Waltzing with Ghosts (Forgive My Absence)

There is truth in memory. It is a truth laced with opinion built on years of re-framing life images. As I work on my second book (first memoir) spirits long since transcended, sit beside me urging me to their truth. I dig deeper and deeper to see them as whole human beings, frail, wanting to be loved, unsure, making their way in the best manner they could. mansion-1

Haunted. It is the best word to describe the process of trying to uncover beautiful prose in a past so horrifying that I often think it happened to someone else. The words never seem right. Never large or accurate enough to tell the tale of honing my faith in hell. How does one describe God’s grace? When my finger left the trigger of my father’s rifle, on the day I planned to kill him, I looked up to the marble crucifix. Porcelain Jesus looked back. His suffering was more than mine, and somehow at that moment I knew my tortured family would be okay.

Denial. I have spent more than thirty-years hiding from my truth. I did not know I was running, swiping away what my heart owned. “I survived. I’m strong”, I would tell those who asked about growing up in a constant state of battle. Shhh. Don’t mention your adoption anger. Dysfunction cast in a light of character-building is easier for others to stomach. So, I swallowed the loathing, fear, and vulnerability of abuse in a great big pill called denial, riding the effects until earlier this year. Now, as I experience inevitable withdrawals, I withdraw from you my readers, and friends.

As I write, monsters who choked the justice from my childhood encircle. Scratching at my soul, they fight the exodus that will free me. They crowd my mind, pushing and hollering to be heard on my precious pages.  I dance with and away from the exposure they flaunt.

Winter is coming as I work to complete this book. As frigid nights zap the green from marsh grass to reveal roots and decay, so topple barriers long forged to hide my truth.  If I seem distracted, please forgive me. I am waltzing a glorious, tortuous last dance with powerful apparitions.

Blessings for a peaceful, loving Thanksgiving,

V.L. Brunskill


Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page-http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com-amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
View the Waving Backwards book trailer-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

Halloween- Masked Revelations

Just back from the Spooky Empire Halloween convention in Orlando, and as I pack away the heavy rubber mask I wore at the Con, I reflect on the happy faces of the people who rushed to take a photo of my family’s group costume. Completely concealed by the mask, with the sounds of people’s voices muffled and only a tiny slice of sight, I had the rare opportunity of being completely incognito.spooky4

It was an oddly freeing experience, as I posed for one photo after another, still myself, but unknown for my true face. My new hair color (I went from blonde to brown) did not matter to the joyous faces who asked me to turn this way and that. People put their arms around me, hugged me, smiled, and stared openly. My anonymity made them comfortable.

I have to admit that people are not always at ease in my presence. I wear the intensity of survival in my eyes and tight jawline. I often look stern, even when I am feeling as vulnerable as a newborn. My tendency to wear a grumpy look when pondering my latest story line, is often assumed by others to be moodiness. I look serious.

In life, we all make assumptions based on people’s appearances. The mask I wore this Halloween freed me from onlooker’s judgement based on my looks. The mask also forced me to look at my own assumptions.

One of the media guests at the event was Burt Reynolds. He is nearing 79-years-old. His face looks pained, his posture bent. If I saw him on the street, it would not be his fame that I witnessed. I would not see the mega movie star, the actor who defined a generation of 1970’s movies. I would have seen an old man, looked past him, and missed out on the lessons of a superstar who had it all, lost it, and learned how to survive.DSCN5645

Whether we like it or not, it is human nature to react to physical appearance. Wearing a mask made me realize how much joy is lost to assumptions made based on looks.

A few thoughts from my time under the mask-

  • The less we assume, the more we will know.
  • Physical beauty captivates, but its fade is the true freedom.
  • Inside every frail, aging form is the bright soul they wore in youth.
  • Facial expression is an unreliable measure of humanity.

Blessings to be seen in your truest form,

V.L. Brunskill

———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

The Quiet Revelation of Tea Leaves- E. Shaver Bookseller

On Saturday September 19th, I arrived at E. Shaver Bookseller to sign copies of my debut novel Waving Backwards. I unrolled my ‘Author Inside’ banner, unpacked my Penguin Sharpie, and headed to the antique-filled room behind The Tea Room.

