February’s Featured Blogger: Teagan’s Books

I was unwell for most of December and January and did not find a featured
blogger for February so am re-posting my feature of friend and sometimes collaborator, Teagan Geneviene.

Since the first publican of this interview, Teagan released Atonement in Bloom.

Lilith and the Blue Rose of the Impossible

The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined.  The local population included supernatural beings.  Yet only she and a few others knew about that.

Although she didn’t know the details, in a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life.  In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed.  Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.

Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee.  Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.

Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.

Fae foolery backfires.

A friend is abducted.

On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.
Atonement in Bloom.

This month I’m honored to feature Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene of
Teagan’s Books.

Marketing Graphic for Thisledown
Thisledow

When did you start writing?

My seventh-grade teacher gave us an assignment that truly inspired my young mind — Write a story.  However, we only had two options about the story 1) Write it from the point of view (POV) of a cartoon character, or 2) from the POV of the shoes of a famous person.  Well, 12-year-old me watched talk shows after school, not cartoons.  So, I saw plenty of “famous people” and “used to be famous” ones too, on Merv Griffin’s TV show.  I liked the ones who talked about their pets.  So, I wrote my story as a pair of red pumps belonging to actress Doris Day.  (Back then I don’t think she was still making movies, but she was known for all her dogs.)  I had so much fun that I also gave half the class verbal outlines for their stories.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did a few stories on my own.  My teacher wanted to see them.  She said good things about the one for the assignment so (not that I thought I had any choice) I let her have the stories.  They were Twilight Zone-ish stories and one was about child abuse.  They got a lot of attention…

My teacher spoke to my parents. 

My parents told me very sternly to never do that again!

That said, I guess I started writing in my late thirties.  Throughout my life novels were my only escape from the personal difficulties (yes, abuse too) that I faced each day.  I had read a couple of interviews with writers, and decided to write a fantasy novel.  I did a lot of research and work, read more interviews, and then I dove into it.  With that start, I never stopped.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books
Teagan’s books

You started your blog as an adjunct to self-publishing, how do you define your blog now?

I’m sure you’ve seen the same advice I always see for us Indies – You must have a blog to promote your work!  Well, I couldn’t bear the thought of droning on about my novel with every post.  Instead, I modified a writing exercise I created for myself long ago.  I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books).  I had the readers send me three random things.  I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters.  That resulted in  The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to my current release, a culinary mystery.  However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.  So that one is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.  I’ve published both of those serials in book form.

That “pantser” style of writing, combined with engaging my audience (having them send “things” or otherwise promoting them) seems to have defined my blog.

I also mean for my blog to be a sanctuary for everyone.  I keep it free from religion and politics, even though there are issues about which I feel strongly.

Where were you raised and how does that affect your style?

I’m a southerner by birth, but I was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when I moved to New Mexico.  Like the old John Denver song, I had come home to a place I’d never been before.  The truth is, I wish every day that I had never left.  However, many things about the southeast – the deep south made an impact that remains with me.  Following the advice, “Write what you know,” many of my stories have a southern setting.

What writers give you inspiration?

Robert Jordan (the Wheel of Time series) inspired me with his detailed world-building.  Charlaine Harris influenced me with writing in first-person.  That was something I never cared to do until I did my first National Novel Writing Month and created my début novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  To my surprise, all the serial stories at my blog turned out to be written in first person as well. David Eddings influenced me with the way he showed his sense of humor, particularly in the Belariad series.

What are your top 3 tips for new bloggers?

Reciprocate.  Answer every comment, and try to do so with more than just “Thank you.”

Don’t “act/look like an expert” if you are not.  If you have credentials then say so – and make that information something the reader can find without digging.  If you found useful information, and you just want to share it, then say so.

Make it easy to read.  Light colored (or splotchy, speckled) backgrounds with medium colored text are hard to read, no matter how good your content.  Also, those horrid pop-ups, soliciting subscriptions.  If I’ve barely started reading and one of those things blocks me from that read, I don’t care to continue.

Thank you Teagan! A short section from one of your books would be great way to close the interview.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books on Amazon
Teagan’s Books Header Image

Since I’ve been promoting the release of Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I,  I want to share a short story.  It is not in the book, but it’s still from that “universe,” and features the heroine of that 1920s series.

Here goes:

Pip’s a Chicken

“Bock, bock-bock.  Bock!  Baaawk!

Of all the nerve!  My mouth dropped open.  I was speechless.  Granny Phanny bocked at me like a chicken.  She bocked.  She put her fists under her armpits and flapped her boney elbows — and she bocked at me!

Then, to make matters worse, she laughed.

