Excerpt from The 30 Year Secret: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Excerpt from The 30 Year Secret: A Journey of Self-Discovery

I’m working on multiple projects right now, one of which is a fictionalized version of a client’s real life. Titled The 30 Year Secret: A Journey of Self Discovery, it follows the main character Theresa’s awakening after she receives earth-shattering news about her origins.

From the book description:

Does the truth really set you free? What if you discovered one day that everything you believed about your life was a lie?

For Theresa Chianti, the revelation of a 30-year secret rocks her to her core and initiates a journey of self-discovery where the pursuit of truth threatens her relationships and forces her to draw upon courage she never knew she had. Will her quest for answers lead to peace of mind or usher in more heartache?

Armed with a mother’s example of enduring faith, she’ll come to appreciate the transcendent power of maternal love on her quest to achieve a level of self-awareness never before experienced.

Here’s an excerpt:

The thick, distinctive aroma of incense hung in the air as Theresa made her way into Our Lady of Lourdes, the large wooden door creaking shut behind her. In the late afternoon of a weekday, the pews stood empty, save for a few devoted souls – most of them on bended knee – scattered throughout. She scanned the massive room with her eyes, taking comfort in the biblical scenes depicted by stained-glass windows and the presence of an enormous, intricately carved crucifix hanging above the altar.

She couldn’t remember the last time she walked into church simply for prayerful reflection. Since Toni Ann’s birth, she’d made a conscientious effort to attend weekly Mass, but it often felt rote and forced. Being here in the quiet, observing the pure devotion of the elderly folks who made it a daily practice to connect with the Lord on their own filled her with a sense of wonder.

She smiled as she thought of her own mother, whose faith in God never wavered. Would this time here alone help her to summon the courage she needed?

Satisfied that the few people present either didn’t know her or were too wrapped up in their own meditations to notice her arrival, she made her way to the altar. After genuflecting and making the sign of the cross, she proceeded to the assembled collection of candles to the right, a few feet in front of the statue of Mary. She pulled a dollar out of her pocket and slid it into the donation box. Taking a long match out of a container of ashes, she dipped it into the flame of a burning candle and murmured a prayer as she lit a new one for her special intention. Then she settled her knees onto the cushioned kneeler and closed her eyes.

God, please give me the strength to do what I gotta do, she pleaded. Help me to be calm and get what I need from Sara, for the sake of my little girl. And God, thank you for Ma. Thank you for letting me end up in a home with love. Thank you for giving me such a strong woman for a mother. Please keep her healthy. Please keep her from ever finding out about this meeting. I know, I need to see Sara in person; I just don’t want Ma to ever find out because it would hurt her too much. Help me keep this secret, God. I know it’s wrong to lie, but I love her so much, I can’t tell her the truth.

Uncontrollable tears poured from her eyes, smearing black mascara on her pale skin, but she didn’t care as she prayed with an energized passion and purpose, her hands covering her face. When finished, she took a few gulps of air and held onto the bannister for a few minutes to steady her shaking shoulders. Once composed enough to walk, she took a seat at an empty, nearby pew, where she remained in peaceful silence until an involuntary flash of memory startled her.

A knock on the door.  A man and a woman smiling at her. Her father, Joseph Chianti, enraged.

“She’s either ours or yours; get the hell out!” she heard him bellow in the theater of her mind. The scene then faded into a marina, where she saw herself as a child sitting on a raft with her brother Joseph. Her body felt the steady rise and fall of the water as she watched this younger version of herself squeal with delight under the warm summer sun. Drifting, drifting, drifting away, until…panic. In her head, she heard the children screaming in terror, two young captives on their way out to sea when a rope securing them to the dock somehow unraveled.

“Grab the pole, Joseph; grab the pole!” the seven-year-old girl yelled out to her brother. Theresa felt her entire body convulse with fear as she watched them cling helplessly to the only thing preventing them from becoming shark food.

A moment later, she almost screamed out loud when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

Ghostwriting fiction tends to be a much longer process than nonfiction, but I’m working hard to complete this incredible story by the end of the year. I’ll post an update soon.

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The 30 Year Secret: A Journey of Self-Discovery

The 30 Year Secret: A Journey of Self-Discovery

Coming soon from Writestream Publishing and author Samantha Kincaid.

From the Foreword:

As the old saying goes, “Writing is therapy.”

I wrote this book for a multitude of reasons. First, the process of transforming my incredible true story into a fictional tale was therapeutic on a personal level. It helped me to put my actual life events and circumstances into perspective. Within these pages, through the characters of Theresa Chianti and Lucy Napoli, I tried to express my deep gratitude to my mother for giving me the greatest gift I could have ever received after an unplanned conception: a home filled with love, even if lacking in material comforts.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, where my mother, brother and I lived in a studio apartment with a kitchen and bathroom. None of us had the luxury of a private bedroom; instead we slept on convertible couches, chairs, or cots depending on whomever happened to be visiting. Thanks to our apartment building’s unaddressed infestation, we could always count on the constant companionship of roaches. And while I remember our father as a loving man who always treated me like a princess, his financial irresponsibility meant that my mother worked two grueling waitress  jobs to keep food on the table and send us to Catholic school.

Between the ages of eight and ten, my brother and I were often separated for long periods of time. During the summers we’d live with relatives since my mother had to work. Even though he loved us, my father struggled with his own demons which prevented him from stepping up. Still, I never lacked for love.

Now imagine reaching the age of 30 and receiving news that shatters everything you believed to be true about your life. That’s exactly what happened to me one day when my oldest sister called to request my presence at her house immediately. I assumed she was going to tell me about another death in the family since we’d had more than our share of them at the time. When I arrived, I was struck by how pale she looked and knew that whatever she was about to share was not good. However, I was completely unprepared for what she disclosed.

