NBTM & #Giveaway: The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice
#Contemporary, #Fiction, #Family, #Dramedy,
In an attempt to secure an unexpected inheritance—and hopefully find a few answers—two estranged sisters and their newly discovered brother embark on a comically surreal trip through the Deep South to retrace the life of the mother who abandoned them as infants.
On a Tuesday afternoon, sisters Jesse Chasen and Jennifer McMahon receive a phone call notifying them that their birth mother has died, leaving behind a significant inheritance. But in order to obtain it, they must follow a detailed road trip she designed for them to get to know her—and that includes finding a brother they never knew existed.
For the next week, this ill-assorted trio treks across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to meet their mother’s old friends, from circus performers to a juke joint owner, each of whom delivers a shocking vignette into the life of a young mother traumatized by loss and abuse. Along the way, these three siblings—Jesse, whose fiery exterior disguises a wounded, drifting musician stuck in a rut; Jennifer, whose carefully curated family life is threatened by her husband’s infidelity; and Jack, whose enigmatic Jackie, Oh! persona in the New Orleans drag queen scene helps him escape the nightmares of Afghanistan that haunt him at night—must confront their own demons (and at least one alligator). But in chasing the truth about their real mother, they may all just find their second chance.
This uproarious debut novel is a reminder that sometimes, the family you’d never have chosen may turn out to be exactly what you need.
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The inside of Audrey and Maudry’s was kitsch heaven. In addition to clothes and shoes, there was an ungodly amount of porcelain knick-knacks. There were also old dolls (some of them with all their limbs still attached); ancient VCR tapes of Porky’s, The Dukes of Hazzard, Joe Dirt, and God’s Not Dead 2; a velvet painting of Jesus wearing a Georgia Bulldogs football jersey; a box containing an inner thigh device call “Super Kegel”; an assortment of boxed games for girls like “American Dream Date” and “The Sassy Experience Game”; a push lawn mower; and an old Sean Cassidy and Parker Stevenson Hardy Boys poster from the 70’s.
Audrey and Maudry, identical twins in their late sixties, sat in chairs near the cash register. Audrey, wearing clothing and jewelry covered in brightly colored Chihuahuas, was knitting. Maudry was decked out in her year-round Christmas attire and was decorating a satin Christmas ball with beads and ribbons and pins from the little table next to her.
“Hello! Welcome! Come on in!” they said in sing-song unison.
Audrey’s Chinese Crested Chihuahua, a raggedy little thing with some kind of skin disease and milky eyes, growled at Sean.
“Oh, don’t mind Carlos,” said Audrey. “He’s totally blind. He doesn’t even know what he’s barking at.”
The comment obviously referenced some inside joke, because the twins looked at each other and cracked up in the same bizarre, shrill laugh. Though whether their inside joke was about Carlos, blindness, or skin disease wasn’t immediately clear. It was like the three J’s had landed on some sort of retro planet ruled by two alternate versions of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
How to Avoid the Rejection Blues
First, let me just say… you can’t. Let’s face it, rejection sucks. Whether it’s a rejection of your novel or some other creative work that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, it’s difficult not to take it personally. It is personal. But it’s important to remember that the rejection is more personal about the person doing the rejecting than it‘s personal about you. Though, at the time, it doesn’t feel like it. So go ahead and feel blue… for a minute. Then get on with your life. You have things to do. Like finding the person/people who will respond to your work.
There’s a quote that I keep hanging in my office because it always bolsters my sense of resolve in those moments when it’s flagging. It’s the Babe Ruth quote, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” It reminds me that a failed attempt is a momentary event on the path to success. It’s about perseverance in the face of disappointment. You have to keep stepping up to the plate and you have to keep swinging.
For all of you authors out there who are experiencing the rejection blues with your current manuscript, you should find solace in the fact that you’re in great company. The Great Gatsby was rejected 122 times. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times. Still Alice, after being rejected about 100 times, was originally self-published before a Simon & Schuster imprint acquired it, it became a bestseller, and Julianne Moore won an Academy Award for the film adaptation. Beatrix Potter self-published her book The Tale of Peter Rabbit for the same reason, a constant stream of rejections. One of the best-selling authors of all time, Agatha Christie, was continuously rejected for five years before getting a publishing deal. As Jack Canfield wrote, after his anthology Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times, “I encourage you to reject rejection. If someone says no, just say NEXT!”
Let the rejections roll off of you like water off a duck (or like tears rolling from the eyes of all the publishers who rejected Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.) In the meantime, if you’re having trouble shaking those rejection blues, take a short break from querying fallible agents and publishers and go outside for a hike (leave your phone at home). There’s nothing like getting out in nature for a little while to clear your head and soothe your soul. Then get back to it. You have an audience waiting to find you. And a homerun that’s one step closer.
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Allyson Rice is the author of the novel The Key to Circus Mom Highway. ("Fans of family drama, road trips, and non-stop laughs will love this cross-country adventure."–BookLife/Publisher's Weekly). She's an award-winning mixed media artist, and a producer with Atomic Focus Entertainment.
After spending many years as an actress on stage and on television, she left acting and spent the next decade running yoga/meditation retreats, women’s retreats, and creativity retreats around the country. After that, she pivoted to focus once again on her own creative work. In addition to her writing and art, she’s also a photographer (her work was most recently seen in an exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in NYC).
Some random bits of Allyson trivia: 1) She’s been skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, ziplining through a rainforest, and scuba diving with stingrays; 2) she has an extensive PEZ dispenser collection; 3) she played Connor Walsh on As the World Turns for seven years; 4) she’s been in the Oval Office at the White House after hours; 5) she’s related to the Hatfields of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud; and 6) her comedic rap music video “Fine, I’ll Write My Own Damn Song” won numerous awards in the film festival circuit and can now be seen on YouTube (https://youtu.be/7Xe3nuVDkC4).
Also available from Allyson Rice is her line of women’s coloring books (The Color of Joy, Dancing with Life, and Wonderland), and The Creative Prosperity PlayDeck, an inspirational card deck about unlocking and utilizing your creative energy in the world. She’s currently at work on her second novel and her fourth women’s coloring book. But she is most proud of being mom to musical artist @_zanetaylor.
www.AllysonRice.com (My Author Site)
www.Allyson-Wonderland.com (My E-commerce site)
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