Writer Wednesday | “Family Matters”

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Even though loss shaped Olivia Chandler’s life, she never learned how to deal with it. Thrust into the foster care system as a child, little Livvie Chandler was told to ‘just forget’ and ‘be good.’ And for twenty-eight years, that’s what she did.

In this short snippet, Olivia finds out Willis Benson is terminally ill. The executor of her father’s will has been protector, mentor and surrogate father to the closed-off attorney.

Olivia moved on after her father’s death and her mother was sent away, but this could be the loss that sends her spiraling out of control.

***

“How long has he known?”
“Since July.”
“July?” Thoughts and images raced through Olivia’s mind. She spent time with Willis five or six times in the last four months. And never suspected a thing.
“How-”
“No one knows. Two weeks… two hours. Any answer would be a guess.”
“That’s unacceptable, Ian. His condition must tell them something. Who is this doctor? Maybe we should get a-”
“Olivia, stop.”
She frowned.
“Dad signed a DNR.”
Dizziness and nausea gripped her. Heat enveloped her body as sudden fatigue caught hold and dragged her toward the floor.
Ian was the only reason Olivia didn’t fall. He held on and propped her against the wall.
Ian spoke to her but Olivia heard no words. Her jumbled thoughts were of Willis Benson, the man in the brown suit she met as a ten-year-old. The only constant in her life since that fateful day when everything changed.
Ben Chandler planned well for his daughter’s future. But it was Willis Benson who fought for Olivia… and her mother. He risked his own job future and status in the firm to carry out Ben’s wishes.
When Olivia turned eighteen and took partial control of her inheritance, Willis was at her side. He answered Olivia’s questions and gave mild guidance, but Willis insisted she make her own decisions.
Years later when Olivia refused to visit her mother ever again, Willis accepted it and continued to stand by her.
Now Olivia needed to accept the fact if… no, when Willis suffered another cardiac episode or seizure, no life-saving measures would be taken.
He would die… and leave her.

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

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Sunday Snippet | “Family Matters”

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Near the end of In the Best Interest of the Child, heroine Olivia Chandler admitted she needed help to overcome her emotional demons and made the giant step forward to enter counseling. But the savvy child advocate attorney is too smart for her own good sometimes and nothing is ever easy with her.

This small snippet is from one of Olivia’s counseling sessions. Psychologist Diane Payton is as tough as her client and doesn’t give Olivia any slack.

***

Without a word, Diane went to her desk and retrieved the lone file from her In basket and returned to her seat.

“You have the right to review your file at anytime, Olivia, so just pretend you made a request and read the highlighted section for me please.” She passed a document to Olivia. “Aloud, please.”

Confused, Olivia found the section and began to read.

“Client is agitated and fidgets. Doesn’t maintain eye contact. Hands/palms appear to be sweaty. Voice tone is raised and speech is rapid. Almost childlike. Client is reliving the experience.”

Olivia read the passage again in silence. She frowned and looked to Diane for explanation.

“That was you as spoke of some of your former foster homes, the physical abuse you suffered, and life without your parents.”

Olivia Chandler couldn’t help but think of how horrible a childhood she had.

“Now read this one.”

Taking the document from her therapist, Olivia did as she was told.

“Client is the most relaxed I’ve seen her to date. Sitting in upright chair, legs crossed, hands clasped around knee. Her speech is animated and eyes are bright. Client appears content. (Happy?)”

“Diane, when was-”

“When you talked about Bruce.”

Olivia shook her head.

“This doesn’t prove anything.”

Her therapist smirked.

“You’re right, it doesn’t.” She leaned toward Olivia. “Or… it does.”

“She scoffed. “Now, you’re being facetious.”

“And you’re in denial.”

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

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Interview with Sarina Chandler from the upcoming “Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2)”


Good day, WordPress bloggers and authors! Today we welcome a very special guest to the blog—Sarina Chandler, from the upcoming Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2). Sarina is the mother of Books 1 & 2 protagonist, Olivia Chandler.

SC: Excuse me?

FD: Yes, Mrs. Chandler?

SC: Well… technically, I was in book 1, too.

FD: Yes, ma’am you were. But only in a flashback or two, and you weren’t… um, yourself. I thought it best to not approach the subject.

