Guest Author: Bill Fentress – THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST

Good day, my bookish peeps. As I’ve often said in the past, I’m an eclectic reader. I enjoy reading nonfiction and fiction, as well as short stories, essays, graphic novels, novels, etc. If it’s an interesting read, then chances are I’m going to read it. This is just one of the reasons why I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest, Bill Fentress, author of The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest, a collection of of 14 short stories about family and more. Mr. Fentress will be piquing our interest a bit with his essay “My Best Day Ever.” I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy it, grab a copy of The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest, and follow this blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Mr. Fentress, for joining us today and a special thank you for sharing this essay.

My Best Day Ever
by Bill Fentress

I suppose one of my identifiers now is “author.” So, perhaps this post should revolve around my best day ever as a writer…or perhaps as an author? I thoroughly enjoy writing, especially when I am on a roll. But my best day ever had nothing to do with writing. It was June 19, 2003.

That day started in the spring of 2002 when my wife, Susan, and I met with doctors in Chapel Hill, NC. After trying to have a baby with no success, we had been referred to those doctors by Susan’s OB-GYN. It had been determined that our best bet was to find out if we were candidates for in-vitro. I can still remember my discussion with Susan in her office the day we got the last of the initial tests back from her local doctor. She worked on the floor just below me in the same office building. We had been expecting tests results that day and they had indeed been delivered to her over the phone. “Well, what did the doctor say?” I asked, closing her office door behind me, anticipating there to be some fertility problem with her that we would just have to workaround. “Actually, there is an issue with you, baby,” she relayed, with a regretful glance up from her desk. I will never forget that surprised, stunned, sickening feeling that engulfed me as I looked into her hopeful eyes. Me? I thought. “What is the problem?” I asked – still reeling. She continued to explain our issue and told me that our best bet, according to the local doctor, was to visit Chapel Hill and talk to their specialists.

The next week, we drove to Chapel Hill and met with one of their top fertility doctors and his assistant. He was very informative and encouraging – frank, but supportive. We spent roughly an hour and a half in the meeting, sitting across a conference table from him. The entire time, my banker soul was wanting to know the bottom line…the odds…will the deal work? “I feel really good about your chances,” he told us, as he leaned forward over the table, his relaxed mannerisms soothing our internal nervousness.

“Doctor,” I said. “I deal in loans every day, and percentages. Exactly, what does ‘good chances’ mean?” In my cash flow and debt service-warped mind, I was thinking…It’s got to be 93-100%…surely. “Oh, your odds are very good with this particular procedure. I would say approximately 35%.” That news hit me and Susan worse than the original news regarding our situation. I remember feeling stunned, like I had just been in a car accident. Not hurt…just shocked by what I had heard. I regrouped. “Thirty-five percent? Why so low?” Yep, I had to ask. “Well, what you need to understand is this procedure just gets you up to nature’s normal percentages that guide whether anyone gets pregnant. And typically, there is only about a 35% chance you will get pregnant at any given time. But I feel your chances are excellent for success. Take all the time you need to think about it. Here are our numbers. Call and ask for me when you are ready to talk further. I am available at any time. I will do anything to help.”

I don’t remember saying goodbye. I don’t remember walking out the door. I don’t remember hitting the elevator button or riding down to the lobby. I was still shocked by the car accident around that conference table. I don’t recall anything until we got to the walkway heading toward the parking deck just across Manning Drive from UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital. I looked over at my equally stunned, but stalwart bride. “What do you think?” I ventured first, as we walked in step heading toward our car. The air in my college town did not feel as light as it had 20 years earlier, or even 2 hours before the conclusion of our consultation. “I’m not sure we really have a choice,” Susan replied. She looked over at me, wanting my opinion, and hoping I felt the same. We locked eyes and I knew then we would go for it. “I agree. If we want a child, let’s roll with it.” That was it. No looking back. Our heads were down, and we were set, like plow mules turning into the next row. And we continued a vigil that had started months earlier…and would continue months later. We prayed together every night…asking God to give us the gift of a child.

We started in-vitro in September 2002. It consisted of regimented shots leading up to the all-important conception procedure. Then we spent an agonizing 2 weeks waiting to take the most important test of our lives. I will never forget a nurse friend of ours telling us we did not have to wait until Friday for the blood test. She said a pregnancy test on Wednesday would let us know…if we wanted to know. We discussed it and could not wait any longer. Susan put the strip on the kitchen table and took a seat in her chair in the den. We both prayed…and sat there…every emotion in our bodies at a precipice. After the prescribed time, I looked at her and she nodded. I’ve had many important walks in my life: down the aisle (twice), graduations, getting up to speak in front of hundreds, and walking over to the first pretty girl out of my league that I asked to dance, in front of my buddies. None were as nervous as that 30-foot walk to the kitchen. I looked down at the strip. I picked it up, blinked, and re-blinked.

“How dark do the lines have to be?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter. If there are 2 lines, I’m pregnant,” came Susan’s hidden plea. I looked again…and blinked again. There they were…one was faint…but there were two lines – one bolder than the other. “Well, I see 2 lines!”

