Sunday, December 8, 2013

Leslie Garcia and Love, Loss and Kindness

Please welcome Leslie Garcia today...

Kind of Like a Hero

            When D’Ann kindly invited me to post a guest blog, and told me to do whatever I wanted, I knew almost immediately I didn’t just want to twist arms and try to sell Wildflower Redemption.  I’ll include an excerpt and blurb, and let it go at that, except in talking about literary kindness in passing.
            We’ve just passed Thanksgiving and are headed into Christmas.  Right before Thanksgiving, my only nephew, a Marine major, died when the plane he piloted crashed—on his way from North Carolina to Michigan for a fellow Marine’s plane.  He, obviously, is the kind of man heroes are made from—but more to the point, perhaps, was the outpouring of love and support that helped my sister cope with the loss of her only son.  Strangers who reached out, as they do so often during our separate lives, made a huge difference. 
            Aaron Estes, the hero in Wildflower Redemption, has to learn kindness towards animals—not because he’s indifferent or abusive, but because he simply doesn’t know anything about them.  I grew up with animals—including, incredibly, monkeys, snakes, an African lion and a jaguarondi—and while I knew nothing about caring for them, my siblings and I loved them.  We treated them kindly—in so far as ignorance allows kindness.
            In retrospect, the family, my whole family, deserves censure and scorn.  We kept the lion in a small, mesh cage that was not safe and didn’t meet any of his needs.  We tried to remember to let the milk snakes loose since we couldn’t get them to eat in captivity, but sometimes—we were too late in returning them to the pasture from whence they came.
            My sister and I were teenagers, and my other siblings much younger; we had no choice but to do what we were told.  We took the best care of the animals that we could, in times that didn’t frown on roadside amusement parks or kids who escaped the realities of a broken family by clinging to any critter that offered a moment’s salvation.
            We weren’t mean, but knowing now what I didn’t know—the fact that I loved those animals and would have kept them forever if I hadn’t been too young to stay behind when the family moved to Texas—makes me realize that sometimes, kindness is knowing enough not to be abusive.
            Now, I think of those on the right side of kindness—those who run shelters, who adopt animals, who share pictures of lost and homeless creatures—those are a special kind of hero, and they have both the privilege of knowing and loving animals with genuine passion, and the satisfaction that they do no harm, they only help.
            Many of D’Ann’s posts touch on kindness you find in many of her works. Her knowledge of horses (and Australian shepherds—don’t ask!) and the posts that she shares were part of the inspiration for this piece—when I think of her, I often think of her kindness first.  Sometimes her posts are not pleasant to deal with—I actually think I might have hidden one, once, because I couldn’t face it.
            But only when we learn about the horrors that exist, and the difference between coveting animals and loving them, caring about them and being kind to them, can we have clear consciences.
            The nephew I lost spent his childhood saving crows and other desert animals—but always turning them loose.  Since his mom used to keep a cage full of bats in our antebellum home, I dare say she learned from him what I have learned over the year—kindness is heroic.
            Anyone can be kind of like a hero.  It’s all just a matter of choice.

You can’t have it all. At least, not forever. Luz Wilkinson learned the hard way that balancing a career, marriage, and motherhood can end in absolute destruction of heart and soul. When the biological mother of her daughter tears the child away and ruins her reputation, Luz goes home to tiny Rose Creek to rethink life and ambition. She surrounds herself with discarded animals and plans never to care again.
Widower Aaron Estes lives for his daughter, Chloe. Fleeing from the horror of losing his wife in a school shooting, Aaron stops in Rose Creek on a whim and a random act of kindness from a gas station clerk - not a lot to build a life on, but a momentary redemption from his sorrow and fears for his daughter. Prompted by counselor Esmeralda Salinas, he takes Chloe to the Wilkinson place for therapeutic riding lessons, and finds Luz everything he wants in a mother for his daughter - but Esmeralda’s open pursuit is a problem. Burned by her divorce, Luz refuses any relationship involving another woman or a man with another woman’s child.
Unlimited love for their children comes easily - but will they ever be able to conquer past pain and love each other?
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

