Saturday, April 26, 2008

Golden Tickets & Happily Ever After

I'm talking about happy endings today and when I was searching Google Images for an appropriate picture to post, all the obvious ones were there: Cinderella and Prince Charming, Snow White, lah-de-dah wedding cakes and countless cheesy photos of beautiful young couples kissing. But the one that jumped out at me was this one from the ending scene of the movie based on Roald Dahl's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." That look of joyous expectation on Gene Wilder's face says it all--he's about to gift a little boy with . . . Happily Ever After.

What makes this moment so wonderfully satisfying, is that it comes after a long struggle on the part of the young hero, Charlie Bucket. He comes from a poor family that must eat cabbage soup every night, works a paper route to bring in what little money they have--and only gets a chocolate bar once a year, on his birthday. Charlie dreams of one day being able to tour a famous chocolate factory--and is stunned when his birthday candy contains the Golden Ticket entering him in a contest to win that very prize. And then, of course, the struggle continues: nasty greedy co-contestants, physical danger and, finally, temptation to trade everything he values most--his family, his principles, his integrity--for a truckload of money . . . and a lifetime supply of chocolate. I won't spoil the ending. If you haven't seen it (the original with Gene Wilder or the newest version starring Johnny Depp) treat yourself!
Right now, I'm finishing up the Happily Ever After for my characters in THE HEALER'S HEART. I can't tell you how good it feels. And how much of a relief. These folks, ER physician Logan Caldwell, Nurses Claire Avery, Erin Quinn and Sarah Burke--and even a one-eared rescue cat named Smokey--went through some very tough times in the preceding 290 pages, trust me. But in the process they've learned some valuable things about each other . . . and themselves. Their happily ever after--their new hope--didn't come easily. Okay, fine, I was a rugged taskmaster and I admit it! But haven't we all waged battles like that? Haven't we all had times of . . . cabbage soup and temptation? Fumbled in darkness for a candle? Haven't we all had those wacky Oompa Loompas singing warning songs to us as they mine the fudge chocolate mountains . . . oops, that was the movie--you gotta see it, folks.

I'm thinking that my Golden Ticket . . . is the chance to bring this new book series to you. To gift my readers with a story of hope. What would your Golden Ticket offer you?

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