Please welcome the fabulous Barbara Silkstone, who is also a part of the anthology Indie Chicks 25 Women, 25 Personal Stories, to my blog this week. She has quite a story to tell!
HAVE YOU EVER LOST A HAT?
By Barbara Silkstone
I lost everything including my home, my car, and even my retirement accounts. I was physically attacked inside and outside a court building. My daughter and baby granddaughter were threatened. I came at the bad guys like a mother tiger.
A few years earlier I had agreed to testify against a real estate developer in a civil racketeering case. He was obscenely rich and could afford a hanger full of Lear jets, four sneering lawyers, and a greedy judge. In an effort to discredit my testimony in his upcoming trial and to frighten me out of appearing against him, his team of legal manipulators pasted together a bogus suit against me designed to keep me tied up in court and unable to function. They underestimated my sense of justice.
I’d been sitting on the witness stand for the better part of a day… one of many in my five-year “trial.” The judge, forgetting her microphone was on, had just proclaimed me “a pretty tough cookie.” I’d given up expecting justice. It was much too late for fairness. I was in an out-of-body state observing my own funeral and laughing about it.
When the four-hundred pound lawyer asked me if I’d ever lost a hat, I thought one of us had lost our minds. I was pretty sure it wasn’t me. He blinked as if he realized the absurdity of what he asked and dropped the line of inquiry. The question struck my funny bone and sent me into giggle-fits. And that was the moment when The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters was born.
Within a few months the lawyers I hired to help me sucked up every penny I could muster. When I was broke, they walked off the case. Unlike in criminal cases, defendants in civil litigation must pay for their own attorneys. No money – no lawyers. I was on my own. I needed to defend myself. But how when the case was nonsense? How do you fight silly? The lost hat question was a perfect example of the charges brought against me. But the more ridiculous their charges, the stronger and feistier I grew. For each thing they threw at me, I came back that much harder, roaring and taking notes for my someday book.
Since I was a child my driving passion has been to write. In Catholic grade school I started an underground newspaper. When our nun forbade me to continue, I carried the paper further underground. While I continued to write as an adult, life eventually got in the way of living and my writing took a backseat. But now as I sat in the courtroom I was inspired and chomping at the bit to get this real-life fairytale on paper.
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Being a part of this amazing group of writers called the Indie Chicks has been a fantastic experience. I’ve made connections with an amazing group of women who are generous with their wisdom, inspiring with their stories, and giving of their talent. Here is one of those Indie Chicks, Sibel Hodge, writer extraordinaire, who shares her wonderful story included in the Indie Chicks Anthology – 25 Women; 25 Personal Stories.
From 200 rejections to Amazon top 200!
by: Sibel Hodge
Ever since I was old enough to scrawl my first word, which was Halibaaaaa, I knew I wanted to write books. OK, so the word didn’t actually make sense, and it might take a little longer for me to actually string a whole sentence together, but that didn’t put me off. I was going to write books and no one would stop me…
From when I was really young, my mum encouraged me to read. “If you can read books, you’ll never be bored,” I remember her telling me. I secretly think it was a ploy to keep me out of her hair and quiet for a while. I was always a loud kid with lots of energy, and always getting into some sort of trouble with the boys down our street. (Yep, even then I was a sucker for boys!). After discovering the wonderful world of books, I thought I’d have a go myself, and remember scribbling down stories whenever I had a spare moment. Shame I was only six, and there was no way anyone would publish a book with I Want Big Girls’ Knickers in the title.
When I was in secondary school my favourite subject was English language. I’d lose myself for hours. And even though I hadn’t thought about my forthcoming career before I left (apart from being Wonder Woman or an astronaut), I knew, even then, I had a love of creating. I also loved to make people laugh from an early age. In the beginning, it wasn’t intentional. I was always saying ridiculous things that I thought were quite serious. Like the time I went to the butchers shop with my nan, and the lady behind the counter asked where I was from. “South America,” I said. (I know, where the hell did that come from? I must’ve had an overactive imagination from the start.) So when people started laughing at me, I thought, hey, this is pretty fun! We live in such a hectic world and laughter is a perfect way to de-stress. Because my personality is quirky, fun-loving, and slightly nuts, it was probably a given that I would eventually write chick lit, although I have recently delved into the dark side of my brain (which is a pretty scary place to be sometimes!) and written a psychological thriller.
But when I left school no one mentioned writing as a career. It was all boring things like secretarial jobs, travel agents, office work. I didn’t even know about creative writing courses until about ten years ago! I think they considered that writing wasn’t a “proper career.” No one suggested journalism or further education in writing. So what was a girl to do? Although my mum wanted me to go to University and study to be something like a doctor or lawyer (eeek!), I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a career, so I flitted from one job to the next, trying to find something that interested me, and eventually ended up working for the police for ten years. So there I was, too busy paying the mortgage, working shifts, and living in the rat race of life to have the proper time or opportunity to write a novel. It didn’t stop me trying, though.
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Please welcome fellow Indie Chick extraordinaire, Christine DeMaio-Rice, to my blog.
HOW A BIG YELLOW TRUCK CHANGED MY LIFE
(for the better)
by Christine DeMaio-Rice
An orange peel grapple is a big machine. Excavator on the bottom. Long arm in the middle. And a metal grapple on the end that looks like a horror movie claw. The base spins. The arm moves up and down. The grapple grabs stuff like SUVs and big piles of metal.
You may come across one while driving, and if you have a little boy in the car, you may have to pull over to watch the thing move cars into a tractor trailer. Otherwise, nothing about this machine will rock your world.
But an orange peel grapple changed my life.
My life was a complete disaster at the time. Though I had a beautiful baby boy and a good husband, I had a job in an industry I swore I would never return to, at a company that wanted nothing more than to suck the blood directly from my heart with a curly straw. This, after I had already sold all the blood in my heart to the film industry, which after a few meetings and screenwriting awards, looked like it might want to take a sip from that straw.
A sip, because as good as things were looking, I saw a long road in front of me. My work was not “commercial enough,” and my manager had made it clear that years would pass before I would be able to convince anyone that this lack of commerciality was a quality that was, well, commercial.
But no. My husband lost his job, and I found work in the fashion industry soon after. What I rapidly discovered was that, though out-of-towners could schedule meetings back-to-back all over town, Angelenos were expected to take a meeting at the last minute, or blithely accept a rescheduling. My boss, on the other hand, had no interest in moving around my personal days, and my sick days dwindled in my first three months on the job. It took only a few months for the meetings to dry up and for me to start writing a Santa Claus script out of desperation.
So, the blood-sucking fashion job with the inflexible hours was right next to a scrap yard, which apparently opened at the crack of dawn because when I got there at seven thirty every morning, the orange peel grapple was already grabbing away. If I had a minute, I watched it go up and down as I clutched my coffee, and I thought, one day I should get a video camera and film this because my son would love it. Really love it.
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