Why that banty little old woman.  Of all the self-important, cockalorem…

“Oh Pip, if you could see the look on your face,” she said, still chuckling.  “It’s not like you to chicken out.  Now tie on your apron and we’ll look at this recipe together.

Granny hung an apron around my neck, and then put her hands on my shoulders to forcibly turn me around.  She tied a bow in back that I knew without looking was perfectly symmetrical.

“But Granny, I nearly set the kitchen on fire last time,” I complained, sincerely afraid of what damage I might cause.

“Hush that nonsense right now, Sweetpea.  We’ll not be having any fires.  Just because your fried chicken turned out as tough as an old rooster doesn’t mean you can quit.”

“An old rooster?” I exclaimed, mortified.

I looked at the recipe card.  “Chicken Fricassee…” I read aloud.  “Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture; coat well.  Oh Granny, this sounds pos-i-lutely like a repeat of the fried chicken disaster.  Granny?”

Phanny Ilene Peabody was gone.  Her purse was missing from the corner table.  I called out again and she hollered from the living room.

My eyes fell on the calendar that hung on the wall.  Wong’s Chinese Restaurant made one annually for Chinese New Year.  Granny was going to an early dinner with friends.

“No wonder she wasn’t worried about me ruining dinner again,” I grumbled.  “Granny!” I yelled.

“I’ll be back this evening, Pip.  Just keep the stove set to low while you fry that chicken, and follow the instructions for the fricassee.”

I blew a raspberry as the front door closed with a thud.  My hand plopped down on the plump poultry with a smacking sound.

“Old rooster, huh?  I’ll show her,” I muttered and went back to the recipe card.

***

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

The Three Things Serial Story

Amazon USA, Paperback and Kindle

Murder at the Bijou

Amazon USA Paperback  and Kindle

Atonement, Tennessee Amazon Kindle and Paperback

You can also connect with Teagan at:

Amazon:    https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter:     https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January’s Featured Blogger: Jacquie Biggar



Jacquie Biggar has a wonderful gift for writing hot and extremely likable military men!

Jacqui Nelson

This month’s featured blogger is Jacquie Biggar

. Jacquie is a writer of romantic suspense novels.  She writes tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women.  Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband.

When did you start writing?

I wrote a few short stories in middle school that were well received by my teachers and fostered my dream of making it a career one day.

Unfortunately, I set it aside for many years while working and raising a family. I didn’t get serious about writing until 2012. I signed up to Romance Writers of America, took numerous classes to learn my craft and joined a couple of critique groups. One year later, I published my first suspense novel, Tidal Falls.

Did you always have a gift for writing hot guys?

Lol, I don’t know about that, but I do like writing about strong, alpha males with protective instincts. I think it stems from a love of Harlequin. I’ve read their books since my pre-teen years and used to race for the mailbox each month for that subscription box filled with romantic heroes.

Tell us about Count Daffodil?

Count Daffodil is kind of a funny tale. I was a bit of an over-achiever in school and hated to get any bad grades. I’d been sick for a week or so and when I returned to class it was to learn I had a short story assignment due within two days. I stewed over it for more than a day; there was no way I could finish in time and disappointment rode me hard. I’d flopped onto the couch and was staring into space when suddenly a bouquet of daffodils I’d bought my mom for Easter jumped out at me from the kitchen table.

The story came to me almost fully formed (I’ve almost never had that happen since) and I turned my fantasy/mystery in on time. A few days later, when we received our grades I was stunned to learn I received the highest mark in class and was rewarded with a narration over the school loudspeaker at lunch the next day! So exciting!

What was it like to own and manage a diner?

The diner, The Blue Jay Café, is a landmark in our small town of seven thousand. It sits squarely in the middle of the business district on Main Street and seats fifty people. There are big bay windows, blue bench seats, a pass-through window to the kitchen, and old-time pictures on the walls. Every day it’s filled to the brim with my regulars—as I like to call them. People I’ve grown up with, ones who know my parents and grandparents, family and friends. It’s not work, it’s more like a social gathering J

When I was fifteen, I worked there as a server and dreamed then of owning a restaurant just like it. Gordon—my boss—had found and installed those individual jukebox machines on each table, had old-fashioned sundaes, and made the best trapper fries. (Thin sliced potatoes deep fried) He never had an unkind word for anyone and instilled loyalty in his staff.

Many years later, the restaurant came up for sale and my husband, knowing my vision, cashed in his RRSPs so I could put in an offer. You can’t imagine how thrilling—and frightening—it was to receive ownership!

I had no idea how to run a business, much less bookkeeping and payroll. And then, the cook I thought I had quit do to a knee injury and I was left to learn that aspect as well. What a steep learning curve! It took a few years to get into a smooth rhythm, but, gosh, I loved it. I miss it still.

