WHAT I CHERISH MOST — THE CHERISHED BLOGFEST

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What I Cherish The Most

What I cherish the most isn’t a ‘what’ but a ‘who;’ the person who I had looked up to and then had lost too early in life. This was my brother, Neil Leist.

Why am I an author?

The answer lies with my brother, Neil Leist.
Neil was a person who lit up a room when he entered. He was 6 feet 2 inches, but it wasn’t his height that drew peoples’ eyes. It was his dynamic personality. Those grey eyes mirrored his brilliant intellect and capacity for greatness. Neil took care of my blind mother until I was old enough to help. He helped raise me when my father wasn’t home but working interminable days and nights driving a taxi.
Flourishing in the business world, Neil traded on the Commodity Exchange until he earned enough money to own a majority stake in a Fortune 500 company. He became the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of American Bakeries. Neil took me along on his ride to stardom as I worked for him on the Commodities Exchange and in his offices on Madison Avenue, New York. I majored in Finance at New York University, preparing to join him. For the first time, life was good.
In the middle of the night, a phone call turned my world dark. Dark as the one in which my mother lived. My brother had been in a car accident in the Hamptons. His red Porsche had hydroplaned on the wet roads. Neil was a skilled driver with quick reflexes; he drove the car off the highway and onto the grass. Luck wasn’t with him that night. The Porsche crashed beneath a truck parked in its path. His brain injury left him in a coma, and he died two years later.
I continued my education and received an M.B.A. in Finance, but high finance lost its appeal. I worked at various investment companies, but I didn’t want to trade or analyze stocks and commodities. My brother and my parents had passed. My daughters were beginning their own lives. Without a focus in my life, I began to write. As an avid reader, I had many stories racing through my mind.
In my first book, The Dead Game, I combine mystery and paranormal. Two guests disappear from a party at a deserted house, leaving the others to fend for their lives from wild animals and traps. Since I end the book with a cliffhanger, I had to write the second book in the series, Prey for The Dead. The residents of the coastal town of Oasis in northern Florida face vampires and hybrids once again. This time, the action takes them to Disney World, where vampires hide at an exclusive club. Yes, I based my story on an actual club at Disney created by Walt Disney. Next week, I will release the third book in the series, The Dead At Heart. Is the series finished? I don’t know yet. I now live my life as a big question mark: no periods or final thoughts, only possibilities.
My life has taken unexpected twists and turns. Memories of my brother follow me across every speed bump. I don’t have him any longer, but I have Neil stored in a special place in my heart. He’s given me the strength and the drive to pursue my dreams. After what he’s accomplished in his brief life, I yearn to create a fraction of the positive memories he’s left for me and those whose lives he has touched.