Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My Mother, Loved and So, So Lost by Dean Gloster


(Trigger warnings: Death, alcoholism, and a school shooting.)

When I was twenty, my mother finally finished her decade-long quest to drink herself to death. I’m not completely over it.
Somehow, in the weird unspoken way that tasks are handed out in dysfunctional families, I’d decided in adolescence that it was my job, as a parentified child, to keep Mom from dying. That was my first big failure.

When she drank, my bright and broken mother, Carol Elizabeth Gloster, did it with even more intensity than she brought to everything else. She drank as if she were bleeding out through multiple wounds that only bourbon could plug, only to find that it sloshed through those holes too, leaving her desperately pouring in more.
Mom had a wicked dark sense of humor, and she was creative, lurching from oil painting to magazine writing to fiction. But she was doomed by her own upbringing. My grandmother Bea, Mom’s mother, essentially lived vicariously through Mom and had raised her to believe she was the most brilliant, beautiful, and gifted woman on earth. That’s heavy baggage to drag on creative endeavors, because anything interesting has a steep learning curve. You have to accept a certain amount of, well, sucking for a while before you get good. For my mother, not being the best at something was an agony that she couldn’t stand for long.
In turn, my mother raised three scary-smart boys, and told us that we could do anything and that we were expected to excel at everything. It’s an amazing gift, in our society, to grow up believing you can do anything. It’s also, of course, a lie—to be a world-class sprinter you should be born with a predominance of fast-twitch muscle fibers, and to star in the NBA you should probably have at least some genes for tall.
But as a teen I believed it. If I could do anything, I thought, I could even save my mom.
 That’s not, unfortunately, how addiction works. You don’t have control over someone else’s addiction. She has to decide to quit. Many don’t. My mother didn’t. Not even when her son desperately wanted her to choose life, partly for his sake.
Mom was fierce and—at least until she pickled her brain into a confused fog—political. She had been the state PTA chair of Nevada; and a letter she wrote, published in the Reno Evening Gazette, resulted in the local John Birch Society chapter denouncing her as a “Communist dupe,” which in turn resulted in a brick thrown through our living room window. (This was long before online rants, but even back then, right-wing threat notes were incorrectly spelled and punctuated.)
Like other children, on Mother’s Day my brothers and I gave my mother a mug that said “World’s Greatest Mom.” But that, of course, was also a lie.
 Mom drove blind drunk with me in the car. She was dangerous and—as a sometimes mean drunk—occasionally shockingly cruel. She had narcissistic personality disorder, back when that was still a recognized diagnosis, not the defining characteristic of the U.S. presidency. Eventually, she had episodes of full-blown alcohol psychosis, hallucinating that burglars were climbing up the outside of our house using clamps. Which was alarming, to 14-year-old me, when Mom was the sole adult in charge.
But you can love your mother even if she is broken and complicated and even dangerous. (If that seems hard to believe, consider that in the United States, millions of people love having readily-purchased assault rifles more than they love having safer school children.)
I know now that a teenager shouldn’t be expected—even if it’s only himself who expects it—to save a mother determined to drink herself to death. But I didn’t know that then.
Life is like a novel in that you learn more—and grow more—from difficulties than from easy circumstances. I know something about how the adult world fails young people and how sometimes teens carry unfair burdens. My teenage years, and having lost my mother, inform the YA novels I write: I write about death and about whether it’s possible to save someone. They’re hard stories to tell, but I have my mother’s dark wit and I have a background doing stand-up comedy; using humor helps.
You can use terrible past experiences to create. We don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we do have some control over how we respond.
I’ve thought about that in the last two weeks, in connection with the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. This one—like so many others—was perpetrated by a young angry white man with a history of violence in a prior relationship, who brought a military-grade AR-15 assault rifle with multiple high-capacity magazines to turn a school into a killing zone.
But this time, after the gunshot echoes died away, something different happened. Teenagers in the school—the classmates and students of the dead—refused to accept the usual cycle: thoughts and prayers…too soon to talk about gun control…you can’t prevent…the national gaze moves on.
They’re angry, as they should be. The adult world failed to keep them safe. They’re also passionate, they’re skilled at social media, and they carry the moral mantle of survivors of the horrific.
And they’re not willing to sit down and shut up in the face of hypocrisy and indifference or even pervasive attacks from their elders meant to silence them. They are spending the hard coin of their anger and loss to try to change the world for the better, so that what happened to them and their friends doesn’t happen again.
 They’re awesome and brilliant and I applaud them even as my eyes blur. Because it isn’t fair that they have to carry this burden.
But they’ve taken it up, so the least the rest of us can do is help them, including standing up for them when the paid shills for the NRA and their paid-for politicians try to shush them.
They loved. They lost. And they’re doing something about it.
You go, Parkland students. Be well. Good luck to us all.
Dean Gloster has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is a former stand-up comedian and a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. His debut YA novel DESSERT FIRST is out now from Merit Press/Simon Pulse. School Library Journal called it “a sweet, sorrowful, and simply divine debut novel that teens will be sinking their teeth into. This wonderful story…will be a hit with fans of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Jesse Andrews's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” Dean is on Twitter: @deangloster


