Posted in fiction, Giveaway, Guest Post, Spotlight, women on April 9, 2015

Visiting the Sins



In her riotous debut novel, which was awarded the 2014 bronze IPPY for Regional Southern Fiction, Melanie Denman probes the silent sacrifices of motherhood with unflinching honesty and warmhearted amusement.  Set in the Bible Belt of Deep East Texas, Visiting the Sins is a darkly funny story about mothers and daughters, naked ambition, elusive redemption, and all the torment it’s possible to inflict in the name of family.

Down through the decades, the lofty social aspirations of the feisty but perennially dissatisfied Wheeler women — Pokey, the love-starved, pistol-packing matriarch; Rebanelle, the frosty former beauty queen turned church organist; and Curtis Jean, the backsliding gospel singer — are exceeded only by their unfortunate taste in men and a seemingly boundless capacity for holding grudges. A legacy of feuding and scandal lurches from one generation to the next with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy everything the Wheeler women have sacrificed their souls to build.


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Guest Post

Rebanelle – Mom of Steel

Every so often, a character in one of my stories keeps growing on me long after I’ve finished writing about her. In Visiting the Sins, that character was Rebanelle. Of the three main characters (Pokey, Rebanelle (Pokey’s daughter), and Curtis Jean (Rebanelle’s daughter), Rebanelle was perhaps the least likable, mainly because she was usually putting a damper on somebody else’s good time. She was such a martyr, always sacrificing her own desires for the good of the family. I even tried injecting some scandalous misbehavior into Rebanelle’s story and it just never worked. She wasn’t capable of it.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that Rebanelle didn’t especially want to be loved, or even liked. This was a surprise to me. When I was writing the story, I believed that Rebanelle wanted to be the polar opposite of her mother. I was sure she wanted love but had sacrificed all her chances in order to redeem the scandalous reputation Pokey had created. The truth is, Rebanelle fooled me like she fooled everybody else in her life. She didn’t sacrifice anything.

Rebanelle was staring at a major fork in the road when her husband died and left her with three young children. She was still young and beautiful; she could have re-married and enjoyed all the benefits of intimacy, companionship, and co-parenting. But Rebanelle declined to settle for such a banal existence for her family. Rather, she took a brief moment of unanimous sympathy and goodwill among the townsfolk and leveraged it into a grand new reputation. Why would she settle for love when she could have awe and reverence instead?

Being a martyr was Rebanelle’s schtick, but she didn’t sacrifice anything. She went after exactly what she wanted, regardless of the impact it had on the rest of the family. Wait a minute – wasn’t that what she accused Pokey of doing? Don’t you just love it when you realize that despite all your best efforts, you’ve turned into your mother? I know I do! And I suspect that’s one reason Rebanelle went to such great lengths to hide all her shenanigans behind her martyr’s shield. And I find that pretty understandable. I’m starting to love her for it.


About the Author

Melanie Denman is a native of Nacogdoches, Texas and a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. An eighth-generation Texan, and a former banker and cattle rancher, she currently lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on a second novel.

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​Prize:  ​One of 15 copies of Visiting the Sins (Open USA & Canada) and Amazon Gift Cards 3 X $10, 2 X $15, 1 X $20 (Open internationally). Ends April 25.
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