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Guest Author - Linda Rondeau

Today we have guest author Linda Rondeau, talking a little about her new release America II: The Reformation and answering other questions I threw at her :)

Hi Linda,

 How did you come up with your premise? Is there a story behind your book? How did the story evolve?

I have a career in Social Work that spanned nearly three decades. I saw sociological trends that troubled me. If these trends continued and if the world faced another dark age, what would be the logical outcome? War, pestilence. Then the world would want unite as one. Since religion is currently viewed as outmoded, a future world might very well blame religion as the causal factor for all the unpleasantness. Hence, America II: The Reformation came into being.

For those who are not familiar with this story, would you please give us the blurb?

Following unprecedented climatic changes, resultant pestilence and war brought the world into chaos. Eventually, each nation surrendered its sovereignty to form a global democracy, initially known as The Accord. However, the democratic government proved too weak and was soon replaced by a faux democratic rule. 

The year is 2073, and current governor of Western America Province, Edwin Rowlands, is poised to become the Constitutional Government’s second president. Many fear that the sweeping reforms found in his proposed Preservation Act will set him up as a dictator. If enacted, defection both past and present would become a crime punishable by death, thus bringing all outlands into crushing subjection.

While most believe reform is critical, factions disagree on how to prevent the Preservation Act from becoming law. Ahmed Farid, second President, believes reform can be managed within the existing government. Leader of the Revolutionary Army, Jimmy Kinnear, trusts only in military intervention. However, Jacob Goodayle, Chairman of Western America’s illegal outland government, favors separatism.

As tensions rise, civil war seems imminent. Who will be the voice of reason in a world on the verge of a third dark age?

Are there any fun tid-bits about this story you can share with us?

Many of the predictions in America the Second are already showing signs of coming true.

How did you decide on the setting?

Much of the story takes place in Western America, set in what we now know as Colorado. I chose this setting as the west is identified as a symbol of rugged individualism, something that was lost in the global government and sought by dissidents who formed the Network, an illegal government located in the Western America Outland. 

When will it be released?

The book is already available in ebook wherever ebooks are sold. The print edition is scheduled for July 1.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you or you witnessed that made you laugh so hard you couldn’t catch your breath?  I attached a story Angel On a Super Market Bench for your use…a time when laughter saved me from going over the edge.

What hidden talent do you possess outside of writing... something you do for fun, but are good at? I belonged to a community theatre group for thirty years. I have played all kinds of roles…from heroine to villain and points in-between. I love drama and have served as drama coach for several churches. I’m currently investigating theatre opportunities in my new community, Jacksonville, Florida.

Name some of your most favourite things.

Lemon drops, chocolate ice-cream, watching a movie with hubby, taking walks with hubby, golf, and my cat, Duffer.

Why did you begin writing?  How long have you been writing?  I’ve written stories since I was in elementary school and as a hobbyist for years. Not until June 21, 2000 did I pursue professional writing.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Start small with stories, poems, articles, essay. Don’t be in a hurry to self publish. Though it is a viable alternative, too often writers are desperate for publication but have not honed their craft sufficiently. Like aging cheese and fine wine, quality takes time to develop.

When you write do you start with a plot outline, a character sketch, how do you begin? How do you stay on course?  My stories grow in my head before I write the first word. Then I develop a synopsis, a beginning, middle and end and my primary characters. Then I start my story, and generally my first draft is a very long synopsis, then I layer the story. Second draft I work on plot, characterization, consistency, dialogue and all the elements. Fourth and fifth draft, I tweak and fine tune. I have probably edited several times within each draft or revision.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?
 My first book was written under the title of Dawn’s Hope, an estate within the book. The publisher changed the title based on an important line in the book. America II: The Reformation was titled as I envisioned the spirit of America coming alive again in a post apocalyptic world. The story parallels the development of the original 13 colonies and their struggle for independence.  My current work in progress, another Adirondack suspense, was titled after the translation of Adirondack, a Native American Word meaning Tree Eaters.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Describing the settings accurately and determining where settings should be. God was good. I became stuck as to where I should situate a subculture called The Treasure Keepers, those outcast clerics who risked their lives to salvage religious heritage. I happened to turn the television on to the travel channel and there it was…Carlsbad Caverns…which then became part of the Sierra Province in my future world.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It just took me awhile to get there.

Do you hate how you look in pictures?  Yes!

What’s a saying you use a lot?  Well there you go!

Have you ever cried during a movie?  All the time. Bambi still makes me cry.

What is your favourite pizza?  Meat lovers

If you could go anywhere to tomorrow, where would you go?  Hug my grandchildren in Washington, D.C area and New York City.

If you could see anyone tomorrow (dead or alive), who would it be? Jesus, of course. 

