Sorry for all the delays with my new publisher. The light at the end of the tunnel is coming. In the meantime. I decided to get my ancestry DNA. And what I found out blows my mind.
Sorry for all the delays with my new publisher. The light at the end of the tunnel is coming. In the meantime. I decided to get my ancestry DNA. And what I found out blows my mind.
A year later and I have a new publisher and a new illustrator for Rocky. I feel like its ground hog day over and over.I can laugh it off because I know when one door closes a new door opens!
Coming July 20, Christmas in July. The latest edition of Rocky: The Rockefeller Christmas Tree with vibrant new digital illustrations by Dina Colangelo of Murrysville, PA.
The most magical time of the year in New York City comes in November with the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Because of the significance of the occasion, evergreens from all around the world dream of becoming the Rockefeller Christmas Tree – and young Rocky is no exception. The only problem? As a small, rather unattractive sapling, Rocky can barely compete with the more robust specimens seeking to steal the spotlight he so desperately craves; however, with a little help – and a strong belief in himself – Rocky may just see his long-held dream finally come true…
Published by Ingram Lightning Source. Rocky: The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a heartwarming tale for readers of all ages. Touching on such universal themes as keeping the faith, believing in oneself, and persevering through adversity makes the story particularly appealing to young readers. By crafting Rocky as a flawed, yet determined tree – rather than an immaculate, undefeatable hero – readers easily relate to his passionate quest to succeed, despite the obstacles standing in his way.
Available in e-book, paperback and hardback through by Ingram Lightning Source and amazon publishing LLC. Rocky is available for pre-order now on amazon.
The From The Sky series was picked up by Story Merchant. What can I say things weren’t happening with Indigo Sea Press. I am not going to bash my old publisher because I truly think he tried. But I will say. Do your research before you put your trust in a publisher. An author’s manuscript is their blood, sweat in tears.
Louis Joseph is available free thru June 5th!
There are a lot of changes going on with my publisher these days. Secondwindpublishing.com is changing to Indigo Sea Press, which is delaying the sequel and the new edited and illustrated Rocky. Although this change is a positive, it is nevertheless frustrating to the author. Patience is not my best virtue. This time is letting me acquainted with my spirit which is always good.
What most of my readers don’t know is, I deal with chronic back pain and the winter months are challenging. I eat Advil like skittles these days. I also deal with and Sjögren’s and Hashimotto. Sjögren’s causes severe dry eye not and something an author needs because it limits writing time. I’m not complaining some people have a lot worse to deal with. Both are auto immune diseases. Stress plays a key trigger so this publishing nightmare contributes to flare ups. Hopefully, 2016 will be better for me.
November was a great month for me. Because of my publicist and personal assistant I was able to establish a relationship with Barnes & Noble. On November 7 I had my first book signing which was a success. So much so the manager invited me back! Since my publisher is not one of the ‘Big Five’ brick and mortar stores are reluctant to take on the smaller press. With this success I hope my signing will open the doors to emerging authors.
Please encourage your friends and young adults to read From The Sky! I wrote this book to take readers on a journey without having to have a dictionary to look up words. This is a great book to read on holiday and Christmas break.
Don’t forget Rocky: The Rockefeller Christmas. This lovable tale of courage and believing in oneself is a great holiday read for all children.
And please don’t forget about Louis Joseph’s Ooh Rah. I am donating all sales to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Dr. O’Neil left me to unpack my suitcase. As soon as the door shut, Victoria decided to approach me. I started putting my clothes in the drawers not at all neatly when she opened her mouth.
“Don’t worry; you’ll get your phone back,” Victoria said with a dash of smug. “What are you in for?” She got up from her bed and walked towards me. She was much shorter than I, and her red hair reminded me of Emmy after a bad dye job. For a second, I was homesick for Pittsburgh.
“I didn’t do anything—not that’s it’s any of your business,” I said. “Excuse me––” I pushed her away from my face.
“Sure you didn’t. That’s what everyone says, but we––know better, don’t we?”
“I didn’t do anything. I don’t know what’s gotten into my father.” I finished putting my clothes in the drawer.
Victoria went back on her bed and sat cross-legged. “Want to know what I’m in for?”
“Not particularly,” I said flatly.
“Oh––okay, if you must know. I got busted… for coke.”
“Drugs?” I was not going to indulge her with my indiscretion to prescription pills, that’s for sure. I’m stuck with Ms. Ginger ale coke head, just what I needed.
