Whenever I read a story, whether it’s a short one or a novel, I always enjoy finding out as much information as I can about the author. What kind of person they are, what makes them tick, where they get the ideas for their stories. With that thought in mind, I wondered if any of the readers of my stories were curious to learn more about me, so I decided I’d write sort of a fact page and fill you in on some things that you may, or may not know, about me. So, here goes.
- If you’ve read the first chapter of “Seeing,” then you’ve read about the head injury sustained while playing softball. That’s true. I really did suffer that injury and it happened while playing softball, and the goose-egg I received as a result truly did grow to the size of an orange. However, I did not start seeing ghosts as a result of the injury, but I did (and still do) get horrible headaches on occasion. I continued to play ball, including in a women’s league, and I was a mean third baser, not a right-fielder, and definitely had that strong throwing arm. But now, I probably couldn’t throw a rock across the street!
- Pahokee is a real place in south Florida. It’s where I was born and raised. And yes, it is on the map. Pahokee is mentioned multiple times in my novel “Seeing,” and many of the places listed are also real, although many of them no longer exist. The Prince Theater was my go-to place on Saturdays. Fifty cents got me into the movie and bought popcorn, soda and candy.
- The idea for “Animus” came as the result of a recurring nightmare that plagued me for over a year. I will not go into details because I do not like talking about the circumstances. I simply took the idea and ran with it.
- I got my right big toe cut completely off when I was 4 years old. My oldest sister, Linda, was towing me on the back of a bicycle and ran over a palm frond, causing my foot to hit the spokes, and VOILA’, no big toe! I didn’t even feel it and didn’t cry until I saw all the blood – then I screamed bloody murder! The doctor sewed my toe back on and the scar grew as I did. On occasion it’s tender, and I can’t wear any type of shoe that sits atop or rubs on the surface of the scar.
- I have no fingernail on my left middle finger, the result of my hand being slammed in a thick wooden door. The injury crushed the nail matrix, preventing further growth. Although I’ve had 3 surgeries on it, my finger still remains without a fingernail. At one time, I was completely embarrassed by it and went to great lengths to keep it covered by using a fake nail or a band-aid. Finally, I said to heck with it, it’s an injury and it’s part of me. Now, I wear it like a Ninja!!!
- I grew up in a housing project. One of the biggest misconceptions of project life is that whoever lives in one is trash. That’s simply not true. My mother raised three daughters all alone after my dad left us when I was only 5 years old and living in a housing authority was the only rent she could afford, and worked 2 and 3 jobs to do that. But I’ll tell you this much. Our house was spotless and the floors so clean and shiny that you could have eaten off of them. Our clothes were always clean and so were our bodies. Living in a project doesn’t make you trashy, it just means that one is poor. I think about the many friends I had back then that accepted me for who I was, not where I lived. They could have easily ignored me or avoided me, but they didn’t. And I can honestly say that the parents of those friends always welcomed me into their homes and treated me like one of their own. So, to all my friends and your parents – thank you!
- From a very young age, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. My love for animals runs deep and is quite passionate. I knew that to become a vet, I must do good in school and maintain good grades, so I did. I graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and golden honors for being in the top ten seniors of my graduating class. It was also the year that my dream of becoming a veterinarian died. College tuition was way out of reach for me. I didn’t receive any scholarships and didn’t qualify for a grant, and there was no such thing as financial aid. I can still love animals and help them in my own way, which I’ve always done and will continue to do.
- Every year I feared that Santa Claus would overlook me because of our financial status, but somehow, he never did. One Christmas in particular that will always remain a cherished memory is the year that all I wanted for Christmas was a Mrs. Beasley doll. That’s all I could think about. I had never wanted a doll so badly in all my life, but I knew that I wouldn’t get one. To me, it was nothing more than a dream. But lo and behold, when Christmas morning came, and I looked under the tree, what did I see? Yes! Mrs. Beasley! Santa Claus truly hadn’t forgotten me!! It wasn’t until several years later that I learned that it wasn’t Santa at all, but my oldest sister, Linda, who had bought the doll with the money she had earned working at Pahokee Army Store, and instead of spending it on herself, she made sure that my dream came true. When Linda had her daughter, Stacy, I gave her all my childhood dolls, including Mrs. Beasley…but the story doesn’t end there. Several years ago, I received another special gift from Linda and guess what it was??? By the way, I still have her!
- I almost died several years ago due to an undetected illness. Although I went to many doctors and specialists, none of them could figure it out. I heard everything from “it’s psychological,” to “try biofeedback” to “maybe you should consider talking to a psychiatrist.” I was ready to give up because I knew my attempts were futile, but my husband refused to let me. It was recommended that I see an Endocrinologist, so that’s what I did, and doing so saved my life. Turns out my thyroid gland wasn’t functioning at all and was attempting to shut down my vital organs. I thank God for Dr. David Mordes every day. Not only for listening to me, but for taking the time to find, and treat, the problem. I will be on Synthroid for the rest of my life and will suffer from minor secondary problems as a result, but you know what? I’m alive, and I’m healthy, and that’s all that matters!
