Welcome to Saturday Spotlight. A feature hosted by Tina’s Book Reviews as a way of shining the light on Indie/Debut/Self Published authors. Each week I’ll have a guest post written by a featured author.I’m welcoming back author and singer Brooklyn James to talk about the soundtrack she created for her novel The Boots My Mother Gave Me. She’s giving us a peek at the chapter “Can’t Get It Right” along with her video that parallels the story. Check it out and enter the giveaway at the end of this post!
"Brooklyn James' soundtrack to her novel The Boots My Mother Gave Me does more than give a clever feminist twist to the title. Her songs serve as chapters themselves, underlining James' deft ability as a storyteller and songwriter." -Margaret Moser, The Austin Chronicle
Listen to more clips from The Boots My Mother Gave Me soundtrack here.
AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARD QUARTER-FINALIST
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through life in someone else's shoes?
Strong-willed tomboy Harley LeBeau puts you in the boots her mother gave her, as she takes you along her journey of escape from an abusive childhood and the desire to find herself as she comes of age. Made to feel a burden to her father simply by her gender, Harley is determined to prove her worth and independence, leaving the small town she grew up in and the one boy who gave her a soft place to fall, Jeremiah Johnson. Torn between saving herself and abandoning her mother and younger sister, Harley chooses her own life in hopes they will choose theirs, too.
A mature, candid read for everyone. A must for women. The Boots My Mother Gave Me explores the dynamics of abuse and dysfunction, the courage to overcome, the strength in sisterhood, and the ongoing conflict and unconditional love between mothers and daughters.
Climb into Charlene the Chevelle for a fast-paced story about a girl who is tough enough to survive and tender enough to learn to trust in love. ~ Goodreads | Amazon buy link
Read an excerpt from the novel, Chapter: Can't Get It Right. In this chapter, newly engaged Harley LeBeua has returned to her small hometown to help her childhood friend, Jeremiah 'Miah' Johnson get back on his feet after an injury suffered as a Marine in the military, shortly after 9/11.
Can't Get It Right
I snagged a place in the rocking chair beside the window, wrapping myself
in a blanket, settling in with a book. I looked around the room, much the
same as I remembered it years ago, minus the football trophies and pinup
posters. Well, he still had his most favorite poster, framed and hung over
his dresser, it’s dwelling since his childhood. It was the classic Farrah
Fawcett red swimsuit poster, and stunning she was, simply beautiful.
I looked out the window at my parents’ house, a speck from this distance,
my eye catching the fire escape ladder leading to Jeremiah’s room.
Mr. Johnson installed it long ago, seeing as Jeremiah slept upstairs. I think
I used it more than anyone, though. My mind busied itself with memories
of nights I sneaked in here after my dad’s rampages just to feel safe.
The first time I used the ladder was the night I found Mom hiding in
the silage wagon.
**********(beginning of flashback sequence)**********
She had put Kat and me down for bed. I was seven years old, Kat four.
It was a school night for me. Kat fell quickly asleep, but I lay there, eyes
wide open, staring at the ceiling, heart pounding as my father’s enraged
voice carried through the house for what seemed like hours, until I heard
the front door close. The house fell silent.
I got out of the bed Kat and I shared, stealthily attempting not to
wake her. I escaped the bedroom, pulling the door closed behind me, as
I ventured out into the living room to investigate.
The house was dark, except for the pole light shining through the
window by the wood stove. Something lurked behind it. I walked in its
direction, focusing my eyes, halting in my tracks at the sight of my father,
lying there behind the stove with a long rifle clasped to his chest. He said
nothing, perfectly silent and motionless. He just stared at me.Holy crap! My heart jumped up into my throat. I made a beeline for
the front door, shutting myself outside in the dark. I wasn’t a big fan of
the dark back then, fearing the illusive boogey man. But I would much
rather be outside with the boogey man than in my own house with my
father. Ironic, huh? The one person, who was supposed to make me feel
safe and secure, scared the ever-loving daylights out of me. I slipped on
my barn boots from the front porch and took off in search of Mom.
“Mom,” I whispered, inspecting the darkness. “Ma? Are you out
here?” My light hair, long and curly, whirled about in the wind. I kept
pushing it out of my face, hugging my arms to my body, attempting to
shield myself from the cool night air. My favorite pink cotton nightgown
blew in the breeze, nearly exposing my Incredible Hulk Underoos.
