Where Dandelions Grow – Where the story came from part 2

Click here to read part one.
For me, the coolest part about Where Dandelions Grow is that I loosely based the four main characters off of me, my sister, and Alexa and Aubrey.
The book was a graduation present to Alexa. A tribute to our childhood. None of the characters besides the cousins were anything like reality, but that still gave me something to work off of. A time for me to explore the beauty of cousin-ship.
I wrote for six weeks and it was my favorite book to write.
As I explored the deep friendship we four cousins in real life had growing up, and then transformed the elements (and at time, the stories) to four characters, I was reminded again about all the love I’ve been basking in for forever.
Where Dandelions Grow is about hope, love, dreams, forgiveness and family. All those words have deep and special meanings to me; so to incorporate them into a single story made me want to dance with joy.
Oh! Methinks I’ve forgotten a very important element. Alexa had written a short story and let me read it and that’s what sparked the initial idea and setting for the book. She graciously agreed to let me use it (with minor changes) as the preface of Where Dandelions Grow.
Alexa also wrote two articles and they fit so perfectly into the storyline I was creating that I asked her if I could use them in my book. It was especially special for me using her writing since the book is about cousins.
I have toyed with the idea of creating a series, giving each one of the cousins a chance to tell their own story. Who knows, someday it might happen…
What about you? Have you ever had a story or idea fall into your brain with such clarity that you can’t wait to begin working on it?
* * *
Today we have a guest appearance by Autumn Genre. She’s keeping me company this morning while I’m writing and I wanted to let y’all see how adorable she is:
(Looking at this picture I’m thinking, like, no wonder so many people think I’m in my early teens! Craziness. No way I would guess that girl^ to be in her twenties.) 

*Where Dandelions Grow* – Where the Story Came From Part 1

Sometimes inspiration comes for a book in an instant and won’t stop dancing around in my head until I get it out in writing. That’s the way it was with Where Dandelions Grow
It was one of the last days of May in 2012 and I was sitting out under a canopy at my cousin Alexa’s high school graduation party watching another cousin, Aubrey, play her cello with her quartet, the Sorelle. As I listened to the viola, two violins and cello blend together perfectly, a story jumped into my brain and refused to leave. Complete with the names for the characters, which is totally unusual for me
Over the next few days I walked around saying the names over and over as the rest of the story fell into place. Kamryn, Lexie, Teal and Destiny. Kamryn, Lexie, Teal and Destiny.

Four cousins. Four fighting mothers. A dream childhood cut short by a family feud. Questions. Searching. Answers. Reconciliation. Taking the high road. Searching for peace. Dandelions.  
My story was so uniquely different from anything else I’d ever written that I mildly freaked out. It was my first try at writing young adult fiction and my first time to tackle a story so removed from the happy, loved-filled acceptance I basked in from my family. 
I was concerned my parents wouldn’t understand. They might think I viewed my childhood the way Destiny did which is about as far from the truth as you can get. Or maybe I’d get it totally wrong and people would look down their noses at me for being so unrealistic. Or maybe..?
Silencing the the negativity with a stern lecture, I set to work, giving myself several guidelines to ensure my book continued and I wouldn’t get lax on the project. 
1. I was not allowed to go back through and re-read the book or do any editing until I was finished writing it
2. I would write the story I had, not caring about what other people thought 
3. No one else would see my project until I was finished with the first draft
4. I wouldn’t begin another book until this one was done
5. I would aim for 50,000 words Which would make it the longest story I’d written 
Part 2 Coming Soon to a Computer Near You!

Dandelions

Dandelions. 
To me, they’re magnificent little pieces of beauty. I know a lot of people view them as weeds, but to me they have a deep meaning that I find awe-inspiring. 
Their durability and tenacity encourages me to keep going even when times get tough. 
Their multiple layers remind me that people’s emotions are complex and often times there’s much more to a situation than what I’m seeing.  
Their bright color makes me smile and prompts me to be a splash of sunshine to people I come in contact with. 
Their ability to grow beautiful even in harsh conditions when everything around them is dying motivates me to take courage. 


