Meet Author Suzie Carr

     Hello everyone and welcome. Thanks for stopping by last week for my Springtime blog. It was great to see you all. Today I’m turning the reins over to best selling author Suzie Carr, creator of The Dance and The Curvy Side of Life. She is here to talk about her new book, The Pet Boutique which is now available for sale. Come meet this amazing woman who will rock your socks off.TPB-social-final

     The Pet Boutique – a Lesfic Romance Novel by Suzie Carr

    If you love dogs, then you’ll likely understand my obsession when I wrote my newest book, The Pet Boutique. Not only did I get to spend the last seven months of my life engaged with the silly and lovable antics of a particular furry loved one, but I also learned the profound healing effect writing can have on a person’s heart.

     A Bit of Backstory on The Pet Boutique
This story started out very different than the story it eventually became. I suppose that’s a writer’s truth most times, though. Rarely does a story that’s outlined in messy scribble on a coffee-stained notepad turn out to be the end result. But, this story’s evolution goes a lot deeper than that.

     You see, the writing of this story is a story in and of itself. In early June, I began writing The Pet Boutique. The story was going to be about a married lesbian couple who grew apart after the death of their beloved dog. The story was supposed to dig into the undercurrents of a marriage, with all its complexities, comforts and safety, and figure out what really matters after years of layers shed and expose the raw, realness of life.

     Well, on paper that all sounded like an interesting story.
suzie and bumblebee 1

     Then, my life changed dramatically on July 15 when my beloved dog, Bumblebee, passed away. That moment stole my heart, breath, and life force. I was devastated by her death and the emptiness of life without her.

     I never imagined I would lose my dog while I planned this story idea. As you can imagine, my planned story would prove painful to write. But, I tried. I wrote it, and the process gutted me. A sad story resulted, one that hurt too much to read, let alone share.

     It was that terrible. It read nothing like the story I had planned originally. It was basically me sifting through my grief and allowing it to flow into the story. Well, the result was a sad, depressing tale and a total reflection of the state of my mind, which was a state completely not in the zone for writing a lighthearted book.

     I couldn’t release that story to the world. It basically was my grieving process, all seventy-thousand words of it. I needed to get the emotions out and set them free. Writing allowed me that freedom. I wouldn’t have been able to write a fun, lovable romantic story until I got that sad one out of me first. That story will remain personal, archived as a part of my past.

       The Really Cool Moment
It was my birthday, and I remember sitting in my home office reading the first few chapters of that first draft of The Pet Boutique. My chest constricted. A sense of dread flowed in me. Panic ensued. No, I wasn’t suffering a heart attack. I was suffering writer’s fright. My beta and editorial team were expecting a story to read and critique from me in less than two months, and the one before me was too personal and sad to share. I needed a new story.

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       Bumblebee to the Rescue!
Something really cool happened immediately following my quick descent into panic mode.

     I felt Bumblebee nudge me like she was saying, OMG Momma wake up. If you’re going to put me in a book, it better be a fun book. Surely you’re not going to put anyone through reading this version, are you? I fully expect to be placed in this pet boutique story, but only if it’s fun, romantic, flirty, and a place suitable for me to hang and allow my legacy to live on.

     Let me tell you if she could talk, that’s exactly what she would say. I felt that nudge from her to archive that story and start over.

Suzie and Bumblebee 4
      Moving Forward
After that very moment, I wrote what I felt in my heart:

     I’m laughing. I’m joyful. I’m clear-headed. I’m free to bask in happy things again. Today, for the first time, I’m no longer bowing my head, shameful of laughter in the sorrow of your passing. You’ve offered me your blessings. You’re nudging me, directing me to lighten up and have some fun. A gate has opened and we’re running, my dear Bumblebee. Running together, Momma with her arms wide, and you, sweet baby girl, with your tail wagging, with the wind as our companion.

      I felt like I had her blessing to move forward into something fun again. So, a new story emerged. I crafted something completely different. It’s still called The Pet Boutique, and still takes place primarily in a pet boutique, but there’s a whole new set of characters and of course the queen bee herself in all her exuberance, my Bumblebee.
      My writing had finally come back to a place of complete joy. I ventured on this writing journey with my sweet girl in spirit and created a story that would honor her. My beloved, Bumblebee, is in there in all her spirited glory as Cashmere. I took all the wonderful memories I have of her and her silly antics and placed them in this story so I’ll always be able to come back to it and fondly remember her as the lovely furbaby she was.

     It was important that I honor her life in a way that never lets her spirit end. Whenever I need a good smile or a jolt to my heart, I always have The Pet Boutique to keep me company.

       About The Pet Boutique
From the moment Lexie Tanner meets Taylor Henshaw in the dilapidated space that will one day become her aunt’s pet boutique, she knows she’s got her work cut out for her. Taylor self-identifies as a complicated woman, and there’s nothing Lexie enjoys more than a good fixer upper. But Taylor’s complications run deep, and way into her past. Surrounded by an eccentric and spirited group of family and friends, including a spunky and lovable dog named Cashmere, the two women navigate a series of obstacles that have them questioning their choices. As their journey unfolds, neither women are prepared for what happens when they start to break down the old and discover the new.

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          Grab your copy!
Available in Kindle and paperback, and coming soon to Audible!

        A Special Tribute
Bumblebee was loved by many, and this video represents the incredible love and friendship we shared. A Tribute to Bumblebee!