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

But is it love? (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

My first book, The Secret Year, was definitely about loss, but was it about love? This was the question I put to the classes and book groups I visited. The relationship in question was thrilling and intense, but it was also secretive, deceptive. The two people involved didn’t always trust each other, and at times they said incredibly hurtful things. They loved many of the same things, they were on the same wavelength in many ways—and yet, they always kept a certain distance between them. They embraced their external obstacles as an excuse not to risk more, not to be more honest.




I didn’t want this to be an ideal relationship. I wanted it to be messy, complicated—like life. I wanted readers to think about the questions of what love is, what a good relationship is. I wanted them to know you can survive a relationship’s end, rough as it may be.

For me, the most interesting stories are about open-ended questions. They're about the imperfections, the trial and error, the heartbreak and healing.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Not loving February -- Jen Doktorski


I struggled to come up with something to write about this month. So much so, that this post is very late. I’m sorry about that. I really am. It’s just that me and February don’t exactly get along. If February and I ever dated, we would have broken up long ago.
The funny thing is I owe a lot to February in terms of my own origin story. My mom and grandfather were born on the same day, which also happens to be my grandparents’ anniversary. (I admire my grandfather’s optimism is choosing to marry on his birthday!)

But more so than not February has always been a month of loss for me. A month I just want to get through. Those same grandparents both passed away in February. I lost my childhood dog, MacDuff in February, and when I was nine, a girl in my neighborhood was struck and killed by a car in February on one of those unseasonably warm days that lured us all outdoors. It was the first time I’d ever experienced a loss of any kind and I remember being so confused by how deeply I was affected by the tragedy. I cried every day and asked my mom for frequent updates while my neighbor remained on life support in the hospital. She wasn’t a good friend. I barely knew her despite the proximity of her house to ours. But she was two years older and that’s a world away when you’re nine. And so I felt guilty about my grief. I felt I had absolutely no right to feel sad when her parents, siblings, and everyone she was close to was suffering so much more. My pain was transient, theirs was permanent, and I felt horrible and hypocritical, though I had no way to articulate or express those feelings then except with more tears.
It’s the same way I felt on Valentine’s Day when 17 people lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida at the hands of a crazed gunman in possession of a weapon, a human killing machine, that shouldn’t be sold to anyone under any circumstances in a civilized society. Those teachers, students, and staff showed up for what they thought was an ordinary day of school and wound up in a war instead.

We watched again as politicians did nothing and those who were elected by some people to lead this great nation of ours, had the audacity (or perhaps lack of intelligence) to propose that armed teachers could have prevented this massacre. If that was the best they could do it was time for me to get my passport updated.

But then something remarkable happened. A strong, determined, articulate group of teens stood up and shouted the words our so-called leaders were too afraid and corrupt to utter – Never. Again.

They give me hope for February. They give me hope for the future. I will follow those kids wherever they want to lead me. Their parents should be very proud. We all should be.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Love, Loss, and Semi-Automatic Rifles (By Brian Katcher)



