I promised 40 days - 40 Stories but I don't think I ever promised they would be back to back to back did I? :) Actually, I had planned that but one night it got late and one night I couldn't access the internet and so it goes. Today's story - is going to have to be a regular real life present day raw happening because I actually want to highlight someone else's story.
As an author, speaker, and general whozit - life allows me the honor of being in front of people to share stories, and discuss writing. Or to inspire others to consider the stories of strangers. In that process I have had the great fortune to meet some beautiful people all along the way. Years ago at the Southern Festival of the Book I met two such people during the course of the day after I made my presentation. One was Brenda McClain who was new to the Nashville area and who has a new novel forthcoming from Pat Conroy's new imprint . Click thru and find out more about the amazing Brenda on her website.
The other darling was this story-eyed girl with long locks and an angelic light about her. She and friend Missy were kind enough to say a few words to me about how much they had loved The Messenger of Magnolia Street. Authors never get tired of hearing that. Never. Ever. Except for the ones that might not appreciate it and if I knew any of those people they should probably stay locked up somewhere and not be allowed to attend festivals where people have actually circled their name on a program as a must-see.
This lovely young lady went on to tell me that she was interested in being a published author. Somewhere along the line I was able to arrange a dutch lunch for authors in our fair city and invited these ladies to join us. Don't remember if they both attended lunch at that time or not. Just know at some point they became not only integrated into my life but also integrated into the lives of the other authors and raconteurs in the Nash area. Little miss lovely turned out to be one Miss Jolina Miller who could clog like nobody's business. Turns out she could tell a story as well because she wrote a few novels that were published and received starred reviews in PW. She up and got married to this angelic Man named Randy Petershiem and took his name. We all adjusted our email address book and got used to her new name along with her.
Then she up and had a baby and wrote a novel. Sold the novel. Started another one. And continued not only to write but to write well. And, to keep up an amazing blog that was truthful and honest and raw and open and real. Which brings me to the promise. 40 Real Days - 40 RAW stories.
Our Miss Jolina became Mrs. Jolina. She gave birth to bouncing baby bigger than she is. Wrote these beautiful books and somehow managed to work another beautiful baby in before we could blink an eye. She developed fans and a following, book toured and spoke to people. Autographed copies for readers of all kinds and somewhere along the line I'm certain she has looked up to find a young writer (who come in all ages) hoping to complete their novel and find their way to publication. I have no doubts that they will find a warm and receptive heart on the other end of that pen and the other side of that table. No. Doubt.
Through the years as I have continued writing or speaking and occasionally been overwhelmed with it all with life, with my sons being deployed to war, with sick grand babies, and an ill mother, Jolina (As well as Brenda) has been one of the people who have offered a prayer here and there on my behalf. And I have the deepest of feelings that if my prayers have gotten stuck somewhere in the flotsam that finds its way into the backwater swamps where the water doesn't run clear or certain, her prayers have traveled beyond the speed of light to the land of evermore. They have been weighted and found worthy.
Recently, Jolina has experienced one of those trials that life can turn up at unexpected times and never wanted places. Her mountain man of a husband discovered he had a brain tumor and had to have emergency surgery. The most solid faith in this world can be challenged at that moment and feel like it's standing on shaky ground and going down. What amazed me about this trial was not just Jolina's faith. (And her husband Randy's as well.) But her willingness to be completely emotionally exposed before her readers. To write about it with so much ache and longing that she touched each reader with her words beyond the screen of a laptop or glassy glare of an iPhone. In other words - she was real. She was raw.
I didn't know that on that story filled day so many years ago that the continuing story of that young writer would wind it's way into my life and into my heart. But it did.
Please discover Jolina for yourself at her website and blog. And if you be the praying kind send up a few for her continued blessings for her husband and home.