Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Interview with Morgan Malone, author of Cocktales: An After-50 Memoir

Today's guest is Morgan Malone, author of the memoir, Cocktales: An After-50 Memoir

My pen-name is Morgan Malone. A twist on the old “What is my stripper name? A combination of the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on: Dino Homestead. I opted instead for the name of my first cat and my hometown to create Morgan Malone, an erudite yet brazen hussy, who decided, after 15 years of widowhood, to see if there were any men in America (and parts of Canada) who wanted to have sex with a 50 year-old woman. At least that is what I told myself I was doing. Along my almost ten-year journey through the online dating sites, I discovered men who were just as unsure of their intentions as I was. As I flirted with them, met them and even slept with quite a few, I began peeling off the layers of my emotional armor with less reluctance than I was peeling off my carefully coordinated lingerie. I found some really nice men, some very sexy men, some real dogs and a handful of genuine human beings who became friends as well as lovers. And I started to find myself: not just a mom, a lawyer, a wife and a widow but a woman I did not recognize. Yet there she was: a woman I did not like at times, a woman I thought no man would ever love, a woman who spent the first part of her life being the woman she thought she must be, a woman who was facing the last third of her life, finally, with anticipation.

My adventures and misadventures were met with disbelief by my friends who were convinced, almost to a woman, that the only men interested in a woman of our years was nigh on to 80 and in need of “a nurse and a purse.” So Cocktales has become not only a chronicle of my personal journey from widow to woman, from alone to independent, from needy to satisfied, but an instruction manual for the thousands of women facing the last half of their lives lonely and lacking confidence.

I am a published author of Katarina: Out of Control, an erotic romance with shades of “grey.” In September, my country singer-feisty reporter erotic romance, Unanswered Prayers, will be released by Turquoise Morning Press. I belong to several romance writers groups, with an online membership of several hundred voracious readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers, many of whom encouraged me to write. My blog is read regularly by many of these readers and also the growing audience of listeners who have heard me read my mainstream essays on NPR’s “51%”, a nationally broadcast show directed at women, and also on “Roundtable”, a popular program heard on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio.

I have just turned 62. I live near Saratoga Springs, NY with my chocolate Labrador Retriever. We enjoy occasional visits from my daughter who is a clinical psychologist and my son who is works in internet college sports reporting in Seattle. I paint watercolors, swim as often as I can and still practice law in between writing romance and memoir.

About the Book:

Title: Cocktales: An After-50 Dating Memoir
Author: Morgan Malone
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Pages: 264
Genre: Romantic Memoir
An After-50 Dating Memoir…or Eight Years, around Eighty Men, but not nearly Eight Thousand Kisses.

There I was. Approaching 50, widowed for 15 years, alone for all that time, except for two kids, one dog, a full-time legal career, a house, a mortgage, some dear friends…and a wish. I just wanted to feel like a woman one more time. Not “Mom.” Not “Your Honor.” Not “Sis.” But, a desirable and desired woman.

I knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t fall in love again. My heart was buried in a grave in Brooklyn. But, I could offer a sense of humor, big blue eyes and intelligent conversation. I wasn’t sure about kissing or anything else; it had been a long time and I was not sure that sex was like riding a bike (which I could no longer do, given a bad knee and too many extra pounds). I was willing to try. Would anyone be interested?

To my surprise, the cyber-world was full of men like me; men who were looking for a second chance at love or lust, with a real woman, a woman just like me.

Cocktales is the true story of my adventures and misadventures in the world of online dating. It is full of practical advice (never wear knee-high hose on a first date, NEVER), giggles, groans and my growth as a woman. I cried a few tears, I made plenty of mistakes, but I also made many friends. I even fell in love.

Join me on my journey. It is a roller-coaster ride I think you will enjoy.

