Forever 19 is a loving tribute to a wonderful person that was taken away so suddenly. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was very important for me to write this book so the world could see what a wonderful person my daughter was. And even after all the years since her death it helped me find closure. It also was he final legacy.
I really enjoyed how passionate this book was. Being her mother you probably knew her best, but did you have to do any research, discuss with family members and friends, to make sure you got the full picture before writing?
I mainly wanted to write about my daughter from my own perspective but I did talk with friends of hers whom I was able to contact after all these years and of course her siblings who suffered her loss along with me.
When writing this book, I felt you described Cheryl Jean as she truly was. What were some things you felt you had to get right to tell her story properly?
It was very important to me and the rest of the family not to put Cheryl on a pedestal but to show her as a real human both good and bad (well not really bad but very human).
While reading this book I kept asking myself, ‘how would I deal with such a loss?’ Do you have any advice for someone that has just lost someone?
It is difficult to give advice to anyone who has lost a loved one, especially a child. Every circumstance is different and every one mourns differently. The best I can say is pray for guidance, maybe get therapy if that might help but most of all just get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and face the day. They say “Time heals all wounds” and in a sense it is true. The pain never really goes away but it does subside. Just like a serious physical injury there is usually a scar left as a reminder. I often ask myself, “Would Cheryl be proud of me and how I have survived?” When the answer is, ” I think so” then I am encouraged to get on with my life.
Have you ever lost a loved one? Perhaps a child? How did you handle the pain? Did you feel empty, want to give up on life? This book tells how one mother dealt with the pain and loss of a beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter who died as the result of a tragic accident. Love and faith helped the family cope with the emptiness and sadness.
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Forever 19 by Kaye S. Beechum is a mother’s and family’s way of coping with the untimely death of their beloved Cheryl Jean. Cheryl was only nineteen when a car accident occurred out of nowhere while she was running errands on her lunch break. In 1984 things like cell phones and the internet were not around so communication was a lot harder. Kaye had to try and contact family in a pre-tech world to let them know Cheryl was hurt. The memories of the week Cheryl was in the hospital are described as a fog with people coming and going. The book details memories that the family holds onto. From her love of cats and hiking to her ambitions in acting and passion for helping others.
How do you deal with the death of your child, or sister? For everyone that answer is different. There is no right or wrong way to go through this difficult time in life. There is no time line on grieving either. Cheryl died back in August of 1984. Her family waited over thirty years to put together this tribute. Her memory lived on over the years through the telling of stories, teaching the younger members about her spirit, and even setting a place for heart family dinners on the holidays. She was never forgotten or pushed to the back of their minds.
Reading this book was like sitting down with Kaye and looking through an old family photo album. There were not too many photos, but the pictures that you envisioned reading the stories were detailed and brought you into the moments. I think the book accomplishes what the family was going for, you see Cheryl, the real girl, not an overly perfect example, but just real. They family doesn’t paint her as perfect and they admit to her faults. You also can tell just how deeply they miss her and what an impact she made on their lives in her short time with them. Cheryl had a loving spirit, a true giver, willing to help others even if it meant her not coming out on top. Her devotion to her church and friends was apparent and she thrived helping others reach their goals. It is a beautiful remembrance to Cheryl and will allow her legacy to live on so future generations of her family will know all she had to offer and all she gave to those she knew.
Pages: 112 | ASIN: B0793QN21M
Blindsided opens on a breezy, summery note; twelve-year-old LaTrell attends summer camp where she is thrown into a new group of friends and she wants to make a good impression. But this means defying her father and avoiding his suspicions. Soon it’s clear that she and her family are still dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s death. It shows how the family copes with the changes and react to the events following her death. The book also shows the relationships between LaTrell and her father Luis, and her nine-year-old brother Daryl.