- I’m an excellent cook and baker. I can bake just about any kind of cookie or cake you want and will do it from scratch, but I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, make a pie crust or biscuits! Go figure! I cook with a southern flair, well, because I am from the south…South Florida.
- I hate eggs, except for when they’re in cakes or cookies. I will not eat them in any way, shape or form, except (see my note above). They’re gross, stinky and disgusting. I hate bananas because they make me gag, but I love banana cream pie, banana flavored popsicles and banana moon pies.
- I’ve loved writing since I could hold a pencil. While I can fabricate a storyline from here to eternity, I do not tell lies in real life and have no use for a liar. My philosophy is, if you can’t speak the truth, then don’t speak. When I’m writing, my characters may, on occasion, use foul language because I want them to be believable. Yet when I speak, I do not use profanity. I feel I can carry on a conversation without it. I’ve been published several times in magazines and newspapers, but never pursued it wholeheartedly because it was tough to do that while working a full-time job, raising kids and maintaining a household. “Animus” is the first novel that I’ve written and completed. I’m currently attempting to secure an agent. I’ve got my fingers crossed!
- I chose a career in law enforcement with my first stint being with the USDA. But the call didn’t really get into my blood until I went to work for the Florida Highway Patrol, and from there, probation/DUI school and juvenile corrections. I was nominated for Employee of the Year by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice because of a tracking system that I created to monitor allegations of abuse reports. I didn’t win it, but it was an honor to be nominated.
- I worked at a juvenile correctional facility for 11 1/2 years until the State of Florida closed the facility, resulting in more than 300 people losing their jobs – including me. It’s a horrible thing to lose a job like that, because you don’t just lose a job, you lose your investments, your insurance, your income, and perhaps even a piece of yourself. I went from making $40K a year to making less than $300 every two weeks in unemployment, then to a big fat zero when that ran out, never able to secure another job. When we moved to Indiana, within the first two years I applied for over 300 jobs, got called in for 2 interviews, but didn’t get hired for either. So, when someone says they’ve lost their job, show compassion and concern, because it truly is a horrible thing to go through.
- There isn’t much that I’m scared of, but big spiders rate #1 on the list, with flying cockroaches, or palmetto bugs, coming in second. Those suckers are like B52 bombers and will fly right into your face and hair!!!! On more than one occasion, I have nearly beaten myself to death trying to get one off me. I’ll spare you the gory details of the aftermath when a giant Florida spider jumped right in my face when I sprayed it!!!
- As a kid, I used to catch lizards and keep them in the old tin coffee cans. Sometimes I’d take them out and clip them on my earlobes and wear them as earrings. Fear not, none were harmed, and I always released them back into the bushes. To this very day, the smell of an empty coffee can still reminds me of…..lizards!
- I bowled competitively for many years and traveled all over the state of Florida to compete in tournaments. I have won hundreds of awards in the sport and was the second woman in the history of the St. Lucie County Women’s Bowling Association to bowl a 700 series and did it during a county tournament! Alas, I had to give up the sport when degenerative arthritis prevented me from being able to grip the ball.
- I was a young, single mother of three small children for several years before I met and married my husband. I know the hardships of struggling to make ends meet. At one time, I received welfare, food stamps and Medicaid because I was unemployed for a year after giving birth to the twins because I couldn’t secure a job that would pay me enough to be able to afford daycare. That all changed when I was given a job at the Florida Highway Patrol by a man who put his trust in me to do a job. I will forever be grateful to Lt. Richard Helton for giving me the chance that no one else would. This job enabled me to be able to have better living arrangements, give up the food stamps and Medicaid. One of my biggest pet peeves is to read or hear people who criticize those who rely on public assistance to help them in their time of need. There are times when circumstances are beyond our control and we need help. Choosing to better oneself is a personal choice, one which I opted for and didn’t give up until I did.
- I’m a clown and I laugh a lot. It’s good for the heart and for the soul.
- I’m a people lover – all kinds, all colors, all religions. I love hearing stories of different cultures and ways of living. I was taught from a very early age never to judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character. I live strongly by that rule. As one of my daughters told me once, “Mom, love don’t come in colors!” Amen, Candi!
- In our hometown of Pahokee, people who knew us referred to us as “the Enda Sisters.” Linda, Brenda, Glenda. Wonder what mom would have named a boy had there been one? Charlenda????
- My favorite color is red / my favorite food is Italian / my favorite movie EVER is Jaws / I love reading anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Patterson and have a huge collection of their books / my eyes are green / I’m right-handed / I love all animals but absolutely adore tigers.
Do you feel like you know me better now or would you like to know more? Have any questions or something you’d like me to answer? Don’t ever be afraid to ask!!!
Until next time….
Take care and God Bless!!!