The Dedication: The most important page of the book

The creative process of drafting a unique story has always drawn me to writing, and if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I wrote to avoid listening to my teachers during school. While they would drone on about algebraic equations or how the tea party really occurred, I was busy slaying dragons with tiny people I called tarps, and no that story has never seen the light of day. I get lost in the flow of the possibilities of endless worlds and danger behind every rock, and once the story is complete, I take the editing and revising process seriously, making sure I publish the best story I can.

Now, there are other sections of every book that are necessary, but which I don’t take as seriously, such as the title page or copyright page. Truly, these are the same in all books with just different fonting and style or various copyright dates or names. The form is the same, though. Then there’s the list of books, which I just update, the teasers for the next book or one from my backlist or new series, and the ever important email sign-up link, which you’ve already clicked at some point or you wouldn’t be reading this. However, there are two other sections of each book I take just as seriously as the story itself: the acknowledgments page and the dedication.

The acknowledgments page is a long list of thank yous really, where I get to show my appreciation for everyone who has helped me in drafting the story or series and allowing me to keep typing away while smoking a cigar and sipping my coffee or Jameson. The dedication, however, is one I rack my brain over for days before filling in that one line. However, when it came to Summerlands, the choice was obvious.

Just before completing the first draft, my Uncle Von passed away. Well into his eighties, Uncle Von lived an awesome life surrounded by a great family and lived long enough to see some of his great-grandkids. He was my favorite uncle, one who my family could always depend on for help, love, and a good laugh. I loved listening to his stories, like the one where he and a bunch of friends were out in a field telling ghost stories and something spooked them. One kid panicked and ran. In his crazed haste, he tripped over something on the ground. Of course, Uncle Von had to tell him it was a dead body, which made the kid freak and vanish into the woods even further. The dead body, however turned out to be a fallen log.

There was another time when my son, Nathaniel, wanted bananas on Thanksgiving morning during the period of time when every store closed for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure how Uncle Von managed it, but an hour later he came walking through the front door with a bunch of bananas in his hand. Nathan ate just about every one of them.

Uncle Von loved to fish, especially with a cast net, and even made his own. Several times, I had to endure catfish cookouts with hush puppies and coleslaw, and I didn’t like fish back then. Still, it was fun hanging out with him and my dad on the boat or along the causeway as we cast out into the Indian River time and again.

He also loved to hunt, and many winters we would be out at his property in Alabama, perched in the woods waiting for anything to appear and say, “Here I am. Take me.” I don’t remember ever catching anything, but I do remember the colors of those leaves and the crunch they made under my feet as we tried our best to walk quietly through the woods. I can still smell the winter and feel the crisp air blow across my cheeks as my breath came out in puffs of smoke. Those are memories I thought a lot about when I got the phone call about his passing. Those are the memories I still think about as I stare at the dedication page.

To my Uncle Von, who already resides in the Summerlands awaiting his next journey.

This dedication didn’t need much thought.

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