Writers Wednesday – Chapter 17 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 17: “Altgeld Projects”


Janiyah sat up on the couch, took out her flip phone, and scrolled through her MySpace page.

“Tab girl, come on.”

She didn’t like spending too much time at Tabitha’s house. She just wanted to get her money and go home. Tab lived in the Altgeld Gardens, one of the last remaining housing projects in Chicago, located on the city’s far south side bordering Riverdale. The complex had undergone renovations but had continued to perpetuate the same gun violence and poverty associated with any Chicago housing complex. But that’s not why Janiyah hated it. Before Tina moved them out, she had grown up in the projects, and she was pretty enough to be protected by the gang members who still lusted for her. She knew that it was arrogant to think, but it was true. If the gangbangers thought you were fine, “a dime,” they showed you favor. “Redbones,” were in, and everyone wanted that pretty light-skinned girl named Janiyah. Word on the street was she was a virgin, and they all wanted to be the one to boast they had popped that cherry.

Word on the street was also that her auntie was a detective and ruled with an iron fist. While they wanted Janiyah, they also wanted to stay out of jail. They watched her with lustful eyes, flirted, and hoped to navigate Tina’s iron steel fence with the two pit bulls in front of it. Terms like, “You ready yet?” You eighteen yet?” were common when Janiyah sashayed down the halls. Her footsteps hit the concrete with confidence, kissing the ground like she poured the cement herself or knew who did. Her laughter was a flirtatious innocence, and her hips danced, and her booty bounced made them swear she knew what she was doing, even if she didn’t. She was a Goddess no one had the authority to touch, and she knew it. Janiyah walked the patio like she lived there and never had a problem if she needed to spend the night. Though, she would never let goodie-too-shoes Tina know this is where she kicked it. Janiyah wasn’t ashamed of the projects. Here, she was home. But Tabitha’s apartment also reminded her of Big Sam’s apartment in the building across the street and too much of Ronnie. He was alive then.

“Let me put my wig on,” shouted Tabitha from the back. Janiyah smiled and shook her head.

“You got something to drink in here?”

“I think it’s some Kool-Aid left.”

A phone sang in the back room. Tab always had a busy line. “Hey stranger,” she could be heard saying from the back. “Yea, I’m here, what’s up?”

Janiyah, smiled, shaking her head at her crazy friend.

Tabitha was half Asian and half black, and it drove the men crazy. She was a different kind of beautiful to them and not just because of her looks. Tab was straight hood and didn’t give two shits about her Asian heritage. Her mother tried to convince her to widen her perspective and learn more about her history, but Tab was a wild card with Asian eyes, brown skin, and street in her veins. All of this and she was still a “pretty girl.” Tabitha liked everything cute and yellow, lipstick, foundation, and heels. It didn’t matter what she was doing, Tabitha always dressed up. Janiyah teased her about looking like she was going to the club when she knew they were going to be sitting in the house.

***

Freddy leaned back into the sofa and sighed. It was refreshing to sit back and enjoy the moment: no investigations, no phone calls, and no Juan.

“Ouch.”

He jerked back, pulling his hand away from Tabitha, who was laughing.

“You are such a big baby. Are you gonna let me clip those claws or not?”

“Not,” laughed Freddy.

Tabitha laughed and put her manicure kit on the table in front of them. “Fine.”

The two laughed some more before settling into silence.

“You called,” said Tabitha, smiling.

Freddy smiled back. “I told you I would.”

“Took you long enough. What’s going on?”

Frederick was a cool friend, but he wasn’t Tabitha’s type. The nature of their relationship was platonic, but they still kept it on the low. Tabitha was young, and they both knew no one would understand why such an older man was visiting such a young woman. The two met during an investigation into a drug deal gone wrong at the buildings where Freddy and Tina were both assigned. Tina turned down the job, not wanting to have anyone make the connection that she knew anyone in the buildings where the crime took place. Tabitha struck up a conversation with Freddy about the dirt under his fingernails, and since then, the two have been tight. Freddy made her promise not to tell Janiyah or Tina about their relationship.

“They wouldn’t understand,” he had said.

Tabitha didn’t force it. It wasn’t like he came around a lot anyway, and she always wanted a big brother, which is what Freddy was to her. What she provided for him was an ear.