As it turned out, no one had passed away. But figuratively, all of my beliefs about my birth, childhood and upbringing were destroyed.

A single tear fell from my eye. How could I not know? How was it possible I hadn’t figured it out on my own when the signs had all been there?

So many questions.

Theresa’s journey is my journey. Certain circumstances, places and people have been adapted for fiction but what you are about to read is based on my own life. Whatever you are dealing with, I hope you’ll find inspiration in the strength of maternal love which I know from my own experience transcends biology, legally binding contracts, and financial hardship.

With gratitude and love, I dedicate this book to my mother, a woman who lived for her children. She may not have been perfect but her love for us never failed to reflect the love of God and her devotion to the Catholic faith.

Stay tuned for details as we get closer to the release date.

Cover design by Kimberly McGath.

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Writestream Tuesday with authors Adrian Meyer Mallin and Balazs Szabo

If you missed the live broadcast today, click below to listen to my interview with two exceptional guests. Planning to stop by Adrian’s book signing tonight, so will hopefully have some nice photos to post later!

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My Mother, My Role-Model

Since I’m all about celebrating strong, empowered, loving, patriotic and accomplished women, I realized I’d be remiss if I neglected to write about the most influential woman in my life, my mother Rose. Actually, I come from a long line of strong, can-do women, which obviously helped mold my mother into the independent, loving, strong female I have always known her to be.

While we tend to think of “empowerment” as a modern phenomenon, I’ve been blessed to be a part of a family in which this has been quite common for many generations. My cousin Millie — the first female graduate of  Temple University Pharmacy School — had a distinguished career back in the 40s. My Great Aunt Emma was a self-employed business owner of a Philadelphia beauty salon around the same time, while also a wife to my Uncle Al and mother to my cousin Joey (and eventually, grandmother to five and great-grandmother to twelve). And my mom’s sister, my “favorite” Aunt Marie, also owned a thriving gift shop in Flourtown, PA while also raising a family with my Uncle Merle.  (May God rest the souls of these wonderful women).

But no one has had as big an impact on my life than my mom, Rose. While technically a “stay at home” mother of five during the critical years of infancy, childhood and adolescence, due to my dad’s crazy schedule as a general and vascular surgeon, the heavy lifting of child rearing mostly fell on her highly capable shoulders — thus in that sense she was a “single mother”.

The early days: Mom and Dad with my older brothers Ralph (on mom's lap) and Mark.

She also managed the books for my dad’s office, while volunteering for endless school- and hospital-related endeavors like homeroom mother, Home & School Association President and Physicians’ Wives Auxiliary, to name just a few.  Additionally, she helped with homework and various projects, shuttled us to various activities like baseball practice and dance classes, and exposed us to art, culture, history and professional sporting events — even if my dad was not available to come along.

I never heard my mother once complain about having to do it all herself, or about not having my father around her every waking moment. She accepted the fact that as the breadwinner, provider and head of the home, my dad’s demanding profession would keep him away much of the time (though when he was home he was fully present in whatever was going on). On the contrary, she reveled in her independence and in her children.

And lest anyone think being the wife of a surgeon was always glamorous and financially secure, let me add that my father was the son of immigrant parents who worked three jobs throughout high school, college and medical school to help pay for his tuition. In fact, when first married, my parents had to live with her parents because of dire financial circumstances. And even after they’d managed to move their young family out to the suburbs years later, they still couldn’t afford furniture for their two-story colonial in Springfield, PA.

With Mom and my nieces Alexa, Julianna and Sophia.

When they found out they were going to have a fifth child — me – it could not have come at a worse time. Add to the financial stress the fact that my mom’s father suffered and unexpected heart attack and died very early into the pregnancy, it’s a miracle I am even here.

But for me, the defining moment of our family (and the biggest testament to my mother’s strength and resolve) occurred over eight years before I was even a glimmer in father’s eye: the birth of my second-oldest brother, Ralph:

Ralph arrived on October 4, 1959, the second-born child of my parents, Rose and Al. Despite the trauma of his premature birth and the absence of my father who was working in upstate Pennsylvania as part of his medical residency, Mom was thrilled to have a baby brother for her older child, Mark, then 17 months-old. When she held the beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed infant in her arms, the young 28 year-old mother felt truly blessed. Ralph was a sight to behold.

Her joy was shattered early the next morning, however, by a visit from Ralph’s pediatrician, who matter-of-factly informed her that her baby had been born with a terrible affliction known as Down syndrome. With clinical certainty, he pronounced that Ralph’s future would indeed be bleak. Pointing to a tree outside the window, he explained that my brother would be just like a tree trunk—unable to do anything but stand there. To say that this guy had no bedside manner would be an understatement. He completed his “professional analysis” by recommending Ralph’s institutionalization since my Dad was a resident doctor, and the presence of a handicapped child would be a “stigma” on the young family.

The more he spoke, the angrier my mother became—after the initial shock. Summoning her courage and faith in God, she ordered the doctor out of her room with the firm admonition to stay away from her baby. As of that moment, he was no longer Ralph’s pediatrician. Filled with an inner strength and supported by my father and close family members, she vowed to do everything in her power to help this special boy reach his full potential. And she would soon discover its scope went far beyond anything the “experts” foresaw.

Under the guidance and tutelage of my determined mother, Ralph crawled early, walked early, ate with no problems, and even toilet-trained early. A loving, affectionate child, he was a source of joy for his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a wonderful playmate for his big brother. Mom switched to a new pediatrician—a kind, caring man named Dr. John Williams—who applauded her efforts and was amazed at all that Ralph had accomplished.

Please click here to read the whole thing. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for my upbringing and most especially for a mother who taught me to be strong,  independent and courageous not only by her words, but by her example.

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