. And it's why we don't feel quite right until we do. ___ Young people who don't have a good family attachment often find them early outside the family, often to their own detriment. Isabel has learned to be on her own, but she's dealing with deep inner issues from a lack of early close companionship and someone she trusts to be there to listen. She's caught between still needing that deep connection and being wary of it turning away from her again.
Fifty-four years ago, there were massive protests against the Vietnam War. At the same time, there were race riots big enough the National Guard was called in. Eventually, things smoothed out and we started to rebuild, again, and America continued. These things come in waves, brought about by politicians looking to create them, and then we the people stand up and say okay, enough. We work together. We slap each other on the back. We cheer each other's efforts, including strangers (if you haven't seen that, join a running challenge forum). We want each other to succeed. It's who we are. In the meantime, we have a lot of heroes working behind the scenes to fight off those who would see us fall. They are largely underappreciated and often fighting their own personal demons, as well. Some succeed. Others don't. They all matter. They all support us even when we're not supporting them well enough. They're our backbone, and those who stand up to help them keep going are every bit as crucial.
James is a man who very well knows his own faults. He compensates for them the best he can, for the sake of his own ego, by focusing on his strengths, but he's still only vaguely aware of his inner strength. He does the same for his hometown, a little city that needs a good bit of work but keeps trying, keeps fighting to find itself. For James, finding his direction is directly tied to where he is, to his roots. Like his town, he's unsure of his future, but he knows he wants it to be better than his past and present. When he meets Isabel on a beach jaunt, he recognizes another soul unsure of her path, unsure of herself, and although she has faults of her own, which he clearly sees, he uses his own understanding to look past the faults and into the potential. Rather than choosing defensiveness to protect what he doesn't want others to see about him, he chooses to make himself vulnerable in order to help someone else grow. ---- The Texture of Glass (working title) coming fall 20202
This book has been in progress far longer than it should have taken. Through all that's happened this year, my concentration just hasn't been there. I haven't been able to get the end right. One thing very precious to novelists is quiet daydream time. We should all have that, but for writers, without it, creativity shuts down, and therefore work shuts down. I have been almost fully shut down, work-wise. But I'm picking up again. ... The first two lines of this song came to me while folding laundry. Sometimes it's a small thing that beaks through out of nowhere, through the dark, the noise, and the craziness, that gets you where you need to be. I see an ending. This one will be longer than I intended, but some things need to be the way they are regardless of expectations and intent.
Isabel is a songwriter, nearly unknown, with a weak support system and little faith in herself. Growing up the child of an alcoholic father and a barely-there mother, she's used to making her way and dealing with her own mistakes. What she can't get past, though, is what others have done to her, leaving her on shifting sand and struggling to keep picking up her feet. Empathizing with the little lost troll and its "silly grin" meant to convince everyone everything is just fine when inside she's slowly shutting down, Isabel puts her heart into her music while keeping it locked away from further harm. So she thinks. From her parapet, she observes and hides... The Texture of Glass by Ella M. Kaye, coming in 2020.
Working Title: Moondrops & Thistles
This Book Is In Development
Love. Honor. Trust. Sacrifice. Daws, aka Sergeant Fred Dawson, U.S. Army, is a determined and highly respected leader. Called to serve in Desert Storm, he performs two impromptu rescue missions and manages to bring all of his men back home. While still haunted by the cost of his actions, he loses the most important person in his life, in an accident for which he feels partly responsible. Deanna Meyers has had it with men. A Kentucky girl who moved to New York City to achieve her career goals, she's convinced there isn't a true loyal and honest gentleman left in the city. In the midst of trying to advance in the world of advertising where the men in charge are more interested in her other attributes than in her skills, she finds herself in another destructive relationship, this time to the possible detriment of her career. When they run into each other at a bus stop in the pouring rain after midnight, Daws and Deanna recognize the spark of a connection that draws them toward each other the way they are both drawn to the city lights at night.
This book, set in 1991-1993, was first published ten years ago this month, but the issues involved haven't changed much. If anything, they've intensified. Those who fight for us, for our freedom and for our safety, know very well the importance of being able to state our opinions, speak our minds. They will defend that no matter how much those words are aimed against them. If we lose the right to discuss anything we feel the need to discuss, then we've lost. All of us. And those defenders may be able to look past the hateful words, but that doesn't mean those who love them will be so willing to do the same. After all, sometimes it's the defenders who need the defense, as Deanna soon finds.
