reviews & resources:
If you grew up in the 80s you probably remember the national reading campaign called "Write To Read Week". my summer reading list is a book review blog with the purpose of challenging myself to read more as an adult, for enrichment and for enjoyment! I also post new book releases from AAMBC (The African Americans On The Move Book Club) I hope you will join the challenge and enjoy my reviews!
Friday, May 25, 2012
MSRL: AAMBC New Book Release - Seeds From Mama's Garden by Kat Smith
AAMBC (African Americans On The Move Book Club)
New Book Release
Seeds From Mama's Garden by Kat Smith
About the Author, Kat Smith
Katherine “Kat” Smith is formerly a co-host of a four year, syndicated morning radio program with ABC Radio Networks, Inc. Her Wednesday one hour show, A Woman’s Point of View, focused on relationships.
Recently certified as a relationship coach Kat also created and manufactures a communication game for couples. She is native of New Orleans, who learned early that life is not fair, it’s just life. One of twelve siblings from ten fathers, Kat was born to a mother who’s own confusion with love created damaging patterns that she and her sisters repeated in their own relationships. Now she speaks to help women who cannot articulate or communicate their experiences with topics that concentrate on love and life enrichment, clarity of message in both career or personal relationships and recovery.
Kat is the author of several books including Romantic Retreats in Texas, Seeds From Mama’s Garden and has several programs and products that support healthy emotional living.
Get to know Katherine:
1. What inspires you as an author?
Stories inspire me. My life has been filled with vivid stories both real and fiction. This story is based on a true account of my life. I changed the names ever so slightly to protect myself, not the guilty. I wanted to share this story with the hope that it may inspire just one woman to release her bonds from childhood trauma and live a life filled with love, free from what haunts her.
2. Are there strong female characters in this story?
Yes, I believe in our strength and gratefully I was given examples of that in my life and I cherish that. We don’t have to use that strength against ourselves by being combative or by sabotaging our relationships. We have to balance that strength with love and self nurturing. Katarina LeBlanc, is my main character. She find strength in her mentor and boss, Susan Williams who takes her under her wing and grooms her with love and support. They have a special bond. Katarina also experiences the failing of love as she endures a separation from her husband Jonathan. But with a twist of fate, love blossoms elsewhere for Katarina.
3. You use horticulturist terms to identify the chapters in Seeds From Mama’s Garden. What is the significance?
From the seed we grow. From seeds gardens grow. Although these chapters show a chronology of the growth of the characters in the book, they also represent growth in life and how if we neglect our gardens they can get over run with weeds and the not so pretty things that grow there. But, if we cultivate and nurture them, they produce beauty and harvest. Katarina learns that seeds of deception and pain were propagated in her family’s garden and the keeper was none other than her mother, Lorraine.
4. How is the story is laced with a touch of spirituality?
Katarina is forced to deal with her past when she sees visions of a nine year old. Laura, her therapist guides her into a session where Katarina relays a dream. When she realizes its meaning it starts the spiral into her struggle to uproot the weeds that choke her life’s happiness. In addition, the Universal powers will not allow her to bury her past any longer. At work she is assigned a new client; SAIF (Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families). Tellani Grayson, their representative and a clairvoyant can see this little spirit and the pain that Katarina carries with her.
5. Now the cover is quite an eye catcher. You designed it, so how did you come up with the design.
There is three messages in the cover: Sin of the flesh, is represented by nakedness. Seed of the womb for the female body and the southern woman is represented by the magnolias. I am born and raised in New Orleans, and have very full and colorful memories of my life there. Especially with my Grandmother, Madear. Honestly, that is what we called her. My cousins called her Greenie. And we refer to her mother, my great grandmother as Mama Jo.(Short for Josephine). They were strong women and I wanted to honor them in my story along with my sisters which I liken to various trees that matched their personalities.
6. What about you personally? What do you want readers to know about you?
I am passionate about my craft of writing. I have eight books now with the recent release of two at the same time: Seeds From Mama’s Garden and a romantic Texas travel guide – Romantic Retreats in Texas. Presently, I am now on chapter eight of my next book. I love writing and publishing. I created an event in Dallas called the Muse Literary Mingle where I feature a publishing professional each month (i.e. author, agent, editor, etc). It is a casual, after work gathering which allows networking and one-on-one conversations with the guests and the opportunity to sell and promote their books and services. I have volunteered for literary organization and provided consultations for those seeking publication. In the past I was a model and actor. I am the eighth of 12 children, 6’2” tall and I love to cook, travel and the ocean.
7. Who are your favorite authors?
Again, I am drawn to stories of strong female characters. Toni Morrison won me over with Song of Solomon, Beloved and Bluest Eyes. As a young girl I was introduced to Victoria Holt to which now I have an entire collection. Mostly I read inspirational books.
