Excerpt, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Reviews

Guest Blog & #Review of A Wedding at Meadow Shores, My Sweetest Sasha & Petite Madeleine (Meadow Shores Series) by Eva Charles w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

 

Meadows Shore Series

by Eva Charles

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:

Prepare to fall in love with the Claytons and Harringtons and their rich Portuguese heritage. A Wedding at Meadows Shore is the first book in the series. In it, you’ll meet the family and visit their beloved Meadows Shore nestled along the moody Atlantic in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor.

It all begins with Sophie’s story, where she discards the past and learns to trust herself and others. The series follows the lives of her sisters and cousins while they, too, sort through their baggage and fall in love. Travel with them on their romantic journeys, stopping in rural Minnesota, New Orleans, and other enchanted places along the way.

They are wealthy and powerful, but suffer pain and loss much like the rest of us. Even great privilege can’t shield them from those experiences. But despite their wealth and power, I think you’ll find them approachable and down-to-earth—or as Cole Harrington would say: “We put our pants on one leg at a time, same as everybody else.” 

There’s an old Portuguese adage, “the rooster crows loudly, but it’s the hen who’s in charge.” And so it is with the Claytons and Harringtons: strong women, alpha males, and of course, Avó Angelina, the family matriarch who keeps them all on their best behavior. 

Bem vindo à família, Welcome to the family!

 

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Excerpt One:

A Wedding at Meadows Shore:

His voice took on a husky, seductive quality. “The women I date aren’t interested in my body, Sophie. What interests them is how I pleasure their bodies.”

She stared deep into his icy blue eyes and snickered.

Max never missed even the smallest of details. They were often the difference between success and getting your hat handed to you. Tonight, he noticed Sophie’s eyes betray her, even as she mocked him. Her pupils were dilated, the rich, whiskey-colored irises nearly overtaken by black. I have her attention.

Embolden by her body’s reaction, he took a step closer. He was so close that if she’d been breathing, her breath would’ve warmed his skin. “I can bring much more to your bed than my father does. So…much…more…” He drew out the words, emphasizing each in a voice that oozed sex. “And though I’m not an easy man to impress, I’m sure you’d have no trouble persuading me to finance your agency. None at all,” he drawled.

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, maybe two. The air was charged. The silence dangled between them like a ripe peach, fragrant and swollen, tempting the weakest among them to reach for it first.

“What do you think?” he asked softly, ending the silence.

While waiting for her response, a calculated kind of wait, he resisted the urge to lift his hand and run his fingers through the strands of hair that’d come loose, softly framing her face.

“I think you really are an ass.”

With that, she turned and walked away. Leaving him to gape at her magnificent back.

The Dirt on Writing a Series

 

Meadows Shore is the first series I’ve written, and while it’s been great fun, writing a series is rife with pitfalls. Some authors publish a book without thinking about a sequel, and it’s not until readers beg them for more, that they consider a series. I planned on a series from the beginning, and the ability to pre-plan has made the process far less complicated. But it still does take precious time, and a high level of organization to keep everyone and everything straight.

To maintain my sanity, and avoid getting myself into too much trouble, I keep an up-to-date series bible, a binder, in which I catalog character descriptions, traits, and other minutia. I do this for both the main characters, and for each of the supporting characters, many of whom, will one day have their own books. I also keep careful notes on places the characters frequent, where they live, work, and play. While maintaining the binder takes some effort and a great deal of discipline, having the information at my fingertips has saved me considerable time, and perhaps, some embarrassment.

There are dozens upon dozens, of small, seemingly insignificant details in every book that are easy for an author to lose track of. This number grows exponentially with each new book in the series. If readers fall in love with a character, they remember everything about them. Every single thing. While a meticulously kept series bible can save an author from making some blunders, it’s not entirely foolproof.

The trouble usually arises with a main character in a story, who was first introduced in a previous book. If a character makes even an off-handed comment, or behaves in a particular way in an earlier story, the writer is stuck with it for the entire series unless it can be easily explained away. Readers pay attention to everything, and they hold authors accountable, as they should.

The best part of a series, for both readers and writers, is that you don’t have to say goodbye to the characters you’ve fallen in love with. There are lots of opportunities to revisit beloved characters in subsequent books. Like my readers, I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in the family I’ve created, and their Meadows Shore community. It’s not unusual for writers to become attached to the characters they birth, and this is especially true in a series where one lives with the characters over an extended period of time. They take-up residence inside your head, and some of them find their way into your heart.