Working Title: Off The Moon
This Book Is In Development
Riveting Ryan Reynauld is immersed in a world of music, parties, and temporary companionship. Having risen to the top of the pop charts, his biggest concern is the way his music is produced. That is, until he finds a young woman standing on a window ledge. Against the advice of family and friends, and through media attacks and fan protests, Ryan determines to care for her himself, making a promise that threatens to destroy his career. Convincing the skittish girl she can learn to trust again comes with a steep price. Sometimes the path to recovery begins by allowing your world to implode.
When we're on a roll, generally we want to stay on that roll, particularly when things are coming along. Often, even when they aren't, we don't want to be interrupted because we're so focused on trying to fix things and feel any road bump at that point might be devastating. However, sometimes it's exactly what we need to force ourselves to step back and see things from a bit more distance. Ryan's career is rolling along great, except that he keeps shoving a personal issue to the side so it doesn't interfere. Until something happens that he can't push aside...
Sorry. I put it under the wrong book and can't delete it!
Ryan is a 24-year-old with the world at his feet, being a single big name pop star, and having a trusted team that takes care of his professional needs, along with a loyal guard/friend who takes care of his safety. He's been at it since he was 18, which has thwarted his need to be the adult he technically is. Before that, he had his much older brother looking after him. Overall, he feels pretty free and lucky, other than not having enough control over production of his commercial music. And then he meets a girl who has no one and nothing but her own wits and her strong defensive mode. His idea of freedom rapidly changes when confronted with what "free" actually means outside his own rather isolated bubble.
Kaitlyn is not a talker. She rarely talks, and only to those she trusts. Ryan, who uses words to fill silence as well as to create songs, resorts to watching her actions and reactions, and he fast learns to tune into and uncover hidden meanings behind what she does say. As a lyricist, this comes somewhat easy for him. Her reaction to his brother's rescued dog that's aggressive the way Kaitlyn is silent, as a defense, intrigues him. The further the story progresses, the more Kaitlyn and Chewy connect, and together they open windows to understanding that help Ryan more than he can imagine. ~~~ I often include animals in my novels because they offer not only entertainment value, but also the chance for more character depth and growth, just as they do for those of us with pets included within our families.
"Stay home when you're sick." In theory, absolutely on-target advice. In reality, that can't always happen. Luckily, when you work at home, you don't have to go out and risk infecting others. You do often, however, have to work through it in order to meet a deadline, even if a self-imposed deadline. With a bunch of little ones running in out bringing their germs from school, winter means being sick. Almost constantly. Still, there's work to be done, and I've spent many hours barely able to sit up at my desk still working. Because fiction imitates life, or should, I've transferred that to some of my characters. Ryan, as a big pop star with a loaded tour schedule, doesn't have time to be sick. Unwilling to let his fans down, he keeps going, no matter how bad he feels. Until there comes that point... Sometimes, I even let myself not work for the day, because there is no choice. My body simply refuses. I read a quote yesterday that struck a chord: "If you don't schedule rest days, your body will do it for you." We all need time off, whether we're big pop stars in the limelight or nearly anonymous writers hermiting in our homes. There's a time to push and a time to rest.
I've spent most of my adult life out away from my family, and most of my friends are in other states, so I rely heavily on social media to stay connected. When I do get back "home" it's like a breath of fresh air, relaxing, old memories, kind of fresh air. It's restorative, even though I love the place I've chosen to be my adult home. Ryan spends most of his time, when not touring, in NYC away from his Vermont family. Even though he grew up a military brat and moving a lot, Bennington feels like his home base because his family settled there. His best friend is in Massachusetts and, since she's a touring musician, as well, he rarely sees her. Still, their bond is strong and he thinks of her often during his busy days... She guides him even when not together.
I started the New Year by walking a 5K for a new 100 mile challenge. I like challenges. I'm into self-improvement. So, like Ryan from Off The Moon, I'm constantly working at my craft, trying to step up my game, as I do with my health. First published 10 years ago, this story was in need of a face lift. The last part of 2019 was spent partially in reviewing/re-editing/adding visually sensual passages to fill out the novel. While I was pushing it back out there, I went all the way and made it hardcore ... um, hardcover. Off The Moon is about new starts, pushing off the old and moving forward. It's about life and art and music and friendship and love and family. It's intense and it's soft. It's well-rounded. I hope you'll agree.