Mostly though it’s the way that I see them that inspires me. 

The knowledge that I can look at what most people see as weeds, as something worthless, and see a stunning masterpiece fills me with wonder and awe. It gives me a picture of how I think God sees us. 
So many people feel worthless. They feel plain. They don’t think they’re good enough. They disappear into the shadows trying to blend in with an unkind world. They laugh with everyone else. They eat, they talk, they move. They appear to be ok; but they’re not. The pain in their heart is too hard to hold on to any more. Deep down their whole being is crying out, begging for someone to show them love. 
Often times we pass them by, just another weed in a sea of busyness. We don’t mean to, but it’s life. In reality we don’t even notice them. They don’t enter our sphere of consciousness.  
But God sees something different. Something special. Something worth taking note of. 
Each person is one of God’s masterpieces. A durable, multi-layered, deep, beautiful being who He created in His image. Who He was willing to give His Son for. 
Each one of us is unique. Each one of us has a future, a gift given to us from the King of Kings. Each one of us has purpose, a gift, a place in this world. 
We are here because God, who spoke the galaxies, the oceans and the dandelions into existence, knit us together for a reason. 
I want to look around the world and see people the way I see dandelions: Beautiful, bursting with potential, remarkable… A masterpiece from the hand of the Creator. 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knowleth right well.  

Psalm 139:14 

Current Project: Editing

Today I’m going to be working on editing, or at least that’s the plan. Editing doesn’t come nearly as easy to me as writing does ask my editor, he puts up with a lot from me but I am getting better and that makes it more fun. 
Where Dandelions Grow is a book I wrote around May of 2012 and I have learned a lot in the past two and a half years so therefore I have a good amount of work that needs to take place in this manuscript. My editor has already gone through it once a while ago, actually; we had to set it aside to work on another project and now I’m working on incorporating the changes that he suggested and adding in some of the elements that I’ve learned. 
As I’ve mentioned before I have trouble with giving my characters unique characteristics that set them apart, so I’ve been working on that in this book. The characters in WDG are much more distinct to me than the other books I’ve written because the four main characters are based loosely off of me, my sister and two of our cousins. That also makes this book a lot more fun to work on. It’s crazy remembering different instances that I based certain scenes on and then thinking of how much times have changed. 
I was taking a walk this morning, thinking about my characters of course, of course, what else would I think about while walking? and I realized that one of the girls, Destiny, is an introvert and another girl, Lexie, is an extravert. I’m was barely even familiar with those words when I wrote Where Dandelions Grow. I decided to explore the idea a little bit more while working on these edits to make each character a little bit more special. I’m excited about this ‘revelation.’ 🙂 
I’m also working on adding things like smells, tastes, textures, sights and sounds. I don’t generally see the same things most other people see, so I have to work a little extra on adding ‘normal’ details. (For instance: I walk into a room and I might zero in on the fact that there’s a cute little stuffed animal sitting on the mantle but I’ll totally zone out on the color of the room, if there’s a fire in the fireplace, the type of furniture they have or what it smells like.) 

Then of course I have the normal things like clearing up a few confusing parts, expounding on some elements, adding more details to make certain scenes easier to follow and cutting out unneeded scenes and words.

It’s been a long process so far, but good, too. I’m excited about this book and looking forward to moving it to the next level.

* * *
What about you? What are you working on today? 

