I live in West Virginia, with my husband and my two young
children. I also have several picture e-books and one picture
book in print available: Bobby Bunny And The Missing Tooth,
published through AKW Books, The Puppy Who Found A Boy,
published through Publish America and Clean Clothes For
Bobby Bear, through Fairy Tales And Dreams Publishing.
For more information, Check out:
New Title(s) from Sara Dean
Order the Forgiving Jesse Print
Click on the thumbnail(s) above to learn more about the book(s) listed.
||Seventeen year old Jesse hasn't even tried to get along
with his mom since his dad left them because he blames her
for his dad's leaving. Desperate to have a relationship with
her son again, his mom takes a plane on September 11, 2001
to work things out with his father, and never returns. The
father Jesse has always hailed as a hero can't be bothered
with his own son, and sends him to live with his
grandmother, whom he has never met. While trying to deal
with his hurt and anger, he has only two people he can turn
to: his best friend Nicky and his girlfriend, Shandy. During
the darkest hour of his life, Jesse discovers the only
people he has left are hiding secrets, and he is forced to
make decisions that will change all of their lives forever.
PAGE DOWN to Order Print OR eBook
Pages to Print:
BOOK! (ISBN # 978-0-9834027-2-5)
|It’s the day after Halloween and 5 year old Pamela and 8
year old Jackson are still experiencing a sugar high.
They’re driving their mother crazy and she can’t get them to
stop fighting or bouncing off the walls. What’s the
solution? Make them agree on something to do of course! The
problem is all they want to do is put up the Christmas tree!
Hilarity ensues as their mom tries to convince them to do
ANYTHING else, loses the battle, and discovers that
Halloween candy and a Christmas tree don’t make such a bad
Word Count: 3250
Pages to Print: 15
File Format: PDF
||In the sequel to Forgiving Jesse, Shandy decides to
surprise Jesse by inviting his estranged dad to stay with
them over the holidays. She hopes that their time together
will start to rebuild their broken relationship. But is the
resentment and anger too great to allow them to start over?
Or will Jesse be willing to give him one more chance when he
faces a crisis with his own son?
Word Count: 4850
Pages to Print: 19
File Format: PDF
A single flame flickers on one
candle in the middle of a chocolate cake. A small boy smiles
broadly and reaches out to touch the letters that decorate it.
Mom and Dad stand by singing Happy Birthday and
smiling. Their arms are wrapped around each other tightly as
they watch their son celebrate his first birthday.
“Blow out the candle!” his mom calls and he giggles.
His dad reaches out and cuts into letters that spell
out “Happy Birthday, Jesse.”
16 years later/September 2001
“Listen to her purr!” I shouted over the roar of my
pride and joy, the motorcycle I had just finished fixing up.
My best friend Nicky sat on the floor of the
garage, not more than two feet away, but he couldn’t hear me.
I turned the key and the room grew silent. Nicky
shook his head and fished in his pocket for another Marlboro. He
lit up and took a long drag.
“All those hours bagging groceries just to hear that
sound. So tell me, man,” he paused to take another drag. “Was it
I patted the handlebars. “Every second.” I said,
climbing off my bike and joined him on the floor.
I lit up too, and as I leaned my head against the cold,
steel wall, my mind flashed back to the motorcycle I had helped
my dad fix up when I was a kid. The one I had now looked a lot
“What now?” Nicky asked, interrupting my thoughts. The
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you spent all summer working at the store and
working on that,” he pointed at the motorcycle. “Now that
school’s about to start and your bike’s finished, what are you
I shook my head and blew smoke rings. “I don’t know,
Maybe I’ll quit work and school. Just ride around all day.”
Nicky laughed. “Yeah, I bet Shandy would really go for
that. So would your mom.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Everyone knows that Shandy is the boss in your
relationship, and I think she’s gonna want you in school where
she can watch your every move. And your mom has the whole high
hopes for my kid fantasy.”
