Looking to the Future

Hey everyone!  I wanted to take a few minutes to give you all some information on the future of this blog and a few other things I’m working on behind the scenes.

First, let me say that writing this blog has been such a great experience and I’m really enjoying all that I am doing with it.  I love that I get to share my passion for writing with all those following me. Putting pen to paper and sharing my thoughts with you on the things that matter most to me continues to be a tremendous rush and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.  I am humbled that you have chosen to follow along with me as I continue my journey as a writer.    Thank you again for your time and for the feedback you are able to provide.

Looking to the future, I still plan to continue sharing my stories, book reviews, and reflections on the lessons life has taught me so far.  The only thing that is going to change a bit is that I am planning to pull back a little on the amount of content I post each week.  You can still expect to be entertained weekly, but for now it will be limited to just two to three postings a week.

I will continue to post as frequently as I can in the continuation of my Julia story.  This piece has a special place in my heart as it deals with some of the hardships many of us are forced endure. I drew deeply from my own struggles watching my husband fight cancer. My muse was one born from suffering and one that brought healing to me when I was in need of it most.

I am also getting ready to self-publish my very first book very soon!  It was an extremely fun story to write, but be warned that it is not the same as what I normally write.  The title of the book is No Apologies from the Front Porch.  You should know in advance that this piece is a little closer to a PG-13 type movie.

The lead character is a feisty late thirties divorcee having to relearn how to live her life following a hurtful divorce.  She has no qualms acknowledging the difficult person she knows she can be and makes no apologies for telling it like it is.  I’ll keep you up to date with more information as the time for publication approaches.

I’ve also recently gotten an offer from a publication house that I am currently milling over.  It has always been a goal of mine to become a traditionally published author working with a large publishing house with an agent to handle all the details.  The trouble is that life doesn’t always work like you’d want and I’m just not at that spot yet.  I am very happy with the offer and will continue all I can to fulfill my dream.

I am also pursuing publications of several of my short stories, though this style of writing is really not in my wheelhouse.  Those that truly know me know that I am just too wordy to put everything I need in only a few pages.

Apart from all of this, the past six weeks have seen me traveling to Atlanta for a writer’s conference and to Mississippi for a visit with my best friend.  It is nice to have breaks like these every once in a while.  This mama needed a vacation in a bad way!

With that, I am going to continue doing what I know and love most including being a mom to these crazy kids.  Be on the lookout for some truly frightening and hilarious stories, as I will soon be teaching my sixteen year old how to drive.

Again, a huge thank-you to everyone who follows my blog!  I appreciate your support and love the feedback I am getting from all of you.  Take care! Talk to you soon!
Leigh

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Book Review # 8

The Things We Wished Were True

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Marybeth Whalen

Author Marybeth Whalen holds nothing back as she masterfully weaves concepts such as a scorned lover, an accidental drowning, intense moments of stalking, a torrid love triangle, and a kidnapping in wonderful story that truly has everything. The Things We Wished Were True is a melting pot that reveals a story that is a suspenseful page-turner. The cover of this book barely contains the plot twists as readers are immediately thrown into the many story lines that balance out so well within this book. Normally, I would say that this large amount of layers within one story would be too much for a writer to fully explore, but Whalen makes it all work out.

The novel presents a number of colorful characters with personalities so precise and well defined that you’d swear the author was describing someone you know. First, there is Zel. Zel’s an empty nester who loves to be in the midst of everyone’s business. She means no harm and she isn’t wanting to be as intrusive as she lets on. In Zel’s mind, she’s being useful. But is she really?

Next is Bryte. Bryte is guilty of having stolen her best friend’s boyfriend year’s prior. Drama unfolds as she does all she can to avoid the subject resurfacings of infertility within their marriage. With Bryte becoming pregnant once already, her husband feels they need to try again yet Bryte knows it was not that easy, as she had let on.

