Birthdays can often be a time of change and reflection. Many of my guest posters for this very special blog birthday month have written about finding meaning in special birthdays. Today, author Barbara Brett joins me to share her own birthday story– one that reminds us that life can be unexpected and complicated– and that we must really seize the day and treasure all that we have. Thank you Barbara for sharing this story– and for sharing an excerpt from you novel SIZZLE. And thank you to all of the guests who have made this blog birthday month so special!
MY BUTTERFLY BIRTHDAY
By Barbara Brett
Last year, as my June birthday approached, I felt on top of the world. Everything was going right. My husband and children were well and happy. I was working on the proofs of my novel SIZZLE and looked forward to the publication of the book in the summer. Two days before my birthday, my husband and I attended the high school graduation and party of the daughter of dear friends. Next would come my own celebration with family and friends. But the day before my birthday, I awoke knowing that something was radically wrong. I, who had rarely ever been ill, and certainly never seriously ill, feared that I might be having a heart attack. My husband called for an ambulance and I was rushed to the hospital. That’s where I spent my birthday.
It turned out not to have been a heart attack, but it was a heart condition that, or so I was told, could be easily corrected. After all, I kept myself in great shape, and the cure should be (excuse the expression) a piece of birthday cake. Maybe being in great condition helped, but it was difficult to see how. I spent the summer being rushed back and forth to the hospital. When, at last, the procedure that, I was assured, almost never had complications was performed, I really thought I was out of the woods. I had two weeks of feeling terrific. I pulled out the proofs of SIZZLE. And then those “almost never” complications came pouring down. In the months that followed there were more hospital stays and procedures, and many visits to specialists. Suddenly I, who had always been the care-giver, needed the care-giving. It was a lesson in humility, and I’ll never forget the warmth and love and encouragement I received from my family and friends.
On a day when I was feeling particularly down, a friend reminded me of something Maya Angelou, one of my favorite authors, had said: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” I kept that in mind as I went through the ups and downs of healing—two steps forward, one step back. It wasn’t always easy, but it helped me through as summer turned to fall, fall to winter. Now it is spring again. The daffodils are blooming and so am I. The recovery the doctors assured me would come truly seems to be here. I have been able to get back to life and work, and SIZZLE has at last been published. I’m now working on my next book, and in my head I’m planning the one after that.
Soon it will be June and my birthday will be here. I’m breaking out of the protective cocoon that surrounded me through the arduous period of illness and healing, and I’m ready to spread my wings. Come fly with me!
Barbara Brett’s colorful publishing career includes stints as the editor of True Romance and True Confessions. During that time, she began writing mainstream novels, and after the publication of Between Two Eternities and Love After Hours, she was named vice president and publisher of Thomas Bouregy & Company, where she oversaw Avalon Books, the company’s hardcover fiction for libraries. Later, she established her own company, Brett Books, devoted to hardcover inspirational nonfiction. She is now back to her own writing and delighted to see Sizzle published. She promises to follow it with many more exciting books.
You can contact Barbara on her Website: www.brettbooks.com
SIZZLE By Barbara Brett
Where the boardroom meets the bedroom
She’s the most beautiful and ruthless CEO in the nation. He’s the most dangerous corporate raider in the world. Neither has ever lost a battle in the boardroom—or the bedroom. Now they’re warring for America’s biggest publishing prize.
SIZZLE—a novel of breathtaking power and ambition, set against the jet-setting world of Manhattan’s elite!
“[A] battle fraught with…the dirtiest of tricks…the stuff that destroys marriages, people, lives…. Sizzle through the summer with Sizzle.“—The Salem News
AN EXCERPT FROM SIZZLE
Marietta Wylford began life as Marianne Vuckendorn, which should have been a sufficient handicap for anyone, but fate chose to deal her out even more. She had a brutal, alcoholic father who rarely worked, and when he did, he spent all his money on liquor and whiskey-drinking friends. Her mother, too weak willed to leave him, slaved behind the steam table in a lower Manhattan cafeteria, where, on the rare occasions when her boss was in a good mood, she was allowed to take home some leftover vegetables that had been cooked beyond recognition and some dried-out ends of meat.
When Marianne was eight and still fantasizing that her father had crept into the palatial home of her real parents— visiting royalty from Europe—and kidnapped her from her diamond-studded cradle, her older brother, then fifteen, was killed by a fellow junkie in an argument over their stash of heroin. When she was twelve and past all fantasies, her younger sister, then eight, died in a fall from a swing in the local playground, which, unlike its counterparts in well-to-do neighborhoods, had no rubberized protective cushioning in potentially dangerous areas. No one bothered to investigate the accident, obviously just another case of a dumb poor kid who didn’t watch what she was doing.
That death was a turning point for Marianne. She had always known that someday she would escape the vicious cycle that had closed her parents off from hope and kept them tied to apartments in crumbling tenements in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, outcasts forever quarantined because they suffered from that insidious social disease, poverty. Now she began to make concrete plans for that escape. Her mother delighted in telling her that the angels had smiled on her face, and even a critical look in the mirror confirmed that her mother was right. She had large, wide-apart eyes the color of fine emeralds, and luxuriant, silk hair that gleamed like burnished copper. Her nose was straight and her chin firm but gently rounded, her cheekbones high and aristocratic, her skin a clear ivory tone unmarred by blemishes or freckles. But if the angels had smiled upon her face, it soon became apparent that they had beamed on her body. For she grew to a height of five feet, eight inches, and to a breadth that was nothing less than the American dream—thirty-eight, twenty-three, thirty-six. Obviously, she was made for better things than Crown Heights had to offer, and she was determined to have them.