Week 18: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m participating in my first blog hop, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey as we blog hop our way through some new reads. A blog hop gives readers an opportunity to find some wonderful authors you might have missed. Be sure to follow our blog hop and be introduced to some exciting reads as well as works in progress. Below you will be able to learn a little about me. You’ll also find links to Kathleen Heady’s, Phanessia Harrell’s, and Daniel Alexander’s blogs. They follow me on the blog hop in Week 19. Be sure to check out both Kathleen and Phanessia. You’ll be impressed.

Special thanks to S.I. Hayes for asking me to participate. Check her out at

Twitter:  @shannonihayes

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/S.I.Hayes.Author

Blog:  A Writer’s Mind, More or Less

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/s.i.hayes

P. C. Zick’s Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:

 Q: What is the working title of your book?

Trails in the Sand

 Q:Where did the idea come from for the book?

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, I worked for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Agency as a public relations director. I was very much involved in the wildlife response efforts during the crisis. I handled all the media relations for a project involving the relocation of hundreds of sea turtle nests from the Panhandle beaches of Florida to the Atlantic coast. Nothing of this magnitude had ever been attempted before, but the sea turtle experts were very concerned the hatchlings wouldn’t survive in oil-infested waters. I wanted to write a story that involved the horror of the event and the efforts to restore. The oil spill plays a background role in one family whose lives have been impacted by many “trails in the sand.”

 Q:What genre does your book fall under?

I refer to it as an environmental love story, but no one’s come up with that category of writing yet. It’s contemporary fiction and could be considered women’s literature.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Susan Sarandon as the matriarch, Gladdy; Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson as the main love characters (if they can go from age 18 to 50); Lindsay Lohan as the troubled young woman trying to figure it all out.

 Q:What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As the oil spill threatens the coast of Florida, one family’s past secrets threaten their future, but the road to healing for both paves the way to recovering what was lost.

 Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will self-publish this book, just as I did Live from the Road. The experience has been satisfying as it gives me more control over my work.

Q:How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me a year to complete the first draft. I began it sometime in 2011, although I was exploring the topic in late 2010. I finished the first draft in February 2012 and sent it out to two beta readers. During this past summer, I wrote the second draft based on their comments. I made quite a few changes the second time around. After another round of comments, I’m revising the second draft and hope to have it to my editor before Thanksgiving.

Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not sure I’ve read anything like this. Karen White wrote about the Gulf coast after Katrina, but she didn’t really delve into environmental issues. Pat Conroy has written about sea turtles, using them as a way to bring a family together (Beach Music), and there are many novels depicting southern families and their dysfunction. Trails in the Sand is unique and should be taken as such with each reader.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I was dealing in real life with the oil spill, I was also embarking on a new relationship. However, that “relationship” actually began forty years ago in Michigan when my husband and I were teenagers. We lost contact with each other for more than three decades. I wanted to write a story about the environment and about how love can survive even through separation.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Stokley clan is an interesting conglomeration of folks from the sisters named Candy, Cookie, Sugar, Apple, and then finally the tortured Gladys, to their father, who went from coal miner to doctor. His past overshadows the present as his granddaughter and Gladdy’s daughter, Caroline, seeks the answers to the past to heal the present.

Next Wednesday, October 31, Kathleen Heady, Phanessia Harrell, and Daniel Alexander will join The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Please visit their sites and join them on the blog hop as they answer questions about their work and introduce even more authors for you to discover.

Kathleen Heady:

Website: http://www.kathleenheady.com

Blog: http://headywriting.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/headynovels

Phanessia Harrell:

Blog: WhileWaitingOnMyWings  http://wp.me/28t72

Blog: Expressions Of Me http://wp.me/2Cbac

Facebook: https://t.co/aUEZ4UI

Daniel Alexander

Blog: http://daniel-alexander-book.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/daniel.alexander.book

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/danielalex_book

 

The Hands of My Mother

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

Note: My mother died in February of 1998. Several months later, I found myself mourning her death more than ever and decided I needed to do something to help me heal. I wrote an essay about the one thing that kept coming back to me while she lay dying. During the countless hours I kept vigil at her bedside, I remained fascinated by her hands and held them often. This piece eventually became my first published column in October 1998 and hooked me forever into this writing business because wherever I went after its publication, people told me how much the piece had helped them heal after the death of a parent. Happy Mother’s Day to all who have nurtured another living thing.

