Friday, February 26, 2016

GUEST POST: Carolina Rose by Rafael Rivera

Carolina Rose by Rafael Rivera

Title: Carolina Rose
Author: Rafael Rivera
Genre: Family Saga, Coming of Age, Suspense
Length: 362
Release Date: February 5, 2016
ISBN: 978-1523605385
Imprint: Black Hawk
Synopsis: When Wilma, an innocent daughter of a well-known moonshiner of Cherokee Indian descent, tired of the mundane life in rural South Carolina ventures out with her girlfriend at the local bar, an unexpected encounter with Joe, a young and handsome Marine corporal on leave, spirals into a whirlwind romance, an intense family saga with tragic consequences ensue and family secrets exposed set the tone for this commercial fiction novel, Carolina Rose.

Read an except of the opening chapter of Rafael Rivera's Caroline Rose...

Another scorching South Carolina afternoon has passed. The heat and humidity inside the small, wooden shanty was too much for Donna to bear. In a far corner, an inefficient electric fan sits on a makeshift stand swaying back and forth in a monotonous and pendulous motion. The fan's dusty blades moved the balmy, hot air without relief. 
She became intolerant of her sticky, sweaty skin. Donna grabbed an old towel, went outside directly to the well, and pumped cool, refreshing water into a bucket. She cupped both hands, splashed her face several times, and patted her forehead and cheeks. At best, a temporary solution and relief from the heat. Then, she poured water over her arms to get rid of the sticky sweat. Again, she cupped more water with one hand and splashed her armpits. This time she cupped both hands together shaped like a bowl in order to drink the cool water, quenching her thirst. She refilled the bucket and with her eyes closed, dumped the entire bucket full of water over her head. A smile of contemplation and joy came over her face, the kind of smile seen on a small child eating an ice cream treat. 
Donna looked like a wet dog with all her hair in wet strands. Her thin blouse was stuck to her skin and her bra completely visible. Donna dried herself off with the towel as she walked back into the house and into her bedroom. She took off her wet clothes, dried herself again, and changed into a pair of shorts and sleeveless shirt. It was not a hard choice, which outfit to pick, since she had such a limited wardrobe. Inspecting her face for any signs of pimples and blemishes, she stared at herself in the mirror and moved her face from side to side. Satisfied with the results, she then applied red lipstick and brushed her hair almost obsessively. 
She applied makeup in order to attract male admirers at the local watering hole, a place she frequents on a regular basis and her respite from the mundane life of rural Orangeburg. The watering hole, called Lucky 8’s, is a roadside roughneck bar within walking distance of her house, a place where the many male patrons kept her in free drinks. 
On her way out the door, Donna yelled at her mother that she was going out, and proceeded to walk down the side of the dusty road in the direction of Lucky 8’s. As she walked, Donna saw a neighbor and a friend, a girl much younger than her. Wilma is Donna's only neighbor down this stretch of road. 
“Hey, Wilma!” 
“Hey, Donna!" Wilma replied as she waved her hand hello. 
"What are you up to? And, where are you going all dolled up? Got a hot date tonight?” Wilma asked with an inquisitive smile and look. 
“Hell no,” replied Donna. “Besides, there ain’t no boy in this stinking town that I'm interested in! Same guys from high school, rednecks, or married guys looking for a one night stand.” 
“I’m going to Lucky 8’s. There’s a band playing tonight from out of town. God knows it’s better than staying in that tin can of a house. It’s hotter than a welder’s ass in there.” Donna wiped the beads of sweat off her forehead and between her visible cleavage. 
“Come on Wilma. Let’s go together. We can get in for free. I know the bouncer. You know Jimbo from the gas station. He moonlights there. He’s a little sweet on me.” 
