I cannot remember a time when I was not telling stories. As a little girl, I used to gather all of my dolls and stuffed animals together for story time. At night, I annoyed my sisters by whispering my stories until I fell asleep. In fifth grade, I met Mrs. Sue Niedzielski. Mrs. N. fed my creativity, encouraging me to write down my stories. Her excitement and support fueled my desire to be a writer. Twenty years later, she is still one of my biggest fans—outside of my family, of course!
In high school, I began entering writing contests. It felt good to see my work in print and to know that others were reading it. As much as I wanted writing to be a career, for years it was a hobby. Between working, being a wife, and being a mother, I didn’t have the time to focus on my writing. If God wanted me to write, He was going to have to show me how and when to do it. Too many other responsibilities crowded my life for my writing to be a priority. Slowly, my dream faded into the background as I struggled through “real life”.
Things changed after the birth of my third child in 2007. It was like a switch was flipped inside me. I felt I had to write. God gave me the stories and showed me how and when to work on them. By the end of the year, I had completed my first novel and sold my first short story.
My published books are Forsaking the Call (December 2008) and Summertime (May 2009). The Ladies of Faith, the first in a three-part series, is scheduled for publication later this year.
I live in Jackson, MI with my husband and our three sons. My family is very active in our church, Cascades Wesleyan. When I am not writing, I like reading to my boys and scrapbooking.
Excerpt of Summertime
“What are you doing in my kitchen?”
I stopped in the middle of cracking open an egg, squeezed my eyes shut, and sighed. This was not an easy way to start the morning. Making breakfast for Nana was not a problem. It seemed like such a small thing I could do to repay her for the years she spent raising my sister Erin and me. Some days, and this looked like it would be one of those days, Nana’s dementia was worse than others. She got confused easily. Sometimes I wondered if it was the illness or just that Nana resented not being able to do things for herself. That Erin and I could even operate a stove was a mini miracle, given that Nana had always hated having anyone in her kitchen.
“I’m making your breakfast, Nana,” I said, finishing up with the egg and turning to face her with a smile. Smiling at her was not always easy. Since Papa had died three years before, Nana’s health had grown steadily worse. The days of thinking “No way can she be as old as her driver’s license says” were long gone. Instead of the vibrant, petite woman who loved everything about life, I looked at her and saw a little old lady, patiently (or impatiently, depending on the day) waiting for death. I watched as she shuffled into the kitchen from her bedroom. “How do ham and cheese omelets sound today?”
“Humph,” Nana said. “Can’t imagine it will be any good. Only my Laura can make a ham and cheese omelet good enough for me to eat.”
I smiled to myself as I went about preparing her meal. Even if it was a morning when she didn’t know who I was, it was nice to know that she knew my cooking from Erin’s. Not that it was difficult to tell the difference—I could make just about anything without the aid of a recipe; my sister had been known to burn water.
Nana made her way slowly to the living room. I heard the familiar creaking of her favorite recliner as she settled in front of the TV. The television came on, and Nana muttered something about how she hated commercial breaks. I stifled a laugh. She had always complained about the commercials during her favorite morning program, NBC’s Today Show. Nana thought the show would be better with fewer commercials and more shots of Matt Lauer.
I was just moving Nana’s omelet from the pan to a plate when I heard Matt’s voice coming from the TV. Nana muttered that she didn’t want to hear him, she wanted to see him. Not for the first time, I thought about writing a letter to the Today Show anchorman. “Dear Mr. Lauer,” I’d write, “Since Nana remembers more about you than she does about me, do you think you could begin paying her medical bills?”
Yeah, not likely he’d read that and not send the FBI looking for me.
The music floating in from the TV didn’t make much sense to me at first. Sure, I knew what it was, but I had no idea why, after they’d been out of the spotlight for a decade and a half, ZeroGravity music would be playing on morning TV. Balancing the omelet plate on top of Nana’s juice glass, I grabbed a tray table to set up in front of her seat. No way would she eat at the table until NBC’s morning program was over.
I’d gotten good at setting up her tray with one hand through the years. Nana was mumbling about those idiots, screaming for a bunch of washed up old men. I finally looked at the TV. My favorite band was back together and performing live. “My granddaughters used to go crazy over these guys when they were in school,” Nana told me, snatching her fork out of my hand and waving it at the TV. “Used to make my husband and I listen to them all the time and drooled over the pictures of them they had plastered their bedroom with. It was so nice when the girls moved on and got those talentless kids out of their heads. Used to compare them to the Beatles—can you imagine? As if any of them could hold a candle to Paul McCartney and John Lennon.”
On my way back to the kitchen, I glanced at the pictures of my daughter, Barrett that hung on the wall above the sofa. Nana had no idea how much one of those “talentless kids” still resided in the head—and heart—of one of her granddaughters.
For some reason, Nana decided to turn up the volume on the TV. No point in questioning it. She wasn’t hurting anything, and since Barrett was already off to school there was no one in the house who would be disturbed by the sound. I just shook my head, thinking of how Erin and I would have been punished for playing anything that loud, and went to work cleaning up the kitchen.
Then I heard his voice. There was no mistaking it, and I’d know it anywhere. The sound of his singing never failed to make my heart flip. Something was different this time. The words he sang were new, and caught me by such surprise that I dropped the coffee mug I was loading into the dishwasher.
Walking on the beach that summer day,
her beautiful eyes stole my heart away.
I wonder if she ever thinks of me,
and all the things that we could be?
My right hand fluttered to the locket around my neck, the one I had rarely taken off in the past ten years.
Was he singing about me? Did I ever think about him? Of course I did. I heard myself whisper, “Do you remember it, Joey? Do you think about me?”