I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! I am so excited at the feedback I have already received for A Father’s Heart and I will have a new blog post up soon!
So we are just a few hours from the release of book 16, “A Father’s Heart” and I am excited, but also nervous. This book takes the family in a little bit of a different direction and it’s something I have been wanting to do with for a while. All of the issues they have all faced have been incredibly trying and it has taken a lot out of each of them. There comes a time when the stress and constant worry gets to be too much and something has to give.
I ended book 15 with a turning point for the family. The accident involving Bill and Josie was, in a way, the result of the built up guilt that plagued Jack and as a result, hurt Tommy and Julie. The aftermath of this tragedy spurs changes in the family that need to happen. Things reach a boiling point, and this time, the evil isn’t coming from the outside.
The issues that must be faced come from within.
The benefit of writing a series that has gone on this long is that we have been able to watch this family grow. We know who they are deep down and we know what makes them hurt. We also know the truth behind the walls they put up. We know their vulnerabilities, their fears and their insecurities.
We know that Jack feels a sense of fear that he isn’t truly a member of Tommy and Julie’s family. It isn’t anything based in any truth, but it’s a nagging issue Jack has always suppressed. Certain things have happened in the last book that will push Jack and Tommy and Julie to the breaking point and it isn’t a foregone conclusion that they will be able to get past it.
We also know that Julie will need her family; now more than ever. The rift between Tommy and Jack has hurt Julie in a way she didn’t see coming. She is a strong woman, but everyone has their limit. What she has been through in the past few books would challenge anyone’s sanity, and with this latest crisis and her brothers not supporting her the way she needs, her world begins to fall apart.
We see Stephanie dealing with a personal crisis that stems from her own medical issues as well as the devastating news about her Uncle. That, mixed with her husbands issues have caused a lot of her old insecurities to resurface. There is a lot more to the story that will come to light in book 16 and it is more than Stephanie could have ever imagined.
Mike and Jade are at the highest point of their romance. They are heading down the aisle after so many setbacks and it’s a time for love and hope. They are incredibly connected and excited about the journey they are taking and the impending arrival of their twins. Their story takes center stage in this book and what happens to Jade comes out of left field. Mike finds himself dealing with an enemy unlike any he has faced before.
Brittany is the wild card. She has been through more than any other character in the series and there is a large part of Brittany that I have always glossed over. It has been a point of pride and admiration to others how Brittany has made such a success out of her life after such a horrific assault. That is true, but there is a lot to Brittany that she has never dealt with. The time has come for her to figure out what happened to Barbara, and if there is a way to somehow merge her past with her present. That is a story I have been waiting to tell and it will soon begin to unfold.
There is also Evan and Elizabeth and their impending arrival. Book 16 pushes them to the forefront and they are thrust back into the center of the story. We are revisited by Jason and Amber as Evan and Liz will need their family.
The story is evolving and growing and I’m more excited than ever to show it to all of you. Please enjoy “A Father’s Heart” and know that you all have my deep appreciation for your support!
I love to read. I have always loved to read. I remember growing up and waiting every month for the release of the new Sweet Valley High book and tearing into it, only to finish it in a day and have to wait an agonizing 29 or so more days for the next installment. I still have all of the books in the series in bookcases in my den. It was when I fell in love with romance. It was when I began to connect to a family that became my friends. The characters grew and changed as I grew and changed. I fell in love when the characters fell in love and I cried when their hearts were broken.
I grew up and we grew apart, but my love and appreciation for what the Wakefield family gave to me at a time in my life when I needed that escape was never lost on me. I went to college and entered the workforce and always kept in my mind that connection I felt with books. The escape I so needed.
I missed that life. I missed that escape and the thrill of living vicariously through a family that was close to my own, yet worlds apart. I was far from the blonde and tanned beauties that starred in the series and I had very little experience in my small Michigan town that mimicked the beautiful Southern California town of Sweet Valley.
What I did have, was an imagination and an idea. As I went through the ups and downs of life, the imagination and idea evolved and when I was at the lowest point in my life, when I lost someone incredibly dear to me, I made a decision.
I began to bring my family by choice to life.
At first it was a form of therapy. I wrote to give myself an outlet. I wrote to say the things I couldn’t. I wrote to remind myself of what I wanted in life. I wrote because it hurt not to write.
I have been through a lot since I began this series. I have received terrible reviews that almost made me stop writing. I have received beautiful reviews that I keep close to my heart. I have grown to know these characters as if they were my family and I can’t imagine my life without them. I laugh with them and I cry with them. I feel terrible when they suffer and I’m so proud of them when they succeed.
I think back to the Sweet Valley High series and the more than 200 books I have collected. I think about the joy they gave me and I wonder what my life might have looked like without them. I’m not sure it would have been so great. I dealt with a lot of anxiety growing up and having a place to feel familiar, to feel safe and to escape to was everything to me. It helped me figure things out. It was a constant in my life and it was a huge influence in my formative years.
Over the last 20 or so years, I haven’t really looked at the books that made up so much of my childhood. I sometimes pull one off the shelf and I see the folded page and I know there was a time in my life that one would be hard pressed to pry that book out of my hands. I also know that I can go back to any one of the books and be transported to a time in my teen years when life was so much easier, yet I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
If I had only known then…
But, such is life.