During the three years I spent rewriting my novel, while sprouting gray hairs, and dreading the idea of allowing anyone to read my work, I visited E. Shaver often. I tiptoed through room-after-room of the 1842 Greek revival home (turned bookstore) immersed in a reader’s oasis of classics, bestsellers, and rare finds.

During these visits, posters announcing book signings, and shelves filled with local author’s works, tantalized and tempted me to think about someday joining their ranks. Daydreaming of my Savannah novel, and how it would feel to hold a bound version in my hand, or (mercy me) see it on an E. Shaver shelf, made each visit to the store a mystical trip into the realm of possibilities.

Anywhere one dreams is magical.

After my book was published by SYP Publishing in July, it was far easier for me to contact local chain stores about carrying it, than to approach E. Shaver.  Sometimes we hold something so dear that we also hold it at a distance. So, when the lovely ladies at the store contacted me about carrying my novel, I waltzed around my living room. Later, when I approached them about a signing and they said ‘yes’,  dizzy does not begin to describe my reaction.

eshaver2On the day of the signing, the ancient building welcomed me with the same creaky floorboards, and bookish aroma of freshly bound dreams.  I sat at the signing table, peering at the store’s heavy wooden entrance doors with a fresh perspective. A new aroma joined the sensory party as the scent of fruit, jasmine and joyful spices made its way to my nose. A relatively new addition to E. Shaver’s offerings is The Tea Room that now resides where large format books once rested.

From my signing spot, I was privy to the whispering of the Tea Room ladies as  they described in aromatic detail the hot and cold beverages they had freshly brewed for patrons that afternoon. Adding to the ambiance were a delightful array of bookish shoppers, and the symphonic calm of classic forties tunes playing quietly throughout the store. eshaver

I met wonderful friends, an adoptee (who found that his mother became a nun after his relinquishment), and signed a book for a young man who wore a Cheshire grin when he asked me to inscribe his book to, “the amazingly handsome Doug.”  I also met the resident kitties, who pranced through tea cup and saucer displays with enviable feline grace. However, it was a moment of solitude that made the signing a true success.

As I partook of a cup of hot ‘Emperor’s Bride’ tea (a name that made me giggle) I  picked up a copy of Waving Backwards, and reread the back cover describing the story that lived in my heart for so long. I teared up at the blurb written by author John WarleyA Southern Girl, The Moralist, Bethesda’s Child). I admired the texture and color of the richly designed cover, and I gave thanks.

The hectic pace of launching, marketing, and selling a book (when you’re not J.K. Rowling) steals a bit of the achievement’s sparkle. In my little corner of E. Shaver, a quiet knowing replaced success metrics that rely on the latest positive review or sales ranking. I found among the steeping tea leaves, a solitude and pride of completion. Not showy, nor outward, I caressed my story, amid people who appreciated words, and felt for the first time what it really means to be an author.

Thank you to E. Shaver Bookseller (and all independent booksellers) for embracing local authors, and breathing life into the continued sharing of words  and stories.

Blessings for thankful insight and a great read,

V.L.
———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

Snowflakes in a Blizzard blog about ‘Waving Backwards’

‘Snowflakes in a Blizzard’ wrote a beautiful piece on ‘Waving Backwards’ today. As most of you know, ‘Waving Backwards’ is an adoption search themed novel.

 

Snowflakes in a Blizzard

OUR OTHER CURRENTLY FEATURED BOOK, “CHASE,” BY SYDNEY SCROGHAM, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST.

THE BOOK: Waving Backwards.Waving Backwards

PUBLISHED IN: 2015

THE AUTHOR: V.L. Brunskill.

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing (SYP) Publishes fiction and non-fiction books that are set in the South, or written by Southern writers.

SUMMARY: Imagine not knowing who you are, until you find yourself in a statue 800 miles from home. Waving Backwards is the story of intensely passionate and fiercely independent New York college student Lara Bonavito’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery in sigh-worthy Savannah, Georgia. Adopted into an abusive and impoverished home, Lara’s quest to find her roots lands her in the Southern jewel’s historic district.

