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#WW Death Before Daylight Cover Reveal and News

20 May

#WW Death Before Daylight Cover Reveal and News

I’m sure you’ve already seen it by now, but the cover of Death Before Daylight released by Clean Teen Publishing today! (Insert fangirl scream.) First, I want to thank all of the websites that helped me:

Crazy Beautiful, Ennlee’s Reading Corner, Red Sands Reviews and RamblingsThe Modest Verge Book Blog, In Between the PagesEndless ReadingDowie’s PlaceCharles E YallowitzThe Acid Oasis: The Journal of Adrian Blackraven, Annette AbernathyJust Another Girl And Her BooksThe Schwartz Reviews, DallasUp2Jonas LeeChris Pavesic’s Author Page, SDAV Reads, Trials of a wanna-be-published Writer, Tranquil DreamsawkwardMEOW Productions, Live. Laugh. Read.Cassandra Lost in BooksMel’s Shelves, Pau’s Castles,  One Guy’s Guide to Good ReadsA Readers Review, The Book Gannet, T.B. MarkinsonThe Book ForumsJera’s JamboreeNicholas C. Rossis (posting on the 21), Macy AvenueLittle Birdy Book Blog, and The Avid Book Collector!

These wonderful Members of the Dark helped today happen. Cheers to them. On top of that, one of them won the wonderful little prize of a signed bookmark. Congratulations goes out to Crazy Beautiful!

The winner!

The winner!

If you would like to become a Member of the Dark (or Light), please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. Your email will never be given out, and you’ll only receive messages about future events and prize opportunities. One member wins any eBook from Amazon every month.

Now that all of that has been said and done, here is the cover:

DBDcoverDeath Before Daylight

Two eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects is to finally hear the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric—and only Eric—and Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must choose who she will be—a light or a shade.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

Death Before Daylight FINALLY releases on September 15, 2015. I know many of you have been waiting for this novel since January, and for that, I apologize, but I am so excited that the last novel (as well as the rest of the trilogy) will be releasing in its entirety this summer and fall!

Book 1, Minutes Before Sunset, releases July 28, and you can win a paperback right now from Clean Teen Publishing via Goodreads. You can also pre-order Minutes Before Sunset via Amazon.

Get excited! Because the Dark is coming.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

P.S. My latest episode on my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – released yesterday. We talked about Book Girlfriends.

#MondayBlogs: My Issues With Literature

18 May

Intro:

From 2009 to 2013, I studied English at the University of Kansas, and during that time, I had to decide whether or not my focus would be on literature or on creative writing. I fought with my adviser over this for my first semester. He wanted me to pursue literature; I wanted to hone my writing skills. After I showed him a copy of November Snow, he relented, and I was an English major with a focus on creative writing. Now, that being said, the majority of my classes were still focused on studying different types of literature (instead of writing), and we often talked about the differences between literature and “other writings”, so today’s topic—discussed and written by Eliot Gilbert—hits home for me, and I hope you enjoy his post as much as I do.

My Issues With Literature

There is an elusive mythical status in the world of writing which can only be obtained, seemingly, by bribing (or blackmailing) scholars and booksellers. The status to which I refer is what I like to call capital “L” Literature, and I’m so against the term that I almost sighed by typing it out.

I am sure at least some of you have scratched your head trying to puzzle out the term “Literature”, without much avail. I, personally, am studying English Literature academically, and I still am not entirely sure what means. Its seems peculiar to me to have a distinction between literature and Literature.

Here’s where I think the largest mix-up is: the western literary canon seems to insist that a work should be valued as Literature if it has a superb artistic merit, and if it has significantly contributed to cultural development of the western world. At first that definition seems to be satisfactory, but when put under any amount of scrutiny, it simply does not hold up.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Firstly, the definition seems to imply objectivity. In truth, the decisions are entirely subjective; works of writing are determined Literature by scholars and researchers who have their own interests and methods of interpretation. Put differently, some works are ignored because a scholar has no interest in them, and some works are elevated because they speak personally to the critic.

So, it is impossible to responsibly define Literature as an objective status. This brings up the second largest problem, in my mind: it’s a ridiculous “dog chasing its tail” situation.

Literature is determined based on personal interest of the scholar, and then either accepted into the critical community or rejected, over a span of time, and through further interest by other scholars and researchers. What happens, then, is that certain work gets attention, and then that work is elevated to Literature, and other work is ignored or put down because it doesn’t fit the present definition of Literature. Those who are fellow writers may see a similar situation in getting published without previously being published.

