After growing up heartbroken with an endless series of struggles, Maria Michaels creates a picture-perfect family of her own. But life changes too quickly, and she loses her grip on herself and her two troubled sons. In spite of her desire to give them a better life, they spiral downward on the paths they choose. They must fight through sadness, mistakes and tragedy to find redemption and the love that only a mother can give. Told from a dual perspective of mother and son, we follow the family’s battles with divorce, drugs and depression. You will laugh and cry, and probably want to call your mom to tell her you love her.
Praise for The Crossroads of Logan Michaels:
“Sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful, but always gritty and real, The Crossroads of Logan Michaels examines a bright young man’s downward spiral into addiction; the forces that drive him to drinking and drugs, and ultimately the forces that may guide him back out. Thumbs-up for this debut!” – James Frey, best-selling author of A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, and Bright Shiny Morning
AGE OF INNOCENCE
Being in a new town, and leaving all of my old friends, scared me. I knew I was good at baseball and basketball, but I worried whether I would still be good in North Andover.
Summer was ending, but I couldn’t complain. We’d had fun times camping in Maine, while my little brother, Jared, and I got into mischief. My friends from Andover called me and said we should still hang out, even though we would be in different towns.
The summer came to an end and I was ready for third grade at my new school. Monday arrived and I looked out the window at the playground and saw all the kids. Living across the street from the school wasn’t all that bad. I grabbed my bag and kissed my mother and high-fived my dad before walking over to the school yard. There was a steep hill I slowly ran down, and then I ran across a field of kids kicking a soccer ball. I aimlessly walked around, checking out the playground, kicking my feet, and watching the kids play before the bell rang. Our house was so close that I could see my mom staring through the window at me.
The bell rang as I watched kids line up. We “pledged allegiance” outside and then walked to class. Being the new kid sucks, I thought, as I sat down next beside a boy named Grant.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Logan,” I said.
“Got a last name?”
“Michaels. My name is Logan Michaels.”
“You play any sports?”
“Yeah, baseball and basketball,” I replied.
“You any good?”
I laughed and said, “Let’s play at recess and find out.”
Recess arrived; we grabbed the basketball immediately and ran over to the hoops. After a couple of shots, the fifth-graders came over and tried to kick us off the court. Grant and I were not giving up that easily, though, and we said, “Let’s play for it.”
They laughed as they confidently threw the ball to me.
I caught it and shot. SWISH!! The game started out with two people watching, and by the end of recess, Grant and I had the whole recess crowd around us cheering. “ICE! ICE! ICE!” the older kids yelled. My last shot was in the air as everyone was watching: game point and SWISH!
We won by one point, and that day established my new nickname, Ice, because I had taken about twenty shots and had missed only two. The older kids said that we could play with them anytime, and I became popular on my first day. I ran home right after school, ready to tell my mom everything.
I walked in the house and saw Jared playing in the kitchen while my mom prepared dinner. The fall air was warm and crisp, with a sourdough bread smell lingering. I threw my bag down and told my mother about my day. She smiled and looked content as she continued to cook dinner. My mother would always smile when she saw me and Jared. We would hang out until dinnertime, and wait for Dad to come home. We would play video games, run around the house, and play in the yard; we always had so much energy.
My dad would come home, kick off his work boots, kiss my mom, and roughhouse with us. We typically tackled him as soon as he came through the door. Jared and I would lose to Dad, of course; he seemed like the strongest guy in the world.
After dinner, we would rush outside to play basketball with our small hoop in the yard until it got dark. My mom would yell out the window about how we needed to do our homework, and we would come inside once the sun set.
Realizing that I might have a career in basketball, I had Dad sign me up for the North Andover booster club team. We walked into tryouts; he was definitely the youngest father in there, being only twenty-eight years old. Most dads were in their late thirties.
As tryouts began, he introduced himself to the fathers. Everyone made the team, but I guess the tryouts were to see how they could split up the kids to make fair teams.
After waiting a week for the results, I finally received a call from Mr. Stone, the coach of the Hawks. He welcomed me onto the team, told me the practice schedule, and said, “See you there, Logan.” I hopped off the phone and ran into my parents’ room to tell them the good news. I jumped on the bed and then noticed something strange: my mother was crying and my father was rubbing her back with a worried look on his face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. My mom hugged me. My brother walked in quietly, looking unsettled as he hugged my mom and dad.
“It’s my mom, Nana,” she said. “She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is very sick.”
