Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chapter 26 - Part 3 - The rest of Leesie's poem

Here's the rest of Leesie's poem to finish off Chapter 26. I'm working on a dive log to post  Monday. I hope you all have a Happy, Happy New Year!! 

Thank you for cheering me on through a tough 2010. It's been a hard year for lots of people. I watch what is going on around me and feel so blessed. Sometimes I think I should relax and enjoy my great kids and wonderful husband. 

If I didn't write, my life would be so easy. I'd be bored and grumpy and miss all of you, but I wouldn't be banging my head against the wall, either. The marketing and self-promotion aspect of being an author stresses me out. And I don't want to even think about dealing with publishers. 

But who am I kidding? The challenge of creating fiction is something I can't live without. I've had amazing mentors, wonderful friends, and a editor who believed in my art enough to publish it--huge blessings. At the end of my sixth year post-MFA, I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that have come. I've learned so much, and I'm still learning.

I am most grateful for all of you. 

Before you get published and people actually read your work, it's hard to even imagine how you feel about every person who picks up your book and loves it. It's like trying to explain to someone who isn't a parent the overwhelming sensations that engulf you when a child is born. You've touched my heart deeply, and I can honestly say I love you all. Thank you for letting me into your lives and joining yours to mine.  When I look back on 2010, I'm not going to remember the rejection and frustration. Or even the relentless PR. I'm going to remember you.

So, no easy life for me. Not in 2011, 2012, or ever. I've got stories to tell!

Here's the rest of the poem we started yesterday. Now I need to go take down the Christmas tree.

Leesie's Poem (cont.)

After dinner at Aunty Jaz’s
while she snores on the couch
with her bandaged foot propped
on a tower of pillows balanced
on a wispy coffee table,
Michael sits beside me
on the step that leads to
a kitchen full of dirty dishes
that I need to wash.
I lean into him and inhale
his presence.

His lips rest on the top of my head
for a moment and then
he carefully places an open
Book of Mormon in my lap.
“I don’t get this part,” he whispers.
“Can you help me?”
I sit up so I can study his face.
My eyes find his and hold them.
“You’re reading this?”
Tears threaten and a lump
in my throat chokes off my words.
He did this on his own? all alone?
Without me?

I sniff and pull a ragged tissue from my pocket.
He kisses my forehead. “Aunty Jaz told me
about that test at the end.”
I try to stay calm, match his nonchalance,
focus on the page open in my lap—
Lehi’s dream? My fingers smooth
over the page as my heart
beats loud enough for him to hear it.
“What do you think so far?”

“I don’t know I just started.”
His arms go around me.
“More action than I expected.
I thought holy guys were wimps.”
I snuggle into his embrace. “Not Nephi.”
“Yeah.” He raises a hand to his neck.
“That dude’s dangerous.”
“We don’t chop off heads at midnight.”
He laughs and stretches his legs out.
“Do you think I’m Laman or Lemuel?”
“The bad boys?” I frown at him. “No way.”
“Who then?”
 I hunch over thinking, with elbows
on my knees and my chin in my palms.
“I know”—I sit up and twist to face him—
“You’re Zoram.” He looks puzzled.
I flick the pages back, searching.
“The guy they capture and force
to come along. Here.” I point to the verse.
He reads and shakes his head. “That’s what
I thought. Join us or die.”

I lean close and press my lips to his.
“That’s not your choice.”
He holds my face against his.
“Join us or lose you.”
I kiss him again.
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Even if,” he murmurs across
my mouth, “this test is a flop?”
I bow my head onto his shoulder.
“Have you prayed yet?”
“I’m on page fourteen.”
I look up. “So?”
“Don’t I have to finish
the whole thing first?”
I take his face between by hands
“Pray ever time you open the book.”
He leans forward and kisses me.
“Like now?”
We kiss again. “Uh-huh.”
He sits up, serious now.
“Can you do it?”
“No.” I push his hair out of his face.
His eyes move away from mine.
“You know I don’t believe
I’m talking to anybody?”
I take his hands and whisper,
“Then what will it hurt?”
He bows his head, closes his eyes.
“Dear Leesie’s God-guy,
Can you get her to explain
this dream bit to me? Amen.”
I squeeze his hands.
“I could call the elders. The guys
at the branch are nice.”
“Nope.” He lifts my hands to his lips.
“This is just between you and me.”
“And my God-guy.”

