This past weekend, I gathered with family in Maryland to say goodbye to my dear mother-in-law, Phyllis Estelle Garrard Lewis. It’s been a difficult couple of months for my husband and his family, as we braced ourselves for her passing, gathering to say our final goodbyes. I will always cherish the memory of my last visit with her… Our last hug was a beautiful moment. She held on long, and tight… both of us knowing… without needing to speak it… that this was goodbye. She whispered “I love you” into my ear. I loved her, too. So much. Mom raised three boys, and welcomed me with open arms and an open heart when James brought me home for the first time. She treated me like her daughter, and I loved her like she was my mom. She was such an inspiration to me, and taught me so much about strength, determination, and how to face adversity with grace, dignity, and a positive attitude. I’m going to miss her so much.
Pasted below is the beautiful obituary James wrote for his mom.
Phyllis Estelle Garrard Lewis passed away peacefully at Seasons Hospice in Baltimore, Maryland on March 5th, 2015. She fought a courageous thirteen-year battle with breast cancer. She attended Freedom City Ministries Church until her illness took away her mobility, but never her faith.
Phyllis’s unbreakable spirit left an indelible mark on the lives she touched. Her infectious smile and radiant vitality shined no matter the circumstance, demonstrating a stubborn resilience in the face of opposition. Phyllis displayed a strong sense of independence; yet, she still had an uncanny ability of upholding fierce loyalty to family and friends, becoming a shoulder or ear for anyone who needed her. The people in her circle knew they had an ally for life.
Phyllis, age 63, was born in Newark, New Jersey to the late Mr. William Foy Garrard and Mrs. Theresa Henderson Garrard on September 19, 1951. Besides being preceded by her parents, Phyllis was also preceded by her sisters Muriel Williams, Anna Mae Garrard Dugger, and Michelle Gordon.
Cherishing her memory are her stepmother, Gertraude Garrard of Hopewell, VA; three loving sons whom she adored: Kenneth Daryl Garrard Lewis of Hamburg, Germany, James William Lewis (Stephanie) of Santa Cruz, California, and Quen Durrell Davis of Bowie, Maryland; two grandchildren: Miguel Lewis (Cassie) of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Tyrone Ewing of Hutschenhausen, Germany; one great-granddaughter Caleesi; three brothers: William Garrard (Elaine) of Baltimore, MD, Malcolm Garrard of Richmond, VA, and Jason Garrard (Wanda) of Richmond, VA; and two sisters: Theresa Garrard of San Antonio, Texas and Alfrieda Williams (Freddie) of Newport News, Virginia. She is also survived by a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, friends, and best girlfriends.
Phyllis’s ready smile and bursts of laughter were her personal hallmarks. She valued moments with all “her boys” while watching them become fine young men from afar. She also enjoyed the little things in life, such as watching a crime thriller on her favorite tablet, perusing the Home Shopping Network, and sampling a healthy scoop of pistachio ice cream. Her greatest joy came from holding her beautiful first great-grandchild Caleesi.
Phyllis was unselfish, warm, generous, and extremely loving. A memorial for Phyllis will be held in Laurel, Maryland, where family and friends can celebrate her life and rekindle their devotion to family, which is what Phyllis held in high regard. Her final wish was to have her boys scatter her ashes in the waters of Seaside, California.
So we’ve hit a snag in the cover design process… and I need everyone’s help.
We’ve been working on the design for TheSpace Between cover for the past few months. This has been a really challenging process for me, because I’m not really visual, so I didn’t have a “concept” in mind for the cover. At all. So I wasn’t able to give my designer precise direction, and instead asked him to “throw something together.”
It took a while, and a lot of tweaking, but we finally settled on something I liked (see below). I was so relieved to be done with this, as it was a stressful process. After my editor finished reading the book, I sent her the sample cover to see what she thought. Her response:
“Your book is a character driven, internal struggle and growth book that has a literary tone. This cover is commercial. Covers set expectations. I’m afraid you’ll get hammered in reviews if people are expecting one thing and get another.”
I respect this individual. She also has a long, successful career in the book business, and I consider her to be an industry professional who knows what she’s talking about. And while part of me genuinely loves this cover, another part of me isn’t fully convinced it’s the right cover for the book I’ve written.
So I thought I’d ask what you all think… What are your feelings/thoughts/impressions about this cover? Does it look like a “Stephanie Casher” novel? I know most of you haven’t read The Space Between (though you can if you want), but if you picked up or downloaded this book, what would some of your expectations be? As a reader in general, how do you feel if a cover misleads you about the content of a book? If the cover doesn’t sit right with you, why? How could it be improved?
I’m really not sure how to proceed, and would really love to hear people’s thoughts to help me think through my little dilemma. Once we finalize some kind of cover, we’ll be that much closer to a release date!
Content editing – This is where the manuscript is now. A content editor evaluates the manuscript for things like plot, pacing, character development and “showing vs. telling.” I should be getting the manuscript back in the second week of November. [UPDATE: Manuscript is back from the editor!]
Revisions - Based on the feedback from the editor (and test readers), I will need to revise and update the manuscript. I feel like it was in pretty good shape before I sent it to her, so hopefully there won’t be any major revisions required. Once I get the manuscript back, I will adjourn to my editing cave and try to get this piece done as quickly as possible.
Cover Design – The cover designer is currently at work on the cover for The Space Between. I’m having a hard time trying to get this cover just right, so we’ll likely be polling our fan base in the near future to get everyone’s thoughts. This strategy has worked well for TPC in the past.
Copy Editing – After I complete any revisions suggested by the content editor, the manuscript goes to my copyeditor, who will give the manuscript one last review for any typos or grammatical errors.
Typesetting – Once we have confirmed that the manuscript is error-free, we will typeset the book for printing, and produce the ebook version.
Announce a release date and celebrate!!!
As you can see, we still have a way to go, but we are very, very close! I’ll keep everyone posted as we move through the final stages. I can’t wait to share the final product with you all!
Last December, James and I celebrated our seven-year anniversary by getting married. After deciding in late-October that it was finally time to tie the knot, we threw together a very small, last-minute ceremony here in Santa Cruz. While I don’t recommend trying to throw together a “wedding” in under two months, it ended up being […]
As many of you know, I have been hard at work on my next novel, THE SPACE BETWEEN. The next installment in the SOUL MATES trilogy tells Samantha and Damion’s story, and a significant portion of the book takes place in Europe. I was excited to take my characters abroad, but after I started working […]
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Any artist will tell you that true inspiration seldom takes a linear or predictable path. We have no control over when the muse strikes us, or where she may take us once we engage the creative process. Sometimes you end up in surprising places. My experience writing my first two (and soon to be three) […]