Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Milestone Tapes Book Tour

The Milestone Tapes
By Ashley Mackler-Paternostro

Blurb: Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.

With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother by her side. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.

Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.

The Milestone Tapes is the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bonds that hold them when life no longer can.

An excerpt from 
The Milestone Tapes: 

With much determination, Jenna willed her fingers to press the record button. She couldn’t allow herself to think about how silly she felt speaking the paramount words to only herself and a small tape recorder in the dark of her office, years and years before they’d even harbor an inkling of truth. Or, how heartbreaking it felt to know that eventually she would be finished recording and the silence left behind would speak volumes.

She had no notes, no frame of reference and no way of knowing exactly what her daughter would need to hear when she finally, in time, came about pressing play. All she had was a list, a list of milestones and a corresponding blank tape.

The fear and utter sadness of that enveloped her like an inferno, burning her, buckling her heart and breaking her in a million ways that would remain unseen, as so many other breaks did. She would never really know if she got it right, of course. She’d. Never. Know. And, if she were being honest now, that realization had been the driving force behind the recordings to begin with.

Hadn’t that knowledge pinged her so many months ago, while the quiet of the morning and darkness of her home gave the illusion of peace and rightness, and did nothing more than make her think.

But even more than that, wasn’t the unknown what she’d been fighting all along. Trying to somehow rally against what the doctors told her was inevitable, trying to be the exception rather than the rule. Jenna knew that she had fought hard, battled with every moment, with umpteen doctors, with every drug, every needle or pill or hope. The fighting had never been the problem; it was simply what she was fighting against. That thing, so bound and determined to win.

So now she was left with the unknown. All of the things that couldn’t possibly be known. It was no longer a question of science, medicine and time. Now it was a matter of fate, faith and the natural unfolding of things. Jenna had resolved that, although everything moving forward would be unknown, she would plan and prepare and hedge her bets like a mother would, she would bet on her daughter, and leave behind her voice.

She knew her little girl now. She knew the determined expression that would cross her face when they worked together side by side in the expansive kitchen she had designed for family time and togetherness. She knew the jubilant smile that would never fail Mia’s face when she huddled over her English homework, letting her unique brand of creativity roll off in waves, limited only by what she could spell and express at seven years old. She knew the tell-tale face of a fib or half truth, Mia’s mouth dropping open just enough, as she tried not to smile and tried harder to convey honesty. She knew the way Mia’s lower lips would tremble as she departed the bus when the kids had been less than kind, running for the security of home and the comfort of her mom, running to the place that would nurture and welcome her budding individualism rather than shy away from it.

Jenna knew Mia better than she knew herself in every single way possible; she was her mother. From the very beginning, her baby girl had been the epitome of a miracle in Jenna’s eyes and remained steadfast in that role forever after. Mia was Jenna’s sole reason for the death match that spanned out behind them now, defining holidays and birthdays, along every other ordinary day. Mia was reason and logic, hope and heartbreak; she was Jenna’s dream personified. The prose of that would have made Jenna laugh, had the thoughts and feelings ambushed her in a normal life. But in her life, their life as a family with their singular child, the emotional turmoil was highlighted and hung from their only child. Jenna knew she could never, even if words flooded her, really say enough about her daughter.

But who would Mia be when these tapes became relevant?

Suddenly the unknown crept in again, playing around, twisting two or five or a million different landscapes. Landscapes Jenna would be absent for. Would Mia be analytical and thoughtful, living a life of logic and reason, a breathing echo of her father? Would her love of words bloom into a love of numbers? Or would she hold fast, stay true to her dreamy and creative nature?

Would some of these tapes be left, unheard, in their little plastic casings because they didn’t apply to Mia? And if they didn’t pertain, why not? But, if they did, and Mia needed them, and Jenna failed to push the worry aside, then what? What if Mia carried the responsibility, all the joys and all the burdens of life alone? The stark thought of that was enough to cripple Jenna.

Jenna pressed her finger firmly against the flat button with the red circle. She thought about the laughter and tears, the piles of homework, the family trips, the snuggles and hugs and kisses and fights. She thought about her husband, trying to understand the enigma that was the teenage girl. She pictured her daughter, grown up with a life, maybe even a family, of her own. And she felt courage; these tapes were not expectations, they were hopes— her hopes. And with all of that floating around in her head, she began.

“Mia … I love you.”

Guest Post: My Soundtrack to The Milestone Tapes 
Here is a bit of truth:

I wrote The Milestone Tapes during the blistering heat of the summer … some of the saddest moments of my novel came out on the most beautiful days. The cloudless sky and sticky heat of a Chicago summer was all a far cry from the autumn winds of the Pacific Coast. The natural distance between me and my novel can create some interesting challenges.

For me, though, I was able to shove past that with the song. I write to music. In my little world, the background noise sets the tone of the story perfectly. I spent hours on iTunes looking for exactly the right song to pull me under and into a moment.

Each song, in different ways and at different moments, helped me understand the inner workings of a life I was not living, the choices I was not making, the sentiment I was not organically feeling. Through these songs, all of that became visceral – I could touch those things with my fingertips, go to those places in my mind and be present enough to put all of that into words.