The book is written in a simple way with a positive tone. This allows it to be aimed at families, not just young teenagers. Older children, (like Daryl) would be able to read this book with parents. The book explores a lot of difficult issues, mainly grief, but incorporates cyber-bullying and the general problem of fitting in. The positive tone encourages discussion and leaves the reader with the impression that experiencing these issues is okay.
There are questions at the end of each chapter – such as ‘What would you have done if you were in LaTrell’s shoes?’ These questions are a little unusual in a fictional book, but their purpose is evident. The questions encourage interactive reading. Older children who can read alone may use the questions to reflect on what they have read, or it may allow them to bring thoughts to their parents. For younger children, parents can raise these questions with them to encourage them to discuss their feelings.
The main theme of the book is dealing with grief and it is explored in conjunction with other childhood issues. Throughout the book the children are encouraged to discuss their feelings and any hardships with appropriate adults. This then shows the positive aspects and importance of good family relationships. LaTrell’s friendship with Peaches (who focuses on the relationship with her father) shows how friends can support positive relationships to develop within families, even at a young age and highlights the importance of childhood friends.
Through the strong bond between LaTrell and her father, the importance of mutual respect, compromise and communication is shown. For LaTrell it is important that she has freedom to make her own choices, looks cool and has a good reputation with her friends. So, it is key, that her father listens to her and though he does not always agree, he allows her to express herself in ways appropriate for her age. Through this, it highlights the importance of balance in the parent-child relationship.
Although Blindsided by Chenee’ Gilbert is a book that encourages communication and positive relationships, there is a lot of different events that occur in the book. Each of these is explored but there is room to go into a lot more detail with each one. The book has mostly positive outcomes, but we know that this is not always the case in real life – therefore if each issue was explored in more depth, then perhaps parents would be a little more prepared if their children are not as co-operative as LaTrell. Overall, I thought this was a very good book.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B077YVWM8C
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From the Heart is a series of short stories about human passions and emotions and how they come to the fore when people face challenging circumstances. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
Mario Llosa Vargas once said that love is the most important human activity. I think it is what makes us human. In these stories the need for love is paramount – from the child’s clinging to a safe world, to the desperation of a feared loss of a life partner, or to the family love that stays strong through tough times. But I was surprised to realise how powerful the need for companionship and support is in later life; it is precious and one of the few things that can ward off the pain and terror of the losses ahead.
It strikes me that bonding and the joys of feeling loved and safe are so easy to lose, and also, so easy to build – with understanding and good will. I guess I keep trying to make the story come good in the end.
Mouse Mat was my favorite of the stories. What was your favorite story in the collection and why?
In “The Legacy You Leave” I enjoyed seeing the selfish bully losing his power as the sons stood together to highlight the real hero, their father.
Did you write these stories separately or did you write them knowing that they would be published together?
No, the stories came alive independently. Often a character or a scene of conflict take hold in my mind, and I keep returning to it until the problem is solved. At an unexpected moment I realised the stories formed a whole, and the title just fell out of the theme.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your stories?
Definitely: don’t let despair, loss or tyranny take away your opportunity for joy, and joy in others.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m planning the sequel to Choose: Snakes or Ladders, which should be let loose in November. But it’s facing a bit of competition from other stories in the world of #MeToo, and similar instances of standover and exploitation.
o Heart Buddies
o Life After
o Mouse Mat
o A Worm Among the Flowers
o The Legacy You Leave
o Love in a Teapot
Carlo seems a perfect husband. Why can’t Nicky go with the happiness within her reach?
Paula worked really hard to live up to it all. And then she failed. How can something good come from all the pain?
A child lies in bed, scared and alone. Will Daddy and Mummy be there for her? Finding an answer takes a lot of growing up. But the lessons of the good times remain to help.
The ladies bridge club. Long time friends struggling to hang on as the Autumn leaves fall around them.
What was the secret to Greg’s ability to be loyal to his work and foster his dreams for his sons? And what toll did it take?