Writing the Meadows Shore series has brought me tremendous joy, and I will continue to write the books for as long as readers want to read them. Maybe even longer, because I’ve fallen madly in love with the place, and the charming characters that call it home.


Harlie here:  I will review the books individually but just a few things before I start. 

1.  This is a series.  You DO NOT have to read the books in order.  They stand alone but I read them in order.

2. At the beginning of each book, there is a family tree so you can remember who is who.  Trust me, with all those Harrington boys (cousins to the Claytons) and the Clayton women…you will need it in the first book.  After that, it’s easy. 

3.  These are grown-up romances.  In other words, The characters are firmly in their careers and the pecking order in the family.  Plus, these characters deal with real issues.  Issues that everyday people have.  Yes, they have money but they don’t flaunt it nor do they use it in ways that are for quick fixes.

4.  Ms. Charles has written a series that I would read until the end of time.  Her characters just fly off the pages.  You get into their heads and actually know what they are feeling.  They are in 3rd person present so the story just flows.  

5.  Lastly, the characters have sex.  I know, right.  But again, these are grown-ups.  They behave like grown ups.  They talk like grown ups and they deal with their issues as grown ups.  And yes, parents play a big part in the stories.

6.  All the characters show up in all the books.  The Harrington men are there for each other, through the good and bad.  They are tough on each other and put up the mirror to their brother’s face.  You don’t see that much in books.  Their love is fierce but they don’t take any bullshit either.  The woman are a hoot.  When you read the books, you will see that and agree with me.  Plus, it’s nice when they put their cousin’s in their place, too.  Strong women indeed.

Okay, now the individual reviews.

A Wedding at Meadows Shores (Max & Sophie)

Oh my.  Max is a handful.  A manwhore that isn’t ashamed but underneath all that sleeping around is a man that is lost, sad and desperately wants what his parents had.  And to make matters somewhat worse, after the death of his mother, his dad is dating.  Of course, he thinks that his dad is dating Sophie, calls her a gold digger and the sparks fly from there.

Sophie is a great character.  Strong, a fixer but has no one to fix her.  Yes, she has her male cousins (overbearing to a fault) and her younger sister but after a messy marriage, she longs for the love that her parents had, too.  She knows what she wants from a partner and finding it in Max is troubling.

This is a grown- up couple with issues that everyone goes through.  Trust, parents dying, having to pick up the pieces for your siblings/cousins and being strong throughout.  In that process, you lose yourself and will fight through the bowels of hell to find that someone to share it with.  Max and Sophie do that and more.  This is a gem of a romance.  Sophie’s cousins give him hell when he needs it but they also realize that Sophie is a grown woman that she will not be cuddled by them.

Overall, I loved the story.  Max and Sophie are perfect for each and start the series off with a bang.

 

My Sweetest Sasha (Cole & Alexa)

Cole (Sophie’s cousin) is in even bigger manwhore than Max.  Yes, trust me,  Read the book.  He is a piece of work.  One thing that he isn’t, a trauma surgeon that should be let go from the hospital.  Dedicated, treats patients and staff with dignity; just can’t keep in his pants.  He cracked me up in the beginning but then my heart would break for him a little at time when dealing with the emptiness.

Alexa, oh my.  She had to be the strongest woman or the dumbest (He He) to be able to bring Cole to his knees.  And yes, strongest.  She never thought that she was strong but watching her grow as a character in the book is a joy.  It’s refreshing to read when a character finds the strength within themselves and gives some of that strength to the person they love.  She did that for Cole and at that point, Cole is toast.

Theirs is a love story that is slow building.  Oh yes, the sex doesn’t happen until about 65-70% into the book but it is not needed.  Their romance is friendship based and Cole needed to learn that before the sex could happen.  Alexa needed to learn that Cole was true to his word and his love for her.

Overall, watching Cole fall was a gift that Ms. Charles gave me.  He didn’t have to grovel, make promises that he couldn’t keep but just keep doing the right things and behaving like a grown up.

