Thursday, February 2, 2012

Welcome Emma Leigh Reed

Please welcome Emma Leigh Reed!
(Emma will give a free print copy of Crashing Hearts to one lucky commenter, so be sure to post a comment.)

As I sit and think about writing this blog, my mind wanders to the beginning of my serious writing journey. Four years ago I decided I wanted to tell my son’s story. My son has PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, nonspecific – in layman’s terms high functioning autism). He was at the time eleven years old and the journey he had taken me on had been frustrating, rewarding, all consuming at times, but on the whole a journey of looking at the world in a totally different light.

As I sat down to start writing his story, the emotions were so raw still I just couldn’t do it. So instead, I decided to write a fiction story, but weave my son’s journey in autism into the story line. I did not plot out this story. As it developed, the characters took over and the story just became what it is.

CRASHING HEARTS, although fiction, in a lot of ways has my own personal, and my son’s, experiences weaved throughout. A lot of the accomplishments you will see Jared making in CRASHING HEARTS are accomplishments that my son made. It was a therapeutic story for me to write, allowing me to tell some about my journey through autism and my son’s accomplishments and also allowing me to write a story in which I always wanted to do, but never had the courage.

My son’s autism has taught me a lot about my own life. His hard work to get where he is now in life has given me bravery to do what I truly love to do – write. People who have never had the experience of knowing an autistic child do not understand the small milestones that are huge. The simple act of finally getting a hug from your child, a real hug with arms wrapped around you, will bring tears to your eyes. The first words out of a four-year-old after being nonverbal and only using sign language to communicate tears can melt your heart. I would never be able to convey through a book how powerful a journey it is to be taught by your child how to never take the little things for granted.

Chapter 1

Kira Nichols pushed back her hair as the crisp salt air blew it across her face. She walked up the path—her sneakers leaving small impressions in the soft sand—to the cul-de-sac. At the empty lot across from her house, the foundation had been capped over and abandoned for about a year now.

She sprang into a run at the rumble of a sports car arriving at a fast clip. She arrived at the cul-de-sac at the same time the vehicle skidded to a stop. She caught her breath as the lean, ruggedly handsome man exited his vehicle. The smile he flashed her was one she imagined had many women melting at his feet.

Kira squared her shoulders and approached him. Her five foot two inch frame seemed minute compared to his at least six foot stature. She willed herself to appear calm and not give away that her senses had completely left her at the sight of him.

“Grant Rutledge.” He extended his hand to her. His deep voice, like a shot of brandy, was warm and soothing. She swallowed hard, her anger forgotten for a brief second. Then it flared back and she ignored his hand. “Do you have any idea that there are children in this area?” she demanded, planting her hands on her hips.

“My apologies if you felt I was going too fast.” He gave an exaggerated glance around. “There aren’t any children about now.” He smiled that smile again and in spite of her anger, her heart melted. She started with the realization he still had his hand extended in introduction. She tentatively shook his calloused fingers. Tingles shot up her arm and she struggled with not yanking her hand away. Heat flooded her face. She prayed he couldn’t tell.

“Again, I apologize. I hope you wouldn’t think I have no regard for children.”

Kira turned to go. “I just know the type.” She gestured absently at the car. She forced herself to walk slowly towards her house, feeling his eyes on her back. Her mind whirled. She had practically melted at the sound of his voice. Her cheeks reddened at the thought of him watching her walk away—thankful she had stayed in shape.

The solitude of the cul-de-sac was the reason she originally loved this spot. Her house had been the only one in this two-lot area for six years. She hoped the new construction company would be considerate and not disrupt the serenity, and keep working hours to normal business hours, hours when Jared was in preschool.

She thought back to the long hours they kept when they put in the foundation. Jared had been unable to sleep due to the noise and disruption of his routine. Hopefully this time around the noise wouldn’t disturb him. He was just beginning to sleep through the night.

If only she could.
* * * *
Jared ran up the walkway to meet Kira, signing furiously: “Who is that man?”

“That is Grant Rutledge,” she signed back. “He is going to be building the new house, so you will need to stay away from the construction site.”

Jared’s hands and fingers flew in his excitement to know about the new house, and the fast car he saw. “Jared, use your words.” Kira ushered him into the house.

“Car, red.”

“Yes, the car was red, and it’s very fast, so you must stay away from there.” Kira found Barbara’s eyes over Jared’s head, and gave her the “I have so much to tell you” look.

“Time to get ready for the day, Jared,” Barbara interjected.