Working Title: The Rehearsal Series
This Book Is In Development
Three friends make their way through the world of Seventies music, into the Eighties, battling inner and outer forces that constantly threaten to tear them apart.
Over the past year, I've lost a lot of work time due to keeping the three school/pre-school aged grandchildren home along with two younger ones. While it stifles writing time, it also increases inspiration. The other day, one of my little ones singing made me realize I haven't included scenes of Nella singing, and it's necessary that I do. But also, having little ones of different ages around helps me pay attention to age-appropriate speech patterns and social development skills. Yes, you can look it up, but you can’t beat first-hand experience. So, while I'm not writing much, I am working, capturing moments to pull into my work, to add to that depth of character and scene that’s so important. Ownership means different things to young children than it does to adults, and it's different for them at different ages. In this scene, Danielle is 2 and what belongs to her daddy belongs to her, as far as she's concerned. Later, she will differentiate her things from her parents' things, but at this point, her identity is wrapped up in theirs and it's all the same. One of her parents understands her viewpoint more than the other does. That's a reality for most families who have to learn to share information, listen to each other, and grow together.
So begins the 4, then 5, then 6, now 7 book serial saga called Rehearsal. This is a story I began as a young teen, put aside for many years - too many years - and picked up and restarted in 1996. It's a way-out-of-the-mold story. It matches no genre. It's style is fully different than most books you'll ever read. It's a mix of lit fic, romance, YA (at the beginning, spreading into a more adult story as the characters grow), drama, family saga. It's a niche thing. It's ridiculously long. A hard sell. But it's the love of my writing life. Possibly, no more than a handful of people will ever read the thing after the years and years of work I have and will still put into it, but this is my version of the Bohemian Rhapsody and it needs to be written. ----------- This series has 4 books out, but I'm about to pull them because they're all being revamped. Like any good musical piece, there's always room for shifts and key changes.
Working Title: Shadows of Blues & Echoes
This Book Is In Development
Gillian Hart is an ambitious reporter for a small circulation paper in Denver, Colorado. When her editor and friend assigns a story about some rich businessman who chucks it all to live in the woods alone outside Durango, she does her best to fight it but gives in for the chance to rise higher and have more choice in future stories. Hank Dennison wants nothing but solitude while he recovers from a life-changing devastation he has managed to hide from the public. The last thing he wants is another nosy journalist badgering him, especially one who knows nothing about survival in the wilderness who taxes his waning strength. He soon notices the darkness of depression weighing her down, despite her attempt to hide it, and determines to keep her off the path that led him to his own illness.
At least most of us struggle at times to determine the point of the thing, the reason we're here, and we wonder why it matters. Those with depression can go deeply into that "what's the point" hole, and it can be hard to see the bright light shining on your head at those times. Sometimes, it's a matter of paying attention, of looking at things that seem like knocks differently. Maybe they're not. Maybe they're hidden blessings. Maybe what matters and what makes you feel like you matter is in your own perspective. And maybe, it's someone else's perspective. Someone who needs you badly, whether or not you see it. We all matter. Maybe the "why" doesn't matter. <3
In today's world of "do what you want 'cause it's your life," we often forget that one of the greatest forms of love means putting yourself aside for someone else's good. Loving ourselves is important, but how do we truly love ourselves if we are willing to harm others for our own interests? Moms stay up rocking their babies when they're asleep on their feet because their babies' needs are more important than their own. Friends go out of their way to help each other, even when it means giving up time/energy they may not be able to easily afford. Soldiers step in front of their fellow soldiers to protect them for the greater good. And romantic partners willingly sacrifice their own needs to give their SO something they need or want. "There is no greater love" than putting someone else's needs above your own.
Abraham and Cameron leave their Snake River Valley homes to join the war effort while Maura, Cameron's near-betrothed, is left at home holding the pieces together. Over time and letters, she ponders her relationship with Cameron and is drawn to Abraham's artistic and poetic nature. A twist as unpredictable as the Snake itself brings Maura an unexpected ally and swift change of course.
