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Happy Mothers Day!

2 Days until Wonders Never Cease
For the last two weeks I've been telling you about my latest novel, Wonders Never Cease, which officially releases on Tuesday. One of the central characters of Wonders is a single mother named Natalie Pelton who's struggling to raise an imaginative six-year-old daughter named Leah. Natalie's divorce was an ugly one, and she fears that Leah may have been traumatized by what she heard and saw. One day, Leah reports to her class at St. Stephen's Episcopal that she has just seen an angel. Her teacher isn't sure what to make of it, and soon Natalie finds herself meeting with the school's arrogant counselor, Charles Armantrout. So, in honor of all you caring mothers out there who've sweated blood worrying about the way your kids might turn out, I've included an excerpt from chapter 10 of Wonders Never Cease:

“Ms. Pelton, your daughter claims to have seen an angel. Doesn’t that concern you?”

“My daughter has a very vivid imagination.”

“But this is more than just an imaginative story. Leah insists that she has actually seen an angel. She seems quite convinced.”

“I just don’t see the harm,” Natalie said.

“Your daughter has apparently suffered a psychotic episode.”

“Whoa,” she said. “A psychotic episode? What in the world are you talking about?”

Armantrout turned and took a dictionary from his bookshelf. “Let me read you something: ‘Psychosis: A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterized by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning.’”

“Derangement of personality?” Natalie said incredulously. “You have to be joking.”

“Let me draw your attention to the phrase ‘loss of contact with reality.’ That’s what concerns me here. I’m also concerned by the phrase ‘causing deterioration of normal social functioning.’ Leah is possibly in the early stages of psychosis; we need to determine whether her condition is likely to deteriorate, and whether she could become a danger to others.”

“A danger? I don’t understand you people. It’s not like she saw the devil or something. Leah thinks she saw an angel—one of the good guys, remember? Isn’t this an Episcopal school?”

Armantrout smiled. “We’re not all so medieval around here, Ms. Pelton. Some of us are trained in the sciences. There has to be a naturalistic explanation for what your daughter saw, and that explanation is probably psychological or emotional in nature. I don’t mean to pry into your personal life, but it’s quite possible that Leah’s home environment has triggered this episode.”

“How do you figure that?”

“Leah has suffered a trauma: the breakup of her family; the absence of her father; the loss of the safe and secure world of her early childhood. She suddenly finds herself living in a new place with a man she doesn’t even know. Tell me, Ms. Pelton, does Leah feel safe around your boyfriend?”

“What? Of course she does!”

“It’s quite possible that Leah is projecting an angelic being as a kind of defense mechanism. An angel is a powerful mythical being—strong, protective, someone that Leah hopes can watch over her and keep her safe from harm.”

Natalie stood up. “I’ve had enough of this.”

“Ms. Pelton, please—”

“Tell me something, Mr. Armantrout. Are you actually a licensed psychologist, or is this just an armchair diagnosis? Because I don’t appreciate you making accusations about Leah’s ‘home environment’ or suggesting that she doesn’t feel safe. My daughter is safe and secure—and loved. I don’t know what she saw or why she thinks it was an angel, but if you think this is a psychotic episode then I think you’re psychotic.”

Armantrout held up both hands. “We’re all simply trying to understand Leah.”

“No, that’s what you’re trying to do. I’m just trying to satisfy this school’s ridiculous requirements so my daughter can go back to class where she belongs.”

Armantrout picked up his pen. “I’m recommending that Leah have a full psychiatric evaluation.”

“What? Are you out of your mind?”

“And possibly an MRI.”

“An MRI? What in the world for?”

Armantrout referred again to the open dictionary. “‘Psychosis: A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage . . .’ There are abnormalities in the brain that have been known to produce hallucinations, Ms. Pelton. An MRI would rule out the possibility of any organic damage. I think it would be a good precaution.”

Natalie was so furious that her hands were trembling, but she did her best to control her rage. “Okay,” she said evenly. “First I talked to the teacher and now I’ve seen the school counselor—I’ve done what everyone’s asked of me. Thank you for your suggestions, Mr. Armantrout; I’ll consider them. Is there anything else, or can Leah go back to class now?”

Armantrout looked at her. “I think it’s safe for Leah to return to class—but we’ll have to keep an eye on her, Ms. Pelton. After all, we owe it to the other children.”

There--now don't you feel better about how your kids are doing?