SC: Oh, please! Now you sound like my daughter, not approaching the subject! I was crazy as a loon, out of my mind, off my rocker! It’s not as if I planned it or wanted to be committed to an institution and leave my daughter.

FD: Of course not, ma’am. I’m sorry.

SC: Please call me Sarina… and I’m the one who should be apologizing. I shouldn’t have been short with you. It’s just… I’ve missed most of Olivia’s life and a big part of my own. It angers me, I just have no one to be angry with.

FD: May I ask… when did your mind begin to clear?

SC: It’s been… about a year.

FD: What was the first thing you remembered, Sarina?

SC: *Looks down, fidgets with hands* The accident.

FD: Sarina, if this is too much for you…

SC: No, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ve been silent for a third of my life. I need to talk, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to share that story first with my daughter. I owe her that… she deserves that.

FD: Not a problem, Sarina. Glad to hear Olivia is coming to see you.

SC: Well…

FD: Sarina?

SC: I don’t know for a fact she is coming.

FD: Pardon?

SC: I talked with Willis a few weeks ago. Willis Benson, the administrator of my husband’s estate. He and Olivia are close. I asked him to see if my daughter would visit me. But… it’s… been a few weeks now, and nothing.

FD: I’m sorry.

SC: Ugh! Stop apologizing already! Olivia and I were separated twenty-eight-years ago! I can’t expect her to make a quick decision for something like this.

FD: Why do you feel it’s such a difficult decision for her?

SC: Felicia, you know the last time I saw my daughter she was a ten-year-old. We had no other family and when I voluntarily came here… Olivia spent time in foster care. I’m told she last visited me five years ago… and I didn’t know who she was. I’m sure she has some resentment issues with me… and I can’t blame her.

FD: Is there a specific reason you want to see your daughter, Olivia, other than simply a mother missing her child?

SC: *Sighs* I need to apologize to her… for leaving her. While it wasn’t intentional or could have been changed, I still left her. Even if she never forgives me or sees me as her mother, I have to say the words.

FD: Why is that so important to you, Sarina?

SC: I had… issues with my parents. Before Ben and I married, I hated them. Afterward, I reached out to them for a fresh start but was ignored. I gave up, but if my mom had softened just a little and acted like she cared about me, I would have been there for her. It never happened. I don’t want to hide behind the walls of this place and allow Olivia to believe I don’t love her. I must try.

FD: I’m sure you will, Sarina. I’m sure you will. I hope Olivia decides to see you.

SC: So do I, Felicia.

FD: Thank you for visiting with us today, Sarina. I know it wasn’t easy.

SC: It’s easier than accepting I’ll never see my child again. She just has to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Child-advocate attorney Olivia Chandler has made major progress in overcoming her childhood trauma and issues with abandonment. However, her refusal to see her mother is having a negative impact on her new romance with Bruce Bellamy and everyone Olivia is close to.

Olivia enters specialized counseling for adults who suffer from childhood trauma but hinders her own progress when a major loss sends her spiraling back into the emotional comfort of the shadows in her mind.

With her sanity at risk, Olivia Chandler needs answers to break free from the traumatic stress which holds her captive, but the answers lie with the one person Olivia refuses to see.

Sarina Chandler.

Olivia Chandler’s journey continues in Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2), coming soon.

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Find out the back story.

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“In the Best Interest of the Child”

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Inside “In The Best Interest of the Child”

In The Best Interest of the Child spans nearly thirty years in the life of Olivia ‘Livvie’ Chandler.

As a ten-year-old, Olivia has the perfect little girl’s life: a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

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Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school. Determined to put her past behind her, Olivia Chandler forges ahead, burying her trauma in the deep recesses of her mind.

It will not stay there.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though, when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven-year-old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.


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“Toughen up because life’s tough.”


“Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child Book 2)”

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Olivia Chandler’s day of reckoning fast approaches.  Start her journey from the beginning!

 

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Rena Averest – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile


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Olivia Chandler’s latest client is eleven-year-old Rena Averest.

Rena and her parents were involved in a weather-related, multi-car accident. Her mother was killed and her father was severely injured and comatose for several weeks and remains hospitalized indefinitely.