                This month, someone commented on a post I made about how mass shootings were now so ubiquitous in America that we take it as a given that it’s only a matter of time until the next one. And then I realized that this was an old post I’d written about the Las Vegas shooting. Sucks to be right.
                Since the Florida incident, there have been a lot of suggestions as to how to prevent this: the regulation of bump stocks and assault rifles, an increase in available mental health care, more police presence at schools, etc. All plans have both merits and drawbacks.
                The most ridiculous plan, however, is the one advocated by the President of the United States, who actually said this tragedy could have been prevented had there been school teachers with guns who could have shot the assassin.
                Speaking as a teacher with twenty-one years of experience, I have to say that this plain would not work. I wouldn’t mind a full time SRO, but I am certainly not the one to fill that role. In the decades I’ve taught, I’ve seen the role of the teacher greatly increase. When I was in school, the district provided students with lunch. Now we provide them with breakfast , and sometimes meals on the weekends as well. We’re responsible for character education, life skills, and most noticeably, how to survive a gun fight. While we did have intruder drills when I started teaching in 1997, that was more what to do if a non-custodial parent entered the school and demanded their kid.
                So now I’m supposed to pull out a gun and execute a madman. While I do like to fantasize that I’m John McClane, life is not a movie. The president says the government will pay for my training and weapon. Personally, I’d rather see that money go to more teachers, but whatever.
                The thing is, I have thirteen years to retirement and I pray that I’ll never been in that Florida situation. In the mean time, I’m supposed to be responsible for a loaded handgun while I’m chasing kids around and misplacing my keys. I’d either neglect my teaching so I could be more cognizant of the weapon I’m carrying, or I’ll have it on me so often that I’d dangerously forget that I’m carrying a deadly tool.
                And should the worst happen, would I be able to take out an assassin with deadly accuracy in a classroom full of children? Or would I be hit while scrambling for my holster? Or shoot myself in the kneecap? Would I have the ability to kill a person, even in the defense of others? Could I kill a former student?
                There are obviously no easy answers here, but I know a lot of teachers and not one of them has expressed a desire to pack heat at work.

Friday, February 23, 2018

An Ode to Books By Christine Gunderson


When I think about this month’s theme of Loved and Lost, I think about the 800 plus books in my house.

Instead of having a dining room or a formal living room like normal, practical people, my husband and I have a room devoted to our books.

His books are almost exclusively non-fiction and mine almost exclusively fiction. Between the two of us, we have everything from Jane Austen to Stephen Pinker. A person of any taste or interest could be stranded in our house for a month with no electricity and never be bored.

Some of the books are beloved old friends I received as gifts when I was a kid, like Little Women and The Black Stallion. Others are more recent acquisitions. Before we had children, my husband and I would spend rainy weekends roaming used books stores, looking for new friends to read and add to our shelves.

Our library has two comfortable wingback chairs and reading lamps. On a cold, grey day, with a fire, a cup of tea and a book, it’s my favorite place in the world. At night, my kids gather in the library and I read Harry Potter aloud.

We open Christmas and birthday presents in the library. It’s a special room, not utilitarian like the kitchen or cluttered with technology and noise like the family room. It’s like stepping into the past. Quiet. Calm. And best of all, the shelves are filled with some of the finest friends I’ve ever had.

I love it. But someday, I know it will be lost.

My husband has already stopped contributing to our shelves. He switched to e-books a long time ago. But I still remain devoted to print books. My idea of a dystopian future is a world where libraries and Barnes and Noble close their doors and there are no more print books to be found.

Wendy Williams recently wrote a great book called The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion. Think for a moment about the horse’s utility and ubiquity throughout most of human history. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a real, live horse?

Loved and lost. Will printed books share the same fate as the horse?

Will my kids really want to move 800 books into their homes when my husband and I are gone? Will used bookstores still exist if they want to offload our beloved volumes to someone else?

Or maybe I don’t need to worry. Just like people we’ve loved, good books stay with us long after they’re physically gone. They linger inside our mind and eventually become part of our memories and thoughts. Maybe if you truly love something, it’s never really lost at all.

###



Christine Gunderson is a young adult author living outside of Washington D.C. You can visit her website at christinegunderson.com or follow her on Twitter at @gunderchristine.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Lesson in Losing by Patty Blount

All this month, we're blogging about love and loss. I'm working on a new novel right now but it's not a young adult novel. Called NOBODY SAID IT'D BE EASY, this is a contemporary romance about a widowed father falling in love again when it's the last thing he wants.

This book has been both a tremendous joy and a profound pain in the rear end to write. There are so many wonderful moments but always this sense of guilt and grief underscoring them. As I sat here, trying to figure out what to blog about, a significant issue with this book began to clear up -- how will Gabriel, the widowed father, go from not caring to caring so much, he's afraid of it?

