The Story Behind the Story

Have you ever kept a secret from your family? Imagine that secret finding its way into a book…

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The Story Behind the Story
By Ane Mulligan

The second book in my Chapel Lake series, Chapel Springs Survival, came from a real life event—and became a mother’s retribution. Insert creepy music and evil laughter.

The day started out normal, boring even. Then I got a phone call from our eldest son.

“Hey, Mom. I emailed you some pictures. Take a look and call me back.” Click.

He hung up. Without even asking how I was.

wedding-photos-885886_1280I hurried to my computer and opened his email. The first photo was of a nice looking, very Latin appearing young woman. Something told me she wasn’t from here. I clicked on the second photo—a photo with her in a wedding dress.

I hit speed dial.

It seems our eldest son, a widower with two children, had gotten himself a 21st Century mail order bride. He met her in a chat room for women in Columbia, South America, to meet and marry American men. They communicated for a year. Then, he flew to Columbia and married her.

Without us knowing anything.

He came back and spent the next year trying to get her into the U.S. legally.

Did I mention it was without us knowing anything?

He didn’t tell us until she got here. Our two grandchildren knew. His brother knew. But we ID-10067291didn’t. Do you remember that old margarine commercial, where the woman said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” and zapped someone?

That’s what I said. I told him for not telling me, it was going in a book. And it did.

Now, I have to tell you that any similarity between our son’s story and my book stops there. Our daughter-in-law turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to our Michael. We adore her and our two step-grandsons and the newest Mulligan grandson. Yes, they had a baby about a year after Zully got here.

That, however, wouldn’t have made a good story. There was no conflict. But add Claire Bennett into that mix, and there’s plenty. To find out how it turns out, you’ll have to read Chapel Springs Survival.

***

Chapel Springs Survival, book 2 in the Chapel Springs series

A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  Chapel Springs Survival Cover

How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

Claire Bennett’s Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor’s brother blabs a secret: Claire’s nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she’s ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom’s adult son moves in—on everything.

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son’s future at stake and the town’s problems to solve, it’s Claire’s who needs a guardian angel.

Other books:
Chapel Springs Revival
Chapel Springs Cookbook
Way Down Upon a Suwanee Murder: a short story

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Ane_Mulligan_headshot
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and her Amazon author page.

Let’s talk about it: Wasn’t Ane’s story fun? How do you think you would have handled a secret like that? Have you kept a secret of that magnitude before? How did others react? Share in the comments below. We can all learn from and encourage–and laugh with–one another!

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My Father’s Father

Tough choices can be painful. More so when a family covers those choices up. What happens when those secrets are found out? And how can perceptions of people change when you start to learn more, and even understand? Read Donna’s story to see what it was like for her.

My Father’s Father by Donna Schlachter

I learned that my grandfather was, in fact, my great-grandfather, and that my truth-257160_640grandmother, who had just passed away, wasn’t related to me by blood at all. And that my aunt was actually my grandmother.

My father learned when he was thirteen years old that the woman he knew as his sister was actually his birth mother.

The only reason my father found out was because his “father’s” brother had died, and his son, my father’s cousin, was going through some papers, and saw the birth certificate which my grandfather asked him to keep in a safe.

My father was a very pragmatic man. He couldn’t change the circumstances, so he decided he’d just carry on. In fact, he never told the man he called Dad that he knew the truth of his birth until about twenty years later, and he never discussed the matter with the woman he called Mom, who was actually his father’s second wife, the first having died.

The idea for a book came from my father’s idea that although the story isn’t unique—many children are born out of wedlock and adopted by family—he felt that the time and the setting were. Newfoundland, in eastern Canada, during the 1930s and 1940s.

I agreed, and I wrote a “family only” version of the story, using the real names of the people involved. I spent hours recording my father as he told his story, which included his birth mother’s story, his growing-up years, and ultimately finding his birth family.

I did a lot of research into the location and the time, including connecting with the town historian, who helped fill in the gaps. We also used the journals and cashbooks kept by my grandfather in the course of his business, a grocery and dry goods store in this same town. Wonderful notations such as “air ship landed on the ice last night” sparked visions of dirigibles crash-landing. However, when I checked into it, it was a small airplane that landed quite safely because of weather in the destination city.

Another notation, “gave to garden party committee” reminded me of those grand social occasions where everybody gathered to drink tea, play lawn games, and buy baked goods and knitted goods to raise funds for one thing or another.

There were more somber notes: “Rendell Walsh missing in woods” and then three days later, “Found Rendell. Funeral tomorrow.”

I worked my way through the source documents and the oral history, filling in the blanks women-740625_640when memory or information failed. I cried over several chapters, including the one where my father’s birth mother mourned her own mother’s passing; when she learned she was pregnant and the father nowhere to be found; and when she handed the child over to the birth father’s family and said, “Here. This belongs to Clarence.”

Through the process, I learned more about this glamorous aunt whose lifestyle I’d always admired. When I was only about eight, I realized the family treated her life a black sheep, and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was her three marriages and three divorces. Perhaps because she was a career woman who moved up the corporate ladder.

Only now do I understand that perhaps the circumstances of her childhood and pregnancy caused her to make these choices.

I also came to understand more about my father and his way of thinking. The man was a genius, even as a boy of nine doing experiments in electricity, chemistry, and physics that would astound most college students today, self-taught, in the attic of the family home.

But one real eye-opener for me was seeing his birth father from a different angle. During the writing of the story, I saw him as a man who used my father’s birth mother, then dumped her for a woman with more family influence and money. The man who never acknowledged my father, even though he knew for certain who my father was, and worked in the same building with him for years, even riding in the same elevator and never making eye contact.

But once the book was published, my father’s half-siblings started talking about their father, Clarence. He was a loving man, faithful to his wife, making sure his children had the best education money could buy.

This was not the man I’d imagined.

In fact, he was just like my father.

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IMG_6534  Juggling the books -midsizeDonna Schlachter pens historical suspense while her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense. Donna’s recent releases include Nuggets of Writing Gold and a collection of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. She plans to release her father’s story in the market version, with names changed to protect the guilty, in the Fall of 2016. Her books and her pen name’s books are available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. You can follow Donna at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com.

Let’s talk about this. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross examination begins. There’s always, always, always two sides to a story. But when we’re hurt or someone we love’s been hurt, it’s hard to see the other side. It’s hard to have the strength and courage to even look. That’s where prayer comes in. The next time you hear a scandalous story, or maybe simply a nugget of gossip, pause to pray. Ask God to show the situation or person through His eyes. You may be surprised by what He reveals.

Can you relate to Donna’s story, and if so, how? Share your thoughts in the comments below.