“And, all we have to do is bat our eyes and smile pretty. All the guys will buy us beer all night long. Besides, they have a big fan inside so we can cool off.” 
“Damn Donna, I’m only sixteen and I know that you ain’t legal yet.” 
“Who cares? There’s nothing else to do in this shit hole of a town on a Friday night.” 
“Ok,” replied Wilma. “Are you sure we can get in?” 
“Hell, yes! Just follow my lead.” 
Walking through the rows of pickup trucks parked on the unpaved, red clay lot, Wilma and Donna approached the front entrance of Lucky 8’s. 
“There’s Jimbo over there. We’re in luck, no line! We can get in easy.” 
“Hey, Jimbo.” Donna smiled like a Cheshire cat and performed a southern curtsy. 
“How are you doing tonight?” 
“I’m great now that you two fine ladies are here. You two here to listen to the band?” 
“Yeah,” Donna replied. “But we have a little problem. We're a little short on cash tonight...” 
Jimbo rubbed his chin while chewing on a slug of tobacco. “What the hell, just go on in. What are friends for? And, do me a favor, don’t tell anyone you two didn’t pay the cover charge.” 
“Ok,” they replied. 
“You know the manager will have my balls,” he quipped while simultaneously grabbing his crotch with his right hand. 
Donna turned around with her big smile and zippered her lips shut with an imaginary lock at the end of her lips and threw away the key. “By the way, Thanks. I’ll save a dance for you.” Jimbo chuckled and under his breath said, "Yeah, right!" 
The pair entered the smoke filled honky-tonk usually frequented by truckers, rough necks, and the local hell-raisers. Donna turned to Wilma and said, discretely, “Hey, there’s new blood in town tonight.” 
As they walked by, both women turned some heads, noticed immediately by the male patrons, especially by a young Marine corporal in dress blues and shiny brass. He was spit shined from head to toe. 
Wilma noticed the corporal's approving smile. Donna whispered in Wilma’s ear, “new blood in town!” Then, she laughed. “He seems to have fancied you right off. Let him make the first move. Let’s sit over there so your Marine admirer doesn’t have far to walk.” Wilma and Donna sat at a table close to the young Marine, chatting idly, smiling, giggling to each other in low voices. 
Almost immediately the locals made their presence known by offering to buy drinks and spouting corny pick up lines. The young corporal, the one the girls had taken seats near stood up and walked over to their table. 
“Hello, my name is Joe. Joe McCloud. May I sit join you ladies?” 
Almost in unison, both girls blurted out, “sure!” 
Joe pulled out the chair, sat comfortably, and signaled the bar maid to come over. 
“My name is Donna and this is Wilma.” Joe nodded his head, acknowledging both of them with a large smile. Both of the girls were impressed that he had a full set of teeth. 
“Where are you from?” 
“I’m from Columbia.” 
“Just passing through these parts or did you come to hear the band play?” 
“Neither,” Joe expressed. “I’m waiting on a friend. We're both on leave. We just got back from Okinawa.” 
“Oh, so you’re war heroes?” 
“I wouldn’t say that. We’re just lean, mean, green, well-trained killing machines.” Joe with a slight chuckle amused by his own self-description. He raised the empty beer mug in his hand, as if toasting himself. 
“And, you’re modest, too. Hmm, a silver-tongued devil.” Donna laughed at her comment since she was good with playful, verbal judo. Donna was aware that Wilma was shy and her way of breaking the ice. 
“So Joe, what’s your friend’s name?” 
“Sam Skeeter. You know him? He’s from Orangeburg. He's visiting his parents here, but he should be here soon.” 
“I remember a boy named Skeet from high school. He played on the football team. Is he a redhead, with freckles, slight over bite?” 
“Yeah, that's him,” replied Joe. 
“Speak of the devil. Your friend walked through the door.” 
The bar maid approached their table. “What would you all like to drink?” 
Joe stated, “We’ll start off with a pitcher of Miller.” 
Joe waved at Skeet. Skeet returned the wave and moved his way through the crowd as if negotiating a minefield. 
Joe stood up, shook hands with Skeet, and introduced him to the girls.