How Writerly Me Thinks at a Concert

I went to a concert Saturday night at a college campus a couple of hours away from where I live. An outside concert. It was freezing. We ate chili. 
Did y’all get what I said though? I was at a college campus. College campus. This might be a little bit overwhelming for you to grasp, but I haven’t been to a college (that I can recall) since my oldest sister went to one when I was just a little mini-me and I visited her. We are talking almost a decade and a half ago. Saturday night was a weird experience. Granted, we were outside the whole time, but still…
Now I’m going to be nice to y’all and give you a simple list of (some of) my thoughts during the concert: 
1. Oh, this is going to be a great experience. I can use it in a book someday. 
2. Wait, is this what people my age are doing during their free time? If I ever write a NA (new adult) book I’m going to have to do a lot of research. 
3. This music is nice, although a tad bit loud. Let’s see how I would describe it if a character went to a concert…
4. Shining eyes. With it being dark and the light from the stage reflecting in everyone’s eyes, they totally look like they’re shinning. Very nice, very nice. What words would I use…?
5. WAIT A SECOND! I’M SURROUNDED BY A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE MY AGE!!! 
6. Ok, ok, calm down. These people are my age. If I had decided to go to college, I could probably be in a setting like this one right now. I mean, long-term, not just for the evening. 
7. I know people who’ve gone to college and yet weren’t even sure what they wanted to do with their lives. What would it be like not to know what you wanted to do? How many of these people know what they want to do? 
8. Is life unfair because I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid? 
9. *looking at a guy next to us* He looks like he’d make a good character. I wonder if there’s any way to get a picture of him without being obvious? Since I’d have to use flash, probably not.
10. This music is good and I’m not even cold, it’s nice that I have two sweatshirts, leggings, two pairs of socks and a wool blanket on. 
11. It’s too cold to clap much, so I hope the people on stage know how much we appreciate them. I know it’s hard for performers when they aren’t getting much feedback from their audience. Wait a second, how in the world are they singing in this weather? 
12. Yes, if I ever write a NA book, I’ll have to include a cold concert in it. Or wait, I could have one in the sequel to Where Dandelions Grow if I ever get around to writing it.
13. Where Dandelions Grow, why didn’t I think of that before? It takes place in a town with a small college. Cool. 
14. Oh wait, don’t most people come to concerts to take a break from work? How come when I come to a concert all I can think of is work? I’m enjoying thinking about work though, so that’s a huge plus. 
***
And that, my friends, is how I think. I’ve discovered I don’t think I ever turn off the writer inside me, but that’s fine. What about you? If you were at a concert, what would you want to be thinking about? 

Important Blog Update // 21 Before 21 Results

Wow, two posts in one day. Amazing, right? Actually, I’m posting this because I’m switching around some of the info on the header of Noveltea to make room for some new goals and challenges I’m going to have next year. 
First of all, I moved all the Where Dandelions Grow info to the tab that says My Writing. I also took a few moments to update that tab. Next I’m changing my tab that says 21 Before 21 to “Birthday Challenges” so, each year (that I feel like it) I can add a new challenge. (Such as this year can be 22 Before 22.) There will be a link to this page in that tab, then when I come up with my challenge for this year of my life, it will be in there as well. 
So, without further ado, here’s the results from my 21 Before 21 Challenge. Sadly, I didn’t get nearly as much of the list accomplished as I had been hoping on. Still, I’m thrilled with how much I got done during the 20th year of my life. 😉 


{Beginning 1-23-13, Ending 9-29-13 = 279 Days} YES = 13 NO = 8
1. Walk 100 miles (not all at once) {I stopped keeping track, I’m guessing it didn’t happen ~12-12-13}
No
2. Get Where Dandelions Grow published {When I got a chance to get a book traditionally published, I jumped at it and put WDG to the side. I hope to pull it back out at the beginning of 2014. ~12-12-13}
No
3. Host a writing contest on my blog {Compeleted between 2-11-13 through 3-6-13: See it herehereherehere, and here.}
Yes

4. Work up to 1,000 words of quality writing in a 15 minute time period {Completed 3-8-13}
Yes

5. Put marbles (etc…) in a jar that count out until I’m 26 (it’s an inside thing) {Did not do this, although I’m still planning on doing it once we move, which I thought would be before my birthday, but will most likely be early in 2014. I might do weeks instead of days though. ~12-12-13}
No

6. Read 30 non-fiction books {Again, this didn’t happen. I did read/listen/watch a good amount of not fiction stuff though. I didn’t keep track. ~12-12-13}
No