 

Petite Madeleine (Derek & Cassie)

So now we Derek’s book.  Second chance love.  What could be sweeter?  Especially when Derek and Cassie never fell out of love with each other.  We get to know how they “broke up” and the why.  But captured my heart is the lengths that these two went through to be together again.  They didn’t let Derek’s depression or Cassie’s cancer stop them.  Okay, maybe a little but Ms. Charles deals with both issues gracefully and with great emotion.

This is most emotional of the books so far.  Sure there is humor but the issues in this book are well though out, emotional and tender, too.  The scene when they reconnect physically brings a smile and tear, too.  Beautifully written; raw, emotional and tender.  Derek just sealed his fate with me.  *swoon*  I also liked how when it came to the sexy times, that Cassie had to remind him how it was before in college and I had to giggle.  😉

Did I mention baseball?  Lord, how did I get this far and NOT mention that Derek is the General Manager for a MLB team.  That’s extra swooning for me.  I’m a HUGE baseball freak.  Yes, freak.  But that’s a whole different blog.  Any way, I liked how his job didn’t get in the way of his love for Cassie.   These two fought for the love that had before and they love that shared now.  It was a truer, purer love.

You really need to do yourself a favor and read this series.  I know, I’m a series whore at times, but I honestly haven’t read a series this great in a long time.  All three books are top notch with characters that I love and would read about until Ms. Charles is tired of writing them.  Her writing is flawless, the pacing is perfect and you can lose yourself in a book/series and never want to leave.

I can not recommend a book/series higher.

Deserves so much more. a 10 at least.

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Eva Charles is the author of the multi-titled Meadows Shore Series chronicling the lives and loves of the Clayton-Harrington family. She invites you to visit their beloved Meadows Shore, nestled in the charming seaside town of Fair Harbor, where you’ll enjoy love, laughter, loyalty, and an abundance of mouth-watering food, Portuguese style.

After being a confirmed city-girl for more than thirty-five years, Eva moved to beautiful western Massachusetts in 2014. There, she found herself living in the woods with no job, no friends (unless you count the turkeys, deer, and coyotes roaming the backyard), and no children underfoot, wondering what on earth she’d been thinking. But as it turned out, it was the perfect setting to take all those yarns spinning in her head and weave them into a romantic tale.

 

When she’s not writing, trying to squeeze information out of her tight-lipped sons or playing with the two cutest dogs you’ve ever seen, Eva’s creating chapters in her own love story.

 

Website:   evacharles.com

 

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Eva-Charles/e/B0140FZ442

 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/evacharlesauthor/

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14223913.Eva_Charles

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

Eva Charles will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Excerpt, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Guest Post from Deborah Camp featuring Solitary Horseman w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

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Solitary Horseman

by Deborah Camp

 

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GENRE:  Historical Romance (Western)

 

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BLURB:

 

The Civil War is over, but the battles continue.
Callum Latimer returned from the war to a life he didn’t want and with inner battle scars he can’t heal.
Banner Payne clutched desperately to the remaining shreds of the life she’d known, but she is losing her grip.
Brought together by bad luck and cruel twists of fate, Callum and Banner forge a partnership they hope will keep them afloat even as neighboring Texas ranchers go under and their land is snapped up by opportunists.
Fate smiles on them and Callum and Banner find the missing pieces of themselves in each other.
Healing begins as their hearts are awakened. Now they must remain strong in their determination to forge a more peaceful existence and not be poisoned by the bitterness of a country still divided.

 

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Excerpt Three:

 

They finished eating, sopping up the last of the gravy with biscuits and popping the final bite of bacon or sausage into their mouths. All except for Callum, who seemed to have lost his appetite. He pushed aside his plate, nodding when Banner reached to take it away.

 

In the kitchen, she began preparing to wash the dishes, as she went over and over the unsettling conversation. So, the vigilante groups were stirring up more trouble along with memories that some people were trying hard to bury. She’d noticed that Hollis seemed to be worse lately. Sullen. Anger simmering just below the surface. Stalking off to be alone with his thoughts. Snapping at her when she questioned him about his moods.

 

Her brother was a sensitive soul and when there was unrest around him, he felt it, through and through. Living with him when he was jittery was like handling a porcupine. There was no way to touch it without getting pricked.

 

Someone cleared his throat right behind her and Banner spun around with a gasp, her wet hands flying up and slinging drops of water across Callum’s faded red shirt.

 

“Didn’t mean to startle you.”

 

“I . . . got your shirt wet.”