This, in my mind, has caused a host of confusions and issues. The main issue for me is a general dismissal of genre fiction. I like to use The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty as my go-to example. The novel, especially the 40th anniversary edition, is brilliantly paced, highly imaginative, has artistic and disciplined prose, and makes the reader think and discuss rather than spells everything out for her. In addition to this, the novel has had millions of copies sold, and spawned several adaptations, not least of which was the first film adaptation, which became one of the highest grossing films of all time. By anyone’s definition, The Exorcist should be literature, but a quick search on Google Scholar will demonstrate that is simply not the case.

The western canon of literature is extremely genre-biased. Works of science fiction, horror, fantasy, suspense, and YA fiction, are frequently ignored only because there is a preconceived notion about the quality of writing which is altogether unhealthy and false. In my own experience, there is frequently unskilled work that is considered “general fiction”, or even what is considered “contemporary literary fiction”.

As readers and writers, I think we need to broaden our scope of what is considered exceptional writing.

In his book Literary Theory: An Introduction, critic Terry Eagleton asserts that Literature should not be viewed in the standard way I described, but instead, as work that is highly valuable. I believe it is infinitely more useful to view Literature in this way, because it encourages subjectivity.

That is not to say I believe the casual reader is as skilled at literary analysis as a PhD would be, but I do believe that we should stop capitalizing the “L” in Literature; “literature” is, simply put, anything that is written, and every written work deserves an equal scrutiny, regardless of genre or format.

So go out there and create wonderful literature, and read wonderful literature. But please, for the sake of us all, try to avoid the more snobbish, capitalized consonant variety.

author+pictureBio: Eliot Gilbert is an emerging fiction writer, primarily working the in soft fantastic. He is a proprietor of aesthetic approaches to literature, and thinks genre work isn’t given enough attention as a serious medium. His work is appearing in the fall issue of Calliope, the literary magazine of the special interest writing group of the American Mensa. He studies English at York University, in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on his website, on his Twitter, or on his Instagram.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

16 May

#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

This past Wednesday, my content disclosure tree for Minutes Before Sunset released by Clean Teen Publishing. What is a content disclosure tree? Well, I’ll leave that up to my publisher to define on their website. (Click here to read the definition. Click here to read my full content disclosure tree.) I suggest reading both before continuing, but I’m going to write the article as if the links are broken.

yaclose27

In summary, Clean Teen Publishing allows readers to understand what they’re picking up when they choose a book—which I completely support for numerous reasons, but I will mainly talk about personal experiences, both from working with readers and from traumatic topics I’ve lived through myself, and how these examples have helped me understand the consideration of a content disclosure.

Starting off at my day job, I help authors find readers interested in their work. One of the topics I always discuss with authors is whether or not there is incest, rape, or other controversial topics in the story. Why? Because many of the reviewers I have worked with requested to know this for various reasons. By talking to numerous readers every day, I started to realize how many readers would prefer to know certain things up front—again, for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s triggering for those with PTSD. Sometimes, they are simply disinterested in that scenario. Sometimes, it’s just a preference of how they are feeling that day. While I’m not one to be against any particular topic in a novel, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to read about certain topics, especially involving traumas.

That being said, this sort of disclosure hasn’t happened without controversy. Simply Google “disclosing content in novels” or “content ratings for readers” and I guarantee you’ll find a forum discussing the pros and cons of this. The main arguments I see revolve around ruining surprises and the effectiveness of even preventing someone from reading something they won’t enjoy. And that’s what I want to discuss.

First, as a writer who has written about controversial topics—particularly with violence and language in November Snow and The Timely Death Trilogy, and drug use in Take Me TomorrowI would – by no means – want a reader to pick up one of my works and accidentally be triggered by something. Speaking from personal experience, my mother died from a drug overdose when I was eleven, which is why I wrote Take Me Tomorrow, but through years of counseling, I met many kids like me who reacted very differently than I did. Reading Take Me Tomorrow would be extremely upsetting for them, and knowing what they went through, I would never want to cause them distress about such a personal topic. As a fellow reader, I would also rather find them something else they might like to read.

