Random Ramblings (Blog)

Book Review: The Real Thing

Thanks to Chick Lit Central for supporting authors and readers, and for taking the time to review THE REAL THING in 2016.


By Sara Steven via Chick Lit Central

Having read and reviewed Waking Up Joy, also by Tina Ann Forkner, I was looking forward to her latest novel, delving deep into the world of cowboys and rodeos, and the women who are the support system to that lifestyle. There is so much that goes into it, not only from a relationship perspective, but also from a celebrity perspective. In many circles, Keith Black is famous. Being the wife of a well-known saddle bronc cowboy isn’t always easy, especially when Manda is dealing with baggage from her own past.

What starts out as an adjustment period for Manda, quickly turns into much more than she could have ever bargained for, when the missing ex-wife suddenly becomes the forefront of the family circle, a circle Manda has been working hard at solidifying. I felt as though the circumstances surrounding the break-up between Keith and his first wife was shocking, something I’d have never imagined. Definitely outside the box, but believable and relatable…

Finish Reading this Post at Chick Lit Central by Clicking Here: Book Review: The Real Thing

Life is Beauty

I thought about doing a little bit of photo editing before posting this picture, or not posting it at all, but I decided to go with it — shiny face, awkward smile, and all. That goofy look on my face says, “Yes, I am her mom and I’m so proud!”

I have tons of pictures like this one that I don’t usually post, because, I admit it, I don’t want a bad picture of myself out there any more than anyone else. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Why do we want to edit our lives and show the world a different story than we are actually living? dsc_0746When I look at this picture, I think, who cares what I look like when I’m next to my smart, beautiful, and talented daughter? The last thing I want is for her to think that how she looks in her picture is more important than her amazing life, but it’s a message she receives from media every day. According to my mom it might be worse now due to social media, but it has always been that way.

Recently, Mom and I had a lengthy discussion about whether or not to post a certain picture of her on Facebook. I thought it was a beautiful picture of her while she thought it was unflattering. Then, she finally said, “Oh, just put it up. Life is too short.”

Mom decided that how she looked in that picture didn’t even matter. She joked about how she was okay that she would never look like a young woman again, but friends, I don’t want her to look like that again. I look at her and I see wisdom, experience, and a beautiful life, and when I look at my daughter, I see youth and a world that is wide open to her. There is nothing more beautiful to me than my mom and my daughter. Their beauty is inside and out.


So, why do we beat ourselves up about our looks? We should be praising the fact that as we age, we finally see what is most important, and that every little line or imperfection represents a beautiful path in this life that we get to live.

Thanks, mom for reminding me of this. I can’t promise I won’t always care what I look like, and I know you can’t either, but we can try to remember what’s most important and that our beauty comes from a life lived and not the loss of our youthful looks.


Reflections of the Author: Fiction as Biography, or Not?

2007-photos-426Back when I wrote the first part of my first novel, Ruby Among Us, I was a single mom. I
finished it after I was remarried and signed a book contract for its publication after just a few years of marriage. One of the things everyone wanted to talk about when Ruby Among Us  was published was how my previous journey as a single mom intertwined with the single mom aspect of my book. I didn’t mind talking about it. At the time it was one of the biggest redirects of my life. Because that’s how we grow and change, right? It takes big events to turn us in a new direction in order for us to really discover who we are, and that’s how I got to my fourth novel, The Real Thing.La Rosaleda Series

It shouldn’t surprise me or my original readers that when I wrote The Real Thing, my journey as a stepmom would come into play. Some people would like to think that the main character, Manda, is me, but I’m not nearly as exciting as she is. Still, I did write about her because stepfamilies are important to me. I’ve experienced a lot of misunderstanding about my role as a stepmom, from those who assume I wouldn’t love my sons as much because I am their stepmom, to those who assume their real mom is out of the picture when she is not. My husband and my daughter go through the same song and dance because he is her stepdad, they are close, and she also has another dad in the picture. These nuances of our stepfamily have definitely helped me to understand how my two characters, Manda and her new husband, Keith, might feel about parenting, and about the challenges that parenting might, and do, bring to their relationship.

Like Manda and Keith, parentin1944925058g was the most important thing to my husband and I early in our relationship. Not that it isn’t now, but at that point, our relationship survival was dependent on the success of our being, and staying, a family. If we didn’t take care of our kids, then what was the point? When I first started writing The Real Thing, our kids were junior high and early high school. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t model Manda’s stepdaughter, Peyton, in part, after my three children. Over the years, I feel like we’ve all experienced the most wonderful highs and the hardest lows of being a stepfamily, but the hardest is watching the kids struggle and hoping and praying they grow up to be stronger, to still value marriage, value themselves even more, and to feel loved.2007-photos-423

To explore this aspect of blended families, The Real Thing deals with the disappearance of the ex-wife and how it affects everyone in the family, but especially Manda, the new stepmom, and the teen daughter, Peyton. Peyton can’t get the idea that her mother is out there, and still wants her, out of her head. It wasn’t too difficult for me to imagine what Peyton would have felt like when I had three children who, over the years, showed me a plethora of emotions about missing their other parents when they were with us, and missing us when they were with them.

No work of fiction is ever a biography of the author, and neither is The Real Thing a biography of me or my family, but when a reader feels like the author has unique insight into a situation, it might be that they’ve been through something like it, or that they’ve walked through it with someone else. Both are definitely true for me as the author of The Real Thing. I’ve been through it, and I’ve walked through it with my family. In fact, we are still walking through it.

If you are interested in The Real Thing, please check it out Here:

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Happy Reading!