Synopsis of Seeds From Mama's Garden:
Seeds from Mama’s Garden is an inspiring, based-on-truth account of one woman’s journey to a rainbow of happiness, led by the spirit of her youth. With help, she weeds her life of the strangling debris of memories. Inspiration gives her the strength to uproot the pain of generational abuse, unearthing the source of the family’s unhappiness and their mother’s true identity; an accomplice in the crimes committed against her daughters.
At a time when KATARINA LEBLANC thought her world was settling close to normal, everything changed, again. An attempted rape opened the gates to a deluge of memories and dreams to which she began communicating with herself as a child, quickly reconciling the past, which she had buried long ago.
Therapist LAURA THOMKPINS, helped Katarina uproot the painful history of her family, cultivated generations before. Together with the heroine from her dreams, (herself at the age of the abuse) she unravels the mysteries which led to answers long awaited. Likened unto a flower that blossoms between the cracks in the sidewalk, she saw her youth as strong, beautiful and determined.
Her family’s garden had been tended by women who forsaken their desire for love and endured tainted relationships in exchange for the comforts of financial stability. Women like her grandmother MADEAR, whose brutal rape in a cotton field formed her opinion about men. LORAINE GERARD, her mother, who recklessly bore twelve children, fathered by ten men. When she married GENE GERARD, Loraine ultimately sacrificed her daughters to sexual torment by neglecting the sprouts of her womb and propagating seeds of lies, deception and denial.
Katarina develops a three dimensional view of her childhood, teenage years and adulthood. She and Laura examined the patterns Katarina displayed and suffered from repeatedly. Encounters with her younger self and therapy gives her insight into the relationships with her siblings and the part they play in the infestation of incest.
Ensuing weeks filled with emotional turmoil, became even more dramatic as Katarina fought to mask her pain while challenged with the assignment of a new account, Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families (SAIF). TELLANI GRAYSON, a representative of SAIF and a clairvoyant, inspires Katarina by sharing visions of Katarina’s past and future.
With physical and spiritual forces bearing down, Katarina also struggled to emotionally cope with a separation from husband JONATHAN LEBLANC. His affair, accompanied by the assault leaves Jonathan desperate to scale the walls she’s built around her heart, while a budding new love interest, BRAXTON JUSTICE is overshadowed by Katarina’s need to end her family’s suffering.
First she must confront her mother Loraine, for failing to expose her husband, Gene for what he is; a child molester and rapist. Seen as his accomplice, Loraine ignores the fact that he may prey on yet the next generation of girls in the family.
Next is her sister LOUISE, who holds the truth as to the father of her first child, CLARISSA. Twenty five year old Clarissa only needs confirmation that her grandfather is actually her father.
In the end, Katarina experiences closure with her little spirit, setting her free of the vines that bound them.
Loraine and Gene are arrested, tried and convicted. During the trial, Clarissa reveals that she secretly tested Gene’s DNA to prove that he is her father. With vindication brings wholeness and healing for the family and Katarina blossoms into a new life.
Read An Excerpt From Seeds From Mama's Garden:
I noticed God’s presence. He or she understood the pain I unleashed and, befitting the sadness, created the perfect scene. For at that very moment, darkness moved in and covered the cheerful glow of the sun, allowing me a moment to grieve.
Innocence was lost. The light that once filled my heart was now shrouded. Tears remained for what was lost or taken and all hope was buried with my dreams. Aware that I must face this unhappiness, I aerate the garden of my mind. Loosening the soil to increase the penetration of life giving elements, I uprooted the source of my pain. Pulling at the tangled roots of my past I fight to free myself from the stranglehold of the overgrowth of lies, deceit and denial.
* * *
Sitting quietly I held tight to the tapestry pillow on the sofa in the therapist’s office. The cold, stiff leather squeaked as I adjusted in my seat. Shadows cast, despite the absence of sunlight, darkening the antique upholstered chairs and walls lined with bookshelves. Laura Thompkins’ wavy, auburn hair cascaded long curls down onto her shoulders. Uncanny to the décor of the office or her age, she donned a compassionate, caring face bright with youth’s dew. I deducted that Laura’s devotion to her work was the fuel that drove her to spend numerous hours a day here; listening, taking notes, offering advice and seeking solutions.
Laura sat across from me, Katarina LeBlanc. At thirty two, I’m reliving my childhood. But not as you would think. I’m revisiting that time, led by my youth.
Clasping her hands together and leaning in, she asked, “Why don’t you describe the dream to me in detail?”
I hesitated while contemplating our initial visit, which exposed the fact that Laura had witnessed enough abuse to inspire a career to help women refuse to live as prisoners of their past. Well respected in her profession, I had read of her accomplishments. She carefully recommended and encouraged her patients into a more normal view of living in her books.