Granted, I understand the “just put it down” argument, but—at the same time—why can’t we prevent readers from picking up a book they definitely won’t like in the first place? This isn’t about ratings or reviews. This is about caring about your readers’ feelings and time. Now . . . here is where I hear the “but that ruins the surprise” argument . . . which I don’t understand, because—if done correctly—the content disclosure will say the topic, not which character and on which page. Take my full disclosure for example (if you click on this link, it’s at the bottom of the page). Clean Teen Publishing lets us know that Minutes Before Sunset talks about a parent’s suicide. It doesn’t say which one. It doesn’t say how it happens or when it happens. It doesn’t even say how much it is discussed. If anything, I’ve given away SO MUCH more on my website about the topic of suicide in The Timely Death Trilogy and November Snow.

I know I write about controversial – and often violent – topics in my stories, and I, by no means, have an issue with readers knowing that up front, especially because my novels fall under the YA genre, and genres alone don’t warn about the insides. TV and movies have had ratings for a long time, and while I understand that it’s much easier to be surfing channels and accidentally comes across a movie (and a book takes much more time to get into), I think content disclosures can help a large portion of readers find more suitable books that they will enjoy.

Content disclosures can help those that feel like they need it, and those who feel they don’t need content disclosures can ignore them. If you want to be surprised about all the topics, for instance, don’t read the disclosure. It’s as simple as that. At this point, I will say that I don’t think it needs to be an industry standard but rather something that is up to an author and their publisher (and of course, the reader). Personally, I love them. I see too many benefits coming from them for me not to love them. Content disclosures can help those avoiding triggering topics and even help parents choose books for their children that they deem appropriate. Disclosures can help readers find exactly what they’re looking for, maybe even a controversial topic they’ve struggled to find. Everyone who wants them can read them, and everyone who doesn’t want them doesn’t have to use them, but as an author, I’m glad my novels now have one.

~SAT

P.S. On a fun side note, my publisher actually makes these for anyone interested! Click here to check it out.

P.S.S. I reviewed Ex Machina and talked about robots during my latest YouTube video on Coffee & Cats!

#WW Writer Problems 6-10

13 May

#WW Writer Problems 6-10

We like to believe that writing is all fun and games (and the worst thing that can happen is battling a thesaurus.) But writing is so much more than that, and because of all the work that goes on behind the scenes, writing often consumes the writer entirely. It lurks in the night like a good ol’ villain. It distracts us perfectly like a cheeky sidekick. It overcomes obstacles—not often as smoothly as we’d like—but it overcomes them like our heroes. It’s moments like these that remind me why I love writing, but these moments also bring up the awkward truth behind all-that-is writing, and I like to share these moments as my #WriterProblems. Last month, I shared 1-5, so this month, I’m sharing 6-10. Be sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter because I share these cards there first. This is just the additional stories that go along with the cards. And—of course—feel free to take these cards and share them around. Just please don’t crop my name out. :]

Writer Problems #6

Trying to Find Inspirational Photos for Writing.

6

For all of you Pinterest lovers out these, I’m sure you can relate to this one. Trying to find a normal male teenager with dark hair is nearly impossible. Everyone is either famous, naked, or both. And who wants that on their Pinterest board (if it’s not erotica)? Considering the billions of photos that are on the Internet, I’m often surprised at how difficult it can be to find a person who looks similar to the description of a character or even in a place in a novel. In fact, this card can be taken literally. While my cover artist and I were trying to find a male model for the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise, we stumbled upon this beauty. And yes. That’s a nearly naked man, wearing armor made out of bread. It took us an additional three days to find a male model with dark hair who had clothes on.

Writer Problems #7

Cats…We Love You, But Please Get Off The Keyboard.

7h

I have three of them. Trying to get them off my laptop—let alone out from under my desk where all the tempting wires hide—is a daily task I fail at. In fact, Boo-Boo is slaughtering my cell phone cord as I type this.

Writer Problems #8

When You Can’t Find Your Pens

8

Perhaps you no longer use pens. In this day and age, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a writer never used a writing utensil to write. But I still do. I have to. I love my pens. I’m rather protective of them too. And I only write with G-2 pens…and they often go missing. This either goes back to the cats, my roommates, or the writer goblin…a secret creature who lies in wait to prevent any more words from being written. Oh, wait. No. That’s my hair. Not a goblin.

