I’ve always said I believe in the power of stories to change lives. Heck, I went into nursing because of a fictional character (Kitty Freemont in Exodus by Leon Uris, if you were wondering). But this was my most profound experience with a story… ever!
A couple of months ago I was working on the prequel story for Dahlia. If you’ve read The Sphinx series, you know she’s a strong character, so I was surprised at how her story started. I’m going to share a bit with you in a minute, a scene that even as I wrote it I got emotional. At the time, I thought I was being a bit of a baby, and I probably even laughed at myself. I mean, who cries writing their own stories?! Well, me apparently.
The next day my son, Seth (pictured above) was having a tough day. He’s a soft-hearted little man with a stubborn streak a mile wide. Anyway, he said he couldn’t do something, and then he said he was no good at it, and it quickly escalated to “I’m no good at anything.”
Well, THAT was not going to fly. I immediately thought of the scene I’d written the day before (truly divine inspiration if ever there was such a thing-and I do believe there is). Then I did the very same thing my character had done.
I marched my son into the bathroom and told him to look at himself in the mirror, right in the eye, and tell himself ten things he was good at. It was a simple thing because Seth is incredibly talented. I waited for him to say something about his piano, soccer, his determination, or sense of humor… But my little Seth dropped his head and started crying. And then he said, “I’m not good at anything.”
And my heart broke.
I made him do it. I made him look at himself, (at that point we were both crying) and I made him repeat at least a dozen things- talents, skills, and beautiful quirks that make him unique. I told him what to say, a mother’s desperate desire that her son would see his worth, if not through his eyes, than through mine.
I realized that there is a bit of Dahlia in each of us. The story I’d initially thought would only resonate with the few readers of my series, suddenly became a message I was desperate to share. Yes, there is more to Dahlia’s story, and people may not feel the same emotional resonance, but the message of individual worth and self-acceptance is threaded throughout.
I hope you’ll enjoy Dahlia’s story, Daughter of Darkness, and more than that, I hope you’ll understand that everyone has value that is uniquely theirs– especially you. It’s available for preorder now, and it’ll be released next week (May 11th).
And here’s a challenge… Write down ten things you’re good at. It can be something you do (I’m good at baking) or an innate talent (I’m good at seeing both sides of an argument). Another thing I’ve learned over the years as a nurse practitioner is that most of what people consider character weaknesses often comes with a very positive flip-side. One of my children is highly emotional which means we have a lot of drama in our home… the flip side to that is he’s very, very compassionate. The challenge for him will be learning to harness his empathy and emotion and express his intense feelings appropriately. But isn’t that what life is about… learning.
Anyway, when you have your ten things, go to the mirror, look at yourself, and tell yourself of your individual worth. What are your talents and gifts? Say them out loud so that you hear your value declared. It sounds so easy, but I had a hard time doing it. I felt stupid and silly, and I almost gave up on it. But I couldn’t ask you to do something I wasn’t willing to do. And guess what? When I was done… I really did feel better about myself and how I move in the world.
I believe in the power of words to change the world. I always have. But words change the world because they change us.
Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Daughter of Darkness and the gorgeous cover created by Nathan at StudioOpolis. I hope you enjoy it!
He studied her, his blue eyes sparking with intensity she only rarely saw. “Tell me ten things you’re good at.”
His words were a strike, and she had no block or defense for them. “I don’t have ten things.”
Xan raised his eyebrows. “Tell me five.”
She shook her head and dropped her gaze. Gods, why was he doing this to her?
He stood and extended his hand to help her up. She took it and followed him to the mirror.
“Look at you,” he said.
She stared at her unruly curls, thin body, and nose that was too big for her face.
“Now repeat after me: I’m Dahlia, daughter of Eris.”
She rolled her eyes but repeated his words.
“I have excellent reaction time.”
Dahlia stared at him as it registered he was talking about her. “I do?”
He nodded and pointed at the mirror.
The words fell out of her mouth in disbelief, sounding more like a question than a statement.
“Now say, I’m focused, determined, and surprisingly creative.” His look was intense, his eyes the color of ice.
She thought over the last several weeks, and as if his words gave her new sight, she recognized the truth of what he was saying. She repeated the affirmations this time with tentative conviction.
“I excel at debate, painting, sparring, and anything athletic that requires balance.”
She stared at Xan. “Really?”
“Aye, lass. Now look at yourself, in the eye, and say it.”
Dahlia did, and as she spoke the words, her shoulders straightened.
“Now, tell me,” he said in a low voice. “Knowing you’re good at all those things, are you worthless?”