What caused you to make the leap to writing as a full-time job.

When my daughter was accepted to university, she moved over twelve hundred miles away, but had trouble finding daycare for my then five-year-old grandson. I came out to the island with our RV to help until she could get organized. Then, winter came, and I had to stay—there was no way to haul the RV over the mountain passes with the snow. Hubby was back home working, the kids were in school (I’d do pickups here and there) and I was at loose ends, so I decided to try my hand at my old dream of writing.

I joined a local group here for inspiration and encouragement and found a new focus in romance writing.

When my grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year later, we made the decision to sell everything back home and stay nearby to help our girl. That’s the key reason I decided to pursue a career in writing. I could work to their schedule and be on call whenever I was needed.

Who inspires you?

That’s easy—my daughter.

She’s a single mother, working her way through a double major in university for chemistry and biology (She’s been on the Dean’s list three times so far!), and has sole care for her son who is diabetic. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a life-threatening disease and takes 24/7 care to control. There’s special training required, not just for the family, but also for his daycare and school administrators. He’s athletic, which is great, but unlike other kids, has to be closely monitored for blood sugar highs and lows with the increased activities. He can’t go to other children’s homes for events like birthdays without a LOT of planning, and even then, she tends to go with him for safety. Sleepovers are rare and filled with worry. And, over all that she’s somehow managing a high-grade level.

She’s my hero!

How do you organize your workday?

I tend to start my morning by going through the blogs socializing. My website is my home base and the best way to build recognition there is by commenting and liking other blogs. A side benefit are the connections and friendships gained along the way J

The afternoon is spent promoting to Facebook groups (a free and easy way to get noticed) and Twitter, reading my e-mails, and doing critiques. I belong to two critique groups and believe their input on my work is the single best way to edit. By the time ten or twelve sets of eyes have gone over my chapters they’ve caught most of my errors.

I take a break from six to ten for the news and my favorite television programs, then write until midnight-one o’clock. I realize this is short compared to some authors, but it works for me. If I’m on a role I can do a chapter a night, otherwise it might take a couple of days.

Writing is important, but for indie authors the business aspect has to take precedence. Not much sense writing that award-winning novel if no one sees it, right?

What was the biggest obstacle for you to overcome?

My insecurities.

I’m an introvert and find it impossibly hard to put myself out there for people to pick apart. One piece of advice you hear is to read your reviews and learn from them. I rarely look at any of my poor ones. It hurts too much. I put a lot of myself into my work—it’s like being flayed alive when I get negative feedback. Yes, I understand it’s bound to happen. My stories aren’t going to resonate with everyone, the same way some customers didn’t like how I flipped their eggs—it doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

How does a story idea come to you?

Most of my ideas come from something I’ve seen on TV or read on the news. The Wounded Hearts series stems from hearing about a lawyer who was gunned down in his driveway and was later found to have ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

How much of your ‘self’ goes into your novels.

There are a lot of my family ideals in my books. That’s an underlying trope in every story. My grandmother passed away after suffering years of dementia, I’ve touched on that and how it affected the characters (and us). I’ve talked about Juvenile Diabetes and the dangers involved. Most of my stories revolve around family dynamics because that’s what’s important to me. Family is everything.

What advice do you have for beginners?

Be true to yourself. When you hear write what you know, it means from the heart. Locations can be faked or investigated, jobs learned, but emotion? Emotion comes from within and it’s priceless—it’s the thing that will set you apart, your voice.

Will you share a section of your favorite or most recent novel?

This is an excerpt from a new romantic suspense novel I’m currently working on. I’m hoping to turn it into a series in the future. It’s set in the world of NHL hockey and is titled Skating on Thin Ice.

Blurb:

Will a killer accomplish the greatest hat trick of his career?

Sam Walters has made a deal with the devil. In order to win a much-needed contract as physical therapist to one of the NHL’s leading hockey teams, she must delay the recovery of their sniper, Mac Wanowski. The trouble is, the more she gets to know the taciturn hockey player, the more she aches to help him.

Mac ‘The Hammer’ Wanowski has chased the Stanley Cup dream for too many years. Last time he was close it cost him his wife. As injuries continue to plague the team, Mac works to catch a killer and keep the woman he’s come to love from the hands of a madman.

Hockey can be a dangerous sport, especially when millions of dollars are at stake.