Writer Problems #9

Writing in Public and Playing Your Writing Music Too Loud

9

You’re writing. You’re music is playing. You’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop. Your words are flowing. You reach the end of a chapter and pause to take a sip of coffee. That’s when you look up and realize everyone is staring at you. Everyone. And you take off your headphones to see if someone will explain…when the noise explains it already. Yes. We heard your Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. We heard it all. You were practically dancing too.

Writer Problems #10

Pen marks.

10

This happens to me all too often—so often that I wonder if I can ever be one of those authors that only uses computers. I…just…can’t. But this card was inspired by a recent outing. My roommate and I went everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The grocery store, the coffee shop I always go to, the hardware store, the diner. And the day was fantastic. It truly was. Until I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and saw it. I had black pen smudged all the way down my left cheek and part of my nose. And no one told me. ::facepalm:: Sometimes, though, a nice barista says something, and I can clean my pen off with dignity.

So how about you? What did these writer problems remind you of? Share your story below, and be sure to check out 1-5 if you missed it. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter too so we can talk about these as they release…because we all know more are to come. So many more.

~SAT

P.S. My latest YouTube video on my channel – Coffee & Cats – went up yesterday! We’re talking about book boyfriends. 

#MondayBlogs: The Mental Health of Writing

11 May

Intro:

Mental health is an important discussion everyone should be familiar with—and in all aspects of culture. For instance, artists as a whole have developed a reputation of having depression and anxiety, but depression isn’t a prerequisite to being an artist, and both sides need to be understood. Today’s guest blogger discusses this topic in great (and personal) detail, and I’m very excited to have Airian Eastman on today. She writes romance, fantasy, and science fiction, but today, she is writing about depression and art. Let’s welcome her!

#MondayBlogs: The Mental Health of Writing

For a long time I have struggled with how much self to put into the novel. I have two beautiful dear friends who passed away, a horrible ex-boyfriend, and a mentally unstable high school bff. I have been told I should write them into stories, two as good characters and the others as villains. I have plans for the villains. I think it is very easy to tear someone down but not as easy to build someone else up.

I have also struggled to get bits of my memory into the writing. Either, it comes off as pure filler with none of the heart and soul, or it ends up reading like a journal. How can this be fixed? How do you take all the good and bad memories, thoughts, and emotions and wrap them up in a bow for your characters to discover and deal with? 

10702204_1508493842734688_1648743245336585906_nI found, for me, this was a two-pronged problem, and I could only become a more successful writer if I fixed both problems, but to fix one meant facing another. The first problem was that I cared way too much about what other people thought about me. The second problem was that I had allowed myself to become an overemotional, miserable person.

First, the second problem. I say I was overemotional and miserable, and this was the case. I found myself a part of the mental health system for the best part of two decades, and at the end of the day, I found out what was wrong with me. Absolutely nothing.

“How can that be?”

I failed to listen to the one person who mattered most, and what caused me to listen to her was a painful hell that turned into a sort of purgatory. To rise out of it could only be done (or undone) by my hand. I, myself, was the one person I failed to listen to, and the only person who could get any semblance of a life back for myself.

Sometimes I do wonder what would have been if I had found this path sooner, but I remind myself I am where I am supposed to be on the journey.

I am not saying that everyone in need of mental health and support can be cured easily, or do not need medication or therapy, but I will caution to be wary of misdiagnosing yourself or others. For me though, it was simply listening to what was in my heart and in my head.

I was overly emotional. I was allowing myself to be small. I was forcing myself into a box of my own creation. In the end I was letting myself down. I was pretending to be happy, playing victim and being miserable, lonely, and sad. I believed that no one could understand my plight and that it was somehow more tragic and important than the other 7 billion people on the planet.

Guess what—I’m not.

The only way I was going to fix problem number one; caring what other people thought about me, was to focus on problem number two. How could I be happy? Did I want to be happy? Doesn’t everyone want to be happy? I think that for thirty years I was content being miserable. I was wallowing in the self-pity of my life. I was dealt a raw deal in many circumstances. My life was full of tragic moments, pain, misery, sorrow. As a child, I dealt with life situations that were outside the scope of my understanding, and I did not always have the tools or help needed to rationalize them.

I was not alone. In my own circle of family we shared in experiences. We went through the same situations and came out in different places. My sister seemed cynical and apathetic. My brother seemed angry and at times demanding. Yet we all faced the same fears together. Slightly different perspectives but that should have helped us.