I laughed. “Shandy may think she’s the boss, but
she’s not. As for mom, like you said, it’s a fantasy, nothing
As if on cue, the garage door opened, and in walked
Mom, her arms loaded down with bags of groceries. It was obvious
they were heavy, but I didn’t make a move to help her. She was
taking the shortcut through the garage which led straight to the
kitchen. Nicky saw her, quickly ground out his cigarette and
frantically waved away the smoke.
“Hello, Mrs. Cramden,” Nicky said politely. I ignored
“Hello, boys,” she said cheerfully. “Jesse, there’s a
whole trunk full of bags. Could you bring some in for me?”
“Get them yourself,” I mumbled and kept puffing away on
If she heard me, she gave no indication. Nicky
waited until the door shut behind her, said, “You’ve got guts,
talking to her like that. My mom would have popped me in the
I didn’t say a word. What could I say? I always talked
to her like that. I hated her and she knew it. Why should I be
nice to her?
Nicky reached for another cigarette then put it back.
“She knows you smoke,” I said.
“Yeah, but she doesn’t like it.”
I snickered. “When did you start caring what my mom
likes and dislikes?”
He shrugged. “It’s a respect thing, you know.”
I looked at him long and hard, trying to decide if he
was serious. He was. “You don’t respect anyone,” I said.
“Not true, I respect a couple of people, and she’s one
“Why?” I didn’t respect her and I couldn’t imagine why
anyone else would.
Nicky picked up a piece of gravel that was on the
garage floor and began flipping it in the air like you would
flip a quarter.
“Like the way she handled herself the last couple of
years. You know, the whole divorce thing and all.”
My blood began to boil. How could he take up for her?
He kept his eyes on the gravel in his hand. He didn’t
dare look at me. He knew I would punch him if he did.
“It was her fault,” I exploded, “she couldn’t see what
she had. If she just wouldn’t have taken Dad for granted, he
wouldn’t have had to find someone else. She’s to blame, so quit
taking up for her.”
That’s when it hit me. How could I have been so blind?
“You have a thing for my mom!” I punched him in the arm, a
little harder than I meant to.
Nicky rubbed his arm, “Not a chance. But I do wish she
was my mom.”
“No you don’t. Trust me.” We dropped the subject as Mom
came out of the kitchen and started back towards the car.
“Jess, I asked you for some help,”
I stood up and climbed on my motorcycle. “I have better
things to do.”
She said something, but her words were drowned out as I
started it up.
Nicky stretched his legs and started to stand. Mom
raised her voice, but her words were still lost.
I hadn’t ridden yet. I knew she didn’t approve of me
riding, she had made that very clear.
She thought it was too dangerous, or some crap like
that. Dad would have understood. He rode his every day after
work. Once in a while he even took me with him on a short ride.
Mom didn't like me being on it then either, but Dad would tell
her that I needed to get used to riding one, because one day he
was going to pass it down to me. I'm sure he meant to leave it
for me, but things got messy during the divorce, and he took it
with him by mistake. I knew one day he would come back for me,
and bring it with him.
I kicked up the kickstand, and revved the engine.
“Sorry Nicky,” I called over my shoulder as I sped away.
I could imagine the stunned look on their faces. Oh
well, I thought. They’ll get over it.
Back to Forgiving Jesse
Halloween Candy and a Christmas Tree
November first. My kids Pamela, age five, and Jackson, age
eight, made it their sole mission to drive me crazy. This was
probably largely because they spent the night stuffing
themselves full of Halloween candy, and they no doubt had
reached for it again before their eyes were open all the way
As I sipped my first cup of coffee, Pamela hopped; yes, hopped
into the kitchen.
“Mom, I was thinking . . .” (hop, hop, hop) “. . .We should go
to the park today.”
I glanced out the window at the rain; the high temperature was
supposed to be only fifty-seven degrees.
“Not today,” I said, getting dizzy from seeing her hop in
circles around me.
“But why?” she whined, not missing a hop.
“It’s too cold and wet.”
“I’m a bunny, and bunnies like rain.”
“No they don’t,” I said.