International: http://books2read.com/SkatingonThinIce

 

Excerpt:

Sam removed a full container of eggs, a tomato, onion, a bright yellow banana pepper, and a block of cheddar cheese from the refrigerator and used her butt to close the door. She juggled her armload past the cat and dumped it on the granite countertop. “Okay, Cleo, your turn.” She stooped to scratch her between the ears, then returned to the fridge. “Does Dad give you milk, hmm?” The carton was in the door, the seal broken, so she gave it a sniff before deigning it good enough for her new four-footed friend. A quick search of the pantry later and Cleo the cat was daintily eating her dinner, ears flicking at every little sound.

Sam frowned. How long did it take to start a fire? Maybe Mac was taking his time so she’d do the cooking. Not happening. She wandered down the hall, expecting to see him relaxed on the sofa—instead, the fire was little more than a flicker and the room was empty.

Puzzled, she was about to leave the room when a glimmer of light caught her attention. She moved closer to the bay window and hugged herself against the draft coming off the glass. What is that? She leaned forward, squinting through the swirling snow into the pitch-black night. There. There it was again. It almost looked like…

A fire.

Her heart catapulted into her throat as her brain caught up to her eyes. Horror stories of vast tracts of forest going up in smoke fueled her fear. What could she do? The phone. Hurry, hurry, call for help. She scrambled to the handset thrown carelessly onto the sofa and dialed the emergency number, her fingers trembling with nerves.

“Come on, come on,” she chanted under her breath, but no amount of wishing could get the phone to connect. The storm must be playing havoc with the lines. Another glance out the window showed the lick of flames climbing up the outer wall of the garage Mac had pointed out earlier.

Mac. He must have spotted the blaze, as she had, and rushed outside to put out the fire. He would need help. Giving up on getting through, Sam dropped the phone and raced for the kitchen. She’d noticed a fire extinguisher in the pantry while searching for Cleo’s food. Yes, there it was, tucked into a corner and hooked to the wall. She wasted precious seconds figuring out how to undo the clasp before hefting the surprisingly heavy canister into her arms and racing for the door.

A noxious stench of gas and rubber permeated the air. Thick black plumes of smoke drifted above the dark outline of the trees, obscene against the virgin white of the snow.

“Mac,” Sam yelled, shocked by the strength of the fire. The heat slapped her chilled skin and she realized she’d run out of the house without a jacket. No time to change that now, the sliding doors of the garage were totally engulfed, and the hungry flames were eating their way to the only other exit—the side door. She had to do something.

She pointed the canister at the door and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Vibrating, she looked at the stupid canister. Why had she never taken the time to learn how to use these blasted things? Just as she was about to fling it across the yard, she noticed a ring sticking sideways from the top of the handle. She jerked the pin out and aimed again, and this time a thin spray of foam exploded from the rubber hose. The fire hissed, angry at the creature seeking to destroy its fun. But it knew it would lose against this foe, and baring orange-red fangs, leaped to the roof in a bright burst of sparks.

Relieved, Sam yanked the door open, wincing when the knob burned her palm, and stepped inside. She covered her mouth against the smoke sneaking in through the cracks and gazed nervously around the packed room. The dark outline of a truck ghosted out of the gloom. Hoping against hope, Sam edged her way between ATV’s and skidoos, keeping low to avoid the haze creeping down from the ceiling. “Mac,” she choked. Where are you?

 

 

Follow Jacquie on Amazon

 

Click here to visit Jacquie on WordPress

Click here to follow Jacquie on Twitter

 

 

(C) Rob Goldstein 2018

Images and book excerpts (c) Jacquie Biggar

 

December’s Featured Blogger: Author D.G. Kaye

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?” D.G. Kaye

 


December’s Featured Blogger is Author D.G. Kaye.

D.G. Kaye was born in Canada and lives in Toronto. She is an accomplished author and an active blogger on WordPress. 

In your bio, I hear a sense of determination and hope. How do you find hope?

I don’t find hope, I keep it tucked deeply inside. Hope is all we have when facing tragedy or adversity. In our darkest moments many of us, like myself, cling to that hope. But those who cannot focus on the light often get lost in the abyss of the darkness of the moment. I refuse to go to that place. I’m a firm believer that we manifest what we focus on to the universe. And what we focus on we attract. Staying focused on the negative and dark thoughts of an undesirable situation keeps us rooted in the fear instead of finding solutions to rise above the issues. I am a problem solver by nature. When life is dishing out curve balls I don’t cower and drown in fear, I look for the way out or the path I must take to overcome the adversity, focusing on the overcoming and the healing.

Did you write as a child, if so, what is the first thing you wrote?