For More Information

  • Cocktales: An After-50 Dating Memoir is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I retired from a 30-year career as an administrative law judge and counsel to a state agency. I had always wanted to write romance, but I knew I needed some help because everything I wrote sounded like a judicial decision or appellate brief. I signed up for a writing class at a local bookstore, but it turned out the class was about writing memoir. What stories did I have to tell that will be of interest to anyone? But, I had recently begun dating again after 15 years as a widow, so I wrote about one of my first dates. The story was well-received in class. Then I submitted one of my essays to a writing competition and it was chosen for a program on memoir. After I read the story to the audience, I was surrounded by women asking if my story was fact or fiction, did I have more stories about dating and was I going to write a book. The collection of essays I wrote over three years in my memoir class became Cocktales.  I wrote my book for those middle-aged women who could not believe that anyone would desire them or love them again.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Memoir is so difficult to write because it is your story. All the flaws in your main character are your own. I believed I had a story that would not only amuse and interest readers but would also help women like me. It had to be told as non-fiction so that women in their 50’s and 60’s would understand that they could find lust and love later in life. For others who want to tell their story as memoir, you have to believe in your story and you have to be willing to face scrutiny and criticism not only about your writing but about your life. Also, you have to be very careful about the way you treat the other actors in your tale. You are telling their stories too. I changed the names of everyone in my book and changed some details so as to protect their identities.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Turquoise Morning Press (TMP). I attend several writer’s conferences each year. I met the publisher, Kim Jacobs, at Lori Foster’s annual Reader Author Get Together in Cincinnati. I pitched my book to TMP because they were one of the few publishers I found who published both fiction and nonfiction. They loved the idea and have been incredibly supportive.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I thought when I typed “the end” I was finished with my book. I did not fully comprehend all the work that comes after a manuscript is submitted to a publisher. I knew about editing, of course, but like many first-time authors, I thought my writing was near perfect. I was quickly disabused of that notion. Then there is cover art, blurbs for the back of the book, and promotional materials. Before the book comes out, you have to create a social media presence. I had a website, a blog and a Facebook page, but I had to learn Twitter. After publication, there are reviews and book signings. I love it all but I really had no idea how much work went into the publication and marketing of a book.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

My first erotic romance novel, Katarina: Out of Control, was published by TMP on the same day as Cocktales. It’s about a widowed Jewish lawyer from Troy, NY who looks for love in all the wrong places, but finds it where she least expected. My second erotic contemporary novel, Unanswered Prayers, a romance about a Country singer and a feisty NYC journalist set in 2001, will be published by TMP in September 2015. I am currently writing another memoir about my late husband. It is titled 32 Days and is based on the letters I wrote him every day he was paralyzed in the hospital. I am also starting a sequel to Katarina and a contemporary romance set in Virginia.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I am a Facebook junkie. I love seeing the photos of my great-nieces and nephews and connecting with friends from high school. I also love to Google any question that pops into my mind – instant research with instant gratification!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

My message is that love can find you at any time in your life. You don’t have to look like a movie star to find a nice, sexy, funny, smart person to share your life with or to just date. And, you can re-invent yourself. I was a lawyer for over 30 years. And I loved being a lawyer. But I wanted to be an author. Now, I write romance and memoir, I paint watercolors, and I am having the time of my life. It is a clichĂ©, but life can begin (again) at 50.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for inviting me. I hope you and your readers enjoy Cocktales. One of the joys in writing for me is feedback from readers. I cannot express how much it means for me to hear from a reader that she or he liked what I had to say and how I said it. I write about what I love. It’s so rewarding to find other people who love the same things.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Dear Reader by Kim Boykin

The Writer’s Life newest feature, Dear Reader, gives authors a chance to talk to their readers - YOU!  
Today's guest is Kim Boykin, author of the southern women's fiction, A Peach of a Pair.


Dear Reader,

I have friends who only had brothers growing up or were onlies who always wanted sisters. I was luck enough to have two, five and six years older than me. Sometimes  felt sorry for my dad being the only guy in the house, and never getting a word in edgewise. My sisters and I fussed and fought and loved each other to bits as only sisters can. And then came the girls in my life who weren’t blood kin, but we were so close, they might as well have been my sisters.

That’s what A Peach of a Pair is about. To be more accurate, It’s about “an indestructible sisterhood” between our heroine, Nettie Gilbert and her sister, Sissy, and the elderly pair of spinster sisters, Emily and Lurleen. When the story opens, Nettie and Sissy’s sisterhood is torn apart when Nettie receives an invitation to her baby sister’s wedding back home, only Nettie’s own fiance is the groom. It’s a horrible betrayal that cuts so deep, Nettie can’t begin to fathom how to repair the breech.

She’s so distraught by Sissy’s impending wedding and bun in the oven, she quits school two month shy of graduation and goes to work for two elderly spinster sisters, Emily and Lurleen, who know a thing or two about a falling out over a man.