7. Write at least 100 words on my TGS WIP every day {Completed!}
Yes
Yes

9. Go to Hawaii {Completed}
Yes

10. Read 3 books about WW2 {Completed}
Yes

11. Re-write Star Glow {Nope. Again, set aside this project to work on CSotP. ~12-12-13}
No
No

13. Find a solid answer for my JM book {Yes. Pretty much. The answer was ‘no’, not what I was looking for, but better than hanging in there. ~12-12-13}
Yes

14. Get my drivers license {No. Let’s not talk about it…. ~12-12-13}
No

15. Have five published authors gust post/be interviewed on my blog {Feb. 25March 13March 19Sept. 14thSept. 28th}
Yes

16. Get a first draft written for my goals for the next five years {First draft, yes. It still needs a lot more work! ~12-12-13}
Yes

17. Read 2 books about Lyme Disease {Completed 2-2-13}
Yes

18. Reach 75,000 words in this years’ journal {I would say in a round about way, yes. Not what I was planning though! ~12-12-13}
Yes

19. Write down amazing things I’ve done, at least 101 things {Completed during the first week of February, 2013}
Yes

20. Track my food for 100 days {Nope! I got to the point that I was eating so healthily I didn’t see the need. Since then I slipped back in my habits, so I’m tracking the food again. ~12-12-13}
No

21. Write 2 in depth character sketches {Completed 2-2-13 = TGS: Nicolette & Raquel}
Yes

Update On Where Dandelions Grow

Peoples! I’m having a lot of fun reading your answers and voting on the polls. Keep up the good work. =) 

So, right now I’m working on getting Where Dandelions Grow edited. This is actually the first time that the editor I have now, and I have worked together. (My previous editor -who was great- got too busy, so he worked it out so that my current editor, a co-worker of his, and I are working together now.) 

Let me tell you, my editor is amazing! I am having so much fun working with him! Whenever I get an update from him, it’s like the highlight of my day. It’s so incredibly exciting to see a book {my book!} coming together. Plus, it’s kinda funny seeing questions a guy has when he reads Where Dandelions Grow. Very much of a different perspective.

So, I thought I’d give you just a little sneak peak of what I sent him today. If you don’t know who the people are, you can just check out the page up there ^.
(Disclaimer: this is still unedited.) 


        “Destiny!” 
I gave the girl in front of the counter a smile. “Yes? How may I help you?” 
“You’re Lexie’s cousin, right?” She was tiny. Short, petite and had a mass of curly blonde hair. 
“Yes.” 
“I’ve heard so much about you!” The girl actually came around the counter and gave me a hug. That’s not what I was expecting. 
“So, you know all about me, but who are you?” 
“How rude of me!” The girl clasped her hands and held them under her chin. “I always forget that there are people here who don’t know who I am.”
How conceited could someone get? She didn’t look like the bratty kind, but then again, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
“That didn’t come out right!” She giggled. “Alright let me start again.” Holding out her hand she introduced herself, with a very serious expression on her face. “Hello. I’m Felicity Moor. Do you by any chance happen to be Lexie Clark’s cousin?” 
Shaking her hand, I gave affirmation. “Yes.” 
“It’s so good to meet you. I’m in charge of the theater in Sparrow Ridge. Lexie mentioned that you always had a great imagination and might want to try out for a part. If you’re interested, you can just let me know.” She handed me a business card, and then fell back into her bubbly and giggly mood. 
“Lots of people really don’t know what to think of me when we first meet. ‘Never meet a stranger’ that’s my life motto.” She survived the baked goods in the class case, then pointed to one of the triple chocolate cakes. “Can I have a slice of that, please?” 
I seriously doubted the wisdom of her having any caffeine (or sugar!), but since it wasn’t my place to tell her so, I just served her the piece all the time wondering how much Lexie hung out with her. I knew it couldn’t be that often, seeing how I had been in Sparrow Ridge for several weeks and had just now met her. It was tiring just being around her. 
“When it comes to chocolate, go all the way.” Felicity took the first bite of her cake and sighed with delight. “That’s another one of my life mottos.” 
“Um, that’s nice.” I handed her an extra napkin and the closed the cash register. 
“Did you get the new shipment in yet?” She had devoured half the cake by this time, and was still dancing from foot to foot right in front of me. 
“Sure. You can ask Kate about it. I think she’s already stocked the shelves with the new books.” 
“Oh my word! The days when you have new books are like the best days of my life. ‘A life without books is like a room without windows.’” She gave a dramatic gesture that nearly sent the last bite of her cake flying onto the floor. “That’s a quote, but I think it’s more accurate to say ‘A life without books is like a world without color. Or candy. Or music.’” Here she stopped to eat the last of her cake. “Another one of my life mottos.” 
Ok, so how many life motto’s did this girl have? Nothing against Felicity, but I think I actually breathed one of those dramatic sighs when she finally left the building. The girl was just so full of energy she made me feel like a sloth while she was a cheetah on steroids. 