“So what are you here for… alcohol, heroin?” I didn’t answer. She edged in close.
“Do you mind?” I said, not looking at her while I shoved my clothes in the drawer.
“Okay, ‘I don’t-do-drug’ priss, you must have tried to kill yourself. Huh?” said Victoria.
“No… I didn’t.” God, she was annoying.
Victoria stared at me like I was the freak and not her. Victoria continued to enlighten me on her sentence at Oakridge. I really didn’t care, but what choice did I have? She just kept talking.
“Anyways––my boyfriend took his father’s gun, okay, and blew his head off. It was right after we had a fight. Can you believe that? I told him I wanted to break up. I never thought in a million years he would do something so stupid over me.” Victoria’s eyes welled to the brim with tears. “E-Ethan, that was his name, ran out of the house carrying his dad’s gun. His parents went after him… but it was too late. They heard the gun go off…found him lying… on the ground… with his brains splattered all over the woods behind their house.”
“That’s horrible.” I suddenly felt sorry for her.
“Yeah, now my parents think I’ll either OD or slit my wrists.”
“Are they right?” I said curiously.
“Hmmm, I don’t know––maybe.” Victoria shrugged her shoulders, put her earbuds in and walked out of the room. I stood there for a couple seconds amazed, then turned and followed her.
It was almost 5 p.m. There weren’t very many kids here unless they’re hidden somewhere. The kids whom I did see all looked normal enough, like any kids you’d see at in-school suspension or detention. Some looked like the kids in my biology class or AP history, your average messed-up high school student. Nevertheless, they all had a little secret. It was scary to think that these kids, like me, were so messed up.
“It’s not that bad here, Samantha.” The doctor strolled up to me, putting her hand on my shoulder. I pulled back from her touch.
“I’ll show you to your room.” Dr. O’Neil nudged my hand. My room for the next ninety days was down two hallways. We walked the length of the hardwood flooring not saying a word. I glanced briefly at a sunroom at the far end of the hall. On the left was my room—number 13—great, of all the numbers.
Dr. O’Neil tapped on the door before opening it. A petite girl with fiery red hair, the color of lava styled in a neat shoulder-length bob, sat cross-legged on the bed.
“What the eff!” she scoffed, pulling out her earbuds.
“Your new roommate, Victoria,” Dr. O’Neil said.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” the fiery red-haired girl said, springing from the bed.
She held her earphones and iPod. Her eyes were pale blue and her ivory skin was freckled. She wore a tight pink sweater, showing off her full bosom and tiny waist. Wow, I wonder if they’re real. I almost looked down at my own briefly but caught myself. Her clothes looked to be something bought at a preppy expensive store in the wealthy section of town somewhere. Satisfied with what she saw, she put her earbuds back in her ears.
“Victoria, this is your new roommate, Samantha. We use first names only for privacy’s sake. Now if you want to exchange last names, that’s your prerogative.”
“Victoria,” Dr. O’Neil said with a knife-like shrill voice cutting into the air. Victoria kept listening to whatever was on her iPod.
“Victoria,” Dr. O’Neil repeated. Reluctantly Victoria took her earbuds out.
“What?” she said, irritated, giving me a cold disturbed look as if I were the cause of her pain.
“This is Samantha; she’ll be sharing a room with you. Why don’t you help her put her things where they belong, and please try and be pleasant by making her feel at home.” Victoria nodded and put her earbuds back in her ears.
“At home? This is not my home,” I said.
“Well, it is now—at least for the time being,” Dr. O’Neil said and smiled.
“Bitch,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Excuse me—what did you say? I didn’t think so… Samantha–– I have the power to make your stay here pleasant or not so pleasant.” She held her tongue. “Okay, Samantha?” Dr. O’Neil held out her hand. “Let me have your cell phone.” Puzzled, I backed up a step.
“Hand it over,” she said, staring.
“What!” I stared back.
“Your cell phone,” she asked a second time.
“No—I’m not giving you my phone,” I said, letting my voice get louder. The way she looked at me, I got the impression Dr. O’Neil wasn’t accustomed to anyone defying her.
“It’s best you get rid of the attitude, Miss Hunter. The quicker you know the rules, the better it will be for both of us. Don’t get your panties all in a knot; it’s only for the first week,” Dr. O’Neil said with a smile.