Rena suffered extensive injuries and was also hospitalized for several weeks. When she was well enough to be discharged, the hospital ran into major obstacles. Her mother’s only living relative was an older brother who lived two thousand miles away. Suffering from chronic cystic fibrosis, he was unable to care for Rena and had in fact, even missed his sister’s funeral. Rena has grandparents, and two aunts on her father’s side of the family…and they want absolutely nothing to do with her.

A benevolent judge, taking into account all that Rena is currently dealing with, allows her to be placed temporarily with Courtney and Marissa Bellamy, friends of her parents since college, and Rena’s godparents. Not knowing how her father’s medical situation will resolve itself, the judge feels Rena needs the stability and familiarity of the Bellamy home. The Department of Children’s Services disagrees and take legal action to remove Rena from the Bellamy home and place her in foster care. The presiding judge spurred on by the irony of DCS wanting to remove Rena Averest from a non-relative home only to place her in a non-relative home, stays the case and appoints a child advocate attorney to research the case and protect Rena’s interest.

And that’s exactly what Olivia intends to do.

Rena Irene Averest

Age: 11

DOB: May 6, 2003

Parents: Duncan and Irene (Deceased) Averest

Siblings: None

Favorite color: Yellow

Favorite music: Todrick Hall and all songs Disney-related

Favorite Book: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Pets: A turtle named Brutus

BFF: Margie Macy

Wants to be a surgical nurse when she grows up


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Margot Schultz – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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Dynamic and vivacious Margot Schultz never met an obstacle she couldn’t overcome… or knock down. Executive assistant/office manager to Olivia Chandler, Margot always seems to know the right amount of charm, wit, and panache to use when dealing with anyone from grumpy judges to cagey Department of Children’s Service employees to Olivia’s peers – some of whom are less-than-ethical.

Early in her career, Margot worked for some of the less than-ethical-crowd. While they could be gods and magicians in the courtroom, pulling out wins from seemingly unwinnable cases, outside the courtroom was another matter. Margot could remember each and every personal errand she’d had to do, each gift she’d had to buy for multiple girlfriends and mistresses, and every lie she’d told to one of her bosses’ wives.

When Margot heard through the courthouse grapevine that the executive secretary of a successful young, female child advocate attorney was retiring for health reasons and had no replacement, she grabbed her resume, took an extended lunch and went in search of Olivia Chandler. Despite her unusual approach, Margot and Olivia clicked immediately.

The two women have worked side by side for ten years. Olivia admired Margot’s work ethic. She encouraged Margot to continue her education when time allowed, and even paid for it, calling it a ‘sound investment.’ Margot would eventually advance from executive legal secretary to executive assistant and office manager.

Margot knows Olivia has no family and was a foster care kid. She doesn’t know the intimate details, but she does know Olivia’s adolescence was bad enough for Olivia to keep herself closed off to most people. Her boss seems to ‘live’ when focused and working on a case for their minor clients. The rest of the time, Olivia just seems to exist.

The divorced office manager is not one of those people who believe a woman needs a man in her life to be complete, but Bruce Bellamy has suddenly appeared in Olivia’s life, and Margot will do her part to keep him there.

Things are going to get interesting.

 

Margot Rose (Parker) Schultz

Age: She’s not telling – but probably mid to late 40s

Born: New York, New York

Marital Status: Divorced – has adult twin sons who are both Marines

Is two classes away from a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management

Loves to dance and can be found on a dance floor most Saturday nights

Collects souvenirs from the Roaring 20s – always says she would have made a great Flapper

Plays acoustic guitar, but rarely does as it reminds her of her musician ex-husband

Is somewhat estranged from her parents and siblings since she dropped out of college nearly 30 years ago to elope with her now ex-husband


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Martin ‘Marty’ Knight – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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After their initial visit to the hospital where Rena has daily physical therapy, she and Olivia meet hospital volunteer, Martin ‘Marty’ Knight as they leave. Marty is concerned about the sadness in Rena’s eyes and tries to cheer her up as he helps her into the car. He is shocked to find out that Rena’s injuries and the death of her mother were caused by the same weather-related, multi-vehicle accident that claimed the life of his best friend, Victor Roddy.

During Marty and Rena’s conversation, Olivia finds herself staring at the man, convinced they have met before. She just cannot remember where. Marty also cast several glances in Olivia’s direction trying to figure out why she looks so familiar. His memory fails him.