Rafael Rivera on the Idea Behind Carolina Rose

The creation of Carolina Rose was a long process. An enormous amount of research was performed in order to match the novel’s timetable with the same timetable of actual and historical events. For example, when Eight Ball warns Grandpa to be careful because the brothers are still upset about the Orangeburg Massacre months before, the time frame of Grandpa’s incarceration was exactly months after the actual real event massacre took place. The novel is embedded with many of these historical facts.
Some facts are well known while others are obscure and many will say it gives South Carolina a black eye. For instance, many have heard and read about the Kent State University Massacre. I did in history class. But, how many have ever heard about the Orangeburg Massacre?
However, it is the truth, and sometimes the truth is best kept under the rug to avoid embarrassment. On the other hand, there are facts and places that make South Carolina attractive to tourists. Places like the Edisto River, Lake Murray, Edisto Memorial Gardens are tourist attractions. I chose to include real events to give the story a sense of realism, to engage the reader to want more, and most importantly for the reader to read the novel without yawning.
The novel is written using Southern colloquialism and jargon indicative of the specific era in which the novel takes place. You would not expect a dirt farmer with a 6th grade education to speak or write like a Harvard graduate and vice-versa. Jeff Foxworthy would not be comical if he did not use his Southern drawl in spoofing rednecks. Until I lived in the South, when I was asked about grits, I thought they where asking about a grade of sandpaper and not about a corn grain.
One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, gave me the inspiration and idea to use realism. I am not Mark Twain, by no means. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain used realism effectively.
Many of the places talked about in the novel are real. One such place is Dukes Bar-B-Que in Orangeburg. I personally ate there with my ex girlfriend, who is a native of Orangeburg. I do have to say that “they have “darn” good BBQ!”
Many chapters were written based on my personal experience and knowledge in the Marine Corps and being a registered nurse and respiratory therapist. So those chapters were easier to write and compile. While others took a long time to write in order to make the characters real and interact with the other characters in a manner that kept the story going in the direction I had outlined.
Humor is included to give the reader a chuckle here and there. The use of metaphors adds to the humor. Foreshadowing makes you think about events that may happen in the future.
The novel has an underdog who may or may not come out on top. Many antagonists exist and poetic justice seems almost impossible. You have to read the book to find out. 
Rafael Rivera on the Characters of Carolina Rose
The theme for Carolina Rose is centered on roses. Rose is a flower and also the name of one of the main characters in the story. A red rose symbolizes love. Wilma was fascinated by the number of types and colors of roses in the Edisto Memorial Gardens. So naturally, Wilma named her daughter Rose.
A rose has a thorny stem to protect it from insects. Rose has a thorny stem exterior disguised as amnesia. The amnesia shelters and protects Rose from the traumatic events that almost caused her death. Also, the amnesia is her coping mechanism to hide the truth about who her attacker really is. Rose’s life is portrayed from her conception, birth, and maturation into a strong and determined adult female. Rose is goal oriented and has a deep sense of justice which drives her to seek revenge with an eye for eye mentality.
Wilma, Rose’s mother, is a young and innocent woman with only a 6th grade education. She is stuck in the poverty cycle prevalent in rural South Carolina and is widowed at an early age. Now a single mother, she becomes dependent on her parents for support. And, all are living in a small sharecropper’s shack. She is the epitome of the extremes that a mother will go to protect her child from danger. Wilma fell victim and trapped in an abusive relationship which she endured many trials and tribulations until she snapped.
Grandpa, a pivotal character in this story, is Rose’s grandfather and her only male role model. He is a full-blooded Cherokee Indian who teaches Rose many skills that she will find useful later on in life, skills that will enable her to compete in a male dominated world. He is by nature a quiet and low key individual. Dirt farmer by trade, he subsidizes his meager income by making moonshine. His special skill is envied by other moonshiners. When he makes his batches, he is like a scientist in a laboratory with meticulous precision.
Donna is Wilma’s neighbor and friend from down the road. She is slightly older than Wilma and a free spirit. Donna is witty, adventurous, and tomboyish.
Joe, Wilma’s husband, is a young and dashing Marine corporal. He is driven by a deep sense of honor, but rebellious against his overbearing mother. He is smitten by Wilma’s innocence and falls in love with her almost instantly. Deployment to Vietnam, creates many hardships in their relationship, but their commitment to each other overcome their difficulties. Joe comes from a privileged background and shuns a privileged life style to escape his mother’s control.
Calhoun, Joe’s twin brother, is a well educated Vanderbilt graduate. He is an aspiring politician and the middle man between his mother and brother. Calhoun has a close relationship with Joe, but does not take sides. He only tries to mediate their differences as any politician would do. He never marries and everyone speculates if it is because he was jilted by a previous lover or that he is covering up a deeper secret that could possibly ruin his career.
Katherine, Joe and Calhoun’s mother, is an overbearing matriarch who is vindictive when her wishes are not honored. Her only interests are power, wealth and status. Katherine has a nebulous past and whispers about her husband’s suicide still circle around the country club elites. The rumor that Katherine might have actually killed her husband and staged it as a suicide has been the gossip for years. Katherine is the updated and older version of Scarlett O’Hara.
Jeb, local bar owner and one of Grandpa’s moonshine client, is under constant ATF surveillance and a career criminal. When push comes to shove, he will do anything to avoid going to jail.
Bubba, Wilma’s 2nd husband and Rose’s stepfather, is a long haul truck driver who thinks he is a casa nova. He is a typical redneck bully with an obnoxious loud mouth and braggart. Bubba is a sore loser when gambling and has a diabolical secret that he has been able to maintain for decades. As an angry drunk, he likes to pick fights to prove his manhood and eventually he gets an unexpected whoop ass.
Warden Wilson, warden for CCI, is an entrepreneur with many side line deals. On the outside, he appears refined in his tailored suits, but uses the prisoners at CCI to attain his financial goals. With his influence, he takes a special interest in Grandpa’s moonshine making skills and requests that he be incarcerated at CCI.
Eight Ball, prison cook at CCI, is serving a life sentence for murder. He killed three Caucasian men in self defense, but an all white jury found him guilty. He is a victim of the social injustices of that time. Eight Ball befriends Grandpa and an ironic relationship develops between them.
Jimbo, a bouncer at Lucky 8’s, is Donna’s friend and often does not charge her the cover charge to enter.
Ruth, a socialite, was Calhoun’s ex-girlfriend. Rumor is that she broke Calhoun’s heart when she married a bank executive. Ruth was the woman that Katherine chose for Calhoun to marry. The fact that she married another man was Calhoun’s salvation or was he really heart broken?
Author Bio: Mr. Rivera is a registered nurse and registered respiratory therapist. He is an alumni of Auburn University, Mercer University, Excelsior College and Ga. State University with MS Management, MS Health Care Adm, BS Nursing, BS Health Care Science and BS Building Construction degrees. He is a former US Marine reservist and grew up as a military brat with extensive travel overseas. 
His hobbies include shooting, martial arts (Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do, Aikido and Jiu Jistsu) and being an extra in movies and pilot series. He was an extra in the new TV series Complications on USA network.
Previous publications include: Men Can Be Neanderthals, Utilization of Just-In-Time Principles in the Construction Industry. Wrote two rap songs: Gangsta Wannabe (i tunes) and soon to be released Full Auto.
Carolina Rose is his first commercial fiction novel with two additional working titles and a non-fiction.

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