“I don’t know, man, some crazy shit.”

“Like…”

Like Tina acting weird. Talking to herself.”

“Talking to herself?”

Fred nodded, and Tabitha frowned. “Niyah ain’t said nothing about that. Guess she still grieving.”

“Juan is acting weird too. Damn near cursed me out the other day. Now I gotta chase down this Jason cat.”

“Jason?”

“Yea, some dude Tina had me look into.”

“You said chase down.” Tabitha folded her arms. “What, Juan, got you on a leash again?”

Freddy frowned, “what? Hell no. Ain’t nobody got me hemmed up. Juan thinks they got something to do with the Steakhouse case.”

Tabitha’s body froze, and Freddy noticed.

“What’s up?”

Tabitha hesitated, picking the manicure case back up from the table. Freddy took it from her hands and put it back on the table.

“What’s going on Tab? What do you know?”

“First of all, don’t ever take nothing out my hand,” she said, picking the case back up.

“What you know, fam?”

“I don’t know shit. I heard about the Steakhouse Case is all. You know, people talk. You the detective, what you know?”

“I don’t know shit.”

“Okay, then. Don’t be coming for me. I ain’t Juan.”

Freddy laughed, “whatever, man. Since you ain’t gonna tell me what you know about the Steakhouse case, cause yo ass know something…”

Tabitha clipped her fingernails.

“…what you know about Jason and don’t say you don’t know who that is cause you and Janiyah real tight.”

“Yea, we tight, but I don’t know a Jason. Niyah ain’t mention nothing about Tina having a man.”

“Find out for me.”

Tabitha stopped picking at her nails, “oh, so you want me to spy for you now?”

Freddy laughed, patted Tabitha’s leg, and stood, “naw, ma. Nothing like that. Just see what Niyah knows. Who dude is and all that. I know Tina like an Auntie to you, and she like a sista to me, and I don’t know dude, feel me?”

Tabitha stood, “yea. I feel you. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Aiight friend,” Freddy leaned in for a hug.

“Aiight homie,” said Tabitha, hugging him back and then walking him to the door.

Tabitha locked the door and bit her lip. Something was up. If Fred asked her about the Steakhouse, that meant the Feds was getting close, and a friend or no friend Tab wasn’t saying anything about the operation. Wasn’t nothing or nobody gonna mess up her cash flow. The Feds called the deaths murders, but she knew it was Trip.


Coming Up:

Chapter 18: “Trip

Wed.  8/19/2020

Are you new to this series?  Click here to start from chapter one!

*We are getting closer to finding out more about how Paschar and her legion operate in the physical realm. Be sure you are caught up on all the chapters!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Title: Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life

Author: Dr. Thomas Jordan, Ph.D

Print Length: 132 pages

Publisher: Book Baby

Publication Date: December 16, 2019

 

In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Jordan Ph.D., outlines several ways couples can improve their love lives. He shows from a “psychological blueprint” how those previous experiences of love have shaped our current understanding in relationships going as far back as birth. He uses his personal life experience to show how what we learn in our family “shapes our experience of interpersonal reality when we become adults.” (Jordan, 92) Dr. Jordan challenges readers to identify what they’ve learned, challenge what they’ve learned, and then try something new. As you can tell, Dr. Thomas’ explanations are easy-to-understand, and his examples are clear and concise.

One of the most important points he makes is about learned beliefs, behavior, and feelings. Jordan asserts, for example, that if what we’ve learned about love was unhealthy growing up, we will unknowingly, somewhat subconsciously, repeat what was unhealthy in our adult relationships. The key here is what you believe about love relationships will shape your experience. Suppose someone taught you to think relationships are dishonest because you experienced dishonesty growing up. If you are not aware of this learned belief and have not made changes, chances are your current relationships will recreate dishonesty and generate a feeling that someone is deceptive.

This same thing can apply if you’ve felt Abandonment (loss), Exploitation (used), Abuse (fearful), Mistrust (suspicious), Controlled (trapped), Neglect (deprived), Dependency (needy), and Rejection (rejected). According to Dr. Jordan, these are among the ten unhealthy traits we learn and unconsciously recreate in our love relationships if we have not healed from them. Another critical detail Dr. Jordan makes is about how we become defensive to avoid being vulnerable.