This is uncharted territory for this YA author. My teen characters are blank canvases -- they're dealing with first times for pretty much any issue you want to pick. The amazing confidence from falling in love for the first time... the debilitation from breaking up for the first time... and yes, the earth-shattering loss the first time we experience the death of someone we love. These events aren't just gut-punches to teen characters, they rip their hearts out by the roots.

And that's when I thought -- what if Gabriel were a YA character? How would I write him? The more I thought about this thirty-seven-year-old father of four as he might have been at sixteen or seventeen,  the easier my task became.

He married his high-school sweetheart as soon as they finished college, had four children, and lost her when the last child was an infant. He spent the next two years going through the motions, caring for his kids, but dying inside until he meets Amelia. He wasn't ready for her. He never expected to fall for anybody again. By the time he figures out that hanging around Amelia is a big risk, it's already too late. His heart's awake and it's freakin' scared. He knows what love feels like and the bigger the love, the bigger the grief if it ends. How will he survive it a second time if he loses Amelia, too?

This is the point I was stuck at for weeks until I sat down to write this post. And then I remembered that Gabriel's NOT a teenager. He's almost forty years old and with age comes maturity. He's not going to run from love. He's going to grab it with both hands and hold it close because even though losing it a second time could shred him, he knows the rewards far outweigh that risk. I can't write a teen this self-aware.

So...excuse me while I go write Gabriel's happily ever after :)

Have you learned something from a deep loss? Comment here.




pattyblount.com or find me on Twitter @pattyblount or Instagram @pattyblount3


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

LOVIN' ON AN OLD MANUSCRIPT (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

Quite a few of us have written posts on old manuscripts this month--drawer manuscripts that we loved but never sold, and that we hang onto, because if it's one thing writers learn early on, it's that you never know what you're going to wind up coming back to later on. Maybe you'll pluck a character or scene or situation from an old drawer manuscript and plug it into a new one. Maybe you'll even be blessed with the kind of inspiration that gives you an angle for revision of a drawer manuscript--instead of taking out a piece, you whip that entire book into shape, and it actually winds up on a bookstore shelf after all.

I really love the idea of coming back to old works--and not just drawer manuscripts or half-done works, either, but completed (even released) pieces. I love the idea of returning to old ideas again once time and perspective is on your side. I'm not sure we see this in the book world quite as often as we do in movies.

Hitchcock did THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH twice. Sure, the second version (with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day) is better. Why wouldn't it be? Hitchcock was nearly 20 years older and wiser by then.

John Hughes's SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (by far the best Hughes movie, in my opinion) is basically a remake of PRETTY IN PINK. Two opposite-sex friends who are outsiders in school - one gets swept away by a member of the rich, popular, gorgeous crowd - but in the end...Well, in PRETTY IN PINK, Ringwald of course winds up with Richie Rich, but in SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, Watts and Keith wind up together, and Hughes gets the friends-to-lovers ending he'd reportedly wanted for PRETTY IN PINK, but had been talked out of. Like I said, I think SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL's a better movie than PRETTY IN PINK--better humor, better characters...I think it benefited from Huges having done something similar before. He clearly learned from the experience.

Right now, I'm rewriting a short story I completed in college. When I read the original version, I see lots of focus on external world building--description of what things look like, what people wear, etc. I see less attention given to what motivates the characters, what they think, how they feel. I'm putting all that into my second-time around story. Fleshing it out. Giving it depth.

Because with time, those pure, lovely ideas of youth can be made into something polished and powerful.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Plight of the Young Bibliophile (Alissa Grosso)

I was lucky enough to have a pretty decent collection of books as a young child. As any book lover knows, there are always certain books that stand out as being favorites. For me this included gems like The Cat on the Dovrefell, a book that proved remarkably bizarre when I went back and read it as an adult and the classic, but horrifying Millions of Cats. Obviously, I had a thing for cats, though it's worth noting there aren't actually any cats in The Cat on the Dovrefell. So maybe it was just a thing for animals, because another one of my early favorites was The Berenstain Bears' Picnic. For Berenstain connoisseurs this was an early entry in the series that was markedly different from their more familiar didactic tales, it pre-dated the entry of Sister Bear and featured bolder artwork. I quite loved this book.

