Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is an online writing community now partnering with the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). We post the third Wednesday of every second month. Check out our program for 2018 in our sidebar and Pages. WEP challenges are open to all. *Submit your name to InLinkz (free) on the first day of the challenge month. The winner for each prompt wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card with winners’ badges for second and third prize. *Scroll down to read previous winning entries. There is also a special Commenter’s badge.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

#WEPff #Guest Post, by Michael Di Gesu, Winner of the April Challenge - Road Less Traveled. - MOMMY KAY.

Welcome to a WEP tradition - the winner's guest post.

Michael di Gesu won the April Challenge -

Road Less Traveled, with his memoir extract from MOMMY KAY.



Today Michael discusses how a good story inspired him to dive back into writing.

Greetings all at the WEP!
  
Thank you so much for featuring me at WEP today, ladies. I am honored to be here.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Winning first place in the ROAD LESS TRAVELED challenge was certainly unexpected.

As many of you know, I have had been less than inspired for the past few years, not writing much and barely keeping up with blogging. It has been a very stressful time, emotionally and physically.

But I have never given up.

I knew it would pass.

It finally has.

Inspiration can come in many forms. It could be our friends, family, our surroundings, a wonderful vacation, or just a walk around town. Spending the winter at my condo in Orlando, Florida was going to be my escape. Instead, the community here has been mismanaged, and basically the complex has taken a nose dive. After much stress, screaming, letter writing, and determination, I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my neighbors, who just happened to be on the board for our condo complex. One day she mentioned her OUTRAGEOUS mother, Kay, who had also lived in this complex. She had died a few years prior and sadly they were estranged during her passing.

Kim informed me about how her siblings had laid Kay to rest, mere hours after her death, with basically no funeral, buried in a pine box, with neither Kim nor any of Kay's friends in attendance. Sadly, Kay had made her son executor of his will. Needless to say, he absconded with everything and Kim never had closure.

As a few months passed, I met Kim on several more occasions walking our dogs. I listened to countless stories about her mother's antics with fronting and selling stolen merchandise in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, her acquaintances and friendships with many well known people of the day, and about her four husbands, ranging from the first, Kim's father, an Italian Catholic, to a Jewish diamond merchant, a Puerto Rican lifeguard, then finally a Muslim Egyptian man eight years her junior. During most of her marriages and between the wheelings and dealings, she owned a beauty shop in Middle Village Queens NY, where she was born and raised.

Kay also had a love affair with the arts and frequented Harlem to hear Count Basie, the Village Gate to hear blues singer, Carmen Mcrae, who eventually became a close friend, several off-Broadway gay oriented plays, and so much more.

But what clinched it for me was Kay’s INCREDIBLY liberal attitude in her life. Many of her clients were African American. Raised in the 30s and 40s as a white Anglo Protestant in QUEENS, NY...this was unheard of. Most people then had very similar views to the famed Archie Bunker of All in the Family fame. Kay's grandfather actually thought All in the Family was a documentary! I gasped when I heard this. My father was also raised in Queens and was an Italian Archie Bunker, so I know first hand how people thought at that time.

I then approached Kim. “This story needs to be told. Have you ever thought of writing a memoir?”

She burst out laughing. “Are you kidding me,” she exclaimed in her thick Queens NY accent. “I can’t write a memoir.”

“But I can,” I said.

Kim and I signed a contract. I am thrilled to be writing Kay's memoir. Kim told me Kay had always wanted to write about her incredible life, and now her story will be told!

I have already written the first seven chapters and I am so excited to continue.... Kay will become as famous as our beloved Auntie Mame, who happened to be fictitious. Kay is the real deal! I cannot begin to tell you how honored and happy I am to write her story. She was an AMAZING woman for her time, and to have roots from the Mayflower, Kay was definitely not anything like the typical 1950's woman.

When I read about April’s prompt at the WEP, I knew I needed to post a snippet from Kay’s story. This piece features Kay’s transformation and the new journey she began on THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED.

Kim is thrilled that Kay’s story was acknowledged. I am EQUALLY as thrilled, knowing that even though we take a hiatus from our writing, no matter how long, we can always come back and produce a winner.

I would also like to congratulate, Carrie Ann Golden, for her incredible insight into forgiving one’s self, and Elephant’s Child, for her amazing life-changing adventure to Antarctica. Writers who submit to the WEP are so talented, I don’t envy the WEP in choosing their winners.