Where Dandelions Grow Part 12

I was realizing it’s been quite a while since I’ve done any Where Dandelions Grow posts, so here another one is. Hope you enjoy!
             I forget the first few things he said, but I know they were funny and everyone laughed. Then, instead of standing behind the pulpit, two guys came up, one of them carrying a tall chair, and the other one a equally tall, round and rather small table. “Thanks.” Mr. Maxwell sat down on the chair, and then began talking about more serious stuff. 
            “In 1986, when I was 39 years old, I began to notice a terrible trend among my colleagues, college buddies and friends: divorce.” He leaned forward in his seat, and I had the strange feeling that I was going to learn something amazing out of this talk.
            “This was happening in a variety of marriages – from the shaky to the apparently strong. Margaret, that’s my wife, and I didn’t think our relationship was in any kind of danger, but then again, we knew that many of our friends had thought their relationships were indestructible too.
            “At the same time, my career was really taking off. And while I was enjoying the new challenges, I knew that I didn’t want to lose my family in the process. That prompted me to make one of my key life decisions: rewriting my definition of success. Instead of acclaim or advancement or achievement, I decided that for me, Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.” 
             Oh. My. Goodness. Taking that in was hard. The words were so different from what I grew up hearing my mom talk about time after time, and I wondered if she had ever thought of success in the way Mr. Maxwell was saying. Probably not.
            “This made success for me possible only if I included my wife and children in the journey. From that moment on, my success depended on putting my family first.
If you want to truly succeed in this life, you need to ask yourself a question: Is your pursuit of success drawing you closer to – or farther from – the most important people in your life?
            “If you want to redefine success the way I did, here are some ways to put your decision into practice: Determine your priorities. How much of your calendar is devoted to your family and/or close friends? On your budget and to-do list, where do you write in your loved ones? No relationship can survive for long on leftovers. Early in my career, I focused so much on work that I neglected Margaret. After I realized this, I changed. I carved out time for her. I protected my day off. And we dedicated money in our budget to facilitate special times together.” 
             Did this really work? Thoughts began tumbling into my head faster than I could categorize them. Yanking out my journal, I began scribbling notes as fast as I could, hoping to catch every word Mr. Maxwell said. 
            “It’s been said that a lot can be learned about what a person values by examining two things: their calendar and their bank statement. They show where people spend their time and money. What do those things say about what YOU value?”
             I decided to re-examine my life when I got home. Was I doing to my mother the same things she’d been doing to me all my life? She pushed me away because she wanted me to succeed. I was pushing her away, because I didn’t want to succeed. And it seemed to me that we were quite confused on what the word ‘success’ meant.
            “Decide on your philosophy.” Mr. Maxwell was saying. “Once your loved ones are a priority, you have to decide together what you want your family to stand for. What values will you live out? For us, the bottom line was to cultivate and maintain:
  • Commitment to God,
  • Continual growth,
  • Common experiences,
  • Confidence in God, ourselves and others, and
  • Contributions to life.
            “This was my family’s list. I’m not suggesting that you adopt our philosophy. But I encourage you to take time together to list YOUR non-negotiables. Keep the list short so that you can remember and apply it.” Mr. Maxwell took a bottle of water off the table and took a long drink before setting it back down and continuing on his talk. 
            “Develop your problem-solving strategy. I think a lot of people go into marriage expecting it to be easy. Maybe they’ve seen too many movies. Marriage isn’t easy. Family isn’t easy. Close friendships aren’t easy. The best plan is to expect problems, stay committed, and develop a strategy for getting through the rough times.