Unfortunately, for me, besides an animal-centric library, I also had a little sister. She was, from an
early age, something of a terror. During one of her early screaming fits I allegedly asked my parents if they could just send her back. My parents were determined to keep her, though they have said if she had been their first they probably wouldn't have had another.

I don't have any actual proof of this, but I'm pretty sure my sister is the reason they started putting child safety locks in cars. Certainly that time she flung the back door of our car open while strapped into her car seat as my mom was cruising up Route 17 in the general vicinity of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ was a good argument for better safety features in cars.

It was her car antics, of another day, though, that I'm writing of, because, at least for me, if not necessarily my mom, it was a more traumatic experience than the whole flinging open the car door episode. On this particular day we were driving through a busy, suburban area. I was sitting in the front seat (airbags did not yet exist, so this was totally safe) and my sister was in her carseat in the back. As much as I loved books, I could not read them in the car without becoming carsick. My sister did not suffer this malady, but in a cruel twist of fate, she also was not much of a fan of books. Still, she happened to have one to entertain her (and perhaps my mom hoped, to keep her out of trouble) on our drive. The book in question was my own The Bears'  Picnic.

Behind me I heard a noise, and turned to see what was going on. I watched in horror as my sister flung my beloved book out of our moving car's window. I reported the misdeed to my mother who was busy trying to safely navigate the congested road. It was clear to me she did not understand the gravity of the situation.

We had to go back and get that book, I explained. I loved that book. I needed that book. I would not be consoled by the fact that we had other books. I believe tears might have been involved.

Because she loved me as much as I loved books, my mom found a place to turn around. I stared out the window to spot my book on the side of the busy road so that I could point it out to her. My mom risked life and limb to retrieve The Bears' Picnic and mend my temporarily broken heart. So this literary tale of loss and love has a happy ending.


Alissa Grosso still loves books and has written a few of her own, specifically the YA novels Popular, Ferocity Summer and Shallow Pond. Find out more about her and her books at alissagrosso.com.


Friday, February 16, 2018

lost love by Jody Casella

I remember standing with my hand on my heart, pledging allegiance to the flag, words I didn't understand when I was in first grade-- indivisible, liberty, justice-- but which thrilled me,

when I stood soldier straight, my small chair pushed under my desk, all of my classmates facing the flag in the corner of the room, all of us reciting the words together, solemnly, seriously, proudly.

We always sang a song after the pledge. "My Country Tis of Thee" or "America, the Beautiful." I didn't understand all of those words either, but I loved the sound of them. The pilgrim's pride and the fruited plains. Of thee I sing and crowning thy good with brotherhood.

I loved the early morning ritual, the squeak of desks, the shuffle of sleeves as we raised our hands to our hearts. I loved my country, believing the lessons my teachers taught me about justice for all, the brave troops fighting for our freedom, the stars and stripes that must always be saluted, the cloth never to touch the ground.

It was a childish love-- I know that now. One that delighted in drawing Columbus's three ships sailing the ocean blue and clapping my hands while singing "This land was made for you and me."

In first grade I didn't know the darker, more complicated reality.

This morning I avoided the news for a while, something I tend to do lately. When something bad happens in our country I don't want to know everything about it. Almost twenty years ago I watched terrified teenagers running out of Columbine High School with their hands over their heads and I was horrified. Five years ago I watched six-year-olds holding hands and crying as they were led by their teachers out of Newton Elementary and I was sick to my stomach.

Another week. Another shooting in America.

We are better than this. Aren't we?

I force myself to watch, again, the running, terrified children. The cowardly politicians offering worthless thoughts and prayers, or worse, lecturing us that it is too early to discuss guns, while they turn around and take more money from the NRA.

The texts the students sent as they barricaded themselves inside their classrooms. The pile of backpacks in the parking lot. A waiting mother's anguished face, a mark of ashes on her forehead.

I forgot it was Ash Wednesday. Kids packed their backpacks that morning not knowing that at the end of the day they'd be dropping them as they ran for their lives.

In the news stories they don't show the flags in the classrooms, but we know they are there. Hanging in the corners. Flags the kids faced when they said their pledge in the morning, hands over beating hearts.

Some of those kids never left the building when the bell rang at the end of the school day.

Our country is sick and I don't love it anymore.







Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Loved and lost...

