Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book excerpt from Wander Home

Wander Home's book blurb:
Death is what you make it...Eleanor never wanted to leave the daughter she loved so much. The overpowering urge to wander--to search without knowing what she sought--drove her away. She left little Cassidy in her family's loving care. But Cassidy and the others died in an accident before Eleanor could fine her way home. Cassidy has her grandparents and her Great-Grandma. And all of them have what may be eternity. Memories can be relived or shared. The wonders of the world they left behind are only a thought away. The one-way tyranny of aging is no more--a white-haired and stooped great-grandmother one moment can be a laughing young playmate the next. But nothing can ease Cassidy's longing for her mother, and Eleanor's parents know better than to hope that Eleanor's life has been a happy one. Now, they are all reunited, with the chance to understand and heal. But the restlessness that shaped Eleanor's life still haunts her in death. Somehow, she must solve the mystery of her life--or none of them will be at peace.


This book is set in an afterlife: what sort of afterlife, the reader may 

Chapter One

Cassidy stood tall and watched the wave approaching. Fifteen was a good age
for confronting the ocean. That morning she had been five years old, playing
happily in her sandbox;  from sand to beach, from beach to ocean waves,
seemed a natural progression.

The wave loomed above her, glowing turquoise and green. She dove under the
crest, through the surging water, and popped up behind the swell, bobbing in
the follower waves. The water held her and rocked her; over the hiss and
roar of the waves, she could hear the distant squawk of seagulls. All around
was the smell of seaweed and salt and sunshine.

Once, her mother had held her, carried her, rocked her, surrounded her with 
love and safety. She had no idea how long it had been, but she remembered.
 Remembering, she let herself slip younger as she floated on the swells. But 
larger waves were coming, so she grew again, six, ten, sixteen; then caught 
a wave and rode it into shore.

Her grandparents and her great-grandmother were waiting for her.
 Great-Grandma was young today, slim and blonde and straight, standing like a
 dancer just before the music starts. Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Jack had
 chosen to be older, gray-haired, with the comfortable look of a couple who
 for years have weathered each other's moods and followed each other's 

Cassidy ran up the beach toward them. She slipped to eight years old as she
 reached them, so Grandpa Jack could pick her up and toss her in the air. The 
sun flashed in her eyes as she flew up, and again as she fell back toward 
his hands. He set her down again and flopped onto the sand, patting the
 space next to him. She sat, folding her legs tailor fashion; Great-Grandma 
flowed gracefully down to sit on her other side. Only Grandma Sarah remained
 standing, younger now, her hair in a long red braid.

Grandpa Jack and Great-Grandma both put their arms around her. Cassidy 
looked at Grandpa Jack. He was blinking as if he had something in both his 
eyes. She swiveled around toward Great-Grandma; Great-Grandma nodded toward
 Grandma Sarah.

Cassidy threw her head back, looking up at Grandma Sarah and squinting in 
the sun. Grandma Sarah squatted down in front of her. "Cassie, love, we have
some news for you. Good, important news."

The seabirds were calling as if they wanted to be first with the message,
 whatever it was. Grandma Sarah leaned forward to kneel in the sand, reached 
out and took Cassidy's hands.

"It's your mother, sweetheart. She's coming. She'll be here soon. We'll all 
be seeing her again."

Cassidy felt herself getting smaller, small. She was two years old. She
 scrambled to her feet. "Mommy!"  Her own shrill voice frightened her, and 
she called even louder, twisting from side to side, searching the beach and
 the water. "Mommy!  MOMMY!"

Great-Grandma had slipped old, white hair shining in the sunlight, her
 cheeks pink, soft wrinkles in her face, smelling of flour. She pulled 
Cassidy close, crooning, "Hush, hush. It's all right, baby. Shhhh."  Cassidy
 burrowed against her and breathed the comforting scent. She thought she 
might feel better if she got big again, but nothing happened.

She heard Grandpa Jack speak. "Mama, Sarah, let's go somewhere cozier."
 Then the sun, the waves, the seabirds were all gone, and they were in 
Great-Grandma's living room. She was snuggled up next to Great-Grandma on 
the big shabby couch. There were shortbread cookies on the coffee table.
 Grandma Sarah sat on Grandpa Jack's lap in the big armchair, Grandpa Jack
 playing with Grandma Sarah's hair.

"Cassidy, honey, it's time to be a big girl. We have more to talk about."
 Great-Grandma stroked her cheek, then kissed it.

Cassidy squeezed her eyes tight. "I'm trying. It's hard. Why is it hard?" 

Grandpa Jack spoke. "Well, baby, you were just this age when your mama left.
 You're remembering it so hard, right now, that you're maybe a little stuck.
 Relax, honey, and know that everything's all right. It'll come."

Cassidy took a deep breath, and another, and another. Great-Grandma 
skootched away to give her room. Cassidy opened her eyes. She was thirteen
 years old. She reached for a cookie.

"There, that's better, isn't it?" Great-Grandma picked out a cookie for
herself and took a hearty bite.

"When will she be here?  When can I see her?"

Grandma Sarah brought Cassidy a glass of milk, then sat back down on Grandpa
Jack's lap. "Honey, those are two different questions. She'll be here very 
soon, and you can see her just a little while after that. It's going to be

"Why can't I see her right away?" She didn't want to yell at Grandma Sarah, 
but she felt like yelling. It was always harder to be patient at thirteen. 
She slipped to twenty, but it felt wrong, too big, too grown up for a little 
girl missing her mother. She slid back to ten.

"Cassie, you were so young when you got here, only six years old. You
 weren't set in your ways yet - you expected to learn new things every day,
 to have adventures and surprises. Coming here was just another and bigger 
adventure. But it's different for older people. It's more of a shock. We 
think it'd be best if Great-Grandma welcomes her first, and explains 

"How long will that take?" Cassidy swallowed tears and washed them away 
with a gulp of milk.

 Great-Grandma moved back over and hugged her. 

"Not as long as it will feel 
to you. I'll bring her to see you as soon as I can."

About the author:
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but moved every few years
 throughout her childhood and adolescence. After college in California, law
school in Massachusetts, and a mercifully short stint in a large San 
Francisco law firm, she moved to Los Angeles, where she met her now-husband, 
who hates L.A. They eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of
 Indiana University.

Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. 
While writing her first novel at age ten, she was mortified to learn that 
some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age nine. 

Wyle has been a voracious and compulsive reader as long as she can remember. 
Do not strand this woman on a plane without reading matter! Wyle was an
 English and American Literature major at Stanford University, which suited
 her, although she has in recent years developed some doubts about whether 
studying literature is, for most people, a good preparation for enjoying it. 
Her most useful preparation for writing novels, besides reading them, has 
been the practice of appellate law -- in other words, writing large
 quantities of persuasive prose, on deadline, year after year.  

Wyle's voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary
 and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not
fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led
 her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the 
impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished

Find Karen:
Karen's website
Karen's Facebook page