My mom died when I was fifteen. It was sudden and tragic. No time for goodbyes or any of that last-minute stuff. We were bonded together like shoe strings tied or fingers crossed so the thought of going on without her was really tough. The morning after she passed, I closed my eyes and saw her face—shimmering white, serene as a heron basking in the morning sun—looking down on me and saying “Be happy Gracie.” I never let go of this vision and my passion for the pursuit of happiness has found its way into my storytelling.

All three of my novels focus on different aspects of happiness: Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees is about peacemaking and how external and internal peace are inextricably linked. Discovery of an Eagle is about living for the day and as one reviewer wrote, learning that “life is about more that just existing.” The theme of A Very Rich Poor Man, (my forthcoming novel) is that true wealth is internal and is attained by living a life full of creative and intellectual pursuits.

Speaking of intellectual pursuits, writing my novels has been a great source of learning for me, as I myself am still learning how to be happy and I expect to be doing so for the rest of my life. So, thanks a lot Mom for the greatest advice that anyone can give anyone else:  To be happy!