Sue and her mother had formed a tight bond, a wall against the conflict and pain in their life. But when does that wall become a prison?
Moving and heart-warming, these short stories about love and the emotions that get in the way, are an antidote to the fears that haunt the nights of all of us.
If you enjoy Amanda Prowse, give these stories a try.
Posted in Interviews
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A Deal With God: The Power of One, written by Michael Haden, tells the tale of two sweethearts Rebeccah Johnson and Leon Samuels who fates are intertwined after a romantic summer night. But tragedy is to strike the family, leaving the three children without a mother and a broken husband who feels lost and alone. A deal struck with God means a beautiful woman, Deana Murphy, will enter their life; destined to help the family in their darkest days. Faith, love and admiration will blossom as Deana helps the family in ways they would least expect.
A Deal With God is a love story unlike no other as it delves into the complexity of families, grief and having faith in God’s plan. Prepare to fall in love with the characters as you laugh, cry and experience their accomplishments right by their side.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are Rebeccah’s and Leon’s sons. A premonition about their son Mark sees God sending a woman by the name of Deana Murphy to enter their lives. We learn about Deana’s life and her hardships at the beginning of the story which builds a beautiful persona for the reader. Deana has experienced suffering and pain that only few could endure and in a twist of fate, makes a deal with God to save her life. Through her everlasting endurance and commitment to her faith, Deana begins her life and recovery in the town of Dothan, Georgia. Her faith is inspiring as she takes on incredible responsibilities and weaves her way into a complicated life.
The themes in the book can be quite emotional and complex at times, creating a sense of urgency to find out what happens and whether the characters recover from their trauma. For these reasons, prepare to sit down and read the entire book in one sitting as it is easy to read, like a “I must know what happens” kind of story. The plot line is fast-paced but still stops to describe delightful outfits or luscious food that will leave your mouth watering. It also details sporting events, pulling it away from the romantic plot line and giving the reader a sense of adventure and energy.
A Deal With God explores the different dynamics that occur within families and how different people respond and react to death. It will push the reader to consider how their family dynamic may be affected by death and grief, or how you may feel when a wonderful stranger mysteriously walks into your life. The book is based on the traditions and beliefs of Christianity and I appreciated the real-life experiences the characters endured and how they continued their faith regardless of the tests that God threw their way.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B006L9LG7U
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Because It Was Raining, written by Skyler Worley, tells a story of a man who goes by the name of Louis. He is a complex man dealing with death, loss, and mourning whilst trying to find his place in the world. Louis joins two other lost souls, the three dysfunctional amigos, who mask their loneliness with the swirl of a pipe. Together they venture into Kansas City where they find broken homes and people, lost in the filth of their demise. Will Louis break free from the demons that haunt him and finally find himself or will he be forever lost in a world of chaos?
Because It Was Raining is a novel about grief and how we can be trapped within the constraints of our own minds. The story is simple but effective, following a friendship group who are living in a world where they attempt to solve and mask their problems with drugs and dodgy relationships.
Skyler Worley writes with a creative flair, pulling the reader in with emotive words and concepts. The language is beautiful, carefully curated together to produce a complex and vivid picture of the scenery and characters. The story seems to switch between a hazed, drug-fuelled state to a deep and contemplative mindset. Louis wants to understand the meaning of life but is tortured by the losses of his past, finding analogies in his current life situation.
Because It Was Raining deals with the complexity of death and how it can shape your life in ways you least expect. There are so many emotions and raw situations that the reader will be able to relate to, especially if they have lost a loved one.
I enjoyed watching the character progression of the character “Boobe” as she takes on a motherly role whilst still involving herself in tools to mask her depression. She has profound moments of wisdom which provokes the reader to consider life and its meaning. For example, she states that the world lacks equality and some of us are born with a silver spoon, others with a plastic fork. You can then either choose to change your fate but only within your ability to alter it. Her life is complex as well as the characters she invites into her life and home. Boobe’s story is uncovered the further you move throughout the novel, exposing explanations and reasoning to her behavior.
