Sunday, September 25, 2016

Family Secrets by Gail Cleare #CallMeDaddy

Family Secrets

I often write about families, because those primary intimate relationships seem to be at the heart of human existence. Even people who seem independent are often strongly connected with their family members, though they may be separated by time, geography, or death. These relationships may be positive or negative, but nearly always they are critically important. They teach us how to interact with others, how to feel about ourselves, and how to express love.

Imagine a series of concentric circles, with the innermost ring made of just those few people who you can stand next to fully exposed, your real self, completely vulnerable, and still feel safe. These people are usually family members, or others who act as family. Admission to the inner circle is a rare privilege, only for a handful of trusted individuals. If something goes wrong with one of these relationships, it can be utterly devastating. It shakes the circle apart and everyone is hurt. If the problem isn’t resolved, it can poison the circle for generations and make the family totally dysfunctional.

Here lies fertile inspiration for authors of family stories, like me. The drama at the center of family gatherings makes a fabulous backdrop, and the tension between various conflicted family members energizes dialogue. Add some mystery and a pinch of romance, and…poof! We have my latest novel, THE TASTE OF AIR (Red Adept Publishing, September 2016). It’s the story of two sisters who discover their mother has been hiding a secret life for over forty years. She has a lakeside cottage in Vermont and a series of complicated relationships with people they have never met.

 When my sister and I found out that my mother's name didn't match the one on her birth certificate (a small thing compared to what Nell and Bridget find out in my book) it set me off thinking. Did I ever really know her? What was she really like, when she was my age? What did she go through, that she kept this secret from us forever? What if there was a lot more to the story? What if…?

That real event influenced the creation of the fictional Reilly family. And the real families of lots of people in my life contributed to bits and pieces of other characters. It seems that everyone I know has at least one family saga in them. Some people have so many melodramatic things happen in their lives, a fictional version would be criticized as unbelievable. So writers like me pick and choose from among the tidbits, trying not to overdo it.

In THE TASTE OF AIR, Nell and Bridget must learn to accept a new picture of reality as their assumptions about the past are challenged, and their own lives take on new meaning. Their inner circle is shaken, and when the earth settles into place again the landscape looks different. It’s vibrant and glowing with color, and the air tastes sweet.

If you ever wondered what your mother is really like, you should read my book. Mary Reilly’s cottage is vault for family secrets never suspected, and the gateway to change for all three women.

 Release Date September 22, 2016! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Confidence, Because F*ck You by Joelyn Drennan #CallMeDaddy

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my novel, Call Me Daddy, I asked for stories about family: the fun, the inspirational, the heartwarming moments that make us part of a family. Confidence, Because F*ck You, is in classic Joelynn Drennan style (which is why I adore her):

Confidence, Because F*ck You

In my early teen years, the last thing I wanted was to be seen with my parents—especially on a weekend. That I actually enjoyed their company was irrelevant. In the event of running into peers while out with my parents, I’d have betrayed their existence faster than Judas betrayed Jesus. That is, until my father taught me a valuable, though unintentional, lesson in self-confidence.
One summer, on the way home from a long day spent at the beach, I begged my parents to stop for ice cream. “We always stop at Fox’s,” I said, citing the unofficial tradition. Despite their exhaustion, the heavy traffic, and its out-of-the-way location, my parents honored the request and drove over to Fox’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Once inside, my dad ordered his usual black-raspberry sherbet and my mom ordered her usual rocky road ice cream. I’d just decided on a double scoop of mint-chocolate chip when a group of boys about my age entered the shop and settled at a corner table. All of them had deep tans and sun-bleached hair and were dressed head-to-toe in Abercrombie & Fitch—the epitome of cool in 1997. Suddenly, I was uninterested in ice cream. In fact, ice cream was lame and my parents were assholes for dragging me in there. I moved away from the counter, attempting to look cool and aloof. Dad whistled in my direction.
          “Hey, are you going to pick something or what?”
            “Nope.” I shook my head and rolled my eyes.
            “What? I thought you wanted—”
            “I don’t want anything,” I said.
            “We drove all the way over here and now you don’t WANT anything?”
 Ignoring the irritation in my dad’s voice, I feigned interest in a framed newspaper article hanging on the wall near the table of boys. I smiled their way, but they were all caught up in conversation and didn’t seem to notice me. However, they had noticed the drops of purple sherbet caught in my father’s handlebar mustache. They had also noticed his straw hat, faded wolf t-shirt, and Bermuda shorts. Snide comments and snickering erupted from their table. I looked over at my father and then back towards the boys. My cheeks flamed. I approached my parents, demanded we leave that instant, and then I stormed out of the shop.
 A few minutes later, my parents came outside and my father asked what the hell had just happened. “And don’t give me this ‘nothing’ bullshit,” he said. I couldn’t meet his eyes, but I choked back the knot the in my throat and told him the truth. I was ashamed.
 I was ashamed of myself for casting both of my parents aside for the attention of some random boys I’d never see again—attention that I didn’t even get—and for standing silent while they made a joke of my father.
 Completely unfazed, Dad described the absence of fucks he had to give about the opinions of a bunch of “snot-nosed little bastards.” Then he knocked on the window and pointed to his wolf t-shirt. He raised both middle fingers to the group of boys, laughed at their stunned expressions, and then walked away with a huge smile on his face. In that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud to be his daughter.

 Joelyn Drennan is a die-hard yankee living in Memphis, Tennessee. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Joelyn is a shameless conspiracy theorist who writes to make herself laugh (and also to quiet the voices in her head). These days she can be found at the nearest A/C vent, cursing the heat of southern summers. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Landmarks by Michael Meyerhofer #CallMeDaddy

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my novel, Call Me Daddy, I asked for stories about family: the fun, the inspirational, the heartwarming moments that make us part of a family. Author and Poet Michael Meyerhofer shared a poem that will tug at your heart:


I bought a bag of all black socks
with my twenty-first birthday money,
thinking this would save me
from having to match them, sure,
but also the embarrassment
of wearing white ones to a funeral
like I did after my mother died—
same day my father
almost cut my left ear off
when I asked him to help me
remove the rusty latch of an earring
for years I thought was in style.
He couldn’t see straight,
didn’t even register my curse
when the scissors caught my lobe
until my brother stopped him.
Since I was already born
without a right ear,
for which I never blamed her
but now and again the ultrasound,
I’m grateful. My brother
tells me how he wore black jeans
to his rich girlfriend’s
sister’s wedding, how they laughed
so hard he had to spend
the next five years climbing
the economic ladder to Dewey Ballantine,
dinners under a ten-foot chandelier.
Today, at last, I throw out
that last pair, faded like old tires,
plus an outdated silk shirt
that reminds me of the dress
they buried my maker in. Sunflowers
permanently wrinkled by disco.
She looks lovely, said her old roommate,
blond with black eyebrows,
as she pulled me deep
into a Midwestern bosom
perfumed by the Dollar General,
so deep I wanted to cry.
And would have, had I been
brave enough to wear the grief
my mother earned—she who daily
tamed my cowlicks with a wet comb,
even after the milk dried
and I, insufferably ignorant,
stopped believing she was God.

Visit Michael's poetry website at
Visit his fantasy website (actually, not Michael's fantasies, but for his bestselling fantasy fiction) at