It is the vulnerability that allows people to get to know us better because we have let them “in.” People shy away from opening up in this way because one cannot be vulnerable without risking unintentional hurt from time to time. What is meant by “unintentional?” There will inevitably be differences between you and the person you are in a relationship with, disagreements, different perspectives, opinions, etc. These differences are inevitable. There is no escaping it. According to Dr. Thomas, one cannot be in love without feeling unintentional hurt based on differences.

So then, why is “falling in love” worth it? Dr. Thomas has an interesting answer: Because we all have a natural ability to heal. The risk of falling in love is more tolerable and less stressful when we believe in our innate ability to heal. “If hurt leads to loss, we can grieve, heal our hearts, and move on.” (Jordan, 55)

We can avoid pain altogether by not opening up, but being defensive in relationships interferes with our ability to give and receive love. Dr. Thomas notes that love as an emotion is unpredictable and uncontrollable; hence, we “fall in love,” the connotation is that we have lost control. Because of losing control, we risk getting hurt. We avoid this hurt in attempting to achieve a love relationship without being vulnerable, which is not possible.

“Vulnerability is the emotional experience that shows you are open to giving and receiving love.” – Dr. Thomas Jordan

This understanding took me back to the 80/20 rule. It is a lot to expect to receive 100% good from one person because we all have trauma and baggage from our life experiences we carry with us. Even in an emotionally healthy and stable individual, you still might only get 80% of what you consider beautiful traits, if that. Can you live with that person’s twenty percent, or is this person’s twenty percent unbearable/intolerable? Based on your conscious awareness of your own flaws and strengths, combined with their weaknesses and strengths, what can you realistically tolerate in a love relationship? What flaws can you live with (accept)?

My only issue with this book is the opening section detailing what the book would be about. I found it unnecessary and thought the author would do well to jump right in. However, the author made up for it with the breakdown of healthy relationship experiences at the end! I think that tied things up well. These healthy traits are the opposite of the unhealthy list I mentioned earlier: Attachment, Respect, Freedom, Independence, Honesty, Consideration, Trust, Devotion, Acceptance, and Intimacy.

Anyone, single or married, disappointing love life or not, can learn how to heal by learning to love themselves, starting with being consciously aware of toxic patterns.

 

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5/

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and Non-Fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 16 – The Women with Blue Eyes


Chapter 16: “Something’s Not Right”


Tina plugged her phone into the charger and changed into her pajamas. As she changed, she thought about Janiyah. They had their worst fight earlier, and Janiyah’s words had pierced her to the core. It had not occurred to her that she was neglecting the children, something she promised never to do. There used to be a time when Miss Bernice was not allowed to cook for her family. Now it seemed she made dinner for them every night. Dinner was supposed to be their time together.

Tina’s heart sank as she climbed into bed. There was just too much going on, and she didn’t know if she could take much more. Silently, she gave her props to the mothers pulling double duty. She was struggling and had no idea how she would balance it all. Having children was one thing, and being married with children was another thing, but being a single mom to children that weren’t biologically hers was a Goliath, and she was no David. She wanted to call in help, a referee, to lighten the burden that had become her life. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. She was supposed to marry the love of her life and have her own children. Tina cringed. She hated to say it like that. Niyah, Mike, and KK were hers as if they had come from her womb. She had helped Keisha to raise them and became their Aunt. Since Tina and Keisha were besties, any children they had would be a niece and nephew.

But as much as she loved Keisha’s kids, Tina still yearned for seeds of her own flesh. Was this selfish? Tina was sure that it was, but she was also sure that she was human, and that societal, biological clock ingrained in her ticked, and every time it ticked, she hurt from loss. She hurt from a loss that could neither be explained nor understood by anyone, not in her situation. These were supposed to be the days her and Keisha dreamed about as teens. These were those grown-up years where they were supposed to be gazillionaires with huge families and took trips to Dubai just because they could afford it. While Keisha successfully had her dream four, Tina wished she hadn’t had any children. As Tina graduated High School and headed to College, Keisha dropped out of school to raise Janiyah and quickly got pregnant again. This time a boy, Tyrone who everybody called Ronnie. She had hoped to get her GED and attend community college, but then she had Micheal and then Kayla. Keisha gave up hope and started giving that hope to the streets. She was hooked before Tina could walk across the stage.

