Friday, February 8, 2013

Review and Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

Today I have a little something special for you. I have with me today the author of Wildflowers, the lovely and talented Schledia Benefield and don't forget to enter the Giveaway! 

Here is a brief summary and my review of this wonderful book. 

Amazon Link:   Wildflowers


Have you ever feared what may be hiding deep within you?

Darkness often skulks in the blood of unsuspecting victims, but Aster McGrath is acutely aware of the violence coursing through his veins. After all, he is the son of a murderer, and everyone in the town of Bayville, Mississippi says he will end up just like his father.

When Susan Blackman moves into town, Aster has already embraced his brutal nature, but her gentle spirit draws him in and slowly melts the icy exterior of his heart. Taming his savagery, she professes her love, but will the good within him be able to overcome the evil lurking deep inside? Or will the fiend break free of its fetters and seek blood?

My Review 
Okay this is officially the saddest book I’ve read in a long time. A story filled with abusive parents, bullying townsfolk, misunderstood teenagers. Adults who don’t care about what’s happening to a young boy and his sister, and the horror of what rich people get away and the abuses they foster upon those who cannot afford anything better.

It is also a story of how young love can overcome these issues and how sometimes it’s better to look beneath the surface and see what is truly there.

This story deals with some strong issues, so it is not for the faint of heart. The things Aster tells of his life with his mother are horrors that no child should ever have to endure. The things that he does to protect those he loves are misunderstood by the town people but show exactly the caliber of person that he will grow to be. The mother of young Susan who “thinks” she is doing the best for her daughter by making it impossible for them to be together, ends up with…. Well I can’t tell you that because it would ruin the story.

I think that I can say that this is a great read and I recommend it to anyone who likes true to life dramas. A fabulous 5 star book!
Details/Disclaimer: Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.

And now on to the interview with the lovely and talented Schledia!


What made you decide to become an author?

I spent my adolescent years living in north Escatawpa, a small town in Mississippi. I spent my days trampling through the woods and indulging my imagination. I lived in a fantasy world, so stories were always a part of my life. As I got older, I began to write short stories. I was creative and descriptive. Writing stories (beginning them at least) was always a part of who I was. I’ve never actually felt that I decided to become an author; it chose me.

Did you pursue writing in college?

No, I didn’t. Despite the fact that I wanted to write books, even as a young child, I never had the confidence to follow through with it. During my elementary years, I completed a few short stories, but as I got older, I struggled with believing in myself, so I would start stories, but never finish them. I was afraid of failing, and I was afraid of being laughed at by my peers. When college rolled around, I started off getting my basics, and then I entered the nursing program to be a registered nurse, but by that time, I was married with my second child on the way. I ended up going into preterm labor with my oldest son, so I had to withdraw from school. I made a decision to stay home with my children. When my fourth child was two, I decided to go back. I changed my major to math secondary education. After a year-and-a-half, I found out that I was pregnant with number five. She was a complete surprise to us because we had already made arrangements to make sure we didn’t have any more children. I was still attending school, but I started having complications and almost lost her twice, so I withdrew again to save my child’s life. I spent the majority of my last pregnancy on bed rest. Despite the fact that I did not study writing in college, I was in a journalism class in my ninth-grade year, and I took an advanced English class in the tenth-grade. My schedule conflicted with the advanced class in the eleventh-grade, but that’s another story within itself. I maintained a very high A in my comp II and World Lit class in college. Writing came natural to me.

Considering that you have five children, how do you organize your time in order to write novels?

I do my best writing early in the morning. I have an active imagination during sleep, so I dream a lot. I use that to my advantage. When I wrote the first book I completed, I would set my alarm for 4 a.m. I would get my coffee and start writing by 4:30. I had to get my children up for school at 5:30, so I only had an hour to write. I still had two children at home during that time, so I only had the one hour a day to write. I had to be diligent and disciplined. It took me a year and three months to complete that book. All of my children are in school now, and I have a job, so I write on my off days after they’ve left for school. I don’t work over the summer, so the majority of my writing is done during that time.

How many books have you written, and what are they titled?

February the 8th will mark the release of my fourth book. The Called Ones (And the Keys of Sight) was my first book to write and second to publish, but it is published under a pen name. Plain Jane was the second novel I penned; it was the first to be published. Pretty Boy is the companion novel to Plain Jane. It was published a year and two months after Plain Jane. My most recent novel is Wildflowers.

What is your writing process?

I usually have an overview of the story in my mind, and I write it down and walk away. I begin cultivating that story through my imagination as I go about my daily life. Once I know where I want the story to start and where I want it to end, I create a chapter outline. Then I start writing. Plain Jane’s original outline had 20 chapters, but as I was writing the story, it took on a life of its own, which meant adding chapters. I ended up with 25. With the exception of Wildflowers, I take my chapters to my editor in pieces. After finishing three or four, I take them to her, go back home, and begin on the next few chapters. She usually has those ready for me when I bring her the next installment. At that point I go back home and make my corrections and embellish those chapters. I passed off the completed rough draft to her with Wildflowers.

How did you come up with the title Wildflowers?

The original concept came through the character Susan. I envisioned a blonde-haired, brown-eyed character referred to by the guy she loved as his black-eyed Susan.

In Wildflowers you broach the issues of abuse and domestic violence. Why did you tackle those issues in a novel?

Before I met my husband, I was in an abusive relationship. When you’ve been through something like that, it has a major effect on your self-esteem; it damages your ability to trust and leaves you with scars. Not all who are abused become abusers but many of them do. A lot of people wonder how a person can stay in abuse; they don’t understand how a person can feel trapped. I wanted to show readers a scenario that may help them understand a little.

Is there going to be a second book about the characters in Wildflowers?

Possibly, I leave a few things left to the imagination. I’m considering writing a book that fills in the details.

What is your next project?

I have a friend, a homeless man, who is a Vietnam Vet. He has read all of my books. He’s such a sweet man, and he loves to read. My husband just recently visited him. He told my husband that he wants me to tell his story. The amazing thing about that is I had already talked to my husband about wanting to write a book about him and what he has been through. I will be spending time with him and interviewing him as soon as I can. 

Do you have any advice you can offer up and coming authors?

Believe in yourself, write what you love, and find a great editor. 

Thank you so much Schledia for agreeing to be on my blog today and I hope you had as much fun being here as I had having you. Feel free to stop by anytime.

About the Author:

Schledia Benefield is the author of Plain Jane, Pretty Boy, and her soon to be released novel, Wildflowers. She attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but chose to be a stay-at-home mom for many years. She devoted eight years of her life to working with youth as a youth minister and has been invited to speak in a rehab to hurting and wounded women, giving them hope for a better future. She was the Keynote Speaker for Division 14 of the Key Club International’s divisional rally.

Born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Schledia holds a sense of pride in her southern heritage. She presently lives in Big Point, Mississippi with her husband and four of her five children. On top of writing novels, she writes youth and children’s church curriculum, and she works as a substitute teacher at East Central Middle School. In her spare time, she reads, sews, and spends time with her family.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for inviting me, Chris! I enjoyed sharing little bits of my life with you and your readers. I'm glad you enjoyed Aster and Susan's story.