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CHOICES – Guest Post by Sheila Bliss
There were so many things I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a TV news anchorwoman, a fashion designer, a news journalist, a nurse, a teacher and a psychologist. That’s quite a variety. I wanted to make sure I had all the bases covered. I was also a voracious reader. My entire family was. Memories as a kid always involved a family member reading a book. My dad, my mom, and my older sisters. The best vacations also involved sharing our responses to whatever book one of us was reading at the time. My family instilled in me a huge love for reading. It was also my escape. My childhood was lonely at times and broken. Reading allowed me to escape the loneliness and I found solace reading about people who experienced a similar pain between the pages of a book. The words breathed life into these imaginary people that I wanted to be friends with, that I wanted for family. It also sparked a deep desire to create those same feelings of connection, relief and escapism for another person. Ultimately, I wanted to create and help people in the process. Teaching called the most to me at the time of college major declaration, though. My fear of failure was strong, so strong I allowed it to overshadow my desire. So, I went with door number two or six if you count all my other options. I could still be creative and I loved working with children, especially children in impoverished areas. Although if you talked to my family they would swear I became a teacher just so I could boss people around. In the fourteen years I taught, I felt restless, I still felt a deep yearning to explore something different. I’m a goal oriented person. I like challenges and I wanted to challenge myself to something bigger. I wasn’t getting any younger and I wanted to write.
I always wrote something, really bad poetry, random thoughts, character names, gratitude journals, quotes, lesson plans, wish lists and ideas for novels. I started my very first scrapbook when Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married in 1981 at the age of thirteen. I cut out pictures and wrote my own bubble quotes for each picture. I was so proud of myself. I kept going from there, writing diary entries, taking creative writing classes whenever I could in high school and college, keeping journals that were cathartic and therapeutic during some dark days in my early twenties when I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder that was incredibly exhausting and as equally painful. I took a break from teaching sixth grade in West Philadelphia so I could figure out how to tackle this auto-immune disease, went back to school to procure my master’s degree and started my family. When my oldest who is now sixteen, was ready to begin school I went back to school with her and started teaching Kindergarten. I’ve been there ever since. I love teaching. I love Kindergartners. They are my absolute favorite, but my yearning and restlessness was increasing and suddenly my reading choices were changing as well. My girls started talking about this book Twilight. I had no idea what they were talking about and I insisted that I read it first before they did. I was hooked, but what interested me more than anything was Stephenie Meyer’s personal story about how she started. She inspired me to sit in my girl cave, as my husband has affectionately dubbed it, and write something more than lesson plans. She gave me the courage to put my ideas that gnawed at my brain on my computer screen and actually save it and then have the nerve to label it. It was reading Jamie McGuire’s personal story that gave me the balls to self-publish it. I never met Jamie. She wouldn’t know me from Eve, but her story, her advice she posts on her blog, inspired me to not be afraid. She held my hand even though she didn’t know it or me. For the first time in my life, I was truly going to live by my own personal mantra, feel the fear, but do it anyway. It was time for mommy to practice what she preached to her little people at home. It was time to go big or go home. The clock was ticking and it wasn’t the female one, it was the life one that kept chiming through the night, through the fog of my dreams.
I started Choices in 2009. It’s taken me five years from beginning to the end product you’ve purchased on Amazon. I wrote during the summer months, during holidays, weekends, days off and sometimes these characters hijacked my sleep and I wrote all night and then taught all day. I’ve had some major bumps in the road, some huge failures and some huge successes writing this book. Some people are shocked at the subject matter because I’m a Kindergartner teacher, but honestly that’s not all I am. I am a creator. I wanted to write something outside my realm of knowledge. Some of my friends were shocked and couldn’t understand why I didn’t write a children’s book…um, because I didn’t want to. I wanted to write something real, something edgy, something dark, yet promising, hopeful. I wanted to write a big romance, but not a typical romance that’s sweet and neat. I wanted to write something gritty and real. I wanted to write a story about a strong woman who’s had some strong situations that forced her to feel out of control and her response to it. I wanted to write about a character that was forced to really examine her life. I wanted to write a story that forced this character to ask herself the question no one wants to ask themselves, am I happy or am I lying to myself and believing the lie? Am I just going through the motions? I wanted to write a story about how a woman doesn’t have to sacrifice everything about herself in order to save someone who isn’t interested in saving themselves. When is enough? When do you draw the line in the sand and say I need to take care of me now. Life is hard. Life gives you cards you don’t want. Life is unfair. Life is real. Life isn’t pretty sometimes, but it does give you choices. So, therefore, I give you Choices.
One never truly knows what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage. On the surface Laurel Brittingham’s life is idyllic but when you dive below the sparkling facade and submerge yourself within the murky, slimy sand at the bottom, life is never as it appears.
Laurel is a devoted, loving and loyal wife and mother. She married her high school sweetheart and created three new young lives during her marriage to Paul, all the while denying and avoiding the role his demons played in their marriage. Laurel’s only saving support system, other than her three children is her rewarding career as a nurse and her three gal pals that she cherishes beyond words. Addictions, anger and emotional abuse are the cornerstone of her marriage until one day life presents an interesting choice.
Laurel wasn’t looking for him, she wasn’t seeking him out. Laurel was loyal; for better or worse, weren’t just vows they were a way of life. Fate or destiny introduced a much younger man into her life; a much younger man who was also the son of a good friend. Brandon turned her world and her heart inside out and upside down. Their love was undeniable and soul mending.
Unfortunately, everything has a price. Their relationship unravels a web of lies, betrayal, abduction and deceit. What Laurel doesn’t know is how close to home this ugly web of lies comes. Laurel begins to travel down a path of shocking truths with twists and surprises she never fathomed, even saving a soul she never thought possible. She’s forced to make choices that will affect her family, her friends, and her happiness, but more importantly may destroy the very life she holds dearest.
About Sheila Bliss
This independent author enjoys writing books about circumstances that shape a person’s life and that life is all about the choices we make.
She hopes that you enjoy reading her first novel Choices as much as she’s enjoyed writing it!