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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Splitting The Velvet Dark - WINNER of the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

The poems in Splitting the Velvet Dark cover the life of a wife and mother struggling with depression and anxiety. They speak of the transcendence felt by planting strawberries to avoid a breakdown, and the peace that comes from driving a green Plymouth through the countryside.

"Elaine Mott is a poet of accuracy and reverence. Her poems, ceremonial and intense, are grounded in city life and garden life, in the cycles of nature and emotion. Her voice is genuine and immediate. We hear it with the sense she is right next to us, singing directly to us."
– Sharon Olds, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

  Interview With Aaron Mott

Debra:  Aaron, it is an honor to have you agree to this interview.  Before we get started, could you tell us a little bit about yourself: where you were born, your education, and a look into your private life?

Aaron:  Thank you, Debra. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my mother's poetry. To answer your question, I was born in New York City, and grew up in Bayside, Queens. I went to Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, then attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, earning a B.A. in Studio Art.

My wife Christie and I currently live in Williamsburg, VA, and I'm in the process of opening an art gallery/coffee shop in nearby Richmond. I've also done a little acting over the past year, appearing as an extra in seven episodes of AMC's Turn.

Debra: Aaron, we discussed including some very personal information about your mother and father, but before we do, could you tell us what your childhood was like, and your memories of your mother and father?

Aaron: Looking back, I had a very interesting childhood. As a poet, my mother encouraged my attempts at creative writing, and both parents helped me develop a love and appreciation for art and beauty.

My father taught English, but was also a metal sculptor, and we all took day trips to museums in New York City several times a month. While I was growing up, I only had a vague idea what being a poet meant in terms of my mother's work. I didn't see many of her poems, and had no idea she was as prolific as I later discovered.

She dealt with anxiety and depression, which I was aware of, as well as insomnia. My father was very protective and supportive of her. They had an extremely close, loving bond, and a similar love of nature. My mother took my father to see where she used to spend summers in upstate NY, and he immediately took to "the country."

The year I was born, they purchased a small bungalow on a few acres of land, and worked on it every summer and weekends throughout the year. For a long time, they didn't even have a phone line in the house, so my father was able to spend his time working on the vegetable garden, which grew to more than an acre, and my mother could work on the flower garden and do her writing.

Debra:  Why did you decide to publish this selection of your mother’s poems?

Aaron: Her dream was to have a book of her poetry published. Although she was published in numerous journals and anthologies over the years, this was one goal she hadn't yet achieved when she passed away.

The rejection associated with being a writer was very tough on her. I felt like the baton had been passed to me to finish the race. I had an advantage, I think, because it wasn't specifically my work, so the rejections didn't sting as much. It was a privilege to be able to bring her life's work to a larger audience through this book.

Debra:  It is hard to believe that this poetry was not accepted immediately. Your mother’s poems are filled with such imagery, as in the following;

I’ve come back to find the space
 between one mulberry leaf and another,
between the fingers when the hands
make a church and a steeple,
to find the passage between the boxwood
and forsythia in the backyard,
the crack in the flowerpot
where the spider lives,
the distance between the wild grapes
and their tangle of vines
growing on the garage wall,
between the spirals in my mother’s long braid,
the whorls of hair on my father’s chest.

I’ve come back to find the quiet
between the shouts and raised voices,
the hush before the leather belt meets flesh,
before the door slams shut.
I’ve come back
to find the small child dreaming

How does her work affect you on a personal, and emotional, level?

Aaron: This was a very emotional journey for me. It was actually another reason I was interested in putting together the manuscript for publication to force myself to deal with my feelings about her passing. I tend to push deeper emotions away, and realized that might not be the healthiest way to handle something of this magnitude.

As I suspected, the more of her work I read, the more of a connection I felt with her. It was like a real conversation, and I ended it with much more of an understanding of her feelings and motivations. There were a lot of things I wish she had shared with me while I was growing up.

In addition to naturally being a sensitive and delicate soul, she had some traumatic experiences I wasn't aware of, or didn't realize how they affected her. I think before this experience, I didn't know the complete person she was. Now I do, and the best way I can describe it is “bittersweet.”

Debra:  Now we enter into a very delicate and emotional dialog.  To the readers, I want to assure you that Aaron has agreed to this portion of the interview.  He is a brave, young man who has suffered much, but through his compassion and love for his mother, has put aside his own grief to try and understand her more deeply than before.