Tina’s phone pinged from an incoming text.

Freddy: Hey, can we talk? I’m sorry about my behavior lately. I know Ronnie’s death was hard on you. Can you meet me tomorrow?

Tina’s lip curled up. Fred had been her partner for five years now. He had been there for her when Ronnie died and had always been by her side. It was nice to see he had not completely lost his mind.

Tina: Sure.

Tina turned the phone off, turned over, and raised the covers over her head.

***

“Haven’t I always been there for you T?”

Tina sighed and sipped her coffee, closing her eyes and letting the coolness of the wind caress her face. A dog barked, and someone’s child screamed. Tina’s eyes popped open and scanned the park, and then back around to face Freddy. They had met here before heading to the office. It was not unusual, but hindsight is 20/20.

“Of course, Fred, c’mon.”

“You say that, but I’m worried about you T. Seriously. What’s going on?”

Tina sighed and shook her head. She could trust Fred. But, then again, she thought she could trust Jason too, and he snapped on her. Tina looked at him and smiled.

“I’m okay. Really, I am.”

Freddy shrugged, “I’ll never stop worrying about you T, but if you say you’re okay, I believe you.”

Tina smiled and leaned against Freddy’s shoulder, “aww, Fred!”

They both laughed as Fred’s phone rang. He held it up.

“Gotta take this. You good?”

“I’m aiight. Take your call.”

“You sure?”

Tina pushed him, “Go!”

Fred stood and walked off, laughing as he put the phone to his ear. Tina smiled. At least she still had one friend.

***

Fred winced as his phone rang. He knew it was Juan wanting details, but Tina was telling him nothing. He faked a smile and walked off, leaving Tina on the park bench, sipping her coffee.

“I don’t know, man, she ain’t budging.”

“Then make her budge,” said Juan’s voice on the other line.

“Look, I been knowing T a long time. She trusts me. I’d like to keep it that way.”

“What you’d like to keep is your job.”

“Juan? C’mon man. Why you tripping? I can’t make her tell me nothing.”

“You can, and you will.”

The line went dead, and Freddy pulled the phone back and looked at it, startled by the dial tone. Juan was tripping. Everybody was acting crazy. Tina, Juan, Erica. He didn’t know what to think. He was supposed to be spying on Tina, and so far, he was failing. Something ain’t right. He had to dig deeper, and if Tina were not going to talk to him, someone would.

Fred flipped his cell phone back open and dialed a number, raising the phone to his ear.

“What’s up, girl? You at Altgeld tonight? Stay up. I’m coming through.”


Coming Up:

Chapter 17: “Altgeld Projects”

Wed.  8/12/2020

Are you new to this series?

Click here to start from chapter one!

*We are getting closer to finding out more about how Paschar and her legion operate in the physical realm. Be sure you are caught up on all the chapters!

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Edgar Rider

Introduce Yourself is back! Please help me extend a warm welcome to Edgar Rider. Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

Edgar Rider, originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, moved to Riverside, California.

Nice. Are you employed outside of writing? 

I work in education as a paraprofessional for a High School in Special Ed.

Cool beans. What job do you think you’d be really good at?

Creativity in organizing creative events, and writing educational content.

Any siblings Edgar?

Yes, two.

What was your childhood dream?

The first dream was to be a detective, and then I just wanted to be in some creative field where I could use creativity.

What skill do you think you’ve mastered?

Creativity. Coming up with innovative ideas. Writing about Abstract subject matter in an understandable, relatable, and universal fashion. Created tunnel performance society to help others express themselves.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

A trip to Amsterdam. It has a reputation as a place where all bets are off. I would like to explore an uninhibited place.

What’s your favorite drink?

Nothing beats a PBR.

PBR?

Pabst Blue Ribbon is a beer. It is relatively cheap and is the main drink at a pub I go to called TT Roadhouse.

Got it. What songs have you completely memorized?

Neil Diamond Hello Again and The Doors Monlight Drive.

What’s your favorite color?

Blue and yellow combination.

Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book?

I just published it, and it is a great feeling. Riding Out The Kipling Effect is about an experience me and a friend had living in a ladies’ living room for a year.

Oh, wow, lol.

