Southern Writers Magazine: What Will Be Your Author Legacy?

What Will Be Your Author Legacy?

By T. M. Brown

Five years ago, my wife urged me to retire from the nine-to-five daily grind to write a novel that our grandchildren would enjoy reading. The first weeks entailed countless hours of investigating the basics — the what and how — of creative writing. Eventually, my inquiries led me to a God-sent relationship with a writing coach and editor, Kari Scare from Three Rivers, Michigan. 

Thankfully, technology bridged the 900 miles that separated us. With Kari’s guidance and ample supply of red ink, I nurtured the original premise of a story. Word after word, page after page, revision after revision, Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories emerged thirty months later. Though a few painful bumps and bruises left their mark along the way, I now proudly enjoy sharing about my legacy of love to my grandchildren. 

Of course, one book is never enough. Thanks to the insistence of my earliest readers and my new author-friends, a year after my first novel launched, Testament, An Unexpected Return, the sequel, continued the saga begun in Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, and the third and presumably final installment is being written. Each features Theo Phillips, a recently retired publishing executive, and his wife, Liddy. Their journey began after they vacated their suburban home near Atlanta seeking to return to South Georgia, near their small-town roots. However, Theo and Liddy discovered their inquisitiveness, as they seek to settle into their Shiloh home, thrusts them into the midst of scandal and dark secrets surrounding a tragic death. In the sequel, Theo and Liddy become unlikely victims of a former resident’s mysterious return and reckless scheming. 

Now what? Over the holidays as I began writing the third installment, I pursued a vital third question about crafting novels – why. An author must come to grips with the motivation and internal message that each story tells. After some soul-searching, I realized the events surrounding one of my characters had played out a true-to-life, relevant role within the main story.

Without revealing too much of the story, Megan succumbed to being coerced into making a choice only a woman can make, but she learns in the story choices have consequences, and most often unintended and far-reaching too. No matter how hard anyone buries such a dark secret, eventually it surfaces to the light. I tried throughout the story to reveal a truth we should all realize, God knows all our secrets. He knew we would make the decisions we did long before we created them. Megan comes to realize that one can compound a lousy choice with more poor decisions that hurt others, but more often than not, God exposes our secrets to begin the healing process of a broken and contrite heart.

So why did I write the stories I have written and likely will continue to write? To inspire my grandchildren and readers alike to examine their choices in life and how those choices have impacted their relationships with family, friends, and most importantly with God.

To emphasize this message, throughout February, all my royalties for books sold in Coweta County, GA — where the inspiration for Shiloh began — and on Amazon so others can participate, will benefit Coweta Pregnancy Services, Newnan, GA. The campaign is duly entitled, “Megan’s Pledge.” Below is a link to find out more should you wish to take part.

So, why do you write your stories?

I pray you may agree — “The testament of a man lies not in the magnitude of possessions and property left to his heirs, but the reach of his legacy long after his death.” Theo Phillips 

T. M. Brown is a Southern boy at heart, although he’s lived and traveled in many states far removed from his beloved boyhood roots in Georgia and Florida. He returned to North Florida several years ago while his two sons were still in school and enjoyed traveling throughout the South for business. After his youngest son went off to college, he ventured to New Orleans to complete post-graduate studies. The last fifteen years, he has preached, taught and coached in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida until his wife and he relocated outside of Atlanta where they have since retired to write, travel, and spoil grandchildren. 

Presenting author at 2017 & 2018 Decatur Book Festival, 2017 Milton Literary Festival, 2018 Dahlonega Literary Festival. Suspense Book 2017 finalist, Reviews & Interviews. Member of the Atlanta Writers Club, Georgia Writers Association, Chattahoochee Valley Writers Club, Georgia Writers Museum. and Broadleaf Writers Association (ATL). 2018 Best Book Award Finalist from AmericanBookFest.com for Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories. Shiloh Mystery Series: Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories (Jan 2018); Testament, An Unexpected Return (March 2018); Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest

(TBA2019).http://tmbrownauthor.com/megans-pledge-aids-local-pregnancy-services-center   https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/

Join Megan’s Pledge to Support Coweta Pregnancy Services, Newnan, GA

Join Megan’s Pledge throughout February by purchasing one or both Shiloh Mystery Series Novels.

How would the story have evolved differently if little Shiloh had a Pregnancy Services Center to counsel Megan?

In both Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and its sequel, Testament, An Unexpected Return, Megan is a central character whose dark secret not only haunted her but also dramatically impacted others. Her story is not unlike real life – our choices have far-reaching, unintended consequences. Sadly, as a former teacher and preacher, I witnessed the price of similar dark secrets for months and even years later.

The drama of an unexpected pregnancy does not need to become a dark secret. With the support of the likes of Coweta Pregnancy Services young women can embrace the gift of life. It is my firm belief that no pregnancy is a surprise to the Creator of Life, no matter the circumstances. And, even in our darkest times, God sends angels of His grace and love, no matter the choices that have been made. In Megan’s story, she brought her dark secret to light through the caring support of God-sent friends.

You can support “Megan’s Pledge” throughout the month of February with a true love decision – read her story by purchasing one or both books in the Shiloh Mystery Series. All the royalties earned in February for books purchased not only in Coweta County (Newnan, GA) but also online at Amazon for both printed and Kindle editions will directly benefit Coweta Pregnancy Services.

Excerpt from Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories – Megan’s Dilemma

A couple of minutes before eight, Megan’s crimson Mustang pulled into the driveway. Megan arrived at the door wearing a sequined black leather jacket over a white blouse and gray dress pants. Her black high heels clicked as she walked across the porch’s wood floor.