 

He shrugged. Banner hoped to see a softening in his eyes and she was disappointed.

 

“I’ll be back tonight, but it will be late. You go on home at the usual time.”

 

“I was mighty proud of you just now.”

 

He raised his brows and shook his head, clearly puzzled.

 

“What you said about the war and how nobody wins a fight.”

 

He held his hat in one hand and rubbed his chin with the other. “I don’t think I said that exactly. Fights are won, but sometimes the cost isn’t worth it.” He took a step back from her, running his hand down the front of his shirt and Banner watched the journey.

 

She so loved his hands. Long fingers, wide palm. She knew the tenderness of his touch and how they could trail fire along her skin. “I’ve missed you.”

 

He stared at her a few moments and something vulnerable shimmered in his eyes before he abruptly turned and walked away from her. “I need to get.”

 

“Callum!” She grabbed the back of his shirt. “Wait.” When he didn’t face her, she stepped around him. “Is something wrong? I feel like we’re on a seesaw here. Up and down. Up and down.”

 

Walking his fingers around the brim of his hat, he avoided her probing gaze. “I guess that sums it up. I’ve had a lot of time to think lately and maybe you’re right. We need to keep our heads clear and . . . well, a woman like you and a man like me . . .” He shrugged.

 

What in tarnation did that mean? Was this about her being a lowly Payne? Feeling as if he’d ripped opened an old wound, she glared at him, but he wasn’t looking at her. Finally, he glanced up and his eyes widened fractionally.

 

“Go on then.” Banner snatched his hat out of his hands and whacked him with it. “Get. I don’t have time anymore for this silly game.” His look of surprise angered her even more and she crushed his hat against his chest, making him grab it. She caught sight of Shane standing in the dining room, not hiding his curiosity at the scene unfolding. “Shane needs to talk to you. I’m finished with you.” Whirling around, she stomped through the kitchen and out the back door where the air was bitterly cold, matching the season in her heart. She would not cry! She wouldn’t! Should have known that he’d finally realize that he was too good and proper to be sporting with that Payne gal. He’d been raised to see her as filth and he couldn’t shake it.

 

Striding purposefully across the frozen ground, she made a beeline for the hen house. It would be warmer in there. Mary had already collected the eggs, but there were probably a few more that she could—.

 

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the scrawled lettering across a big white banner that had been nailed to the side of the barn and her shoes slipped in the snow. She almost fell, but regained her balance in the nick of time. Staring at the ugly message, she was aware of pounding footfalls behind her.

 

“Damn it all, Banner! Just hold up. I didn’t mean to—.” Callum’s grouchy apology stopped at the same time he did. “What the hell?”

 

JOIN OR DIE

 

A Confederate flag was nailed below the fluttering white sheet that bore the menacing order. When had this been done? Banner wondered, her mind spinning back to when she’d been out earlier. She would have noticed it then. And the men had ridden up for breakfast! They would have seen it. Someone – no, more than one person – had done this while they’d all been inside. The audacity!

 

“Sons-of-bitches.”

 

Banner looked at Callum, sharing his disgust but not the wrath stamped on his chiseled features. She touched his hand. “Callum . . .” she whispered, trying to calm him.

 

He backed away, having none of it. “No. Don’t. Not now, Banner.” Then he spun about and marched toward the house again, yelling to Shane. “Take that bullshit down off the barn and burn it. The flag, too! Do it now.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Shane said, already trotting toward the barn.

 

Banner stood rooted to the spot as Callum swung up into Butter’s saddle and rode away, the horse’s hooves muffled by the snow. Cold air wrapped around her and she shivered, her teeth rattling.

 

Looking toward the house again, she saw Seth Latimer standing on the front porch, his squinty eyes fixed on the barn. He shook his head slowly, then turned and made his way back into the house.

 

Banner went inside, too, but she stood at the kitchen window and watched as Shane jerked down the big sheet and Confederate flag. He bundled them up and set them on fire, standing near them until they were nothing but ashes scattered by winter’s breath.

 

Gone. But the malevolence had left its stain like the black hole in the snow.

 

guestpost

5 Things Every Western Romance Needs

By Deborah Camp, author of Solitary Horseman

I’m not an expert on this subject, but I do know a thing or two about writing western romances, so here are my top five things they need to be successful.