 

Her hands lay on the sheets with the tubes in her veins leading into the stand next to her bed. The grayish-blue hands showed that life had already begun to ebb from them. As I picked up the nearly lifeless form and held it in my own rosy hand, I examined the age spots that had always been there as far back as I could remember. The nails remained beautifully polished as if she had done them just before leaving for the hospital. I found out later from my brother that’s exactly what she’d done.

The polish on the nails reflected a softer hue now instead of the fire-engine red of my childhood. I remember my father honking the horn in the driveway while my mother put the finishing touches on her nails. He was always so impatient with her. He couldn’t comprehend the reason she always painted those nails just before we left on any journey. The truth was she didn’t have any other time to care for herself but in those last frenzied moments before departure. And her nail polish made up for her old ill-fitting clothes and worn shoes.

As I sat holding her hand as she drifted in a coma, I imagined my mother, very ill and weak, sitting in her chair the week before she died, polishing her nails while my brother waited impatiently to take her to the doctor to find out why she hadn’t recovered from the flu after a two-week illness.

The nurse startled me back to reality, telling me I would have to remove the nail polish from my mother’s left forefinger because they were having difficulty getting her oxygen count. My brothers all made themselves scarce and left the task to me. I imagined my mother waking from her coma as I removed the polish and scolding me for removing the polish from one nail. I prayed for her to sit up and take me to task.

At times during the last few days of her life, she would raise her hands from the bed and move them together in a certain rhythm, and then she would reach out mid-air and fuss with an imaginary something on the sheets. Finally, one of my brothers recognized the hand movements, and we realized she was crocheting. One of her concerns when she was admitted to the hospital was the blanket she was crocheting for one of her great-grandchildren whose birth was imminent as she lay dying. She’d been unable to finish it despite her furious attempts to finish it even while feeling the effects of the lingering flu. She had crocheted a blanket for all seven of her grandchildren and nine great-children, so even in her weakened state she continued to crochet her final one.

The morning she died, I stood by her bed, holding and squeezing her right hand, hoping for some sign she knew I was standing there. The day before, even with her eyes closed, when she heard me calling her name, she squeezed my hand. This day the squeezing ended, but the hands remained indelibly marked as the hands that raised me.

Her hands were bluer now as most of the blood was going to her heart as it took its final beats. I imagined all the tasks performed by these appendages. How many diapers had they changed while raising five children? During the twenty years of raising her children, she only had a wringer washer and never a dryer to wash all those cloth diapers. Since I was the youngest, I don’t remember the diaper washings, but I do remember the day my mother got her first washer and dryer. She clapped her hands high above her head and never hung another thing out to dry the rest of her life.

How many times had I held my mother’s hands during times of trouble? Her thumb would caress my knuckles as we attempted to comfort one another. I also saw those hands kneading the dough for her famous gooey cinnamon rolls which had been a staple at family breakfasts for as long as I could remember. I remembered the flowers my mother’s hands nourished over the years. Her gardens were a symphony of reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges. When winter came to our Michigan home, the house bloomed with African violets. Her hands nurtured all things they touched.

I remembered it all as I stood by her bed and her breathing became labored. When it was over, I asked the nurse to remove the IV from her hand so I could hold it close to me and take from it some of the strength, dignity, and courage, which my mother kept throughout her life.

While my mother and I didn’t always have a perfect relationship, I know now I can take the good that flowed from her hands and use it to show my own daughter the value of acceptance and comfort in a world where love is what we need the most.