Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blog Tour: Always There by Carol Ann Albright-Eastman

We are super excited to welcome the author of Always There, Carol Ann Albright-Eastman, to our blog today!!!

For readers who loved The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, or The Shack.

“People walked up the front steps of the funeral home, preparing themselves to see the grieving orphaned children of the woman who passed, but what did they find instead? The youngest orphaned child was snacking on a Quarter Pounder with cheese, drinking a medium Diet Coke, and laughing in a chair with her friends.”

In this fresh, poignant novel, Always There, Shelby Lynn LeeMaster grapples with her recent “orphaned” life and how to let down her guard to fully experience true love, allowing it in to her heart without fear. The mother, Betheny LeeMaster, struggles with dying before she could teach and guide her children into adulthood. The daughter cannot break from her own fears, while the mother cannot forgive herself for leaving her children too soon. The different narrators, the mother in Heaven and the daughter on Earth, tell their stories in alternating chapters. Can the two women reconcile their fears and remorse being worlds and lifetimes apart?

Eastman’s honesty explores the tragic ending to a mother-daughter relationship, revealing the pain a motherless daughter experiences. The two vantage points allow the reader to find a connection with the mother and/or the daughter, personalizing the loss that a dying mother and grieving daughter often face. The novel portrays the truth behind the death of a loved one, while glorifying the mystery of Heaven, proving that love does not die when a person does. The channels of love are still open, going in both directions. Love goes on when life does not. The novel bridges the tragic with the comedic, giving audiences a lighter, more enjoyable, sentimental read. You will laugh while you cry, and cry while you laugh, but in the end, you’ll hug your loved ones for dear life.

My Review:
Wow!! Always There really touched a part of my soul that has been buried underneath my strong armor suit for a year now. I lost my dad last October and I connected with the youngest daughter, Shelby Lynn, on a very personal level. This book had me crying... and I mean ugly, scrunched-up face, tears flowing down my cheeks, snorting cry... within minutes of reading it. I haven't felt this type of personal connection to a story in a LONG time... if ever!! I give Always There a solid 5 stars on the knock my socks off chart! It is a must read and will have you emotionally raw before chapter 2!

Always There is a heart touching, soul grabbing, emotional roller coaster of a story about three adults who have lost every single family member they have... LITERALLY!! They lose both of their parents and then all 5... yes 5 of their aunts that were left by their mother to raise them throughout their lifetime. Shelby Lynn, the youngest of the three was only a child (10) when her father passed, then a very young adult (20) when she lost her mother. She has developed an extremely thick shell to protect her heart and this story describes her hurt, pain,and even joy throughout the ordeal of dealing with death.  Always There takes us on Shelby's journey of losing all of her loved ones.. besides her siblings.. and finding love. Her story had me crying, laughing, snort laughing... and crying some more! I fell in love with this book and highly suggest it as a MUST READ!!

Being the oldest child in my own family and the only girl, I connected with Shelby Lynn because she feels like she has to put on a front so no one really sees how broken she is inside. Her story really broke my heart and tore at my soul more than I thought it would when I agreed to review this book. While reading it almost felt as a form of therapy for me... I found myself in agreement at times and yelling at my iPad "So what if that is what she wants to do to grieve!!" But then I would be so sorrowful and broken hearted feeling like it was me there experiencing my Daddy's death all over again. Always There definitely is one of those books that you need to read and let yourself feel that emotion. Everyone will lose someone dear to them at some point in their life... it helps to know that there are ALWAYS people THERE that have felt the same thing as you. Kudos Carol Ann Albright-Eastman... you are my new hero!!

Guest Post:
“Take 1”
A true story by Carol Ann Albright-Eastman
Ever since I read Peggy Parrish’s children’s chapter book,The Haunted House, in second grade, I was hooked. I loved reading. Weekly trips to the library were usually the highlight of my week. Let’s be honest, I had a humdrum elementary-school life. But who doesn’t, really? However, once I hit seventh grade, I started to get “the bug,” the writing bug of course.  

My seventh grade teacher assigned us a short storyto write. It was required to have all of the elements of a short story and accurately follow the short story map, complete with a plot, conflicts, and a climax. I worked on my story for days, feeling great pride when I turned it in, because I learned that I not only loved reading, but writing was quickly becoming a love as well. After turning in my story, I had visions of becoming a writer, sitting by an ocean and creating stories of fascinating people, faraway places, and fictitious events. I couldn’t wait to find out what my teacher thought of the story. I was well on my way to a lucrative and exciting career, as a world-renowned seventh grade novelist.

Imagine my dismay and woe when my teacher put my story in a goldenrod envelope, sealed the top, and told me to deliver to my guidance counselor. I was told to wait outside his office while my guidance counselor read my short story. Terrified, I sat waiting, wondering what I’d done wrong. I ended up having an hour-long meeting with two guidance counselors, while my mother was on speaker phone, convincing all three adults that I wasn’t “depressed” or that I wasn’t “screaming for help.”  

Finally, when the adults were convinced I wasn’t in a dark, dismal place, and on the verge of “offing” myself, I was sent back to classes. The next day, my English teacher requested that I write a new story. Therefore, I wrote a story about a chubby little girl who worked really hard and made the cheerleading squad after years of not making it. I got an “A” on the cheerleading story.  

What was the original story about, you askOf course, I’m going to tell you; I’d never leave you hanging like that.

Four high school boys decided to take beer from their dad’s refrigerator in the garage. The boys, who I’m sure had names at the time, drank all of the father’s beer, becoming highly intoxicated. They did a few crazy, “vandalesque, outdoor things, like knocking on people’s doors then running away and even writing profanity on people’s cars with shaving cream. Then, one of the boys decided that he wanted a stop sign for his bedroom. The boys worked hard until they removed the stop sign and mounted in the kid’s bedroom.

The boys were proud of their theft and even more excited that they’d gotten away with the crime. Each day, the one boy marveled at his stop sign and how easy it was to steal.  

Weeks later, the city still hadn’t replaced the stop sign. One night, a man in a big truck drove through the intersection where the stop sign was supposed to be. The truck was traveling at a fast speed and crashed into a small car, killing the two drivers immediately.The drivers were the boy’s parents.  

That was the story! It was irony at its finest. Apparently, my school did not appreciate the application of that particular literary device in my short story. Personally, I found it brilliant. But that is what all writers need to learn and acceptthere is no way to please everyone with your writing.There are always going to be people who don’t love what you write. Writers just have to develop some thick skin and move on, which is often easier said than done.  

About The Author
Carol Ann Albright-Eastman is a wife and mother of four, crazy, adorable, incorrigible, intelligent, kind, and athletic children. She’s taught high school English for fifteen years. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from The Ohio State University, a teaching license and a communications minor from the University of Akron, and holds a Master’s in Education from the University of Akron. Eastman spends the majority of her time grading papers, reading, but not as voraciously as other “indie” authors and their devout followers, watching her sons play baseball (or whatever seasonal sport they’re in at the time), negotiating futilely with a toddler, and falling deeper in love with her husband every day. Eastman is a motherless and fatherless daughter, but a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t think of them.

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  1. This sounds like a really good book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Hi Carol, thanks for the giveaway, Just wanted to say i love the blog its very cool! Cant wait to see who wins the giveaway

  3. I can't wait to read this book. A lot of people have been giving it awesome reviews.

    It's on my TBR list :)

    Thanks for the giveaway Carol Ann :)


    1. Opsie wrong email :S


  4. Your book look's really good..Tanks for the chance to win..
    Tina M

  5. Looks like a great book, Carol! Can't wait to read it!