Jared skipped off to the bedroom happily, and Barbara handed Kira a cup of coffee. “Spill. I saw him. It wasn’t the fast car that made you come into this house so quick.”

Kira, glaring at Barbara over the coffee, walked slowly to the sliding doors overlooking the ocean. “What happened to the quietness of our lives? Why do I feel like it is gone?”

“Is it gone?” Barbara asked. “Or just stirred up a little? I think maybe you’ve been holding onto grief and bitterness for so long that you don’t have any idea how to look objectively at life. Before you say it, I’m heading for the kitchen and not saying another word. Nevertheless, before I go, let me just say out of love for you, Kira, darling, Patrick’s been gone for four years now. You’ve built your life around Jared, and that’s great because Jared needs you. However, there comes a time when you need someone also, someone besides Jared and an old lady like myself.”

“Barb, it’s not like that.”

“Honey, you’ve been holding on for so long, and don’t tell me you’re not angry with Patrick for the way he left the night of the accident. Kira, I’m angry with him. He never should’ve left that way. You had it just as tough as him, if not more, with the crying. He was the father. He should have been here right beside you.”

“Stop! We are not going to rehash that night and we certainly aren’t going to blame Patrick. He’s gone and nothing is going to change that.” Kira looked toward the ocean and for- got about her coffee and Barbara. For a moment she lost track of the here and now and drifted off into the peace of the ocean.

Something caught Kira’s eye, and she turned to see Grant taking measurements, preparing for the construction. Feelings she hadn’t felt in so long flooded her as she watched his dark, wavy hair blow in the breeze. Half sighing, half growling to herself, she turned from the window. Distractions were not what she needed now. There was a routine to follow. For Jared’s sake.

Bio: Emma Leigh Reed has lived in New Hampshire all her life. She has fond memories of the Maine coastline and incorporates the ocean into all her books. She lives in a small town with her husband and three children. Her life has been touched and changed by her son's autism - she views life through a very different lens than before he was born. Growing up as an avid reader, it was only natural for Emma Leigh to turn to creating the stories for others to enjoy.

Buying info: Ebook – Amazon Ebook and print – Whiskey Creek Press
She can be found at: Twitter Facebook


  1. I am woefully ignorant about children with autism, knowing only what I've seen on TV specials about them. I do have a grandson, who years ago was diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder, which may prove interesting now that he's in the Army. I know the patience he required and the heartache of watching him struggle to fit in. I commend you on your dedication to your son and for sharing part of his story with the world.

  2. Hi Emma, so nice to have you visit today. I love how you've incorporated your son's (and your) journey into your story. I think realism strikes a chord with readers. Good luck with the book--I can't wait to read it!

  3. I love how you were able to write about something that effects your life every day. I have a son who was diagnosed as ADHD at the age of 3 and it doesn't compare to your struggles but I can empathise to celebrating the small steps through their life. Every day is an emotional rollor coaster that you get to wake up and re-peat so a hug, a smile and a well deserved D on a report is celebrated because it was his best and he worked hard for it. I love how you write and
    can't wait to read this story.

  4. Hi Emma, and welcome to HWH.
    I've never had any personal experience of autism, but know enough about it to admire tremendously those parents who have to learn how to deal with an autistic child. I'm sure writing your novel must have had a great therapeutic effecton you, and it will also resonate with other parents in the same situation. Congratulations on having the courage to share some of your own experiences in this way.

  5. Hi Emma,

    We're so glad to have you as a guest today.

    Your book sounds like a beautiful story. What a wonderful tribute to your son and your love.

    As a teacher, I've seen various levels on the autism spectrum in my classroom. Those milestones and achievements are always something to be cherished and celebrated.

  6. Emma, good stories entertain. Great stories illumine, inform, or educate as well. Crashing Hearts sounds like its in the latter category.

  7. Ana, thank you so much for having me.

    Debra, I'm glad you stopped by. Being a teacher to a classroom of children is something I never could do and you deserve a big thank you for teaching.

    Paula, Thanks for stopping by. Its funny you say I have courage. That wouldn't have been the word I used, but thank you.

    LKF. My stepson also has ADHD. It is another trial in itself. Good for you for cherish the small moments of victory.

    Jennifer, I hope you enjoy Crashing Hearts.

    Vonnie, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately what we see on TV regarding autism is typically the worst case. I believe people should be educated as to the high function autism and the challenges those children have, as it seems more invisible to people around them.

  8. My husband just picked the lucky winner of Crashing Hearts....