EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads Saturday Spotlight w/Giveaway: The Twilight Tsunami by Shelby Londyn-Heath



Welcome to EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads
Saturday Spotlight!

Today we are spotlighting Shelby Londyn-Heath's
The Twilight Tsunami!

Enter below for a chance to win 1 of 2 amazon copies of The Twilight Tsunami
from Shelby Londyn-Heath!


Shelby Londyn-Heath's
The Twilight Tsunami!


Grey is a hard-hitting foster care social worker who removes babies and children from dangerous drugged parents, violent homes, and families joined with criminal gangs. He is unstoppable until a new social worker enters his department. She is hungry for power and position, as she challenges Grey in malevolent and unexpected ways. As Grey yanks newborns from mothers, confronts irate parents, and lives through suicides of foster children aging out of the system, nothing stops him, until he meets his nemesis, a truly power-hungry woman. He must find her "Achilles Heel" and his inner truth, to rise up to conquer her. One of them must be transformed or destroyed.


Grab YOUR copy TODAY!


Q & A with Shelby Londyn-Heath about
The Twilight Tsunami!


Tell us about THE TWILIGHT TSUNAMI.

My book The Twilight Tsunami is my debut novel. It is about social workers on the brink of mental breakdowns as they remove children from abusive and neglectful homes. One social worker in particular, tries to face the trauma of his job by any means possible to hold himself up. However, when he is challenged by a co-worker who plots to take away his seniority, as she does the unthinkable to him, he catapults into another zone — one that shakes up the Department of Social Services.

What initially inspired you to write The Twilight Tsunami?

I thought about this book for years before I wrote it. I realized that I had experienced the foster care system from many angles, and few people were aware of what social workers and foster parents go through in the system. Of course, this book is fictional, but it holds truisms such as the traumas social workers face everyday on their jobs, and the risks foster parents take by getting involved in a shaky system.

Tell us a little about the characters in The Twilight Tsunami.
Grey faces-off with Marjorie, his co-worker who is ambitious, ruthless, and scheming. She is a control-freak who wants to get away from the ugly task of removing children and instead, attain a supervisory position with better pay and more power.
A vital co-protagonist is Christine, the supervisor of Grey’s unit. Christine is a tough, experienced social worker who sees through Marjorie and tries to save Grey. However, if she turns her back or misses a clue, she may be conquered by the scheming person she is trying to outwit.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?


The hardest part of writing this book was reliving memories of working with children in the foster care system. I saw their tear-streaked faces again, and heard their cries for their parents. No matter how abused these children were, they always wanted their parents back.

This book has some hard core episodes in it. It is not for lightweight readers, although I tried to put parts in that were funny, or so I thought. Readers have had mixed reactions to this book. It is a shake-up book, and I knew after I wrote it, that I would have mixed reviews. I call it my love/hate book, my kickball book.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I think my favorite part was the ending, when everyone came together and revealed who they really were. There is always relief in honesty, as painful as it sometimes may be. I got to pull the plug at the ending and for me, it was visually surreal, and a lot of fun.

I also like to think I slipped in a spiritual message at the end of this book, but so far, no one has mentioned that my book is spiritual. I guess the naughtiness running through the book caused my spiritual message to evaporate into the ethers.

What are your future project(s)?

If I could only live to be a hundred. . . First, I am already in the process of gathering true stories for an anthology follow-up to this book. I have stories from social workers, but I am looking for stories from foster parents and foster children. It is time to have a dialogue.

When I return to writing fiction, I want to complete my novel Finding Hotel Durango, a book with a strong female protagonist. I see more and more female protagonists lately, but they seem to fall apart when they fall in love or need to be rescued in some way. It is time to chase the helpless female archetype away for good.

I also want to write more fantasy and science fiction. I want to write all around the world and die with a pen in my hand.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?

Yes, my book The Twilight Tsunami is experimental writing. It is based on the new way people read, by grabbing chunks of information quickly and looking for more. I call my chapters “gulps,” and I deliberately wrote with co-protagonists in order to keep the reading lively. Even readers who hate my book, say they could not put it down.

Today’s readers do not have long attention spans and they get bored quickly. I believe our brains have become re-wired in the last decade. This is why traditional classrooms are agony for kids nowadays, and why long meetings and discussions are to be avoided at all costs. We are in the tweet era, and we are hurrying to get to the point.


Now an exciting excerpt from The Twilight Tsunami!

