When I first began writing for therapy after making the decision to leave a job I loved; a job I where I sacrificed to earn a Master’s degree and teaching certification, then gave all my effort into learning the subjects I taught and trying to provide my students with the skills they needed to be successful in living their own goals and dreams, my project began as a memoir.
A memoir focuses on the experiences in one’s life where we learn something. It is about personal growth. As I wrote about the experiences leading me to abandon my goals and dreams as a high school social studies and English teacher, I found they were too painful to process through, and since I was being met with roadblocks while desperately seeking new employment, those dreams I had for myself faded. I was existing; going through the motions of revising my resume to fit job postings, writing cover letters in an attempt to be the one pulled from the stack of others, hoping that I would have a chance to once again do something productive to contribute to taking care of my family.
It was while I was at my lowest the character of Ashton Grace McAllister materialized from a dream.
Through her eyes, I was able to share the trauma I’d experienced during those last months in the classroom. Slowly, as her backstory took shape, and she began taking control over her own circumstances, I found strength and a sense of purpose as the word count grew.
When it was clear her story was longer than any novel ever written and growing, I discovered Amazon was about to launch a new endeavor: Kindle Vella, serialized stories published one episode at a time. All I needed was a cover image and an account, and I could become a published author.
“The only easy day was yesterday,” is the motto of the Navy SEALs, and my main character Ashton is the daughter of a Navy SEAL veteran. But it could be the motto of a self-published author as well. Putting the story out there for others to share in your character’s experiences is the easy part. Gaining a readership is difficult. I am grateful to those who have welcomed Ashton into their lives.
So what is “An Operator’s Daughter” about?
It is a story about resilience.
Ashton lost her mother when was barely 13 years old, when Gracelynn McAllister decided she couldn’t trust others to follow through on the intelligence she’d put together for a CIA mission. (That mission will be revealed in Parts II through IV of the series.) Because her father must travel frequently in his new career as a security consultant, she lives with her grandparents. The story opens after her grandfather has died from a stroke and her uncle is moving her grandmother into an assisted living facility.
Instead of finding a home for his daughter and him to share when she can no longer live in her grandparent’s home, Ashton’s father moves her across the country to stay with old friends of his and her mother; friends she has never met. Their household is filled with family dysfunction, as is the public high school she now must attend in the middle of her junior year.
This public high school is the same one where I toiled as a teacher for 16 years. Ashton’s first day on campus taking the SAT, was my last day in this building. She is the one who must find a way of triumphing over the situations I fled from for my own mental well-being. And she does!
After writing and publishing “An Operator’s Daughter”, I am much better off. I have a new career I love as a military education counselor. It warms my heart to provide guidance for those looking to improve their outlook on life via higher education as a way to change what they do while serving or preparing for life outside of the service. I even get the opportunity to teach writing skills to Army personnel. Without my Ashton, I would not had the courage to reinvent myself, or to look forward to the years ahead.
While I’m also exploring other characters and storylines for publication on Kindle Vella, Ashton’s life is not something I will abandon. Her “journal entries” documenting her experiences will continue.
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