This is my soundtrack to The Milestone Tapes. It’s all unofficial of course and just for fun.

Fix You — Javier Colon (The Voice, iTunes version)
This song was the first one on my list for so many reasons, but mostly because it got me through the first chapter ... the moment when Jenna realizes and must accept that her life is ending and soon there will be nothing capable of “fixing her.” Then, she has to go home ... to her daughter and her house and a life she’ll be leaving and face it all with bravery. It’s helped me understand while she was unfixable, she needed to find a way to fix the lives of those she loves ... and that is even more important to her. Her life means little compared to the lives she’s leaving behind.

Scars — Anna Nalick
There is a moment in the novel when Jenna is staring at herself in the mirror, looking at what the disease physically took from her ... the radical mastectomy that was meant to save her life and did nothing of the sort. But Jenna would have done anything to live, to watch her daughter grow up ... she fought for as long as she could with every weapon at her disposal and still, as she looks at herself, she realizes it wasn’t enough.

Good Life — One Republic
In the beginning of the novel, Jenna is laying in bed, this is the morning that will change everything for her, and for just a few moments, she gives herself permission to go backwards. She allows herself call up the life she had with her husband when they were just starting out -- and it was so promising, so full, so sweet. They were happy with nothing but time ahead of them ... and it was good life.

1973 — James Blunt
While not literal, this song was for Jenna and Gabe. It was the way they were, always just them. And then, it was over. But how they were, it was best time of Jenna’s life, and she’ll always have that no matter what she looses.

Perfect Girl — Sarah McLachlan
This is the heart of The Milestone Tapes ... and how I made it through writing the tapes. For me, this song is Jenna speaking to Mia ... that no matter who Mia becomes, she’ll be perfect. It was important to Jenna that Mia know these tapes were not expectations, they were hopes.

The House That Built Me — Miranda Lambert
The Chamberland home plays a large part in the novel, it’s an anchor. It was important to Jenna that Mia be raised in just the right place surrounded by beauty. And when Jenna is gone, it is in their home that Mia can still feel Jenna envelope her. It becomes a part of who Mia is, because it where she remembers her Mom being alive, being there, walking the halls and cooking meals and helping with homework.

Only You — Joshua Radin
For Mia, this is the song that feels like Jenna to her. Mia can remember parts of Jenna, she was just a little girl when Jenna died. But she remembers the love, the way Jenna made her feel. And all she really wants is another moment like that.

Brighter Than The Sun — Colbie Caillat
This song is decidedly perfect for the end of novel ... but I won’t give away any spoilers ...

What If You — Joshua Radin
This song is the one that I listened to as Jenna’s voice fades into becoming Gabe’s in the last moments of his life with Jenna as his wife. There is a part in the novel when he won’t leave her side and he realizes that soon he’ll be letting her go. Gabe has always been strong because that’s what Jenna needed from him and this is where the cracks in his composure start to crumble.

Answer — Sarah McLachlan
I feel like this song belongs between Jenna and Gabe. It speaks of their marriage, their lives together and of course, the end. I hear it when I think of those final few moments left between them, each left go off on their own.

Burning Bridges — Jason Mraz (unreleased)
This is the song that goes along with Jenna making her mind up on things ... deciding to forgo further medical treatment. She knows she’s choosing one path now that means giving up another; a trade, a choice. She’s giving up her hopes to face reality.

Broken — Lifehouse
If Jenna had a theme song ... this would be it. Clocks and theme of time.

Chances — Five For Fighting
There is a place in Book Two where the tides of the Chamberland’s life begin to change, someone new walks into their lives ... and with her, new things come. It’s not easy, but it’s right -- for everyone -- and it’s a chance they’ll have to take.

Shine — Anna Nalick
I think this would be Mia’s theme song. She’s growing up, figuring herself out ... and she’s doing it all bravely.

**Thank you to all the amazing songsters and songstresses who created the music that bled from my speakers and encouraged my craft … you all had a huge in hand in the speed and the depth at which this book came to fruition. Gratitude outpouring.**

About the author: Ashley Mackler-Paternostro was born in Naperville, Illinois, where she still lives with her husband Mark and their three dogs.

Before the launch of her first book, THE MILESTONE TAPES, she is already hard at work with the follow up.

“There is a lot of downtime when you’re working on the publishing part — a lot of hurry up and wait. I couldn’t help but to be forward thinking — excited about how I’ll follow the first one up. I’ve found a rhythm to my style, I’m an author of ‘real life.’ My second novel definitely pings into same emotionally whirlwind I touched upon in THE MILESTONE TAPES while still being totally different — it has a very different vibe and undercurrent to it, it’s a darker story — it’s all about hard — yet totally self created — circumstances and the relationships we cultivate in our lives and the choices we ultimately make.”

Ashley is set to debut her first work of literary fiction in early 2012 with much excitement and enthusiasm.

“THE MILESTONE TAPES is more than a book … it’s a year of my life and a whole new chapter. I am beyond thrilled to be in the position to share my words. This really is a dream — a wild dream — come true.”

Author links: Website | Twitter

This tour is presented by Bewitching Book Tours.

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