Friday, September 13, 2019

"The Secrets of Lost Stones"

For as long as she can remember, Melissa Payne has been telling stories in one form or another—from high school newspaper articles to a graduate thesis to blogging about marriage and motherhood. But she first learned the real importance of storytelling when she worked for a residential and day treatment center for abused and neglected children. There she wrote speeches and letters to raise funds for the children. The truth in those stories was piercing and painful and written to invoke in the reader a call to action: to give, to help, to make a difference. Payne’s love of writing and sharing stories in all forms has endured.

She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children, a friendly mutt, a very loud cat, and the occasional bear.

Payne applied the Page 69 Test to The Secrets of Lost Stones, her first novel, and reported the following:
The Secrets of Lost Stones is a book about loss, love, grief and survival and the redemption that comes with facing the past and letting it go. It is about Jess, a mother who endured the loss of her young son, and Star, a lonely teenage girl who believes her best option is to sleep under a city bench, and Lucy, a woman with a gift to tie them all together. I was surprised at how well page 69 highlighted one important aspect of this story. Star’s reluctance to trust anyone and her subsequent suspicion of Lucy’s intentions.
Star shook her head. “I-I…” Her bottom lip trembled, and she felt her eyes get wet. No, no, no. She would not cry. She pressed her lips together, waited for the moment to pass, then stood straight and crossed her arms. “You know about the accident?"

Lucy shook her head.

“Then how do you—” Star’s voice faltered, and she cleared her throat. “What do you want?”

Lucy sat back in her chair, resting her hands on the padded armrests. “Those are excellent questions, Star.”

She waited for her to continue, but Lucy tilted her head and gazed intently over Star’s shoulder. Her scalp tingled the way it might when someone stood just behind her. “Then why aren’t you answering me?”

Lucy smiled, piling the loose skin of her cheeks into soft folds around her mouth. “Give me time, girl. I don’t always understand what they want at first.”

Cool air brushed across her neck. She shivered. “What who wants?”

Lucy waved a hand in the air. “Never mind that for now. But you can trust me, Star.”

She snorted. “You want me to trust you? Then tell me why you want me to stay here. And how you know all those things about me. Tell me something.”

Lucy nodded. “I can’t tell you much yet, but I do know that the pieces are finally coming together, and I can promise you that it will all make sense in time.” Without another word, she rose from the couch and swept from the room, her black skirts swinging, leaving Star to ponder her cryptic words.

She should have left right then. Grabbed a handful of jewelry and sprinted for the bus stop. But she didn’t. She sat as though glued to the chair, her stomach twisted into knots.
Star wants to believe that Lucy can help her, that Lucy has the answers that will make everything better. But up to this point in her life, her experience with adults has shown her otherwise. Yet Lucy’s mysterious way of knowing things, her interest in Star’s well-being and the very fact that she wants to help Star, touches on Star’s deepest desires. To be loved and part of a family again. And this moment on page 69 is the jumping off point for Star because she could leave and return to the life she thinks she deserves, yet she doesn’t. In fact, this is the first moment in a long time when Star decides to take a leap of faith and put her trust in an adult. And who better than Lucy, the witch of Pine Lake.
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

--Marshal Zeringue