So many rebuff Valentine's Day as "only commercial" or because they don't have a valentine of their own. Or do they? There are so many kinds of love to celebrate: parents, children (even if they aren't your own), friends, or your neighbors. No need for flowers and candy, although there's nothing wrong with giving flowers and candy to someone you love. Do something kind for someone. Take care of someone who needs help. Try harder to understand those with whom you disagree. Celebrate the power of love within your own heart. <3
"Remember your heart is in the right place and that's what matters." Even as Abe is heading off to a war, into a situation he won't be able to comprehend until he gets there, he is focused on his father. Often, it's much harder to be the one left behind, constantly unknowing, always waiting for word, than the one diving into the action. Abe knows his father's fate largely depends on his own, as the only one left to look after him, as the inheritor of the family farm. The thought gives him courage and resolve. The gifts from his father, first raising Abe to understand what's important, and next, letting go and trusting his son's abilities, become invaluable in his uncertain future... ----------- Find Protect The Heart by LK Hunsaker in both print and e-Book from major retailers and indie bookstores everywhere.
Since her move from Connecticut to Charleston, SC, Sandy has squirreled away most of her paychecks from the strip club in order to start a new life in a new state in the new year. When Rose, a young girl with a heart defect and her Uncle Ross, acting as her father between caring for his mentally ill sister, find her dancing on Folly Beach, Sandy's goals shift like the waves.
When I began writing the novel that's the precursor for this novella, I kept reminding myself the term prima ballerina is no longer used to describe the main female ballet dancer. They are now, female and male, both called principle dancers, to reflect current sensitivities. Things change fast. When I began writing novels, some of the issues in this novella weren’t big issues. Rose being friendly to strangers wouldn't have been an issue 24 years ago. Human trafficking was rare, at least in the US. People expected kids to be open and friendly. That's no longer true. Today's children are taught phrases such as "stranger danger" and are full of anxieties of every kind. Back then, my kids were little and they played in the dirt around the bleachers at baseball games with kids they became friends with at first meeting. We all watched them, any parent that was around. Hugs were good. Sharing whatever snacks they brought was normal and encouraged. Now, they're not even supposed to come within 6 feet of other kids, and most are unwilling to talk with adults they don't know. Even since this novella was written, things have changed. At least Rose was able to talk with the woman she saw dancing on the beach and invite her to help build a sand snowman...
When I was young, one of my absolute favorite part of the Christmas season was the candlelight Christmas Eve service at my little hometown church. Toward the end of the short service, we would light our candles - real candles, not battery operated, the lights would be turned out, and we held up our candles to sing Silent Night. It was beautiful, mesmerizing, and on point as a reminder of the meaning of the season. Silence. Stillness. Honor. Remembrance. Peace. Love. In my adult years, having moved far from that church, I've yet to find one the same. At the little local church my husband chose, I went last Christmas Eve to hear a sermon about loss and grief (???) and then we held battery-operated candles for a few seconds of silence. And we left. There was none of the coherence and beauty and peacefulness I'd remembered. Perhaps this year, we'll light candles at home and sing in front of the well-lit tree.
I grew up in the north where the winds blow heavy snow across the flat fields and suffocate the roads the way hurricanes sweep sand across roads and yards along the coast. That was Christmas season, the time of two pairs of socks with a grocery bag in between to keep our feet dry and warm breath coming from thick scarfs to turn into frozen mist settling on our red noses. After living in the south for 12 years where flurries would shut everything down, we came back north. Of course weather patterns change and last year, I watched the photos of a good snowfall in the southeast. This was the inspiration for the story of a young southern girl who badly wants to build a snowman out of real snow rather than sand. To be officially released in July 2019, A pre-release version of A Charleston Christmas Miracle is free through the end of 2018. Find it on the News page at EllaMKaye.com
Francis Barrett returns to her hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa to take care of the family holdings after her father passes. While turning his garden shed into a small but livable cottage, she runs into an old flame she admired from afar but never dared speak with during their high school days. Using her secret passion of oil painting to unwind from long days of clearing out the mess, Francis finds her father also had a secret passion and left behind a tale of a man she didn't truly know. George Frederick McKenry never left the Midwest town where he was born other than brief travels with his four children, who he now has custody of since his ex moved into a condo with her new boyfriend. Running into the one girl from school who rebuffed him when he asked her out, G.F. can't help checking on her and making sure she's getting along alright. False assumptions and past resentments fade as Fran and G.F. let down their guards in order to create new memories.
