About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, October 8, 2012


Just when I start thinking I've redefined my life--shaken off the shroud of widowhood--I'm reminded that I'm tainted more than I believed.  Perhaps there's a stain on my skin that I can't see.

As I've stated a few blog posts ago, I'm dating MoU (my code name for him).  Things have been going great, he's smart, successful, fun and lovable.  I really, really like him.  The date before last, though, he said that "this is a lot to take on".  I didn't know what he meant.  I'm a very independent woman, don't ask anyone for much of anything EVER.  I blew it off, thinking perhaps he meant my teenagers, but then again, it's never been a secret that I have kids.  Then Friday night, after another fun evening together and while kissing me goodnight, he says abruptly that he's still working out if I'm right for him--after telling me not too long ago that I was perfect for him, that we were incredibly in sync (which we are for the most part).  Mixed signals galore.  Then it made sense--it's the suicide thing, the widow thing, the only parent thing, and, oh, yes, my age (even though he's older than me it has come up because he may want a baby of his own and I'm "old" at 44).  Basically, the "a lot to take on" is the stain I carry of having a husband who took his own life and children who will forever be haunted by that decision.  The "a lot to take on" is my life.  It's who I am.  It's also who he knew I was before date one ever happened.

I hear it a lot--people raising eyebrows over Sean's death, the comments about how I mustn't have been a good wife to not see "the signs", the former friends who suddenly stopped calling after he died and who avert their eyes when they see me now.  I've grown accustomed to it, actually.  I can testify that certain types of pain begin to feel normal after awhile.

I guess I thought that once I "proved" to people that I could be successful (two published novels and a third in the cue) and raised two kids who are both honor students, athletes and good citizens of the world, that somehow the stain would disappear, that people would start seeing me for ME.  I'd hoped that I could move beyond it all, celebrate my life and find someone who would enjoy this new normal with me.

But maybe that's too much to hope for.  My life is messy.  I have teenagers who know how to throw tantrums, deadlines always looming, a budget that seems tight most of the time, a house that seems to be in constant need of something, and, yes, a dead husband who will always somehow be a part of our lives whether I want that or not.  On the flip side, I'm very fun, cute, smart, adventurous, successful, creative, sensitive and loving. I've been told I look great for my "age" (geez, you'd think I was 80 or something!) I am all of these things, but so much more.

I never wanted Sean's death to define me or the kids.  I now see that was idealistic of me.  I am defined by it and so are the kids.  The kids have some anger over it and I'm the living parent who is the perfect scapegoat for them to lash out on at times.  Despite their normalcy and successes, they will forever miss the father they barely remember.

And that's what I'm writing about--tragedy has permeated our lives despite all that we've done and how far we've come. It's shaped us, changed how we perceive the world, deepened our compassion for others and strengthened us as a family.  When I said I refused to let it define me, I wasn't realistic at all. Redefinition of who I am as human being was inevitable.  I'm not "stuck"--perhaps that was the true fear I had, being stuck in that hellish time--instead I've been molded.  There's a difference.

I like to think of myself as low maintenance, easy going, fun and uncomplicated.  For the most part, I think I am.  But underneath the laughter is a depth that is simply who I am.  Beneath the smile is a complex person.  And, perhaps my life is tainted by a major life event that happened seven years ago.  I can't change that.  I've moved forward and overcome so much, I'm actually proud of where and who I am now.

At this advanced age of a woman in her mid-forties (ridiculous), of course I have a past.  Anyone who is my age who doesn't have a past or come with some battle wounds is highly suspect in my mind!  Does this mean, though, that I'm really "a lot to take on"?  I prefer thinking of myself--and the kids--as assets rather than liabilities.

As Tom Petty sings in his song, Square One, "it took a world of trouble, it took world of tears, it took a long time to get back here."  That's how I feel.  I am finally, after so much pain and darkness, embracing life again.  Is it so much to ask for to have someone who wants to celebrate that with me?


Friday, October 5, 2012

Interviewing the brilliant author Byron Suggs today

Author Byron Suggs
Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing a fascinating man and author, Byron Suggs.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Byron, for taking the time to stop by Moxie Girl Musings today.  I really appreciate your time.  Can you tell us a little bit about your newest release?

Thanks for having me, Amber. Rockapocalypse is not your casual fare as far as books go. I believe a good tale should take you on an exhilarating adventure and leave you a bit more enchanted after you turn the last page. That’s what I tried to do with Rockapocalypse. It’s about a boy, Peter Travers, whose born into the world with a divine connection to a young man that leaves the world in a sudden a tragic way. What ensues is a fifty-two year tale that weaves the past and present until good and evil clash for the prize. In a nutshell, I would say Rockapocalypse is simply a book about the possibilities of the impossible, the timeless magic of music, the unbreakable bonds of friendship, and Faith. 

What inspired this novel in particular?

