Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Excerpt & Tour of Always There by Carol Ann Albright-Eastman

My mother planned her entire funeral and all of the arrangements that went along with the Big Day.  Actually, at times, you’d have thought that she was planning her wedding the way she talked about flowers, colors, and nightgowns.  I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I see or smell roses, yellow roses specifically.  Aunt Lila, on the other hand, just kept telling us, and anyone else who’d listen, that she was going to be fine. She never accepted her cancer, swearing unconvincingly that her arthritis was just acting up, not that bone cancer was slowlydeteriorating her entire body, like aggressive little termites eating away at the bone structure that made her who she was.  
I met Chance almost four years ago.  Even I can admit that it was a “fairy tale” meeting.  It was May, and my sister had just bought her first computer.  It was back in the time when online chat rooms had just gotten popular, and people were trying their luck at technological dating or mating, whatever you wanted to call it.  My sister and I were no exception.  One night, I was online chatting with the most magnificent and charming man of all time.  Technologically, I was already smitten.  He was sensitive, romantic, clever, and said all of the right things.  For instance, one night while he was at home in Pennsylvania, and I was at my house in Ohio, he told me to go outside and look at the moon.  I did.  When I came in, he said that he could see the same moon and that we were not as far away as I thought.  He told me to imagine him every time I looked at that moon and when I did his arms would be around me.  He was wonderfully romantic. And I was falling fast.

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.


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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