Jennifer Coissiere is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, raised in Jamaica, NY, and currently living in a suburb of Georgia with her husband and three children. Aside from writing and working on her BS in Early Childhood Education, Jennifer also dabbles in making beaded gems. You can learn more about Jennifer at her website.
Rachelle Martin’s mother died on Mother’s Day when she was only 15. To make matters worse, Rachelle was in church singing her mother’s favorite song at the time. Now, at age 30, she still has not gotten over the loss of her mother. She feels it is her job to mother and protect her twin brother, Raheem. However, when Rachelle’s dad asks her to sing as a Christmas gift to him, she is transformed. She becomes the focus of many as she focuses on the here and now, instead of the pain of so long ago. She goes from a perceived ugly duckling to a beautiful swan. Her transformation changes the lives of others, making them realize what they want in life. Slowly but surely, they will all begin Crossing Over.
What is writing to you?
Writing, like reading, is my way to escape from my everyday life. I do, say, and be things (a person) I wouldn’t otherwise be. I also find it’s a way to get a message out to the person who needs to receive it.
Why did you agree to be a part of the GWave Writing Journey?
I remember when we first started throwing around ideas about giving our writing the time it deserves because we are so passionate about writing. Writing can be addictive and very lonely. Knowing that I had a support group cheering me on when I felt like I had nothing left in me to write is the reason why I agreed to be a part of the GWave Writing Journey.
How did friendship and sisterhood help/hinder your writing during the journey?
I gained a deeper appreciation for the friendship (a word I don’t use lightly at all) of each individual person and also the sisterhood of the entire group. Sometimes just when I started beating myself up for not writing, because I didn’t feel like writing anything, and/or I had spent my writing time staring off or doodling…a message would come through. Someone else would share their progress on their writing and I would get excited for my friends. Sure enough, there would always be one other person saying they didn’t get a chance to write because of xyz, and I wouldn’t feel so bad or alone anymore.
How did the use of GWave help facilitate conversation amongst the group during the journey?
The conversations were so lively because of the real-time aspect of GWave. We didn’t have to send emails back and forth. Being able to respond to an exact statement made it easy to follow the conversation if for some reason I was unable to take part at the time it was happening. The ideas we bounced off each other was stored some place we could return to.
What were some of the successes and or pitfalls that occurred for you during the writing journey?
My success is that I was able to focus on a story that I was enjoyed writing. I didn’t want to feel like it was a chore. The mere fact I was writing was a great success, but the fact that most of it was really good, in my opinion, made it a better success. My pitfall, boy is it a doozy, I wrote myself into a wall twice. Which made me have to go back to the beginning, read and rearrange, add in or take away from what I already had. I felt conflicted because I was getting nowhere and fast.
What did you learn about yourself through the writing journey? As person and as writer?
I learned that I do most of my writing when I am really upset about something, doesn’t matter what. I can write really fast, but with a burning desire to control the situation. However, when I’m happy or content, I write slower with a lackadaisical passion. I also realize that unless others are depending on me I am a huge procrastinator. I will do everything else but write. Once it’s time for me to write, I’m usually too tired to do it. I need to develop a tight schedule that I will stick with to get my writing in at a more reasonable time.
Well, supposedly, you wrote during this journey...what do you plan to do with what you've written?
I intend to complete my manuscript and then have it edited. I know I said in the beginning this would be the book that I would shop around in an attempt to find a publisher, but I’m still thinking about that.
Hiding Under The Umbrella
(an excerpt from Chapter Two)
“LaShae, I’m sorry that Nana behaved the way she did. However, once we get inside, please don’t start anything with Derek.”
“You blame me for everything,” she said. “Bet you blame me for my father taking his things and high tailing it out of here.”
Every time she spoke of her father, a little more of my shine got sucked out of my spirit. “No, I don’t,” I said in a hushed tone. I hated when she brought him up.