I started to listen to them talk about what they felt and how they saw a situation, and I realized that I was often the selfish brat that was needing attention. I also felt I was worthless because of this behavior. I thought my family only saw me as a brat and nothing else. I figured the whole world looked at me as a negative person, doubted my ability, and outright hated me. My internal self-image was projected outward. It was not how the world viewed me through their eyes, it was how I THOUGHT the world viewed me through my own eyes. I was full of fear and self-loathing. I didn’t know who I was and how could I figure that out with so much negative thought clouding my judgment.

I began to explore the two things hand in hand. I stopped calling myself stupid, bad, bratty, or depressed. I also did not allow people in my life to cut me down either. Friends who want to keep you where you are and “make” you feel bad about yourself are no friends at all. I stopped giving other people all of me and learned to keep more for myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way.

I started to focus on the happy emotions. The good feelings. I allowed myself to set big goals knowing I could make anything happen if I put my mind to it. I learned to listen to what I was wanting and how to take care of myself. It worked. My writing has improved and I was able to add scenes into my last book that were straight out of my childhood without giving too much away. It still had the heart, but it no longer felt like I was betraying those I cared about. Instead, I was able to enhance small memories in big ways with just enough fiction to bind them together.

Being a writer does not mean you have to have a tragic past. Bad things did not happen to the best writers just so they could write about it. The best writers learned to use the bad things to enhance their writing, and they did it in a way that worked for them. No two writers are the same no matter how we like to compare them. Be yourself, for better or worse, and figure out what your block is. We all have blocks. Some of us have entire walls of blocks that feel like they would be impossible to scale. It isn’t the case. You can discover who you are as a writer by discovering who you are as a person. It will all fall together when you need it most. Don’t let anything hold you back from the story you feel you were meant to tell!

Bio:

Airian Eastman is from Central New York and draws much of her inspiration for her stories from the places she grew up. She writes romance, fantasy and science fiction, with a love of steampunk and old legends retold. Airian has struggled with depression and often talks about that in her writing in an effort to help others. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two cats. For more visit www.airianeastman.com

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: When Writing is Not All You Do

4 May

Intro:

Back in February of 2013, I wrote a little blog post called Writing Tips: How to Handle Rejection. A huge part of this post was dedicated to John Tompkins. At the time, he wrote a blog called Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers). That blog no longer exists, but it was one of my favorites. Why? Because John Tompkins had a fearlessness many crave. He shared his rejection letters from publishers with humor and honesty, and while I think every writer has been rejected, he was open about it, and that is rare. Since then, he has since self-published, and today, he is writing an article for us about another topic many authors can relate to—working and writing, as two separate full-time jobs.

When Writing is Not All You Do

Writing is easy. Getting published is hard. This is especially true for those who work and have families. It’s pretty difficult to advance your writing career when you’re alternating your time between a job, washing dishes after dinner, bathing your child and helping with laundry.

A writer recently posted an item on Salon claiming that authors who do nothing but write, thanks to financial security, shouldn’t be judged because they have the luxury to live all writing all the time.

cover 2One encouraging thing the writer did say, however, is that those who are privileged should disclose that and not pretend that they had to fight through the clutter on Amazon or through the slush pile with a publisher to get noticed. Many of them have connections in the publishing industry and quite simply don’t know what it’s like to struggle. The Salon writer offered two examples of successful writers. One is due to inherit a sizable fortune and has time to do nothing but write. The other is a young woman who was the only child of a couple heavily involved in the New York literary scene. Her being published was foregone the moment she was born.

I’m a married father of one with another one due in June. I also work full time, mostly writing at night while my wife’s asleep or during King of Queens reruns. Have to fit it in somewhere.

I’ve written now, three books (ok two books and one novella) all of which have been rejected (I’ve got more than 100 reject letters). Most of the letters I made fun of by posting to a now defunct blog. Reading the rejections, I noticed that they all pretty much sounded the same. “Sorry, you’re good, but you’re not spectacular.” I gave up with agents and publishers and decided, after having two PhD’s edit my book, to just put it out there.

I posted it to Amazon about a month ago. Hopefully it will make it through all of the clutter but I guess we’ll see. I’m doing my best to market it and I’m also struggling to find reviewers.

I think my problem with the publishing industry is mostly the second example. Too many people who are talented with something valuable to say are ignored by publishers because they didn’t grow up in the Northeast or have connections from graduate school. So they’re ignored. It’s a disservice to readers and the art in general. I said as much in a comment to the Salon story.