We gave up our respective apartments to save money to concentrate on writing. Carrie Kipling was the tenant, and she lived in a chaotic turmoil-filled world used by moocher friends. The book is about trying to stay committed to a specific creative purpose while overcoming outside challenges. Some of the major themes are relinquishing control, overcoming obstacles, and at certain moments being able to trust in the experience.

Interesting.

It has been a long road, so getting this book out is a big accomplishment.

Congratulations!

Who is your favorite writer?

James Thurber. He wrote about ordinary regular events but turned them into extraordinary experiences. Other stories are about dreaming of another kind of life—Secret Life of Walter Mitty and My Life and Hard Times.

If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?

Alice Cooper. I was always a fan. He came up with a stage persona and took it in a particular direction—such a well-defined character. I would learn how to embody and be that person. I have my own alter ego Bob Eager.

Oh?

I want to learn to become that character and be productive at presenting it for long periods.

Edgar? You’re scaring me lol. What kind of music do you like?

Rock music classic rock eighties rock.

What genre do you write in, why?

Memoir, Short story, Creative nonfiction, and poetry. Not sure why just my most expressive forms.

Okay. I love those genres! What takes up too much of your time?

Social Media.

I think you speak for us all.

What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?

Purple Cow. It is about coming up with an innovative idea that stands out, not playing it safe, really believing in ideas. It helped me develop tunnel performance society, an innovative environmental theatrical space where poets, musicians, and dancers can express themselves.

That’s cool. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

Editing is the most difficult for sure. Revision at some points, too, saying, “no, this is done.” Telling stories that have a narrative legacy that will last five-ten years from now, and making sure they are not rooted in contemporary culture.

If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would
it be? Why?

Suspending Disbelief. Being able to create reality and make it more pleasing.

If you could, would you visit the past?

I would visit the past and try and help myself and others make their lives easier.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Find Purpose and go full throttle, eliminate distractions.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?

Write in your own voice. I was young and in college, and it meant a lot to me to express how I was feeling.

I love it.

Thank you Edgar for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright © 2020. Edgar Rider

Bio.

Edgar Rider has been working in education for over ten years, first as a Substitute Teacher. More recently, he has been a Paraprofessional for an elementary school and high school. Rider worked in a Children’s museum as a Playologist and was a Child advocate for a Domestic Violence shelter. He has published articles on educational topics such as Growth Mindset, Substitute Teaching, Autism, Time Management in a classroom, and how to use an Environmental Theater space.

About the Book

Life in Carrie Kipling’s apartment was a constant struggle. Kipling’s life was in a state of turmoil. Her group of friends consisted of moochers, liars, prostitutes, and convicted felons. Her decision-making process deteriorated over time and became even more dangerous as she let anyone she befriended control various aspects of her life. In this book, a narrative journey titled Riding Out The Kipling Effect, my friend Muller and I lived in Kipling’s living room for a year. What started as a strange situation spiraled out of control. We both wanted to become writers for a living and were willing to give up comfort, space, belongings, and even sanity to achieve our respective dreams.

We jumped from our apartments and ended up on a couch and in a chair and strapped ourselves along for the Kipling Effect’s roller coaster ride. Little did we realize that navigating through this would become the biggest challenge of our lives. The Downtown artistic scene, museums, and libraries also provide a backdrop of inspiration for this particular journey. The juxtaposition between the surrounding dive bars and the posh clubs and restaurants presents a peculiar atmosphere full of contrary subject matter ripe for a storytelling environment. Eventually, I learned that the Kipling Effect had positive ramifications and was the one necessary thing leading me down an essential path towards authentic self-discovery.

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Twitter: @RiderEdgar
Facebook: facebook.com/edgarcrider

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Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Victoriyah Smith

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Victoriyah Smith. Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Victoria Smith (Victoriyah Israyl) and I am from Gulfport, Mississippi.

What was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to be able to travel to different countries around the world. I have been blessed to travel to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Progresso, Montego Bay, Cozumel, Key West, to name a few places. I enjoy learning new cultures and trying fresh foods as long as it is not pork or shellfish.

I feel you. I love traveling myself. Got a travel buddy? Married?

I am married to my wonderful, loving, supportive husband, Willie. We have shared this life together for 21 years.

Little Book of Abundant Blessings for Entrepreneurs is available now on Amazon.

