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Gayle Trent – BIO
My first novel, a romantic suspense titled PHOTO FINISH, was published in October of 1999. Since then, I've had a children's book published, MAMA LIKED BLUE (which won the 2001 Sime-Gen Reviewer's Choice Award for the category electronic children's/ young adult fiction), and have published several articles and essays. My essay "Byline" was accepted by Kay Allenbaugh appears in CHOCOLATE FOR THE TEEN'S SPIRIT, published by Simon & Schuster in 2002.
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The idea for ANYTHING FOR A BUCK was born when I was traveling on a four-lane in Washington County, Virginia. It's not uncommon to see deer lying by the wayside there, but I came upon one that was still kicking. I swerved onto the side of the road but knew there was really nothing I could do. Crying, I drove up the road until I spotted a State Trooper. He was pulled over giving someone other than me a ticket. I interrupted the citation process to tell the Trooper of the deer's plight. He offered to send an animal control officer to shoot it. When I shouted "no" and started into a Lucy Ricardo wail, he promised to see if there was anything else that could be done.
I continue to write and try to save injured wildlife. One caveat: Mama Robins will swoop down on your head if you try to save their hatchling’s--you might want to leave those alone. Trust me on this one.
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We write all kinds of letters. We write letters to friends, letters explaining "Oh, yes, I did pay that bill and here's the check to prove it," and letters expressing our dissatisfaction. (My grandmother wrote Publishers Clearing House a scathing letter berating them for neglecting her and failing to fulfill their promises.)
When I saw "Hi, Handsome," at the top of my friend Melissa's legal pad, I teased her about the letter she was writing to her boyfriend. She told me no, the letter wasn't to her boyfriend but to her son. "We don't get to talk a lot, and I worry about him." At six, the boy was accustomed to seeing his mother get slapped and pushed around. Her lack of self-respect had cost her the respect of her son, too. In fact, I'd wondered about Melissa's parenting skills until I saw the letter. Then I understood that while her abilities and decisions may not always be up to par, her heart was in the right place.
Can't that be said of all of us? I know it can be said of me. When my children were born, I already had several bad decisions under my belt and still lacked the sense it would take to keep from making more. All I knew was that I loved them more than anything on Earth and would do everything I could to be a great mother. Still, they often drink soda rather than juice or milk; sometimes the only vegetables they have with dinner are french fries; and we watch too much T.V.
When I started having migraines, I got nervous. When the doctor scheduled the CAT scan, I got out my pen. I wrote a letter to each of my children telling them everything I wanted them to know in case I wasn't there to tell them in person when the time came. I encouraged my daughter to be her own person and to never let anyone take control over her. I spoke to her of the lessons of self-respect and self-esteem that I'd learned so cruelly. And I told her how wonderful, beautiful, and loved she is. My son is Mr. Popularity, and peer pressure is a major concern. I told him I knew he'd go far if he followed his own heart, refused to be lead by others, and stayed away from drugs and alcohol. Then I told him how wonderful, handsome, and loved he is.
Both my children are in pre-school now, but the thought of them getting no guidance from their mother no matter who else was giving them input was more than I could bear. The CAT scan was normal and the odds are good that I can take out the letters I've written and read them with my children whenever we decide the time is right. Either way, the letters stand as testaments to my children of my love and, for what it's worth, my guidance.
Long ago, I read a piece (I believe in Readers' Digest) about a mother who died leaving behind her three children. She left each child a letter, and each letter began, "Don't tell the others, but I always loved you best." The letter went on to explain why that child was her favorite. It was a beautiful story showing how the mother made each child feel special.
I say, don't wait until you die. Don't wait at all. Write a love letter to your child. It might very well be the most important thing you ever do.