Home and belonging is a common theme in my books. Whether it's the dragon from A Dragon's Treasure in A Horde of Dragons. or it's Math from Society's Foundlings wondering why what feels like home can't be where he rests his head at night.
For the dragon, belonging is a chain around his neck until a friend tells him, "There's a difference between being someone's treasure and being treasured by someone." For Math, home transforms from a brick-stepped, light-flickering sanctuary where no one can trespass to a hand that catches you when you fall.
Home, what it is and how we define it, changes as we do. It doesn't always look the same, but there are common elements. As Billy Joel sings, "Home is just another word for you." One constant is the people. Those you've known all your life who become more than just family, and communities, no matter how big or small, who become more than just friends. These Shadows, as I like to call them, like Shadow from The Treasure of Ravenwood. Those bosom friends and kindred spirits as Anne of Green Gables called it.
For Jenna from Solving for X it was the memories within the place or the person. The plaid blanket where she and Erik watched fireworks. It was the line of photos. For Erik, it was the smell of salt water and the old basketball courts.
Sometimes home is in the traditions. Mom's coffee in the mornings. Jenna's painting. Decorating for the holidays or Friday night dinners with the grandparents.
And, home can be a place. Where love abounds and there lies a type of safety one can only find in those four walls.
Home for me is a lot of things. It is paint and pencils, notebooks and sketchpads. It is an orange, furry hug. It is a steaming cup of tea.
It is laughter and kisses goodnight by a porch light and under stars. It is a hand on my knee, fingers that tickle mercilessly, and his hat that I wear like a crown.
It is smiles and shared dreams and a hand to hold and a hug I've known since birth. It is my mom. It is a Christmas tree decorated the day after the turkey is cooked. It's dancing and singing Ten Minutes Ago from Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella. It's Chinese Food for Christmas. It's stories I now know by heart.
It's a neighbor who I count as family. A blessing in the form of fabulousness. Another Pheonix- I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many!
My Fairy Godmother! Filled with as much wisdom as magic. Who could touch dust and turn it to gold. Whose sparkle always makes the day brighter.
It is a goddamn masterpiece. A modge podge worth of 21 years. Home is where I rest my head at night.
I think Sally Fingerette said it best, "Home is where the heart is. No matter how the heart lives. In your heart where love is, that's where you've got to make yourself a home."
What do you consider home?
I am a writer. I know what it’s like to create characters and a world around them. Trying to capture the exact moment your own creations go through; the sun beating down on the back of Garrett and Erik’s necks as they hunt through wilderness, the smell of Carver’s cigarette as the smoke dances in the midnight breeze, the curiosity of the outside world and frustration of living behind the electrified gates, the hopelessness and fear of a future that feels inevitable. I know what it’s like to try to paint pictures with the very limited pallet of language, words, punctuation, and formatting. And sometimes, I find myself inspired to create the images I write using a different type of pallet, as I first started doing with my short story in my most recent release, A Dragon’s Treasure in A Horde of Dragons Multi-Author Anthology. It was my first venture in toying with the idea of illustrating.
When my fairy godmother, a very good friend of mine, Evangeline Duran Fuentes, was looking for an illustrator for her second illustrated children’s book, Waggles, I approached her with the idea that maybe, if she couldn’t find anybody else, I could try it. And, gee, jumping fleas, as Waggles would say! What an experience! Working with her was amazing! She was supportive and excited. “You took the images that were in my head and you made them real,” she told me. I couldn’t imagine a better compliment. It meant the world to me that the illustrations meant so much to her, that I could bring her story to life!
Inspired by the experience, I thought I’d try my hand at Barb Lieberman’s sweet lullaby in a book, Why Does the Moon Follow Me? Captivated by the story, I tried drawing for some different pages, blowing her away with the final product and wound up co-illustrating with the talented, Jessie J Inspirations, who agreed to include my illustrations. This time, I also had the unique experience of having an audience as I worked. Painting with someone looking over your shoulder is very different than writing. I highly recommend it, especially when the audience is as supportive and amazed by your work as mine was. “It has soul,” Barb described my pictures.
From these two amazing experiences, new opportunities have bloomed. The co-writers of Tales From Mema’s Garden each have individual children’s books coming out about their pets. Elaine McInnes No Kitty Adventures is one of the many stories that are beginning to occupy my sketchpad. The other is Robin Nieto’s The Adventures of Duke and Daisy, expected out in December. The first sketch of Daisy brought Robin to tears. Again, there is no greater compliment. Along with their individual endeavors, their continued series, Tales from Mema’s Garden, I now have the honor of illustrating as well.
Outside of my immediate writing circle, another author contacted me and now her creations, too, are finding a place among my drawings. As are the illustrations for my own upcoming children’s book, The Butter Thief!
My schedule is busy, my paint is at the ready, my sketch book awaits, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is nothing I love more than bringing an author’s vision to life.
Gathering dust in the depths of my mind, random thoughts dusted off and put out there for the world to see...