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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Guest Blog: Toni Noel: What Would It Be Like To Be Homeless?

I had no idea what it would be like to be homeless when I started plotting my latest release, Homeward Bound. I grew up in a happy home, a roomy barn with a hay loft my father remodeled into a nice home for the six of us during WWII when the purchase of lumber was frozen and building materials were scarce, like elastic. At nine-years-old I couldn't understand why elastic was needed to fight a war, making me have to wear underpants with uncomfortable draw strings and Daddy have to uses aluminum nail that constantly bent.

I'll get back to how I plotted Krista's story, but first I'd like to tell you some more about me, so you have a good understanding of how important home is to me. After we married, my husband and I set up housekeeping in the upper floor of an old Georgian style house, the perfect first home for newlyweds, we thought. About the time I finished washing the grease off the wall behind the gas apartment stove we discovered the widowed landlady had been prowling around our apartment while we were at work, so we moved into a new duplex and lived there while we shopped for our own home. We didn't like to rent, and had only been married a year when we bought a new eight-hundred-fifty square foot two-bedroom brick ranch style house we brought our first daughter home to the following year.

Home has always meant a great deal to me. I've never been without one, so when Krista, the heroine of Homeward Bound, revealed in a character interview that she had been raised in foster homes, I wasn't sure how to deal with the news. Like mine, her life started out sharing a home with two loving parents and she never dreamed she would someday be homeless.

One day her father left and never came back and her mother, an artist, had to find a job. When she couldn't make the payments on their house she moved them into a one-bedroom apartment and for a while Krista's life seemed back on track. Then their apartment building caught fire and Krista was orphaned. She entered foster care the same day.

This is where I ran into trouble plotting my novel. What would an industrious young woman who grew up in foster homes want most, I asked myself? A new car? Pretty clothes?

No, none of those. She wants a home of her own.

So, what is keeping her from having one?

Financial problems -- she earns her living styling hair because the only state-funded post-graduate schooling offered graduates of foster care is beauty school. Krista has become a highly-recommended hair stylist, but now has aspirations of becoming a stager. She is tired of standing over a shampoo bowl all day and is enrolled in interior decorating courses while she dreams of staging upscale homes.

Before she completes her training Krista is offered the opportunity of a lifetime -- the chance to stage a wealthy bachelor's poorly decorated home. He has become disenchanted with being a homeowner, feels saddled with the responsibility of his huge house and hopes to unload it at a good price once it's properly staged. To Luke, a house is just a house.

Krista doesn't understand Luke's lack of feeling for his home because she has longed for a permanent home most of her life, but a successful staging could earn her the down payment on the bungalow of her dreams, so she agrees to stage his house.

Without realizing what she is doing, Krista decorates Luke's house as if the owner will continue to live there. She pours her heart and soul into the task, sometimes even picturing herself sharing the house with Luke, whom she now loves with all her heart.

Then Luke accepts an offer on the house. Krista is devastated.

It took some doing, but I managed to plot a resolution that makes everyone feel good about the outcome. Check it out.

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Toni Noel's love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout was realized when Desert Breeze Publishing has release the author's first published novel Law Breakers and Love Makers in print form.

Toni Noel's Novels... Safe havens for the heart.

You can visit Toni on line here:


Cara Marsi said...

Toni, what an interesting story premise. Sounds like an emotional read. Yes, I will check it ou.

Toni Noel said...

Thank you, Cara.



jean hart stewart said...

An interesting premise. Sounds nicely heart-warming.

Toni Noel said...

Hi Jean. Thanks for your kind reponse.


Melissa Keir said...

What an interesting character. How wonderful that you were able to make it work even though it was so different than what you lived. Do you still live in that first home?

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