We sit side by side and bend
our heads over the verses.
“Lehi’s boys couldn’t figure the dream
out, either. The naughty ones sat around
and complained. Nephi prayed and look”—
Michael’s eyes follow as my fingers turn the pages—
“the Lord answered.”
He picks up the book and reads.
“This is talking all about Jesus.
He wasn’t in the dream.”
“The Tree of Life is God’s love.”
I point to the verse.
“Nephi received a vision of Christ
because His mission to earth
is the greatest manifestation
of the Father’s love for us.”
“But aren’t they the same guy?
I know that much from Gram’s church.”
“No.” I flip to a picture of the first vision.
“Father and Son—just like you
and your dad—with bodies like
ours, but perfected—Eternal.
He strokes my cheek.
“And you’re His daughter?”
I kiss his fingers.
“And you’re His son.”
“Like Pres. Bodden’s blessing?”
“You remember that?”
He meets my eyes with intensity.
“I can’t forget it.”

I put my arms around him and draw
him close. “Thank you—for trying my world.”
I kiss him with all the love in my heart.
He hangs onto me. “Don’t let go or I’ll panic.”
“Don’t worry.” I squeeze him. “I’ve got you.”
He rests his forehead on mine.
“What if you’re God doesn’t speak to me?”
I shake my head in wonder that he
does see what’s so clear.
“He already has or we wouldn’t be here.”
Michael draws away. “That’s my mom.”
I pull him back close.
“She’s on His side.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chapter 26 - Part 2 - Leesie's poem

I think this is only half of Leesie's poem. I need to really take my time with the rest of it. I want the next scene to be from her POV, too. So this is just Part A to the poem. Baby steps today, but an important one for Leesie.

Today is the final day to vote in the Goodreads Choice Award. I'm trying hard not to think about it or I'll go crazy! Thanks again for all your support.


Michael holds the silver
bread tray for me until
I take
a tiny white crumble
and put it in my mouth.

I chew slowly, waiting
for a lightening bolt
to fry me in my seat.
I close my eyes, feel
Michael’s fingers winding
around mine.

Did You know he would
be such a miracle?
The heavens don’t answer.
I’m left to ponder until it’s
time for the water.

I don’t hesitate at this
second emblem of renewal.
I feel it washing me inside
as it trickles down my throat.

Michael senses success,
squeezes my hand.
He cares so much
that I find my way
back to the Savior
he doesn’t
admit exists.

Is he pretending?
Is this all show for me—
so I can get that crutch
back under me?

I want it to be
as real as the intensity
his eyes reveal
when he catches mine
and smiles.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chapter 26 - Michael's turn

Yikes! I think tomorrow is the last day to vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards poll. It ends 12/30, but I'm not sure if that means midnight or the contest closes as soon as it becomes 12/30. The giveaways work like that latter. I feel like I should be doing something else, but I've written to everyone in the universe. I don't want to get annoying. So many bloggers have thrown their support my way. ANWA got it in their December newsletter, and SCBWI came through with a great blurb in Expressions Online. If you can think of anyone in your galaxy you haven't cajoled into voting for SING ME TO SLEEP, you've still got 36-48 hours. Thanks for holding my hand through this. And making it happen. It's the first time my work has been recognized in any way. I'm still in shock and still grateful.

Here's a good step forward. Enjoy!


Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/25
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            I lucked out. It’s slow today. The new kayak I ordered is in at the scuba shop. Aunty Jaz’s nurse comes Thursday afternoon. Which all adds up to me and Leesie paddling out to the mini wall just off Turtle Reef. Jaz lives in West Bay. Close to here where I certified to free dive as a kid. North Wall is close, too. Great diving. Too bad I’m down in East End, but we’ll make it work. I bought a car.  It’s cool.
            Okay, I lied. I’m doing all the paddling. Leesie’s facing me instead of turned around in paddle ready form. She’s lying back on the rugged black nylon the boat’s made out of, eyes closed, fingers trailing in the water.
            I hold the paddle so it drips on her face.
            Her eyes open. “Are we there yet.” She wipes the drops from her face.
            Her eyes close again. “When can we go swimming?”
            “Can we talk first?” We haven’t talked alone much since she moved to Aunty Jaz’s.
            “I’m hot.” She sits up and drops her head on my shoulder.
            I lower my paddle. “Let’s swim then.”
            She hits the water before I can even stow my paddle. I hand her fins, snorkel and mask. “Babe, you gotta wear this stuff. You’re in the ocean.”
            She takes them and smiles. “Have I told you I love you?”
            “Not today.” I slide into the water and kiss her.
            She pushes me away. “That’s so dangerous.”
            “I know.” I hook one arm on the kayak and watch her. “I’ll be good.”
            Her face gets bleak. “I’m not worried about you.”
            “You’re going to flip out and attack me?”
            That coaxes a faint smile. “Yeah. Brace yourself.”
            I maneuver the kayak between us. “How’s this?”
            She hooks her elbows over her side and stares across at me with her chin propped on her fists. “Perfect.”
            “How’s it going, babe? All that stuff Pres. Bodden told you to do?”
            “Okay, I guess.”
            I frown at her. “You didn’t eat the sacrament thing Sunday.”
            “You saw?”
            “Pres. B said you should.”
            Her eyes explore the bottom of the boat. “I know. I need to do it, but I’m scum. It felt wrong.”
            “Hey.” I lift her chin. “Why?”
            “I listened to the wrong voice.” Her masked eyes search for mine. “I felt horrible that I didn’t take it. This Sunday for sure I will. Will you drive us again?”
            “Of course.” I rest my hand on her shoulder.
            “It’s not too boring?”
            I squeeze her arm. “How’s the other stuff going?”
            She inhales deeply, slips her mask up. “I emailed Krystal yesterday. I haven’t heard back. That’s the last apology I can think of.”
            I slip my mask up, too. “What about all that praying?” I stroke her cheek.
            She leans against my hand. “I’m doing that, too.”
            “President Bodden said I should help with that.”
            “It’s okay, Michael.” She slips from my touch. “I can handle it. I know all this stuff makes you uncomfortable.”
            I don’t know what to say to that. Am I relieved? Or upset that she’s blocking me out from it? I pull myself into the kayak and help her back in. She picks up her paddle. We paddle in sync a few minutes up-current along the mini-wall to a good free-diving spot. I rest my elbows on my paddle and lean forward so I can whisper to Leesie. “It doesn’t.”
            She cranes her neck around. “What?”
            I stroke her wet, velvet head. “Your church stuff. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore.”
            She bows her head.
            I wrap my arms around her. “You’re praying right now, aren’t you?”
            “Just saying thanks.” She cups my face in her hand.
            “Let me hear.”
            She twists to face me, takes hold of my hands and bows her head again. “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank Thee for Michael.”
            I rest my forehead against hers. “That’s what you pray?”
            “All day. Every day. 24/7.”
            Then we get in the water, and I feel like everything is slow motion. Breathing down for a free dive, falling through the water to the wall, floating with a couple angel fish, kicking my huge free dive fins back up to Leesie. It’s like a dream. My mom is there all around me—in every drop of water, every smile Leesie gives me, every ray of sunshine that lights the ocean we dive through.
            I get Leesie to try a few free dives. She’s awful at it.—can’t hold her breath. She tries, though. We stay out on the wall until I’m almost too tired to paddle back in.
            When we get to Aunty Jaz’s, I corner her on the porch while Leesie’s changing. “How do I know that what I feel is what you guys say it is? It feels like my mom. You know she died?”
            Aunty Jaz shakes her head. “I’m sorry, sweet boy.” She pats my knee.
            “Me, too. What Leesie says is your Holy whatever feels to me like whispers from my mom. I know that’s real. Why should I believe the way you guys explain it?”
            Aunty Jaz hands me a Book of Mormon she was reading before I sat down beside her. “Turn to the back. It’s marked.” She leans across me, flips the pages to a couple underlined verses.
            It says if someone reads the book and asks God about it, He’ll tell him if it’s true. “That’s it?” I look up at her. “I just have to pray?” That’s kind of their answer for everything.
            Aunty Jaz grins and winks at me. “Read that book and pray.”
            I close it up and hand it back to her.
            She pushes it to me. “You keep it. My gift.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “Of course.”
            I put it away before Leesie comes back out.
            Read the book and pray.
            How hard can that be?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapter 25 - Part 2 Kim's back!

Did you all have a Merry Christmas? It's been great to have our college kids home. They've been having such a good time together. I love this week in between Christmas and New Year's, don't you? It's kind of a limbo time with the kids out of school and no big holidays to plan. A nice time to rest and relax. This year we're staying at home with the family instead of traveling. I'm glad. Phoenix weather is perfect while everywhere else it's a blizzard. I hope you are all safe, warm, and cozy!

Make yourself a big mug of hot cocoa. Here's a nice, juicy chat with Kim full of lots of information to finish off Chapter 25! Enjoy.