Normal, I chuckled at the reference. For the most part, normal is for people on the outside looking in. Many of us will never reach normalcy. Our lives have been altered forever.
Laura observed closely as I searched my heart and mind. With all my strength and where with all, I tried to maintain control. Focusing on a sunbeam that walked up the arm of the chair, I noticed by hour’s end, it had created a halo around Laura’s head.
Suddenly my sight is fixed on something or someone in a corner of the ceiling.
A concentrated look formed lines on Laura’s forehead. Momentarily, I thought maybe she’d thought I’d lost it. I shook my head to break up the war of memories which often consumed both awaken and sleeping hours. I stared back at the image up high. “We share each other’s thoughts, but somehow, she is the keeper of my memories.” The static crackled from the broken lines of communication from her voice in my head.
“I remember the first time I heard the small tiny voice. It was ever so quiet, but as time passed she became clearer and definitive, demanding to be heard.”
Quick scribbling of a pen and the slight rustle of pages quieted my sniffles as I fought to conceal the onslaught of tears.
With closed eyes and hung head, heavy images battled for attention. In my mind my eyes darted about the room. Like a camera lens, my pupils tried to freeze-frame one of the many thoughts.
I gasped to breathe between words detailing my awakening. “I was seated at the vanity … in what seemed to be my old bedroom … staring in the mirror … I reminisced … unhappy days spent in that room … in that house … in my life … like a ticker tape … across the mirror… glimpses of my past… piercing.”
Connecting to the pain, I grip my chest as I labored on. “No one thought more prevalent … just space … emptiness … a deep void … a pit … gray … in black and white … shadows … wooden … the floor and furniture all lacking color … like food missing salt … bland and tasteless … cracks in the walls … pulling apart … that’s ironic … my family torn apart … painfully … like shin splints.”
Laura flipped a page on her notepad drawing my attention. Without opening my eyes, I turned my head and cocked it to the side, temporarily removed from my trance. She paused, “you were saying?”
“Suddenly … in the mirror I see a little brown eyed girl … about nine or ten … shy and thin … her hair parted down the middle … braided on each side … like Madear used to comb my hair … I hated that style … she’s wearing my favorite dress … I hear her say ‘It’s me!’… I turned around and she’s not there … I’m not afraid … I stare back without a word … finally I said hello … anticipation … In my head I hear, ‘I’ve been waiting’… my throat tightened … choke back the deep sadness … a sorrow … can’t speak … her eyes plead … ‘See me!’” A bead of sweat rolled down my face and blended into my tears. The trance ensued as I nervously wringed my hands.
“Stares never wavered… eyes telegraphed so much… she’s so sad… I asked her name… but she did not respond… I see her tears… they run the length of her caramel colored, heart shaped face… I reach to wipe away my own… then, as quickly as she appeared… she turned away and vanished… the darkness enveloped me.”
Cries ripped up my throat and uncontrollable sobbing broke free from the containment I fought for so long. “It was me. She was me.”
“Was she?” Laura coaxed.
“Yes. I don’t know.”
“Why do you think she met you there?” Laura guided.
“I didn’t remember her. I forgot.” Through my grief, I reached up to her in the corner. I needed her forgiveness, she needed my love. It was more than I was willing to face.
“But you remember now. You went home to reconnect and you did Katarina.”
Reality was sucked in like a vortex. I realized that I had totally opened up. I felt naked. This dream had ripped out both my heart and that of the little girl of my past. I affectionately call her, my spirit.
Recovering from my momentary weakness, I challenge the mystical message. “But the dream was dark and gloomy. My memories of home are filled with color.”
“But those dark memories were hidden and are now resurfacing in your dreams. You have to think about what she is trying to tell you,” Laura reasoned.
“I’m sorry. I can’t… I have to go. I, I’m sorry.” Snatching my handbag, I walk away as fast as my legs would carry me avoiding Laura’s attempt to stop me.
I heard Laura’s call in the distance before I burst through the glass doors of the building getting hit in the face with the humidity synonymous withNew Orleans. Running to my car, the thick air challenged my breathing, bringing me inches away from hyperventilation. I trembled from the voice that lingered in my head.
Safely inside, I locked the door and started the car. Turning the air up full blast, I angled the vent directly into my face and let the cold air slap me in the face.
Reruns of my dreams played over and over in my head as I drove in the evening’s maze of traffic. Idling at a stoplight, I broke away from the confusion to assess the damage to my make-up. My image. My mask.
Pulling down the visor, expecting to see red and puffy eyes, the result of mascara filled tears, I see the eyes of my little spirit.
The honking horn of an impatient driver jolts me back.