Emily had a hand in a horrible accident that took away Lurleen’s first and last love. Lurleen lived in the same house with Emily but didn’t speak to her for seven years after the accident. By the time she did start speaking to Emily, the two sisters had also lost their mother, and their brother had runaway from home. At the point in the book when Lurleen is trying to help Nettie find forgiveness for her sister, Lurleen says, “Nettie had given Emily and Lurleen so much and she didn’t even know it. Then Lurleen had meddled perhaps where she shouldn’t have. She’d put this idea of an indestructible sisterhood in Nettie’s head, and Nettie had bought it hook, line, sinker, and half the pole because she wanted to. Needed to. Right now, Lurleen wasn’t even sure there was such a thing.”

But it turns out sisterhood in my life, in my friends’ lives, in the lives of Nettie and her sister, and Emily and Lurleen, really is indestructible. It’s been dinged and damaged, and in one instance, darn near obliterated. Should have been obliterated, and yet it exists and thrives.

It’s my hope that you’ll take this very wild ride through a broken relationship to forgiveness that begins and ends with a cross country trip to see a faith healer on a Greyhound bus. And my wish is that you cherish the indestructible sisterhoods within you own life.

Kim Boykin

About the Author

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of A Peach of a Pair, Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with Forever, She’s the One, Just in Time for Christmas, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

Her latest book is the southern women’s fiction, A Peach of a Pair.

For More Information
About the Book:

Title: A Peach of a Pair
Author: Kim Boykin
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Berkley Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Southern Women’s Fiction

"Palmetto Moon" inspired "The Huffington Post" to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.

April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can’t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks, in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.

Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she’ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.

For More Information

In the Spotlight: Evolved by Aubrey Coletti

Title: Evolved
Author: Aubrey Coletti
Publisher: Escape Artist Press
Genre: YA/Scifi/Thriller

The boarders of J. Alter High have fought their school, sabotaged their school, and attempted to destroy their school. Yet the powerful Academy and its enigmatic Headmistress have remained always one step ahead of them. Now they must decide whether or not to work with the school, to unlock the abilities that brought them there — a decision that could tear them all apart. But choose they must, before they are out of moves, out of options . . . and out of time.

For More Information

  • Evolved is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
About the Author

Aubrey Coletti is a twenty-three year old singer-songwriter, dancer, and author, who began her first novel while still in high school. Now graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, she has three published novels in The Academy Series, Altered, Shattered, and Evolved.
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Chat with Trail Mix author Paulita Kincer

Hi Paulita, please discuss your journey of writing your novels and specifically about Trail Mix

The thing that is true for all of my novels, if that they have had meandering journeys. Trail Mix is the second novel I wrote, but it was published third.

When I write, I have a jumping off spot, but I have no idea where the characters will land. And although, I have ideas about the main plot, I’m constantly surprised by the extra complications that are thrown into the story.

In Trail Mix, my main characters Andi and Jess are best friends. They both juggle jobs and teenage/young adult children who seem to find trouble. Plus they are going through transitions with their husbands, so any of these things can cause the plot to twist in new directions.

What I didn’t count on, was that this journey along the Appalachian Trail would challenge their friendship.

In hopes of escaping a steamy Florida summer and the chaos of their children’s adult lives, Andi and Jess decide to hike the Appalachian Trail as the ultimate diet plan. Jess doesn’t exercise regularly, but she has amazing willpower to stick to a diet. Andi works out like wolves are chasing behind her, but she can’t resist a mocha or a pastry, even if someone offered her a thousand dollars. The friends figure their strengths and weaknesses will balance.

As the two attempt to hike the 2,168-mile trail, Jess tries to enjoy each amazing moment, from the crystal clear water they pump, to the surprise of a crisp covering of snow one morning, to the view of the mountains undulating away in a smoky, blue haze. Andi sees the hike as something to check off her list. She wants to hike faster every day and chomps in impatience at Jess’ methodical hike. Andi feels her strength growing and knows that the hike will end in some well-toned thighs, which was their goal, after all. Then when Andi meets another woman who wants to trek fast, she’s tempted to leave her best friend behind with the slower hikers. Her competitive spirit can’t sit back and watch that other woman hike faster. The two friends face a crisis that could break their bond and leave the pieces along the trail.

Even as I’m writing, I always hope that long-term relationships will stick, but they don’t always. In my novel, The Summer of France, the main character realizes that her husband is not part of the life she always wanted.

I won’t tell you what happens to these friends, but I will tell you that I try to let the characters lead the way and make their own decisions, whether I think they’re right or wrong.

Thanks for letting me explore the writing process on your blog.  