Jency is just returning to town after years away. Her homecoming is saddened by her feelings of being broken and alone in the world with the betrayal of her husband. Now, with him in prison and the prestigious life she once lived over, she has to put her two young girls first as she moves home for the support from her parents.

Luke, a single father whose wife has walked out on him, struggles to care for his two children. Even though she left him, he is trying to make it work and not sure if he willing to give up on his marriage, quite yet.

Caylee, an eleven-year-old girl, is tasked with watching her little brother for the summer. However Caylee is only a kid herself and is forced with the consequences that her mother places on her to act more like a parent than a kid.

These neighbors all find themselves spending a hot summer day together at the neighborhood pool. When a little boy nearly drowns, the neighbors soon discover that their lives are far more intertwined than they had ever believed before. As the summer marches on, each person ultimately comes to recognize that the smallest circumstances can in fact matter the most in life.

This book had me guessing from start to finish. The author did a complete job in including each character in the book’s many twists and turns, while also keeping a few surprises just for select characters. In the end, I loved how Marybeth Whalen took a cast of seemingly unconnected people who happened to live in the same neighborhood and weaved them into a tapestry of interdependence and showcased just how connected everyone truly is.   The author’s added descriptions of summer smells and sounds helped me feel at home in the neighborhood she created before me. In the end, I would give this five stars and highly recommend it.

Book Review 7

Summit Lake

By Charlie Donlea

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If you have a need for a murder mystery that will get your heart racing and your blood pumping, then I’ve got the right book for you! Charlie Donlea’s debut novel, Summit Lake, checks every box in what a great suspenseful book needs. I would highly recommend Summit Lake for anyone who loves an exciting murder mystery.

The book opens with the brutal murder of Becca Eckersley, a young woman in the prime of her life. To say this is an intense scene would be an understatement. The detail Donlea uses to paint this setting goes far beyond simple words on a page. This particular backdrop, like many others in the book, becomes an experience that does nothing less than draws readers in further.
It is easy to become invested in this story. Through the use of creative flashbacks, Becca Eckersley’s life is weaved seamlessly within the life of an investigative reporter, Kelsey Castle. The story itself takes place in a little mountain town nestled deeply within North Carolina.

As the story of Becca’s romantic life unfolds, Castle is able to learn that Becca’s perpetual need for male attention is a potential driving force in her investigation. As Kelsey continues to review the case, a connection between herself and the late Becca makes it urgent that Kelsey do all she can to bring justice to the young woman killed in the prime of her life. As if this story needed any further intrigue, it isn’t long before we learn that Kelsey too is running from a troubled past and her involvement in the Eckersley case has become more than just a story to her.

What I loved about Summit Lake was the detailed imagery Donlea used to paint the scenery of North Carolina. Those near and dear to this area (as I am) are always overly critical of its description, and Donlea’s effort really does the state justice. I sometimes find that the overuse of flashbacks and the use of multiple timelines can get repetitive and confusing. That certainly wasn’t the case here! Most of all, this story was not predictable by any means. If I say anymore, I know I’ll start giving away too many important details, so take my word for it and grab this book today.

The next book by Mr. Donlea is set to be released in late April, and I for one am excited about what sort of anxiety he has in store for readers next. As mark of a true mystery writer, Donlea delivers readers countless hours of restless sleep as we come down from the ending of a masterful thriller.

If it was anything but a Country Song

I grew up an hour north of Seattle during the heyday of the infamous grunge scene. Years later when I joined the service and would identify being from Seattle, I often was asked if I had ever seen any of the more renowned bands such as Pearl Jam or Nirvana before they made it big.

That answer would be a big NO! While I identified as being from Seattle, in actuality I grew up in a little hick town that no one had ever heard of. It was just easier to say Seattle and move on with my day.

The music that most impacted my life at that time comes from a band with roots located far from the small town in Washington where I once called home. The first time I was introduced to the band Alabama I knew I had finally found the music I had been searching for my entire life. “Mountain Music” by this iconic country group was my jam and took hold of me like no song before it ever had.