I heard an echo from inside the silage wagon, a big, square metal
box on wheels, which caught corn as the combine chopped and spit it
through the air. What was she doing in the silage wagon? That was for corn,
not people, my seven-year-old mind reasoned. I climbed up on the tongue
of the wagon, attempting to peek over the top, but I was too short.
“Harley, go back inside,” she ordered softly. I could tell she had been
crying, her voice shaky.
“Are you okay?” I placed my hands around my mouth, as I talked into
the side of the wagon.
“I’m fine. Get back inside and go to bed. You’ve got school in the
“Are you cold?”
“No, Harley, I’m fine. I’ll be over in a bit. Go to bed,” her tone becoming
I ran to the house as fast as my black rubber boots would carry me,
returning with a blanket. “Mom, I got you a blanket. Here it comes,” I
warned, throwing it over the side of the wagon. “I’m going to bed now.
Night, Ma. I love you.” I ran away so she wouldn’t have to worry with
scolding me again.
“I love you, too,” I heard her call after me.
I didn’t stop running until I got to Jeremiah’s house, about a half-mile
down the road. I saw the lamp glowing in his bedroom window. Climbing
up the fire escape, one nervous step at a time, I thought I would blow
right off that ladder into thin air, the wind whipping me.
Making it to the top, I peeped in and there he lay in bed, tossing his
football up in the air, catching it as it dropped. I knocked on the glass
lightly, trying to avoid alerting his dad. His attention diverted to the
window in mid-catch, his football landed on his stomach.
Seeing my reflection there in the glass, he hurried to the window,
sliding it open, offering me a hand, as he helped me through the square
opening. My breathing labored, having run all the way to his house, the
heels of my feet burning from the contact of their soft flesh against the
rubber of my boots, surely I would find blisters in the morning.
“What in the world are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m scared, Miah.” I hugged him to me.
“Why? What scared you?” He reluctantly hugged me back, thoroughly
convinced he could contract cooties if he got too close to a girl,
let alone hugged one.
“I’m just really scared and I don’t want to go home. Don’t make me
go home,” I pleaded, clutching his shoulders. He pulled away from me,
holding his finger up to his mouth, and walked toward his bedroom door.
“Dad, I’m going to bed now,” he yelled. “See you in the morning.”
“Okay, son,” Mr. Johnson reciprocated from downstairs. “Love ya,
kid. Sweet dreams.”
“You too, Dad.” He closed his bedroom door, locking it behind
him. I shivered from the cold. He closed the window, pulling the covers
back from where he had rested. “Should be all nice and toasty,” he said,
motioning for me to take his bed. “I’ll sleep in the rocking chair.”“Thanks, Miah,” I whispered as I snuggled in, finally feeling safe and
warm. He tucked the covers around me, switched the bedside lamp
off, and pulled a blanket from the foot of his bed, wrapping himself in
it, sinking into the rocking chair. The moon, full and bright, cascaded
through the window, providing a natural nightlight. He propped his feet
up on the side of the bed, finding a comfortable position in the chair, and
there we were, Jeremiah Johnson and me.
**********(end of flashback sequence)**********
“Remember when you used to climb up that thing at all hours of the
night?” his voice interrupted my memory. I looked from the ladder to
him lying there, his eyes open, studying me. I wondered how long he had
been awake. “Must feel awkward, you in the rocker and me in the bed.”
“A little. You hungry?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Embarrassed, maybe…not hungry. I’m sorry
about the other day.”
“Me too.” Our exchange followed by silence.
“Is he good to you?” I nodded my head, looking away. I didn’t know
how to approach talking about Xander with him. “Are you happy?”
“Yeah,” I answered softly, making eye contact with him.
He took a deep breath, wincing a little with his inhale. “Well, that’s all
I need to know, then.” We sat quietly, his mouth forming into a playful
smile. “Aren’t you going to ask me to be your male of honor…at the
wedding?” I broke up laughing. He braced his pillow to his chest, attempting
to hold his ribs in place while he joined me. It felt good to laugh with
him. We were going to be okay.
“So, what happened over there?” I asked, divvying up his morning
“EOD.” I looked at him puzzled. “Explosive Ordinance Disposal.