Each character has their own personal backstory which has led them to a place that is lonely and dark. It’s a reminder that drugs are often a coping mechanism for those who are crying out for help. Because It Was Raining triggers a sense of empathy for the characters and the tragedies that they have endured.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a story about finding life after loss and all the complexities that come with grief.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B075ZNPVDL
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To Never Know depicts the story of Steven and how he is affected by his life choices and forces beyond his control. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The story is loosely based on the time period I was in high school up until the time I reached my mid-twenties. I always wondered what life could have been like had I taken more risks when I was a teenager. I was in Florida at the time of 9/11 and right as it happened, I wondered if any of my friends or acquaintances had been affected. There was no Facebook back then so it was more difficult to keep in touch with old friends and classmates at that time. The idea became a story which I felt should be told regarding love, loss and the importance of taking risks in life. You never know when it will be too late to reach out to someone. Therefore it is so important to make good choices today and always follow your heart. As I wrote the novel, I explored the notion of reaching out to someone who lost a daughter in 9/11. I believe this storyline made the novel more powerful. I hope the reader will be moved.
Steven is an interesting and relateable character. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
This character is all me. He speaks like me and acts like me especially during the time period the book is set in. I have changed considerably in some respects but most of the dialogue and traits I carry with me to this day.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
The moral of the story is that we must move forward and learn from our mistakes. We will make mistakes but we can’t beat ourselves up over them. We must try to value the beauty of life and take pleasure in the little things. I have a fascination for the minor details of life. In the end of this story, lives have been transformed due to the events that took place during the course of the novel. I want people to come away with a feeling that anything is possible if you are just willing to take risks in life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book is called The Separation and is a sci.fi. book. It was supposed to come out in late August but due to the passing of a friend, I couldn’t make the Booklife contest I wanted to enter so I delayed the release to late November. It will definitely come out then. Expect to be moved. It’s a very thought-provoking story.
Steven Lewis is a young man with no concrete plans for his future after school. For a short time during high school, he wanted to ask a girl named Kelly out on a date but never had the courage to do so. As his life is taken in a different direction than he had hoped, he holds on to the thought of actually getting to know Kelly. Even after several years pass, he is determined to find her again. His quest to know her leads him to a tragic discovery. When he meets her mother, Emily, his life will never be the same. This is a story of love, loss and hope. It is an unforgettable personal journey about the quest for happiness after tragedy.
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Would you walk a mile for someone you love? What about 300 miles? In John Meyer’s Shadows, Shells and Spain this adult fictionalized travel memoir tells the story of Jamie Draper’s journey on the Camino de Santiago trail.
Jamie Draper was a happily married man who loved his wife Pamela very much. But when she surprised him with a divorce, it had caught him off guard. Ever since he received a postcard addressed to him from Spain, it had sent him on a journey. He quit his job as a history teacher in Canada and moved to Palma, Spain, hoping to reconnect with his wife and discover why she so abruptly left him. He then starts a journey to follow the Camino trail to find his wife by following the subtle hidden clues in her letters to him. Along the way he makes interesting friends and explores the trail with some intriguing strangers. He meets a British woman named Brie Bletcher, who’s estranged from her husband Martin. When Jamie tells her his story, she joins him on the trip. Gaining clues and traveling along a striking trail they hit some snags from missing letters to some stained by the weather. When Jamie discovers that his wife is very sick in a new batch of letters, it gives his mission a new urgency.
This story takes place in present day Spain and some parts of Canada. These are beautiful landscapes on their own and John Meyer is able to bring them to life with vivid details. This being a fictional travel memoir I expected some heavy scene descriptions, but these were broken up by the curious characters that pop up along the trail as well as Jamie’s intereactions with Brie. The story was well written and grows more profound the longer he travels the trail. It had a bit of literary fiction, romance, mystery and drama all wrapped into one story. The theme, I felt, is about life, loss and love, and how to move on from grief. This would be ideal for people who love travelogues and who love tear-jerking novels.
