Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction
“Unlike some war stories that focus on intense, harsh and graphic depictions of post-combat trauma, this tale unfolds gently, like an Edna Ferber novel, spread across many decades, detailing the impact this soldier’s illness has on an entire family, including children and grandchildren. KEEP FOREVER is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying read that I highly recommend. ”
GARY SEIGEL, author of “Haskell Himself”
Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.
Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.
A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.
After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.
A True Story
ALEXA KINGAARD, a California native, currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.
October 13, 2011, was the day that changed her life forever when her ex-husband, a Vietnam veteran, took his life during a PTSD flashback episode. Inspired to share this tragedy that continues to rob husbands and wives of their spouses, children of their parents, mothers of their children, brothers and sisters of their siblings, and comrades of their friends, Kingaard relied on her own experiences to shed light on this crisis. The burden brought home is not partial to Vietnam, but is an insidious aftershock endured by combat veterans of all conflicts.
Kingaard continues to pursue her literary career, writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WRITING DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
Prior to quarantine orders and social distancing guidelines, my writing day was anything but typical. It is even more unpredictable now, as I am 2500 miles from home and unable to return until the end of May, hopefully. I have been quarantined for seven weeks, and counting.
I started writing three years ago at the age of sixty-eight, with no prior experience or expectation of ever writing or publishing a novel. When my Vietnam Veteran took his life in 2011, after an auto accident triggered a PTSD episode, I was not only inspired but compelled to write a fictional story about the collateral damage suffered by family members and loved ones while living with the burden a combat veteran brings home.
Because I have a day job, and I started writing KEEP FOREVER after five years of pondering and composing in my head, my writing schedule was, and still is, sporadic. I don’t force myself to a set a time or place and often find that I can write in the midst of activity and noise a well as I can in privacy and silence. I first write the story in my head, and the characters tell me where they would like me to take them. My stories are thought provoking and emotional, rather than action-packed, and I strive to show accurate and relatable responses from all my characters. Although there is certainly a point of view, I love to wrap meaning around the entire situation with clear explanations about normal people dealing with difficult and extraordinary situations. If I don’t write for a couple weeks, I don’t force myself. By the time I am ready to continue, I can often write 5000 words in a day and sometimes more.
This version of KEEP FOREVER is the second edition, as I learned so much with the first independent publication and subsequent release of my second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, which has become an Award Winning, #1 Bestseller. I wanted to dive a little deeper in hopes that it would reach the wider audience for which it was originally intended – Historical Romance and Historical Fiction. It was released virtually a month early on March 28th, as the launch party and book signings were canceled, and I wanted to offer readers a FREE Kindle version when most have more time to read or are looking for a distraction from our current situation.
During my time in isolation, unable to return home because of travel bans, I have been with my niece and her family with a bouncy, bright, energetic, six-year old. In spite of all the interruptions and difficulty in writing on the only piece of equipment I brought with me, a refurbished iPad, I have commenced writing my third novel. By the time I return home to California in four weeks, I will have the first draft written and be ready to tackle the additional drafts to completion, with an anticipated publication date in early 2021.
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