By Linda Rondeau

I put the misappropriated toy gun back on the shelf. Feigning patience, I corrected my son’s impulsiveness. “No, John. Ask first.” At three years old, he should know better than to put things into the grocery cart without my permission. Then, I continued my grocery shopping wishing for a miracle, to forget, at least for one day, that I was destitute.
A divorced, unemployed mother of three pre-school children, I believed, until that morning, I had already sunk to the bottom. The mail brought with it an eviction notice. Now I faced homelessness on top of despair. I’d achieved the impossible, a new depth from which to wallow.  
Self pity filled me. What had I done to deserve these troubles?
I’d been a model tenant, paying my rent on time, my home spotless. I even waxed my floors on a weekly basis. My landlady claimed she needed the apartment for a family member who would be moving to town and assured me the eviction was due to no fault on my part. No fault except that I lived in space she thought she needed more than I did.
Humiliation pricked me like a thousand sewing needles. I didn’t blame my landlady, at least not intellectually. If in her shoes, I’d have done the same. And I’d have gone on my merry way believing my good tenant should have no problems in finding another place to rent. And, like her, I’d have given that tenant a letter of reference. But finding an affordable apartment with my limited resources in a safe neighborhood posed challenges beyond my scope of solvability.
Tomorrow lay before me like an unwritten movie script, but I knew the logline: A divorced woman and her three children huddle together in a cardboard box.  
I’d despised my life as a welfare Mom, but held some gratitude that the subsidy check had arrived the same day as the eviction notice. At least we’d hit the streets well fed.
I shrugged my shoulders and prayed that God would somehow work a miracle on my behalf. But my sour mood trenched in, disbelief my war buddy.
The luxury of a babysitter was not in my budget. I bundled up my brood and headed to the supermarket, mentally checking my list and laboring over which items I might be able to scratch off – my resources insufficient to cover the long list of needs. I could forego the floor polish. I wouldn’t be able to wash and wax the street.  
Putting the baby in one cart, I lifted the other two children into another and pulled it behind me. I choo-chooed my way through the supermarket, a maternal steam engine with a trailing caboose. Engrossed in my immediate labors, I’d examine an item, look at my list, and put it in the cart only to take it back out and in again. How could I decipher if toilet paper were more critical than toothpaste?
Steeped in my depressive state, I hadn’t given a thought how the sight might appear to someone else. I unglued my eyes from the list just in time to witness John lean over his cart and dump a handful of candy bars into mine.
My howls echoed through the store like canyon winds. “What are you doing! Don’t even think you’re getting candy.”
 Feeling like Snow White’s evil step-mother, I heaved the treats back on the shelf with one huge huff of indignation, letting my anger dam the flood of tears ready to burst through my steeled exterior. Even so, wet trickles slid down my cheeks as John’s little face turned from rosy innocence to gray fright, his wails even louder than my reprimands.
As if pulled out of myself I could see myself screaming. I caught the elongated, disapproving glance of the woman five feet down our aisle. I saw myself in frozen ugliness, the reactions of nearby customer’s disapprovals flickering like flashes from a B-rated horror film.  I wondered if this was what a nervous breakdown looked like.
From somewhere, staccato-like bursts of joy pierced the nightmarish scene. I reeled to find their source. No one around accept a near hysterical, rotund man, a department store Santa type even sporting a long white beard and black boots but sans the red suit.  He bowled over, holding his middle, gifting the floor with his peals of laughter, his antics in sync with my real time while the shadows around us continued in slow-motion.
Initially, I raged within to think anyone could so obtusely enjoy my pain. As I passed from participant to observer, surveying the surreal, I felt a growing pressure in my abdomen.  I fought the emotion as I scanned the absurdity surrounding us.  But, within seconds of the sight of him, my own gurgles of laughter sprayed the atmosphere like a happy geyser.   
I don’t know how long time stood still for the near Santa look-alike and me. But when the bustling resumed and I returned to the here and now, my mood had miraculously transformed from bitterness to hope. In that instant, despair fled and a cotton-cloud of peace hovered over me. I didn’t know how, but I knew we’d find suitable living arrangements. Even if a less desirable neighborhood would be our lot, the God of Love would watch over us.
Nothing life sent our way could take away my faith.  
I gathered up the rejected candy bars and cradled them back to my cart.
“Just because I love you,” I said, and kissed my child on the top of his head. Beams of delight replaced the horror in his eyes. Soon harmonious giggles filled the air as we careened toward the checkout.
But, shouldn’t I thank the large-bellied man for his gift? His amusement, whether intended or not, had brought me from the teetering edge of desperation to an appreciation of all that was still good in my life. Laughter reminded me that my children and our times together should be the stuff of my conscious stream, not the reams of disappointments that would come and go in this life.
Perhaps I might be powerless against a deserting spouse or a greedy landlord, but I did have the power of choice to believe or not believe. I could let circumstances devour my faith, or I could hold onto it as precious gold.
 I’d been taught since childhood that God loved me and had a plan for my life. But I’d never dared believed its truth. I wanted to let him know how much his laughter had changed my world.
I looked for him in the place I last saw him. An empty seat was all I could find. I wandered the aisles, but his pot-bellied frame had evaporated into another realm.
 I’d heard that God sometimes sends his angels to us at odd times, in odd places, and perhaps in the form of an obese elderly man on a supermarket bench. Had I been so graced?
I won’t know this side of heaven for sure. But whenever I drift into a woe-is-me attitude, the image of that jolly, fat elf never fails to turn my mindset back to joy.   

You can find Linda here

Also writing as L.W. Rondeau
The Other Side of Darkness with Pelican Ventures
Coming Soon:  America II:The Reformation with Trestle Press
     Blogs: This Daily Grind
          Geezer Guys and Gals
          Pentalk Community


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