Since this is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd tell you a story about a boy, a girl, and lost love. This story begins in fall of the girl’s freshman year of college, about two weeks into school. The girl and her roommate are walking back to their dorm after a night hanging out at parties on the fraternity quad.
As they walk across the cut, the girl spies three guys sitting on the upper branches of an enormous oak. It’s obvious the boys are all drunk as abbey monks and probably in danger of falling to their death at any moment. As the girls pass under the tree one of the boys yells down, “Hey, do either of you lovely ladies wanna be an honorary member of our new fraternity, I Phelta Thi?” The other boys laugh and repeat the slurred invitation.
The girl can’t help but crack a smile, as her and her roommate keep on walking. She thought the first boy was kinda cute. An ass, obviously, but cute.
A few days later, her roommate says she’s getting ready to go on a date. “With whom?” the girl asks. Her roommate smirks. “Chris, one of the guy’s from the tree. Look, we’re a few weeks into school…why don’t you find someone to date?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the girl says, “I just broke up with my high school boyfriend over the summer and I’m not really looking for a relationship right now. I just wanna make friends.”
Not one heartbeat later, the I Phelta Thi guy walks into their dorm room. He has to duck under the doorway. The girl’s first thought, God, he’s tall and handsome.
The roommate takes forever to get ready, put on makeup, sit on the phone talking with several other guys. The boy gets annoyed and restless, so he begins to talk to the girl. Over an hour later he finally asks her, “What are you doing tonight?”
“Absolutely nothing,” she replies. So, the boy takes her out that night.
            And the next night.
            And the next.
Nearly 365 dates later, the boy and the girl move into an apartment together. They live like that for two mostly happy years. Now, it’s the boy’s senior year. He’ll be graduating on time, but the girl changed majors and double majored. His job will take him to Houston. One more year of school will keep her in Pittsburgh.
Worse, the girl begins to notice something that wasn’t there before – a coldness, a distance, his eyes wandering toward other girls. They fight. He’s not ready for commitment. He tells her he’s not ready for the little house with the white picket fence.
What’s he talking about though? She never asked for all of that.
For months, their relationship is tense, strained. They fight some more. The girl is unhappy. The boy is too.
Twice, she almost moves out, but he stops and her bags at the door.
The third time, she does move out.
She moves in with a girlfriend, who patiently listens to her cry for nights on end. The girl was so sure he was the one. How could it have all gone so wrong? How can it be over?
But it is over. The love is lost.
Three weeks pass. The girl doesn’t even run into him. She spies him once from the upper floor of a building, ironically, standing not far from the tree where she first saw him. He’s talking with a mutual friend, which reminds her she left some notebooks in the friend’s room at the fraternity.
The next night she goes to retrieve the notebooks. The friend is hanging out in the lounge with others and says, “Go ahead, the door’s unlocked.” Against her better judgment the girl asks, “How’s Chris doing?
Uncomfortable looks are exchanged. “We’re going out to the bars tonight…it was his idea.”
The girl’s heart hardens. Fine. Obviously, he’s just fine.
Crushed, she says nothing, but makes her way up the stairs and grabs the notebooks. But as she turns back around, the boy walks into the room. Ducking under the damn doorway.
He looks surprised to see her, he only came up here to deposit his coat. They exchange some dry small talk. She walks passed him to leave. Her hand is on the doorknob. He touches her arm, asks her not to go.
She turns around, confused. “Why should I stay?”
His next words come out in a rush. "Because I’m sorry, because I miss you, because I love you."
Nearly 365 dates later, they’re engaged.
And six years to the day she first saw him perched in a tree, the girl marries the boy. Now, after 25 mostly happy years, two kids, and a dog, the girl and the boy…are still married. Life isn’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. To be honest, the boy and the girl lose the love at times, still falling in and out of it, but in the end they always find it again.
Was it meant to be? Will it last forever? 
Who knows?
But that’s love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Marlo Berliner is the award-winning author of THE GHOST CHRONICLES, her debut book which was released in November 2015 to critical acclaim. The book won the 2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book, was named FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction, received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was named one of the “best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses” by IPPY Magazine. Marlo is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency and she writes young adult, women’s fiction, and short stories. Her second book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2, was released in October 2017. 

When she's not writing or editing, Marlo loves reading, relaxing at the beach, watching movies, and rooting for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After having spent some wonderful time in Pittsburgh and Houston, she’s now back in her home state of New Jersey where she resides with her husband, two sons, and a rambunctious puppy named Max.