While the calendar may read December, this is the time we all want to start thinking about those great warm days that will be coming soon (hopefully), so we can all get away to the beach! Today's guest in My Writing Corner has just the ticket to solve our winter doldrums. My guest is author Susie Black, who has appeared on my blog previously where we were fortunate enough to feature a number of books in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series. It's great to welcome her back with her newest book, Rag Lady, which is the prequel to this series.
Welcome Susie. What is the book you are featuring today and how did you come up with the story?
The book I am featuring today is Rag Lady. The prequel to the stories in The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Rag Lady is the fictionalized autobiography of how I got into the rag biz and my subsequent writing gig. Since the continuing main character is based on me, I came up with the idea of the story to give context to the series by detailing the protagonist’s history as well as a means to introduce several continuing characters.
Let's get a blurb for Rag Lady
Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.
We're trying something new today. Instead of interviewing the main character, Holly, we are going to talk to Holly's dad, Mike:
Welcome Mr. Schlivnik. Tell us a little bit about your life.
Hi there. Mike Schlivnik at your service. I’m a fun-loving guy in my late forties. I am happily married to my wonderful wife Natalie. We have three fabulous adult children who still keep us on our toes every day. Natalie, two of our kids, my remarkable Mother-in-law, and I recently moved from Los Angeles to Miami, Florida for my business.
I enjoy a good cigar once in a while when my wife lets me. I have been known to tell an off-color joke or two, and am a fair-to-middling poker player. I’m a football, barbeque, and rock n’ roll fanatic. Oh yeah…And I could stand to lose a few pounds…but don’t tell my wife, or she’ll put me on one of those frou-frous diets you’re always hungry on that set you up for failure.
How did you get involved in the garment business?
After graduating from The Ohio State, I caught the acting bug and ran off to Hollywood to seek my fame and fortune. After pounding the pavement for months, I only got a few bit parts for my trouble. But a fella’s gotta eat…so I had to take a reality pill. Just as I faced the prospect of going back to Cleveland with my tail between my legs, a girl I was dating introduced me to her father who was a ladies’ sportswear manufacturer. Despite my having NO experience, she convinced her dad to hire me as a local sales rep. It turned out that selling and acting use the same storytelling skills. I took to it like a duck to water and never looked back. The girlfriend and I didn’t work out, but I thank her every day for my apparel sales career.
A sales rep colleague introduced me to the world of bullfighting, and I took the sport up as an amateur. Yes, I realize it’s almost impossible to imagine my burgeoning middle-aged spread ever donning toreador pants. But back in the day, I worked out, and had quite the physique. And if I say so myself, I looked quite dashing in my costume. I eventually gave the gig up, but found a way to incorporate bullfighting into my career. With a dip and a sweep, every customer remembers my presentations as a ladies’ apparel manufacturers’ representative. It is an effective shtick and has become synonymous with my selling style.
Tell us about your daughter, Holly.
Not that I’m prejudiced or anything- but how much time do we have? Because I could go on about my daughter Holly for days. She’s whip-smart, has a wicked sense of humor, loyal to a fault, fiercely independent, stands up for herself, doesn’t take crap from anyone-including, no, especially her parents, and is not afraid to speak her mind.
What has been your dream for Holly’s future?
My dream for Holly’s future has always been to dream for her all that she dreams for herself.
Natalie and I raised our kids to think for themselves and follow their hearts to find the right path for themselves. It has always been what our kids wanted for themselves that was important for them to pursue, NOT what we wanted for them.
What has happened to change those dreams?
Nothing has happened to change my dreams for Holly. My dreams for her are still, and always will be, those that she dreams for herself. But in life, nothing is as constant as change-including one’s dreams. Not long ago, I needed to go to Cleveland when a family emergency arose while I was in the middle of a tradeshow in Atlanta. I reached out to Holly to come to Atlanta and run the show for me. She agreed and as I predicted, did a fantastic job. As a result of her tradeshow experience, Holly’s dreams changed and now so have mine for her.
How can you help her to achieve her dreams?
As her parent, I have some perspective, and see things in Holly that she does not see in herself. She did not see herself as a natural-born saleswoman, but I did. Now as her career mentor, I help her achieve her dreams by teaching her everything about her craft. By reminding her that she sells confidence, not clothing- she sells herself and nothing else. I teach her that it’s okay to admit what she doesn’t know and stick to her guns with what she does. I remind her not to let anyone step on her dreams and never be afraid to fail-that she will, in fact, learn a lot more from her failures than she ever will from her successes. But most of all, that life holds no limitations, and if she perseveres, she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.
Want more? Let's get an excerpt from Rag Lady:
“To tell you the truth, the problem is, I kinda like Dad’s offer.” I squirmed in my chair. “But I don’t wanna make a mistake. I will screw my life up if I make the wrong choice. I’m trying to imagine myself doing the job Dad does. The adventuresome part of me says it’s cool. No school, no exams, no tedious papers to compose. I’d be experiencing life instead of reading about it. And getting paid to do it. But the realistic part of me says, are you nuts? Schlepping those heavy garment bags all over the place? And what kind of a life would I have traveling all the time? I don’t trust myself to make the right decision, and I’m driving myself crazy. I want someone else to decide, and tell me which way to go.”
Nana looked over her glasses and clucked her tongue. “Well, too bad, kiddo. Life doesn’t work that way. Let me tell you something. And the sooner you learn it, the easier your life will be. Man plans, and God laughs.”
I looked at Nana like she’d spoken in Sanskrit. “Meaning?”
Nana answered in the same indulgent tone she used when I was a toddler. “It means plan all you want, but most of the time, your plans don’t mean a hill of beans. To use your vernacular, shit happens. You’re going along singing a song, confident life is a well-planned party. But the truth is, the road to life from birth to death isn’t paved in a straight line. It’s paved with hills and valleys, U-turns, and unexpected curves. And trust me. Nothing usually works out the way you think it will. To really live life and not merely exist taking up space, you must love a good mystery, love a good adventure, and love a good challenge. Kiddo, nothing in life is as constant as change. Keep your head on a swivel, and explore all your options. Look behind you for a sense of history, to the sides for a sense of proportion, and most important, remember God screwed our heads on facing forward for a reason. To look ahead to the future. To make good decisions, you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. You will learn more from your failures than from your successes. Regret is the worst human emotion because it is the one we can usually do nothing about. Always be yourself, don’t live your life for someone else, or in terms of someone else. Trust your gut, and believe in yourself.”
When she finished, I asked, “So, what should I do?”
Nana waved that gnarled index finger at me again and smiled. “Nice try, kiddo. It’s not important what I think. It’s only important what you think. So?”
In a moment of clarity, I looked Nana in the eye and made my decision.
Looking for more? Here are the buy links for Rag Lady and social media contacts for Susie Black.
Rag Lady buy links:
I Books: Rag Lady on Apple Books
Google Play for Books: Rag Lady by Susie Black - Books on Google Play
Goodreads: Rag Lady by Susie Black | Goodreads
Social Media Links
Book Bub: www.bookbub.com/authors/susie-black