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Monday, April 24, 2017

Love and War in Any Element by Colleen L. Donnelly

Please welcome my guest, Colleen L. Donnelly with a very entertaining post...

It’s movie night in front of the DVD player and the males are voting for action movies – conquests, fighting, and chest-thumping winners bloodied from their victories. The females argue against two hours of unrelated sequences of brutality and heroic feats, hoping for a more tightly woven saga involving a hero and a heroine on an adventure riddled with conflict and camaraderie until they ultimately wind up in a chest-to-chest loving embrace. Two different…wait…are those two types of scenarios actually different? Can the story of two fighters in a ring parallel the conflicts of a boy and a girl on their way to becoming a couple? “Ewwww” and “No” are the most likely reactions from the moving-watching crowd, but I beg to differ.

I looked at what I write and the movies I watch (or am subjected to) and discovered relationships are the basis of almost any story told – a boy pitted against the elements in order to survive, a girl finding herself loved in spite of self-doubt, a country vying against another for power, aliens and other planets warring against earth, animals forming unlikely bonds to overcome obstacles, thieves trying to outsmart the law… All of them hinge on relationships in one form or another – one being encountering another or themselves, and clambering toward a hopefully positive outcome.

My writer’s eye watches for conflict, seeking out what will make or break a relationship, and ultimately a good story. Even though none of my characters resolve their issues with guns or soccer balls, the wars are there – the unloved wife accused of infidelity in “Asked For,” the young woman whose heart belonged to another instead of to the man her family had arranged for her to marry in “Love on a Train.” Or, the conflict searing enough to split a family into two warring factions, unforgiveness vs forgiveness, in “Mine to Tell.”

So, can peace and harmony reign in front of the television between the two factions warring over physical vs emotional conflict? Can those with romantic notions see heroes vanquishing and vanquished by more than a heroine’s heart? And can those with non-romantic notions concede John Wayne did win and lose less manly sorts of battles, and did so without a gun? To a degree, yes. Because, no matter what our pleasure, there is a relationship buried in any encounter somewhere.

“Mine to Tell” is the story of the Crouse family shame, three generations accepting great-grandfather Isaac’s claim that his wife, Julianne, had done the unthinkable when she disappeared for two weeks. Great-granddaughter, Annabelle, on the cusp of her own marriage, decides to do the unthinkable herself and give Julianne a chance to tell her side of the story. With both great-grandparents long since deceased, Annabelle unboards the closed-up house Isaac had relegated Julianne to, and moves in, believing the truth is there somewhere and it will set the Crouse family women free. Annabelle’s actions further split her family as well as her own engagement as she determines to find the truth, her only faithful companions in her venture being her great-grandmother’s hidden story and the quiet young man down the road she’d ignored while growing up.

“Mine to tell,” Kyle said suddenly. It was a jolt. I was yanked from my mental tumble into a pit of unredemption. Alex looked up too, a quizzical expression on his face. “Julianne left a story behind,” Kyle continued. “Some of it speculation and rumors by people who don’t know, and the rest of it by her own hand. It was a love story. One that was countered with suffering.” 

We were all quiet. I looked at him, my heart melting as I heard his masculine voice speak of love and suffering. I wanted to lean across the table and hug him, but I was too afraid. 

Alex leaned back in his chair. “What my father went through didn’t feel like love when we were little.” 

“But maybe it was,” Kyle persisted, his tone smooth and even. “Does love always turn out the way we want it to?” Then he looked at me. “Julianne Crouse was a fine woman. We haven’t finished her story, but she suffered, and she was fine indeed.” 

Tears came to my eyes. “Thank you,” I squeaked. Kyle stood and walked around the table to me. He helped me stand as he thanked them for their time. He retrieved Julianne’s picture, took my hand, and together we went to the door, Alex and his wife following us. 

“I hope you’re right,” Alex said, running his hand through his thin, brittle hair as we stepped outside. “My father had some things to come to terms with, but he was a good man. A better man later in life, when he told us he was sorry. I never knew for what.” 

Buy link to “Mine to Tell”
Buy Link to “Love on a Train”
Buy Link to “Asked For”


  1. Colleen, Mine to Tell is next up on my Kindle, just waiting as my reward after my 2nd semester of grad school ends in 2 weeks. I enjoyed your perspective on movies filtered through a writer's eyes. My own perspective shifted dramatically after writing a book, as if I can now read the x-rays of narratives. If that makes sense. :) great post!

  2. Thank you, Nell, I appreciate the insight and encouragement especially from a fellow author whose book I loved! Looking forward to your newest!