These pictures are of the Erie canal as seen from the small village of Medina in Western New York. I thank Mike Bukiewicz and Peggy Silkowski for these gorgeous shots. Now, I ask you-who could live in a place like this and not be inspired in some way? Recently while living in Medina again, the town where I grew up, I got some inspiration of my own. I wanted to write a book, and I wanted it set here. Now it's written and I'm trying to decide what to do next. I become more convinced every day that self publishing is not an option to be ashamed of. I have talked to successful self published authors who say they would not change a thing, will continue to self publish, even though they now have offers from mainstream publishers. It's still up in the air for me. I'm trying to be patient, but at other times, I think, "Why wait?" There are, however, a lot of pitfalls that a professional editor and publisher will get you over. Self publishing, you're a bit more on your own.
I'm LDS. That means "I'm a Mormon". Especially with Mitt Romney's recent bid for President, there have been a lot of questions floating around out there about those peculiar Mormons. Along with that have been an awful lot of people who just don't like Mormons and who think they know things that they actually don't know. I want people to know that it's okay to ask those questions. We want to answer them! And I decided that I wanted to write a story that would appeal to many different people-not just Mormons, or non-Mormons, or dog lovers, or people from Western New York. I wanted to reach out to all of those people, as well as anyone else who might just want to jump on and go for a ride. I'm going to try and create a brief synopsis of my book, and maybe some of you will tell me what you think. Would you read this?
Ann Bixby was born and raised as an only child in a small village on the banks of the Erie Canal. When she was 15 years old, the unthinkable happened. Her mother died. Having been raised a devout Mormon, she knew that she and her father would see her mother again-because they know that families are meant to be together forever. After a year of unspeakable loneliness, however, her father decides that living in that town without his beloved wife was more than he could bear. He takes his teen aged daughter and goes to live in Eastern Oregon, where he had a sister.
And so they moved to an even smaller town than the one they left. Ann thought it was at least "a thousand miles from anywhere". After she had graduated high school, she thought briefly of going off to college, but quickly dismissed the idea of leaving her lonely father even more alone. They lived there for more than ten years.
Grief struck again. Walter Bixby had joined his wife on the other side. Their daughter, now 27 and alone, had to make a decision. Would she stay, or would she go? And if she went, where?
(And that, folks, is just background!!) The actual book begins at this point.
Well, you guessed it-she moves, back home. Her best friend, who was more like a sister growing up, is Kell Harris. Kell and her family still live back in Charlestown, NY (the name I chose for my fictional Medina-I named it after my ancestor, Charles Hecox). The Harris family are a mixed race, African American-Caucasion family and are also LDS. They are like a second set of parents to the tall, quirky, unpretentious Ann. During the process of looking for a place to live, Ann comes across a fellow orphan. She knows immediately that taking him in is the right thing to do. His name is Henry. He is two years old. He weighs 200 pounds. He is a Great Dane. She has never had a dog. She has never had so much as a hamster in her life. But doing the right thing comes naturally to her and she knows that he needs her.
A dog that big needs a lot of walking, and she spends much of her time doing just that. Thanks to these walks, she meets people she never would have met, people that become as dear and dearer than anyone she has ever had in her life. Representing those that become dear are Mr. and Mrs. Tom Tipple. Tom is a Person of Short Stature who amuses himself by walking about town dressed as an elf during the Christmas season, and who dresses as a large garden gnome during the spring and summer months. Ann mistakes him for an actual statue and almost has heart failure when he speaks to her. For more about the Tipples, read the book.
Ann buys a house, and one day while out walking, she meets, unbeknownst to her, the town hermit. He doesn't look like a hermit to her. To her, he looks like a male cover model. That's how he looks to everyone else, too, but he isn't aware of it and wouldn't care anyway. His name is Kyle Mendez and he has had enough of people. He is corrosive, off-putting, large and intimidating. He tells her, "I stay away from people. I don't know what they think. I don't care what they think. I don't ask them what they think and they don't tell me what they think." Ann is the first person in a long time who will look him straight in the eye and tell him exactly what she thinks. He knew the first time he saw her, she was different. She didn't know he was a hermit and she wasn't about to let him be one. She begins slowly drawing him out and he can't help but go with her. The story of his past peels back like the layers of an onion, and brings as many tears. Slowly she shows him how to forgive, how to love, and how to live again. She also introduces him to something he never would have predicted would interest him-the Mormon Church.
She gives him the gift of something he had long forgotten-joy.
So---would you read it?? Or could you barely get through these few paragraphs?