Luz headed after her. Aaron caught her before she got to the door. “Where are you going?” he demanded. “It’s late and it’s dark—”
“And something’s wrong!” she snapped. “Stay here with Chloe! I’m just checking for anything that might have set the dog off.” She bit back “again.” As she rushed outside, she couldn’t help wishing she’d had the dog on a leash— and her mother’s pistol in her hand.
She went around the side of the house, tripping once on a rock hidden in the shadow the house cast since the security light was on the other side. In the front yard, she stopped and peered out toward the road, where she could make out the shape of a dark car moving slowly along the fence line.
“What’s going on?” Aaron said from close by. “And don’t tell me to stay with Chloe, dammit! She’s asleep, and I’m not some panicked little kid afraid of the dark, even if it’s stupid to be out here—”
 Tires screeched and taillights glowed as the car suddenly accelerated and sped away.
Not Ross Thurmond’s truck. The thought surprised her. Worried her. How had his brief, strange, visits here unnerved her like this?And then sudden suspicion hit her. Hard.
“God, no.”  She thought she hadn’t spoken, but Aaron’s hand on her arm and the alarm in his face told her she had. “God, no, what?”
She thought of Chloe in bed asleep. Of Princess— where? At least she hadn’t heard yelping. But the pit bull hadn’t come back, either. Would Aaron leave when she told him? She really didn’t consider him a coward. He’d obviously gone through a lot without cracking. He just couldn’t bear to lose his precious daughter. She understood that. “What, Luz?”
She covered her face with her hands, and breathed a silent prayer that she was wrong. “I think,” she told him slowly, “that tomorrow we’ll find another dead dog.”

About Leslie
         Mention writing to most first grade students--or teachers--and everyone runs from the room, screaming or crying, respectively. I, however, love the challenge of convincing the technology kids of today that words create everything they use, everything they enjoy. Yes, even those horrible cartoons and video games that are so foreign to me now. And the songs.

         I, myself, was a published writer in first grade, first by the school principal, then by a novel but short-lived magazine written entirely by kids. I still remember the title: Kids. Paid me $1.50 for the last rhyming poem I ever wrote. "Dolphins are nice though they don't like ice" something something.

         Luckily, my poetry no longer rhymes, and my stories strive to portray the mishmash of cultures, events, characters, and times that are our lives--all our lives, even if not everyone had a lion or a roadside amusement park or hid in an arroyo on their wedding day.

         There's a circuitous route through most of our lives, and the publishing company that helped me learn to submit work for publication through their magazines and annual Writers Market, F&W Media, has published my three most recent works.

         A lifetime of words away from first grade, but hopefully, you'll enjoy my words. I love hearing from readers, and hope you'll visit me one of these days.

         Because words still have power, and always will.

Wildflower Redemption (Crimson Romance) by Leslie P. Garcia
Available at Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes and other distributors on Dec. 09th, 2013!

Also by Leslie P. García:

Website: Return to Rio

Social Media:
Twitter: @LesliePGarcia
Leslie P. García


  1. Love the cover...!! Interesting excerpt...I'm so happy and ready to get the book soon!!!!

  2. So sorry about your nephew--loved the excerpt of your book.

  3. I am also sorry about the loss of your nephew. You've written an exceptional and touching blog. Best wishes for the success of your novel!

  4. Sorry about your loss-he sounds like a true hero. Wonderful post! Enjoyed the excerpt!

  5. Sorry for your loss. Your post was wonderful. Loved the excerpt.

  6. My condolences. Great post. Tweeted.

  7. I'm sorry about your nephew. I love that you shared about your animals. I grew up wanting to marry Jack Hanna so that I could have some of those wild animals. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

    D'Ann is an amazing advocate for animals, esp. horses and her stories do touch on the abuse people do toward them. <3 her books!

  8. I'm sorry for your loss, Leslie. But I loved your post. Thanks so much for sharing. Also, you have a great cover.

  9. Leslie, I really enjoyed your post and learning about your earlier life. You have a nice cover for your story, and I liked your blood and excerpt.

    My husband and I are huge animal lovers; both wild and domestic. I know other people love them, but you don't keep a wild animal caged. They belong in the wild. Hoarders of cats and dogs love those animals, but they don't help them by becoming hoarders. Even those who care do not always do the right thing by animals.

    I know you were too young to do anything different, so I just applaud you for caring. Smile!

  10. Very touching post. So sorry for your loss.

  11. I forgot to tell you how sorry I'm for the loss of your nephew. He is a true hero.

  12. Moving post thank you, Leslie. My condolences for your loss. Am lovin' those red boots too. Good luck with your release!

  13. The book sounds lovely! My condolences to you and your family for your loss.

  14. A very touching post. Thanks. I agree, D'Ann is a very kind person. I'm sorry for the loss of your nephew. Life can be inexplicably cruel at times. The best we can do is be good and kind while here.