Thank you again, ladies of the WEP, for choosing MOMMY KAY as the first place winner.

Have a wonderful day everyone!
  

 A creative soul, Michael Di Gesu has been in the arts since a child. Trained as an illustrator and interior designer with a BFA from School of Visual Arts in NYC, he took his earlier career in a different direction after he was discovered by a photographer from the fashion industry. He modeled in NYC and abroad until 1991, then left NYC and moved to South Florida to begin a new artistic journey.

He began his career in interior design after remodeling his home in Fort Lauderdale. He freelanced for several years until he moved to Las Vegas in the Mid 90s. There he returned to the fashion industry and worked as a hair stylist and makeup artist for major fashion adds through R&R advertising Agency.

After five years he returned to South Florida to resume interior design.

In the mid 2000’s he moved to Chicago to increase exposure in the interior design world. After five successful years, the real estate market crashed. Freelance interior design work dried up. With no real prospects, he decided to enter the literary world and write and illustrate his first middle grade fantasy novel. With a whole new world opening up to him through blogging, Michael found his new niche. The writing community was a breath of fresh air for him and he met many amazing writers who helped mentor him.

In 2013, he started his freelance book design, illustration, and creative editing business, specializing in unique and original works of art. His talent for introductions of books, lead to blurb writing.

Today he is still a freelance interior designer, and continues to assist his writer clients with blurbs, creative editing, illustration, and book design.

You can find him at his blog, IN TIME: http://writing-art-and-design.blogspot.com

You can find his creative services @ http://writing-art-and-design.blogspot.com/p/m.html


Twitter: https://twitter.com/DAK86



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35 comments:

  1. Congratulations Michael - a deserved win for you ... for two reasons - one you've found an outlet for your creative talents, and secondly for letting Kim take her memories to a new level ... into something she never thought might happen - that publication ... good luck to you both ... and congratulations to the WEP selectors ... good job and great for us all to see what could happen - cheers Hilary

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    1. HI, Hilary! Thanks so much... yes, we are very excited about this project and we are full speed ahead for publication. Once the first draft is complete, I'll be researching and querying select agents.

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  2. A point in time
    Is not one-way
    There’s never a begging
    Or an end

    For every road
    We take
    There’s another
    It might have been

    Which we chose
    Is between
    One’s self
    And him

    Kay’s story’s now
    Greater than
    She thought it
    Could have been

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    1. Nicely said in poetic verse, Desk49! Kay always wanted her story out there, now she will be immortalized on paper, so everyone can live through her exciting journey. Kay would be thrilled. Her spirit lives on....

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  3. Huge Congratulations Michael. Your entry pushed on ALL of my greedy reading buttons and I can't wait to hear more about Kay - a woman ahead of her time.
    I am so glad that her story is being told, and so glad that you are the one doing the telling. Some things are just meant to be.
    And thank you.

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    1. Thank YOU, EA! So glad you are exited about the story. I will definitely let you know when it's ready....

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  4. 'Inspiration can come in many forms. It could be our friends, family, our surroundings, a wonderful vacation, or just a walk around town.'

    A strong believer here in the everyday inspirational.

    Congratulations once again. Looking forward to reading more.

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    1. Thank you, Nila! I'll keep right on plugging away. So many want more of Mommy Kay~

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  5. Michael,so glad to see you so enthusiastic about writing again. We all want more of Mommy Kay. Congratulations to you and all the winners again.

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    1. Thanks Denise! I am... this is a very fun writing project. It is complicated though, and taking me longer than anticipated. Kim is all over the place with the stories and many happen in the same time frame. So I do have QUITE THE JOB figuring out to make this a smooth and cohesive ride for the reader.

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  6. Kudos to you Michael for an interesting winner's post about Mommy Kay and her life. Perhaps her kids were estranged from her because it sounds as if she indulged herself and did what she wanted. Good luck with the writing!