“Ew––I wonder if my father will think that’s any way for a doctor to talk.”
“Samantha––let’s get one thing straight from the get-go. Your father isn’t here. I am, and the quicker you understand that, the better it will be for you. The nurses, the aides and counselors are here to help you. I run the show here. Oakridge Estate is small and isolated so there’s no way for you to try and run home. And––if you do try, you’ll freeze to death before you even make it to the highway. I want to help you—do you understand? So if you have any thoughts like that, put them out of your head now. This is not a punishment. It is a treatment center.”
“Okay, but—I’m still not giving you my phone,” I snapped.
Doctor O’Neil folded her arms across her chest, “And I’m not leaving here until you do.”
“No…I’m not giving you my cell,” I repeated. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I shouldn’t even be here! My dad’s the one who’s crazy, not me.”
“That’s not how he sees it.”
“Of course, that’s not how he sees it,” I said with a frown.
“Samantha, please let me have your phone.” Dr. O’Neil held her hand out in front of my face. By the look on her face, she wasn’t going to drop it.
Defeated, I pulled out my cell from my back pocket. I hadn’t used it all that much since Lucien left. My best friend Emmy from back home was the only one I talked to. I kept it close just in case Cassiel would try to call me.
I handed over my phone to Dr. O’Neil, not happy doing so. For what seemed like hours, O’Neil explained my routine for the next three month. I can’t believe I had to live here for three months with no phone for a week. I’ll never forgive my father for this or Lucien.
My days were penciled in like a prison schedule. At 6 a.m. wake up, shower; breakfast at 7 in the dining hall. Group therapy was at 7:30, followed by art therapy at 10. Each day at 11 sharp, I had to have one hour of exercise––how lovely. I had a choice of yoga or kickboxing. I decided to beat up a punching bag instead of O’Neil’s face. Lunch was at noon and individual counseling at 1 p.m.; unfortunately I still had to have class. It was required so when I got back to my normal life, I wouldn’t be behind. Nothing in my life was normal. My days would end with dinner at 6 and free time until bed––oh, goodie.
The ride to Oakridge Estates was nauseating. I should’ve pretended everything was all right. Of course, I didn’t; now it was too late. I sat as if I were a muzzled dog. Not saying a word…the whole way to the loony bin.
Dad pulled into the driveway leading to the rustic structure of stone and wood. Black smoke billowed out of the chimney. There was something ominous about it as if it were warning me to stay away.
Dad parked the Navigator close to the steps leading into the home. I took a heavy breath as I stared out my window, gripping the door handle, my eyes still on the swirling black smoke.
I heard Dad open his door; I kept looking out the window until his presence settled in front of my door. He reached for my door handle, looking at me with the full intent on leaving me there. I blinked and looked towards the sky overflowing with dark gray clouds. The air was bitter and squelchy. Still vapors of steam fled from Dad’s nose as he breathed. “Please. Dad, I promise.” He only shook his head.
“Let’s go,” Dad said, holding the door wide open. By the look on his face, there was no reasoning with him. I had better listen to him this time. My eyes stung with tears.
My whole world collapsed in front of me as I stepped out onto the snow-covered ground. I hung my head low, not making eye contact with another betrayer of my heart. Without wanting him to, Dad took my hand as if I were a child once again.
I trudged up the steps leading to Oakridge Estates hand-in-hand with my father. My feet were slow to move, listless. Entering the doorway, I halted. I expected to see images of the movie One Flew over the Cuckoo Nest. My eyes ping-ponged around the area, trying to accept Dad’s decision to bring me here; I was beginning to realize the whole scope of my predicament. I stood in the lobby of an institute for troubled teens. A year ago I would’ve expected it but not now. I’m not the same person I was before Lucien.
The inside reminded me of the cabin at Hidden Valley. The walls were made of cedar and pine, but this was no vacation place. This was my punishment for falling in love with a monster, not a human being. He let me fall in love with him, and then he abandoned me.
Seated behind the front desk in the entrance was a large woman. I assumed she was the receptionist. If this were under different circumstances, I might have actually smiled. I found it amusing how her belly overlapped the desk and plopped, spilling over into the reception area. I’m in a loony bin; I don’t belong here.
To my right was a large red rug covering dark hardwood floors, mismatched—not at all like the rest of the place. The oversized living room had two large-size beige couches with two matching loveseats and pillows. Against the wall were a moderate-size flat-screen television and a DVD player. Seated on the couch were two teenage boys watching a sports event. Their eyes never left the TV.
