Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hungry Mother Creek by Heather W. Cobham (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Hungry Mother Creek!

Author Guest Post

Building A Resilient Character

Maya Sommers, the main character in my novel Hungry Mother Creek, is forced to deal with the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. She survives the initial physical danger but struggles to overcome the emotional impact of the hurricane and her husband’s death. She initially distracts herself with work and running and avoids talking about what has happened. Maya tries to convince her sister Laura that she is fine, but her panic attacks and obsessive thoughts about the past are evidence of her continued internal conflict.

As Hungry Mother Creek continues Maya becomes more resilient and begins to heal emotionally. She learns from her new relationships in Oriental N.C that talking about her deepest feelings and relying on others are crucial to recovering from her tragedy. She also begins to explore her spirituality to help make sense of the death and destruction she has witnessed. Maya is stuck when she avoids the past with distraction and denial. She begins to move forward with her life when she actively addresses her emotions and experiences related to Katrina and her husband’s death.

Research has shown that people who take action in the face of tragedy are more resilient and bounce back more quickly. Resilient people tend to have a good social support system and are good communicators. They are optimistic, persistent and determined, empathic and have a life purpose which motivates them to preserver. Having a strong spiritual life also contributes to resilience by helping make sense of the tragedy. Now that Maya has increased her resilience, she will cope more effectively when faced with future challenges.

What is your level of resilience? How would you fare if faced with tragedy similar to what Maya experienced? Building resilience takes a balanced approach, a combination of active engagement and solitary reenergizing. The following tips can help you increase your resilience:

• Let yourself experience strong emotions but realize when you may need to avoid them to continue functioning.

• Step forward and take action to deal with your problems but also step back when needed, to rest and recover.

• Spend time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement but also spend time alone to nurture yourself.

• Cultivate supportive relationships, self esteem, spirituality and optimism.

• Look for ways to help others in the midst of your own difficulties.

• Take care of yourself physically with regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep.

We all will face our own Hurricane Katrina’s, perhaps multiple times, so as we age it’s important to build resilience. This will allow us to rebound more quickly after a tragedy and be strong enough to help others through their pain and grief. In the midst of tragedy and challenge is the opportunity to reap new wisdom, skills and strength. The more resilient we are the more quickly we can identify the good that comes from a crisis and begin applying it to our life. Eventually Maya would have increased her resilience, but the hurricane and her husband’s death provided a strong outside force which imparted these lessons more quickly.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” 
-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

About The Author

Heather Cobham grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Oriental with her husband and yellow lab. Heather has always loved to write and has written poetry and short stories since she was a child. Seven years ago she consciously created more time and space to write a novel and the publication of Hungry Mother Creek is a dream come true. Heather is a licensed clinical social worker and works as a counselor in a private practice in New Bern, N.C. She writes on Wednesdays, Fridays and the weekends and is currently working on the sequel to Hungry Mother Creek. Heather fights writer’s block by running, paddle boarding and kayaking.


Book Review

Hungry Mother Creek by Heather W. Cobham
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing / Star Online Publishers
Publication Date: March 9, 2014
Format: Paperback - 385 pages
             Kindle - 799 KB
ISBN: 978-1495936418
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Hungry Mother Creek

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

To the outside world, it looks like Maya Somers lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, her husband, the bungalow they shared and her job. But inside Maya knows Katrina gave her the gift of a fresh start. She and her yellow lab, Doodle Bug, leave the destruction of the Gulf Coast for North Carolina and settle in Oriental, a quaint fishing village on the Pamlico Sound.

In her new home by the water, Maya begins to rebuild her life. She knows she needs to heal from her abusive marriage and the trauma of Hurricane Katrina but isn’t sure where to start. It isn’t long before teachers appear to help her: Hazel, her elderly but spirited neighbor who has secrets of her own, Travis, a handsome kayak guide to whom she immediately feels a strong attraction, Buster, a crusty old fisherman who always seems to show up just when she needs him, and Bay Witherspoon, the much younger wife of a wealthy attorney who becomes a close friend despite their initial differences. Maya finds the most profound help when she is welcomed into a women’s circle that meets on the banks of Hungry Mother Creek. Gathered with these women, Maya learns that becoming vulnerable and sharing her pain with others is the first step of her healing journey.