“What’s Alzheimer’s?” I asked.
“It makes you forget who you are, Logan.” I was confused, but just hugged my mother back as she wiped her tears.
We had been a tight-knit family before moving. My mom and dad grew up on the same street and met when they were children.
My grandparents on both sides were always coming over to visit us, and we would go to their houses. We even went to church with them on Sundays. Jared and I called my mother’s parents “Nana” and “Papa;” we called my father’s parents “Granpy” and “Grammy.” I was closest to Nana.
Sitting in my room that night, I didn’t know whether I should be excited for basketball season, or sad for my Nana. It made me understand that pleasure and pain always went hand in hand.
One minute you’re up, and the next, you’re down, I thought as I shut my eyes.
We all visited my Nana that weekend, and I just couldn’t look at her the same way I had before. She was no different, but when I saw her, all I could think about was the Alzheimer’s and about whether she would one day forget me. It made me sad to see her like this, and to then look over at Papa and see him in the rocking chair shaking his knees; it was nice to see that he was smiling. He would always talk so loudly; I guess he had trouble hearing, but was never afraid to say what was on his mind.
Several cousins and their parents were visiting Nana and Papa. There were so many kids of similar ages on my mom’s side of the family. My mother had two brothers and a sister, and between them they had six kids, all roughly my age. We would spend the holidays together and go camping on the Cape and have a blast playing sports.
I was the closest with my cousin Tim. We would sleep over at each other’s house all of the time, and would often get in trouble together. We would talk about being confused when we found out that Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but agreed that we couldn’t tell any difference in her behavior.
It was always a bit scary visiting my father’s side of the family. Some days, we would go over there after visiting Nana’s and Papa’s house. Dad’s parents’ house was old and scary, but must have had a million rooms. It had an old bar with tools and old rusty cars, which was kind of creepy. There was a large pit underneath the garage and I always wondered what the heck was down there, but was too afraid to go see.
My dad had three sisters and a brother, and they had seven kids between them. I was closest to Ryan, but he wasn’t really into sports like my cousin Tim and me. Ryan was more occupied with playing in the garage with tools, making traps, and playing in the woods. The one thing that really got my blood pumping was the rope swing the two of us had made.
It was attached to a tree above the garage, directly over a pit.
We would swing over the pit, twenty feet in the air; it was such a rush. My brother Jared always wanted to try, but I would never let him. I tended to be kind of hard on him because he wanted to be right next to me all of the time.
About the Author
James M. Roberts wanted to prove that you don’t need to be a college scholar or a perfect writer to put your heart on paper even when it is hurting the most. James’s experiences have inspired him to tell his story in order to reach young readers suffering from insecurity, sadness, and addiction. Not only did James drop out of high school, but he also stumbled into deep depression early in his adolescent life. Although he had been an all-star athlete, he was far from happy. He ended up making regrettable choices in order to feel a sense of belonging and worth, especially following his parents’ separation. Through it all, James knew that one day he was going to share his “misery” with the world. He struggled through life’s lessons and finally put himself through college to earn a business degree and currently has a successful career in sales. James finished his first rough draft at twenty-five while in college. Five years later he erased all 200,000 words and started from scratch. He currently resides in Woburn, Massachusetts, where he continues to thrive and develop his writing.
What if you were afraid to even turn the doorknob to your front door when coming home because of what might wait inside? What would it take to make you step out of your shadows, to once and for all break free from the twisted security of familiarity, and take a chance, a little risk, that could change everything?
Nicky Young is a woman who has come of age and is beginning to realize the first layer of her fears carried through her childhood from growing up in a family battling alcoholism. They have impacted her severely when forming relationships.
Abandonment, devaluing, fear of everything good ending—all are why she has been happy to stand back in the shadows. Watching. Observing. Stepping out only when safe. Until Ryan Tilton, a professional baseball player who also has abandonment issues of his own, promises her a relationship that could be like no other.
Now, in order to transition into a life she’d always imagined, she needs to take the first steps of risk to embrace the rise and fall, the love and heartache, and joys of life. Through small steps she struggles to trust, most importantly herself, but also others, enough to let them a little closer. The rage of her father’s addiction pushes and pulls her back, but with all her heart she wants to break free and start a life that is brilliant and unafraid of failure. But can she?
Other Books in the Broken Bottle Series:
Broken Bottle Series, Book 2
My heart is on fire. For the first time in my life I am awake and the desires I’ve pushed down are smoldering. The shadows of my youth are daring me to step away from them, and new visions are circling through my head that include having intimacy in a way I never dreamed of.