CHAPTER ONE
The Hospital 

GREY STOOD QUIETLY next to the hospital bed. “Mrs. Jaspers, your baby has tested positive for cocaine.” Grey knew from experience that talking in a low voice helped hold back the negative emotions of a child’s removal, before anger and defiance from parents swept around him like a dangerous tempest. Mrs. Jaspers, a nineteen-year-old woman recently out of high school, glared at Grey. Her eyes grew larger in her upturned face, framed by tangled, matted purple hair. She wore an apologetic nose ring that swept to one side of her flared nostril and vibrated with each panicked inhalation she drew in. “I repeat, Mrs. Jaspers, your baby has tested positive. I am from the Department of Social Services. I am here to take your baby to a safe environment.” Mrs. Jaspers bolted upright in her bed. She grabbed onto Grey with a gritty desperation to stop him from removing her baby. “My baby ain’t on cocaine. How dare you say my baby is on drugs? I didn’t give no drugs to my baby. You cannot take my baby girl. We are waiting for her daddy to come see her. We are going to name her today. I need my baby to stay with me, because like I just told you, we’re waiting for her daddy to come see her.” The daddy, a twenty-one-year-old unemployed construction worker who married her when she tested positive for pregnancy, prowled the streets looking for cocaine after a three-day drinking binge. Grey unclasped the mother’s hands and moved towards the door. Mrs. Jaspers jumped up, pulling out her intravenous tube, causing blood to spurt out of her arm. She howled loudly. Grey called in a police officer who waited tentatively in the corridor. The police officer’s presence did not deter the fiery mother from running around her hospital room in frantic leaps. The sickening odor of fresh blood permeated the room. Her hospital gown flew open, displaying the naked form of a young woman new to adulthood. Her tattoos, splayed across her torso, looked like colorful orbs of splattered paints, graffiti statements embroidered in flesh. Grey felt his stomach grip in painful spasms. He thought of his daughter Olivia, also nineteen years-old, at an age of innocence, a time for dreaming, to be a youthful arrow pointed at the stars. As Grey watched Mrs. Jaspers lurch side-to- side in frenzied movements, he wondered how she came to this moment; losing her baby, being strung out on drugs, with a bleak future rising before her. Nurses ran in as the police officer restrained her, “Her stitches. Watch for her stitches,” one of them shouted. “I don’t care about my stitches. I wish I could die. This man wants to take my baby away. I just had hours of pain to make my baby. You didn’t have that pain, you didn’t go through what I went through;  you didn’t make my baby. You have no right to take my baby. How dare you?” The young woman screamed between loud ricocheting sobs. Her hands shook and her face turned ashen. One of the nurses yelled, “Mrs. Jaspers, get in bed right now. Nurse Anne, please help me lift her into bed and get her to stop moving around. She has stitches that will tear, if they haven’t already. There, there, Mrs. Jaspers, we’ll have something for you right away.” The nurse patted the sheets down with trembling hands. Mrs. Jaspers kicked furiously, as the officer restrained her. Two nurses and an aide helped pull her onto the hospital bed. Mrs. Jaspers screamed when the officer gripped her arms and hands. Another nurse came in and gave her a shot. Mrs. Jaspers looked out at a haze of blue uniforms surrounding her, as she shook uncontrollably, emitting a strange growling sound, before her sedative took effect. The head nurse turned to Grey. “Tell me, if you know you’re going to remove babies, why don’t you come to the hospital and catch them yourself? I do not understand this. Why do you get here when the mother and baby are bonding, when the mother needs peace and quiet, so she can recover from her birthing ordeal? Now this mother is upset, and she may be at medical risk.” The nurse’s stern voice cut through Grey as he struggled to remain calm. “It is procedure to test the baby first.” “Can’t you offer the mother rehabilitation before you yank her baby away from her? Don’t you think that losing her baby will cause her to do more drugs?” Grey cleared his throat before he spoke. “This mother refused treatment when we offered it to her. Now her baby must go through cocaine withdrawal. Her baby needs urgent medical attention. You know that. We alerted your unit before Mrs. Jaspers checked in.” Grey hated to defend department procedures. “Give her a chance to heal now that she has a baby. You’re telling me you’d rather take this baby to strangers then let the baby stay with its mother?” The nurse’s face looked strained from all-night baby deliveries and haphazard nursing schedules. “I’m sorry. It would be better for me to leave now and take the baby to safety as quickly as possible.” Grey turned away from her. The tight faced nurse followed Grey to the nursery. Grey met paramedics there, and they wheeled the incubator past angry nurses and doctors, accompanied by a somber, waxen-faced