After permanently returning to my native southern Indiana in late 2005, I worked part-time for five years at The Kentucky Center for the Arts as a floor manager (in addition to my full-time paralegal position). Basically, I ran around with a headset and supervised a volunteer staff of ushers and ticket takers and made sure the patrons found their seats. On occasion, I was required to mediate some difficult circumstances and, although trained in CPR, I thank the Lord those skills were never called upon. It was also during my tenure there that I wrote a number of books in my Lewis Legacy Series; I used the quiet time during the performances (floor managers had to remain outside the theater) to work on my current manuscript (and the references in Book #3, "Twin Hearts," to The Wizard of Oz reflect that "Wicked" was in production at the time).
I loved working at The Kentucky Center, primarily because of the interaction with the volunteers, many of whom are seniors (but always young at heart, as they often reminded me). I developed a rapport with and genuinely cared for many of them, and I like to think the feeling was mutual. However, there was one gentlemen named Tom who was the proverbial "thorn in my side" for the longest time. Tom loved to tell me what I'd done wrong (especially when I was new in the position), and he corrected me on a frequent basis, usually in front of other volunteers.
Gradually, after a couple of years, I developed a rapport of sorts with Tom. He began to see I knew what I was doing and could perform my duties with a certain degree of proficiency. Tom told me one fine day that he respected me for always wearing a smile and having a kind word in spite of the sometimes trying circumstances with patrons as well as volunteers and other staff. Our relationship changed with those encouraging and supportive words. The wariness I'd felt when in his presence transitioned to mutual understanding. In hindsight, I could see Tom always intended to help me, not embarrass or belittle me. He meant well yet had a unique way of going about it. One afternoon, he sat outside the theater with me (instead of watching the show) and talked with me about my writing pursuits--listening, asking questions and even giving me some helpful hints of ways I might be able to market my books. From that point on, Tom made it a point to inquire about my latest book or project.
On another occasion, during the intermission in one of the shows, Tom happened to be standing nearby. We started talking about something or other in casual conversation and he mentioned the fraternity he'd belonged to at the University of Louisville. He perked up when I told him my dad belonged to the same fraternity, also at Louisville. Turns out, my dad was nicknamed "Cub" in the TKE fraternity all those years ago, and Tom was one of his fraternity brothers. I'll never forget how he gave me a bright smile and said, "You're Cub's daughter?" For one thing, I never knew my dad's nickname in college. Tom shared some fun and wonderful memories of my father and told me his photo was probably still in a certain display case at the university (I found it, and it is).
From that point on, Tom held a very special place in my heart. Whenever we saw one another, he'd give me a big hug and say, "How's Cubbie today?" I love that he called me that. In a way it was bittersweet since my dad passed away a number of years ago. I've only talked to Tom a couple of times since leaving The Kentucky Center, but I'm going to make it a point to look him up again. I hope he's still a volunteer so I can plan on popping in one night to visit with him and get another one of his hugs.
It's this same type of memory and special moment that can infuse your writing with poignancy and insights that will impact your reader, sometimes more than you'll ever know. Especially if it's something you've experienced personally, there's a realism that will resonate with your readers. In one of my books, my hero's father died of cancer (a brain tumor) many years before. His relationship with his dad was explored to a certain extent from the hero's POV. It was a very small portion of the book, but one reader wrote and told me how closely she identified with that situation because her sister is suffering from a potentially fatal brain tumor. Reading about the regrets of the hero and how his father closed himself off and didn't want anyone to see how ill he was encouraged her (the reader) to reach out to her sister and make sure the connection was strong so she could help her, pray for her and let her know she cares and is always there. That touched me in a profound way. This was an aspect of the book I had no clue would ever have a positive impact on someone to the point where it prompted action on their part.
Think about such special moments in your life. Is there something you can share from your own experience that you can incorporate in your books? Something to ponder. Many blessings as you write for His glory, my friends.