When Sister Golden Hair was published in June, I fully intended to have its sequel, Heart of Gold, the book that wraps up the story of Rhys and Rhett, out this fall. It’s not, though, and I’ve had a lot of people ask “Where’s the next book, already?” I owe you an explanation.
Just before the publication of Sister Golden Hair, I received a phone call that impacted my life in a major way. It was my sister-in-law on the phone that bright, sunny morning, with the shocking news that my little brother had died. It was sudden, it was unexpected, and to be honest, it still doesn’t seem real, even after all this time.
He and I were close, and he was so proud of me for becoming an author. Romance novels were not something he read. In fact, when he told me he’d read Crimson and Clover, I was flabbergasted. He proceeded to read all of my books, and even enjoyed Song Without Words because of the murder mystery. Not only did he read them, he told anyone who would stand still and listen all about them. A bank teller now owns my books because he told her about them while conducting a transaction. She whipped out her phone, logged into iTunes, and bought them right then.
It was very cool to have a former U.S. Marine sergeant hawking my romance novels.
Not long after his death, his wife entered the hospital for a risky surgery. She’d beaten lung cancer once, but it was back again, and this surgery was planned well before my brother died. Complications developed after the operation, and she was in the hospital for a long, long time. There were times when her family and her doctors didn’t expect her to survive. Her story does have a good outcome, though. She’s home, and though she still has to undergo breathing therapy, she’s going to be fine. The cancer is finally gone.
All of this threw me into a complete tailspin. I couldn’t write. The words would not come. There were so many attempts that I deleted that I lost count. Then my brother stepped in.
THE MEMORY REMAINS
He loved Metallica. I mean, he loved them. He took me to see them on my 30th birthday. He and my then-teenaged daughter drove up to St. Louis to see them perform. We had their song “The Memory Remains” played at his funeral. Metallica will always, always make me think of him. And Metallica has been everywhere around me lately. My daughters and I drove out to the cemetery, and Metallica came on the radio as we drove past the gate. We’ll be talking about him, and Metallica will come up on someone’s iPod. I’ll drive over to visit my sister-in-law and my CD changer clicks over to Metallica. You might not believe in this, and you don’t have to. I do. And I know it’s his way of telling me that it’s okay to move on, okay to get back to the daily routine I had before. It’s also his way of telling me he’ll find some way to kick my ass if I don’t start writing again.
And writing again I am. I’ve got a good chunk of Heart of Gold written, and even though it won’t be finished before the end of the year, it will be published in early 2015.
I’m pretty darned sure my brother is still proud of me.
Don’t forget that my brother’s favorite, Song Without Words, is on sale for just 99¢ for a limited time to celebrate its first birthday. You can find it at your favorite online retailer.
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