Yes, I wrote as soon as I learned how to write my alphabet. I began writing love notes to my parents. I was hyper aware of my family dysfunction as far back as 3 years old. All I wanted was for my parents to love each other and show me affection. I believe, looking back on those years, that my fears to verbalize what I was feeling translated directly into writing to express my feelings and desires.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Sadly, I hate to admit it, but I have no recollection of any books in my home growing up. The fairy tales I learned were from teachers reading to us in school. I somehow always identified with Cinderella and her wicked step-mother as I grew to realize that I felt my mother had used me as her personal housekeeper and messenger from the age of 7 and on. My love for reading began once I entered junior high school when we were given books to read as part of curriculum in English classes.

Who are your inspirations as a writer and in life?

Well, going back to childhood, I would have to say Barbra Streisand became my idol at a very young age. Funny Girl, still one of my favorite movies, became a movie I identified with because Streisand’s character – Fanny Brice, reminded me so much of myself.

Publicity shot of Fanny Brice - c. 1915-1925 -
Fanny Brice – c. 1915-1925 – Ziegfeld by Alfred Cheney Johnston

Brice was portrayed as an awkward girl trying to make it on the stage, beginning with her shows with the Ziegfeld Follies. She didn’t consider herself beautiful or elegant enough to fit in with the beautiful and sexy cast of dancers, so she used her sense of humor to win over the crowd, which eventually, pushed her to stardom. One line in particular, caught my attention, and that line stuck with me and became part of my character – “I want them to laugh with me, not at me.”

As for my writing, it wasn’t the classics that inspired me as they have many writers. Being that there weren’t any books around my home, I loved reading the newspaper when sentenced to spending weekends at my paternal grandparents’ home, and soon found myself addicted to reading columns on everyday life and problem solvers by column writers like Ann Landers, Dear Abby, and Erma Bombeck. Even as a child I was fascinated by life stories and emotions and eager to learn how to resolve issues. As I got older, I found myself connecting with the writing of Norah Ephron.

When did you decide to write about your relationship with your mother?

I think it was in my early teens when I began to resent my mother for the way she treated my father and ignored the emotional needs of her children when I began taking notes about her and writing letters to her about my feelings. I never, ever gave her one of those letters, but somehow it was cathartic for me to get my pent-up angst on to paper and out of my head. My life was an ongoing saga of dramatic and traumatic events with my mother, so I often documented in journals what I was feeling and my analysis of what provoked my mother to act as she did. I got the urge to write a book about my life with ‘mother’, but my fear of ever publishing a book while she was alive kept me from bothering to write one.

I suppose the urge to expel my thoughts and stories rose to a peak as my mother became less lucid and immobilized, empowering me with knowing she could no longer attack me or reprimand me, or even sue me, for that matter. So, in early 2013 I began sorting out pages from my journals and writing Conflicted Hearts – A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt.

 

The cover of Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt
Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt

How did the decision change your life?

When I began writing that first book that’s all I thought I would write. But while I worked on the book I began learning about self-publishing at the same time, which led me to opening a blog and connecting with a whole community of writers and new friends who shared the same passion for writing. By the time I published my first book, I knew there was no turning back. I finally found I was doing what burned within me most of my life – writing.

In your introduction to Twenty Years: After “I Do”, you describe your husband as a soul mate. What does soul mate mean to you?

First, let me state that soul mate is typically said of a partner, but soul mate could also apply to a friend we are connected deeply with.

A soul mate is one we connect with on a spiritual level. When we are in tuned with someone who we share similar values in life with, understand their words and feelings without being spoken, and share a bond where there’s an intuitive knowing of their soul is my definition of soul mate.

Book cover for 20 years after I do
Twenty Years After ‘I Do’

When did you decide to write a memoir on menopause? Do you see it as a political statement?

My long-time bestie and I laughed our way through menopause and continue to laugh at the remnants of our former selves after surviving the event. We’d often joke around and make fun of our symptoms and that was my inspiration for sharing my journey through ‘the change’ with others to let them know what can be expected in trying times, and to share some important information and helpful tips to help ease through it. I also poked fun at the symptoms and shared how I dealt with them.

I never personally felt the book was a political statement, rather a part of life that every woman must endure. I mention my husband’s take on some of my antics in the book as he was the one who had to put up with some of my newly acquired crazy things I did to get through the process, sometimes involving almost freezing him out and leaving him feeling as though he were walking on eggshells if he even spoke at the wrong time, lol. Political no, but I was surprised to hear from a few men who read the book to get some enlightening about what their own partners endured or in preparation for what to expect.

In the prologue to P.S. I Forgive You, you write: “My mother had been dying for years, and through those years she refused to surrender her bitterness and remained in denial of her flaws. The many times I heard she was dying reminded me of the boy who cried wolf. I almost believed she was invincible, and even though I never wanted her to suffer, she did.”