So, Aaron, I appreciate your wanting to share with us.  I truly believe that this may help a great many people.  I would like to encourage you also to speak about your father, if you wish to.

Your mother and father were deeply in love.  Would you like to talk about that?

Aaron: Yes, my mother and father were deeply in love. They had very different backgrounds, but something inside of them matched perfectly. Over the course of their 41-year marriage, their bond only increased, and they needed less and less of the outside world. Neither one had ever been very interested in friends, and once they retired to the mountains, didn't see much of relatives either. They were completely happy to spend all their time together, working on art and gardening.

It was a huge shock in 2007 when my father was diagnosed with Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF. It is an incurable, terminal lung disease, which rapidly hardens the lungs so they don't work anymore. At first, they thought it might have been a severe mold allergy, so he spent about a year trying to stay inside as much as possible, or going out with a surgical mask. When the doctors determined it was definitely IPF, he did go on prednisone, and some of the other medications prescribed, but none of them are meant to cure, just to slow down the progression of the fibrosis. My mother was devastated. She did a lot of research online, hours and hours of clicking through medical websites on a slow dial-up connection. She also wrote some poems. Although they are not in this collection, I'd like to share one with you, titled, "To Keep Out the Dread":

To Keep Out the Dread

Focus on anything
anything to keep out the dread:
the worn shellac of the pine floor boards
and especially the old nails you nailed in
every last one, with care, so lovingly
those years ago,
the way they pick up shine
and seem new again when the morning sun
touches them and brings out the silver.
Monet understood, painting the light
the light stays
long after we are gone.

Debra:  That is beautiful Aaron.  I appreciate your allowing us these glimpses into you’re mother’s heart.

Where were you when you found out about your parents, and what they had decided to do?  Was it apparent at first, or did you find out over a period of time?

Aaron: It was 2009 and I was at work in Buffalo, NY, when my sister called me with the news. They had sent a letter to their lawyer, and he had called her in NYC to let her know. My fiancé, now my wife, drove me the whole way to the country house to meet my sister, which was about an eight hour drive. My parents had decided to end their lives, painlessly, on their own terms. They each left a note. My father's said that he didn't want to suffer a long decline, being able to do less and less, like he'd seen happen with his own father. My mother's note said that she couldn't imagine life without her husband and love of 40 years. We still aren't completely sure if he knew that she was going to do the same thing.

Debra: The shock, grief and a desperate need to understand is a given, but please, tell us a bit about that day, how you felt and what you remember.  Tell us only what you are comfortable with sharing.

Aaron: I was in shock that day. My sister and her boyfriend, and my fiancé and I, stayed in a nearby motel for a few days. I actually can't remember what we did on the first day, as opposed to the second or third day. The police let us read the notes at the station. It was too emotional to sleep in the house, or really even go into the bedroom where they ended their lives.

At some point, we called my mother's parents. I was the one who made that phone call. If we called other people that day, it's just a blur. My mother and father were at the funeral home already. We brought some of their familiar clothes and had a meeting with the funeral director. Laid out, my parents looked nothing like they did in life. My father's hair was always in tousled bangs, and the funeral home staff had neatly combed his hair back. My mother's only makeup was eyeliner, when she wore any at all, so her face didn't look right the way they did it either.

We didn't have a funeral, just a cremation, and made plans to hold a memorial at the country house a few weeks later. My mother was Jewish, and my sister's boyfriend at the time was from Israel. We scattered some of their ashes around special places on the property, in the woods and flower garden, some near the stream and some near the daffodils, and he read a "Mourner's Kaddish" in Hebrew and English.

Debra: How did you feel about their suicide pact?  Did you feel abandoned?  If you can, please share this aspect of your grief.  Again, only what you wish to share.

Aaron: I don't know if it can really be called a suicide pact. I'm still not sure if my mother's was thought out in advance, or just decided by her that day. I went to a suicide survivors support group for a few weeks afterwards. It was helpful in its own way.

My parents had researched a way to go painlessly, as my father assured us in his note, and that was a contrast from some of the stories from the other survivors in the group. For a long time after, I had problems watching violence on TV, and it seemed like every show involved a suicide. I got over that, but it still disturbs me how carelessly people constantly mention wanting to kill themselves over mundane things like standing in line or talking to someone boring. I know it's said jokingly, but it bothers me every time.

