More Than Words

by Brandilyn Collins
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling author of nearly 30 books. She is best known for her Seatbelt Suspense®–fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. She also writes insightful contemporary novels, often laced with humor. Brandilyn is also a frequent teacher and keynote speaker at writers conferences. You can read the first chapters of all her books on her website. She loves to interact with readers on Facebook. On Twitter she’s @Brandilyn.
There’s a time to write and a time to live. Writing feeds
the living. Living feeds the writing.
For the past twelve days I’ve been visiting my 97-year-old
mother, Ruth Seamands (known to many around the world as Mama Ruth). Mom has
been our family’s Energizer Bunny. She’s the fun, amazing woman who had her
ears pierced at 65, parasailed at 84, got braces at 88, and went for her first
motorcycle ride at her 90th birthday party. But now her heart has
worn itself out. She’s gone into atrial fibrillation and has been placed on
hospice. We don’t expect her to be with us much longer.
During the past two weekends all of the family came—from all
areas of the country—to say their thank-yous, I-love-yous and goodbyes to Mom.
Her four daughters were there, as well as grandchildren and great
grandchildren. God was wonderfully gracious to give us this special time with
Because I stayed over both weekends, I visited Mom with all
of the various family members. I witnessed most of their goodbyes—each one of
them hard. Walking away from my beloved mother myself was wrenching. I can’t
imagine life without her. And yet I am thrilled to know she will soon be in
Heaven and with God, whom she has served all her life. Now she can barely see,
hears poorly, and is frail. In Heaven she will be stronger than she’s ever
been. Perfected. What a wonderful promise for me and my family to cling to at
this time.
My mother was a writer. She wrote a few novels later in
life. But her first books–Missionary Mama, and later House by the Bo Tree (now out of
print)–were nonfiction, stuffed with tales of her life in India as a
missionary with my father. It also includes the story of their meeting.
(“That’s the man I’m going to marry,” Mom thought at first sight of my dad. Second
thought: “Ruth, that’s the dumbest thing you’ve come up with yet.”) Not to
mention dodging Japanese ships on the way home from India during WWII, wildcats
in the attic, poisonous snakes in the rafters, scorpions in shoes, and
centipedes on pillows, to name a few occurrences. Throughout all the stories
runs the theme of God’s love and care. How He calls His children to live for
Him—and how fulfilled their lives become when they obey. Even when things get
more than a little crazy.

Mom has been weak, yes. But she wanted to see her family one
last time. And she rallied for those visits, finding the breath to recount many
of these hair-raising events.
I’ve heard these stories all my life. But this time I knew each
would be the final telling. And hearing them in the presence of Mom’s
grandchildren and great grandchildren was especially touching. They’d heard
some of them before, too. I could see they were all struck by the amazing life
my mother had lived—and by the power and strength she had through God.
Later I heard that one of the grandchildren read Missionary Mama—twice—on the day he
returned home. Again he was struck by the theme of God’s leading in the
stories. That theme made him take a hard look at his own life—and changes he
should make.
Writing feeds the living.
As a novelist, I am forever soaking in data from the world.
How a cold item crackle-feels, the warble of a bird, the taste of tension in a
room, the gait of a despairing man. While listening to Mom’s tales, I reveled
in the entire scene—the flicker of reminiscence across her beautiful face, the
catch of her voice. The way her hands moved across her collar. The stillness of
her family members as they listened with this-is-the-last-time
intensity.  I, too, felt the power in her
stories and thanked God for the amazing heritage I have.
Now I am back home. The memories of my visit are fresh. Raw.
Too nascent to work into a novel. But they will age, seep into my fiber to
become a soul part of me. In time, in some story of my own, these cherished
memories will find a way to surface in the life of a character. Perhaps more
than one. And I can only hope my own stories—though fictional—will be half as
moving as the true events that inspired them.

Living feeds the writing.
Dark Justice
If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back. 

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .