I don't need to tell you what physical symptoms to expect.
You've quite literally read the book on those.
You recite them like a liturgy every 28-35 days
while you sit on the bathroom counter
for the longest 3 minutes of your life
and wait for the second line.
Have my breasts been tender?
Was I nauseated yesterday, or was that just nerves?
You'll know what people will say, too,
because you've read all the standard replies
on other people's announcements
and studied them like tarot cards,
picturing your own friends and family
saying them about you.
But you won't know that most of them
will stick like splinters in your heart.
You don't know the pain will take you off guard
because you've imagined hearing them
Because when people say,
"Kiss your sleep goodbye,"
they don't know
about the nights you've lost
in tears and worries and what-ifs.
They don't know that life before two lines
can be just as sleepless and stressful.
They don't know.
And when they remind you
hours of screaming and
endless dirty diapers are coming,
with the implication that you'll
wish you hadn't tried so hard,
they don't know how a part of you
still grieves for the way this baby came about.
They don't know what it feels like
to have doctors involved
in this sacred, intimate process;
no one wants prescriptions
or invasive exams
or 27.5% live birth rates
or 30-50% chances of miscarriage.
But they don't know.
They don't want to.
When they ask you
"Do you want a boy or a girl?"
and you say "just as long as it's healthy,"
and they smirk and say, "yeah, right,"
they don't know how true that is.
They don't know all you want to see
in that stormy gray and black box
is a steady thumping heartbeat,
In that moment, bows or bowties
is the last thing on your mind,
because all you can think about
is "am I that 30-50%?"
They don't know.
How could they?
When they joke about how happy you'll be
when everyone visits and wants to hold the baby
so you don't have to,
they don't know how your heart aches
to see that baby, touch it,
never let it go.
They don't know that in the quiet hours
of not-quite-night and not-quite-morning,
you press your hand to your stomach
and try to feel the plum-sized body
beat against your hand like a butterfly
because you need to know it's safe.
They don't know.
They can't possibly.
When you're finally
a member of the sorority
you've been rushing
for months or years,
this contrast between how they treated you before
and how they treat you now
is like a knife between the ribs.
Before, your story made people uncomfortable,
and not everyone wanted to hear it, and now
those who weren't with you in the valley
want to rejoice with you on the mountaintop
and they don't understand why
it takes your breath away.
They don't know.
They will never know.
Breathe in, mama.
they don't mean to hurt you,
but it's okay to feel the sting.
It's okay to feel like crap,
even though you promised yourself
you'd never be one of those women
who are pregnant and miserable.
You didn't know.
It's okay to not be happy
every second of every minute of every day.
It's okay to worry.
It's okay to cry.
It's okay to be scared.
You didn't know before.
You are two sides of the coin now.
You are the bridge between.
Title: Rightfully Ours
Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing
Tagline: A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.
Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.
Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side-by-side to uncover what could be lost treasure.
Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?
Excerpt: (If you’d prefer the excerpt in a .pdf, just let me know.)
An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.
Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.
It’s only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.
“We just passed it,” Sean said over the acid rock music blaring from the speakers. “I thought you were watching for signs. Some navigator you are.” Sean scowled and jerked the wheel to the right, causing the truck to careen onto the berm and Paul to slam into the door.
Paul rubbed his shoulder where it had smacked the door and sat upright. “I’m sorry, okay? I guess my mind wandered.” He’d swear “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” had been playing for the last half hour. He hoped to God at least one other radio station had a signal strong enough to carry over the mountain they’d crossed.
“Yeah, you’ll be sorry when we run out of gas and have to sleep in this truck.” Sean sat hunched over the wheel, his strong arms gripping the ten and two-o’clock positions. His left leg, forever encased in worn denim, bounced erratically in a rhythm out of sync with the booming bass rattling the speakers.
He pulled into a narrow gravel drive and backed the car out onto the main road, completing his three-point turn. The high beams caught a pair of glowing eyes sinking into
the underbrush on the opposite side of the road.
“We’ll get there, okay? Maybe if you’d get a GPS or something—”
“You want to pay for it, by all means, do like the commercial says and give a Garmin. Otherwise, maybe you should go back to grade school and learn to read a freakin’
Paul suddenly felt ten years younger than Sean instead of the four that separated them.
“There it is, on the right.” Paul pointed to a road sign obscured by an overgrown sumac tree.
Sean turned right, and in the space of a mile, the road went from desolate rural to brightly-lit business district.
He swung the truck into the hotel parking lot, rolling over a speed bump with a jolt that made Paul glance out the rear window to see if the pickup had lost any critical
The parking lot islands were filled with mounds of clay and not a living thing grew around the building, which
looked as if it had been assembled and dropped into place like a giant LEGO creation.
“Well, if it’s new, at least the mattresses should be good.” Sean killed the engine and shoved his keys in his pocket.
Apparently Sean had chosen to look for the silver lining, like he had when he first told Paul about this move.
“Hey, it’ll be cool.” Sean had waved a couple of employment and tourism brochures at him. “Just us. A new job for me, and when I’m off work, we can hang out. Maybe do some hiking, hunting, backpacking. Maybe meet some new people.”
What he meant, Paul thought, was that he might meet a girl--the girl—something that, despite his good looks, he hadn’t had any luck with at home in Maryland. Paul recognized he didn’t have a choice in the matter and settled for making the best of the situation. Still, he felt uneasy about the whole thing. There was a finality about it. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he sensed that this move wasn’t going to be what either of them expected.
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34597236-rightfully-ours
Amazon link (Kindle only; paperback coming Easter week): Will email when I have the pre-order link in about a week!
Book Trailer: Coming soon!
About the author:
Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop" instead of “soda," although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.
Social media links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1FyiK1v
Facebook Launch Party: Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. DST
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Thursday, April 6 Sarah Damm http://sarahdamm.com and Our Hearts are Restless heartsarerestless.blogspot.com
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One of my favorite parts of releasing a new books has to be putting together a dreamcast. This is where I sit in front of my computer for a while and sip some coffee while I scroll through actor headshots and "cast" the movie version of my new book. It's like fantasy football, but better, because I understand it. And let me tell you, guys, This Dread Road is star. studded.
So often, my reading recommendation lists are filled with novels, short stories, and other types of fiction. That's probably because I used to read fiction almost exclusively. However, more and more often I find myself delving into non-fiction. If you're looking to step into another aisle of your library or book store, allow me to make a few recommendations. Some of these are new releases, others decades old, but all are worth a try.
It's #TalismanTuesday and time to check out Episode 4 in The Talisman Chronicles by T.M. Franklin - MANTLE.
Maia Sheridan isn’t sure why her cousin and her friends are so interested in an ancient journal found buried in the library archives, but she suspects they have a hidden motive. The journal tells of a secret group called The Order—powerful warriors tasked with protecting humanity.