“Megan, please come on in,” Liddy said opening the door.

I offered to take her jacket. “Hello, Mister Phillips. I’m good, thanks. I don’t want to stay too long.”

Liddy invited Megan to sit in her chair. “I feel just awful for you. I can’t even begin to imagine all you’ve dealt with the last few days.”

Megan sat upright on the edge of the cushion and smoothed the wrinkles in her slacks. “Thanks so much for seeing me so early. I wasn’t even sure I’d be welcome after I heard how Hank’s been behaving.” She continued to avoid eye contact but put extra emphasis on each word. “But, I felt I needed to apologize.”

Liddy stood beside Megan with a vulnerable look and rested her hand on Megan’s shoulder. “Apologize? Why should you apologize?” Liddy then sat down on the arm of my recliner.

Relieved that Liddy engaged Megan, I stood and gestured for her to take my seat. “Would you young ladies like some coffee or tea?”

“Thanks, Mister Phillips…” Megan nodded with a forced grin. “If it wouldn’t be much trouble, hot tea with just a little sugar would suit me fine.”

“I can handle that. What about you Liddy?”

Liddy focused her eyes on Megan. “Yes, please. You know how I like mine.”

While I waited for the water to boil, I admired how Liddy gave Megan the attention she needed. They held hands and spoke softly back and forth. I couldn’t make out the words, but Megan no longer looked uncomfortable and stiff. 

“Here you go, ladies. Two hot cups of tea.” I went back into the kitchen to get my coffee before I took a seat on the sofa. Megan enjoyed the full comfort of Liddy’s chair while she savored her tea.

Megan’s attention drifted from Liddy to me. “I want to thank both of you…” She hesitated long enough to see my smile. “I’m not sure where to begin.” She sighed as she hesitated. “Harold told me about Phillip’s visit, so I assume Phillip told you what happened between Hank and me?” 

Liddy’s affable grin and nod encouraged Megan to continue.

“First, I feel terrible that you were victims of Hank’s unpredictable temper. I heard Pete and the others showed up before Hank did any real harm. I feel I’m to blame for his threatening tirade. And now that I finally walked out on him, I’m more afraid. Just having my car parked in your driveway makes me nervous.” 

Liddy snickered, leaned over and patted Megan’s knee. “Oh, don’t you fret none. You’re safe here. Theo and the boys sent a strong message to Hank the other night.”

Megan exchanged her first genuine smile with my awkward grin, then turned back toward Liddy. “I’ve little doubt that’s true. Miss Liddy, more importantly, the reason I came here is that your husband helped me when I dumped my terrible news on him. I sure wish my father had been as helpful and compassionate.” Her grin faded and eyes dropped as she talked about her father.

“Look, I trust your father will come around in time. But, to be honest, Liddy and I’ve been worried sick about you, and here you’re worried about us,” I said a bit lighthearted before I turned serious. “Phillip told us how ugly it’s been for you at the house.”

“Hank didn’t get physical, but he sure said a lot of dreadful things that hurt far worse than if he had beaten me.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “Y’all have been so kind, much more so than my mother and father.”

Liddy pulled out a box of tissues. “Listen to me. Parents often struggle to respond well when their children are hurting. Especially the grownup ones. Trust me, I speak from experience.”

Megan looked into Liddy’s eyes, and a tear-filled grin surfaced. “Miss Liddy, now I know why everyone likes you and Theo so much.”

I swallowed the knot in my throat. “Megan, we’ve come to a point in our lives where we see how God showed us through our mistakes and we’ve learned that compassion and mercy build much better bridges than when we point out the faults and failures in others.”

Megan dipped her head. “Oh, it’s so hard to be that way when others are focused on my mistakes, but I do want to do the right thing.” Her voice quivered.

Liddy took Megan’s hand and spoke softly. “Megan, what do you want to do? Do youwant to work it out with Hank?”

Megan grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. She then turned to both of us with an extended pensive stare, and after what seemed like a minute, Megan stammered, “I…I’m not sure, but I…I told Harold that I’d like to come back to work this morning.” A twinkle in her eyes and a slight grin appeared. “He’s probably panicking without me to keep him straight.” She dabbed a stray tear as her red-faced smile grew.

I chuckled. “Harold told me just yesterday how much he missed you.” Though not Harold’s exact words, I had little doubt that he relied upon Megan both at the office and at home.

Megan’s lightheartedness escalated into healthier giggles. “I can only imagine what my desk looks like, and it’s only been a day.” Megan looked out the window in the direction of City Hall. “I’m not sure how to tell Harold what I need to tell him… it’ll break his heart.” A long sigh followed.

“Megan, Harold knows about your diagnosis, and I know that he still cares about you. I sure don’t know everything, but I do know Harold’s not pleased with Hank at this moment.”

Megan suddenly turned away from the window before she burst out in frustration. “No, you don’t know. Harold doesn’t know. Nobody knows. Hank and I got married for all the wrong reasons, and because of that, I’ll never have children… And in Hank’s eyes, it’s my fault. Whatever glimmer of hope I clung to for our marriage has been ripped away.” Her swollen red eyes defiantly refused to shed another tear.

I sank into the sofa. Liddy appeared equally stunned. Megan’s trite, emotionless admission interrupted the momentary silence. “Hank and I have finally received the consequences of our mistake!”

Liddy broke Megan’s blank gaze. “What mistake? I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say…”

If you cannot purchase at Corner Arts Gallery & Studios, Newnan, GA, please visit T. M. Brown’s Amazon Page to order one or more copies for yourself and friends. Every purchase supports “Megan’s Pledge” throughout February. Thank you for making a difference!