A vivid cast of characters help her unravel clues found in a cryptic letter hidden in the family bible for two decades. “The baby’s roots are with the Southern lady who…

View original post 1,078 more words

For My Favorite Survivor – Pat Conroy at Decatur Book Festival

Yesterday, in a standing-room only session at the AJC Decatur Book Festival, I sat in the choir loft of the First Baptist Church, mesmerized once again by Pat Conroy’s candid and comedic telling of a life spent writing about survival. Pat was interviewed by his longtime literary agent Marly Rusoff, and shared the stage with novelist Jonathan Odell.

Like Conroy, I was raised in a family where mental illness, violence and dysfunction flourished. Unlike Conroy, I have not yet found my full voice for describing the damage and self-delusion of my parents. Conroy knows more than any writer, the danger of family estrangement that is inherent in writing novels that are semi-autobiographical. Conroy has lived a lifetime of emotional repercussions as a result of his near-mythic ability to bleed-out parental flaws onto page-after-page of heart-wrenching prose.

My debut novel hints at the atrocities of my childhood, including months spent homeless and hiding in a shelter for battered women and children. However,  unlike Conroy who slaughters familial beasts with open-fisted humor, Waving Backwards swats at the underbelly of childhood violence.

Waving Backwards is a story of family dysfunction, coming-of-age, adoption search and abuse.  Listening to Conroy yesterday, clarified for me the reasons (beyond my extreme newbie status in the craft of novel writing) that I did not delve into the morbid details of childhood terror with more clarity. Conroy explained how his book editor for The Great Santini, edited out some of his father’s bad behavior in the novel, because she did not believe that “any father could treat his children so badly.” Conroy went on to say that at the time of Santini’s publication in 1976, “America was not read for that kind of abuse.”

Long before editors tucked and trimmed my novel, I did a fair amount of abuse-editing. Conroy’s comments made me realize that I was seeking to protect the pro-adoption segment of American society.  An an author and adoptee, I judged them ill-equipped to deal with the fact that many adoptive parents are not suited to adopt; and that sometimes a biological parent is a better care-giving option, even if they are financially needy. Abundant monetary resources do not make someone a better parent. Adoption can be healthy and successful. However, that is not my story to tell.

I have been blessed to hear Pat Conroy speak on three separate occasions, and each time I am left with a new nugget of eloquent insight into the task of writing as an abuse survivor. Like Mr. Conroy, I am a reluctant memory keeper. The daily battles that my family locked away, flourish vividly and painfully in my writer’s mind.

Yesterday, as I descended from the choir loft, I thought about sharing my book with this masterful author. In typical writer’s fashion, self-doubt reared its ugly head, and I almost decided against it. Yet, the desire to give something back to the man who has gifted me (and the world) with such courageous literature, made me open a copy of Waving Backwards and write, “For my favorite survivor. Thank you for inspiring me to write.”

Hands shaking, in what I now refer to as the ‘Conroy quake’, I handed him my book, snapped a few photos of it sitting on his signing table, and walked off in a teary cloud of giddy delight. conroywb

Thank you Pat Conroy for accepting my humble gift, and for helping to pave a path for my next novel, which will delve more fearlessly into the life-long burden of child abuse in adoption.

Blessings for less self-editing and more truth,

V.L.
———-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

 

‘Waving Backwards’ Book Launch Reminds that Family is All

To say I was nervous on Friday July 10th is an understatement. I arrived at the Marriott Riverfront in Savannah a couple of hours early for set up and to  sign dozens of pre-sale books. My niece who was visiting from North Carolina sat in the passenger seat assuring me that it would be a grand success. She was one of many angels who helped me shine that night.

