From Shards to Sea Glass, A Novel
(Published July 21, 2018)
Anxiety and loneliness grasp Claire Wycoff’s shattered heart and mind in the wake of her parents’ unexpected deaths. A peculiar riddle discovered in their safe deposit box leads her to a small town on the coast of Maine. Not long after arriving in Lone Spruce Cove, the talented young woman accepts the opportunity to create a mosaic in the recently vandalized vestibule of the local church. After her handsome landlord introduces her to the beautiful, gemlike pieces of sea glass found on Maine’s beaches, she becomes mesmerized by the ocean-tossed treasures and decides to use sea glass in the mosaic. Her heart breaks anew with the revelation that she can never have the man she falls in love with. Then discovery of her family’s troubled past and solving the mysterious riddle plunge her life into danger. Can faith in God give her the inner peace she craves? Can the tossed shards of her life ever be turned into something treasured like a frosted piece of sea glass?
Before you read on...
I was graciously given the opportunity to submit From Shards to Sea Glass into the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards competition. No, it did not win. But...
I do not know how many judges read my book; however, each entry receives a commentary from a judge. Below is what I received today--cut and pasted in its entirety--from "Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards". (As noted to me, 1 mean[s] “needs improvement” and 5 mean[s] “outstanding”)
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5
FROM SHARDS TO SEA GLASS by Michele Wilder is a lovely and thoughtful inspirational novel sure to be valued and enjoyed by Christians everywhere. It's helpful that the author tells potential readers on the back cover about the strong faith element because the copy will attract her target audience and beyond. Readers of any faith or no faith will be intrigued enough by wanting to solve the puzzle that they will stay with the author. The author’s choice of setting, unique premise, and mystery are all excellent. Nice work.
The cover photo is excellent and illustrates the story well. I found the different shapes interesting to study and I enjoyed the colors. The title stands out well and the overall effect makes the book a visual joy. The back cover copy is informative and I enjoyed learning about the author. I visited her website and found it to be lovely. Readers will appreciate getting to know the author in this way. This additional effort shows a serious, engaged author whose career readers will want to follow.
The story is compelling and well-paced. The dialogue moves along well and the spiritual elements are organic to the story.
I'm humbled and very grateful for the judge's commentary and kind words. To God be the glory!
Below is an excerpt--Chapter 1--of From Shards to Sea Glass for your preview and/or reading enjoyment. You may purchase the complete book in e-book ($.99) form on Smashwords or in paperback ($11.99) or e-book ($.99) form on Amazon.
“Are you aware, Miss Wycoff, that your parents had a safe deposit box?”
Claire compressed her finger with a sweaty palm. “Why, no.”
“I didn’t think so.” Mr. Buchannan swiveled from his desk to the file-laden credenza behind him. He reached for a small cardboard box with a large yellow envelope balancing on it and turned back to face her. “I’m glad my letter caught up to you. My secretary gave up trying to call you three weeks ago.”
He set the box on his desk. “Your boyfriend called a few times and even stopped by once demanding to know the status of your parents’ insurance policies.” He paused. “He also asked if we knew your whereabouts.”
Claire’s eyes widened. She squeezed the next finger as her hands began to tremble.
“We told him nothing.”
She exhaled slowly through tightened lips. “Thank you.”
“Your father had given me explicit instructions that you not know about the existence of the safe deposit box unless both he and your mother were deceased.”
She clenched her jaw, willing her eyes to stop pooling. I’m not going to cry. I’m not! An unbidden tear rolled down her cheek.
Mr. Buchannan’s long brown finger pushed aside the name plate reading “Rufus Buchannan, Esquire” and nudged a tissue box toward her.
Claire swiped a tissue.
He tapped the yellow envelope. “This contains copies of the paperwork for your files and the four lump-sum checks. Again, I’m sorry for the delay in receiving these claims, but once we finally obtained the required proof that your parents’ deaths were not a result of suicide or homicide, the insurance companies processed them rather quickly.”
She blew her nose. “I understand.”
“Would you like to look at the checks now?”
She shook her head.
