For those of you who are fans of Stephenie Meyer, you are well aware that Breaking Dawn part 2 is only a few days away. I'm heading to Salt Lake this Friday to see the movie with a dear friend, and I was thinking about an old blog post I wrote last August about the impact Stephenie Meyer's books had on my journey to becoming a writer. I decided to go back and read it, and the next thing I knew I was in tears. It still hurts to think about the losses I have experienced in my past, but the tears were full of joy as well. I can look back and see how far I've come since that point in my life, how much happiness I've experienced with my surviving loved ones and through writing The Water Keepers. Ms. Meyer's example gave me the confidence to begin writing in the first place, and there are so many people who have shown me an incredible amount of support and encouragement since then. Thank you! I am truly blessed. And might I just add... I'm super excited to be working on book 3 in the series! Ambrosia Shore is still in the works and should be out sometime in Spring 2013.
Some of you may have seen the original post where I shared my letter to Stephenie Meyer, so I apologize for the repeat, but for those of you who haven't, I just thought I would share it one more time in a final goodbye gesture to the Twilight Saga and a thank you to Stephenie Meyer (and of course my amazing husband who makes me feel loved every single day):
August 1, 2011
After I began writing my book, DEEP BLUE SECRET, I would often wake in the middle of the night with sudden bouts of inspiration. Usually it was an idea for a scene I was working on, but one night it was something different running through my sleepy head. It was a letter to Stephenie Meyer. At first I laughed at myself. Surely this was the product of starry-eyed dreams, hopes of becoming a world-famous author like her someday. I ignored it and went back to sleep. But after a solid week of this letter running through my mind, I decided to get the silly thing out of my head so I could finally get some rest.
I don’t know if this letter will ever reach Ms. Meyer’s eyes. As far as I know she stopped accepting fan-mail a long time ago. But I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe this letter is just meant for me. So I can look back and remind myself why I started writing in the first place. Or maybe there’s something here for you too. I don’t expect every person who reads this post to be a fan of Twilight, but I also don’t feel you have to be a fan in order to relate to the personal experiences I’ve shared in this letter. Even if there’s only one person out there who lands on this page and can relate to my journey or feel inspired by my words, then I believe it was worth it to share. So here it is:
Dear Ms. Meyer,
I’m writing to express my gratitude for the comfort your books have been in my life during times of great hardship. I hope you don’t mind me writing something so personal, but if the tables were turned it would mean a great deal to me to know I’d made a difference in someone else’s life.
My story begins with a boy, the love of my life, my soul mate—or so I thought. When I met him, we had an instant connection, the passion I’d always hoped for. After many ups and downs together, he made the decision to join the army. It was a time of peace. It would only be one weekend a month and two weeks a year, they promised. Then tragedy struck our country just two months later on September 11th. He was shipped off to the Middle East where he decided to push me out of his life. He assured me it was for my own good. He would be gone too long and for all he knew, may never return. He said I was better off without him. He was my Edward.
The difference in this story from yours…my Edward did not return. Don’t be alarmed, he came back in body, safe and sound. It was his heart that did not return to me. When I read New Moon, Bella’s torment felt like a retelling of my own suffering. That’s when I met my Jacob. He loved me and supported me, despite myself. I told him I was incapable of love because my heart had died—he stayed with me. He stayed by my side until my heart finally found a pulse once more. He is the one I want to be with until the end of time. He is my husband.
For some it is Edward and for others Jacob, and there are those who haven’t found either yet. But each of us has something in common. Struggle. Love usually isn’t easy and neither is life. My struggle did not end when I found my sweetheart, although he is the strength that sees me through all the rest. It was only six months after our marriage that my life spiraled downward once more. It was an ill-fated super bowl Sunday when I received the call. I answered the phone with cheer, only to find my mother’s sobs in reply. It was my younger brother, only twenty-five years old; he would never see twenty-six.
I never thought something so hard could happen to me or my family. But my husband’s love saw me through. My faith brought me hope. And so I went on.
But times were still tough. I’d been laid-off from my job. I suffered a head injury and was in physical therapy twice a week. Every time I spoke to my mother she cried over the loss of her son. I worried for the well-being of my family. My anxiety grew. The stress began to manifest symptoms of physical illness; debilitating headaches that lasted for hours, day after day. I’d go to bed with the pain and wake up with it in the morning. I seriously began to suffer from “why me” syndrome.
I think there comes a time in life when we believe it couldn’t possibly get any worse. I thought this was it for me. But then it came; the second dreadful call. It was my sister. She was gone too. We laid her body to rest right next to my brother’s. How could we survive this nightmare twice in one lifetime? How could I watch my family suffer such loss and survive? But we stuck together and found the will. We found help through the service of others and love by holding each other tighter. We found the strength to keep going.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. Despite my husband’s unfailing support, I went home feeling somewhat alone. I knew deep down my siblings were somewhere better, but I missed them. It was during this time of recovery that a friend mentioned your books. I’d already seen the first two movies in the Twilight series and was a big fan, but I didn’t do much reading, due to the headaches. My remaining sister mentioned she also loved Twilight and did a lot of her reading by listening to audio books, so I thought I’d give it a try.
When I listened to Twilight it took me away to another place. There was mystery, romance, and suspense. I listened when I had a headache. I listened when I felt lonely or in despair. I listened when I couldn’t fall asleep and it rocked me gently like a mother’s lullaby until my eyelids drooped. It took my mind off my troubles and into a story that brought comfort and relief.
Thank you for creating this comfort. I became interested in the person behind the pages and set out to learn more of your journey. I read of your dream that started it all, how you were a mother and a woman of faith. When I read your personal story, I felt a connection. You wrote while tending to children and at the expense of lost sleep. I felt if you could achieve something so great, perhaps someday I could as well.
It’s amazing how time and love can heal us. I finally came to the point where my losses only made the good in life shine brighter. There were so many blessings lighting my way. I didn’t want to live a life of self-pity any longer. I wanted to find a way to do something worthwhile; something that would make my siblings proud and smile down on me from above. I wanted to express the love in my tender heart.
Your example inspired me to write. My book, DEEP BLUE SECRET, is the result of this journey which you have inspired. Writing has become my joy. It allows me to immerse myself in a completely new world. My characters, Sadie and Rayne, experience romance and intrigue as they figure out their purpose, and I get to share it with them all along the way. I hope the story I’ve created will brighten the lives of others and bring happiness to their hearts as yours did to mine. But even if my family members are the only ones to read it, I will still feel a sense of worth for having accomplished this goal. I will forever be a stronger person who has experienced the healing power of hope and love.