Monday, June 20, 2016

Meet my Longtime Friend and Gifted Author Charlotte Hebert

I met Charlotte in 1994 when I joined a local critique group by invitation from Bonnie Schutzman, on CompuServe (remember that dinosaur?)

Meet Charlotte, an enlightening experience!

Charlotte has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over thirty years, and has written several books on the subject.

Charlotte is also the author of the novel Numbering Stars (a finalist in both the Hemingway First Novel Contest and the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize), and the nonfiction book, Meditate and Experience God: Saints, Scriptures, and Science Point the Way, both of which are on Amazon. Her short fiction has appeared in over half-a-dozen literary journals, and her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. She lives with her husband and their son in Northborough, MA.
Her latest title is a coming-of-age novel BIG HEAVEN.
Mo Proctor is the recipient of a prophecy (how cool is that?). She believes the prophecy states that she needs to leave home to become a nun at the age of sixteen (which is now). The only problems are: Her mother recently died, and her father is showing signs of early Alzheimer’s disease (which are really significant problems). How can she reconcile it all? And is the prophecy the only thing driving her to want to pack up and leave home?
"I always like to include some mention of both meditation and spirituality in my fiction, because I know how important these are in my own life, and I love the idea of sharing these topics with others," says Hebert. "At the same time, my father had Alzheimer's disease and died of it, and this ended up having a greater impact on me than I realized, which led me to want to write about it. My father, like the father in 'Big Heaven', really was a very sweet, corny man, who was almost too good for this world, and I wanted to pay homage to him. It was by combining the idea of both meditation and of a character like my father that 'Big Heaven' was born."
An Excerpt from Chapter One of BIG HEAVEN
Shoot. He's there. I can see through the window. Not that I should be surprised, for he's always there (at least since my mom died, he is). It means that I'll have to sneak in, try and rush straight to my room in order to meditate.
Let me back up a bit. My name is Maureen (Mo for short); I'm sixteen, but I'm going to be a senior this fall 'cause my birthday's in September, so I'm really almost seventeen; and I've decided, only tonight, that I'm going to be a nun of the Swami Order, which has its origins in India. That's why I'm starting my story right here, by the way. You have to begin with a hook is what I figure. This is mine…
(Becoming a nun is a pretty big deal, you have to admit!)"
More about BIG HEAVEN...
So starts  BIG HEAVEN, which follows sixteen-year-old protagonist, Mo Proctor, as she struggles between her desire to be a nun and her familial responsibilities. Mo's mother has recently died, leaving Mo alone with her father, a man she doesn't feel she "really knows," who is starting to show signs of early Alzheimer's disease.  
 In fits and starts, Mo tries to get her father to be more self-sufficient, to get her aunt, whom she invites for a visit, to help out more, and to ignore an unforeseen love interest who suddenly shows up in her life. She needs her father to be self-sufficient, not only because she wants to leave home to become a nun, but also because if he’s not, Social Services could end up placing her father in a nursing home, and sending Mo off to odious foster care, which is the last thing she wants. 
Mo takes comfort from her conviction that a near-death experience she had at age twelve, and the "prophecy" that resulted right after regarding a decision she'd have to make at sixteen, point to becoming a nun now. But is this a real calling she feels in her soul? Or a desire to escape her life? Or possibly both?  
BIG HEAVEN explores the issues of having to face responsibilities in life—even when you think you're too young to face them—and of figuring out the things that truly matter the most.
I really hope you enjoy accompanying Mo Proctor on her journey as she deals with a very sweet, yet deteriorating father; a funny, sarcastic best friend; a flaky aunt; and a tantalizing love interest, as much as I have enjoyed bringing her journey to you.
Charlotte Hebert


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