About The Book

TitleTrail Mix
Author: Paulita Kincer
Publisher: Oblique Presse
Publication Date: August 30, 2014
Format: Paperback / eBook (.mobi format for Kindle)
Pages: 220
ISBN: 978-1312462502
Genre: Women's Fiction / Travel / Adventure

Buy The Book:

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Book Description:

In the tradition of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, comes a novel of two suburban women who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, escaping their lives as moms and wives in search of nature, adventure, and the ultimate diet plan.

How does a woman know what she wants after spending 20 years thinking about her husband and children? Sometimes it takes a distraction from everyday life, time to examine the forest before the trees become clear. With no previous camping experience, Andi and Jess begin the 2100-mile odyssey from Georgia to Maine. The friends figure life on the trail can’t possibly be worse than dealing with disgruntled husbands, sullen teens home from college, and a general malaise that has crept up in their daily lives. At the very least, the women are bound to return home thin.

Book Excerpt:


Raindrops trickled down Jess’ nose. Her sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
“Why did I do this?” She threw her head back, her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off. The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled faster down the trail.
For nearly two hours, since the wind first whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
Like being in the middle of labor and deciding she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she could turn back, but she would find only more of the same -- woods and rain and an endless trail.
This adventure was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
“See you at the shelter,” Andi had called. “Only about three miles farther.”
In the city, a three-mile walk might take 45 minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her car and drive.
The thunder crashed louder, and Jess eyed the spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past the tree, walking, walking.
Tears joined the rain on her face. She felt trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
The wind ripped at her poncho as she climbed slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge. Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
On this crest, she stood exposed to the wind and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail, her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion. She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
This was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence, she thought, lying on her back like a turtle on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her full in the face, but she lacked the energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back, and start the hike again.
As the rain doused her face, she slipped one arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything went black.

 About The Author

Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See Franceand Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Paulita:
Author Website:

Virtual Book Tour Event Page

In the Spotlight: Grey Daze by Michael Allan Scott #mystery #thriller #suspense

Title: Grey Daze (A Lance Underphal Mystery)
Author: Michael Allan Scott
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 306
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Paranormal
Format: Paperback/Kindle

GREY DAZE descends.  A fresh murder spins out of control, twisting into new realms of paranormal mystery.

Not for the faint of heart, the third in the Lance Underphal Mystery series, is an interplay of corrupt characters immersed in today’s world. Paranormal twists and fast action in movie-like scenes set the story’s mystery/thriller elements apart from the typical whodunit/serial-killer thriller.

Guided by his dead wife, a reluctant psychic finds himself on a wild ride through a criminal underworld, slamming face first into corrupt police, gunrunning bikers, and a drug addicted killer–not to mention confrontations with the dead.

Layers of plots within plots twist this new thriller into a startling climax.

For More Information

Please Note: this book “R” rated and is intended for adult readers.

Book Excerpt: 

