(The cover, BTW, is not final -- I'm making a better cover, and yes, the title is different I changed it later.)
Jaycee’s house is gone. Destroyed in a tornado. To save money, Jaycee’s parents send her away to a boarding school while the house is rebuilt. But the school year is ending, and like everyone else Jaycee must return home. She feels nervous and unsure: the town is still devastated, and most people have no homes and are missing family members.
The town of Deer Valley is just as she remembers: bustling, friendly, and helpful.
Jaycee soon feels oppressed, though, and remembers why she didn’t mind leaving. Feeling trapped, she gets herself into trouble, needing something to do. Assigned to community service, Jaycee must start to rebuild destroyed houses – including her own.
As she works one day, though, a girl is found. The girl, named Lily, long presumed to be missing, sends the town into media frenzy. Parades fill the town, with celebrations and memorials everywhere. Jaycee watches it all cautiously, wishing that the girl was her own brother, still missing from the tornado rubble.
But soon Lily is assigned to do community service as well, and Jaycee finds herself getting to know the girl better. As they spend long hours rebuilding, though, Jaycee begins to suspect that Lily is a fraud. Working together with her friends, she decides to solve the mystery by interviewing people from Deer Valley.
But in order to solve the mystery, Jaycee will have to rediscover her town.
We may leave our towns, but our towns never leave us.
“Mom.” I kept my voice strong, solid. “I’m going to be okay.”
She responded with a slight sniffle. “I hope so, Jaycee baby. I hope so.” And with that, she turned and we fell silent.
The song on the radio was a soft one, a quiet ballad. I didn’t know who sang it, but it calmed me nonetheless. The singer seemed to be a country one, with a deep booming voice and a talent for the high notes. She sang in a low, sweet voice, almost in a lullaby tone. The song would easily have put babies to sleep. I leaned back, resting my words against the leather.
The chorus was only two words, repeated over and over, and quickly the words pattered in my mind.
Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby, oh baby, oh baby
“Oh, baby, oh baby, oh baby,” I said, singing softly. The choir teachers had never regarded me as a good singer, but I felt like it. Now seemed like the time to belt out a song, as if my life was a movie. I listened carefully, humming during the verses. But every time the chorus came, I sang. “Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby.”So there you have it. I've gone through plenty of covers:
And it has been a lot of work. More work than was needed, probably, but it doesn't matter. Because I love this story. I really do. It's one of my favorite stories I've ever written and I'm willing to work hard to get it to be perfect as it can be.
And I think that goes back to another theme I've blared everywhere: authors love their stories too. They wouldn't work for months and years writing and editing if they didn't love their plots and novels and characters.
So that ends this post -- so I can go write.