Thursday, August 20, 2009


Only four more days to go until publication of my debut novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS! Today, I'm going to talk about counseling, and more specifically about the school guidance counselor who inspired the counselor in my book who helps Daniel deal with the results of the horrible tragedy that happens in the woods.

Her name is Becky Kelley. She works at an Oconee County School, Malcom Bridge Elementary. I met with Becky one day about a year ago in her school office and we talked about my fictional character, Daniel, and how he could overcome and learn to live with what had happened to his beloved uncle.

Mrs. Hardy, the counselor in GFTW, first appears on page 36: "I'd like you to meet our school counselor, Lisa Hardy," Mrs. Pettibone (Daniel's teacher) added, gesturing toward the red-haired woman in a rumpled denim jacket.

"I hope it's okay for us to talk to Daniel now," Mrs. Hardy said in a cheerful voice, making me sit up straight on the couch with her sharp, intelligent look."

Here's an excerpt from chapter fourteen, when Daniel goes back to school:

"The walls of Mrs. Hardy's office were turquoise. At first I didn't like the color. But the more I looked at it, the more it pulled me in, until I felt like I was standing in a big aquarium.

On the wall behind her desk hung a giant picture of a kid walking hand in hand with a woman who looked like his mom. In one corner, there was a kid-sized octagonal table and eight blue plastic chairs.

A futon with a wrinkled tan cover was next to the table. A bright yellow flower made from clay jutted from the wall over the futon. I could tell it was clay because the paint didn't go all the way to the edges, leaving the rough orange clay exposed.

I walked over to the wall behind the table and studied a poster called "The Chart of Faces." The heading was "Stages of Grief," and each face had a different expression. The last face smiled at me."

I smiled on my way home from my meeting with Becky Kelley. She was exactly the kind of counselor my imaginary boy Daniel needed to help him go on with his life. I think the advice Becky gave Daniel that day could help anyone dealing with grief and I thank her for sharing her expertise that day so I could weave it into my book and offer it to the world.