To the left of where I was standing was an open-spaced room stocked with a pool table, a small ping-pong table and two individual round tables that each seated two. At the larger-size table were four kids’ playing cards. They never once took their eyes off their game to ogle. Either they were heavy medicated or they didn’t give a rat’s ass, which suited me just fine.
While looking around at my new surroundings, my eyes caught the attention of a sandy blonde-haired, green-eyed boy. He stood in front of the pool table and stared back at me with unreadable eyes. His hair, messy and unkempt, fell around his boyish face. He wore a much too large blue hoodie and a pair of bleached, stained jeans. His sad, almond-shaped eyes locked with mine in an uncomfortable moment. Dark circles ringed his green eyes like he hadn’t slept in days. I could understand why, being trapped here––who would be able to sleep? He gripped the pool cue tightly, making his fist red. His eyes didn’t break our stare until he put the cue down on the green felt of the pool table. Little by little, he walked a few inches at a time to the wall dividing the rooms. He poked his face around the beam of the wall with as much curiosity as a cat on the prowl. Curious–I watched him move as if he were a whisper rounding the corner. I thought it weird how he stared at me as if he either knew me or feared me; whichever one it was—one thing for sure, he was strange. He reminded me of a ghost from a long-forgotten time.
My eyes scanned the facility. There was a big picture window. I could see a gazebo, reminding of the gazebo where Lucien had told me who he really was. I imagined a flower garden in the warmer months; it probably looked nice out there then—hopefully I’d never find out. My mind once again wandered to when I took a bath at the ranch. I remembered the flowers all around it. The memory entangled my thoughts; my heart fluttered. Brushing off the memory, I squeezed my eyes tightly, trying to forget the past.
Down the center hallway two doors were on each side of the walls. Dad touched my arms, gesturing for me to follow him to the reception area. I waited while he told the large-size woman who he was. She smiled, took a clipboard and handed it to Dad to fill out. She picked up a red phone and dialed three numbers on the dial pad.
“Dr. O’Neil will be here shortly,” the woman said, giving me a quick smile.
“Oh, joy,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Samantha.” Was all Dad said, warning off my remark.
In a matter of seconds, a tall, thin woman wearing khakis and a white t-shirt with the word “Oakridge” embroidered on it with purple thread appeared from the hall, walking towards us.
Her black ponytail bounced with every stride she made. She smiled as she walked in our direction, showing white teeth with a small space in the front. You’d think she was an attendant at a resort instead of a doctor by her cheerful disposition.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Debra O’Neil.” Her cool, deep-set black eyes gleamed. She held out her hand; I ignored her request to shake. “You must be Samantha.” I stared back, saying nothing. She took her hand back and turned to my father.
“Hello, Doctor O’Neil, I’m Joseph Hunter,” Dad said, shaking the doctor’s hand. “I spoke with you on the phone earlier.”
“Yes—did you have a pleasant ride? By the way, the snow keeps coming down; you may run into some nasty roads driving back. It should end soon. I’m surprised we got this much snow. Not our typical New Mexico winter, is it?” Her gaze went towards the front glass door.
“This is our first winter here. It’s nothing compared to Pittsburgh.”
“Of course, you’re welcome to take a room with us until morning if you prefer.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine; thanks anyways, all-wheel-drive and I’m used to the snow,” Dad said, sure of himself as always.
“Come along, Samantha. I’ll show you to your room. You can get acquainted with everything and make yourself at home,” the dark-haired woman said. She gestured for my dad to say his goodbyes. He settled next to me, taking my shoulders in his hands.
“Samantha––this is for your own good. When Dr. O’Neil says you’re not a threat to yourself and ready to come home, I’ll come get you.”
“I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’m not like Mom,” I said in a low monotone voice, regretting it after seeing the stunned expression on his face.
“It doesn’t matter; now you’re here.” He squeezed my shoulders a moment. “Make the best of it.”
I held my tongue even though I wanted to scream as he bent down to kiss my forehead. My father turned and walked out the front door. I can’t believe he’s really going to leave me here. Shocked, I rushed after him. I stood looking out the front lobby window, watching him get into the Navigator and drive away, leaving me behind.
Don’t leave me here, I said to myself. My stomach sank.