My childhood. I didn’t realize it at the time, not the way someone realizes something is better than expected, but as I grew older, more mature, I began to see just how precious those years in the 60’s and 70’ were to me and how genuinely fantastic they were in terms of cultural revolution and growth of the collective mind.

Who is your favorite character in this novel and why?

Now, that’s not fair, Amber. Every author know that once you’ve spent an enormous amount of time with your characters, they all hold a special place in your heart. However, since you put me on the spot, Peter Travers  was the impetus for the entire story and I probably relate to him more than the others. 

What comes first--characters or plot ideas?

Characters. Strong plots are essential, but interesting characters carry the plot. Readers have to bond with the characters in some fashion to really get into a book. 

How many books have you written?

For the record, two: Rockapocalypse: Disharmony of Justice and Cold Currents a literary mystery thriller. Cold Currents is on submission to four big publishers via my agent, Joyce Holland at D4EO Literary. I’ve written others in the past, but they were awful and I won’t discuss them. (frowns)

What is your favorite aspect about being a novelist?

The joy of “escapes”. When I’m buried in a project, my mind constantly wanders across the landscape of the story I’m building in my head. To others I may seem addle-headed, but I’m simply taking my character down different roads. That one escape. The other is being in the head of my protagonist, or main character. I had a blast building, tearing down, and re-building Peter Travers over the course of writing Rockapocalypse. In Cold Currents, it was a crazy ride with Bobby Taylor, absolutely crazy, but a blast all the same. 

What inspires you as an author?

People. The way they deal with the world. The depth, and unfortunately, the shallowness of humans. I find their resilience, emotional strengths and weaknesses, compassion and cruelty fascinating. People are the world as we know it. Existing gives us purpose. Purpose drives the human spirit, whatever direction that may take.   

What draws you to this particular genre?

I have no particular genre. I say that because my two novels are totally different. At this point I’m not sure I want to be locked down, or associated with a specific genre. But time will tell. My next novel, Bone Whispers will be a follow-up to Cold Currents. Maybe the thriller genre will be my label at some point in the future.

Are there any other genres you can see yourself writing and why/why not?

Maybe Horror. That’s a funny looking word, isn’t it? Anyway, I’ve always wanted to write horror but that’s a tough one to do. Really hard to pull off. 

What's your typical writing routine like?

I guess I’m not you typical writer. I don’t follow a lot of the “rules” most writers endorse. For example, most writers set specific word count goals every day. I set a general word count I’d like to reach but I don’t force it. The flow of the story sets the word count for me. I don’t believe in writing junk for the sake of writing. My second novel took about seven months to write. My daily word count fluctuated from 700-1800 words a day. In the end, there were no major revisions, no massive cuts of irrelevant story. The manuscript I have on submission right now is basically the first draft, with the exception of an intense line edit.

To you, what's the most challenging aspect of being a published novelist and why?

Marketing. It’s tough out there and getting tougher. Small publishers don’t have the budgets to do very much. I’m not sure what we would do without the internet and social media. It’s a little better with the major publishing houses, but not by much. I spend far more time marketing my book that I’d like. What I do like, though, is face-to-face events where I can talk to fans and potential readers. Where is that time machine when you need it? And cloning? I need two of me, at least! 

Tell us 5 little known facts about yourself. 

  1. I hate garden hoses, heavy duty power cords, and rolls of tape. Most men will understand.
  2. I cannot open any kind of package according to the directions. It’s a conspiracy, me thinks.
  3. I favor dogs over cats. 
  4. I like to eat melon with a pocketknife (it’s a long story.) 
  5. I like a droning noise present when I sleep: fan, A/C, etc., but in my waking hours such noises drive me insane. Maybe I am insane.

Book blurb of Rockapocalypse


It started out as a typical summer in a small southern town for 15-yr old Pete Travers and his friends, until the real rock stars showed up.

Real dead that is.

When bizarre occurrences, unexplained disappearances, and outpourings of prejudice become frequent in Harper’s Mill, the four friends discover they’ve been destined for a gig far more challenging than anything they ever imagined. The rockers join forces with the four teens to rid the town of a hatred so intense, it has bred its own evil in the most unlikely of places. But will they succeed?


Thirty-seven years later, record industry mogul Peter Travers lies in a coma as the result of a horrific auto accident.  As he teeters between life and death, he relives the life-changing events from the past in his mind. When his friends reunite to stand watch and offer their support, they realize Peter's auto crash was no accident. They also discover that the powers that saved them all those years ago have returned. But the question that burns in their hearts is: Why?

The power of music’s timeless message, the bonds of friendship, and a gift from God culminate in a cataclysmic battle that reaches to the gates of heaven. Is their faith strong enough to protect Peter and his family from the evil force that struggles to claim what he deems rightfully his - Peter's very soul?

