Please welcome Beem Weeks to my blog. Hello Beem, nice to have you on my blog today. Shall we sit and have a chat?
Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
Greetings. My name is Beem Weeks. I am a lifelong resident of Michigan, except for two years spent in Florida back in the 1980s. I am an author, podcaster, video/audio producer, and editor.
Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
I wrote my first short story at the age of eight. My teacher encouraged me along this path. I’ve been a writer ever since. I wrote record and concert reviews for my high school newspaper. I began writing my first novel about fifteen years after I graduated. I knew it was time to write it when the story and characters became fully formed in my head.
How difficult was it writing your first book?
It took me about eight years from start to finish. However, I put it away for two years, and I never intended to publish it. Stephen Geez is the one who encouraged me to release it to the world.
Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
No. I’ve never been that discouraged with my writing. If a story isn’t working, I put it away and begin working on another idea. I usually return to the paused project with new insights and a fresh approach.
Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
I would have to say my mother. She has been incredibly supportive since I released my first book. My publisher, Stephen Geez, has been a great encouragement as well. And anytime a reader leaves a nice review, that’s certainly encouraging.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I am truly grateful to all those who have read and reviewed my work over the past ten years. I am humbled by the kind words and reviews readers have sent my way. Without readers, there would be little use for us writers. I am thankful for each one.
What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
The best advice I’ve received as an author came from Stephen Geez. He told me to take the time to outline my stories. This was twenty odd years ago, and I still adhere to that piece of advice. Outlining has made me a better writer and storyteller.
What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
I tend to write for those who appreciate literary fiction, those who may be fans of Barbara Kingsolver, A. M. Homes, Daniel Woodrell. These are usually adults aged 18 and older. Mostly, I write for myself. If it entertains me, it’s likely to entertain others.
Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
I work with Fresh Ink Group to get the right look, tone, and vibe. With Jazz Baby, we didn’t nail it the first time. I was eager to get it out there. That’s always a bad move. Take your time with these things. Have patience. In the end, we redesigned the cover and rereleased that book. With The Thing About Kevin, the book I’m showcasing here, I had a vision for the cover. I worked with Stephen Geez on that concept, and we got it exactly how I imagined.
What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
I am currently at work on two novels. The Secret Collector is a historical fiction story set in 1910. This deals with the early suffragette movement. The POV character gets involved with the fight for women to get the vote. At first, she sees it as foolishness. But as the story progresses, she comes to see the value in having a voice. My second WIP, Before the Streetlight Come On, is set in 1977, and tells the story of a young girl with a very high IQ. A family secret is uncovered that changes everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) she’s ever known in life.
EXCERPT FROM THE SECRET COLLECTOR:
Violet sat in a cage in the basement of the Fulton County Jail, imagining the sort of reception she’d receive once returned to her father. The very notion of hitting a police officer would not sit well with Early Glass. The man didn’t often resort to using his belt on his daughters. But every now and then, one of the Glass girls may have wandered across that imaginary line drawn somewhere in the dirt. In such cases drawn from past experiences, well, it usually called for three or four solid swats with that leather strap. But this infraction? This blatant disregard for the natural order of things? This stain upon the Glass family name? Violet may as well not even bother returning home. Maybe she could stay in Montgomery with Rosie and Leonard, be a sort of nanny to the baby.
An hour into her stay, other women from the protest began to trickle in, finding accommodations in those other cages lining the hallway. News filled the air.
Fighting in the streets!
“We’ll have the vote within the next year,” proclaimed one of the suffragettes. “We’ve got their attention now!”
The cages began to empty almost as quickly as they filled. Women were shuffled in and out as fines were paid.
Still, Violet remained. Even as the sun began to set, bringing the growing darkness into the basement.
“What about me?” Violet asked the man extracting the last of the suffragettes from their cages. “Do they know I’m down here?”
“Doesn’t matter who knows you’re down here,” the skinny fella quipped. “You slugged a police officer. Ain’t no paid fine gonna get you sprung. You’ll be seeing the judge come Monday morning.”
It’s a moment like this that can bring a girl to the deeper truths of life—like, just what the heck did she get herself into?
Fear crept into her belly, filled her with a dread she had never known before, left her wanting nothing more than to be back home with her family. Violet dropped onto the small bench in the corner and took to crying. Pleading words of hope were sent up to God—though she hadn’t spent much time in conversation with the Almighty in recent years.
But still, it couldn’t hurt to ask.
* * *
Sunday morning brought another round of sticky heat and a breakfast of cornbread and grits. Violet contemplated a change of life if ever allowed to return to her family. She’d be a better daughter to her folks—and a nicer sister to Lily Mae and Rosie. Perhaps she might even overlook some of Granddad’s faults—he did lose his wife, after all.
“You the one smacked that police fella?” asked a man pushing a broom over the hallway floor.
Violet said, “I’m awful sorry I did.”
His grin bragged of two missing teeth up front. “They’s a man from over to Alabama come to fetch you out.”
Daddy! She thought, gaining her feet. Perhaps it might be safer to stay right here. “Does he seem angry?”
The man’s shoulders pushed up a shrug before spindly legs carried him down the hallway.
“May as well take my lumps,” Violet said, reclaiming that small bench.
* * *
Leonard Broussard shared a laugh with a man behind the front desk. They chatted about the new addition to his household and where he stands in his climb to the top of Alabama government. He gave his promise that Violet would be leaving Georgia that very afternoon and would never again return—at least not for some foolish notion like votes for women.
In the motorcar he let her have it. “Striking a police officer? Are you touched, girl?”
Violet offered nothing by way of explanation or excuse. She’d done wrong and accepted this fact. “Does Daddy know?” she asked, settled into her seat.
Leonard wrestled the car into gear and moved them toward home. “Nobody but me and Rosie knows what’s what.”
“How’d you find out?”
“That Pamela girl—and now you got Rosie all upset and half in tears.”
“Pamela told you?”
“She sent a telegram. You just better be thankful I was in my office on a Saturday.”
Warm air whipped through Violet’s hair as Leonard gunned the car along a lonely stretch of road wending through cottonfields and hill country. On the seat between them lay a copy of the Atlanta Sunday newspaper. The headline screamed of Yankee agitators bringing trouble to good Southern folks.
“Your name is in there,” Leonard said, his gaze moving from road to girl, and back again. “Violet Marie Glass, cop slapper.”
Violet dared ask, “You suppose the Alabama papers will blab on it?”
“I didn’t see anything before I left this morning. Can’t know for sure until the evening edition runs.”
The steady whine of the engine filled gaps where conversation fell off, leaving Violet to her thoughts over what might come next. Would she have to go back to jail or pay a fine that might drain her family’s meager savings?
“Do I have to see the judge over there?” she asked.
“No man—especially not even a police officer—wants to go before a judge and jury and admit to being slapped by a fifteen-year-old girl. I called in a favor, okay? So, stop fretting over what can’t be undone.”
Violet said, “Thank you, Leonard. I mean it.”
“Oh, you and me, we ain’t done, girl. You owe me big for this one.”
Violet’s head tipped a nod. “And just so you know, I didn’t slap that man. I socked him a good one, right in his eye.”
Any last words before we wrap things up?
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be on your blog, Mary. I am grateful.
BIO: Beem Weeks is an author, editor, blogger, podcast host, and audio/video producer. He has written many short stories, essays, poems, and the historical fiction/coming of age novel entitled Jazz Baby. Beem has also released Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories and Strange Hwy: Short Stories, and the novella The Thing About Kevin. He is a lifelong native of Michigan, USA.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/beem%20weeks
Fresh Ink Group: https://freshinkgroup.com/author/beemweeks/