I didn’t hear a peep from Dad until I heard him struggling with my tweed suitcase and duffel bag against the downstairs banister. He set them down in the foyer. Puzzled, my eyes followed him into the kitchen. He picked up a chair and carried it into the living room and set it in front of me, then sat with his back straight and arms folded over his chest.
Dad glared at me with an all-too-familiar expression. It was his I-mean-business look.
After several long-drawn-out moments of our staring at each other, Dad broke the stillness of the room, “Sammy, honey… this can’t… go on any longer.” His lips moved slowly on his solemn face. Unshed tears clouded his blue eyes while he spoke. I hated this.
“You’re killing yourself—I don’t know what to do with you. You won’t talk to me; you ignore your friends.”
I looked hard and long at my father while I stiffened my body, noticing the specks of gray at his temples. When did he get so old? He stared with a flexed brow, not flinching. He knew me well. I could sit there as long as it took for him to leave me alone.
“SAMANTHA! Are you listening to me?” Startled, I gasped. “You have to tell me. Did Lucien hurt you?” My eyes wandered to the white walls. I can’t tell my dad what happened on the mountainside. I could try; if I did, Dad would lock me up forever. I have a hard time believing what I saw in the sky. How would he believe me? My hand reached for Lucien’s crystal around my neck. I squeezed it between my fingers. As I glided my fingers over the smooth stone, I felt my fingertips get warm. Lucien’s crystal generates heat; I’m not sure why yet. It’s all I have left of Lucien.
“SAMANTHA!” Dad shouted again. Startled, the hair on my neck stood on end and catapulted me back to the present. I jerked.
“Look at me, damnit…!” Dad said. I counted four deep-edged lines in his frown; god, his eyes…were so red. “Since you won’t talk to me, you leave me no choice. You’re going someplace where you will have to.” Dad stood, taking the chair with him into the kitchen, placing it back at the kitchen table. His words stung like alcohol poured into an open wound. Dazed, not fully able to comprehend what he had just said, I sat dumbfounded. Dad returned to stand in front of me.
“Get up.” I remained still a moment. His patience dwindled. He pulled me to my feet and opened the closet, pulling out my black winter parka. Stunned, I stood frozen. He held out his arm holding the coat, “Here, put it on, please.” He lifted my arm. “Come on, Samantha, put your arm in the sleeve.” Dad’s movement was harsh and unsettled. It scared me. At that moment, I didn’t know him. He lifted my coat up over my shoulders, helping me put my arms in the sleeves. That’s when it dawned on me; he wasn’t bluffing.
“If we go now, we will get there before dark.” His voice was raspy and slurred like he was exhausted or hung over. I was jolted back to reality. What did he say? I can’t go anywhere. What if Lucien comes back? He won’t be able to find me. Where’s he taking me?
“Huh? Go where?” I said as if awakened from a deep slumber.
“I’m taking you to Oakridge.”
“Have you heard a word I’ve been saying?”
“Huh? Dad, what are talking about? Nooo. Just let me be.”
“You left me no choice, Sam.”
“W-what’s Oakridge?” I moaned.
“A place where you will get help.” He is sending me to Oakridge Estates? That’s where they send the kids at school who get busted for drugs.
“Oakridge is a rehabilitation center for troubled teens, Dad!”
He can’t be serious, “Samantha, you won’t eat, sleep or go to school. This can’t go on longer like this. Dad paused taking in a breath, “I’ve HAD IT. I’ve asked you a dozen times if Lucien hurt you or touched you inappropriately. You won’t talk to me. How’d you think I should react? I should’ve insisted you keep seeing a therapist after we moved. I swear, Samantha—I won’t lose you too!”
“No! Dad, don’t send me there. Lucien didn’t rape me! That’s not what this is about. I promise. I won’t take anymore pills. Give me a rubber band. I’ll put it on. Like before! I promise. I’ll be better. I swear. Don’t send me away…please,” I sobbed.
“Sammy, there are other ways to rape someone without actually physically hurting them. And you’re not telling me. Just because the lab test didn’t find any DNA doesn’t mean he didn’t hurt you.”
“Dad––Dad––I’ll tell you. Wait… Stop and listen––I loved Lucien––he would never have forced himself on me. He’s…not like that.” I stopped. I can’t. Before I knew what was happening, Dad dragged me against my will into the Navigator, but not without fighting him. I fought every step of the way, hoping he would change his mind; but he didn’t.