It shouldn’t anger me so much to hear authors who start off wealthy and have nothing to do but write. But it does and it is easy to get discouraged.

There are the handful of success stories, notably E.L. James and a series of books you may have heard of, Fifty Shades of Grey. She self-published her novels originally as e-books. You know the rest of the story. One of the tidbits I enjoy about her success is when the director was making the ending to the recently released movie, James ordered him to make the ending she wanted. That’s control that most authors never get because so few have subsidiary rights. (Further ironic because the whole story is about personal control and giving it up.) This all being said, James was a television executive when she was writing Fifty Shades. But unlike other privileged writers, she released her works as any other independent author. Her books actually started out as fan fiction of the Twilight series.

This is about the only thing I think that keeps me going. When I’m sitting in my bed at 12 a.m. trying to hit my daily 1,500-word quota on number four, I can only dream about the day when I can type at a desk during the day. I will probably still have King of Queens on in the background though.

Bio:

John Tompkins is a writer living in Texas. He is a former newspaper reporter specializing in court coverage, education and government. He is now working as a communications coordinator at local college.

Book & Blog

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: The Secret Garden of Trees

2 May

Announcement: 

From now on, one lucky winner will receive any eBook under $5.00 from Amazon every month. How? Well, every week, I post a Dark Member of the Week, and out of those members that month, one of them will be chosen for the monthly prize. Basically, the more you participate, the more your name gets entered into a giant, black cauldron – where the elders then work their magic to pick the winner! If you want to become a Member of the Dark, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. You are not required to do anything, and I will never give out your email. I will only email you during special events – like cover reveals or release days – and based on your participation, your website might be chosen as a Member of the Week. Those members are shared on The Timely Death Trilogy FB page and Twitter, and out of those spotlight winners, one of them will win the eBook prize. All April Members of the Week will be entered into the May lottery.

Good luck!

#SATurday: The Secret Garden of Trees

Let’s talk about trees for a moment. Why? Well, because I love them, and I often share my love for them on my Facebook and during my monthly Website Wonders – like these posts A Majestic Cathedral Made of Living, Breathing Trees, 12 Amazing Tree Tunnels You Should Definitely Take a Walk Through, and 16 of the Most Magnificent Trees in the World.

I’m not sure where my appreciation and admiration for trees began, but the first tree I remember loving was an old pear tree at my grandparents’ home. It was the only consistent home in my childhood, seeing as I moved around constantly while regularly visiting my grandparents during the summers and holidays. Mainly during Christmas. Which is why this pear tree memory stands out.

It was either the fall or spring, during that time of the year where it’s too cool to be summer and too warm to be winter. It was night too – which is even odder considering I can tell I’m very young, mainly by my lack of height in the memory. Everything was much taller than it should’ve been, and I have a feeling I shouldn’t have been outside, but I always have been a bit of a rebel, a bit of an explorer, a bit of an obsesser. When I get focused, I can’t get unfocused, so it’s highly likely that I snuck out – off the porch and around the bend to the place that I can only describe as a secret garden of trees (at least, in my child’s mind).

trees

In truth, it was a makeshift grove, tucked away at the corner of the house, sheltered by the brick walls and a stone patio. The pear tree encompassed the little lot, and it hid a cracking, cement birdbath, something that equally fascinated me despite the fact that I never saw it being used. Even so, I loved sneaking into this spot, and almost every time, my mother caught me and told me I wasn’t allowed back there – something about it being right next to my great grandmother’s bedroom.

I probably only snuck back there a few times, but I still remember lying on the damp cement – staring up at the pears and the light spotting on them through the leaves – while fallen pears rotted around me. Nothing at all could’ve bugged me – not even the bugs – and I find that many trees have that effect on me.

Later in my life, we had a Dogwood tree, and a blackberry tree, and a willow tree, and a forest of all kinds of trees near me – at separate times but near me nonetheless. This morning, I noticed my neighbor has a red flowering tree – something I haven’t been able to see until recently considering I moved in during the winter. The colors are appearing – one at a time – all over my walk from my home to the coffee shop where I often write, and I am taking note of all the trees that accompany me along the way, and if I had to say anything at all, I’m just glad not every beautiful tree is locked away, tucked away, or hiding away in a secret garden.

~SAT

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