After speaking to spectacular Marriott staffer, Cindy Johnson, about the arrangement of food tables, I was finally able to greet my publisher Terri Gerrell of SYP Publishing. She found me a signing spot at a large table, suggesting that I sit and breath. She reminded me that I was the author.booklaunch5

I watched as the lobby was transformed into a sparkling party place. Musician Greg Williams arrived on time, wearing a guitar and easy smile. The palm rose maker, Peanut (the oldest artisan on River Street) sashayed  in with a shoulder loaded with palm fronds. Plans fell into place. Imaginings became reality.

Like the moment when a storm passes, and a first ray of sunlight appears, the literary launch I had dreamed of was born. Three years prior, as I sat in the same lobby writing Waving Backwards, I had no way of knowing that we would launch the book there. I did not even know if the book would be published.booklaunch9

Perched happily at my very first book signing table on Friday night, I had hardly taken a breath before a stream of well-wishers arrived. Family, friends, new friends, book lovers, tourists, all stopped to say hello; purchase a book; take a photo. When the first reader asked to have her photo taken with me, I glanced over my shoulder wondering if she meant someone else.booklaunch2

An hour or so into the signing, a voice rose above the murmur of party goers. It was instantly recognizable, and transported me back to the age of seven. I said, “That cannot be the voice I think it is.” When I finished signing the book in front of me, I looked up and there stood a woman I had not seen in a dozen years. It was my adoptive mother’s youngest sister. The aunt who taught me about Barbies and The Beatles had traveled from New York to Savannah to attend my book launch.

In rare moments, when I was able to pause from signing and look around that booklaunch6night, I witnessed my biological and adoptive families in a wash of commonality that sent shivers down my spine. My birth mother posed with my adoptive mother. My adoptive and blood brothers discussed movies and shared a toast. My nieces from both sides of the adoption triad chatted, smiled, shared.

I searched thirteen years to find my biological family, and while they have met my adoptive family before, this was the first celebration we shared as one brood, one clan, one bright reminder of the importance of nature and nurture.

My friends too, joined the fray of family that night as they learned who I look like, who I grew with, who I love, and who loves me back. From our local book club; to a group  I spend Sundays with exploring the world via documentaries; the night was a perfect celebration of the ‘Waving Backwards’ message.booklaunchbertice

Family is all. No matter how they come to join you, family is made of the connections that define us. 

Open records for all adoptees at age eighteen, and access to Original Birth Certificates (OBCs) is essential! All adoptees deserve to experience the completeness and co-mingling that permeated my book launch.

The time for adoptee rights is now.

Blessings and thanks to everyone who attended the Waving Backwards book launch. Thank you city of Savannah, friends and family!  I love you!
Hugs, V.L.

——

Twitter- @RockMemoir
Facebook- www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwardshttp://www.syppublishing.com/waving-backwards/
Amazon author page- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill

Independence Day Giveaway- Autographed Novel ‘Waving Backwards’

Happy Independence Day!

For adoptees, independence is the finding of biological family. My  independence day was July 1, 1992, when I spoke to my birth mother for the first time. After a daunting 7-year search, that emotional 30-minute conversation revealed more facts about my history then I’d known in my previous 28 years on earth. My blank slate of biological connection was filled. I was whole.

On this 4th of July, in celebration of every adoptee’s right to know who they are and where they come from, I am giving away three (3) autographed copies of my Savannah novel Waving Backwards. The book follows New York native Lara Bonavito on a quest to discover her roots in Savannah, Georgia.

All of us who have searched (or are in search) know the truth of this line from the book-

‘Agreeing to move forward was easier than finding. Setting aside what has always been true to make room for new truths is the most agonizing agreement yet. Searching has been difficult, but finding may destroy every reality she’s ever known.’

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Waving Backwards, A Savannah Novel by V.L. Brunskill

Waving Backwards, A Savannah Novel

by V.L. Brunskill

Giveaway ends July 17, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

In case FREE is not incentive enough to click above, here’s what a couple of amazing authors had to say about Waving Backwards. Yes, I’m blushing!