But what is the second step? Maya isn’t sure but with the help of her loyal yellow lab, her new friends and the peace of living by the water she stays the course. Ultimately Maya finds the healing journey to be messy, tangled and unpredictable, and the end result is nothing she could have ever imagined.

Book Excerpt:

Maya walked to her small kitchen area just behind the living room. She smiled to herself as she placed the casserole on the bottom shelf and wondered what type of condensed soup Hazel used to make this. She guessed it must be Cream of Mushroom, a southern staple she had used many times while helping her grandmother make Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

As she turned back towards the living room, Maya’s heart lurched when she saw Hazel was holding the decorative urn she thought had been discretely placed, but it must have caught Hazel’s eye. “Maya, this urn is beautiful. I love the yellows, blues and greens in the pattern. Surely you didn’t find it here in Oriental? It’s so well-made.”

Maya’s pulse quickened and she felt the color drain from her face. She stood frozen not prepared for this discussion and unsure of how much of the truth she wanted to share.

“Maya, are you okay? You look like you might faint.” Hazel placed the urn on the coffee table and hurried to Maya’s side. She placed her hand in the small of Maya’s back and led her over to the couch. Hazel’s hand was small, but very strong and her touch comforted Maya as she lowered herself down to the couch. She had a flash of insight that said she could trust Hazel and as she regained her composure, Maya decided to be truthful.

“Sorry if I scared you, Hazel. It’s just that this urn is much more than a decoration. It contains the ashes of Steven, my husband who died two years ago because of Hurricane Katrina.”

Well, it was a lot easier than Maya thought it would be, sharing this truth, although not the whole truth, with the first person outside her family. It actually wasn’t that hard talking about the ashes. The hard part would be answering the questions that may follow.

“Steven has a brother who wasn’t able to come to Mississippi after his death,” her words tumbled out, “and everything was in such a state of destruction and confusion I didn’t feel right about spreading the ashes in Mississippi. I’ve just kept them with me since then.”

As Maya was speaking, Hazel sat down beside her on the couch, her hands folded neatly in her lap as she listened. Maya and Hazel’s eyes met and Maya could see Hazel’s eyes were moist with emotion. She reached over and took one of Maya’s hands into hers.

“Oh, honey,” Hazel started, her southern accent drawing the syllables out. “I am so sorry. Losing your husband is one of the most difficult things to endure. My husband died when I was just 50 and it took me a while to make sense of my life, not having him in it. At least we’d already had 25 years of marriage and a son. You and Steven still had so much left to do together.” Hazel’s eyes filled again as she squeezed Maya’s hands.

Maya turned her head to look out the creek window. She was embarrassed by her lack of emotion and didn’t want Hazel to see her dry eyes. What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she even muster up a couple of tears for Steven? When he was alive he made her cry easily. Now a lump did form in Maya’s throat.

She felt his grip tightening on her upper arm as he dragged her out into the parking lot of Sherlock’s, the pub a couple of miles from their house. When they were away from the entrance, he said, “Don’t you tell me I’ve had enough to drink ever again! Do you hear me? You embarrassed me in front of my friends.” He shot the words at her through clenched teeth and she physically recoiled, shrinking as his grip on her arm tightened. He yanked her arm for emphasis and continued, “I can’t help it if your lame ass is wasted after three or four beers but I’m fucking fine so leave me alone. If you can’t hang anymore then maybe you should just go home.”

He released her arm, turned and strode into the pub without looking back. Maya instinctively began rubbing her arm. The emotion she had been holding in her chest erupted and tears rolled down her cheeks. She knew she couldn’t go back inside and since Steven had the car keys, so began the walk home, her body weighted by shame.