She stopped hopping, blinked several times, and began galloping.
“Then I’m a horse, and horses like rain.”
I looked at my coffee and sighed. I was never going to get
peace, quiet or any more of my coffee until I got her to leave
“Do you know what horses really like?” I asked.
Her eyes twinkled in anticipation. “What?”
“They like to watch a Saturday morning cartoon while their mommy
drinks a cup of coffee.”
For some insane reason, this worked.
“Yay!” she screamed, as she galloped through the kitchen and
into the living room.
I picked up my cup and downed as much as I could before Jackson
appeared in the doorway.
His blond hair was sticking out in ten different directions. His
Transformer pajamas were wrinkled from tossing and turning in
his sleep, but he wasn’t galloping, hopping or whining this
early in the morning, so he was my favorite child for the
moment; that is until he opened his mouth.
“Pamela took the remote from me, and said that Mommy horse told
her to do it. I tried to take it back and accidentally elbowed
her in the nose. Now it’s bleeding.” He said it so calmly it
took a minute to sink in that I needed to move, NOW!
Pamela was sitting on the couch, her bloody hands covering her
nose, her eyes full of tears.
I grabbed a towel and cleaned her up. Once her nose stopped
bleeding and I made sure it wasn’t broken, the kids decided to
start fighting over the remote again.
I was tired, experiencing caffeine withdrawal, and the thought
of another elbow colliding with another nose sent me over the
edge. “Both of you sit down—now!” I screamed.
The remote fell to the floor with a thud, and both kids obeyed.
“I am going to finish my coffee and maybe even have a second
one. When I get done, I’m coming back in and I want you two to
have an idea of an indoor activity we can do today. You both
have to agree on it, and I don’t want any arguing. Do I make
Both kids nodded. I went back to the kitchen, downed the rest of
my coffee, which was now cold, and poured myself a second cup.
Better have another one, I thought, pouring a third cup. The way
this day is going, I may need it. When the last drop was gone, I
went back to the living room. Both kids were smiling like the
cat that ate the canary.
“Did you agree on something?” I asked.
“Yes,” Pamela said.
“We want to put up the Christmas tree,” Jackson joined in.
The very idea made me glad I’d had that third cup of coffee.
“We could play checkers instead,” I offered.
Both kids shook their heads.
“Chinese checkers?” I asked.
They shook their heads again.
A movie marathon? I could rent The Little Mermaid, Spiderman or
whatever movie you want. We could make a fort out of blankets,
pop popcorn and watch movies all day long.”
Two little heads shook side to side in unison.
“Face it, Mom,” Jackson said, “we win this time.”
I sighed. He was right, and I knew it.
Every year the kids begged me to put up the tree starting the
first day of November, and I put them off until the middle of
December, but this year I had no choice. They had beaten me. I
thought of staring at the tree trimmed in silver and blue, and
lit from top to bottom for almost two months. I felt like the
Grinch already. I’ve got to stop Christmas from coming, but how?
I got desperate, really desperate. “Who wants a cat? We could go
to the Humane Society and pick out a little fluffy kitten.”
Two heads shook in unison again. I gave up. “I didn’t want a cat
anyway,” I mumbled as I headed for the stairs. Time to dig the
half bare, artificial tree from the depths of the storage
Every year when I put away the box of ornaments, lights and
color-coded tree branches, I promised myself I wouldn’t pile
anything on top of it, so that I wouldn’t have to dig it out the
next year. Every year I broke this promise the first week of
Piles of suitcases, kids’ artwork, curtains I never got around
to hanging, shoes, summer clothes, old toys bagged up and headed
for the Salvation Army, knickknacks and assorted items that fall
into the junk category were standing between me and the dreaded
Within an hour I had dug deep enough into the closet to find the
box that held the tree. I felt triumphant, until I turned
around, saw the mess behind me and wondered how I was going to
get myself and the tree both out.
Pamela’s face appeared in the closet doorway. “Tell Jackson I am
old enough to put the star on the tree this year,” she said.
