Tag Archive | family

Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

shake

Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

Why?

why

I seldom feel the need to explain myself, and I never intended to start now. But since the news of my family’s move to Atlanta has been met with the general inquisition of “why,” I’ve been feeling the need to explain myself, to tick off reasons why we’ve decided to leave this grand old place, and basically, sell the idea of Atlanta to people who are not only not coming with us, but probably won’t even visit.

Our “why” basically is this, though.

We live in a rural area, and though my husband works for the federal government, his particular placement has little room for advancement right now. Atlanta has that. We do have family here, because we were born and raised here. However, that has been a blessing and a curse. Family is there for help and support, but only when they can and want to, and family tends to overstep their bounds. Hell, I’ll say it, my mother especially.

When you have the comfort and convenience of family, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go it on your own. For instance, I almost never have issues with babysitting. On the other hand, my mother often treats me like a teen mom and coaches me (without solicitation) through whatever thing I’m dealing with concerning the children.

We have special needs children, I’ve said that before. The school district has been accommodating, but all the while letting us know that they only have so many resources available and there is only so much they can do. We are relocating to a place where there will be many more resources for the children.

And also, despite their challenges, my children are gifted, but there are no resources here to help nurture their talents besides basic school activities. If my daughter wants to dance, she has to do it in her bedroom.

Finally, we will be in a place where, at last, I can give the proper time and attention to my own career. And not law enforcement. I’ll get to really give freelancing a shot, and I’ll be in a prime place to promote my book next year.

So, there you have it. Those are just a couple of reasons why other than, damn it, it’s our party and we’ll move if we want to.

“Welcome to Atlanta where the players play…”

This is the text I got from my husband this morning, once he got to work and found out that he had been picked up as a transfer with his job to their Atlanta facility.

We decided on a whim almost a month ago to put in for it because the situation here has been at such a stand still, and really, I’ve been complaining about this place (my hometown) for oh…since I moved back here in 2006. We also tried for Houston and Butner, and I would have been fine with either, but being honest, my heart was already in Georgia.

And, truth be told, and as my history speaks for itself, I believe in fresh starts.

On one hand it’s scary. With two special needs children, transitions and the what ifs surrounding them can be paralyzing, but on the other hand we’ll be in a place where there are many more opportunities and hopefully school districts that can better suit their needs.

I will, at least for a bit, be able to be at home writing and be there and available for my family. The chances for promotion for my husband will greatly increase. And I will still have family in the area, including two beloved older aunts who I don’t see or talk to nearly enough. And there are a couple of friends who relocated there several years ago who I get to catch up with, too and writer friends I’ve met through social media who I might actually get to hang out with in real life!

But enough with the jibber jabber. I have a house to sell and another to locate and buy!

Whatever It Takes

I’ve already harped on Twitter about my 1k+ word count accomplishment today. To my fellow, more dedicated writer friends, this probably sounds like nothing, but for me who has been creatively mute for the past month or so, this is wonderful.

Of course, the burst of creative energy came from a huge bout of stress I’m dealing with, but fortunately, this is an awesome outlet for me. I subbed a story last week; I have another near completion, and I’m having tons of fun working on yet another (with sex injuries, yay!).

I’ve also added two-mile walks to the mix which also help.

Hell, anything is better than punching a wall (or a face), I guess.

Somebody has to be the bitch; it might as well be me.

A little over a year ago, my sister called to inform me that she had “let” her car go back and she needed to borrow my extra car to go to work. We use the term “let go back” because that’s just what she did. She did other things with her money besides paying her car payment -like club hopping and buying clothes- but when it came down to taking responsibility, she enlisted my help.

I kindly told her that my old car was having problems. It wasn’t at that time, and that was probably mean enough, but not as mean as me saying, “Um, no, you put yourself in this situation and I’m not going to bail you out of it.” And anyways, she can’t drive a manual. *shrugs*

She dug her way out of that situation, I’m sure, but she stopped speaking to me for several months because of it, which sort of showed me something: If I wasn’t of any use to her financially or materialistically, then I was disposable. I pointed this out to my husband.

I’m telling that little story to lead into this one. We have another “extra” vehicle that we don’t drive much. It’s an SUV and I joke a lot about it being the “borrow car.” When a friend or family member’s car breaks down and they can’t (read don’t want to) fix it right away, they borrow it. This has happened four times since it became our extra vehicle. First it was his sister who kept it for three months before I made him get it back and when he did, she had scraped it on the side and didn’t tell us. Next it was an ex-coworker who borrowed it twice for a couple of weeks at a time because her husband’s car was down. Yes, she borrowed a vehicle for her husband (who the fuck does that!). Oh, you had to be there to hear me bitch about that one.

This time, it’s his cousin whose truck is down and this is how the husband got me – he said his cousin needed to borrow it to go to an interview the next day and I was fine with that, but when the truck didn’t return home the next day or the next week and still isn’t there, I asked about it, to which the husband replied, “Well, I told him to keep it until he’s straight.”

Until he’s straight? When will that be? And who decides? If someone is supplying you with a vehicle that you have to do nothing to maintain besides putting in the gas you need to drive it, how fast would you move to get your own vehicle fixed? Maybe you don’t know a lot of people who would do this (hell, I don’t), but it seems to be a thing with my in-laws and he refuses to put his foot down or even check on the status of our vehicle.

When something happens to it, though, WE have to pay for it. We pay the insurance. We pay the taxes. Everyone else just gets a free ride. That’s why I always mention selling it, or I’m always wishing someone would just wreck it or it would break down, then they’d have nothing to borrow and you know what else, they’d probably no longer have any reason to associate with us either…which is sorta fine by me.

Bitch of the Family, Over and out.

Every Day I’m Thankful…

…for my children, husband, dog, turtle, extended family (even the ones who get on my nerves) and friends I’ve met in the craziest ways (I met one of my besties via Twitter over a year ago) and editors who continue to publish me and even take the time to mentor and encourage me and readers who like my stuff enough to reach out and even those who read and enjoy my stories and I never know anything about it.

But…I’ve got a feeling that today, I’m supposed to be especially mushy about it 😉 so…

I am especially thankful this year and on this day for two children, who I struggled even at my young age to conceive and to carry, who continue to thrive despite numerous challenges, a daughter who, even with ASD, asks for hug after hug and kiss after kiss and comes into my room to tell me she loves me about one hundred times a day.  I am especially thankful for a son who is standing next to me right now reading from a Batman Comic Book after having not spoken a word until he was two years old.

I am thankful for a family physician who, after numerous hospital and specialist visits, had the experience and foresight to test me for Lyme Disease when he out of everyone else recognized the symptoms, when I was ready to just shoot myself to end the misery.  And on that note, I am thankfuly for a boss who left work to come and take me on one of those hospital trips.

I am thankful for a mom to argue with but also have beers and laugh with, a husband who knows and excepts all my flaws.  I am eternally thankful for the ability to continue to do what I love after all these years.

I am certainly thankful for the opportunity to edit my first anthology and to keep coming up with new ideas.

I am thankful, I am, everyday, and always.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Love, Tenille