        Connect with Suzie
Twitter | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram

     Thank you, Suzie, for your heartwarming story. The Pet Boutique is available. For those of you who have read the book, I’m looking for discussion of the book so feel free to comment in the comments.

     Be sure to stop by next week when I’ll be presenting my review for Julie Forester‘s ‘Marmalade Martini.’

     Until Next Time,
     Lynn
     Photos subject to copyright.
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Guest Blog by Author Kris Bryant

Good afternoon Friends and welcome. You are in for a real treat today. I am presenting the first of many guest blogs. Today Bold Strokes Books author Kris Bryant is here to share about her new upcoming book, ‘Listen.’

IMG_1642When I first came up with the idea for Listen, it didn’t have anything to do with anxiety. I knew I wanted to write about music, but not the typical rock star falls for a fan or has a love/hate relationship with her new manager scenario. I wanted something different. I love music. I’ve always loved it. I grew up overseas so my choices of musical genres were very limited. The internet wasn’t around so I couldn’t pull up iTunes or Spotify. We had AM radio, 8 track, and some cassette tapes (note: AM radio overseas was worthless). My dad even had a reel-to-reel but finding a particular song on a reel was impossible, so we had to listen to everything until we heard the song we wanted. Elvis, Motown, or country. Those were my options. Let’s just say I know every Elvis song and I’m your girl who can sing and dance to Mary Wells, Martha & the Vandellas, and the Supremes. We didn’t have television, so I read everything I could and listened to music. Music calms me like nothing else. It allows my mind to focus on one or two things only. If my world is crazy, my mind reaches out and finds the sounds I need to hear to feed that part of me. If I don’t have music, sounds like rainfall, a ticking clock, children laughing, the wind blowing, the swoosh of windshield wipers, and even my dog breathing in and out as she sleeps works for me.

My best friend in middle school (junior high when I was growing up) played the piano. I thought she was brilliant at it, but in reality, she was probably average. I’m completely fascinated when musicians play or create music. It never gets old. So, when I thought about the actual storyline for Listen, my best friend popped into my head and I rolled with it. What about a child prodigy who was the best at something in the world? What is the life of a prodigy like? The pressure to be the best has always been a touchy subject in society. I coached YMCA basketball and the parents were out of control. The kids wanted to have fun, but somewhere along the way, fun was forgotten and it was all about winning. I’m guilty at wanting to win, too, but not at the expense of the child physically or mentally. I was called Fun Coach because I tried hard to make it exciting and goofy, while still teaching the importance of teamwork.

IMG_1644Back to Listen. What would happen to a child prodigy if they just broke? Kids are strong, but they are still kids. Life is learned through lessons and time. My godson is a genius. I’m not making it up. He’s so smart that they don’t know how smart he really is. He goes to the University of Tennessee every winter break so they can test him. I asked my friend what it’s like having a genius child. She said he knows so much but has no life experiences to apply his knowledge. How frustrating that must be! The pressure he already faces every day – information swirling in his head with no outlet or way to process it. Pressure leads to anxiety. Anxiety can be a result of dealing with pressure. They kind of go hand-in-hand. Some people are really good at handling both, and some people can’t handle either. I’m somewhere in-between. Anxiety is a very real, very consuming disorder that affects so many people, including myself. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication for a few years now and it has helped me tremendously. I have a close friend who refuses medicine, but goes to therapy. There’s no right or wrong way to handle it. When I was growing up, my older sister used to call me Mother Hen because I always worried about everything. My mind went to the worse place every time. Late coming home? Missed curfew by a few minutes? Dead. Had to be. I could never shut it off. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood anxiety. My parents, teachers, friends all thought I was quirky, different, painfully shy, and weird. I am all of those things, but I’m not ashamed because I know the source. It’s a disorder that so many people have and I’m so quick to sympathize and recognize the signs in other people.

Listen is a love story. It is a romance. Everyone has a right to love and this journey is about a woman, Lily, who thirteen years ago when she was a child prodigy, had a complete meltdown on stage and never fully recovered. Her life as an adult is one of isolation. She struggles with anxiety every day. Interacting with people is hard and it’s not that she doesn’t want friends, it’s just that she doesn’t know how. She’s socially awkward and blurts out the wrong thing at the wrong time. But she also has so much beauty trapped inside and this story is about her opening up enough to allow love and a different life in. She has to deal with her past to move forward, to have a future. Music was a part of her past and even though she fears being on stage and performing, it’s still a major part of her life. The ending is realistic and I love it.

I’ve been known to write bubble gum floofy floof romance, and lately I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone and writing more heartfelt stories. My last book, Against All Odds co-written with M. Ullrich and Maggie Cummings, is about two women who fall in love after they are victims of a mass shooting. My next book, Falling, is about a woman who survives a plane crash and falls in love with the fiancee of somebody who dies in the crash.

IMG_1641I hope Listen is a success. I hope all of my books are, but Listen is important because it has so much of myself in it. Adding a personal touch makes a writer even more vulnerable. So far, the reviews have been very positive and encouraging. I hope readers enjoy Lily’s journey and understand that anxiety is very real and even if the reader doesn’t experience it, chances are, somebody in their life does.

Thank you for your visit today. ‘Listen’ is now available for purchase. Be sure to stop by next week when I’ll be presenting something new.

Purchase ‘Listen’

Until Next Time,

Lynn