“I didn’t say she’s not old enough; I said she’s not tall
enough. There’s a difference.” He stuck his tongue out at
Pamela, who stuck hers out at him in return.
“Pamela stuck her tongue out at me!” Jackson whined.
Pamela pointed her finger at her brother and jumped up and down.
“He started it!” she cried.
Apparently, both of my children were under the impression I was
suddenly struck blind and had not seen what had just happened.
“Let’s put your energy to good use and help dig me out of here,”
“You’re stuck in there?” Jackson asked.
“No,” I said sarcastically. “I just like sitting in the closet,
knee-deep in crap, while you two fight in the doorway.”
“So, how stuck are you?” Pamela asked.
“Stuck enough that I’m begging my kids to help get me out.”
The kids smiled at each other, sinister smiles that made my
blood run cold. Then they both darted down the stairs.
“Don’t run!” I called after them. “You’ll fall and break an arm
or a leg!”
I began trying to fight my way out, but it was useless.
I glanced down at the tree box I had spent so long finding and
sighed. I would have to come back for it after I foiled whatever
candy-induced scheme my children had come up with. Out of
desperation, I climbed on top of the pile and crawled out of the
Back to Halloween Candy and a
The tree was decorated with every ounce of tinsel we could
possibly find, our attempt to hide the fact that it looked like
Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.
Shandy stood in front of it, holding seven-month-old Jesse Jr.,
known as JJ, for short. He kept trying to pull the tinsel from
the branches, while Shandy tried in vain to pry his chubby
fingers off of it.
I snapped picture after picture of them, laughing the whole
In the corner, Shandy’s mom glared at me as she ate the
hard-as-stone sugar cookies Shandy had baked that morning. If we
had owned a dog, I would have fed them to it, but since we
didn’t, I let her mom eat them. After all, there was no point in
letting them go to waste.
I put the camera down and sat down across from her. She picked
up a Santa Claus cookie, bit its head off and glared at me
again. I knew she was thinking, If only I could do the same to
you for knocking up my little girl.
“So, how’s your first Christmas as Grandma going?” I asked.
“Would have been better if you would have waited ten years.”
“No, by then you wouldn’t be able to get around without the help
of a walker.”
She paused, the cookie halfway to her mouth. “I’m only
“Well, if you keep eating cookies like you’re doing now, you’ll
be too fat to walk on your own.”
Shandy came over, still pulling tiny silver strings from JJ’s
hands. “Will you two quit fighting? It’s Christmas Eve.”
“I’ll sign a temporary truce for JJ’s sake,” I said, smiling,
since I got the last shot in before the truce began.
“Yeah, me, too,” she mumbled. “Now, give me the baby and you two
go get his presents. I want to see him open them.”
I reached under the tree and pulled out the small silver package
Shandy had carefully wrapped the night before.
We were only eighteen, newly married and extremely broke, so all
we could afford was a rattle. Not that it mattered. He was too
little to understand what all the fuss was about, and happy just
to stare at the wrapping paper.
Shandy’s mom bought him a swing, and my grandma bought him a
bouncy seat. The rattle seemed so small and stupid next to their
I pulled Shandy to the side and handed her a small box.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Just open it,” I said.
Inside were two small silver earrings, shaped like hearts. I
found them on clearance at a nearby store, but I didn’t tell her
Her eyes lit up. “Jesse, they’re beautiful!” she cried, wrapping
me in a big bear hug.
She let go and tried them on. “Your present will be here any
time,” she said, while checking out her appearance in a compact
“Did you order me something?” I asked.
“No,” she said hesitantly. “Not exactly.”
The baby started to fuss. She closed her compact and went to
check on him.
I was still wondering what she was talking about, when there was
a knock on the door.
I threw it open and came face-to-face with my dad for the first
time in over a year.
“Merry Christmas, Jesse,” he said.
The snow was at least a foot deep and still falling heavily all
around him. I knew he had to be cold, but I slammed the door in
his face anyway.
“What are you doing?” Shandy cried. “That’s your present.”
Back to Shandy's Gift