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
Creative works/portfolio @ http://writing-art-and-design.blogspot.com/p/my-book-cover-designs-and-blurbs.html
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