I grew up in a very, rural area and cable TV wasn’t available where I lived. It was a pain growing up, until I was sixteen when we relocated to Tallahassee. But, in my four channel-childhood, I was still able to enjoy, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. I was a Big Valley aficionado and I had already been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, so Little House on the Prairie was a must to watch. Apart from those, I spent most of my time waiting for the two days out of the year that they would show my favorite movies. During October, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory aired, then in the second week of April, The Wizard of Oz, which is quite possibly one of the best movies of our time and what introduced me to the phenomenal talent, Judy Garland. (I will pause so you can bow down.)

Dorothy and her puppy, Toto, would take their magical journey to Oz in the spring, where they would encounter a whole slew of characters that aided her on the way, or hindered her. As I watched the dull, shades of Dorothy’s environment on her Kansas farm explode into the vibrant colors and images of the new world she entered by way of concussion, I could only compare that it’s how I would feel should I be whisked away to the world of my stories. And, as I look back now, I can see that The Wizard of Oz was probably one of the first gateways that led me to writing and gave me the desire to escape my dreary, black and white world for Oz courtesy of pen, paper and the greatest tool, the imagination. Though I have found other genres to delve into, fantasy has always been close to my heart, a love I’ve passed down to my daughter and writing partner, Inion.

Even now, more than ever, I revert back to those fantastical stories that helped me through the hard times and use them as inspiration.

Take for instance getting published. Dorothy is the naïve, unpublished writer that has left her monochromatic world with her precious manuscript (Toto) in hand. She reaches Munchkin Land (introduction to the literary world) and is thrown off-balance by the grandeur of it all. She is greeted by Glenda the Good Witch, (mentor/friend/teacher), who hands her a pair of ruby-red slippers, (the readers). Bright gems that many authors like Dorothy tend to overlook, but in the end mean the most for it is what transports her to the whimsical Emerald City and inevitably brings her back home. Glenda takes her hand and shows her the way down the yellow brick road. The main objective is to get the scarecrow, (literary agent), the tin man, (editors) and the cowardly lion, (fellow authors) to come along on that journey to the Emerald City (publishing company). Dorothy’s companions are essential to her goal, for support and guidance. Without them all, she would lose her way.

There are many distractions on the way, the poppy field, for instance, which represents the mundane obstacles in life, (e.g. Household chores, errands, work, the kids, Xbox). Dorothy cannot overlook these hidden beauties that first lure her, then inspire a deep sleep, or for us… procrastination. Then, there’s the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. When I first thought about this I had many that could possibly fall into this villainous slot. I had originally thought to use the publishing companies for this. (Sorry, guys. Please don’t hold it against me.) But, I started contemplating what had been so destructive to my daughter and I during our writing process and realized it was… us, our own insecurities and fears. And, what an evil witch it is.

Once the Wicked Witch is subdued, Oz tells her to click her ruby slippers three times and she’s back at the farm with Aunty Em and Uncle Henry with a dream fulfilled and too grand to explain. Will she ever go back? Who knows? If she does, she’ll be a little wiser, a little braver, and have her heart open wide. But, as long as she doesn’t forget… there’s no place like home