I’d been warned to walk away many times but couldn’t muster the heart to do so. I lived under the thought that a child should never abandon their parents, and I was always worried about how I’d be judged by others for banishing my mother.

Finally, as often happens in life, the last straw hit with words I could no longer tolerate. At fifty years old I hung up on her for the very first time in my life and resolved myself that was the last time I’d take her nonsensical shit and I never saw her again. Oh, it was painful as I lived with my own new self-imposed guilt for doing so, but as the years passed, it got a lot easier to swallow, despite my feeling sorry for her. When she was dying, I had more fear of visiting her for all the years I abandoned her. Her vitriol only increased as she lashed out to anyone who would listen about her terrible children. I just couldn’t go back. And when she finally died, despite my grief for what never was with us, it was the first time I ever felt that hold she had on me was released.

P.S. I Forgive You

I tend to think life as an adult child of narcissist is an ongoing process of separating the self from the abusive parent. Would you agree?

I would absolutely agree Rob. Narcissists don’t change. From childhood through adulthood we remain under their control, albeit, in different ways when we’re older. I spent my childhood waiting for the day I could break free from her hold on me, and when I finally got the chance to move away from home at 18, I thought I gained my freedom from her reign, but I found out that wasn’t so.

I spent my life with her trying to be the good daughter, doing everything she guilted me into doing and feeling bad for the things I didn’t do. My empathy for her was like a glue that I couldn’t unstick, which kept me falling prey to her schemes and tears and beckoning for her every whim. I’d try not answering her calls and keeping her separate from my life many times, but family events and celebrations bringing me back into her orbit repeatedly kept me within her web. I went years at a time not talking to her, but ultimately guilt or circumstances brought her back into my life. It was a never-ending merry-go-round of unresolved hurt and relentless tactics she performed that kept me in her hold.

How would you describe the job of the writer?

Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I think that every writer would have their own unique spin on this. For me, I don’t look at it as a job, but rather a passion. The only job I feel obligated to do as a writer is to tell my truth – essential for a memoir and nonfiction writer. But whether writing fiction or nonfiction, I think it’s important that we all effectively relay our stories in a fashion that readers can relate to and take something from whether it be a message, or an invitation to exercise imagination and feel like we’re right there in the action in fictional stories.

Would you share an excerpt of P.S. I Forgive You?

I’d be thrilled to share an excerpt Rob. I’m choosing an excerpt from this particular chapter since I think it highlights some of the turmoil I carried within while my mother was in her final days, despite my refusal to go back.

Chapter: The End is Near

My mother had been dying for years, and through those years she refused to surrender her bitterness and remained in denial of her flaws. The many times I heard she was dying reminded me of the boy who cried wolf. I almost believed she was invincible, and even though I never wanted her to suffer, she did. 

I thought it was just a horrible and sad way to die—holding hatred for those she had chased out of her life, living in bitter seclusion, knowing her days were numbered. Her once vibrant life had diminished into a mere existence of watching TV and complaining. She’d also given all her caregivers a difficult time, bitching at them all and letting them know how useless they were to her because of what her life had become. Nobody was exempt.

I asked my brother Robby why God didn’t just take her out of her misery and pain during one of the many times she was on the brink of death. Why would he not spare her from suffering? He replied, “God has his own plans.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he was letting her suffer because she had hurt so many people in her lifetime, but in my next thought I couldn’t believe God would play those cruel games, tit for tat.

I wondered what thoughts had to have gone through my mother’s head. How awful it must have been to know her time left on earth was limited. I thought about how frightened she must have felt in her lonely world, although she’d never admit it. I was sad for her, knowing that the anger and bitterness she displayed was a front for the depressed state of her pathetic life. I couldn’t fathom why she remained so obstinate in her resolve to spend what little time she had left wallowing in misery instead of embracing the end and making amends with her children. I wanted to fix her, but I didn’t know how.

Her formerly grand life had diminished into a tiny existence. She no longer flaunted her beauty to all who idolized her. Her schemes to extract money from my brothers to support her gambling pleasures were no longer effective. Three of her children had already exited her life because of her verbal abuse. There was nobody left to fall prey to her demands.

I hurt for her. She wasn’t much of a mother, but she was still my mother.

I wondered so many things about her. Because she had lived in disguise all her life, I was never certain if she truly believed she was a wonderful person or if she had only spent her life pretending as much.

Thank you so much for inviting me over today Rob. I enjoyed the interview and greatly appreciate the intimate questions you chose for me to answer and share here on your wonderful blog.