Nerves jangling like downed power lines on a storm-soaked street, she turns off the cracked pavement into the rain-slick drive. As she chews her bottom lip, the new Ford Edge glides under the ancient leafless elm at the curb, its gnarled trunk overgrown with ivy fluttering in a gusty wind. Her mind races, fearful of all the things that could go wrong, trying to anticipate every move, grasping at the big score and how it will all be worth it.
            Tires roll up the narrow drive, gently thumping on fractured concrete. They’ve never gone this far before. And that asshole Denny crapped out at the last minute, forcing her to take care of business. As she parks on the side of the dumpy little house, a sneer twists her full lips. She’s not sure why this time would be any different, he always makes her do the dirty work—always there to grab the lion’s share of the score. Him and Moon. Worthless assholes.
            The wipers stop as she shuts off the ignition. She stares through the drizzle streaking the windshield, screwing up her courage, telling herself there’s no way she’ll get caught, the plan is perfect. They’ve been working at it for months, getting everything set up. Now it’s time. Only one thing left to do and they’ll be home free. If only she could get her hands to stop shaking.
            Elbowing the door, she squirms thick hips out of the seat, the new-car smell fading as she climbs out into the cold. She scurries across the drive and up the crumbling concrete steps, thumbing the remote to lock the Edge with a flash and a chirp. Twisting the key, she opens the weather-beaten back door, stepping in out of the swirling rain and into Hell for the last time.
            Dark and close, it hits her like a blast of sewer gas, though she should be used to it by now. Dim in the grey light, the foul reek of decay and excrement is stifling, crinkling her nose. She fumbles with her keys, finally managing to twist the backdoor key off her key ring as she heads for the kitchen sink. Grabbing a dishrag, she wipes down the key. Careful to hold it with the dishrag, she drops it into the disposer. She digs a pair of latex gloves out of her purse, working them on over sweaty fingers, then hits the switch. The disposer jumps, coughing and clattering as she adds water, mangling the key. She knows, one way or another, she’ll never be back.
            She cringes as all the disgusting things she’s had to do twist up in her head. Dirty little thoughts that won’t leave her alone, like the vicious sting from one of her grandfather’s beatings. She’d show that old asshole, if only he could see her now. Stupid little man. But first she has to get through this.
            She turns off the disposer and stumps into the dingy little living room as roaches scuttle for cover. Crossing to the old sofa, she sits gingerly as the ancient vinyl crackles beneath her broad rump. She contemplates the next few minutes, fanning the flames, feeding the beast. The puto has it coming. Fixing his meals, cleaning up his messes, listening to his constant babbling, going on about how smart he is and how she needs to listen, insinuating she’s stupid. Treating her like his slave. The things she did—unspeakable. Her stomach clenches as flickerings fire her mind. Bathing his vile flesh by hand, hairy and wrinkled—disgusting. The horrid stench of excrement on desiccated haunches. The pasty feel of his flaccid penis, even through the gloves . . . watching him writhe as he came, oozing sticky yellowed sperm. She shudders as shivers run down her spine. She’ll show him how stupid she is. She smiles wickedly as her eyes narrow. He still has no idea. Never saw it coming. And now, it’s too late. Muy estupido.     
             Fury firing her blood, she pushes off the couch and tromps out of the room, the ancient crusted carpet crunching under her biker boots. Clumping through the short hall and into the back bedroom, she slows, walking quietly as if she’d wake him. What am I doin’? She shakes her head. He’s not waking up any time soon, she made sure of that—he fainted dead away when she tripled his heart meds. It’s been nearly twenty-four hours. Blood levels should be back to near normal, well within limits for any toxicology reports.
            Her broad nose crinkles with disgust, her lips curling into a snarl at the mere sight of him. She’s always hated old men. And with good reason—look at him. Lying there under that ratty old bedspread, too cheap to buy a decent blanket. All that money rat-holed away, rotting like his ancient carcass. His limbs like sticks, tacked onto a distended belly. His eyes pinched shut at the bottoms of deep hollows. His sunken mouth a ragged hole, white spittle crusting thin cracked lips. His head a shrunken skull, wrapped in papery skin stretched tight, dotted with patches of wispy white hair. If it wasn’t for his phlegmy breaths, he could already pass for a corpse.
            She crosses quickly to the bed, gritting her teeth, holding her breath. Jerking the stained pillow out from under his head, she flips it up into both hands, leans over and presses down hard, mashing it on his face. A slight tremor runs through his withered limbs. Cadaverous claws scrabble at her hands, her wrists, her arms. She gasps, horrified, turning her head, pressing down harder. A muffled wail seeps out from behind the pillow—inhuman. She moans as tears leak from her squinted eyes. She can’t take anymore. And just when she starts to lift, he goes limp, his heaving chest stills. She feels what little life he had left rush past her—a final huff of foul breath and he’s dead.

A Chat with Rebecca Durkin, author of 'Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure'

Rebecca Durkin, author of Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure, and her short story, Behind the Smile, is known for her candor and sense of humor.

Rebecca is a featured speaker/creative trainer for an annual women’s retreat in California, where she shares her experiences and provides writing ideas. She is also a volunteer for the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women's Lives ® program for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Rebecca spent the majority of her life living on the edge of the shore, first on Whidbey Island, Washington and then in rainy Ketchikan, Alaska where she lived a waterlogged existence for almost thirty years.  She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys road trips with her husband, hanging with her adult children, playing with her three Bichons—Scuppers, Scuttles, and Teeny Booty—and finding the humor in everyday life.

For More Information
About the Book:

Title: Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure
Author: Rebecca L. Durkin
Publisher: Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media
Pages: 178
Genre: Memoir
Format: Hardcover/Paperback/Kindle/Nook
Chemo on the Rocks is a shoreside seat on Rebecca (Becky) Durkin’s great Alaskan misadventure. It highlights the hilarity and heartache of a young girl who finds herself marooned in Ketchikan—fondly known as "The Rock"—where she remains on her self-imposed Alaskatraz for almost thirty years.