My name is Nicky Young. This is my coming of age story and family saga. I have begun to understand if I want to live differently than my parents—an alcoholic father and co-dependent mother—I need to love, forgive, trust and live with an open heart. As I look in the mirror, I am seeing a new woman emerging—one I’m not sure of and trying hard to discover.
Through family dysfunction and by the lack of affection in my household I learned not to get too close. Rage and violence lurked when we became vulnerable and the way I learned to protect myself was to build high and thick walls of defense around my heart. I dream about having a full, open, and intimate relationship. I want a real adult romance with every beat of my heart. But I can’t trust anyone enough—especially myself.
That was until I met Ryan Tilton, a very sexy professional baseball player who lost his father at only fourteen. In many ways we seem to be ancient spirits. He promises to hold me in his arms like I’ve never been held, and is offering me a chance to step out of fear and experience what is like to ask for what I want without being afraid. I feel my heart opening. I feel . . . joy.
This is my battle: A fight to break generational chains of dysfunction and addiction, to understand the choices of my parents, to love and trust myself, so that I can love and trust another. This story is about transitioning into joy. I invite you to follow me on my journey and the struggle I’m desperate to overcome.
Broken Bottles Series, Book 3
Swept into a romance with professional baseball player, Ryan Tilton, we’ve just had an evening of dreams—until I wouldn’t have sex with him. I couldn’t risk it. To me, sex means marriage. It means love and forever. I tried to explain. I didn’t hide it. But to him, it means love, acceptance, and that he wouldn’t be abandoned the same way he was when a boy of fourteen and his father was killed in the Middle East. He’s pleaded with me to tell him my feelings and openly tells me he loves me. I can’t repeat the words. Once I do, he’ll abandon me just like my parents—discounting my feelings because they can’t deal with their own. I couldn’t risk it. I knew he’d leave.
Dad battles his alcoholism. Mom embraces her co-dependency. They’ve gambled with their daughters’ mental and physical safety multiple times over the years.
I’m at a crossroads trying to understand this threshold of being an adult, yet emerging from childhood. It’s as if a tornado has taken me into it’s roar spun and tossed me around, breaking me away as I cling to the twisted security of my family—even the word “secure” sends a shiver through me. I’ve never been.
Being raised in an dysfunctional family battling alcoholism whispers, stay hidden in the shadows, be safe, don’t be noticed or share too much.
I know this is it.
I need to take a risk.
I need to let go of old fears, forgive my parents, embrace intimacy and move forward. I need to trust—especially myself—so that I can transition into joy.
Broken Bottles Series, Book 4
It’s Amazing, but for the first time in my life I have let go of the control. I’ve battled so hard to hold onto the twisted security of my family’s battle with alcoholism—it’s what I’ve known—never risking too much, holding back, so the hurt didn’t cut too deep. Now?
I feel a new life
It’s . . . intimacy, being held, letting someone see into my dark places so the light, hidden since a little girl, can finally become brilliant.
It’s amazing. I’m about to shout my love for a man who seems to understand me like no one ever has. After I do, will everything fall apart? In my heart of shadows, the fear of being abandoned beats inside my head with regular rhythms.
“Please take me in your arms,” I say silently. “Accept my dark places. Help me understand you won’t leave me.” Maybe I’m dreaming when he says, “Whatever path we choose, whatever arises, we’ll overcome our fears.”
Have a finally been set free from generational mistakes that are passed forward in our family? Dare I ask for what I want and trust myself enough to share my thoughts, wishes, dreams . . . dare I actually hope in another person? Will he break his promises like my parents did to me? Can I really, really, be alive, be vulnerable, open and reach for deep, sensual intimacy? Can I take a risk and transition into joy?
I always prayed the same way at night: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Please bless my mother, father, sister, everyone in the world, and me. And please make my father quit drinking.”
As a child growing up in a family battling alcoholism, this is what I know:
Something bad is coming; it always does.
I can’t ask for help; I’m too ashamed.
I can’t talk about our secrets; no one understands.
I can’t trust anyone; they always leave.
The evening begins when I am eight and my sister, eleven. We were trying to finish dinner before he’d unraveled. Within minutes, I’m hiding under the dining room table, cowering; praying that he won’t see my hiding place.
I hear my sister face the wrath of our father’s anger.
My small body curls into a ball.