To answer your question, yes, sometimes I feel abandoned. From an outside perspective, it seems like a very romantic, Romeo and Juliet-like story. As one who was left behind, I can't share in that same feeling. I know how hard it is for the survivors. There actually is a possibility that I've inherited the gene which would predispose me to IPF. I haven't gone through with the testing, because I don't want that knowledge to affect the way I live my life. Either way, I'll cling onto life as long as possible, even if it means breathing through a tube at a hospital until the end, because I don't want to put my loved ones through the same thing.

Debra:  Aaron, I am so sorry that you had to go through this.  I find your way of coping extremely poignant and brave. I admire your decision to honor your mother, and the way you have approached accomplishing it.

At what point did you decide to pay tribute to your mother by having her poems published?

Aaron:  After the first few months, I stopped going to the survivors group, and went on with ordinary life. As I mentioned, I think I tend to push away deeper emotions, and wanted to force myself to face them.

I started to read my mother's collection. She wrote the manuscript to deal with her life, and I read it to deal with her death. I realized for the first time how sensitive and emotionally scarred she was from life, and how difficult it was for her to just get through her days. I found out that she had been raped as a teenager through one of her poems.

At that point, I didn't feel comfortable publishing that one, but "The Call" in this book is a metaphor for the rape and her feelings about it.

As if that wasn't enough of a trauma, when she was pregnant with my brother and me, she fell ill and my brother was stillborn. I did know about that, and didn't realize the extent of her guilt and grief. In addition to learning about her inner thoughts and emotions, I realized what an excellent poet she was. This work had to be shared. It's a way of keeping her spirit alive, and the memory of her in the world.

Debra:  You have the soul of a poet, Aaron. I am positive that your parents are happy with what you are doing. 

Splitting the Velvet Dark is essentially a journal, or diary, written in poetic form.  Why do you think that your mother chose this format to write her life’s journey?

Aaron: There were poems which were completely fictional, or about other topics, but the most powerful and evocative ones were those about her personal experiences. Poetry was the best vehicle for her to express complex emotions, a framework on which to lay metaphor and imagery from her inner world.

Debra:  What is your impression of her body of work?  Did she write for pleasure, or release, perhaps?  Do you think it started out for one reason and evolved into another?

Aaron: Her body of work is both an amazing autobiographical journey, and a meditation on the meaning of life. She wrote as a way to deal with life. As an individual, she was quiet and shy, so a lot of her thoughts and feelings about the events of her life went into the poems.

There are revelations about the search for peace and beauty in this world, gems of insight into universal struggles and truths. I think her first poems, some of the early ones, not in this collection, were more about finding her voice and the form of the poetry itself. By the time these poems were written, she'd definitely found her voice and style, and poetry became a type of release and therapy.

Debra: Do you have plans for any videos connected with your mother’s poetry?

Aaron: Through the film work I've done, I've made some contacts with folks who do videography and editing. The publisher of Splitting the Velvet Dark, the wonderful Deanna Roy of Casey Shay Press, has agreed to let me do a few "poetry videos" to post online. They should be completed by mid-August, and feature dramatic readings of some of the poems, intercut with interesting visuals. The first one will be "The Apartment," which is a poem from the collection about the early part of my mother and father's love story. I'll post the videos to YouTube, and put links to them on GoodReads and my own website.

Debra:  Aaron, will we be seeing more of your mother’s works in future volumes?

Aaron: Yes! My mother wrote over a hundred poems. Since this collection is only about twenty of those, I've submitted the larger manuscript, In Love With the Dark, to about a dozen of the current crop of publication contests. Considering how well the chapbook is doing on Amazon.com, I'm optimistic that the good buzz her work is receiving will lead to some new offers.

Debra:  Aaron, I want to thank you for participating in this interview, and for your courage to share what you have with us today.  I would like to express my sincere sympathy for your loss, and admiration for what you are doing to help your mother’s name and talent live on.

I would like to end this interview with the review I recently posted on Amazon and Goodreads:

5.0 out of 5 stars An Honor to Read July 10, 2014
By Debra Shiveley Welch
Format:Kindle Edition

Splitting the Velvet Darkness has been an honor to read. The poetry contained within this offering is, not only pleasant to the inner ear, but touches the soul as well.

