No Greater Love!

Look what's finally here!

No Greater Love, the third book in the Drifters series, arrived on my doorstep today. How excited am I! I almost missed the delivery guy…we have two driveways, and he pulled up to the second and knocked on the garage door, which I would not have heard from my office. But as fate would have it, I happened to stand up and peek out my window moments after his arrival and, lo and behold, the poor fella was traversing the icy driveway with a cartful of sweet little old brown cartons. I literally jumped down the stairs and out to the frigid garage. Moments later I had six books packaged to send to Saskatchewan as ordered last Sunday (three for  my friend for his Momma's birthday and three for himself! He's the guy who taught me how to draw smiley faces in Guinness, as Kayla does in Promises). Then I dropped off twelve at a local bookstore, Coles. I know some gals who will be very happy to finally receive book three in print.

Let's talk about serendipity for a moment. I have to be honest here. The original idea for the Drifters story is based on truth. Many moons ago I was a lonely new mother looking for 'something better' than the reality I was living, Don't get me wrong - I loved my husband Paul at the time, despite the fact that we eventually went separate ways. Being a Mom was an amazing experience, filled with joy on a daily basis. But I hadn't yet found the creative outlets that today fill me with so much pleasure. I hadn't yet learned how to love someone and be in a mutually satisfying relationship. I was young. So I had this escape...

There was a western on television that I quickly found myself addicted to. It shall remain nameless although fans will figure it out. I recall quite distinctly looking at our small TV screen the night of the premiere and choosing - literally choosing - a character that I could 'bring into my head' and write stories about. I remember actually going back and forth between the guys in the cast and settling on one. The actor's name was Josh. Drifters was born, although I didn't give a name to my fictional series until I started to write the books years later.

Is it possible to channel someone for so long over time that you 'connect' in some weird way? I don't know. Makes me sound like a stalker to talk like that. I'm not a stalker - I was an avid fan of the series for its three year run and then the actor disappeared, or so it seemed to me, until recently when he started to make appearances in some well known films. By then he had become the Josh in my books so although I was somewhat curious, I didn't even go to his films. I didn't want the Josh in my head to become confused with the Josh on whom my fictional character was based. I simply didn't want to go there. Reality rarely lives up to fantasy. I know that.

But one day I got curious. I was writing No Greater Love at the time, in the fall of 2012, and it was getting late in the afternoon. I remember that it was dark outside and that my guy, Steve, was soon expected home from work. I had to start dinner but I had a few moments…so just for fun, out of simple curiosity, I googled the actor. I found a clip from 'Inside the Actor's Studio' (think that's what it's called) and sat back to watch it. Nervously, I recall, although I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't really want to see the real guy after creating my own Josh in my head for so long. Didn't want to be disappointed, that kind of thing.

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Anyways, I was barely into the video when the real Josh was queried about his past. He spoke of a mother who died on his birthday (or, as he put it, the car accident happened on his birthday. She passed away the next day). I can't recall the order in which he revealed these details but I remember putting the video on Pause for a moment and thinking wow, that's strange! My character Jessie's father dies on her birthday, in a car accident. It struck me as weird. I remember putting the video back on Play (thinking 'it'll be weird if he says the twelfth') and hearing Josh say that it was the twelfth. Believe me, I believe in coincidences, but it struck me funny just the same. Weird, even. Then I did a little research. He has a sibling named Jessie (or Jesse, I forget).  I went to a Christmas parade in my town not long after - we walked to a place where we don't normally watch the parade - and on the way home I found a frog stuffie.  I was editing A Song For Josh at the time and in the next day or so was reminded that I had written about Jessie giving a frog stuffie to a child. I didn't find the owner of the one I found. I now have a frog stuffie in my room, sitting on my bookshelf. On the real Josh's birthday, a Happy Birthday child's drawing I had on my fridge fell off and landed on the floor in front of me. It had been there for months and months. Was I looking for serendipitous signs? Maybe. I posted on FB. Did anyone else believe in serendipity? Comments told me that I was experiencing a nudge from the universe. I kinda like the sound of that. Universe, nudge away! I'm listening.

I did go to Facebook and send the real Josh, the inspiration for my Josh, a Happy Birthday note. Whether it was really his FB page or not, who knows, whether he got thousands of notes, who knows. I just thought it would be kind of fun. Regardless of what kind of person he is, or who he has evolved to in my own mind in the Drifters books, choosing him on that lonely night so long ago has healed a lot of my hurts and given me a place to escape to when I just need to 'check out' for a bit, whether on a drive to the Frosty Treat or in bed when I can't sleep. He's been joined by Jessie, and these folks seem so real to me now that they feel like friends in another town. Regardless of anything, the books have been the greatest gift of my life. I'm happiest when I'm writing, when I'm in that fictional world. I ache to write every day but alas I must bring some kind of income in, so writing often gets pushed aside. It's still a luxury.

So I say thank you to 'Real Josh'. I wish you well in your career, which seems to be going just great these days…congrats to you. Thank you for inspiring my books. I hope you are as cool as my own Josh but I hope you never have to go through his angst! Although since he found Jessie in the end, maybe it was all worth it.

Til next time, y'all! I have to finish editing a project I've been working on with some local grade ten students. It's Friday evening (almost), and I will stick with it til it's done! Why? Because tomorrow is Saturday, and I don't have to work at my part time job (I am scheduled the next three weekends), so I am giving myself a gift.

It's called writing, on the good days. On other days it's called escaping. I'm feeling pretty good these days so I don't think I need to escape. But I do need to write.