police officer. They continued downstairs to a waiting ambulance. After they loaded the incubator into the vehicle, the ambulance pulled away with blaring sirens, as paramedics rushed the newborn to a neonatal intensive care unit. When they hit a bump, the baby went into seizures. The baby needed urgent drug withdrawal treatment and further medical assessments, none of which the baby’s birth hospital was equipped for. After the baby left, Grey’s heart raced, and he fought to catch his breath. He turned and ran back into the hospital. He burst into the bathroom, holding onto himself, after he locked the bathroom stall. His large frame huddled into a squirming ball, like a dying centipede wrapping around itself. He rubbed his salt-and-pepper hair and his shaky arms to comfort himself. Sweat poured off him in cold waves, and he felt sick and dizzy. He emptied his insides out, and then it was over. His stomach spasms eased, as he limped to the sink. He splashed cold water onto his face and washed himself. In the mirror, he saw his face staring back at him, a horror-mask drained of color. Grey took the next three days off from work. He stayed home smoking pot and watching television. When Grey felt high, he fantasized going to the tropics and sailing. He imagined salt spray on his face and wind blowing through his hair. His fantasy calmed him down. Nothing else settled his frayed nerves. Grey thought back to foster home placements during his eleven years of service. He thought of children who left abusive homes and were adopted by caring, committed people. As fear pressed closer, Grey questioned the meaning of his job. He saw kids yanked from parents in drug houses, doctors’ offices, and schools. Children screamed and cried for their mothers and fathers, the same parents who beat them, sold them, burned them or neglected them; it did not matter. Their children did not want to leave them. Parents walked out of courtrooms sobbing after they lost their kids. It was the same human drama, played out like an ugly, revolving kaleidoscope, during Grey’s eleven years on the job, except lately, the numbers of removals were skyrocketing. G rey thought about parents who lost their children to Child Protective Services, and he wondered how they handled missing the daily unfolding of their children. He wondered if their mental illnesses and drug-induced stupors kept their grief away. He wondered what happened to parents’ love for their children. Where did it go when their children slipped out of their lives, never to return? Grey felt an overwhelming loss. He sat in the shadows and struggled to hold back tears. Grey could not imagine losing his daughter, Olivia. Every day he marveled at his daughter’s beauty, her intelligence, and her courage. Olivia's openness to life kept him moving forward, even though he himself felt like he was sleepwalking. His daughter Olivia looked like his wife Anne, whom he lost to a sudden death eight years before. Anne moved softly like a cat, her thin, apple-shaped figure tantalizing him from the moment he met her. Her thick, chestnut hair, like a rich mantel, fell over her shoulders, as she laughed with a childlike quality, that same quality that constantly stirred his hunger for her. Anne righted his world when she moved close to him, as she laughed and nibbled at him, or playfully tickled him. He longed for the silliness of her. Sometimes he heard her laughing when he walked down the hall, or bent down to pick up a newspaper. He still waited for her, lying in the thick, inert, darkness; wishing she were next to him, yearning to reach out and touch the velvety outline of her warm body. Grey knew his daughter struggled with the loss of her mother. When her nineteen-year-old eyes turned distant and sad, he shied away from her. When he heard her crying in her bedroom, he tiptoed past her door, not daring to go near her, not daring to break open the wound again. Losing his wife was a gut-wrenching memory, still overpowering him. Anguish oozed through him like a tumultuous river, seeping over banks, rising always rising, towards the crest of his dread.
Grey was the toughest worker in the department. He pulled off horrific removals in his unit, and he never missed sleep over them. Until recently, he had no misgivings about removing children from their parents. But lately, he questioned his work and his sanity. He sensed sinister edges of his brain curling towards an ominous peril. Grey dreaded having another panic attack. He never knew when one would strike—the crushing fear, the desperation to breathe, the pouring sweat, the utter humiliation of its grip on him. He doubted if he could go on like this. 



Author Bio:

Shelby Londyn-Heath has been a world-traveler, crossing the Sahara Desert on the back of a salt truck, working on banana plantations in Spain, an oil company in New York, and on coffee farms in Hawaii. She has jumped freight trains across the United States, and she was the proud owner of a beachfront bamboo hut on the Canary Islands. She has worked as a counselor, social worker, and teacher.


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