  1. An Honorable Man. The hero can be rough and tumble, devilish, roguish, naughty, and have many other tempting traits, but one thing he must always be is honorable. Even if he’s a gunslinger, a gambler, or a man who imbibes a bit too often for a lady’s taste, he must have a code of honor that he won’t break. He might do some questionable things, but he won’t do something that he knows in his heart and soul is wrong.
  2. A Kind-hearted Woman. The heroine can be feisty, saucy, smart-mouthed, shy, timid, and even a tart, but she has to have a soft heart. She might come off about as tender as a porcupine, but we must discover early on that she has a soft center. When it comes right down to it, she’ll take the side of every underdog, feed any stray that wanders into the yard, and defend any youngster who needs her.
  3. A Sticky Situation. Every novel needs a conflict. While it’s best to have a conflict in which the hero and heroine have no choice but to stick it out and find a solution to the problem together, it doesn’t always have to be life or death. The situation might be more light-hearted, but it still has to be sticky enough to bind the hero and heroine together even though there are times when they want or need to be apart from one another.
  4. A Dastardly Person. Villains can be male or female, but there needs to be someone in the novel for the reader to fear and/or hate. I think the best “baddies” are those who we can understand. We can see their point of view, even though we don’t agree with it. Just having someone be hateful and mean isn’t good enough. We need to know why they are the way they are and why they like being that way. The bad people need to have motive beyond being mean or selfish.
  5. Animals. You can’t have a western without animals! Horses, dogs, cats, cows, pigs, chickens, buffalo, wolves, and on and on. Animals add authenticity, comic relief, and entertainment/education to a story. It’s particularly wonderful when one or two of the animals almost become secondary characters. Just don’t get in the animal’s point of view. (The hound jumped up, happy to see that his master had made it back from the hunt.), That’s just silly.

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SolitaryHorseman

 

Author of more than 45 novels, Deborah lives in Oklahoma. She has been a full-time writer since she graduated from the University of Tulsa. She worked for a few years as a reporter for newspapers before becoming a freelance writer. Deborah’s first novel was published in the late 1970s and her books have been published by Jove, New American Library, Harlequin, Silhouette, and Avon. She has been inducted into the Oklahoma Authors Hall of Fame and she is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of the Author’s Guild.

 

Lover of the west and the people who tried to tame it, Deborah likes to write about strong, independent women and the men who are their equals. She grew up on a diet of TV westerns which have served her well. Since she appreciates men with devilish twinkles in their eyes, she likes to mix laughter in with the love scenes in her books. Also widely published in non-fiction, she writes and edits for a magazine focused on small businesses. Deborah taught fiction writing for more than 10 years at a community college. She is currently working on her next historical romance set in the wild, wonderful west.

 

Her books have been re-issued on Amazon for Kindle Direct and have attracted tens of thousands of new fans. For a list of them, visit her website.

 

Blog– http://deborahcampwritersdesk.blogspot.com/

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/officialdeborahcamp

Pinterest — http://www.pinterest.com/debbycamp44/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/AuthorDebCamp

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Solitary-Horseman-Deborah-Camp-ebook/dp/B01HFCC2UQ

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FS_TourBanner_SolitaryHorseman
 

 

 

 

Excerpt, Guest Blog, Spotlight

Guest Blog featuring Debra Whittam’s Am I Going to Be Okay? @debrawhittam

 

 

Title:
Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and
Grief
Author: Debra Whittam
Publisher: Turning Point International
Pages: 253
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Psychology/Applied Psychology
Am I Going To Be Okay? is an American
story with a universal message. Ms. Whittam traces her history in the form of stories about her all too human, and sometimes unhinged family; she throws a rope to the little girl living there, and in adulthood, is able to pull her out to
safety, bit by bit.
Her history is peopled with folks from a different time, a time before therapy was acceptable, 12 steps unimaginable and harsh words, backhands and even harsher silences can be spun to appear almost normal.
She writes of a mother who would not or could not initiate love nor give it without condition, and a father, damn near heroic at times, abusive at others, a survivor with his head down and his sleeves rolled up.
Ms. Whittam approaches her past with the clear-eyed tough but sensitive objectivity necessary to untangle the shame from the
source. She speaks of the people that affected her life so deeply with an understanding of their time and place in American culture; a family not far removed from immigrant roots when men carried their own water, emoted misplaced anger, and with fresh socks and food found on the trail, were confident, unflinching and at that same time tragical- ly failing to the little ones they ignored.
Like many of us, details notwithstanding, Whittam responded by numbing, running and gunning. Alcohol gave her hope, soothed a
crushed soul for a time and wrecked her on a train, until finally she had the courage to accept it wasn’t working for her anymore. It was time to stop drinking and take inventory and accountability. It was time to accept, forgive and move forward. She healed where she was broken.
It is in the telling of this story that Whittam teaches us the  difference between just surviving and surviving well, the importance of shared introspection and a careful eye on the wake we leave behind in our actions. Her story is a guide to surviving abuse and addiction.
It is also about witnessing and dealing with the shrinking faculties of aging parents in the unavoidable circle of life. Finally, she offers a realistic sense of hope, forgiveness and a life we can shake hands with.