Although I enjoyed reading this book, there’s a lot of factual and historical tidbits that slow the pace of the story. I wish this was streamlined so that I could get back to my favorite part, the characters. Although travel readers will enjoy the architectural highlights of each town and accompanying history. If you can’t make it to Spain, this is your next best option.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0756JF632
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Despite the years of bullying in school, Jewel Hart has remained sweet and kind. She has it all—a great life, a great family, and beauty—but she has never been able to obtain the one thing she wants—to belong.
When Jewel meets Kaiden Carter, a good-looking, charming new student at York Mills High, things start to look up. On the surface, he is perfect, but Jewel can’t shake the feeling that everything is not as it seems.
When the devastation of the rising suicides in her school hits too close to home and drives Jewel into a deep despair, she clings to Kaiden’s strength to find her way back. Through the pain and fear surrounding her, she finds hope and the will to go on. But just as she picks herself up, tragedy strikes again, threatening to steal her last glimmer of hope. How will she go on? Can she ever find her place in the world?
RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2017
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Dave Matthes’s irreverent, profanity-laced, often hilarious novel, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard, is a fascinating work of writing. It’s half sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and half a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects family and friends around the incident. Sleepeth Not, the Bastard follows two separate but surprisingly intertwined characters: Lew Ferranna, a deadbeat dad, drunkard, and generally unsavory character, and Sarah Fox, a famous drummer and rockstar from the all-female rock band, The Bastards. Matthes reveals in the opening pages of the story that Lew’s son committed suicide at the age of seventeen, and spends the rest of the novel’s tumultuous pages examining how that incident affected not only Lew and his family, but also how Sarah’s hardcore band, The Bastards, and their wild, rough-living producer, Wolfgang Stephanopolis fits into the mysterious puzzle of life.
I have had the privilege of reading several of Matthes’s works, and he has a skill that I have only seen before in Kurt Vonnegut. He is able to create completely unlikable, frustrating, and obnoxious characters, and turn them into protagonists that, for some unknown reason, you find yourself pulling for. The two stars of Sleepeth Not, the Bastard are superficially very unlikable: Lew has abandoned his daughter and wife after their son’s suicide; Sarah is standoffish, erratic, and crude. But perhaps what’s appealing about Matthes’s characters is the fact that they are so relatable. Though hopefully few of us know people who would commit some of the frankly horrible acts that Matthes’s characters perform, it’s a fact of life that everyone has flaws. It is refreshing to see characters dealing with problems that we, as readers, have likely seen or experienced ourselves: the demise of relationships, parental-child fights, addiction, depression, and death.
Fortunately, though, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is not all doom and gloom. In his solid novel, Matthes manages to create humor (albeit dark) in the absurd situations he places his characters in. Whether it’s a tiger outside of Vegas, a minivan driving through the garage door, or the insanely gaudy (and proud of it) producer Wolfgang Stephanopolis, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard manages to bring a smile to readers’ faces in the most surprising moments. The story lacks only in a few small facets that irritated me personally, specifically the lack of double L’s in all of Lew’s parts of the story (meaning “walls” would be written as “wal s”).
Though it covers potentially disheartening topics, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard will not dishearten readers. Similar to Matthes’s other works, it manages to address the most unpleasant topics of life while also instilling a positive and motivating force in readers. It often feels as if Matthes’s charactesr are saying to readers what we all know but sometimes want to forget: Life can be ugly, hard, and miserable; but life can also be beautiful, surprising, and wonderful. As a reader whose family has experienced the pain and loss of unexpected death by suicide, I found this novel to be painful, at times, but overall uplifting and a reminder to appreciate the beautiful moments in life.
Pages: 453 | ASIN: B00N53IMWW
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