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A Stone Heart

After his beloved stepfather dies young of a heart attack, Stone Summers survives his turbulent teenage years with an unstable mother. He achieves success early in his career, only to see his personal happiness wiped away in one tragic stroke. Consumed by anger and guilt, Stone sleepwalks through life until a treadmill incident and its subsequent aftermath forces him to confront his mortality. This quirk of fate leaves him no choice but to reach out to the one person he has shunned for years. With the help of his sister, his friends and a therapist he loves to hate, Stone begins the difficult road of rebuilding his life. Set in southern Connecticut, this poignant and subtly humorous story is a tale of self-discovery, perseverance, family, love, and ultimately, redemption. 

Why I Wrote A Stone Heart

I never aspired to become a novelist. One author in the family is enough. My wife, Kim, proudly wears that mantle, and I have witnessed her slave over a manuscript and revise it too many times to count. Why would I want to subject myself to that?

In 2013, we traveled to Martha's Vineyard for a family vacation, during which Kim would spend the mornings at a writing workshop with her mentor while my son and I would enjoy the beach. When we visited her mentor on arrival, she was disappointed that the workshop would not be a family affair, and persuasively encouraged us to reconsider. All three of us were there the next day. When the week was over, I was hooked, and yearned to put what I learned into practice. 

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008. I knew nothing about the disease until it arrived out of the blue with no warning, and the sudden onset and symptoms were unnerving. I was afraid I had a tumor or something worse, so when I finally learned what I had, it came as a relief, which in hindsight was foolish. Life as I knew it would never be the same. This story is not autobiographical, but most of Stone's experiences with MS are.

Part of the motivation to tell Stone's story is the hope that it might provide enlightenment to anyone who has a friend or family member who is afflicted. More than 2.3 million people worldwide are tormented with MS in some fashion, and there is no cure. At least not yet.

Praise for A Stone Heart

Susan Richardson is a poet whose work has been published in a variety of books and periodicals. She was awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice 2018 Q&A Series, and selected as the Ink Sweat & Tears Poet of the Month for March 2018.  She also writes for “Morality Park, An Arts and Lit Collective”, and she writes a blog called, “Stories from the Edge of Blindness.”

“A Stone Heart”, is a sweeping and poignant story about the strength and complexities of love.  It takes you from feeling joy to feeling utter despair, confusion and hope. It is a story that explores the depth of relationships, and how the strength of those relationships helps the characters navigate unforeseeable and unimaginable obstacles that profoundly alter the course of life.  In this case, “A Stone Heart”, is a full heart, a broken heart, a fearful heart, a strong heart and a resilient heart. This book takes you on an emotional journey that makes you laugh out loud, surprises you, and leaves you in tears. It is a story that stays with you, full of characters that come to life, who you find yourself wanting to meet again and again.  

As a person living with a degenerative illness, I find the depiction of Stone Summers response to his own condition, to be one of the most honest and real that I have read.  It is an emotional and honest rendering of how degenerative disease threads itself into your life.

Being a writer myself, I go into everything I read with the inevitable editor’s eye.  When I find myself putting my writing instincts to the side and falling completely into the story, I know I am reading an exceptional book.  That is exactly what happened, from the very first page, with “A Stone Heart”.

- Susan Richardson

A profoundly brilliant first novel based on real-life events.

 

I couldn't put it down. An eye-opener of a book, entirely lacking in self-pity.

 

As a person with a 40-year duration of very difficult to manage Type 1 diabetes that has severely damaged my nervous system (and many others), I found your story had a number of parallels to how diabetes limits nerve function in its ongoing progression. Only last week I fell down the stairs because I lose my balance, and I have an unsteady gait and look like I'm drunk when walking (stumbling). I also have severe, unmanageable pain (treated with morphine, although it does very little). The fear of further degeneration and trying to live each day as it comes also resonated heavily with me.

 

You write absolutely brilliantly and your story drew me in from page one.

Dr. Val Wilson: Tenoe Press 

An emotionally gripping story of one man’s journey through personal tragedy, sorrow and illness to a place of healing and hope

Gloria Marlow: Wild Rose Press; Author Ink Books

One of the best writers I’ve read in a while. Very vivid characters and great writing. Five stars

Odessa Black: Lyrical Press, Inc.

This story is written with heart. I read it in two days, not being able to put it down. I felt for the main character and rooted for him to find love and forgiveness after tragedy struck. This story is about dealing with adversity, and moving forward. I give it five stars for excellent storytelling

Karen Vaughn: Own and Pussycat Promotions

Before reading A Stone Heart I knew very little about MS. And to be completely honest, with all of the MS awareness that has taken place lately, I am ashamed to admit that I gave the disease little mind. But that has now changed.

 

 A Stone Heart is a fast-paced, eye-opening story that hooked me from the beginning and kept me turning the pages until the end. Even while I was reluctantly away from the book I found myself thinking about it, being drawn back to it, because it's not just a story about one man's struggle with MS (Stone Summers), it is the story about love and the tragic and utter grief of its sudden loss; of hopelessness, resentment, self-reflection, forgiveness, and the fear in living a life of solitude or the fear in allowing oneself to love again and be loved at the risk of what might end in heartbreak and despair. I laughed...I cried...because Stone is someone I can relate to. He is someone we can all relate to. He gives us hope and the will to live and the drive to pursue our dreams even in the wake of total uncertainty.

     

I look forward to seeing A Stone Heart on the shelves of book stores and purchasing my own copy, for not only as a nice checked off addition to my personal library, but to read it again. It is, by far, one of the best books I've ever read. 

Jeremy Mac: Caliburn Press; J. Ellington Ashton Press

A compelling story with colorful characters and great dialogue.

A captivating story that instantly drew me.

Chandra Trulove Fry: Wild Dreams Publishing

William Foster III; Various Publishers

_________

I enjoyed this book on so many levels. The plot is compelling, the story and characters are wonderful, and, as a person living with MS, I was pleasantly surprised to read a book that while MS was not the primary focus, was nonetheless inspiring. I loved the fact that Stone used his diagnosis as a catalyst to change his life instead of letting it destroy him. I highly recommend you add A Stone Heart to your reading list.

Grace Fullnot, Blogger, MS Gracefull...NOT