Secrets of the Home Wood - The Sacrifice by Julie Whitley is about a family that lives next a mysterious forest named the Home Wood. Family members have disappeared after crossing the brook, not all have returned. The story begins with the disappearance of Sarah, after an argument with her husband David. David calls Sarah's friend, to discover she never showed up. David rushes out to look for her. Overhearing, their son Jonathon rushes out of the house after him. One at a time, Sarah, David, and Jonathon are pulled into the alternate dimension. Since David became a hero in this mysterious land when he was Jonathon's age, he is reunited with the San. When Jonathon finds his way to the forest kingdom, he is befriended by Pugg. They arrive on the brink of war with the Grue. The chief's wife has been captured by the Grue, and is to be sacrificed during the next full moon. If that happens, all is lost.
Julie Whitley does a magnificent job of traversing back and forth between our family of heroes, making sure to leave each of the characters with a cliffhanger. Her writing style reminds me of Terry Brooks. As the race against time ensues, while the family members are trying desperately to reunite, they are beseeched by desperate events that require them to improvise, and find courage within themselves. Sarah, with the help of her father-in-law's brother, who had disappeared into the Home Wood many years ago, discovers a diabolical plot behind enemy lines. Julie's characters are real, and she really captures the essence of family ties, albeit good guys, or bad. Secrets of the Home Wood is an adventure on all levels, with lots of twists and surprises. Brava, Ms. Whitley!
From the Author
Life intervened with marriage and career, but always in the back of my mind was my teacher's voice. I took some creative writing courses and found the germ of an idea that twenty-five years later bloomed into Secrets of the Home Wood. Meanwhile, I went back to school for my Bachelor's in the science of nursing followed by my Masters. Through all the papers that had to be written, my hidden goal was to not lose the literary juice in my words...but given the number of times I received the comment that my turns of phrase weren't "scientific" enough, perhaps my goal wasn't so hidden. I published two articles in nursing journals and a synopsis of my Masters research study in a well-respected nursing research journal, but while each did give me a certain sense of accomplishment, it just wasn't the same as publishing something that grew out of my imagination.
My career came to a close and with retirement, came the renewed ambition to write my story and finish it. I started with an on-line course, then took several intensive writing courses and work-shops and joined a writing group. The story took shape and the end was achievable. To polish the story, I applied to Humber School for Writers and was mentored through the next stage of rewriting and editing. The experience gelled all the previous lessons and I heard and saw the process at a new level. To this day, I still have the four major tips taped to my keyboard.
1) Camera focus. (Change the focus of description like a movie camera.)
2) What does the character want or feel?
3) Establishing shot. (Describe where the scene is taking place as soon as possible in the scene so the reader can fix it in their minds' eye.)
4) Three levels of want. (When learning about your characters, ask yourself three times, what do they want. Each time, take the answer deeper.)
Writing for now has been replaced by learning how to market my book. The curve has been steep and my head hurts with all the new information crammed into it. I can't deny, though, that the new journey has been fascinating. Facebook and Twitter had been just a way of staying in touch with friends and family. Social media has added a whole new layer to my day and the world both grows and shrinks with each new connection.