Susan ran into the kitchen screaming the whole way. She grabbed the strip and looked at me with the happiest tears I’ve ever seen. We hugged for a long time. That is a hug everybody should have right there. We just about wore out that two-line strip, picking it up and looking at it until late into the night…only beginning to anticipate our dreams. I’ve not cried and smiled simultaneously many times in my life…that was one night I did.

Sarah Elizabeth was one of eight eggs that were fertilized, and one of 4 that were implanted. “You were one of eight,” we tell her. And she was born June 19, 2003. The best day of my life. By far. ♦

The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest

by Bill Fentress

March 14 – April 8, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

 

Synopsis:

The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress

THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is a salute by the author to a lifetime of outdoor experiences in eastern North Carolina and beyond. It encompasses 14 true short stories about family, friendships, and the emotions involved in hunting, fishing, and other outdoor-related topics. It is not a how-to book, nor just a compilation of hunting and fishing stories; it describes how simple family and personal interactions, with the outdoor sports and unmatched natural beauty as a backdrop, can result in treasured memories like perhaps no other pursuits.

If you hunt and fish, or grew up enjoying histories of family traditions and friendships revolving around the outdoors – whether it be in North Carolina, or elsewhere – THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is for you.

Book Details

Genre: Sports, (as in Hunting and Fishing), Nature, Family, Memoir
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: February 3, 2022
Number of Pages: 257
ISBN: 979-8-9855598-1-1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Here’s a word from our author:

Author Bio:

Bill Fentress

Bill Fentress is a retired banker and current Finance Officer in eastern North Carolina. A current resident of New Bern, NC, Bill grew up in Pamlico County, North Carolina, where many of his hunting and fishing experiences in The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest take place. He has enjoyed nature’s beauty and God’s gifts of family and the outdoors throughout his lifetime, in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Learn More About Bill Online:

BillFentress.com
Goodreads
Facebook – @billfentressauthor

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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ENTER TO WIN:

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Book 291: GRAVEL ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD Review



Gravel on the Side of the Road: True Stories from a Broad Who Has Been There by Kris Radish
ISBN: 9781940716435 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716428 (ebook)
ASIN: B00M4SOVJW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: SparkPress


A woman who worries about carrying a .38 special in her purse, nearly drowns in a desert canyon, flies into the war in Bosnia, dances with the FBI, tells Geraldo he shouldn’t put guests in hotel rooms with rats and spends time with murderers, has more than a few stories to tell.

Gravel on the Side of the Road-True Stories From a Broad Who Has Been There is a daring and revealing adventure itself.

Beloved novelist Kris Radish returns to her non-fiction beginnings with her first, but not last, book of autobiographical essays. Her writing career has spanned four decades and has included award winning newspaper work, magazine features, a national syndicated column, eleven books and enough stories and adventures to fill up many more.

Radish’s talent for telling it like it is, sharing the wit and wisdom of a life lived mostly on her own terms and her keen sense of humor are highlighted in these stories- some of them old- some of them new, but all of them a glimpse into worlds many never dare to enter. This author always lives in a world where nothing is sacred but the sweet emotions of the heart.

Kris is definitely a broad who has been there.



I normally don’t read a lot of nonfiction unless it pertains to topics I’m interested in (namely comparative religion, Islam, Muslims, tea, perfumery, aromatherapy, etc.), so when the opportunity came up to read Gravel on the Side of the Road – True Stories from a Broad Who Has Been There by Kris Radish I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To say that I was pleasantly surprised while reading this book is a major understatement. 

Gravel On the Side of the Road is a collection of essays that spotlight different experiences in Kris Radish’s life. Each essay stands alone and all are quickly read. Some essays made me smile – “Jesus Drives a Thunderbird,” “The Turquoise Ring,” and “The One Thing I Wanted.” Some made me laugh – “Wong’s Silver Spur, Dead Deer, and the Dance-Floor Stabbing.” Others made me want to cry – “Even Now,”  “The Mothers in Bosnia,” “I’ve Picked Out My Husband’s New Wife,” and “I Will Always Be Their Mother.” All are presented without frills and unapologetically for a life lived without compromise. Each essay provides a fascinating glimpse into the amazingly wondrous experiences Ms. Radish has had over the years. I can’t say that there were any essays that I didn’t enjoy as they all provided me a little insight into Kris Radish, where she’s been and why. Having said that, as a true book diva I think the essay that tops my favorite list is “Eudora Welty” where Ms. Radish has a fan girl moment with Ms. Welty and then proceeds to overcome it and be the professional journalist she dreamed of being (not to mention the wonderful writing advice she received from Ms. Welty). Whether you’re a fan of nonfiction or not, Gravel on the Side of the Road is a wonderfully written collection of essays by an amazing woman and author. I highly recommend you add this to your TBR list . . . actually don’t just add it to your TBR list, grab a copy and read it. (NOTE: I guess I should give you a little warning that although the first essay is quite funny the last one may require that you grab some tissues.)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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