For More Information

  • Am I Going To Be Okay?
    Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief is available
    at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB
    Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

 

guestpost

Let’s Start Talking About It

 

I am a first time author so, let’s starting talking about the two questions I am asked most often by nearly everyone concerning my having written a memoir/self help book.  “How long did it take you to write the book?”  and  “Aren’t you worried about what family members will think?”  Really?  Are these questions that pertain to the author?  I think not.  What I sense is the people asking are only interested in the answer to see if THEY could do it.  So, let’s talk about this.  How long did it take to write?  I wrote, on and off, for about three years.  The most difficult part was the edit, of course.  What I thought was going to be an easy, fairly simple week or two process to get my “shitty first draft”, as Anne LaMott calls it, to a final proof copy actually took six months.  Good thing my editor knew how to handle my impatience since she told me we would start going from the first draft to revisions.  Well, after the sixth ‘first’ draft I wanted to say ‘I’m done’.  But just in the knick of time she announced we were on to the revisions.  Ah yes, now we were getting somewhere!  After the revisions to the revisions, many times over, we moved on to the changes to the revisions.  We were now in month three.  Too late to turn back yet I hated the thought of reading one more word of what was once a beloved manuscript to me.

Then, of course, we went from the changes to the changes to the changes.  Then finally, my friends, we were at the final manuscript!  Yea!  What joy.  What bliss.  At final manuscript 12 I rebelled and said ‘NO!”.

This was just in time for the Final Proof copy.  The galley or advanced reader copy as it’s called.  Great.  After three final proof copies we have now officially gone to print!  Oh my gosh.  How do people do this for a living?!

So, do you see how my answering, to the unknowing questioner, it took three years to write the book leaves me weak in the knees.  It’s not about me or what I went through, for heavens sake (!), it’s about them.  Of course it is.

Question number two is more lengthy to explain however, equally uninteresting to the one with the query.  Are they still listening as I explain that my first writing workshop was with Carol Henderson in Little Switzerland, NC where she explained to any of us thinking about writing creative non-fiction, memoir, to write as though everyone in the story has already died.  Or don’t do it at all.  That was a heady first bit of information for me as I already was sure I was the only who did not belong at the workshop.  I’m was a pretend ‘wanna be’ writer while everyone else was serious about it, better at it, etc.  However, through the next three years of writing, I kept that thought firmly in the fore front of my mind as I traveled the road of writing; what I remembered, my perception of the things I saw, heard and how I was treated from littlehood onward.

Is there any possibility that a family member will agree with my experience being true for them?  If, as they say, accuracy is based on perception, then every sibling in the same car having the same horrifying experience of riding with our drunk father at high rates of speed will invariably not have the same or even similar experiences as I did.

We all have our own examples of being at the same dining room table with all the siblings and have a different narrative of what happened when someone spilled milk, triggering a major brawl which in turn lead to yelling, crying and sometimes people coming to blows.

So do I answer to these random people, who I don’t even know, “Well, I can’t go to each person to make sure they are okay with it because blah blah blah.”   The person is already not listening.  No sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin would agree with what I had as my experience.  Parents would, absolutely, not agree.  So who ends up being the crazy one here?  And, how does anyone begin and end writing their memoir/ creative non-fiction narrative if they are,  indeed, a Pleaser.