Hazel squeezed her hand and Maya turned back to look at her, the urn prominent in her peripheral vision. “Well, at least you found his body and knew for sure what happened to him. I've heard of so many people who are still searching for their loved ones who most likely got washed out to sea.”

Maya’s face flushed knowing she wasn't being fully truthful, but she wasn't ready yet to talk about the real cause of Steven's death. After a few seconds of silence, she said, “Thanks for understanding. You’re the first person I’ve told outside my family.”

“Well, Maya, please know you can talk with me any time about Steven, and for extreme circumstances I can always make you another casserole.” Maya smiled, appreciating Hazel’s humor and the change of topic.

“I know I've already said this, but I’m so happy you decided to rent my boathouse. I grew up here with my mother and grandmother but have been alone for the past fifteen years so it feels good to have another woman on the property.”

“It feels good to be here. When I visited in April something just told me this was the place to come. I’m looking forward to meeting more people, getting a job and creating some happy memories here.” Maya smiled, feeling very comfortable sitting next to Hazel. Maybe one day she would tell Hazel the whole story.

“I better get on my way so you can heat up that casserole for dinner. Good luck with your job search and I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.” Hazel stood and walked to the door, Doodle Bug following at her heels.

Hazel’s hand rested on the doorknob just a millisecond longer than necessary. Maya waited for her to turn back and say something else. Hazel never turned but opened the door and stepped out into the humid early evening. The sound of cicadas filled the air.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Hungry Mother Creek, author Heather W. Cobham weaves an emotional and inspirational tale that follows Maya Somer's journey of personal healing, and the rebuilding of her life after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Set in the picturesque coastal village of Oriental, North Carolina, the reader is easily drawn into Maya's emotional story as she struggles to come to terms with her abusive marriage, the death of her husband, and the rebuilding her life. Settling in the quaint little fishing village with her yellow Lab, Doodle Bug, Maya embarks on a personal journey of renewal with the help of a supportive group of people she meets. It is a journey that is an inspirational testament to the strength of the human spirit to survive, heal, and thrive after a traumatic experience.

Hungry Mother Creek is a beautifully written and emotionally compelling tale that pulls at the heartstrings and stirs the soul. The story delves into the difficult issue of abusive marriages, traumatic life experiences, loss and grief, new beginnings, and the renewal of a person's life through a strong bond of friendship relationships. The reader can't help but establish a connection with Maya and feel empathetic as her story unfolds, it invokes a gamut of emotions that will resonate long after the last sentence has been read.

I loved the wonderful friendships that Maya builds with the local group of women, their relationships are heartwarming and inspirational,  their understanding and support enables Maya to find peace and learn to move forward with her life.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful and  rich description of the North Carolina setting, the author easily transports the reader to this tranquil fishing village on the Pamlico Sound, that easily captures the sights and sounds and flavor of the townspeople.

Hungry Mother Creek is an uplifting story of self-discovery and life's renewal, and perfect for a lighthearted summer read.


Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Everyone who leaves a comment on the Hungry Mother Creek tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases a copy of Hungry Mother Creek by August 4 and sends their receipt to will receive 10 bonus entries!

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

July 21 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
July 23 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Review
July 24 – The Ultimate Late Bloomer – Q&A & Excerpt
July 28 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
July 29 – The Little Reading Cabin – Review 
July 30 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review & Guest Post
July 30 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review & Guest Post
July 31 – We Read to Live – Review & Q&A
July 31 – Book Reviews and More by Dee – Guest Post & Excerpt
August 1- Steph the Bookworm – Review
August 4 – Karen’s Korner – Review


  1. I enjoyed the excerpt. Sounds like a good read.


  2. I loved this book. I especially liked that the main character is a runner. As an avid runner myself, I really enjoyed that Maya uses running to solve problems and that she becomes friends with someone through running that she was reluctant to get close to.

    1. Hi Meg! Thank you for stopping by and posting your comment.