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Xmas Angel Behind the Scenes

UpCycle Tucson

UpCycle is the recycled art supply store where Noelle gets a job after leaving the gallery. The store did exist at one time and was run by a wonderful woman who was thrilled that I was going to feature the store in a book. The artist spaces were fictionalized, but they did have an artist gallery room and held events. Sadly, they are no longer open.

The Art

Unlike Noelle, I’m not gifted at all in portrait painting. The inspiration for her work came from a few places. I’ve taken many art classes and I enjoy participating in paint nights—those wonderful artist-guided sessions where you attack a small canvas with a paintbrush in one hand and a drink in the other. But the other main inspiration was Salvador Dali. Did you know he was a skilled portrait artist? Neither did I until I visited one of his museums in Figueres, Spain. I loved the idea of a truly talented artist making unique and unusual art. All of the images described in the book are from my imagination.


Noelle has a learning disability known as dyslexia. I’m familiar with this challenge because one of my family members was diagnosed as a child. He was fortunate enough to have a wonderful teacher early in his education that taught him strategies to work with it. The info-graphic is from the International Dyslexia Society. In a non-fictional world, Noelle would have received some special tutoring or training and been able to complete her education successfully. I blame her rotten parents!

Research on PTSD

PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I didn’t take writing about such a sensitive topic lightly. I hope I did justice for those who do suffer. In addition to attending seminars given by people with PTSD I did a lot of research. One of the references I used is Combat Vet Don’t Mean Crazy. This book was written by a therapist who works with vets. The main thing I didn’t want to do was imply that a loving relationship would magically heal the trauma. It doesn’t. Mackie, Nick’s service dog, is a fictionalized version of a PTSD service dog I met in person. Like the real-life dog, Mackie is named after a war hero. John F. Mackie was a Marine in the Civil War and was the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Art of War

Nick is constantly paraphrasing from his favorite book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I read the book in college and I think each time you revisit a book like this another piece becomes embedded in your psyche. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is to leave your adversary an out, don’t trap them with no means of escape.

When I started writing this book, I had no intention for it to incorporate so many heavy topics, but Nick and Noelle had a lot of baggage and some serious healing to do. Their happy ending was a joy to write.