Was and am I concerned with telling family stories that were always meant to be kept secret?  The point of my book is to see how insane it is to NOT talk about family member’s mental illness, their  addictions and the loss of a beloved through death or a relationship.  The impact on everyone in the family, especially the little ones watching the adults act like little monsters, is what creates the beginnings of chronic ‘IV drip’ of anxieties where little ones are sure of one of two things.  Either they did something wrong or there’s something wrong with them.  Those are the choices.  Silence and denial run the show and eventually become deadly in  one form or another.

So, my dear person with the questions, yes I considered everyone in the story.  Alive and not alive.  My experience is my truth.  If someone could have been in my shoes, at the same time with the same experience there might be a chance for some convergence of truth.  Doubt it, but maybe.  This memoir is a story of my life with my mom, entire family, but mainly her from my birth until her death interwoven with the untreated mental illness, untreated addiction and unacknowledged grief that flows through everyone’s family tree.  We just don’t talk about it.  Any of it.  Until, of course, on someone’s death bed they sob out some essential bit of  information that would’ve made everyone’s life different had they known it was NOT their fault.  Whatever ‘it’ is.

Answering these lame questions will become habit down the road and I will say, “Three years and yes I considered everyone.”  Let’s keep talking about it.

Book Excerpt:

In my therapist’s office, during my first year of recovery from alcoholism, I saw one of her graduate school psychology books on
her bookshelf. It was sitting alongside many of her self-help books which I had borrowed during the past year. I read several hoping to find a cure from my irrepressible anxiety that I had previously drunk away. I imagined the wordy text was far from my ability to comprehend as I was at that time only able to retain small bits of information. I asked my therapist if I could borrow that college text titled “Human Growth and Development.” I read it from cover to
cover within a short amount of time and surprisingly, was able to digest and retain it. I had to quit doubting my ability. Being hard on myself was no longer the answer. I wanted more.
That following summer I enrolled in a graduate course of the same name. I wanted to see if I could retain enough material to pass a
higher level learning class. I loved it and I got an A.
No longer living in a world governed by my need to numb myself through copious amounts of alcohol, I started doing what I wanted
to do with my life. Encountering the self-doubt I had always carried within me became the guidepost by which I continued to prove my “what ifs” unnecessary in 

order to keep myself safe.

My intention in writing this book is to reach out to
all who struggle with being frozen in fear of “what if.” This book may trigger emotions that have been shoved down so far they might not have a clear story to them yet. It might trigger memories of resentments, regrets or painful unhealed
episodes of your life. These moments may have happened long, long ago or may have been more recent. We go back into the past to find answers. The idea is not to stay there long, but to find healing through understanding the ‘why’ of it. Then begin our process of learning to self-sooth and love ourselves. Nothing is going to happen that you can’t handle. Nothing.
Isolated within my world of fear, I wouldn’t attempt anything outside of that small world. I had no foundation to stand on as a
spring-board toward finding out who I really was, so I joined a 12-Step group.
The beauty of being in a community of recovery, from whatever we might be working on, brings connection. at is what I needed so badly.
I hope, within these pages, you are able to find a spark that ignites your longing for more. I urge you to find your own path of being
okay by whatever non-mood altering way that makes sense to you; even, or especially, if it is unfamiliar to you. In writing this book, I intended to show how we can all go through our fears and do “it” anyway, whatever “it” is.
Letting go of fear suggests we “just breathe” and be ourselves. Thee “how” of being okay is within these pages and within yourself.
Stop listening to the repeated echoes of old messages in your head, messages like “You’ve done it again,” “You aren’t good enough,” “You should just give up.” These messages cause you to doubt yourself. Instead, listen to the other voice inside which says, “You can do this,” “There is a way.” Don’t ignore it. Don’t push it away. Don’t argue with it. That voice is there, even if you can’t hear it and I am here to help you find it. I look forward to hearing you say,
“I AM going to be okay.”
About the Author
Debra Whittam is a licensed, practicing mental health therapist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who specializes in addiction, anxiety and depression, grief and loss. Whittam is passionate about her work in all areas of her specialties, especially addiction. Working in a detox unit for over three years before beginning her own private practice,
Whittam realized, while counseling patients in the life and death arena of the detox unit, how much the loss of a beloved through death or a relationship impacted those struggling with addiction.
In this memoir, Whittam skillfully infuses her memories, stories and professional insights to remind us that the most important relationship we will ever have is with ourselves. She splits her time
between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and Paris, France.
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