An excerpt of Rockapocolypse 

Chapter Twenty-Three

     They were all in the kitchen finishing their breakfast when Margie came down. Millie and Peter Jr. were rinsing the dishes and putting things away. 
“Everybody ready?” she asked with a smile, trying to keep their spirits up, not to mention her own. Nods and gestures were given as a yes. “Good. We’ll take the van, ride together, if nobody minds. Millie, Peter…just leave those.” 
Everyone grabbed their personal effects and followed Margie out to the van. Black clouds were building off to the east as they all stepped to the edge of the drive. 
“Looks like we’re in for a pretty bad one,” Bill said, gazing off in that direction. Clarice put her arm in his and pulled herself closer against him. 
Arlo was grabbing a jacket from his car when Bill spoke. Now he stood there, jacket in hand, looking at Margie with her hand on the van’s door handle. Martin and Percy shared a glance. The kids were buried in their smartphones. 
“What?” Bill asked, confused by the reaction to his words. 
Arlo closed his car door and walked over to Margie. “Do you think it…?”
“I don’t know.” She shook her head, released the door handle. “After all this time, who knows?”
Martin and Percy walked up, both glancing back at the clouds that were moving too fast now in their direction.
“I say we give it a try.” Martin locked eyes with Margie, nodded, then looked at the others. 
“I’m in,” Percy said, raising his eyes upward. “God, please forgive me if this is against your word.” He grabbed Martin’s hand.
Martin grabbed Margie’s and she grabbed Arlo’s. Arlo and Percy hesitated a moment, looking down at their hands. 
“It’s the right thing to do, Percy,” Arlo said. He reached for Percy’s hand and took it gently into his own.
Four stood in a circle, and four stood back. The wind howled ahead of the storm front, trees began to sway as droplets of water struck their skin and clothes. Arlo was the first to look down, and then the others followed his lead. The grass swayed and bent, one way, then the other, until it formed a concentric circle and turned fluid, blurring as it rotated between their feet.
     The bottom dropped out.

Chapter Twenty-Four
     There are only two dancing lights now. Two that will merge as one…and they’re almost upon me. The sentinels are almost here, too. Friend or foe, I feel their essence, their being, emanating from those orbs, cautiously probing the thing that is me. I feel like injured prey, stricken and left for dead on the roadside, a black, hot sun bearing down. Scavengers circling above, more crouched in the bushes, inching ever closer. 
I don’t have the fight I had when I was younger. The years of a good life have softened me and I find myself on a strange, dark battlefield, unarmed and disoriented. I can only turn my thoughts to God now, and pray he’ll change my fate. 
And if he won’t do that, I can only hope he’ll give me my dignity, give me the same courage I had then, when the world was still a place of heroes and hope. Give me the strength and determination I had that day…. 
We rode single file up Open Bridge Road. Nobody spoke, but nobody had to because we all knew what the other was thinking. Fang had disappeared from my periphery, going off to be a dog. I’d hoped he would be there with me, but maybe he sensed just how bad things would probably get. I hoped not. Dark clouds moved low now with a fury, wind pushing at our backs. The rain continued to pelt us like metal tacks and we were soaked to the bone, Percy bringing up the rear because his glasses were smeared with moisture. Lightning was all around us. I thought of how crazy it must look to anyone who saw us out here running around in it.
I was guessing we had about a half mile to the pond when I heard sirens approaching behind us. I stopped my bike and looked back, bringing the others to a halt. Two state troopers barreled down on us and we shuffled into the grass and weeds off the side of the road to get out of their way. They blew by us in a roar, sending another gust of air and a fine mist across us that nearly toppled me and Margie into the ditch.
“Look!” yelled Martin. He pointed off in the distance and we all turned at once. Two helicopters were coming in low from the west. My heartbeat quickened. Suddenly it seemed it was all coming a little too fast for me.

Book trailer: http://youtu.be/f1HhDosXkX4

Author Bio and contact information:   Primarily a writer of southern fiction, Byron's first novel, "Rockapocalypse: Disharmony of Justice", is a tale of youthful dreams, adult peril, and Divine intervention by a few deceased rock icons. His second novel, Cold Currents, a southern literary mystery/thriller, is in the hands of his agent. He is currently working on his third novel, Bone Whispers, (a follow-up to Cold Currents), and a collection of short stories for future publication. 

His short works of fiction have appeared in publications such as Aries: A Journal of Arts and Literature and Black Heart Magazine (e-zine).

A child of the sixties, his first viewing of The Wizard of Oz shaped his outlook of the world and erased any boundaries that could have stunted his imagination. He believes that a good tale should take you on an exhilarating adventure and leave you a bit more enchanted after you turn the last page.

*Byron is represented by D4EO Literary.

Where books can be purchased:

Amazon (short URL): http://tinyurl.com/8j95ums

Barnes and Noble.com: Coming Soon!

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