I owe it all to Rose and her curiosity.
September 2019 summer vacation at the Jersey Shore. Twelve hours of drive, drive, drive spurred on by visions of lazy days reading a Hugh Howey novel, starting a puzzle and of course, always, working on my latest writing project. My I-pad waited like a faithful friend tucked into a travel bag that usually held a laptop.
When we arrived, we breathed in the salty ocean air, stretched our legs, and piled the contents of the car onto a cart. As usual my husband constructed a perfect tower of luggage, grocery bags, extra pillows, and what must have been fifty assorted loose items. The last thing to go on top was the I-pad bag. Too late I saw the bag slip to the ground and the I-Pad slide out. To my great relief no harm was done. Neither one of us noticed the red and black flash drive skitter to freedom. I would never miss it since I didn’t intend to bring it and had no PC to install it on.
Days later, mission accomplished, I relaxed with my paperback book open, cold lemonade in my Contigo cup and a bag of barbecue chips strategically hidden from seagulls, though there was one standing on one leg looking straight at me. My phone rang. It was the hotel front desk. A guest had called to say she found something that might be mine, but she was checked out. Could I call her?
I wondered if it was a scam.
When Rose answered and we started to talk, we may have well been classmates at school. My husband looked on with a bewildered face. I just smiled at him as Rose explained that she had pulled in next to our car and found a red flash drive. She apologized for taking it with her thinking it belonged to her friend that had been in the parking space last. Later she opened the drive.
“Are you an author?” she asked.
“Aspiring,” I said.
“Well I spent the past few hours reading your story, I couldn’t put it down. I need to know what happens to Darrell.”
I laughed. I wasn’t even sure she had the latest draft for the story that I had abandoned two years ago.
She shared with me what she liked about it. How it reminded her of the show “The Walking Dead”, and did I model the protagonist after one of the actors on the show? I did not. She gave me some pointers, parts of the story that weren’t working and then promised to return the drive.
It was the single most igniting interaction with a stranger I’ve ever had. I immediately started working on the novel again. Rose volunteered to be a reader and wanted to know how the story would end. So began the quest to stop abandoning characters to digital dungeons, and do what it takes to bring them to life not only in my mind but in as many others that would let them in.
If you know a writer, the greatest gift you can give is to read their drafts and give words of affirmation sprinkled with suggestions. I am in debt to Rose. I need to repay her with a free copy of the published book. Would you join me as I keep my promise to Rose?
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