As the story unfolds, Marty Knight will not only become a good friend and ‘grandfather’ to Rena, he will play a pivotal role in Olivia Chandler sorting out her past…and navigating her future.

  • Martin Eugene Knight
  • Age: 71
  • Retiree, Veteran, and Hospital Volunteer
  • DOB: October 31, 1943
  • Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Marital Status: Widower. Wife, Sarah, passed away three years ago after a difficult battle with liver cancer.
  • Sarah died two weeks after their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Has five children and eleven grandchildren.
  • A veteran of the Vietnam War. Entered the war near its beginning and served four years.
  • Received a Purple Heart and Medal Honor.
  • Enjoys building miniatures, fly fishing, and watching westerns.
  • Carries a keychain with a picture of his wife on one side, and a picture of his dog on the other. His dog passed away two months after his wife, at the age of 16. Sarah named the dog Dwight because she was convinced he looked like Dwight D Eisenhower.

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©2016 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Courtney and Marissa Bellamy – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile

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As best friends to Duncan Averest and his late wife, Irene, Courtney and Marissa Bellamy knew they would stand by Duncan. Whatever it took to help him through the loss of his wife and the serious injuries sustained by him and daughter, Rena, the Bellamys would do. And, as Rena’s godparents, of course she would live with them until her father was well enough to take care of her. They took their vows as godparents very seriously. But someone is trying to stop them. Someone is trying to keep them away from Duncan and make sure Rena gets sent into the foster care system.

Court-appointed child advocate attorney Olivia Chandler is the answer to their prayers. They’re moved by her genuineness and promise to “do right by Rena.” There is an immediate bond between the attorney and her young client, and Marissa cannot help but wonder if it has more to do with the flashes of sadness she sees in Olivia’s eyes than with simple job commitment.

The instant interest in Olivia by his cousin, Bruce, hasn’t been lost on Courtney. Abandoned by his ex-wife when their children were mere toddlers, Bruce hasn’t shown little more than a passing, casual interest in any woman since. Olivia will be spending quite a bit of time with the Bellamy family in the near future, and Courtney thinks it’s just enough time to do a bit of matchmaking. And, where you find Courtney…you find Marissa.

Let the games begin!

Courtney Ardan and Marissa Anne (Monroe) Bellamy

Met in Botany 101 during their freshman year of college

Married November 30, 1996

Two sons – Bishop, 18 and Brian, 16

Courtney works in IT/Computer Systems for the local school district, Marissa is head of Library Sciences for Hennepin County Public Libraries

Courtney (Caucasian) and Marissa (African-American) are an Interracial couple who haven’t suffered much of the disdain shown to interracial couples by some of society due to their steadfast commitment to each other and the love and total support of their families.

Bruce Bellamy – In The Best Interest of the Child – Character Profile


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A former amateur race car driver, and current owner of a successful chain of auto repair shops, Bruce Bellamy is a cousin to Rena Averest’s current caregivers. He and Olivia meet for the first time when she gives Rena a ride home from physical therapy, and he is there trying to diagnose the problem with his cousin’s car.

Bruce is instantly smitten with the attorney. Her voluptuous body pulls him right in, but it’s the guarded sadness in her eyes that propels him to get to know her. She has a beautiful smile, and he thinks she should use it more often.

The easy going business owner has been alone for nearly two decades, when his ex-wife walked away from him and their four children in search of a more affluent lifestyle. Her callous, mercenary heart caused him to close his off, and he’s not been in a relationship since, nor had any involvement with women worth mentioning, choosing instead to concentrate on raising his children and making his business successful. So when Olivia gets his attention, the entire Bellamy clan takes notice, and proceeds to help him win her over.

Having spent her adult life avoiding romantic entanglements, Olivia knows she’s walking a tight rope by allowing Bruce to get too close. Rena’s case has brought Olivia’s childhood back to the forefront of her mind, making her believe she has nothing to offer Bruce.

He seems to think otherwise.

Bruce Ambrose Bellamy
Age: 42
DOB: June 28, 1972
Place of Birth: Duluth, Minnesota
Divorced
Has four (adult) children
Owns a chain of successful auto repair shops
Loves ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Married with Children’ reruns
Has a BA and MA in Business earned while attending night, and online classes
Hates golfs and considers it pointless
Loves football and is a diehard Minnesota Vikings Fan


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