Talk to your loved ones about how you could improve your problem solving together. NOTE: Do this during a calm time, not in the middle of a conflict!” He laughed as if remembering some times he had made the mistake he just warned us about.
            “Many problem-solving strategies exist, from family meetings to fair fighting rules. Use the ones that work for you. Just be sure that they foster and promote three things:
  1. Better understanding,
  2. Positive change, and
  3. Growing relationships.” 
Growing relationships? I hardly have a relationship with my parents to start with.
            “Deciding to redefine success, and acting on that decision, changed the trajectory of my life. Now, many years later, I’m still married to the love of my life, both my kids are married with children (my grandangels!), and we all still enjoy spending time together.” Mr. Maxwell waited, a huge grin on his face, for the clapping to finish after stating how wonderful his life is, then he finished his talk.
            “Wrapping my definition of success around those I love the most made the difference. And really, when you reach the end of your life, what will be most important to you? Dusty awards granted by acquaintances, or deep connection with those you love?” (http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com/2010/05/20/what-is-success/)
             As soon as I could politely leave, I did so. I couldn’t even imagine how all these thoughts were so new to me. My whole life I had gauged success on two different things: Fame and Riches. And now I suddenly realized that success wasn’t either of those things. Success wasn’t defined by my yearly income. Success wasn’t even defined by how many people knew my name. 
             Thinking about it though made sense. After all, my mom had grown up in a rather well-to-do family and yet I didn’t think of her as successful. I thought of her as someone who I disagreed with and wished she would have encouraged me to be who I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do. Was she happy? Not really. I mean, of course there were times when she was happy, but overall, she didn’t seem to be a cheerful person. And she defiantly couldn’t say what Mr. Maxwell had said. Now many years later I’m still living with the love of my life and enjoying spending time with my children and their children, my grandangels. I couldn’t imagine that my grandma had ever called me her grandangel! Wishing I had some books by Mr. Maxwell, I decided to check out the non-fiction section in Novelty when I got there on Monday morning. 
             Pretty good stuff, wasn’t it? I have some books written by John Maxwell that you can borrow if you want. I grinned when I read the text from Lexie. So maybe I wouldn’t have to spend some of my money on the books after all. I wrote back, telling her I would take her up on her offer, and thanking her for taking me to church. If that’s what all the church services were like, I was going to have to start going more often. 
             After debating it in my mind for a few minutes, I sent Mom a quick text telling her a little bit about how Swallow Ridge was and letting her know I was fine. We’d texted back and forth a few times since I arrived over a week before, but I always let Mom initiate the texting. Realizing though that if I didn’t swallow my pride and work at making our relationship better than it was, that I was just as at fault as she was, made me decide to work harder. 
             When Mom wrote back, telling me she was glad to hear from me, and calling me ‘honey’ I felt duly rewarded. She only ever calls me ‘honey’ when I’ve made her particularly happy or if she’s proud of me. I wrote down the word ‘Honey’ on the margin of my journal and doodled around it while my thoughts ran wild. At last I started writing down some goals for myself: 
  • Begin figuring out why our family has so many issues, then work at getting rid of them.
  • Be willing to take the first step. I can humble myself just as well as anyone else can.
  • Make people more important than things. 
  • Learn to think of success in a new way. 
             With the realization that I needed to be actively working on restoring my family relationships, I decided to go and visit Grandma. 