LEESIE HUNT / CHATSPOT LOG / 06/23/2010  3:17 PM

Kimbo69 says:  You moved away from all those beautiful boys before I could come visit?
Leesie327 says:  Poor Mark. Do you drool like this when he’s around?
Kimbo69 says: We have a mutual agreement about eye candy.
Leesie327 says:  You’ll love Aunty Jaz.
Kimbo69 says:  Why do they call her that?
Leesie327 says:  Her name is Jasmine—like the flower.
Kimbo69 says:  Does she smell good?
Leesie327 says:  Michael thinks it’s a sign from his mom. She used to wear gardenia perfume. It’s like one tropical flower to another.
Kimbo69 says:  He’s getting as crazy as you are.
Leesie327 says: He took us to church Sunday. I didn’t even ask. All the sudden there he was in front Jaz’s shack, honking the horn of a used car he just bought because the 4X4 he’d rented was too hard for Aunty Jaz to get into. He wore a brand new white shirt and that Valentino tie I Ebayed for him when I made him go to that dance with me.
Kimbo69 says: He went to church with you?
Leesie327 says:  It took both of us to get Aunty Jaz in the front seat of the car. It was worth it, though. She was so excited to be going to church again. She used to take a bus. Can’t now with her foot.
Kimbo69 says: Is her house really a shack?
Leesie327 says:  Pretty much. There’s running water, a real toilet, electricity—no AC. We spend a lot of time on the porch.
Kimbo69 says:  How sick is she?
Leesie327 says: I have to make sure she eats and gets her insulin shot. We test her sugar, too. The nurse came Friday, and I helped her change the bandages on Jaz’s foot—it’s bad.
Kimbo69 says:  I’d hurl.
Leesie327 says:  I’m tougher than you.
Kimbo69 says: It soulds like you like this stuff.
Leesie327 says:  I do. I’ve got something to do other than flail myself with guilt over the accident or fantasize myself crazy about Michael.
Kimbo69 says:  You’ve stopped fantasizing about Michael?
Leesie327 says:  I’m trying—it’s not that easy.
Kimbo69 says: No fantasizing? That’s not healthy.
Leesie327 says: I’ve got to repent.
Kimbo69 says: Even your thoughts?
Leesie327 says: Yeah. That’s the hardest part. He walks into the room, and I have to start all over again. Let those thoughts go wild, and it’s hard to get rid of them.
Kimbo69 says:  I’ll never figure you out.
Leesie327 says:  It’s not such a mystery. If I can’t sleep with him, it makes it worse if I’m constantly thinking about it. Duh.
Kimbo69 says: Are you still getting married?
Leesie327 says:  I hope by the end of the summer like we planned. I’m never giving him his ring back. He’s stuck with me.
Kimbo69 says: That doesn’t sound too definite. What’s wrong?
Leesie327 says:  Nothing. I have to go home first—he promised my dad.
Kimbo69 says:  Can you do that now?
Leesie327 says:  I’ve been on the phone with my parents every day since that first call. I think I’ll be ready. I have to be ready. So we can get married.
Kimbo69 says: So is Michael pretty stoked? It’s what he wants, isn’t it?
Leesie327 says: We’re not talking about it. There’s still one big complication.
Kimbo69 says: You’re still holding the Mormon stuff against him?
Leesie327 says: That doesn’t matter to me anymore. I just want him.
Kimbo69 says:  Tell him then.
Leesie327 says:  I tried—and I choked on the words.
Kimbo69 says:  He deserves this, Leesie. Don’t be such a wimp.
Leesie327 says:  I know. I know.
Kimbo69 says:  How often do you get to see him?
Leesie327 says: He drives all the way over here every night after work. Hangs out until midnight and then goes back to East End. That’s a lot of driving.
Kimbo69 says: I’d call it devotion.
Leesie327 says:  Aunty Jaz told me her husband got baptized twenty years after they got married. I’d wait that long for Michael—I would.
Kimbo69 says:  What if he never gets baptized?
Leesie327 says:  He brought me back. He must believe a tiny bit.
Kimbo69 says:  He knows you need it—that doesn’t mean he believes it.
Leesie327 says:  I know. That’s why I’m too afraid to even bring it up. After all we’ve been though, I can’t risk offending him.
Kimbo69 says: You’ve got to talk to him.
Leesie327 says: I think I’m going to watch and wait. Nothing else feels right.
Kimbo69 says:  That’s it?
Leesie327 says:  And pray.
Kimbo69 says:  Pray?
Leesie327 says: Pray.