We were covering for them, guys who deactivate explosives, bombs. It
didn’t feel right, the whole situation. We started to clear out, and then,
boom. That was the last thing I heard before my body was airborne.
Don’t remember a thing from then on, until that day I saw you in the
“All the sedation can cause some amnesia, which might be a good
thing,” I said, handing him a cup full of pills."I do remember waking up on and off with a bunch of chords and
wires, stuff all over me, something shoved in my throat. Now, that was
unsettling.” He took the pills, washing them down with water. “I’ve had
two tours, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and I’ve never felt as helpless
or scared as I did in the hospital. Why do they do that to people?”
“To save your life.”
“Good God. Can’t they find some other way? All the technology we
have. I’m telling ya, that was a horrible experience, Harley-girl. And
those damn things they had me tied down with.”
“Well, that’s because you wouldn’t quit fighting. They can’t have
you wrestling about and pulling all the things from your body that are
required for you to live,” I explained, tidying up his room. “And that tube
down your throat was a breathing tube, filling your lungs with air, keeping
you among the living.”
“Kat said you’re a nurse in the city. You like it?”
“You still writing?
“Not so much these days. I’m trying to heed my mother’s advice and
get a real life.”
He grinned. “How’s that working out for ya?”
“Aw, I hate it, Miah,” I blurted out, surprising myself with the truth,
taken aback as my feelings revealed themselves. “It felt good to say that!”
“Say it again.”
“I hate it. I really, really hate it. That’s such a strong word. Okay, I dislike
it. Yeah, I feel better about that one, dislike. It’s so…stifling, heavy,
constrictive,” I searched for words of emphasis. Jeremiah looked out the
window deliberately, his eyes searching. “What are you doing?”
“I’m looking for flying pigs. Did hell freeze over and I’m the last to
hear?” he ragged. “I never thought I’d see the day Harley LeBeau took
advice from anyone on how to live her life.” I ducked my head shamefully.
Really, it was a sad thing. How did I end up here? Doing the right
thing, the responsible thing, what’s expected of me? It wasn’t a bad life,
just not the life I planned for myself.
“People change. They evolve,” I said, smiling.
“Sounds like you’ve expired,” he joked. I swatted him playfully on my
way to gather shaving supplies from the bathroom, returning with them.
His smile dissipated. “I knew this girl once. The quickest way to get herto do anything, tell her she couldn’t, she shouldn’t. She would, just to
prove you wrong.”
“Maybe I’m tired of proving myself.” I sat beside him on the bed, putting
a bowl of hot water, shaving cream, and a razor on the bedside stand.
I pushed the button on the bedrail, sitting him upright.
“You can’t please everybody, Harley. It’s not your responsibility to
make your mom happy. You can’t live your life for her.”
“I do want to make Mom happy. I always have. That’s why I tried
so hard, pushed myself in school, academically, athletically, everything.
She had enough disappointment at home, she didn’t need any trouble
from me,” I said. “But I make my own choices. Nobody twists my
arm.” I dipped a washcloth into the water. “Lay your head back,” I
requested, a familiar scenario. I became highly skilled in grooming him
at the hospital.
“You don’t have to do this. Now that I can sit up, all I need is a mirror,”
“Oh, so you don’t like my shave?”
“I didn’t say that. What man doesn’t like being catered to?”
“Well, then lay your head back.” He did as I instructed. “I kind of
like it. Maybe I’ll become a barber, for a while.” He smiled, shaking his
head. “I even picked up a barber brush yesterday at Calvin’s. You remember,
down on Main, catty-corner to Benny’s, Calvin’s Barber Shop. ‘Hair
Today, Gone Tomorrow,’” I quoted the slogan that had been painted on
his window for years.
“Dad and I used to go there once a month to get our ears lowered.” He
grew silent with the memory. I held the moist towel to his face, allowing
it to soften his stubble before removing it, applying the shaving cream
with the brush as Calvin had instructed, softly, thoroughly. “That feels
good,” he said.
“I miss your dad. I wish he could be here, to see what you’ve done
with your life. He’d be so proud.”
“No doubt.” I worked the grain of his hair with my razor.
“Yeah, he would, wouldn’t he? He always had a way of making me feel
larger than life.” I tenderly scolded him to hold his lip still as I shaved
above it. He waited until I finished before continuing, “He’d get a kick
out of this, tomboy Harley delicately shaving my face.”