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Now the hubs still likes to tease me about my indifference to growing up in such close proximity to one of the greatest musical revolutions of all time. I was so close to the groundbreaking history of alternative music giants such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. The trouble was their songs never seemed to speak to me even the slightest. Don’t get me wrong. I love grunge music along with classic rock and other genres, but I will always return to my favorite country music classics without fail.

One day while driving around, Blue Eyes, at the age of eleven sang the last lyrics of song that ended, “You only kiss me when you’re drunk.” I had to laugh because those are lyrics that I can clearly identify as classic country. There aren’t too many songs that get away with lyrics like this, but many in the country world get a pass simply because they are country! Being an avid fan, here is my list of some of these songs lyrics that can only be true country:

  • Alan Jackson: “Chattahoochee”

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The song begins, “Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” That phrase in itself is classic country. I love Alan Jackson and know all his songs by heart. He is as country as country can be, but can you imagine Snoop Dog singing those lyrics? Me neither.

 

  • Billy Currington: “God is Great, Beer is Good and People are Crazy”

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This song cracked up the hubs, a die-hard grunge fan, so much that he actually went out of his way and learned it. He even mentioned that no other genre could get away with this song and lyrics. By the end of the song, the main character, which only meets this mysterious man once in a bar as they bond over the phrase coined in the song’s title, ends being replaced in this man’s will instead over his own kids. The man is now rich, drinking a beer in honor of his gracious benefactor.  Now, if that is not country, I don’t know what is!

 

  • Dixie Chicks- “Good-Bye Earl”

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Although this song has a serious message speaking out against domestic violence, it shows that country music is anything but transparent. No other genre could boast, “Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends, all through their high school days, both member’s of the 4-H club, both active in the FFA.”   Later on, especially if you are able to watch the video, you will see that they poison the man who was about to kill Wanda with black-eyed peas. Unless you are Fergie and have a band named that, only country music can get away with using this southern delicacy as the perfect murder weapon.

 

  • Garth Brooks – “Papa Loved Mama”

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This list could not be complete without a Garth Brooks song. He is indicative of Country Music and the vibe that follows it. This was my sixteen year olds pick for this category. She felt that only in an upbeat country song could the retelling Mama’s untimely death at Papa’s hands be so accepted. Throw in the fact that Papa carried out the deed via his truck and this song fits just perfectly with good country standing.

 

  • Reba McEntyre- “The Night that the lights went out in Georgia”

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Just like “Papa Loved Mama”, the upbeat music that accompanies the serious topic at the heart of this song makes its inclusion on my list of song with lyrics that could only be country. All the lyrics are great, but the best part is the line, “A big bellied sheriff grabbed his gun and said why’d you do it?” If that doesn’t give you a clear visual of a fat country boy, I don’t know what would. The next part continues, “A judge said guilty on a make believe trial, slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile and said supper is waiting at home and I gotta get to it.” Now, Country draws us back to the basics of good living and remembering what is important to life in general. The fact that food takes precedence to justice is just so fitting.

 

  • Brooks and Dunn- “Boot Scootin Boogie”

Of course we have to include a song with its own dance. “I fire up my pick-up truck and watch the horses run.” I would like to see Eddie Vedder sing those lyrics and get away with it.

 

  • Morgan Wallen- “The Way I Talk”

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A newer song for the list, I feel this one just screams out to the Deep South and the home of many country music lovers. “I sound a little like my daddy, I don’t cuss around my mama, got some words you never heard unless you down yonder, the man up stairs get’s it, so I ain’t trying to fix it.” Now, here in the first part of the chorus of this song, Morgan Wallen has included everything country in here, Mama and Daddy and God. The only thing missing is his truck and an old hound dog!

 

  • Charlie Daniels Band- “The Devil Went down to Georgia”

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Just the title of the song, “The Devil Went down to Georgia” tells you what you need to know about the song.