Unpretentious in its writing, Splitting the Velvet Darkness is an autobiography written in rhythmical, evocative language, projecting pictures upon the inner eye. It flows through the mind like a gentle breeze, as we follow the author's life from childhood to retirement. The author appears to be musing over her life experiences, as if opening a treasured scrapbook, and allowing the reader a peek inside.

I love this book, and will read it again and again. Five stars is not nearly enough.

Aaron is willing to answer any questions you may have.  We look forward to your comments and questions.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Military Mom in Trouble

Arlene and Tanner
I am posting this as an appeal to aid a friend desperately in need of help. Her name is Arlene O'Neil, and she lives on a small farm in Johnston, South Carolina. She is a military mom who has provided, not only her son, but many other soldiers serving their country with shipments of cookies, miscellaneous requests for things as special as, for instance, golf clubs, and much more. I once paid the postage for her and it was for a huge shipment of gifts for Christmas, not just to her son, as I have mentioned, but everyone in his unit.

I am sharing with you this post on FaceBook: http://www.gofundme.com/Arlene 

I can personally vouch for the authenticity of this woman's predicament. Not only has she been a friend for many years, she is also my colleague: we edit each other's novels and share marketing plans, not to mention long conversations on the phone about our sons.
The plea reads as follows:

Most of you know Arlene R. O’Neil as a friend, animal lover, Army Mom, and author. You also know her as the type that always has her hand out to give, and would be the last person to ask for assistance. But now, our friend Arlene finds herself in a dire situation. She needs her 5th total hip replacement. The titanium rod that connects the donor bone to what is left of Arlene’s femur is currently broken away from the bone, and her entire prosthetic will need to be removed and rebuilt to regain use of her leg.

Arlene’s book, Broken Spokes is the journey of her life. It speaks of the accident she experienced as a child, and as a result, her lifetime living with a disability. It delves into love and loss with the death of her husband at an early age, and the challenges of raising a son alone. In fact, her son Tanner is now a SGT in the Army and has served his country for 13 years through 5 tours of duty, earning the Bronze Star as well as numerous other awards. He is still serving his county.

Arlene was never one to ask for hand-outs, she was the one that was always there to lend a hand. She was the giver. And now we want to give back to her.

Being on disability, Arlene’s insurance does not cover the overwhelming medical costs that her fourteen hour surgery will create, or any assistance she will need after this complicated procedure. Arlene will have to hire people to assist during her five month recuperation process; help with the animals, yard care, house cleaning and personal care until she is recovered enough to resume these activities on her own.

She will need as much financial support as you can give to help her through her recovery period. Worrying about paying for needed medication and physical help should be the last of her worries. Arlene needs to be able to focus 100% on healing.

We also ask that people pray that Arlene has the strength to make it through this complex surgery and recovery

Created by Brenda Perlin on June 1, 2014

Note from Kim Mutch Emerson ~

Arlene has faced more challenges in her life than most will ever see and she always comes out with her head held high. She has never asked for a hand out. In fact she has always been the giver.

It all started when she was six and she was crippled for life in an accident. Today after many years of trial, everything has come to a pinnacle. Arlene is single, living in a remote area with no one around who can help her. She is facing many series health concerns and is increasingly unable to walk. She is awaiting a 14 hour surgery to replace her hip and the titanium rod in her leg. She can not have this surgery until they check the two coils in her brain that she had done a couple years ago and make sure they are stable. Everything around her is breaking down - her car, her washing machine, her fridge, the fence for the goats, the 5 acres of land that needs to be attended to, not to mention the animals that need to be cared for.

I am asking if there is anyone here that can donate anything toward this fund raiser.

Arlene is my sister, I have no pride. I am on my knees in humble submission.


Note from Debra Shiveley Welch ~

I have known Arlene for many years now. In fact, I edited her book Broken Spokes, and know the devastation she faced as a very young child. She is a fighter; she is doer; she is a giver.
I spoke with her two days ago. She is bedfast, rising only to feed her goats and her dogs. She then creeps back into bed until she has to get up again. She has given too much to be forgotten.

Please help.

Interview with Arlene Reposted:

Interview with Arlene O'Neil, Author of Broken Spokes a #1 Bestseller This Week on Amazon
Debra Shiveley Welch,

Debra: Hello, Arlene. It's a pleasure to have you here for an interview. First of all, could you tell us about yourself and bring us up to date on your life today? 

