A Symphony of Cicadas

Book Club discussion guide

Rachel Ashby is on the other side of life, looking in. Her fiance is trying to live without her, and failing. Both are left clinging to a path that no longer exists, blind to the bridges they’re burning along the way.

A Symphony of Cicadas shares the surreal story of two worlds held together by the fragile strings of love, the grief in letting go, and the spiritual journey on the road towards healing.

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***Rated R: Profanity, sexual situations

About A Symphony of Cicadas:

I started this story June, 2012. I was planning my wedding to my now-husband and had just stepped up all the details. So naturally, I had wedding nightmares. This book is based off a bad dream I had that was so vivid I knew I had to write it down. So before I even got out of bed, I wrote down the bones of the dream and planned out this novel. I spent a few months dabbling in it. But I didn’t totally get down to business until November when I took part in NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. I already had 30,000 words plus character sketches on every main character, and a timeline that pulled it all together. So when I sat down and hammered out the last 50,000 words, I had a plan on where I was going. And when I typed out the last two words, The End, I knew this novel was different from every other novel I’d written – that this one I could easily clean up and put it out there for everyone else to see.

The main character is Rachel Ashby. She’s a single mom of a 13 year old boy, Josiah, better known as Joey. Since Joey’s dad took off (he left before Joey was born), Rachel hadn’t dated much. When she did, it always ended up being a huge disappointment. But when John walked into the flower shop Rachel owned with her sister, he changed everything – especially her cynicism towards love. They fell in love, got engaged, and moved in together while they planned their wedding.

Everything was headed towards perfect. That is, until one freak accident changed everything, forcing them all to adjust to the new normal.

Through the book, we learn a lot about each character as they remember things before everything changed. We discover Rachel’s struggle with being the stepmom to John’s 14 year old son, Sam. We learn that John struggles with being an attentive father, habitually just going through the motions. We learn that Sam holds his fears close to his heart, and he keeps people at bay by being aloof or explosive – but underneath, he just wants to be noticed. We commiserate with Joey who is in the throes of his awkward teens. And we meet new friends and family who made Rachel the person she is. But most of all, we follow Rachel as she figures out where her path in life lies, what’s important to her, and what it really means to love.

Despite the short amount of time between ending the rough draft and bringing it to completion, there has been a lot of hard work placed in this novel. I’ve picked at it over and over, reading it through at least a dozen times before I was satisfied. My mother and my husband read it, pointing out anything that needed to be tweaked. Chapters have been changed, details toyed with, and adverbs picked at. I worked with an editor to clean everything up. There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t working on the novel. I woke up at 5 every morning, tinkered with it on my lunch break at work, and sometimes even holed up in my room after work to paint the picture of Rachel’s story.

When you read this story, know that you will be reading a piece of my soul.

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