My writing path is crooked. I am a self-diagnosed dyslectic. When I was
a pre-teen and teenager, I told stories to my nieces and nephews. I don’t
remember what they were about, but the children liked them better than when I
read to them. Except for one—they insisted I tell a ghost story. I don’t like
ghost stories, they still give me nightmares. I pressed forward anyway. It went
along pretty well, at least they were listening. Time came for the ending. It
was dumb. They said so. They never asked for another ghost story.
My big stumbling block
was spelling. That followed me through high school and junior college. When I
was in high school, some teachers graded B/C. The first letter was for content
and second grammar and spelling. I got an A/F from a teacher who said there was
no such thing—yep, you guessed it: spelling. I started 2 novels in high school.
I’ll mention the one titled 5 Girls in a Trailer.
It was about me and 4
friends taking a road trip in a trailer I’d seen. It went pretty well, except
for the spelling, until I got to the Arizona-New Mexico border. I lived in
southern California, and had visited Grandma Mac in Phoenix, Arizona regularly.
This was my first lesson in the need to research. I didn’t know what we would see
or do further east.
When I went to the
local junior college the first time (today we call them community colleges), I
took what we then called Bonehead English 4 times. I knew grammar perfectly.
The 4th time, the teacher said, “Miss McNeil, don’t raise your hand.
I’ll call on you if nobody else knows the answer.”
The problem once again
was spelling. They didn’t teach spelling. At the end of the pass/fail class we
had to write a 500 word essay. More than 5 spelling errors and you failed the
class. I dropped out that semester for other reasons.
I even gave up reading
because I read so slowly. When Star Wars came out, I couldn’t read the opening
credits because they went too fast. I have since conquered that, but don’t have
space to delve into it here.
Helping my children
with spelling words and grammar check helped tremendously for the spelling
part. When spell check catches things like “comming” enough times you learn.
In the early 1990’s I
felt a call from Heavenly Father to go back to college. This post is already
too long, so I won’t go into that here either.
After I graduated with
a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Writing, I started writing once again.
The rest of the story is too long for this post.
The main point is, in my senior years, I’m
striving to fulfill a dream that started when I was young.
Maren's stuck at the intersection of heartache and love, but happily ever after might be just around the corner.
After three years, Maren Summers is elated to finally have her dream wedding to her dream man, Kevin Bryant. In her sights is the promotion to Weddings she’s worked so hard for at the newspaper. Happily ever after is within her grasp…
Until Kevin jilts her at the altar, elopes with another woman, and becomes her boss. Devastated by the twisted turn of events Maren moves in with her best friend and notices the not-so-homeless guy on the corner, Zane Whitfield. As his heart-wrenching tale unfolds—his vow to wait a year on the corner for his lost love—Maren sees his compassionate human-interest story as her ticket away from Kevin, weddings, and her heartache.
But as the New Year approaches, is Maren headed for heartache again if Zane's lost love returns or has time changed more than one heart?
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About the Author:
Lisa Swinton caught the romance bug early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it since. Instead, she feeds her addiction with romance novels and films. In between being a dottore’s wife and mother of two, she occasionally puts her B.A. in Musical Theater to good use via community theater and church choir. In her elusive spare time she enjoys researching her family tree and baking (especially with chocolate). She loves traveling, Jane Austen, and all things Italian. In her next life, she plans to be a professional organizer.
The summer before I started grade four in the Philippines, we moved from the haunted house (that's a story for another day) to a government housing unit near what I believed was an enchanted calamansi tree.
Calamansi is a round, quarter-size green citrus fruit that tastes like key lime. This tree was rounded at the top and not very tall. The reason I thought it was enchanted was it stood like a gatekeeper at the edge of a ravine that I had to jump to access sprawling undeveloped land.
I was still mourning our move from a spacious house and yard to a crowded condo situation, where our unit was one of four on the first floor of a four-story building. Our yard was narrow and small, about all that would grow were papaya trees that smelled fragrant when the fruit was ready to harvest. Water usually stood in puddles on the dirt, rife with mosquitoes that feasted on my bare legs when I played house on crates in the back. The next-door neighbor had no indoor plumbing and used their yard as their toilet until someone with authority told them to stop. Another neighbor wasn't all that friendly. The only consolation I had was a stray cat came over often and I could feed it a saucer of milk.
So, for the few remaining weeks of that summer, I escaped to my ravine, the enchanted calamansi tree appearing to me as though it glowed its welcome.
In the tract of land beyond, a river wound its way past huts, water buffaloes knee-deep in mud, and women washing their laundry in aluminum basins. Floating in the water, dark green kangkong plants that resembled spinach grew in profusion. Dragonflies as big as my pinky finger — we called them tutubing kalabaw, after water buffaloes — hovered, then landed on the kangkong leaves. I caught and released them all day.
Then one afternoon, I pulled up short at the ravine with a little gasp. Men in tractors were tearing up the land past my enchanted calamansi tree. Someone had hammered a “No Trespassing” sign into the dirt.
I ran home to my father and demanded an explanation. He said a developer was preparing the land so they could build more houses.
“But it’s our land!” I said, near tears.
He studied me for a moment, then gave me a sad smile. “Unfortunately, it never was."
The ravine seemed wider than ever as my bubble burst and reality set in. It meant I could no longer play in the river, catch dragonflies, nor tiptoe on rocks to cross the water. I could no longer escape to a fantastical world by way of my enchanted calamansi tree.
In a way, though, that tree stayed with me. It’s gone, true. Concrete and houses have taken its place, but something magical took root in me that summer. On quiet afternoons in my office, when I write my novels, I feel like I am leaping over the ravine, past the enchanted calamansi tree and into an imaginary world beyond.
Jewel Allen is an award-winning journalist, author and memoir ghostwriter. Visit her at www.jewelallen.com.