I am super-busy for the entire month of December with various editing jobs, so I thought I'd "reissue" a guest blog post or two to pass the time. This particular entry was originally posted on September 12, 2012, on the Girl Who Reads blog in support of my then-upcoming release of "My Apple Tree." I was very appreciative of the opportunity and am grateful to Donna over at Girl Who Reads for hosting me. I'm providing the link to the original posting below; I encourage you to check out her blog and reviews!
My Apple Tree [was] published on September 25, 2012, as part of Renaissance Romance Publishing’s Harvest Treats collection, as well as individually as an e-book. I’m very excited about this release, since this will be my first work in print.
This story began years ago as a daydream I had while listening to an old Celtic song about the grief of losing the person you have sworn to love and protect for the rest of your life. It isn’t a particularly happy song, but the lyrics’ raw and unapologetic emotion paints a very vivid picture. As time wore on, the original tale of pain and hopelessness grew and changed into something more, but the story was not really complete until this year.
My great-aunt Helen has lived in Joplin, Missouri, for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I have become very familiar with the city, its people, and its landmarks. When it was struck by a massive tornado on May 22, 2011, Joplin was changed forever. So many people lost so much, and I was heartbroken over the death and devastation that was left in the storm’s wake.
One year later, in May 2012, I traveled to Joplin with my mother to visit Helen and got to see the remaining damage first hand. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around it. You drive along the rolling hills under the shade of the trees, and then suddenly – wasteland. The change is so dramatic that you can almost believe you’ve been transported to another planet. By the time you begin to adjust to the new landscape, boom! The trees and houses and shops reappear as if by magic.
The good news is that people are rebuilding. Life in Joplin keeps moving forward, in spite of the horrible destruction and grief. When you’re there with the people who lived through it, you hear stories so heartbreaking that even the news reports didn’t broadcast them. It’s hard to imagine moving forward and continuing on when you contemplate the enormity of what these people faced. But there are signs of hope and new life and perseverance everywhere, and this is what struck me as I tried to come to terms with what I was seeing as I drove through this forever-altered landscape.
Not far away from the city is a large, out-of-the-way cemetery where a large number of my family are buried. While we were there, I took a photo that is now the cover of the ebook version of My Apple Tree. I decided to use this particular picture because, even though the story itself is about living with the aftermath of death and loss, it is also about learning to embrace life again. That is precisely what the Joplin community showed me this past spring, and it brought an entirely new dimension to my story. I hope that I managed to capture that sense of hope and renewed life well enough to share with readers who pick up the Harvest Treats collection.
Girl Who Reads Guest Post 9/12/12