Chemo on the Rocks is witty, inspirational, satirical, and sometimes terrifying. It is a mix of pain and laughter as Becky walks the IV gauntlet, trailing behind the unfettered back end peeking through the drab hospital gown of the man shuffling before her.  Chemo on the Rocks is a hard-fought battle in the fallopian trenches where Becky wages war on ovarian cancer—the ultimate wedding crasher—as it invites an entire medical team into her honeymoon suite.  She slays the cancer dragon and has two children in defiance of the beast, but just when it seems life has returned to normalcy, she prematurely crashes onto Mount Hysteria and wanders aimlessly through the Hormone War Zone in the Land of the Ovary Snatchers.

Everything about having chemo on the rock was made more difficult by Becky’s fears of boating and flying—the only escape from the island—which became more terrifying with each trip to Seattle for surgery or testing. Chemo on the Rocks showcases the many parallels between sea adventures and cancer adventures, such as doldrums while awaiting diagnosis, the skull and cross bones of chemo, the bitter end of a failed marriage, tying the knot of another, listing dangerously, and perhaps a return to navigable waters.

For More Information

  • Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The idea to write Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure evolved over time. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was a young bride at the tender age of twenty-four. I went through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, and miraculously was able to bear two children after my cancer ordeal. Eleven years after my battle in the fallopian trenches, as I was raising two young children, a cancer antigen level test revealed a possible recurrence. At that time a complete hysterectomy was performed. I was thirty-five years old and in no way prepared for menopause! My only warning about what I was soon to endure was when a nurse told me I was going to fall off a cliff. I had no idea what that meant, but soon found out. I fell headfirst onto Mount Hysteria and dodged fireballs on the front lines of the Hormone War Zone. I tried many remedies for what ailed me, but nothing helped me make sense of what was happening to my body and my mind. At some point, I took solace in writing. At first it was just silly ditties written on sticky notes that I stuck inside a small notebook. I wrote about my feelings, about cancer, panic attacks, and depression. I wrote about whatever I observed that made me happy or sad or confused. Writing was better than any anti-depressant or anxiety meds. When I finally ascended from the pit I had fallen into, my notebook was heavy with poems and stories. My husband suggested I take all those notes and write my story. It was a long process but the beginning of Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing my story was easy at first because I was writing for me. When I was encouraged to write a book my entire focus shifted towards readers—trying to determine what would be interesting for them. I spent a lot of time obsessing over what to include. I knew I didn’t want the sole focus to be on my cancer. It certainly was a big part of my life, but it happened in 1985 and I lived many adventures before and after my original diagnosis. So, trying to establish the stories beginning and end was the most difficult part for me. I wanted readers to know me, not just Rebecca the cancer survivor. I wanted them to root for the tenacious little girl who’d been uprooted from Washington State and plunked down on a rock called Ketchikan, Alaska. I wanted the reader to relate to my junior high skirmishes, first loves, and heartaches. I wanted them to laugh at my Alaskan misadventures and share in my joys. I wanted them to care enough for the character to cheer her on during her difficult days.

My tip for making the journey easier is don’t worry too much at the beginning. If something feels right there is probably a reason why it shows up on the page. You can always delete superfluous stuff later. Also, don’t throw away your drafts. You may have written a gem at some point that seemed silly, but then later realize why you wrote it in the first place. It’s sad when you realize you shredded that gem.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media. A fellow author suggested I contact them. I am so happy I did.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I have been surprised by all the enthusiastic responses to my story—by readers who say my book inspired them and they plan to share with someone who is suffering. I love hearing that I made them laugh, because I did not want folks to focus on a sad story. I’m still alive! I was hoping readers would enjoy it, but have been overwhelmed with positive feedback.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I started a novel many years ago. It is called Heaping Teaspoons of Sugar. Sugar is a saccharine sweet woman who delights in creating trouble. She is a strong character who completely took over the story. I hope to finish and get it published soon.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I have to admit I love Facebook. I am energized by my connections to people. I moved from Ketchikan in 1999 and Facebook keeps me connected to so many people who share my island experience.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I didn’t set out to convey any particular message, but the feedback I receive seems to have revealed a theme. It is a gift to know that the resounding takeaway is that I love my life. It’s good to be reminded of that. If I can share a terrible cancer ordeal and have folks relate back to me that they are inspired, then I think the message found me.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity for this interview. My hope is that Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure continues to inspire, generate laughter, and that it raises awareness about Ovarian Cancer. There is a symptoms card in the back of the book and a percentage of the proceeds of my book will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.