“Very well.” He set the envelope aside and unfolded the flaps on the box. “Here are the contents of the safe deposit box. Thankfully your father had left the keys with me.”
Claire mopped her eyes with the soggy tissue.
“On top of the contents I found an envelope with instructions that this note be read to you before you receive the items. Would you like me to read it?”
He withdrew a 3x5 card from a small white envelope and cleared his throat. “‘Our dear Claire, These items hold great meaning to your mother and me and represent special times or people from our past. Some things you know about. Others you don’t. Pay particular attention to the riddle in the small brown box. If you choose to follow its lead back to your roots, please be extremely careful. We love you, Claire. You are the best daughter any parents could ever hope for. Love, Dad and Mom.’”
Claire swooshed two more tissues from the box and buried her face in them.
Mr. Buchannan tucked the card back into its envelope. “Do you want to look through the contents now?”
She shook her head.
Mr. Buchannan returned the white envelope to the box before reclosing the flaps and setting the yellow envelope back on top. “Do you have any questions, or is there anything else I can do for you?”
She wiped her nose. “No, you have been most helpful.”
“It has been a privilege to be of service to you and, of course, to your parents the past several years,” he said while rising with the box and envelope. “Again, my deepest condolences, Miss Wycoff.”
Using the desk to steady herself, she rose and took them from his hands. “Thank you for all your help, Mr. Buchannan. You’ve been most kind.”
As she left, she clutched the box to her chest. Other than the two pictures, she held in her arms the only tangible remnants of her parents’ lives.
The next day, the clinking of dishes and hum of conversation faded into the background as Claire pushed down on one of the buckling folds of the crisp, newly-purchased map. Out of Hyding on the coast of Maine.
Starting at the northeastern-most point, she inched her finger down the jagged coastline of Maine. Out of Hyding on the coast of Maine. She read every tiny name. Out of Hyding on the coast of Maine. She scrutinized every island and pond and county and town.
Out of... Her finger stopped. “Hydeport,” she whispered. Could it be?
She traced the remainder of the coast to the New Hampshire border then slid her finger back under the name of the town. Hydeport. It has to be it. Nothing else fits.
Should she move there? Perhaps focusing on solving the strange riddle would give her purpose and direction again. How she craved a diversion from the continual turmoil warring within her! Would she let her parents down if she didn’t go? Leaning back she picked up her teacup and sipped the last cold swig of the sweet, milky liquid.
Move to Maine? She suspended the cup below her lips. Leaving the painful memories in Chicago tempted her, yet traveling by herself across the country to a place she had never been intimidated her. No, it scared her!
But then...Her hand shook as she clinked the cup back onto its saucer....Daniel would never think to look for her there.
She refolded the map. Maybe I should go—and soon! She stood and floated a ten-dollar bill onto the check before slipping her arms through her coat sleeves. How can I be sure of what to do? Grabbing the map and her purse, she headed toward the door.
If I just had some kind of confirmation...
Philip’s stomach growled. With an hour to kill before exhibitors could enter the convention center, he drove to the parking lot of a diner he had seen on his way to the hotel last night. As he pulled his jeep into a parking place in front of the sidewalk, a young woman with a long mass of brown curls walked toward him. Wow!
He followed her as she approached the corner of his dark-blue, SUV-style jeep. He shifted into park.
She glanced at the front of his jeep then stopped in her tracks and stared. She lifted her striking, aqua-colored eyes toward him.
Captivated he couldn’t look away.
Her eyes widened then returned to the front of his jeep. She blinked several times before turning about and hurrying down the sidewalk.
Coming to his senses, Philip reached for the door latch and pushed at the door. “Grrr!” The keys jangled as he turned them and pulled them out of the ignition. His seatbelt zipped across him while he yanked the door latch again. After unfolding his 6’2” frame from the jeep, he stepped out then up onto the empty sidewalk. He scooched in front of the jeep and inspected it thoroughly before scrunching his eyebrows.
He stood again and scanned the parking lot.
She had disappeared.
The above excerpt is copyrighted. Please to do not copy in any way without the express permission of the author.