Arlene: Hi, Debra. It's great to talk with you again. I must say life is interesting at this point. I live on three-and-a-half acres of farmland in SC with my five pet goats - Paxton, JaeJay, Rupert, Patches, and Frosty. Each have amazing personalities, make me laugh daily, and are so very loveable. I also have two pet Labradors, Holly and Bruno, who are my security system, my bed warmers, and my cuddlebugs. Besides mowing, gardening, housework, and fixing the goat pen when the kids decide to play Houdini, I am also Editor-in-Chief for Master Koda Select Publishing as well as do private editing. 

Debra: Arlene, you are a busy woman and I admire you for what you are doing for our men and women in the military. We'll get back to that in this interview. For now, however, how was your early childhood before the accident? 

Arlene: Prior to my accident at age six, I was a typical happy kid of the 50s where family, school, and church came first. Dad worked while Mom cooked and cleaned. I lived in a safe neighborhood where everyone knew their neighbor, and it was not unusual to see them all getting together for cookouts or coffee. 

Debra: Broken Spokes addresses your life after the accident? 

Arlene: Broken Spokes deals with the impact negative messages can have after a childhood accident. These messages carry through into adulthood and can affect every part of life. 

Debra: What do you remember most from your experience as a child, in relation to your emotional state? 

Arlene: I remember being afraid all the time; afraid of making others feel sad. Somehow I felt responsible for other's happiness. I experienced such guilt over taking up so much of Mom and Dad's time for the 18 months I was hospitalized and the year after on crutches. I felt I never fit in, and was teased by other children because I was different. 

Debra: Looking back, how did this experience influence you as a young adult? That is, once the main surgeries were done, how did it make you feel as a person, and more importantly, a human being? 

Arlene: Thankfully there were no surgeries; just 18 months in braces in a hospital called Newington Crippled Children's Home. That name alone had a negative connotation. As I said, I never felt that I fit anywhere. I always had a low self esteem and a very poor self image. Because of this, I believe I became an over-achiever. In other words, don't tell me I can't do something because I will just to prove you wrong. I bought a horse when I was 18 and appeared on the rodeo circuit. I danced extremely heavy choreography in Jesus Christ Superstar and even auditioned on Broadway. I became Crew Chief for a hot air balloon company, played softball, and women's Dek Hockey. All these activities were dangerous, especially after I had my first total hip replacement, but that never stopped me. I was determined to prove to everyone that yes…I can! 

Debra: Childhood experiences impact us for the rest of our lives. How has this impacted your life physically now? 

Arlene: Every single step I take now is a reminder of my stupidity of my younger years. The pain is very severe and I will be having my fifth total hip replacement within the next year. I finally have the life I want, yet it's so difficult to keep up physically with the demands of the house, property, and animals. If only I hadn't tried so hard to prove how strong or daring I was, my hip may have lasted longer. Most have one hip replacement in their 50's or 60's. I am on number five already.

Debra: How has your accident impacted you emotionally now?

Arlene: I find myself very self conscious of my limp, of my inability to walk very far, to exercise much, or lift items I could even up to four years ago. I now live in fear of my hip fracturing and in panic knowing I need surgery once again. Emotionally I feel I have failed myself, due to a lack of common sense and trying so hard not only to fit in, but to over achieve. 

Debra: Arlene, if I may, may I ask you about your late husband? How did you meet, court and fall in love? Did your injuries play any part in your developing relationship? 

Arlene: Pat and I met when we were both Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Counselors. He was divorced and had 4 daughters. Pat was much older than I and many frowned on the relationship, but when you know… you just know. I was due for another hip replacement and refused to marry Pat until after I recovered. Finally in 1979, we were married. 

Debra: You were widowed early. Did your past help you to cope with your devastating loss or hinder it? 

Arlene: I lived in denial of Pat's death for a very long time, and due to the childhood messages, I could not cry. I was warned not to cry after my accident because it would upset my parents, my grandmother, my brother...everyone. These well intentioned messages, trying to make me be strong, had the reverse affect. I became emotionally cast in stone. Because of my hip injury, it was suggested that I may not be able to conceive and that it may put a strain in my leg. I didn't care. Most of all, I wanted one opportunity to give Pat a son. I knew it was risky, but what in life isn't? Even though I ended up with an emergency caesarian section, Tanner entered the world kicking and screaming, destined to be someone. The tears in Pat's eyes were worth any risk I may have taken physically. Unfortunately, Pat died when his only son was 4 ½ years old. I've done my best to keep Pat's memory alive. 

