Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Story Behind The Story - Part Two

Whether some one is a farmer  or barber, long haul trucker or a doctor, we all struggle through life’s  challenges and changes. How do some of us learn to rise up and thrive while others only exist?  How did someone like me who worked as a pet groomer since the age of eleven, become the author of six books, to date?   

As I publish  my newest blog series, “The Story Behind  The Story,” it is my hope that we  all might connect on some level.

Enjoy my musings and “The Story Behind The Story.” and  in the process, I hope you gain understanding and encouragement for your own journey.

The Story Behind The Story
"Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost"

When I finished writing and publishing my first book, COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST,  a memoir, I held the book in my hands.  My fingers feathered over its glossy cover and thumbed through the pages, touching the words on the pages … so many of them… and I cried. The tears came from disbelief, humility, and  a deep satisfaction and empowerment. How did this happen? When I gathered my senses. I knew one thing. I was hooked on writing. I had found the answer to that question I had been asking all my life, ‘Is this all there is?’

As I held the book in my hand, it became a crystal ball, pulsing, glowing and alluring. The orb held my voice, a part of me, of who I am, an expression of me.  I had things to say.  Words swirled within the crystal, like a pot of   alphabet soup, the letters churning and boiling, threatening to boil over if I did not find a release for them. The compulsion to write was too strong to ignore.

But what to write?  COAST TO CAOST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST was a memoir. I figured anyone could write their own story. I felt I had nothing more to say about my past. I had been estranged from my daughter for over ten years, so I had no stories with happy endings.  I wondered if I could make something up. And so, GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST was born.

You may have realized by now  I am what is called in the writing world as a ‘Pantser,’ someone who writes by the seat of her pants, which aligns will my compulsive personality. My sister, a reserved and controlled individual, once said to me, “You amaze me. You decide to do something that you have never done before and know nothing about, and then you just do it.” That’s me.

I decided to write a mystery-romance. Because COAST TO COAST was selling and receiving rave reviews, I wanted to retain the RVing theme and keep the main character, Judy Howard, but make her fictional.  And of course, the cat, Sportster would continue to add his antics and the stuffed doll  known as Cowboy Jack would  not let up haunting  my protagonist.

 Wala!  I would have a series!  And what better universal issue to address? My story would bring to the forefront the question many of us have pondered --  What if you had a second chance to reunite with your first love, your high school sweetheart? 

Writers write what they know, not that I ever reunited with my first love. But we infuse the story with feelings we have experienced. Just change up the real people, places and outcomes  with fictional characters, imagined, tangled up  situations and  a happy, Camelot ending.
As I wrote GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST, I imagined my first love and created the character, Brad. I offered my fictional character, Judy, a second ,chance but only if she found the courage to jump  through the mysterious  entanglements of her fictional life.

Writing fiction became magical and rewarding, I could escape into a fantasy world of my own making and play with my own desires. The real-life boyfriend? I had no idea where he was or what had become of him, but the  boy who had lived in my mind all these years now  came alive on paper. What fun!

I fell in love all over again –with Brad. I couldn’t let him go.  As my writing progressed,  Brad lived on in books three and four. There is a saying. “If an author loves you, you will live forever.”
GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST became a hit like the first book. My confidence soared.  I was on my way. I was a real author.  I believed this newly discovered gift came with a responsibility. My talent was   not only  to  be used for  entertainment but also for a higher good – to change the world, to make it a better place.  Authors can change things.  The written word can be as powerful as a bullet and as life changing as love.

GOING HOME WITH A CAT AND A GHOST had been  a fun fantasy and a romantic and exciting  mystery to write. But I resolved to respect the gift I had discovered and  tackle the responsibility  that goes with writing and attempt to make the world better.  My next book MASADA’S MARINE  would  do just  that. 

Stay tuned for the Story Behind The Story of MASADA'S MARINE.


A novel about life’s complexities for Judy Howard, a recently widowed woman who travels in her Winnebago motorhome from California to Illinois to attend her 40th high school reunion by the invitation of her first love, Brad.   She makes the trip accompanied by her cat, Sportster, and a life-sized polyester doll, riding shotgun whom she calls Cowboy Jack.

She returns to her home town after fleeing from family and Brad   forty years ago to escape the shame and horror of an illegal abortion as the result of being drugged and date raped at the age of sixteen.

She had married and made a life for herself for the last forty years but was always haunted by nightmares of the rape, by dreamy memories of her Brad and by constant regrets, and questions of “What if..?”

The opportunity to confront her lifelong question of “What if..?” arises when her husband dies and Brad invites her to their 40th high school reunion. Gathering up her shaky courage, Judy heads home to face her past…and who knows? – Her future?

The odyssey is not only a discovery of Route 66,  but also a deep examination of her feelings and about the woman she has become since she snuggled in the backseat of Brad’s 57 Chevy.

Brad has lived the last four decades married only to the police force, obsessed with investigating and capturing the biggest drug dealer in the Midwest called Pit Bull. Brad, too, has lived his life with regrets and guilt, always tortured with his own “What ifs?” When he invites Judy to the reunion his mind is made up. He will not waste another moment wondering. He is going to pursue the love of his life and end his doubts.

As Judy progresses toward Springfield and Brad nears closing the biggest case of his career, they are both confronted with the past when Pit Bull threatens to put an end, not only to the mysteries of the past, but Brad and Judy’s future.

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.


Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Safe travels!