“In her debut novel, music journalist to the stars, V.L Brunskill, intricately weaves the very complex issues of a modern day Northern adoption-seeker into the historical quilt and Southern charm of a place I now call home. Brava! Waving Backwards: A Savannah Novel, has something for every reader.” Bertice Berry, PhD., Best-Selling Author of Redemption Song and The Ties That Bind

“Waving Backwards is a compelling reminder of the need we all feel to know who we are and where we came from, and when that quest comes with a cryptic clue, a memorable romance and the charm only a city like Savannah can provide, we rush along with determined Lara Bonavito to uncover the ultimate truths.” John Warley, Author of A Southern Girl, Bethesda’s Child, and The Moralist.

Blessings for a good read and independence for every adoptee,

V.L. Brunskill

—-
Follow me on Twitter- @RockMemoir
Like my Facebook page- www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
Amazon author page- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U

Amazon Author Page- Almost as Exciting as a Polar Bear

World stop spinning, my Amazon author page is live! Every writer who has ever penned a novel must get a secret tingle when their sales shingle is slung up on Amazon.com.  While Amazon has had a few pricing wars with publishing houses, it (along with Barnes & Noble) remain the hub of online book sales.  (Yes, dear readers. I prefer independent book stores.)

More than 36 months have passed since I started writing my debut novel Waving Backwards, and its ‘at-last’ appearance on Amazon.com has me reflecting on my first taste of literary notoriety.

I took to writing in elementary school. I started with a journal, which I addressed to a secret confidant named Lovey. I shared with Lovey my pop-star crushes, and secret wishes. Unlike my friends, a fair amount of my childhood journal was about heaven, hell, and dreams of finding my biological family. The writing was heartfelt and heavy.

However, my first notoriety as a writer was light and lovely. In a suburban New York classroom, I watched as my 4th grade teacher tacked up a poster that would launch me into the dangerous world of elementary school gossip. The shiny poster showed a fierce looking polar bear perched on a glacial plain. All eyes stared when the teacher announced, “Girls and boys, we are having a poetry contest.”

Youthful chatter and enthusiasm bubbled. I was the rhyming queen, and sure that I would win the poster, and colored pencil set. All  I had to do was write a poem about the subject. Easy, peasy! This is what I turned in the following day-

Did you ever see a polar bear,
so big, white and furry?
I’d sure hate to be in one’s way,
when it’s in a hurry.

Not exactly Shakespeare, but it did the trick. In front of the entire class, I was presented with a first place certificate and badge. The teacher had me read my poem (my first public reading). It was a dazzling moment, until…Tommy told a lie.

To my utter disbelief, Tommy Sciarello (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) raised his hand and said, “Miss Anderson, I read that poem in a magazine.” Glaring he continued, “She copied it.”

In shock, I defended myself. “I did not.” I started to cry. Miss Anderson pried the certificate from my hand saying, ‘Well Tommy, plagiarism is a serious accusation. I will look into it. Please be seated, Vicki-lynn.”

Sideward stares and whispers plagued me for the rest of the day. Lunch was hell. Noone wanted to sit with ‘the cheater’. I went home and cried to my mother. She consoled me, telling me that the teacher had called, and was assured that I had not stolen the poem.

The next day, Miss Anderson reinstated my prize, certificate and badge. She also  posted my name on the bulletin board with a gold emblem that said ‘winner’. She admonished Tommy, and explained to the class the meaning of plagiarism and why it should be taken seriously. I beamed for a week, and waved a colored pencil at Tommy every time I passed his desk.

While my Amazon.com author page is thrilling, the lessons learned from my first (somewhat public) writing accomplishment will always hold a special place in my heart.

Blessings that boys with crushes never try to crush you,

V.L.
Twitter- @RockMemoir
Facebook- www.facebook.com/vlbrunskill
My novel Waving Backwardshttp://www.syppublishing.com/waving-backwards/

You’re Invited to the ‘Waving Backwards’ Book Launch Party

You have never experienced an adoption search mystery like this.
Adoptionfind readers, it is with great pleasure that I invite you to the book launch party for my Savannah Novel Waving Backwards.

invitation
To learn more about the book,
or pre-order,
and get your copy personalized by me,
visit

 

Hope to meet you there in July!
Blessings for a shared Savannah adventure,
V.L. Brunskill