Write a novel does not typically happen in a linear fashion. I wrote the last scene to the entire Dandelion series before I ever finished the first book. You write bits and pieces and through your writing other parts are made known to you. When I began writing the first draft of Strawberry Jelly I distinctly remember the moment when all my plot holes came together. Chapter 9: Dani and Cricket take Arty’s boat out on the lake. I knew Aaron Abbot would show up, I was still trying to figure out his character, who he was, who he was to her. I began to write about his two goons that went with him. As I wrote that scene I felt the presence of another character and Thomas Abbot was born when I wrote this section:

I tapped Cricket on the shoulder and nodded towards our boat. She followed behind me. We pulled ourselves up onto the stern.

“What do you guys want?” I asked, grabbing a towel, getting ready to wrap it around my waist.

“I would prefer you not do that,” Rob taunted me, “I’m really visually enjoying this.” He framed us with his hands and smiled.

I glowered back at him and wrapped the towel under my arms, covering my entire body. Cricket followed suit.

“Come on Little Weed, don’t be like that,” he said, watching our movements.

“Since when did you get a modesty card?” Aaron chimed in, “I think we’ve all seen more of you then you are showing in your bikini anyway.” He bit his lip and let his eyes run down my body and up again.

“Come on Dani, let’s just go,” Cricket said to me, nudging me towards the front of the boat.

“Aaron, leave her alone.”

I turned back to see the face of the newest voice speaking. Thomas Abbot appeared from behind the driver’s seat. He was taller than I remembered him; his dark hair was the same color as Aaron’s, only longer and messier. Their ivory skin was the same, Thomas was tall and gangly while Aaron was muscular and wide. Thomas’s voice had changed since I left. I remembered he must be close to fifteen now. There was always something about him that drew me in, a sadness he tried to hide. Well, to be honest, he tried to hide his entire being.

“Hey Thomas,” I called.

“Hi Dee,” he answered without a smile. He tapped his brother’s broad shoulder, “Come on, just leave them be. Let’s go.”

I will never forget that moment. I sat at my kitchen table, scribbling in a notebook, and as soon as Thomas showed up, it was as if he looked at me, the way he looks at Dani, and said, “Now I’m going to tell you their whole story.” I could not write fast enough. He told me about Katie, about their friendship as children, about Aaron’s childhood, their family, how Dani fit into it all. He blew my mind away that day. I will forever be grateful to Thomas Abbot for showing up and telling me their story. I think that’s the best part about writing. They become more than someone on a page, they become people who sit with you, talk to you, and ultimately tell you their darkest secrets. It is then the author’s job to decide what to share with the audience and what to hold back. I think of it as sacred work, to know and hold their secrets, to be gentle with them and their stories.