Come by tonight for an update to where I’m taking this series in the next arc. I want to share my plans and my reasoning and I hope it sheds some light on the method to my madness
Below is a small part of my collection
What would you like to see tonight? I am so happy release day is tomorrow, so I am open to sharing something special tonight. What would you like to see the most? Anyone have any requests?
Interview part two:
Bill: I feel silly about this. I don’t know that people really care to hear about me alone.
“You have no idea how much people admire you, do you?”
Bill: I just think there are a lot better people to admire than me.
“Well I’d like to ask you a few questions, if that’s okay.”
“You have alluded to wanting to join the Army to make a difference in the world. Was that the only reason?”
Bill: Well that’s the pretty answer I suppose. (he smiles). But if I’m honest, it’s not the main reason. I had a crappy home life and I guess I was looking for a way out. I knew, finishing my degree would be one thing, but then what? I would still be at home and I couldn’t handle that. I needed to get out of that environment. I needed to get away from my dad.
“But you like being in the Army, don’t you?”
Bill: I loved it. I still do, but my life looks very different now than it did when I enlisted. I had nothing; no obligations or bills to pay. I had none of the blessings I have in my life now. I have a family and they are everything to me.
“What if you were called back to active duty?”
Bill: I am active, but I know what you mean. If I was asked to leave again I would honor my commitment to my Country because it’s who I am and I’m a damn good soldier. With the mess I’ve made of my leg and my transplants, I probably wouldn’t be medically cleared for combat. I wouldn’t want to go, but I owe it to my friends; those I lost; to do what needs to be done.
“You’ve always been a man of your word, haven’t you? That’s important to you?”
Bill: Of course. My word is my bond and if you can’t count on that, then you have nothing. I think it also stems from never being able to trust anyone’s word growing up. My parents never told me the truth about anything and really, the life I thought I lived with my parents was a complete and utter lie, so I think I have some issues with trust. (he smiled and then sighed)
“That’s a nice segue. Can you tell me what your life was like when you were a kid?”
“Because you are a remarkable man and I think the readers would like to know how you were able to get through that and be so kind and giving.”
Bill: I don’t know. I don’t know that I would classify myself as kind and giving. To most people, I’m probably someone they are afraid to get to know. I have a lot of baggage and I don’t open up easily. I also tend to be very protective of those close to me. That can be a turn off for others who want to get to know me. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about my parents.
“Okay. Are you upset by these questions?”
Bill: I’m a private person and I don’t like to talk about things with people I don’t know. Besides, there is no point in dredging up things that can’t be changed. It’s not like my parents were just distant. My father was an evil terrible man. He doesn’t deserve our time.
“What if I told you that someone reading this might be going through a similar circumstance and how you got through it might be helpful to them. Maybe you have more of an impact on others than you realize.”
Bill: I’m no role model. They would be better off looking to Jack or Tommy.
Bill: Because they stepped in when it was needed. When Julie needed her family, they were there. When my mom needed me, I left. I’m just not someone to look up to.
“I think many people would disagree, but I’ll let it go. Do you mind if Mike joins us?”
Bill saw Mike and he smiled, relieved.
Bill: Of course not, although if you think I’m difficult, getting him to talk is like pulling teeth.
Mike chuckled as he sat down.
“Hi. Thanks for coming in,”
Mike: Jade said I had to.
“Well thank her for me. How are things going in your life now?”
Mike: What’s so funny?
Bill: You are a worse interview than I am.
“You two are great friends. Did it start off like that?”
Bill laughed and Mike rolled his eyes.
Bill: No. I thought he was spoiled.
Mike: He was so hard on me. I almost filed a complaint against him.
Bill: You were this pretty boy who everyone loved. I was surprised they didn’t make you a Corporal just by your smile.
Mike shook his head.
Mike: The Sergeant has always been jealous of my good looks.
They both laughed.
“So what changed? You both are so close now.”
Mike: I spent five minutes with him and saw the kind of soldier I wanted to be. He is the best teacher and I knew, while under his command, I was with the best. I grew up with a career Army dad and my respect for those who serve was always high. With the Sergeant, I saw firsthand what commitment meant. I saw how he treated the regiment and I saw how he treated me. He earned my respect and my friendship.
Bill sighed: You’re making it sound much better than it was. I had a job to do and I did it. You need to stop making me into something I’m not.
Mike smiled: And he is humble. You don’t know how it was, that first tour. We were gone for a year and it was shit. We had no idea what we were doing or if we were ever going to get home. So many of us were seriously lacking faith and discipline.
Bill: You weren’t.
Mike: Because of your leadership. You made me want to be a better soldier. You took charge when I knew the fear you had about never seeing your wife again. You handled taking over after Nick was removed from his command and you became our leader.
Bill: I was an idiot who never saw what Nick really was.
Mike looked at him and Bill sighed.
Mike: I think I win in the whole ‘being blind to things’.
Bill: I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just saying that I wasn’t anything special. We all had trouble and we all left people behind.
“Tell me about the second tour.”
Bill and Mike were quiet.
Bill: I lost eight men. They are all that’s important from that mission.
Mike: They are all that matters.
“What about your relationship outside of the Army?”
Mike: You mean how my ex-wife almost got his entire family killed?
Bill sighed: You had nothing to do with that. I need for you to let that go.
Mike: Are we almost done with this?
“Yeah. One more question. How would you each describe your ideal day?”
Mike: Watching Jade laugh.
Bill: Watching my children play and holding my wife in my arms.
Who should be next?