Debra: When did you start writing and what prompted you to write Broken Spokes

Arlene: I've been writing for as long as I can remember and was first published in an anthology called Our Forgotten Graces back in 1985 - the year my husband died. Broken Spokes was written in the hopes of sparing one person the pain of living with childhood messages, and to let those who still heard them in their heads know that they were not alone. With time and determination, the negatives can be reversed. 

Debra: What is Broken Spokes

Broken Spokes is the story of my life. The title refers to broken bones, broken bike, and broken spirit. It speaks of the negative messages, although unintentional during childhood, which contributed to many of my insecurities today. It is also the tale of how a blind Labrador named Little Bit helped me find my emotional balance in life. 

Debra: Arlene, the cover of your book is, to me, iconic and so appropriate for your message. A special friend created it for you. Can you tell us about it? 

Arlene: Linda Danek of WI and I used to belong to a writing group years ago. She had sent me some pictures of her dog, and hanging on the wall was an incredible portrait of wolves. When I commented on it, she said her husband Frank drew it. I knew then that I wanted him to design my cover and do my illustrations. He is an amazing talent! I sent him the chapter that I wanted the cover to portray and he returned more than I expected. I fell in love with the cover the first time I saw the proof. 

Debra: Arlene, Broken Spokes just hit #1 in many categories on Amazon. How does that make you feel? 

Arlene: Knowing that more people will read Broken Spokes is important to me. It was never about the money, just the message it brings. Of course I'm ecstatic finally being considered an Amazon Best Seller and ranking #1 in every category listed. However, if my book touches one more person because of this, I will be thrilled! 

Debra: I know that you have another book in the works. Can you tell us about it? 

Arlene: Debra, my next book is the story of my son's life in the Army…told through my eyes, using my experiences and emotions. Parts of this book are contained in Broken Spokes, and I guess that's what inspired me to write the story of Tanner's career. 

Debra: Arlene, this sounds like an extremely noble endeavor. I know that it is inspired by your son. Could you share with us his story and how he inspired you to write your upcoming book? 

Arlene: Tanner has been in the military for almost 13 years now and deployed five times to active war zones. I plan to detail every step he took from Basic Training to multiple deployments, and help readers learn where to go for support, what they can do to help their soldier, and what to expect emotionally. It is my hope that this book will assist parents and all involved with those in the service to understand better what to happens when your loved one announces, "I'm gonna be a Soldier."

Debra: There is also another special male in your life. Would you like to tell us about Little Bit and how he has affected your life and your writing? 

Arlene: Little Bit came into this world in the middle of a snowstorm on January 4 1995 - not breathing. This runt of a pup tugged at my heart and puppy CPR allowed him to take his first breath. At that moment, he was mine. His mom, Pepper, had 12 other healthy puppies, but Little Bit had his problems: seizures at 3 weeks old and totally blind by 9 months old. Most would have given up and euthanized him, but I knew there was something special about this handicapped puppy and refused to let him die. Little Bit grew to be a 100 pound bundle of absolute love. He represented Friends of Berlin Animal Control for years as their mascot at fund raisers and also became a Therapy Dog for the State of CT, visiting nursing homes, and locked wards for juveniles, as well as drug and alcohol addicts. He wasn't just a dog. Little Bit, through his handicap, taught me how to deal with my emotional insecurities and showed me "balance" in my life. He was also my rock while Tanner was deployed. A great part of me died with him on August 31, 2007, yet I will be forever grateful for the 12 ½ years we were together.

Debra: Arlene, I have enjoyed this interview very much. I hope you will come back when your next book is published so that we can keep abreast of what is going on in your life as well as your career. 

Arlene: Debra, thank you so much for having me. I hope that those still living with negative messages from childhood will be inspired and know they can be overcome. My next book will be out as soon as I can carve out enough time to assemble my notes and I promise to return! 

An author, editor, and proofreader, Arlene R. O'Neil may be contacted at arleneoneil@aol.com
Arlene's eBook Broken Spokes can be found here: http://goo.gl/7Zz4Qb

The Haunted House

A chance encounter with an abandoned house opens the door to horror. The author has combined two stories into one to create "The Haunted House." For the other half of the story, note "The Cigar Box," a short story which tells of a fiddle player's ride through a dark forest of terror.