So many of us, at some point in our adult years, wish to be able to go back to our high school days of friends, parties, dances, sports, and more simple days. Others, however, would cringe at the thought of a class reunion. I have yet to get to one of my high school reunions, since I moved out of state and family obligations came first. They still do. I enjoyed seeing the photos from our recent 35 year reunion (yes, I'm showing my age, but it is what it is) a couple months ago. Being three states away and set during the school year, I still didn't make it. My kids are grown, but I now help with my grandkids, two of whom just started their school memories. I suppose I could have made the time at some point, but honestly, I'm not the same person I was then, and my social anxiety makes the idea not terribly welcome. Even without SA, many get nervous about going back again, so to speak. We all change. We all, hopefully, see things differently than we did back then. Trying to balance our previous teenage worlds with our adult worlds all of a sudden can be scary. Some things are best left alone. Others are best revisited for better understanding,
When her niece is diagnosed with autism, Emma Turner chooses to support her sister, a single mom, and is served divorce papers by her possessive husband who doesn't actually intend to let her go. Moving from Boston to Provincetown, Massachusetts, Emma teaches fifth grade during the week and takes care of Patty on weekends. That changes abruptly when her sister's health fails and Patty needs more than weekend care. Fillan Reilly has taken a summer job on Cape Cod teaching ballroom dance. A Galway, Ireland native, Fillan uses the change of scenery to try to clear his head and decide his direction after his long-term girlfriend leaves him, unsure whether she'll return. With pressure to enter the family business and push his dancing to the sidelines, he expects an easy relaxed summer to think things over. When fate brings them together, Emma and Fillan must determine whether joining their lifeboats will provide an even keel or throw them further off-balance.
Life is a constant detour. You can stand in the batter's box knowing what kind of pitcher you're facing, knowing where you intend to aim that ball you know is coming your way fast. You can brace your feet, make your stance just right, with years of practice ruling your body, well-toned and ready ... and the ball coming right down the pipe can suddenly veer off, hitting the bottom edge of your bat and slamming into your foot, breaking your toe, and taking you out of the game. Life happens. Sometimes it goes as we plan, but mostly it doesn't. Mostly, we have to take whatever's thrown and run with it, or trot behind the best we can. Emma, with all of her best-laid plans, runs into two curve balls on top of each other and is left reeling. Her long-time training that has left her wary, but stronger, makes her turn the reel into a dance. The only question is how far she wants to take the dance.
It's amazing, isn't it?, how one thing someone says to us becomes an integral part of who we are, or at least what we think we are, or aren't. Emma has left a bad marriage, but she hasn't shed the effects of his harmful words. Her ex has her somewhat convinced she's motion challenged, which makes it hard for her to let herself take a ballroom class when she gets the opportunity. The truth is, she is not motion challenged. It was only a way of trying to keep her "in her place" below him, in his mind. Fillan has some work to do to convince her that much of how she feels about herself is complete fiction.
Delaney Griffin welcomed her sister’s large family into her small home when they were displaced by Hurricane Sandy. With five noisy kids and an overbearing brother-in-law threatening her sanity, Delaney spends much of her free time cleaning up the wildlife refuge and helping at the local food bank. Still, the lack of privacy, along with having no space to dance, her only passionate release, causes her debilitating social anxiety to escalate. Eli Forrester has come from small town Indiana to Barnegat, New Jersey with his company to help restore the coast. A high-rise worker who loves new people and new places, he fears nothing, except water. When he accidentally kicks one of the sea critters Delaney is trying to help rescue, Eli is drawn to the quiet New Jersey girl. Unwilling to take her cues to leave her alone, he is alternately put off and turned on by her odd behavior. Under shadow of devastation, fear, and forced separation, Delaney and Eli search for their own rescue light.
