I sew (it’s a good way to keep from going crazy when your writing muse goes out to lunch and stays for two weeks) and mostly I sew gowns for Riley, the children’s hospital in Indianapolis. I also make quilts and occasionally help out with costumes for the high school drama department.
The rest of the time, I write books.
Each garment, quilt, and book starts with an unblemished piece of fabric—or a clean, blank page. With the fabric, I cut things out carefully, or sometimes I fussy-cut certain designs out of the whole and leave a messy pile of scraps in the scissors’ wake. Occasionally, I’ll stack material six-layers-deep and cut out a whole bunch of things at one time. Sometimes I ruin the whole thing and toss it without a lot of regret. Some, maybe, but not a lot.
When I write, sometimes what goes on that blank page is…well, it’s good. And I’m so proud I did it. Other times, it’s pretty much all dreck. Most of the time, it’s okay but needs work. Regardless of how it is, if it’s good from first draft, gets some rewriting, or ends up in the virtual trash can, it all started with the blank page.
So, this year I’m grateful for uncut cloth and blank pages.
Harlequin Heartwarming authors are back this year with more stories from Christmas Town, Maine.
My story is The Magic Stocking, in which underachiever Ellie Griffith starts a brand new page of her life as the manager of a sock store. I hope you love all the stories!
“There!” She pointed at a Fraser across the path, her hand coming to unintended rest on the chest of Pat’s jacket. “It’s perfect!”
He squinted at it. “Even for a skinny tree, it’s skinny. Charlie Brown would have given it some serious thought before taking that one.” His hand covered hers on his chest.
She laughed, even though the sound caught in her throat and came out wheezy. “All the better. I’m going to cover it with socks and ornaments anyway, and I want it to make children happy, the way Charlie Brown’s did.”
“Okay, if this is the one you want.”
He sawed the tree down in short order. “We’re close enough to the house I can just drag it back. Do you have a stand for it?”
“Cass and Eli have a lot of duplicate things because they brought together two households. I was the recipient not only of a tree stand but of a box of ornaments, a tree skirt, and the crockpot I brought the chili in.”
“Oh, hey, chili. We need to walk faster.” He handed her the saw and grasped the narrow trunk of the tree.
At the house, he put the tree in the back of his pickup and they went inside. He lit the fire in the fireplace at the end of the kitchen while she dished up the chili and carried the bowls in to the round table.
When they were seated, Ellie said, “From a CPA to a tree farmer. I can’t make that connection in my head.”
“Well, it’s probably like being an editor and a sock-seller.” He grinned at her. “Just means we have versatile talents.”
Ellie thought later, after he’d taken her back to the store and helped her set up the tree, that surely she was the only woman around whose heart had been won by a phrase that had nothing to do with love. She’d been the family screw-up her entire life, never finishing anything, never being successful at anything she tried other than editing. Her family had always referred to her as unfocused and needy. Although they’d done so lovingly, the lack of faith had always stung.
They’d never used the word versatile when talking about her, and they’d certainly never referred to her talents. She supposed that to a brain surgeon, a beautiful television host, and a gifted lawyer, she didn’t seem talented at all.
But she was. She was.
The kiss goodnight, warm and lingering and sweet, stayed in her mind, too. It was still there when she woke the next morning.
Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant opportunity you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! She’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or please come and see her at http://www.facebook.com/lizkflaherty