Beautiful. Let’s talk about writing a bit. When did you publish your first book? What was that like? 

I published my first book on June 15, 2020, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Oh okayy. You new, new. Congratulations!

Thank you. It took a lot of work, time, and learning technical things to get it in the correct format for publishing; it was definitely a learning experience. I am now working on promoting my book as I work on writing my next book. I know the process will be more straightforward because of my first experience.

What do you love about yourself?

I love that I am a giver. I enjoy helping others and being a blessing to others who are not as fortunate as myself.

In your own words, what is humility?

Humility is being humble in my heart and my actions. Humility is the opposite of being puffed up and high minded. To walk in humility means to open yourself to understand the pain and disappointment of others. It is a welcoming approach to solving violence, anger, and aggression in relationships and society. Humility is being of no form or fashion, but existing in love and understanding as you seek to understand others when there is no peace. Humility is being as a little child.

I love that part about opening yourself up to understand the pain of others. Victoriyah, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?   

My father gave me some wisdom as a young adult after I built my home. He was laying a new driveway for me, and I tried to pay him before he had finished the work. My father looked at me and asked, “Have you seen the finished product?” My answer was “No sir,” and then he said,” Never pay for a service in full until you’ve seen the finished product. Even if it’s your daddy.” Those simple words have been special in my life because it gave me the courage I needed to hold people accountable in business transactions as a young woman.

That’s awesome. Why is writing important to you?

Writing has always been an escape for me. When I became a Sunday school-teacher years ago, writing became a huge part of my life as I would write stories of the bible that would help my students to understand the scripture in a greater way. As I have continued my relationship with the Most High, writing has been a central focus of my meditations as I am being guided by my creator to unfold many truths about the bible. I hope that the truths that are written in my books will help others increase their belief in our creator Yah.

Life is not always pretty, as we all experience hardship now and again and this is magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

My advice for anyone experiencing hardship is to understand that there is a purpose for everything we experience. To find the meaning of life is to gain a relationship with our creator Yah and the Messiah Yahoshuah. I believe that by doing that, the Most High gives us understanding and direction in the path we should take in our lives. Pray to our creator Yah, cast all your burdens and troubles on him, and he will lift every burden (stress) and give you peace that surpasses all human understanding.

From the natural perspective, start a hobby, exercise, eat healthily, write more, and evaluate the decisions you are making and set goals to remove anything out of your life that may be causing stress. Our creator will give you the strength to remove those things through prayer.

Beautifully articulated. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?   

I enjoy gardening. I grow my own cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also have a passion for helping women become their own bosses by giving them the tools they need to succeed. In 2014, I established an organization to work toward that end. It is called “Network of Women Business Owners.” I also enjoy helping the less fortunate individuals in the community with clothes, food, and resources to help them overcome life’s challenges.

Thank you Victoriyah for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Photo Cred. © Copyright 2020. Victoriyah Smith

Bio.

Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Victoriyah received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Also, she obtained an associate’s degree in Business Management from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. With a passion for helping every inspiring woman become her own boss, Victoriyah shares her proven insights with diverse audiences through training, consulting services, workshops, seminars, and online platforms.

Mrs. Smith is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Network of Women Business Owners, a professional business network established in 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victoriyah resides in Gulfport, Mississippi, with her husband, Willie, and her (4) children and grandchildren live in Texas. She is available to conduct speeches and facilitate professional development training for professional women groups, organizations, and empowerment business events.

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Loyal Son by Wayne Diehl

Title: Loyal Son

Author: Wayne Diehl

Print Length: 439 pages

Publisher: Wayne Diehl

Publication Date: April 13, 2020

 

About.

In 1846, on the eve of the Mexican American War, hundreds of Irish-Catholic immigrants under the command of abusive, Protestant officers fled the American Army and joined the other side. They were formed into a special unit under their inspirational leader, John Riley. Known as the St. Patrick’s Battalion, they became the fiercest and most feared artillery unit in the Mexican Army. Loyal Son is the fictional story of one of those San Patricios, eighteen-year-old Patrick Ryan from County Cork, Ireland. On the brink of losing their farm, his father entrusts him with their life savings and sends him to America to purchase land and establish roots. He and his sister arrive at their uncle’s house in Philadelphia a week before anti-Catholic Bible Riots erupt. When rabid Nativists invade their neighborhood, Patrick joins his cousins to resist them. During the three days of violence, the family’s house is burnt to the ground and with it all of Patrick’s money. Desperate to make it right and fulfill his duty, Patrick joins the army for the enlistment bonus of one hundred and sixty acres of land. His only goal is to get a farm and see his father, mother and brothers join him and his sister in the Promised Land of America. Nothing worked out the way any of them hoped.