Have you ever looked at a cute outfit in the store, admired it, and thought, "Yeah, but I can't wear that" or "It's not me." I do that too often to count, although I'm not much of a shopper in general. It's too bold or too bright or too stylish, meant to catch attention, which, of course, is the point. But some of us can't stand the thought of that much attention, and so we opt for neutral-like darks, such as navy and dark green, gray, black. And plain styles. Anything to help us fade into the background while in public where we want to be, and yet do not want to be. Meanwhile, our hearts are yelling, "Get that cute outfit and wear it boldly!" Easier said than done when you have social anxiety. At some point, you have to take that plunge and say, "Heck with it. I am wearing that outfit." Or, you live life in the shadows, giving in to the fear. Sometimes hiding from the panic is fine. But sometimes, it's better to face it head on and step into the sun, heat and all. It might burn a bit, but you'll heal.
When we lived on the southeast coast many years ago, a big hurricane headed in and we were told to evacuate. My husband, due to his work, could not, so we stayed and taped windows and such. Luckily, all worked out well, but it did leave a lasting impression. When I started writing my lighthouse books, I knew at least one of them would have to deal with a hurricane. Shadowed Lights uses the setting of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the northeast coast. Delaney, social phobic and nature-centric, helps with the beach cleanup. She does this partly because she's had to take her sister, brother-in-law, and their five kids into her house when theirs was lost. Her house is far too small, but since the sisters both grew up there, the family feels certain rights to it. The hurricane itself was a short-term event, but along with the physical destruction, as they always do, it left plenty of mental destruction. It also makes a good metaphor for the destructive power of social anxiety disorder.
I grew up sheltered within the midst of a large close-knit family in a little no-stop-light town and a high school class of 30, give or take 1 or 2 each year. Even with those small numbers of people, my social anxiety disorder took a huge toll. Other than the mandatory school days, which were torturous (not an exaggeration), I remained within my family's security and tried to avoid anything else. That is, until, over the phone, I met the guy I couldn't resist, the one who eventually gave me two kids leading to 6 grandkids. The problem: I was in central Illinois and he was stationed in central Texas. When he invited me to visit, my heart thumped, both in nervous excitement and in ... pure outright fear. Leave my family and go to Texas? Myself? Even now, the thought of it makes my heart speed up. That was over 30 years ago, and yes, I did it. That feeling came to life almost 30 years later with the story of Delaney, when she has to make that choice. Let her severe social anxiety keep her from her love, or bite it back and go.
Delaney hides away in a job where she hardly has to talk to anyone, but inside, she's caring, intelligent, savvy, and a dancer. Flamenco is an aggressive dance style and she has taught herself, practicing at home when she's sure no one will know, enjoying the stomps and flicks and sharp movements. Social Anxiety Disorder is very much real and it's extremely painful. It constantly conflicts with who the person really is inside, often disguising an abundance of friendliness and a large need to fit in, to be part of the crowd rather than hiding from it using any means possible. It takes a strong person to stand beside someone fighting social anxiety as a full disorder. The right person can be an incredible healing resource...
Caroline was a relevé away from becoming prima ballerina when, partly due to her own actions, she was injured enough to end her ballet career. With a strong determination, along with some help and hindrance from her antisocial tendencies, Caroline returns to her beloved Folly Beach, finds a grittier dancing job, and makes up her mind to land on top. Due to a disfiguring facial scar, Dio hides away on his South Carolina farm during the day, where keeping watch over his aging and mentally failing mother strains his time and energy. Venturing into Charleston only for his night job in a strip club allows him to keep needed contact with others while maintaining distance. When the two collide amid the glow of the lights from the pier, their personal scars push them away, and pull them in, like the ebb and flow of the Atlantic.
Sometimes what you're looking for finds you even when you think you're not looking for it and aren't ready for it.
I grew up in ballet class. While others were tossing balls around, I was in the dance studio, or practicing at home, strengthening and toning and learning balance and stamina... yes, as those sports people do, but letting it come out as dance. I was one of the studio's first five students to achieve toe shoe status. Let me tell you, it hurts. It doesn't only hurt during class, but at night from charley horses and for the next three days while those muscles try to relax. It didn't matter. I loved it. And then came the fall. During a P.E. class, a sprint, I hit gravel and broke my foot. The End of pointe classes. No more story there. Now, it's in Pier Lights. Caroline got so much further with her ballet career, and I could only imagine it would be so much worse. So... although I'm not from SC and haven't been to Folly Beach (yet), there is plenty of real life inspiration to the first Dancers
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