Bio short DG Kaye

Connect with author D.G. Kaye:


Author, https://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
Email: d.g.kaye.writer@gmail.com
Website: http://www.dgkayewriter.com
Wiseintro: wiseintro.co/dgkaye7

also in

www.goodreads.com/dgkaye

www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (Of course there’s a story to this name!)

www.facebook.com/dgkaye

Featured Blogger: Jan Sikes

The most beautiful thing in Life is that our souls remain hovering over the place where we once enjoyed ourselves. I am one of those who remembers such places regardless of distance or time. Let not your worrying about the future interfere with your tranquility.
— RICK SIKES

A portrait of Rick and Jan Sikes on their wedding day.
A portrait of Rick and Jan Sikes on their wedding day.

You write songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays, and novels. How do you choose a form?  

I started out with a screenwriting class when I decided I had to tell the story, as I was thinking movie. (I still am, by the way.) I quickly concluded that the story was way too big to tell in one short movie. So, I branched out and took novel-writing classes not realizing at the time it would take four books for me to tell the story from beginning to end. I was originally thinking trilogy, but the last book got way too lengthy and I had to find a way to divide it. When writing fiction, I tend to gravitate toward short stories. However, I am on the second book in a series of full-length fiction novels now. I suppose the answer to the question would be, whatever direction the story pulls me. Sometimes it’s no more than a short poem and other times a 90,000 word novel.

How did you realize you have a story to tell, what drives you to continue?

In all honesty, Rob, I thought someone else would come along and write our story. So many people passed through our doors over the years, and they would say, “Someone needs to write y’all’s story.” I agreed, but never in a million years thought it would have to be me. I thought my NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author sister would tell it, but she put it back in my lap giving me lots of support to tackle it.  It was about two years after Rick died that I woke up one morning to the realization that my sister was right. I had to be the one to tell the story as I was the only one there. And, that I had to get busy and learn how to do this. So, I started taking creative writing classes and learning the craft. When I started trying to put the story together, I was telling it in first person. But, I found that it was way too personal to continue it that way. I was stumped and didn’t exactly know what to do. So, I was sitting around one day talking to two of my girlfriends and one of them suggested I create characters to tell the story through. That was the lightbulb moment. It was exactly what I needed to move forward. I created Darlina Flowers and Luke Stone to tell the story through. That allowed me to back away and let the characters tell it. Rick died in 2009, and I published the first segment of the story in 2013 with “Flowers and Stone.” 

What drives me to continue with this story is the message that each segment carries. If my story can touch one life, I am happy, and I’ve done my job.

In your synopsis of, Flowers and Stone, you write, “Darlina embraces the lifestyle, traveling with him and his band up and down the many roads of Texas playing their music. Luke decides to make her a part of his show bringing go-go girls to country music crowds. She is ecstatic to be included.”  Is Darlina you or did she change as a character as you wrote her?

Based on my answer above, I think you already know I am Darlina and she is me. Honestly, I think I wrote Darlina as a much stronger woman than I was at the time. I truly didn’t know anything about life and was so unprepared to jump into it with both feet. Like Darlina, I wanted to try everything that had been forbidden by the strict religion I was raised in and didn’t give much thought to consequences. Darlina trusted Luke completely, with her body, her mind and her heart, as did I.

 

The Convict and the Rose

How does music affect your writing. Does it affect the way you pace the line?

The way music affects my writing is that it permeates almost every single thing I write whether it be a short story or novel. In the true story of mine and Rick’s lives, music was such a huge part of it that there was no way not to include it.  And, that included releasing a music CD of original music with each segment of the story.

I can’t say that music affects the way I pace a line. However, that being said, I do believe that a story needs its own rhythm. For me, finding that rhythm usually comes through the dialogue.

What is Outlaw Music?

That is such a great question. Contrary to what most folks believe, the Outlaw Music movement wasn’t a bunch of law-breaking musicians. It was writers and musicians that dared to break away from the strict “Nashville” way of making music and become true Indie artists blazing new trails. They dared to do things the way that felt right to them rather than following the status-quo.

 

 

Would you describe yourself as an Outlaw writer?

Based on the definition I just gave above for Outlaw music, I suppose I am an Outlaw writer.  I’m an Indie author, so far in my writing career. That means I’ve self-published all my books. That being said, I am trying hard to get a publisher for the new fiction series I’m working on.