“I can get rid of the delicately,” I teased, coaxing his head toward me
with my hands. “Here, let me have the other side.” I felt his eyes on me,
watching me as I attempted to manipulate the razor skillfully, with just
enough, but not too much pressure against his skin. “When are the guys
coming out from your recon unit?”
“It’ll be a little while. They’re still on assignment,” he spoke tightlipped,
as I continued to shave him, my eyes focused on his jaw line,
freeing it of stubble. It was square, rugged, and exquisitely handsome. I
loved shaving his face. It was intimate, really. Maybe there’s something
to be said about the natural instincts of animals to groom each other. It’s
“What?” I asked, unable to ignore his eyes taking me in, as I moved
down to his neck, shaving it up toward his face with the grain.
“You still do that…with your lip, bite the inside of it when you concentrate.”
I annihilated one last stretch of stubble, wiping at the residual shaving
cream. Filling my hands with aftershave, I lightly tapped his face and
neck with the soothing concoction, my hands resting a little too long on
his face at times. I had to remind myself to pull them away.
“I missed you,” he said softly, as if the sentiment escaped his lips
without his knowing. “Sorry.” He turned his head from me, clearing his
throat. “So, why am I upstairs?” He changed the subject immediately,
looking around the room. “I mean, I’m not a nurse or anything, but even
I know the guy who can barely walk might not perform his best on a
flight of stairs.”
“There’s a method to my madness,” I assured, cleaning up the shaving
supplies. “Studies say people recover better in their natural habitat.”
“Sure,” he said, making fun, “because I didn’t live in the whole house.
I lived in my bedroom.”
“There’s a bit more to it than that.” I giggled, swatting him on the leg
with the washcloth, as I walked to the bathroom to rinse out the shaving
basin. “It’s about the feng shui, your room is perfect, it has great direction
and natural sunlight pushing through the window every morning, and it
has good energy, perfect to promote healing.” I returned to his bedside,
fluffing the pillow behind him. “Also, it’s about identification. This was
your room when you were a sweaty, hormonal, adolescent jock, strong,
indestructible, and driven. So it’s the perfect place for you to identify those feelings and use them in your recovery. You’ll need that part ofyourself when we start rehab in two weeks.”
“Two weeks? I can’t lay in this bed two more weeks.”
“You have no choice, sweet cheeks.” I chuckled at the moniker to
which he grinned, rolling his eyes. “Strict orders, no pressure on the
lower back for at least a month, two weeks in the hospital, two weeks at
home. Enjoy it while it lasts. Think of yourself as man’s best friend, your
primary tasks, eat, sleep, sit, and lie down. We’ll work on sick’em and
fetch when you get on your feet.” I smiled, pushing the button on his
bed, causing him to lie back. He grimaced slightly with the movement,
finally settling into a comfortable space.
“I think you missed your calling, Harley-girl. You would have made a
good drill sergeant, as many orders as you’re throwing around.”
I ignored his rebuttal. “What will it be this morning, a book, a movie,
video game, peace and quiet…what’s your poison?” I inquired how he
wanted to pass the time.
“How about some music? You have any songs I haven’t heard?”
“I haven’t played in a while, and my guitar is at Gram’s,” I quickly
“My old Fender is in the closet, amp and everything.”
“No way!” I helped myself to the contents of the closet. “I remember
when you guys…you, Terry, Zac and Danny…were going to start a
“Yep, we wanted to be musicians because musicians got the girls.”
“Like you needed any help with the girls,” I added, tuning the guitar.
“I do have this one I was thinking about last night.”
“Let’s hear it,” he said.
Even though I hadn’t played in a long time, I went with the riding a
bike adage, hoping my fingers would remember the chords. They did,
unsure at first, settling into the rhythm, playing my newest theme song.
Jeremiah listened intently, as I sang along:
Can’t get it right,
I’m always wrong.
Think I know what I like,
Then I want it gone.
Don’t wanna be rich,
Don’t wanna be poor.
Don’t wanna be a bitch,
Or a nice girl anymore.
Being me gets me so frustrated.
Wanna give you everything you’re missing in your life,
I just can’t get it right.
Brooklyn James: Website | Amazon | Facebook | Pandora | iTunes | Twitter
Brooklyn is giving away a copy of The Boots My Mother Gave Me. Just leave a comment!
Ends 11/17 – winner announced 11/18