2011 has started off very well for me. I decided early this year that I’m an odd year gal. Though I had never thought about positive years and negative years until then, I realized everything most wonderful happened to me in odd years. I was born in an odd year, graduated in an odd year, married in an odd year, adopted my daughter in an odd year, hit the New York Times Bestseller’s list in an odd year. Now understand that I have a bit of a quirky mind, one that creates these kind of things, like a horoscope of numeric positives and negatives. (Crazy Jilly.)
In fairness to my traveling mind, I can make an even longer list of the horrible tragedies that happened to me in even years…but I don’t want to relive them or put you through them. You see, I am an optimist. My glass is half full. I love that old Bing Crosby song. You Have To Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive. I like to surround myself in the positive because only then can I see the beauty of a life, and not wallow in its dark moments. I’m a bit of an ostrich, who likes to bury my head in the sand when it comes the negative.
In reality I wonder whether life, God, and/or fate is that methodical or organized. Let’s see now, He thought, looking down on the world below, Jill Barnett is happy and she has had a great year, so let’s dump on her. Somehow I doubt that’s the way it works. But the fantasy of perhaps knowing when good or bad things will happen is something I let my mind drift toward. I’m willing admit I waddle along the line of being a bit of a control freak. Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer…I like fantasy, I like fiction, and I get paid to lie for a living. I can even, sometimes, rewrite my own ending.
One of the reasons 2011 is great so far is because my first book in four years is out and getting the most lovely reviews. It’s not a historical romance, but a contemporary woman’s journey toward finding herself and love again after everything seems out of control and lost. BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS, of all my books, is one stolen from my own life, though none of the scenes are real or actual, or what I did. I made them all up because that’s what separates March Cantrell’s story from my own. But what she is living is something I lived through, stumbled through, fell flat, struggled to even get up and am still trying to move on from. But I gave March a happy ending.
See why I love what I do? I can rewrite life. I can create a Rio Paxton to come into March’s life when she least expects it, when she is in her most positive, self-reliant place, when she arguably needs him the least…or perhaps needs him the most.
Rio Paxton wrote his first number one country hit at age seventeen. At eighteen, he was performing on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. When he was twenty, the Country Music Association gave coveted awards to five different country star performers, duos, and groups for recording the songs Rio Paxton wrote. Just in time to celebrate his twenty third birthday, he wrapped up an extended tour of the US and most of Europe, playing to packed venues and sell-out shows.
Stardom reached out and locked him in vertiginous arms, and after a few more riotous years passed by in a blur, the booze, the drugs and women all caught up with him—along with a few nights in jail after public brawls and some talk of tax problems. His career was badly damaged from a trail of wanna-bes and bootlickers who stuck around him only for the prestige and free drugs, using him to create their own identities, until his reputation had crumbled into nothing but dust as fine as the dry red clay of West Texas.
Before he was close to thirty, he was already washed up—a fallen star that burned out fast, barely a man—just that same thirteen year old kid from West Texas, who picked up an old guitar one lonely day and discovered he loved to sing.
From that excerpt you can see that Rio has traveled his own tough road. There is something terribly romantic in the healing of one troubled soul by someone who can understand her perhaps better than she understands herself, someone with his own past and his own experiences and his own ability to love with everything he has.
I think these ideals are part of the vision of any Jill Barnett book, and they have never been so in prevalent for me than in BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS. The title says it all: this is a book about happiness, about finding the positive, while both laughing and crying, a book about finding yourself even when it seems as if you are so terribly lost that you can never find yourself again.
If you need a little boost in life, if you feel bogged down and hurt and wounded, I think March’s story will lift you up, and remind you that happiness is there, in all its joy and light and love, even if you have to cross a tough bridge to get to it.
Writers often ask questions at the end of blog, which I find so hokey. But then I am a dork at heart so I’m going to break my rule and ask you to remember or remark on a moment where you found happiness when you least expected it. Let’s celebrate and accentuate the positive! Tell me your story.
Comment on this blog and you may the winner of a complete set of autographed Jill Barnett books, including a gift or gift card toward a BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS download/purchase.