Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear to My Heart

Right now I'm working on revising Book #1 of The Dreamland Series. That's the one I put up on this blog sometime back. It was okay--but like all first drafts, it needed some work. Those of you who read it may remember one of the characters, Danny Jefferson, who had Down Syndrome. Often overlooked because of his challenges, Danny kept his eyes and ears open and often saw and heard more than anyone else.

I like using special characters in stories. In my first-ever published novel, Where Is Papa's Shining Star?, the male protagonist/hero--Alan Ashley--came back from World War I blind and scarred. He had many challenges to overcome, not the least of which was winning the heart of Lenore Seldon who had less-obvious scars of her own.

In Four Summer Days, a story based on my great-grandfather who shot and killed his stepfather in 1876, there is Cart, the mentally-challenged younger brother of the hero Tom. In a time when such a disability was too often considered something shameful to be hidden away, Cart's family helped him achieve his potential with unequivocal love and encouragement. He had the mind of a child but the soul of an artist and left behind a huge work of intricately-crafted woodcarvings. (This book should be "up" on Amazon soon.)

Blest Be the Tie, the "great American novel" I've been working on for thirty years and may never complete, has Peaches, crippled more by her family's disdain than by childhood polio, her daughter Button, born without a left hand for which Peaches blames herself, perhaps with good reason, and Vic, who came home from WW II without most of one leg.

But I digress. Right now Danny Jefferson is close to my heart because my 18-month-old grandson Liam was born with Down Syndrome. Fortunately for him, he was born into a family who loves him completely and will do everything in our power to help him reach his maximum potential. Looking ahead, I know he will face many challenges, not the least of which is being labeled "different" and as such, "not quite good enough" by many people. Perhaps Danny is my love song for Liam--my prayer for his future.

Writers are often advised to "write what you know". I would add, "Write what you love, what you feel deeply about."


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