About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Thursday, April 3, 2014


          You ever look around and ponder the passing of time?

          January flew in a blur, the calendar punctuated by the familiar series of events: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, tax time… And for me it was marked with something substantial, the preparation of my first book for publication.

          I took it seriously, calculating my tax return, dedicating every nickel to promoting my manuscript. But underneath all the excitement, I felt a niggling fear. An intuition that no matter the action, my situation was unsteady.

          Despite all the steps to stabilize, something was going fall through.

          After having my car broken into mid-February, the school of hard knocks and deductibles taught me to have a game plan. After replacing my stolen belongings and a new car window out of pocket, I felt a little gipped at the remnants.

          Hi, refund…bye, refund.  I didn’t even get a steak dinner out of it.

          But no guilt. I was good, tucking the remaining funds away in savings, the lot dedicated to the negotiation costs of my dream. I even steered clear of my daily haunt, a craft website, to avoid temptation.

          February turned into March as I paid the bills and juggled the negotiation sessions, an underlining unease still tugging at me.

          Exhausted from the internal struggle, one night I caved and pulled ETSY.com up on my desktop. Evidence of my inherent need for pretty, girly things, the shopping was like water in the desert. The author engine had been running since before the start of the New Year and I had to remind myself that I’m human, not a machine.

The writing is work, hard work!

I’d also seen that many writers reward themselves at the publication of a book.

I was berating myself for FIRE WALKERS not being officially published, but the manuscript was finished, and being pitched in an extremely competitive marketplace.

Queries, copy edits, reviews, blogs, social media, contracts…ARGHHHH!

*ragged breathing*

Okay, so an indulgence was in order. A nice one.

I had to drill the mantra into my head, “It’s okay to chisel a bit off the tax block in the name of treating yourself.”

It’s not shameless self-justification, it’s a reward for all the labor.

I’ve earned it.

And so I perused. While clicking and considering, I ran a free hand over my hair, the curly heap tied back in an unflattering bun. Glancing down at myself, I had on three-day-old sweats, a bleach stained t-shirt and ancient footy socks.

The heavy sigh that resulted was damning confirmation that I’d let myself go. The stress of the book offer, the numerous query rejections, and the merry-go-round of pitches—I was fried.

Looking back up at the screen I typed in my birthstone and “ring” in the search engine.

Being an October baby I’d read a lot of folklore about opals. Made up of a large percentage of water, the stone is strong but fragile if mistreated, and requires a delicate balance to maintain its moisture. Popular in early times, opal’s solid exterior exude bursts of color ranging from green to blue to red. It was believed that when adorning the hair the stone preserved youth in women, representing spiritual strength, imagination and dreams. Opals are said to encourage self-esteem and self-worth, clarify muddled thinking and quell worry. The Romans believed that when turned towards the skin, opals rendered the wearer invisible. The gem presented as an engagement ring was said to be a sign of faithfulness in marriage, and inversely, a mark of infidelity should the stone crack. 

The late 18th century brought about a decline in status for the opal, one reason being that in Sir Walter Scott's novel, ANNE OF GEIERESTEIN, the main character Lady Hermione is cursed after breaking an opal.. New superstitions then sprang up, saying that opals could be purchased only if your birthstone, to any that failed to meet the criteria the stone would bring misfortune. Consequently the sales of diamonds went up as opals went out of fashion, until Queen Victoria of England reinstated the opal’s good reputation, wearing the stone herself and giving them to others as royal gifts.

I’d received a small heart-shaped opal ring when I was fifteen and to this day I remember its uniqueness. A plain, milky-white stone when cushioned in its box, it seemed to sync to my body heat, becoming a mood ring of color when worn.

That memory came to me when I saw the opal cluster ring for sale.

A vintage ring from the 1950’s, nine small stones encircled a larger center, the opals muted and stationary. The seller took several pictures, the classy design standing out in a clear deviation from modern, mass-produced items. The opals spoke to me in little flickers of green, a bolt of blue, the rare flash of red a testament to the quality of the stones. Refined, it looked like something a lady would wear.

I e-mailed the shop owner to inquire about it. And while I’m not terribly superstitious, I was curious about the ring’s background. What was its story?