Where Dandelions Grow Part 11

{If you’re new, you can read the pervious posts by clicking on this link.}

          Pulling out one of my nicer outfits the next morning after I had taken a shower, I slipped into it, then quickly brushed my hair and put in a clip, pulling my bangs back. I had decided to grow them out, and they were right at that really annoying stage. When Lexie sent me a text reminding me to be ready at eight, I was already sitting on a bench outside the house, journaling. 
          I had stayed up rather late the night before, working on sending emails to various editors. Having already published a handful of simple magazine and newspaper articles, I knew I wanted to do some more serious writing, hopefully ending up with a novel. Obviously, to have a finished novel, I would need an editor, so I’d been pursuing that angle for a while. It hadn’t taken me long to decide to leave my age off of the different emails I wrote, since for some odd reason it seemed most people had this silly mental block when it came to age. Oh my goodness. Nineteen-year-olds can’t write. Why aren’t you in collage?
         I journaled about the progress I was making, which actually didn’t take very much time. Most of the time I wrote down my frustrations about not making more headway. I pretty much had no clue where to start. I’m sure Dad would have been able to give me some pointers, but since I wasn’t telling anyone what I was doing, I couldn’t really get his advice on the matter. Oh well. It would just be that much more special to me when I finally got to hold a completed novel in my hands… No matter how many years it would take me. 
           “Hope you don’t mind that we’re walking.” 
           Glancing up, I saw Lexie standing there in a blue skirt and white sweater. “And don’t you look cute this morning.” Slipping my journal into my bag I gave her a hug then we started down the street together. 
           “I’m sure you’ve noticed, but this place is so small everyone pretty much walks everywhere.”
            “No, really?” I grinned at my cousin, sometimes she told me the most obvious things. 
           “We’re having a guest speaker today.” Lexie’s eyes lit up. “I think you’ll really enjoy him. His name is John Maxwell, and he’s a leadership expert.” 
           “Really?” I was truly curious. That didn’t exactly sound like the kind of guy I imagined talking at her church.
           “Yeah. He talks a lot about success.”
          “Success? Um, I don’t really want to be successful in life, remember? My mom drove me nuts on that point.” 
           Lexie grinned in such a way to make me really wonder what to expect. “I don’t think you’ll find this guy boring. Or disagreeable.” 
           “I guess we’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?” 
            “Yup.” 
           The church was brick and nice looking, although I was expecting stain-glass windows and instead they were just regular. It was also bigger than I imagined. Maybe about big enough for three hundred people. Not the cute, white, little country church I was picturing. The entryway was crowded with people standing around, chattering. Right away I noticed that there were a lot of younger people there. Kids about my age. I’m guessing they were collage students. 
           “I’ve been helping out in the nursery, but I’m off this week. Even if I wasn’t, I would have tried to get someone to take my place, ‘cause I want to sit with you.” 
           “I’m just an excuse,” I said. “You really want to hear this guy speak about success or leadership, or whatever he’s going to talk about.” 
           Lexie tried not to smile, but I could see she was anyway, ‘cause she has a dimple on her chin whenever she’s trying to hide something. “Ok, true enough. I’ve read a lot of his books, so it’s no wonder I’m excited about hearing him in person.” 
         “So, why didn’t you tell me before now that he was going to be speaking?”
          “I would have if you hadn’t wanted to come, but you agreed to accompany me so readily, that I didn’t need to work at persuading you any.” 
          “Yeah, I am pretty cool like that.” 
          There was a lady up in front on the stage and she began playing music on a piano, so we found some seats and sat down. After a guy got up there and prayed, everyone sang several songs that not only had the piano being played with them, but also a guitar and some drums. It was actually kind of fun. Then the same guy who had prayed got up there again and introduced the speaker, John Maxwell. Everyone clapped and cheered when he walked on stage. 
          He looked like he was in his 50’s, or maybe even older, not what I was expecting.  He didn’t look exceptional, except for his smile, that was great. And when I say he didn’t look exceptional, I mean there was nothing extremely striking in his appearance. He was neat (as in tidy) looking, and wore a gray suit coat over his white shirt and silvery pants. 

Where Dandelions Grow Part 10

Hey y’all, I’m here with more of Where Dandelions Grow. So, what do you think of it so far? I really (make that really, really, really) like getting feedback on my writing!