That man left on his own free will. He never gave a reason and I never sought him out to get one. The truth was I didn’t want to hear him say anything negative about me. What upstanding man would walk away from his beautiful daughter? Just her sheer innocence alone would be enough to keep him focused on being in her life. The obvious divider would be me. Didn’t want him to tell me that. I let him go without a fight. I didn’t even seek him out for any type of child support. The support I had needed and wanted at the time he obviously didn’t want to give me, so I let him off the hook without any consequences.
“Please, just say hello to Derek and you can do whatever you’d like for the remainder of the evening.” I didn't feel like putting out yet another fire. Once today was enough.
“Fine, you won’t even know I’m here. If I had my own phone that would make it even easier to disappear,” she said. Why were teenagers so pessimistic?
“I hate when you say things like that. Adjust your attitude while I think about getting you a phone.”
LaShae’s face lit up as if I had already agreed to buy her a cell.
She entered the house first. I took a deep breath before entering behind her. Derek was sitting in the kitchen with no lights on, holding on to a bottle of soda. I walked over to him and attempted to kiss his head, but he moved out of my reach.
“Do you have any idea what time it is?” he asked. He didn’t even bother to look in my direction. He stared at the closed refrigerator door. Then his head turned to the right, acknowledging the fact that the stove was also without food.
“Sorry, honey. I’m going to get you your dinner right away.” All my bags were thrown into the corner by the pantry door. Under normal circumstances, I would have placed them in my office, but tonight was not the time to keep Derek waiting to do such a menial task.
I washed my hands and quickly took out the flank steaks I had in the refrigerator. Instead of the mashed potatoes I originally planned, I decided on a potato hash.
That would cook faster.
Derek was still sitting in the same spot he was in when we got there. The muscles in his jaw were working. The tension was building in the room as the heat from the stove went up a few degrees.
I would be lying if I said that I was still hungry after eating at my mother’s house. However, Derek hated eating alone, so I put a small tasting on a plate for myself.
With both plates ready to be placed on the table, I grabbed the water jug from the refrigerator. Derek’s eyes finally met mine as I rested the plate in front of him.
The old, if looks could kill saying jumped into my mind.
I sat across from him and waited for him to begin eating. That way if he needed something else I could get it for him without being interrupted. The sound of the plate hitting the ground startled me.
“I asked you did you have any idea what time it was?” he said. His hands were balled into fists. “In this house we eat at seven-thirty, not one minute after. You waltz up in here without so much as a phone call and no explanations. Do you think that’s ok? Do you think washing your hands will get the stench of whomever you were with off of your skin? Who knows what germs you have mingling with my food.”
I rushed over to where the pieces of the plate and the remnants of the food landed and took a handful of paper towels to clean up the mess.
“Derek, I was at my mother’s. She insisted that I eat with her. Come on, you have to understand how my mother is, no is not an answer she will easily accept.”
“And you think it’s something that I should take with a cool drink of water.” My heart was pounding. For some reason I sensed that trouble was brewing for me again.
Between my mother and Derek, I could hardly ever please them both. I felt like they were tugging me in two different directions wanting me to conform to their ways only. I had no idea what I could say or do to get out of the trouble I was in.
“That’s not what I’m saying. But she’s my mother.” I pleaded with his sympathetic side.
“It’s coming to the point where you need to choose which one of us is more important to you. I’m not playing second to anyone. Not even your mother. Hell it’s not like she cares for me at all.”
Guess his sympathetic side was on vacation because he was being unreasonable. “You can’t be serious,” I said.
“You think I’m not…well waltz up in here late again because of her and see how much of a joke I’m playing.”
He always said stuff like that, so I wasn’t too worried he would really do anything drastic. Derek had a hot temper, but was a very rational man.
He walked out the kitchen. When he reached the entry to the hallway, he turned back and said, “Hurry and clean the kitchen; then get in here and take care of my needs. Don’t keep me waiting.”