In Feng Shui formerly owned items carry the energy of its previous owner. It’s said that you can sense positive and negative Chi energy. An example would be if you've ever walked through an antique store. Ever encountered a piece of furniture that you just didn't like? Or alternately, a thrift store find that you absolutely adore? That’s said to be good and bad chi.

The shop owner kindly shared with me that the ring had been her mother’s, inherited from her estate. I expressed my interest, but then went back to work with the expectation that if I still wanted the ring by the time my tax return came in, I’d buy it.

Weeks passed and I caught myself visiting the ring online every day. I even got nervous as the shop owner began reducing the price, my refund taking what felt like forever.

In the interim I asked more questions: Would I have need to have it sized? What carat gold was it? Was it as big as it looked in the pictures?

The shop owner remained patient as I finally got the cash infusion to buy my reward. In the message field of the purchase order I wrote, “T----, I’m so glad it hadn’t sold yet. It’s my birthstone, and I promise to take good care of it.”

The smile on my face when the shop owner e-mailed me back, “I was hoping you’d be the one to buy it. I know you will cherish it.”

I stalked the mail tracking confirmation until my opal cluster ring arrived, looking like a grown version of my childhood ring. Nestled in light velvet, it winked a soft green as if waking up from a long nap. Inspecting it, I noticed the back of the band was thinner than the sides, the size five sitting snugly above my knuckle, the aura of it a comfort.

I envisioned the dainty fingers of the woman who’d owned it, how it must have been a favorite for the metal to be so diminished.

Smiling, I felt the crazy need to speak to it.

“Is it cool if we get you sized?” I asked. I blinked when it responded with a streak of electric blue, as if saying, “Okay.”

I took it to my jeweler, peppering them with questions about the process. When it was established that going up a size and a quarter was possible, and that 10K gold would be used in lieu of the European standard of 9K, I reluctantly signed the papers to have it altered. Gazing at the ring for as long as I could before I had to hand it over, the saleslady noted my preoccupation, reassuring me that they’d be extra careful with it.

The voicemail message that the ring had come back arrived three days earlier than expected, and I’d rushed over to the jewelers. The same lady who’d sent my ring away was there when I’d reclaimed it.

“I knew you’d come right away to pick it up,” she said, watching as I proudly pushed the ring onto my right ring finger, its colors emerging. “It’s vintage? It looks like it’s always been yours,” the lady added before I’d left.  

I brought the ring home and gave it a cushy residence in my jewelry box. My form of diamonds, I’d wear it when I dressed up, when I wanted to feel pretty, and recently when I’d needed some strength….

The unsettled feeling returned full-force as my premonition of collapse came true. All the money I’d invested into advancing my publishing goals went to no avail, leaving with few options of ever seeing my book in print.

There are so many hard choices when walking this path, the wrong ones tempting when you want to hold your work in your hands.

And when the road forked, I did what any mature, hard working woman would do—I sat in my car and cried in my turkey sandwich.

The purge was good. It was needed. And when the tide of self-pity had ebbed, I walked my sorry ass into the house and plopped myself into the writer chair.

I strongly believe that you don’t need material things to be happy, my ideas and dreams have always been enough for me, but in that moment the opal lore echoed in my head; quells worry, strengthens self-esteem, channels dreams.

          I stood up and pulled my ring out the jewelry box, thinking that a little clarity certainly couldn't hurt. Over the weeks I’d worn the ring, it’d progressively gotten brighter, sending me glints of blue, bright green. No red as of yet, but we were kindred chi spirits, and I knew that it’d eventually shine that way for me.

          I stared down at it, flexing my finger in the light of my desk lamp, the drying tears chilling my face and tightening my cheeks. No prospects, dented savings, and still no book.

          Where do I go from here? I can’t walk away.

I. Can’t. Give. Up. Now.

I felt like a hypocrite. FIRE WALKERS is about a young woman facing her fears, finding her fire. And there I was unable to spark my own.

That’s when it happened. 

The center opal blushed a rose red, warming to the heat of my skin, the reaction making my eyes flare.

Red. Fire. Ember. Glow… The Beginning.

I sat up in my chair and wiped my cheeks, my mind taking stock of what I know about the publishing industry. The years I've spent learning. The resources available to me, the allies I have in my corner.  

I’m down, not out.

Time to try something new.

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