 

  • George Straight- “All My Exes live in Texas”

The merits of country music reign heavily in love and the lack of love at times. In this fun song, George Straight sings that’s why he lays his head in Tennessee. Only country music could get by with that sort of verse. I don’t see Bon Jovi fitting Tennessee into one of his songs and if for some reason he did, it could never be like King George!

 

  • Dolly Parton- “Jolene”

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This is the ultimate cheating song. Before Carrie Underwood’s and Taylor Swift’s ballads that crooned heartbreak, is this classic. Dolly Parton’s hit was based on a red haired bank teller that flirted with her husband early on in their marriage. Cheating is indicative of so many country songs and this song has remained popular for over forty years for that very reason.

 

There are many more songs that could be added to this list. If you are an avid country listener and any of these rang true with you, please leave a comment on my page. If you have your own to add, I would love to hear from you.

Book Review # 6

Bad Mommy

Tarryn Fisher

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If you ever want to take a ride on the crazy train then be prepared as Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy has everything you’ll ever need. With a dynamic central character whose mental health is forever in question and a setting so real it feels like it could be happening down your block, Bad Mommy is a psychological thrill ride sure to grab you right from the start.

Fig Coxbury, the central character of the work, is an egomaniacal fiend who is only out to get what she feels is rightfully hers. Trouble arises when what she feels she is due is only a thought born from her twisted view of the world around her.

Ms. Fisher gives depth to the thoughts and actions of Fig by providing the alternate voices of Jolene and Darius Avery, the unfortunate family whose lives are the focus of Fig’s devilish desires.

Everything starts out innocently enough when Fig first notices a young girl playing in a park. This seemingly normal scene quickly spirals into one of insanity as Fig becomes fully convinced that this is the same child she unfortunately lost to a miscarriage a couple years earlier.

After thoroughly stalking the little girl and her mother, Jolene Avery, Fig acts on her urges and impulsively purchases a neighboring home to the Avery family. Before long, Fig intertwines herself deeply into the lives of this unsuspecting family with the intention of getting back the life she feels she’s owed.

Jolene, dubbed Bab Mommy by Fig, has no clue that this newfound friend who always seems to be there for her is in reality working against her at every turn. Darius, Jolene’s husband, is not safe from the actions of Fig either as he too soon becomes a target of Fig’s every growing desires.  Darius, is center stage to this story as the reader soon finds out not everything is as wonderful in his life as the fairytale Fig constructs for herself of the handsome Mr. Avery.

Readers are treated to the varying voices of all three characters as the story unfolds. This refreshing approach helps to fully understand just how crafty and unhinged Fig truly is in her quest for return of the life she never rightly had in the first place.

Tarryn Fisher’s creation of Fig Coxbury is a masterpiece of psychological torment and jealousy. She is the perfect character for anyone who guiltily enjoys watching as another’s life self-destructs before their eyes. From beginning to end, readers are taken on a journey of fascination as Fig’s seemingly innocent story unfolds to one of selfish madness with the ultimate goal of replacing the life of another with her own.

I love a great story that showcases the troubling psychological wellbeing of others.   This is a definite issue around all of us in today’s society.  Mental health is looked upon as a mere afterthought.  Fig is a great example of this.

Fig is a train wreck of a character that I loved to hate. The first portion of the book provide Fig’s point of view regarding her inability to have children making her desires and wants totally understandable.  This is something so many of us can relate to. However, when the author starts bringing in the perspective of the other characters, you can finally begin to comprehend just how insane Fig really is.

The ending of this book left me speechless. To say I didn’t expect what I found on the last page would be an understatement to say the very least. Tarryn Fisher’s Bad Mommy is a psychological study and glimpse into the world of an absolute psychopath who has no qualms about ruining the lives of everyone around her so long as she has her own needs met. This is a true page-turner worth your time!