On a very cold, snowy, winter day, January 7th 2010, my Mother passed away. I had never dealt with the depth of grief I’d felt. Our parents teach us to live, but do not prepare us with the skills to cope when they die. I fell into a deep abyss of depression.
Christmas was over, as well as New Year’s Eve. I knew it was time to clean up the decorations. It was hard to believe that I had gone from a season of celebrations to one of heartache and darkness. I am a freelance non-fiction writer. I didn’t know how I could possibly go on writing articles that required research, accuracy, and focus. I cried inconsolably.
I collect Christmas tree ornaments and each one has a provenance. I have decorations that we bought on our honeymoon, ones from when I was pregnant, baby’s first Christmas, and a porcelain St. Nicolas my parents brought from Czechoslovakia.
At the same time I collect ornaments, I also save most Christmas cards that are sent to us per season. I recycle them often, creating my own DIY gift tags. I was looking at each card separately that year, deciding if any of them were suitable for recycling. One of them caught my attention. It depicted a giant ornately decorated snowman standing in the center of a snow covered path. In the far distance was another group of trees.
I live in an apartment building. Next door, there is a forest with a path that has been deliberately cut though the trees – just like that in the card! Out of the blue, a story started to emerge right there on my dining room table.
I used the Christmas card to set the stage for the narrative. It was winter, unusually cold and snowy. The story unravels outdoors in the woods. The main character is Beatrice, my Mother’s name. She is a young, 10-year-old girl with a vast imagination. My cat at that time was named Rufus. He was a Maine Coon Cat, and spoke only to Beatrice. Beatrice’s mother was Dorothy. She was a widow. Pearl was their elderly neighbor, who lived down the hall in the same apartment building. She provided Beatrice and Rufus home-care when required.
At that time, I was a volunteer at an elementary school. I was familiar with the rules regarding kids who were late getting to the school. Beatrice was constantly missing the school bus. Sometimes, her mother was able to drive her. Other times, she had to walk.
The other characters in the book are actually based on the snowmen ornaments. Their uniqueness is based on the imagery I noted. In fact, I used a blank school notebook with a spiral spine to write out the details of each snowman. I also started a page for words or thoughts that came to mind as I was thinking about the story.
I wrote several pages of descriptions, thoughts, and opinions I formed while looking at all of my Christmas decorations including ideas I formulated from my village of figurines. Each snow person provided a lesson for Beatrice to ponder. She was tested along the way.
I re-read my notes, and decided that I would start writing on February 1, 2010. I wrote one thousand words a day. I was writing but I was also trying to divert my thoughts from grieving the loss of my mom.
By the end of the month I’d written a book. I spent the next three years editing it, allowing a few people I trusted to read it, to correct errors or to make helpful comments. I was finally ready to publish the book.
Since this was my first and only fiction I’d written, I wanted to self publish my story. It was gratifying for me to see my hard work finish in the culmination as a book. The cover for Beatrice and the Snow People is beautiful, suggestive of a fantasy, and expressly geared to a young person’s imagination.
About the Author
Gloria Troyer has been writing since she was eight years old. She is an accomplished freelance writer, author, and broadcaster. As a child, Gloria grew up on a hobby farm in a rural area. It was there that her imagination flourished, providing her hours of childhood fun. She loved winter, and had the great opportunity to play in open fields of snow, and toboggan and ice-skate on the many ponds near her beloved home.
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