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  “Wanna go to church with me tomorrow?” Lexie’s hair was down today, curled slightly and wispy in the wind. 
  “Sure.” I had no reason not to and I figured it would be a fun thing to go back to the church where I spent so many happy Sundays as a child. Each day new memories were coming back to me, and I scribbled them all down, hoping to one day use them in a book. 
  “Great then. I’ll come to your house at around eight tomorrow morning.” 
  “Sounds good.” 
  “Do you want to get some ice cream?” 
  I glanced at Lexie’s trim waist, “How can you eat so much junk food and not gain any weight?” 
  “I don’t eat a lot of junk food.” Lexie tossed her hair over her shoulder as she began walking toward the dinner that served ice cream. “I just like some yummy sweets every once in a while.”
  “Ok then. Whatever.” I gave in and followed after her, determining to get a smaller size this time than I had before. “Did Grandma apologize to you when you met her?” 
   Lexie gave me a sheepish look. 
   “What? I thought you’d told me you meet her.” Lexie wouldn’t have lied to me, would she?
  “I did meet her.” Lexie looked up at the sky. “I just didn’t tell her who I was.” 
  “You didn’t tell her who you were? And here I thought you were my fearless cousin.” 
  “Cousin, yes. Fearless, no.”
  “I sorta figured that one out on my own.” I laughed. Back when we were kids, I was freaked out about everything and Lexie loved to prove that life wasn’t quite as scary as I deemed it. I think we’ve both experienced a good bit of reality since than and while I will admit that noises at night don’t freak me out any more, life isn’t the calm, comforting place Lexie once thought it was. 

  My first thought when getting home from my afternoon with Lexie was to check on my email. Hoping, and yet knowing it was unrealistic, that Teal had emailed me back, I turned on my laptop. I just about squealed when I saw that I had received an email from her. Instead of clicking on it right away, I just sat there for a few minutes looking at it. I don’t how other people are, but when I get something I’m really excited about, or that I’ve been waiting for, for a while, I don’t open it right away. I savor the moment. Waiting. Finding the right moment before finally digging in and finding out what I’ve received. 
   Wow! Destiny, is this really you? 
When I first got the email, I was like ‘No way!’ but then after thinking about it for a few minutes, and re-reading the email several times, I realized that it was indeed you. Believe me, it was a really strange feeling. I hardly remembered you, but every time I read the email over, more and more memories of you and Lexie and Kammy came pouring into my head. Finally I had to just go over to my cello and work them all out into music. 
   When I was done playing Charlie (my cello), I went and found one of the old photo albums that Mom and I made of my summers spent with you girls. When I told Mom about the email, she was really excited. She says we cousins always had so much fun together, and that you’re welcome to come here for a visit. We so have to keep in contact from now on! Yeah, I know that isn’t the best grammar, but hey, it’s an email, right? But yeah, I can hardly wait to hear back from you. You’ll have to email me all about your life and have Lexie email me too. I told Dad I wanted to track down Kamryn, so he has one of the guys doing that. I’ll email you when I hear something about her. Shouldn’t take long, ‘cause our guys are really good at research. 
  Anywho, my cello tutor is coming, so I’ve got to go and get ready. I seriously am so happy to think of being in contact with you gals again! 
  Teal O.

  Finishing reading the email, I was just about on top of the world. Quickly I sent a text to Lexie, letting her know that Teal had emailed me, and then sent Teal a reply. I told her how I had been raised in California and my dad worked for a newspaper there. There wasn’t a ton from my years in California that I thought she’d be interested in, so instead I gave her a little bit of an update about how things in Swallow Ridge were. I told her some about Grandma, assuring her that she would love to meet her. (Only later did I find out that Grandma and Teal were already in concat with each other.)
  Some of the things she wrote about in her email surprised me: Her dad was having some ‘guys’ track down Kamryn? And she had photo albums of when we were kids. It made it sound like her mom wasn’t so against us cousins like the rest of our moms were.