When Thomas Ryan realizes he won’t be able to save the family’s land in Newtownshandrum, County Cork Ireland, he decides to send his youngest son Patrick and his sister Ellen to America to find property for the family. The voyage to America is not an easy one. I enjoyed being able to experience what that was like for many of the immigrants through the characters, such as having to drink water contaminated from being stored in old, rotten containers, to rash and fever. After arriving in New York City, Patrick and his sister encounter trouble and are bullied by boys who force them to stay the night with a widow from Dublin named Mrs. Fitzsimmons. The next day, they meet their Uncle John and Aunt Mary, who they will live with as Patrick tries to find work to make money to buy land, and so starts the journey.

From the bible wars of the Catholic vs. Protestants, the Texas Annexation Treaty, the Election of James Polk, and the National Debate on Slavery, there is a lot of good history in the backdrop of Patrick’s journey. Through the eyes of a young Irish boy and his cousins, we see the racism and discrimination against the Irish people who are stereotyped as “alcohol-soaked animals, corrupt papists, and sexual deviants.” The author does an exemplary job of foreshadowing Patrick’s eventual enlistment in the army. When religious riots explode, it forces the family to defend their position, ultimately leading to the burning down of Uncle John and Aunt Mary’s home along with the savings Patrick was going to use to buy land.

Even though the story is from a young Irish boy’s perspective, I liked how historically accurate it is also for African Americans at the time. Slavery was such an ingrained part of American society that it was a common part of everyday life. The author shows this in his descriptions of the enslaved blacks and their interactions with the people around them.

“At daybreak, James walked down the porch to the barefoot, teenaged slave holding his horse.”

“A stout, unsmiling negress in a faded calico dress and a white kerchief wrapped around her head met them on the steps of the expansive portico. James handed her his hat, riding gloves, and overnight bag.”

“Jackson noticed his protégé approach and rose slowly from his chair. The small black boy attending him tried to help but the General snarled at him and he backed away.”

This book is action-packed all the way through, historically accurate, and because Patrick and his cousins are young men, it maintains the right balance by being just as fun as it is about war and racism. The boys are young, like girls, and get into some pretty severe fights and trouble with the law.

Loyal Son is not a short book, but if you enjoy history and have some time on your hands, you will love it.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

Loyal Son is available now on Amazon!

*Free with KU!*


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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 15 – The Women with Blue Eyes

Note: If you are new to this series and have not already read the first few chapters, please do so. For this part, you want to go back to chapter three and eight for context.


Chapter 15: “The Door”

One Year Ago

Not being able to move your arms and legs is one of the worst feelings in the world. 

Janiyah squirmed. She also could not speak. Big Sam had tied her arms and legs and put duct tape over her mouth. What’s worse than being tied up like an animal? Knowing your little brother and sister is in the other room, completely oblivious to what’s going on outside of cartoons. 

“What’s my little mama gonna do now?”

Her fat ass leaned against the wall, smoking a blunt. Big Sam was a woman, her name short for Samantha, and she was one of the biggest drug Queenpins in Chicago. Her name is what made her so good because everyone assumed she was a man. Sam had men under her, though, taking orders and moving weight. She didn’t have to do anything but give orders. When Janiyah met Tabitha, she had no idea she was Big Sam’s cousin. They became close friends, and both got trapped. Janiyah’s body trembled to think of the things they used to do, what people did for money, what people did for love.

She ignored Sam’s questions; her eyes were darting around the room. She looked at the driver—that piece of shit. Adam had a big crush on her, and maybe she could give him a chance, or so she thought. After finding out about Big Sam, she planned her escape with Mike and Kayla. He was supposed to take them to the bus station. Instead, he brought them here, right back to Big Sam. Of course, he was working for her. She should have known. 

“Come on Niyah,” Sam continued, “you had to know I knew you would try and escape me. The good thing though, is that Ronnie ain’t that smart.”

