What’s left out of ALL THE ABOVE

My notes, outlines, and original drafts of ALL THE ABOVE included the following:

  • All the lyrics to the songs Jack and I listened to on the way to and from Emory (I was even going to use some of the lines at the beginning of chapters).
  • The time when, at an eye checkup at Omni Eye Services, another doctor (not Dr. Day or Dr. Sturdy) examined Jack’s eyes, put him in front of an apparatus, and he asked, “Is something going to touch my eyeball?”  To which the doctor replied, “Oh, just a little touch.” I don’t know if it was the “air blow” thing they do, but afterward, Jack and I laughed at how the doctor responded (as if a little touch is nothing…)
  • The time when, at Egleston Children’s Hospital, while he was waiting to check in for yet another MRI, Jack made friends with a little boy with cancer who was bald. When they called Jack up to the counter, the worker said she didn’t realize he was a patient, and thought he was that little boy’s father.
  • The fact that Jack’s brother Brian was driving our van, and Jack was driving our Honda CRV that summer. We only had one other car, so I took Dennis to MARTA every morning to go to work, and picked him up each evening.
  • The time when two of my friends (from my Bible study group) met me at La Madeleine for a glass of wine a few days before we left for North Carolina, and I told them what was going on.
  • The fact that many of our close relatives didn’t ask how Jack was doing, even after he went public; I think other family members told them.
  • The fact that Jack was his sister Annette’s Confimation sponsor that November. (Jack is pictured below, a few weeks later in Texas.)

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  • The fact that Dennis and I spent a weekend in Las Vegas that fall.
  • And, that in mid November, a friend from my Bible study, who had invited me to go to spend a long weekend at her beach house with her and another friend (in Seaside, Florida), graciously allowed me to bring my mom along, too.
  • Many other quotes from books and songs that I wanted to include, but couldn’t, such as:


Some of the above got edited out, and some of it wasn’t part of the story. But it was all there in my mind (or on my desk) when I set out to write the book back in April 2013 while I spent a week at the beach.

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Getting yesterday back

Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.
– Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

As a writer of fiction, I draw from my own experiences. But I also tell stories that I make up, out of my imagination. I don’t tell a story the way it happened, but the way I thought it should have. *

So “yesterday” is a good place to look for ideas, even though in life, you can’t get yesterday back.

Lots of things that happen in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX really happened (or a version of them did), but lots of other things didn’t. I did spend a year in France when I was young, and I missed my boyfriend back home. When I wrote the novel, I got to tell the ending of our story, not as it really happened, but as I wished it had.

My latest novel, UNDERWATER, isn’t based on an experience. But some of the characters’ internal conflicts are drawn from my own struggles. The water “down the river” isn’t always calm. Even if it looks okay, in my characters’ lives, there’s a lot lurking below the surface: Guilt. Lies. Jealousy. Hurt. Bitterness. Regret.

The tension builds, and as an author of suspense, I know that

worry = suspense.

As I wrote UNDERWATER, I knew that its “yesterday” had to be problematic at best. I wanted to keep you, the reader, worried about what was going to happen next.

And since by nature, I’m a worrier, I just had to let the river flow.

* to paraphrase Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: “A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn’t tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been.”


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