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    1. That is EXACTLY RIGHT, D.G... Although Mommy Kay is a FANTASTIC and AMAZING woman for her time, her children definitely had a rough time. Kim, being the eldest, had the brunt of it. Her half sister, to this day refers to her mother as Kay... not mother or mom. Kim is also estranged with her and her half brother, who came many years later. He being Muslim and MALE, had no patience for his mother's antics or for Kim. Kim, in so many ways, is like KAY...she is outgoing and ambitious, BUT, she is kind and gentle especially to her only child. She raised her pretty much alone with no help from Mommy Kay. She worked two jobs to support her child. MK was two busy wheeling and dealing again after she divorced her last husband to help Kim even though they lived just across the street from each other.

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    2. Wow, Michael. Thanks for the background info. I can see why you were inspired to write about this situation and this 'character'. Kim sounds like a stronger, less indulgent person.

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    3. She is.... I never had the opportunity to meet Mommy Kay. She had left about a month before I moved into the complex. I am actually glad I didn't. I like to have my own perception of her. According to Kim, I am freakishly tuning into her spirit because many of the things I am creating from my imagination, actually was very similar to how it was. Kim is amazed at how I am writing so accurately without much input from her... I am constantly getting, "How did you know that"....or "She did believe that..." Ah, the sixth sense of a writer. LOL We all have it.

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  7. You just needed the right story to inspire you. Winning the WEP Challenge shows that you're on your way.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks L. Diane... I am certainly off to a good start!

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  8. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing the history behind how you started writing Mama Kay. Congratulations again on your win. I’m happy that you received it. It is an impetus for more. Keep writing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Pat! I am working in bursts. I write like crazy for one or two days, then take off about three of four to process the next segment. Seems to be working out well....

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  9. Inspiration sure can strike at any time, and it did for you indeed. How anyone can think All in the Family is a documentary is beyond me.

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    2. No kidding, Pat! I almost spit out my permanent teeth. LOL. Seriously though, that IS the way people acted in Queens at that time. Kay's grandfather was probably only ten years older than Archie Bunker in the early 70's., although a character, he was based on thousands of middled aged men from Queens. As I stated before, my Dad was from Astoria, Queens as well and he WAS an Italian version of Archie Bunker and around the same age, too!. It was like watching my father on TV... But I saw them mostly in the 80's in reruns. I was only in grade school in the early 70's and watched the Brady Bunch and Happy days.

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  10. It is a great endeavor to write this fascinating woman's biography. Even judging from the small fragment that won the WEP challenge, I could tell I'd want to read the entire story.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. That it is, Olga.... the complexity of her life and all its facets are quite the challenge. She did soooo much in such a short period of time. I am actually only chronicling her younger years. from the time she was 18 to 43. After her relationship with her last husband, who pretty much suppressed her for about a decade, she came back to life with a vengeance and continued to LIVE life on her terms for the next thirty years.

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  11. Thanks again ladies of the WEP for featuring me today. I am greatly honored!

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  12. So glad you have found writing inspiration again Michael. This is so different than your usual writings. Sounds like you are enjoying hearing the stories as well as writing them :)

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    1. That it is, Donna... but it is very close to my upbringing because my dad was from Queens, i can relate to the time and place. Kay was actually younger than my dad was, so I was always in Queens visiting his family growing up.

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  13. Michael, we're thrilled to have you rejoin the WEP, especially with such an inspirational piece! I've said before quitting is never an option but detours are part of the journey! I'm on one now, and still holding out hope for a positive outcome! CONGRATULATIONS!

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  14. Thanks Renee! I appreciate you support and kind words. Hope your detour brings you to a happy place!

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  15. I missed the challenge this time around but will make a point to read this entry. It sounds truly fascinating. As always, thanks for providing this wonderful opportunity. This isn't just a chance to write; WEP gives authors hope and motivation to keep writing.

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    1. Thanks Toi. Michael’s story was amazing. Hope you can join us again soon.

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    2. Yes. SO true, Toi. It's wonderful that the WEP gives writers a chance to create and also to read such wonderful writing!

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  16. Congratulations, Michael!! I'm so thrilled for you, not only for the well deserved win but also for your wonderful new project. It's great to see your enthusiasm back after all the struggles you've been through. You're an inspiration to us all. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Julie! I appreciate your kind words. It has been a struggle, and it will be for a while longer, but at least there is a bright road ahead as long as I can stay focused. Life often derails us, but we need to get back on track as soon as we can.

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  17. Awesome blog, i always enjoy & read the post you are sharing.Thank for your very good article...!

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