Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book bingeing

          I've been bingeing on New Yorker magazine this week.  To be honest, I first check out all the cartoons, then catch the "About Town" section, and then skim the stories for something that might sound interesting.  I love it when our local library has a stack of back issues on the shelf, just waiting for someone like me to snap them up.  I grab a mug of something hot and hang out on the front porch and lose myself for a few hours.
          This spring and summer I'll be self-publishing a backlog of novels that have been hanging around my house for the better part of a decade.  It's a joy and a relief to finally know they will be out of my hands and into yours in the very near future.  You can read them one at a time or binge to your heart's content.  They segue into each other, so you don't have to wait to know what happens next with this character or that. 
          Here's a line up of what's already out there and what's coming your way soon.  No NOOK or KINDLE?  No worries.  A free app is located on each book's web page.   Please feel free to contact me if you need help with the downloading process.  I'm happy to assist you in any way I can.
          Happy book bingeing!  

BOOK ONE:  SURFACING
Now available on Amazon.com


          SURFACING is told in two parts by Allyson Schreiber.   Through flashbacks and in present time, Allyson weaves the story of her bittersweet childhood, her young adult life, and her complicated relationship with her older brother, Michael.  When he reveals that he is dying of AIDS, Allyson is forced to face their collective past with courage, determination, and an inner strength discovered through the long journey of Michael's illness and subsequent death.
          The structure of the novel reflects the struggle Allyson must endure in order to leave her old life behind.  The first section is somewhat disjointed, flashing back and forth in time, much like Allyson’s fragmented personality and life experiences.  She is challenged by many issues, all of which are reflected in her dysfunctional relationships, her workaholic nature, and non-existent personal life.  Allyson cannot be in the present moment consistently, and mentally lives either in the pain of the past or a projected Pollyanna future in order to keep herself from dealing with the chaos that swirls within and around her. 
          In part two, Allyson's old life slowly crumbles; everything she had once trusted eventually fails her.  Yet she is able to make peace with a history she cannot change in order to create a new life and a sense of self that is empowered and purposeful.  Still, she has a choice to make.  When her past comes back to haunt her, she faces a decision to either continue living in the light of what she has created or move back into the shadows. 
          SURFACING reflects one woman’s passage deep into the heart of who she is beyond the imposed identities of daughter, sister, wife, or mother.  As Allyson discovers her authentic self, the momentum of her evolution is inspirational and thought-provoking. 


BOOK TWO:  SEVEN GENERATIONS
Now available on Amazon.com 
 
          SEVEN GENERATIONS is told through the eyes of Grace Mason.  This coming-of-age story is triggered by Grace’s early childhood experience of being abandoned by her mother, Allyson, whom she assumes is dead.  Her mother returns a month later, but Grace is scarred by the experience and as she grows older, suffers with ongoing feelings of rejection in many of her relationships. 
          After a brief prologue in which Grace discovers her mother has been in a near-fatal car crash, the novel flashes back to the summer of her fourth birthday when Allyson left her.  The plot weaves its way through the birth of Grace’s sister, Brie and the subsequent accident that caused Brie to lose her hearing. Gathering momentum through Grace’s tumultuous teen-age years, SEVEN GENERATIONS reaches a mini climax during the summer before she is to leave for college.  Allyson and Grace have a heated argument after which Allyson is in the car accident, leaving her in a coma. 
          Grace struggles with her mixed emotions about leaving for college and moving on with her life once again without a mother.  While in college she falls in love with a man who helps her forget about the tragedies at home, but then finds herself having to make serious decisions that will affect the rest of her life.  When an unexpected pregnancy happens, Grace responds in a way that sets the stage for the last section of the novel in which she learns that our relationships with others are mirrors in which we see ourselves more intimately. 
          When Grace ultimately learns the truth about her mother’s past, the reasons she abandoned her, and the introspective choices that Allyson made in order to be able to return to her family, Grace begins to discover how to love and be loved imperfectly.  Spanning multi-generations, Grace's story weaves a rich tapestry of hope, love, and of family ties that can never be broken.
         

