Saturday, 14 July 2012

Blog Tour: I'm Here To Help by S K Chapman (review & guest post)

Title: I'm here To Help
Author: S F Chapman
Author Info: Twitter|Facebook
Source: Netgalley/J KS Communications
Format: eGalley
Publication Date: July 1st 2012

Tell Me About It
Seventeen-year-old Renita discovers some subtle inconsistencies in her birth certificate that put her mother, Sharon’s long held account that she was adopted into doubt. Sharon decides that it is finally time to tell Renita about both the laudable good deeds and the lamentable oversights that had led them to the current situation. Using a series of old framed photos that have hung for years in the living room, Sharon slowly reveals the complex set of events involving a star-crossed trip to Mexico, a very young stowaway Hispanic baby sitter named Juliana, the untimely death of Sharon’s husband, the unexpected pregnancy of Juliana, the eventual birth of Renita to Juliana and finally Juliana’s struggle with clinical depression that leads to her suicide. Through some sketchy paperwork filled at the county recorder’s office, Sharon was listed as Renita’s mom.

The first in several short-novels to follow, I'm here to help involves the characters (and generally society's) misperceptions about illegal immigration, suicide, the marginalization of undocumented residents, clinical depression, teen pregnancy, home childbirth and adoption.

My Thoughts
Renita is doing project for school and asks for birth certificate. When she finds it she has some questions about it, knowing she is adopted she wonders about her birth and ask her mum, Sharon, questions.  I'm Here To Help then follows Sharon as she recalls the events that led up to getting Renita and how their first holiday in years turned to be not as nice and relaxing as they originally planned.

When I began reading I'm Here To Help I loved how the story is told as Sharon and Renita work their way through a wall full of photographs in their house.  Each picture has it's own little story behind it, and it all relates to the explanation Sharon is giving to Renita.

When Renita finds out the truth, before the whole explanation, she is angry that her Mum kept so much hidden from her about her birth Mum, which is understandable, but as we learn more we get to see the real reasons for this deception and why it was the best thing overall.  I also felt sorry for Sharon, for having to deal with so much pain over the years, and while she didn't tell Renita the truth, she made sure that she had the best chance at life growing up. I loved the photograph at the end and thought it was a very touching way to remember the two people that were special for the family.

 I'm Here To Help may be a short read, but it doesn't lack in emotion or the power to draw a reader in.  There was one part in the book that I could relate to.  Renita is left handed, and is the only lefty in the family.  The quote that follows is so true.  I am the only lefty in my family and I constantly go on about how I am adapting to live in a right handed world, after all these years a lot of things I do are still right handed, even down to opening tins of food, and I doubt I could ever change myself back to being a true lefty.
"Only someone who is right-handed would ever say that," she groaned. "Almost everything is made for the convenience of righties. One of the reasons that I had so much trouble with those guitar lessons that I took when I was twelve was that the teacher wouldn't let me flip the guitar around or restring it for a lefty."

Guest Post by S.F. Chapman

I have plenty of gadgets populating the surface of the ancient oak desk where I write my novels.

It seems at times that I gaze down on an odd little electronic metropolis. The hardware crowds the prized real estate in the center and the coveted left-hand corner, pushing the workaday paper manuscripts and post-it notes to the seedy low rent district on the right that is uneasily shared with the seldom-used mouse pad.

The luxury tower of the contraption community is a tall, trendy stack of glossy black devices. At the base is a splendid and ornate AM/FM receiver from the early 1980s that I bought a few years ago at a thrift store for five dollars. It is simple to use and produces a particularly warm and throaty sound when I listen to NPR or the classic Rock station.

One level up is a beautiful slim black-cased desktop computer that I built with a few hundred dollars worth of parts. It has a fast quad-core processor and I often use it to convert video files from flabby and listless older formats to sleek new configurations. It is a PC computer and is often tasked with projects that my treasured old Mac laptop can’t handle. The black desktop has converted many of my manuscripts to the “mobi” file type used by some e-readers.

The penthouse of the sumptuous edifice is a stately flat screen monitor topped with a long and slender sapphire-hued Wi-Fi antenna that mimics the radio towers stretching up from art deco skyscrapers.

Below the fashionable heights is the mundane low-rise district of USB backup drives. They hum away in unison and wait patiently for the no longer needed data cast-offs sent down from the sophisticates next door. It is a dull and seldom visited locality when times are good, but when disaster strikes and a hard drive crashes elsewhere, the stalwart backups save the day.

The right side of the desk is what is euphemistically known in many western cities as “the flats.” A rough and unkempt area clinging mere inches above surface, the occupants are tumbled down and sometimes derelict, nearly all are transients or in need of rehabilitation.

E-readers and cell phones squat warily here, reluctantly tethered to various battery chargers as they await the chance to be carried off to more exciting venues.

Piles of dogged-eared notes, bits and pieces of inoperative electronics and a small collection of auto parts requiring replacement clutter the vacant patches.

A thick tangle of Ethernet cables and power cords destined for the posher districts to the left cuts rudely though the downtrodden neighborhood splitting up the locals.

But all of the hard labor and startling transformations happen here in the low rent section.

Stacks of long neglected manuscripts wait for future editing and story summaries restlessly demand to be forged into full-fledged works of fiction. This is where I have written my many books. My recently published literary novella I’m here to help was nurtured along to maturity here.

This is the desk where I live.

About the Author

S F Chapman has done it all. He spent 4 years as a truck driver, 8 years as a
scientific glass blower and 20 years as a building contractor. He’s a
computer geek, handyman, music lover and relentless tinkerer.

But it’s his newest venture he’s most passionate about. In the next five years
Chapman plans to release 12 books, his first being I’m here to help (July
1, 2012), a literary fiction tale about a teenage daughter looking for answers
to some inconsistencies on her birth certificate.

Family is something Chapman knows well, as he’s the third of 12 children
born to an endearing stay-at-home mother and traveling salesman father during
the 1960s Space Race.

His desire for writing sparked while working on his liberal arts degree at Diablo Valley College.  Chapman chose mostly classes in the English Department, focusing on science fiction literature, composition and short story writing. He generated nearly a dozen short stories in two years.

Since 2009, he’s begun writing novel-length fiction tales and prepping for the launch of his own
independent book publishing company Striped Cat Press. The six works so far are the post-apocalyptic
soft science fiction MAC Series consisting of Floyd 5.136, Xea in the Library and Beyond the Habitable
Limit; the science fiction detective story entitled The Ripple in Space-Time; his debut literary novella
I’m here to help; and the general fiction tale of death and destruction called On the Back of the Beast.
Chapman is currently alternating between two entirely different writing projects: the first being a rough
and tumble literary novel about homelessness called The Missive In The Margins; and the second a
science fiction detective squeal to The Ripple in Space-Time dubbed Torn From On High.

Chapman is a Californian for life, having grown up in the northern part of the state and living the past 53 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife are the proud parents of an 18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. They currently live in Concord.

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