Janiyah cringed at the mention of her little brother’s name, gritting her teeth against the tape’s stickiness. He was so naïve about Sam.

“He is starting to ask questions, though,” she took a puff of the blunt and blew out the smoke, “I wonder why?”

Big Sam winked, and her brown eyes flashed a glacial blue and then went back to brown. Janiyah frowned. It had happened in a matter of seconds. If she were not looking directly at the woman, she would have missed it. What was that? Did her eyes change? Janiyah shook her head as a chill ran down her spine. She couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw. 

They were in an undisclosed location, but it looked to Janiyah to be a warehouse with a room in the back. Spacious and roomy, the cold-storage area was large and tin-roofed with concrete floors. Windowless, no one could see the inside of the building. In the middle of the space sat one table with several boxes on top. It was where they did their dirty work, she was sure.

Big Sam put the blunt out on the bottom of her shoe, and then extended her arms to receive a box from one of her men. She took out a knife and cut the package open, pausing to glance at Janiyah.

“I’m sure you will keep your mouth shut about what you see here.”

Janiyah raised a brow. That was a weird statement. Drugs. Of course it was drugs. What was so secret about that?

Sam nodded to a man in the distance. He had been standing next to the closed door that housed Mike and Kayla since they got there. Hands folded in front of him, the man had not said a word. He nodded back at Sam and knocked against the door with his knuckles. “Ey,” he shouted, “bring ’em out.”

The door creaked open, and Janiyah rocked the chair so furiously that it tipped over, causing her to crash onto the floor, her face hitting the concrete first, her nose and mouth bleeding underneath the tape and sliding down her chin. Janiyah screamed from the pain to her jaw, her eyes bulging out of her head at what she was seeing. It was her baby sister Kayla, blindfolded with a gun to her head. The man walked the girl closer to Janiyah. Big Sam smirked.

“As I said, I’m sure you’ll keep your mouth shut about what you see.”

Big Sam walked over to Janiyah and ripped the tape from her mouth, specks of blood flew off with it. Sam cringed and wiped the droplets that landed on her hand off on her jeans. Janiyah screamed from the pain.

“Please,” she cried, “please don’t hurt her.”

“It was just a matter of time before you told Ronnie about our little investment.”

At the mention of Ronnie’s name, a sound is heard near the door. 

Ronnie emerges from the shadows, points a gun at Big Sam, she smiles, and Janiyah screams.

“Ronnie, no!”

***

Present Day

That’s not really what happened next, but it always ended this way, missing all the other stuff that happened in-between. The same scene played itself on a loop in her mind.

It was the same nightmare and the same scene. Why couldn’t she remember anything else? It always skipped to the part when Ronnie pulls the trigger, but she never sees him fall. Should she be thankful? Hell no. Not seeing her brother die but replaying the moment just before he did was no favor.

Tina would always come to her rescue, rocking her back and forth. She thinks I’m a saint. Janiyah was thankful for her mother’s best friend taking them in, but there was so much she didn’t know. Janiyah blamed herself for Ronnie’s death. If it weren’t for her sneaking around with Tabitha to work for Big Sam, he would have never gotten involved. All she wanted to do was help her mom pay back her debt. All Ronnie wanted was for his sister to stop doing what it was she was doing.

Everyone had their secrets, she guessed. Somehow, hers seemed far worse than everyone else. Tina saw a therapist and took crazy pills, and Miss Bernice let the kids take turns sitting in the passenger’s seat of her car. None of that seemed as bad as her situation. Big Sam was dead, but everybody in the hood knows just because the leader dies, that doesn’t mean your debt is paid. It just passes on to the next person in charge. Her mama may have been strung out and unstable, but she was still her mother, and she still owed.

Emotion rose in Janiyah’s throat as she started the ignition of her car and headed in the direction of Tabitha’s house, convincing herself again to keep quiet. There was no way Tina could know that she still worked for Big Sam’s people. And there was no way she could tell anyone about what she saw that night. Not about Sam’s eyes, which Janiyah was still not sure happened, or what was in those boxes. She just wanted to get the rest of this money and finish paying her mother’s debt, and it would all be over. She had cash from Ronnie’s case, but there was no way she could explain why she took thousands of dollars out of the account.

She had to finish the job.


Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.