I’m currently writing my first book, 21 Gifts.
I’d been waiting for over 2 years to feel deeply connected enough to a story to actually commit myself to write a whole damn book about it! As I was sitting in my living room on my couch, my story finally began to pour into me. I pulled up the notes app on my iPhone and began typing rapidly while these ideas flooded my mind. Slowly my eyes began to fill up with tears as I had this unexpected, but a sincere emotional response to the story, that would be my story to tell for 21 Gifts.
Actually, this book comes out of my fear of dying after my wife and I have our first child.
The book follows a father named Toban who is faced with the unchangeable reality that his life will soon end due to an unexpected debilitating disease in his body. Toban’s faced with the reality that another man will raise his daughter, sleep with his wife, and take control of his life.
Yet, it’s a bittersweet gift he’s been given to consider what 21 lessons he wants to leave with his daughter that he’ll never know as closely as he planned on. This story actually goes even deeper to my own personal life, as these lessons are hand-crafted to the experiences in life we all go through. I’m giving myself the opportunity to write a fiction book that will one day touch my children (UPDATE: I didn’t have a daughter when this book idea came to me). But I also believe this is where my story, becomes yours.
Below are 6 rough character descriptions & sketches. (Ahh–this is insanely exciting to share with you!) Thank you so much for being here, and spending a few moments of your time with me.
He’s good–in every sense of the word. There is a magnetic pull people have towards him, and I swear it’s the way his eyes are ever present with you, and his grinned smile that makes you feel accepted. He’s strong. Physically, yes–but his real strength resonates from his reassuring eyes and a soulful smile that says about a thousand words with just one grin. Toban’s energy and appreciation for life, knowledge and family are contagious for everyone around him. His heart is made of gold, he always greets you with a smile, he’s ready to listen, and will disagree while remaining supportive and understanding your perspective. Toban’s never met a stranger, and his selfless attitude and ability to always find the joy inspires you to believe in yourself, even in the dark times.
Sarah Eldridge – Toban’s Wife, Ella’s Mother
Sarah is gorgeous, but not unapproachable. Her spirit & demeanor are soft, which is her biggest vulnerability. She has an inner power, but hasn’t fully learned to rely upon herself, and sets expectations on life, people and others and finds herself consistently being let down by these expectations. There’s a grace that she carries herself with that makes you think everything is always good. She’s beautiful, but Toban’s death breaks her beauty and her physical appearance changes as her spirit breaks, and she changes into this new person, searching to find what real strength actually is.
Her demeanor is sweet and lovely, although she doesn’t smile often. If you know how to read them, her eyes tell you everything she’s feeling. When she does smile, you can’t help but feel your heart drum a few beats faster. Although young, she has a sincere amount of depth and perspective on life. She’s wildly strong and confident within her choices, her body, her intelligence, but tender at the same time because she’s not aware of her emotions, and represses and pushes away most things that get uncomfortable. She’d rather pretend her father’s death didn’t happen than to be crushed by the reality of it. Her room is her art studio, and each week she draws what she think her dad would have looked like “today” if her were still alive; she finds a sense of connectedness to him thru her artistic expressions.
Caroline Darth – Ella’s Aunt
She’s one bad bitch! And will have you laughing during a funeral. Her larger than life personality matches her big bones and life motto, “Why follow the rules when there are so many ways around them.” Caroline’s learned how to trick life’s events so that she always comes out the beneficiary of them all. She has a line she uses to intimidate her prey and assert her dominance. Only ever said with a bit of Vodka in her system, she tethers the soul of her eyes to her victims while whispering into their ear, “When physics need to know what the future holds–they come to me.” While her seriously playful attitude makes her the life of the party–don’t cross her family. Caroline developed an even stronger sense of mothership over her sister Sarah after Toban died. They’d already had a shitty mother in their childhood, so Caroline was more protective than ever now. She’s a high school english teacher, that lost her job due to politics and now has been forced to substitute teach while she stays on the hunt for a good man to sleep with, and spend her life with (So far all her boyfriends have been duds). She blames it on their inability to handle such a powerful women, but the reality was that she was a lot to handle. After Toban’s death she takes an even closer role in Ella and Sarah’s life.
Samuel – Caroline’s “Final” Boyfriend
Samuel is Caroline’s equal. As if the universe, God, Ghandi and Jesus all agreed together how tired they were of playing cupid for Caroline, finally Samuel’s path was ready to cross with Caroline’s (at just the right moment, I might say). Samuel’s big heart matches his thick body and demanding physical presence. He’s like a modern day Samson (a unusually strong character from the Bible). Anyone over 6′ tall pushing 300 is going to catch some attention walking into a room, but he’s learned how to contrast his large exterior with a humbled, warm & inviting demeanor. Samuel’s stable and consistent emotions balance out the hurricane that is Caroline. Samuel finds joy out of honest conversations, his simple & steady career, and building things (he’s an engineer). His wisdom makes him great at managing the team at his job, and serves him well when trying to bring understanding to difficult situations. He’s good–a very good and strong man.
Tristen Walker – Ella’s Boyfriend
His magic personality is hidden deep inside his quiet exterior. Learning how to escape uncomfortable situations for as long as he could remember, his absent mother helped him to develop the skill of diverting subject matter thanks to her unfiltered mouth and almost zero ability to be self-aware. Thank God for his dad, who has been his steady and unmoving rock. Tristen was born in Great Britain–Tottenham, London to be specific and his Dad’s international job had brought nearly to the other side of the world on the west coast. Tristen can tell you where all of the exits are within 15 seconds of being in any room (his ability to escape discomfort did have some benefits). There’s a pain in his eyes that he never talks about, and if you can discern eyes, you’d know everything he was saying. He’s very connected to nature, and has a special gift that no one knows about; magic. The one thing his mother did recognize was his ability to trick, and he became obsessed with the ‘Become A Magician’ set she got him for his 8th birthday. It’s never necessarily been ‘cool’ to be a magic geek, so he’s withdrawn his skills to his bedroom only. His magic is often times inspired by the connectedness he feels to the greatness of nature, and the mysterious beauty it holds, and it’s ability to heal his deepest wounds when he can quiet himself to be present in it.