Would you describe yourself as spiritual? (I ask because I have a sense of the spiritual when I read about your relationship with Rick)

I tell people that I am probably the most anti-religious person you will ever meet. I see so much horror that has been inflicted on humans throughout history in the name of the ‘church.’ But, that being said, I am very ‘spiritual.’ As my journey took me from the holy-roller church to following a Guru, I have quite a varied spiritual spectrum. At this point in life, I’m tuned into the Angels, my spiritual guides and teachers. I do meditation and have a deep indescribable love for the Creator that is the essence of everything. I also love working with gemstones, and have taken psychic development classes. I suppose I am a mixture of a lot of different aspects of spirituality. Rick practiced the American Indian spiritual beliefs. One time a Baptist preacher came to our house to invite us to church. In conversation, he asked Rick if he gave thanks for food before he ate. Rick’s answer left the man speechless. He said, “Why would I give thanks for the food I eat without taking time to give thanks for each breath that I breathe? For without the breath, I need no food.” That said it all!

The cover and description of Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes
Blood and Stone

What advice do you have for people who think they may have a story to tell?

Oh, my goodness! If you think you have a story to tell, don’t ignore it. I think we are channels and if an idea comes to you, there is a reason. So what if you don’t know how to craft a story? Get busy and learn! I want to read your story.

That’s great advice Jan!

Will you share a few paragraphs from one of your novels? (perhaps Flowers and Stone)

Excerpt 1 from “Flowers and Stone”

Darlina stood where she could watch this group. It appeared that Luke Stone was the man in charge and everyone around him either seemed to respect and love him or fear him. She couldn’t tell which, and maybe it was a little of both.

The attractive dark-haired lady to the left of him must be his wife, she concluded. Many of the customers approached his table, and he seemed to know them all personally.

Sherry joined her. “Whatcha’ lookin’ at, sweetie?”

She quickly looked away. “Just watchin’ the show.”

“Let me give you a little advice. Luke Stone is bad news. And besides that, he’s way too old for you.”

“I have no intention of getting any closer to him than to take his order and serve his food.”

She knew in her heart the words that came out of her mouth weren’t true. He fascinated her.

Excerpt 2 from “Flowers and Stone”

Luke Stone couldn’t remember the last time he’d bought a piece of jewelry for a lady, although lots of ladies had bought jewelry for him. He wondered how in the hell this sweet young girl with sparkling blue eyes had gotten under his skin so quickly. He imagined what it would feel like to run his fingers through her long auburn hair and speculated that it must smell like sweet blooming flowers.

As he stood at the counter in one of the finest jewelry stores in Abilene, he asked the clerk, “What would you suggest for a very sweet young lady that I just met?”

The clerk immediately brought out a tray of necklaces. “These are all very nice, Mr. Stone.”

He looked them over and spotted a small gold heart on a delicate chain with a tiny diamond set in the middle of the heart. “This one oughta’ do.”

The clerk placed it in a black velvet box, and Luke paid for it. He blinked and reached for his sunglasses when he walked outside into the bright sunshine. He wasn’t accustomed to being out of bed at ten a.m., much less cleaned up and purchasing jewelry.

Excerpt 3 “Flowers and Stone”

Before long, Luke was back. He escorted the girls to the area behind the stage where they would wait for their cue to go on. Darlina’s heart began to race, and her breath came in short gasps. She reached out for the drink in Sherry’s hand and took a big swig, as she made a conscious effort to calm the nerves. She wanted tonight to be perfect.

Luke squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Okay baby, I’ve gotta go back, so you girls just hang tight, and we’ll get you up soon.”

It sounded as if the place was full, and Darlina peeked out to find a standing room only crowd.

Sherry moved close beside her. “Look at all those men in uniforms!”

Darlina nodded. “I see them. There must be 500 or more, and now I’m more nervous than ever.”

The girls shared the rest of the drink and soon Luke announced them to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Rebel Rousers have a real treat for you tonight. All the way from Abilene, Texas; we bring to you the Rebel Rouser Go-Go Girls!”

As they burst onto the stage, cheers, whistles, and hollers echoed from all around.

The band played Mustang Sally, and the noise from the crowd rose to a crescendo. The excitement was like electricity in the air, and the girls danced exactly as Marketa had taught them, bringing round after round of applause and cheers from the soldiers.

Darlina glanced at Luke and saw him beaming. He winked and blew her a kiss.

The four-hour show ended, and Luke and Darlina went back to their dressing room to change into street clothes. A knock on the door startled them both. Luke opened it to find a uniformed officer standing there.

“Luke, that was the best show you’ve ever brought us. I can assure you that you’ll be booked back here again soon. The soldiers need entertainment, and that’s what you gave ‘em tonight. I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are.”

“Thank you, Commander. We enjoyed entertaining y’all. I’ll be in touch about another booking.”

The man handed Luke a large amount of cash and left after shaking his hand.

Thank you Jan!

 

A https://twitter.com/rijanjks
Jan and Rick Sikes on their Wedding Day (Luke and Darlina)

 

Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels

Home at Last

 

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http://www.ricksikes.com
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RG 2018

All images by Jan Sikes