It’s as if the desert storms from our mother’s childhood have come to us, their thunder and lightning crashing. I pray, “Please, God, protect me from the monster in my house.”
Tonight, we try to avoid our dad’s drunkenness and count down the minutes until Mom comes home from her night shift at the Juvenile Hall in San Francisco.
These evenings occur frequently in our house. Jenise and I are caught in a spider’s web, wrapped in our father’s terrible addiction.
We prepare for the coming terror.
My sister has refused to eat a scoop of creamed corn, given to us for dinner without a second thought of how we hated it.
Once he’s done with Jenise, I know he’ll turn to find me.
I clench my teeth in fear. I’m shaking under the dining room table.
About the Author
My passion is writing books that tell a love story and family saga of leaving old fears behind as the characters embrace intimacy and transition to joy. My first series, Broken Bottles, details those fears of growing up in a family battling alcoholism. Along with the struggle and pain of a parent’s rage, there is intelligence, strength, and survival. How to love intimately in all relationships is the challenge. For children of trauma, it can take years to let another person come close. When they do? It’s like rainbows cover their heart.
Slowly, you’ll read how my characters become vulnerable, reach for deep, sensual intimacy, and try desperately to let go of their fears. They struggle and risk everything to trust others—and themselves. My stories are about daring to take the baby steps that let them really come alive and in every way, experience and give love.
MAKING MONEY TO CREATE: The small, vacation rental/ property management company I run with my husband and son in Sonoma County, California allows me to have the money for my creative life. I love that I was born and raised in San Francisco. My father introduced me to baseball when I was six. I’ve rung a cable car bell, and went to concerts in Golden Gate Park with my sister where Jimmy Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Santana once played.
WHAT I’VE DONE/AM DOING – IT’S A JOURNEY OF DREAMS: Broken Bottles is a four part series. Two books, Shadow Heart and Fire Heart, are ready. Soon to follow are Jagged Heart and Amazing Heart. I’m honored to have 3 poems in an anthology called The Beats Go On, and a story in Sisters Born, Sisters Found. I have released the first book in a series for Introverts called The Introverts Guide to the Galaxy: Attending Conferences.
My Dream? To create beautifully decorated and custom journals with gorgeous paper that accompany each book series: The Introvert’s Journal, A Family Saga Journal, My Body’s Journal, and Trauma: You Can’t Stop Me Journal. Journaling was a lifesaver for me. I was in shock. You may be in shock. Don’t let that keep your heart frozen!
Since the horrific night a drunk driver slammed into their car during his driving lesson, young Teddy has had to live with the memory of seeing his beloved father, Stan, die. Now just sixteen, he carries both sorrow and survivor’s guilt.
Concerned for her grieving son, Mary decides to put as much distance as she can between Teddy and the nightmarish Phoenix intersection that claimed Stan’s life. She moves the family to Stan’s small Indiana hometown, a place of peace in which she hopes they can build new memories. There, Teddy finds inspiration in an old book his great-grandfather carried with him to America, a book Bulgarian fathers have always read to their sons.
Is Stan reaching out to his son from the grave?
Mary also makes an equally life-changing discovery in the small town—Rosetta, Stan’s high school sweetheart. The deeper Mary digs, the more she learns of the forbidden love Stan and Rosetta shared. During the Civil Rights Movement, they dared to reach out for love across racial lines.
Now as their three lives intertwine, Teddy, Mary, and Rosetta must make difficult choices. Will they choose happiness? Or will old pains cause them to live as victims of circumstances?
Beginning in 1912 on Ellis Island and told in three voices over four generations, I’ll Always Be with You is a profound celebration of the power of family.
Praise for I’ll Always Be with You:
“A two-tissue tale about life after loss.” Kirkus Review
“…a simple but engaging tale of life after loss. It never devolves into pointless melancholy, but simmers like a pot of family recipe chicken soup, goes down wonderfully, and warms from within.” Clarion Review
“…a gem of a story that has heart, soul and empathetic insights and is potent in its small moments. This beautifully crafted, touching book offers tender wisdom that will draw a wide audience and could be especially appealing to young adults grappling with insecurities and difficult times.” Blue Ink Review
About the Author
Violetta Armour is a first-generation American who cherishes her Bulgarian heritage. A former English teacher and independent bookstore owner in Arizona, she has written for Highlights for Children and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
She writes monthly book reviews for Ahwatukee Foothills News and Tempe Tribune in Arizona. Her debut novel received a Readers’ Views Choice Award for Fiction 2016.