Thank you, Sue, for inviting me to post on your blog. Today, I’d like to mention how “Tomorrow Blossoms”, the book you featured yesterday came to be. My college-age daughter had come home on a break and mentioned that a classmate of hers who’d been adopted as an infant had been contacted by his birth parents. That set in motion a range of possibilities for my writer’s mind, the end result being “Tomorrow Blossoms”.
Now, I’d like to talk about my new release “The Mercy of Time and Chance” and its evolution from idea to reality. Because the story is based on my grandmother’s life, it’s very special to me, and there were times I wondered if it would ever see the light of day. Especially since I originally wrote it shortly after her death many years ago. It was my first attempt at writing, and it showed. Consequently, it went in a drawer and stayed there for 30 years.
Aware I woefully lacked the skills to do justice to Grandma’s story, I started reading everything I could about creative writing. And then I started writing another story, then another. While I started to attract agents’ interests and even signed with one, the big boys in publishing weren’t interested.
Left to my own devices, I submitted to a small publisher and was accepted. A year later, I submitted a different book to another publisher and was accepted again. By this time, indie publishing was gaining more acceptance, so I tried my hand at formatting and publishing my own work. Now, I have six novels out in paperback and e-book, and one short story collection in e-book only. I’m also working on a light romantic series.
But back to Grandma’s story. After I had some success under my belt, I began to think about tackling the mammoth stack of papers gathering dust in a drawer. As I reread it, my enthusiasm grew. Much of it had to be discarded because it wasn’t important to the story and didn’t add anything but filler. What was left needed a drastic pruning. Every verb was accompanied by an adverb, every noun had an adjective, and no one ever “said” anything. Oh, no, they opined, exclaimed, or shouted. You get the picture. After I corrected that, I felt I had a credible story that would resonate with many different nationalities besides the Italian-American families portrayed in the book.
The story begins in 1902 and spans three generations of an Italian-American family. The first generation is steeped in old world customs and values, living in the manner expected of them by their church and community. The second clings to the old and familiar while the world around them changes. The third embraces the modern but reverts to the past when it suits them.
Caught in the middle is Renie. Orphaned at two, she’s never known a mother’s love. Weaned on rejection and raised on neglect by a bitter stepmother, she’s unsure how to mother her own children, passing on what she believes are the proper roles of men and women.
After a life filled with tragedy and heartbreak, she realizes she may have created a respectful, obedient daughter, but she’s also made her meek and submissive. Her son, on the other hand, has been groomed from birth to assume his father’s role as lord and master of the family. Unfortunately, he also inherits his quick temper.
Here is a short excerpt from the first generation, circa 1913.
In the shadows of the darkened parlor, Tessa rubbed a coarse hand on the underside of her swollen belly as she pondered the conversation to which she’d just been privy. She’d noticed her stepdaughter’s figure developing a more womanly roundness. Apparently Carmine also noticed. With firm, high breasts, a tiny waist, and rounded hips, the girl reminded her of herself many years earlier. Now, at thirty years of age, she couldn’t recall a time when her body was hers alone. For the last ten years she’d been attached to, coupled with, or inhabited by others, poked and prodded from without and within. Trapped in a misshapen body for much of her adult life, she found it difficult if not impossible to commiserate with the problems of her young, attractive stepdaughter.
The fluted horn of Tony’s Victrola issued a groan not unlike the dying moans of a wounded animal. Tessa glanced at her sleeping husband, his fat cigar dangling precariously from his gnarled fingers, and frowned. She plucked the stogie from his hand before it fell and ground it out in the ashtray. Then she slipped the glass of wine from his other hand before it, too, landed on the carpet.
She drained what was left of his Chianti, then rested the empty glass on the crest of her belly and refilled it. As she swirled the ruby liquid round and round, an enigmatic smile played across her face. Then she downed the drink in a single, satisfied gulp, as if adding the final ingredient to a prize-winning recipe.
Links to all my books can be found on my website http://www.joycedebacco.com