Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she's a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.
But they're both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.
While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.
Torn between doing her uncle's bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.
An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena's Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.
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I am in awe that this is author, Colleen Story's debut novel. The characters were so developed and the storyline was strong. I did enjoy reading this book a lot, except for the brief rape scene. My heart just went out for Loreena when this happened. I could feel her pain...emotionally and physically. Despite Loreena being blind, she did not let this hinder her in any way. In fact, I thought that the story was stronger for this fact. It was like I could experience everything through her on a different level then just by sight.
The story did take a dark turn quickly from Loreena helping people wit her Uncle to the shady, evil world of drugs and greed. Although Loreena's brother, Saul was not very emotional and may not have expressed his love for Loreena, I did still see his love for his sister as the big brother. I look forward to seeing what this author comes out with next.
Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, "Loreena’s Gift," was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, "Rise of the Sidenah," is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
My stories come to me from two different directions. On the one side, there is something that I’m wrestling with (such as what may lie beyond this life), and on the other side, there is a character (like Loreena in Loreena’s Gift.)
The ideas I wrestle with typically have no clear answer, which is what makes them interesting to pursue in a novel-length work. The characters usually come to me out of the fog, so to speak. They just sort of show up in my head and start living there, kind of like an idea for a new song that plays on unseen notes in your mind. Gradually, they start to become real enough that I can begin writing.
Why did you decide that Loreena, the heroine, would be blind?
I was actually surprised and then concerned when I realized Loreena was blind. As I mentioned, my main characters usually come to me subconsciously, and I was working away on the novel when I suddenly realized this about my heroine. At first it was a bit intimidating. I mean, how do you describe settings or other characters in the story from the point of view of a blind person?
Fortunately, I had done some volunteering with the blind when I was a teenager, so I had some early experiences I could draw upon. Other than that, I spent a lot of time writing with my eyes closed! It was both a disconcerting and intriguing experience—intriguing because even just the process of imagining being blind forces you to rely on your other senses.
We hear about how a blind person often has a more advanced sense of smell, for example, than a sighted person, and I found myself tuning into my other senses to describe the settings and characters in the book.
It was also disconcerting, though, because I spent a couple years with Loreena’s Gift. During that time I had to limit visual descriptions, which required extra focus. When I finished and starting working on my next novel, it was exhilarating to be able to once again open my eyes!
Do you have another profession besides writing?
My “day job,” so to speak, is also writing, but it’s writing non-fiction. I’m a health and wellness writer, and I create materials for clients around the country. These may be books (I work as a ghostwriter), magazine articles, blog posts, website copy, company and product identity, brochures, or anything the client needs written or edited.
I’ve been doing this for 17 years full-time, and it’s given me the flexible hours I needed to work on my fiction, as well.
What is your writing schedule?
I work on my fiction first thing in the morning. I’ve tried other routines over the years, but I’ve found again and again that morning works best. I’m not a morning person—I tend to be a night owl by preference—but writing shortly after I wake up allows me to tap into that dreamlike state that we’re all still in before we wake up fully, which can be a lot of help when you need to tap into your imagination.
More importantly, it allows me to get time in on what’s most important to me first, which makes the rest of the day go more smoothly.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
The kind of block I get it more of a “story block” than a writer’s block. I can get blocked on a particular story I’m working on, for instance, but still be able to write something else just fine. This usually happens to me on the second draft of a novel, when I’m starting to nail down the core structure of the thing, and I’m figuring out all the plot points that are taking place.
When I get stumped, I often turn to some key resource books that I have in my collection to help me puzzle it out. I also do a lot of note taking, often in the theater just before a movie starts. For some reason, just being in a theater where a new story is about to unfold on the screen triggers my creative brain. I’m sitting there enjoying my popcorn and the opening shots and suddenly I’m getting these that I then have to scratch down in horrible handwriting on the little spiral notebook I carry in my purse.
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