BOOK THREE:  A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH
Available on Amazon.com on June 3, 2014
 
          A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH is narrated by Annie Schreiber, a semi-functioning alcoholic and uncompromising narcissist who raised her children in the sixties and seventies with a Kool-Aid pitcher in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other. Now she is dead and wandering in an afterlife that forces her to witness the choices she made which ultimately led to her only son’s brutal self-destruction.
          Through the journey of deconstructing the past in the hopes of releasing herself from the limbo of what she calls “non-existence,“ Annie witnesses events in present time which force her to relive key moments of her own history. Unable to cope with the realities of being a wife and mother, Annie begins to self destruct by embarking on a clandestine affair with her husband’s brother, who wrecks havoc in her life by tormenting her children and ultimately abusing her.  Afraid of the consequences the truth might reveal, Annie swears her children to secrecy, and they unwittingly pay a high price for her conditional love and protection. 
          A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH draws out layers of emotional conflict that eventually allow Annie to forgive not only those who have damaged her children, but also herself for abandoning them when they most needed a mother.  In the end it reflects a family whose members are evolving and growing in ways which are complicated, but hopeful.  Inspired by the work of Alan Ball, Richard Kramer, and Winnie Holzman, A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH is rich with scenes of black humor, stimulating dialogue, and the inner workings of a woman’s soul that teeters on the edge of redemption.


BOOK FOUR:  COMMON THREADS
Available on Amazon.com on July 1, 2014
 
          Jaimie Reese's life is a series of endless empty caverns.  Her father is in prison.  Her mother walked out when she was in kindergarten and now she finds herself being bounced from one Midwestern foster home to the next.  Highly intelligent, but fiercely introverted, Jaimie can never quite connect with anyone or anyplace for long which leads to cyclical, reckless behavior.
          Shortly after her eighteenth birthday, knowing she is no longer a ward of the state,  Jaimie changes her name and drives west not knowing where she will eventually land.  Carving out a new life as Brynn Williams in Portland, Oregon is difficult, and she eventually learns that traits of both her father and mother are woven deeply within her personality and the life experiences she encounters.
          Desperately wanting to cut ties with her past, Jaimie/Brynn moves to Ottawa Institute, a spiritual retreat center in coastal northern California, where she feels at home for the first time in her life.  After she establishes roots in a new relationship and a place that allows Jaimie/Brynn to finally soften her heart, a distant relative suddenly reveals herself and unearths long buried secrets about her mother. 
          COMMON THREADS unwinds the multiple strands that create a woman's life, then weaves them back together into a journey that is both extraordinary and quietly triumphant.
         

OPEN ROAD: A LIFE WORTH WAITING FOR
Now available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

          OPEN ROAD: A LIFE WORTH WAITING FOR chronicles my life's story from my earliest memory at age three until the present moment.  As a woman born in the mid-sixties, I was not prepared for a life as a single woman running a yoga business and trying to carve out a life as a writer. 
          Looking back over the course of my life, it seems that I was destined for journeys unseen and unknown by not only my family and community, but also completely foreign to my own reality.  Welcoming the unknown was unfamiliar to me, but a reality I would readily embrace as I entered the second half of my life.  Enter divine guidance and the gifts of grace that often accompany the road less traveled. 
          The book is told through the metaphor of creating a garden, with each step a necessary and preparatory stage for the following one.  From tilling the soil to planting, from pruning back the excess to gathering the seeds for a future harvest, the memoir gently encourages the reader to understand that this is truly a never-ending journey through which we are all evolving in our own time...and through the unique calling of our spirits.
          Each chapter in the memoir begins with a first-person, present tense retelling of a significant memory from my past.  Then I lift the lesson, the experience, the circumstance and gently weave it into ever-evolving tapestry of what my life was becoming...and what is now evident in the person I am today. 
          It is my hope that this memoir will encourage others who have had to endure and overcome obstacles, both inner and outer, on their way to transformative healing.  Through sharing my story, I wish to give others the opportunity to reflect on their own...and in turn, to share their stories as well.