Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Single, Black, and Government Owned: On Tour with O. Keeys and a Giveaway

"What the heck was I thinking?"
Single, Black, and Government Owned is the explosive follow up to O. Keeys's critically acclaimed memoir, Rise and Fall of a Track Star. After walking away from a rising track career Omegia joins the military and leaves her son at home with her family.

For nearly thirteen years she balances being a single parent, dating, and her commitment to Uncle Sam. Single, Black, and Government Owned is an up close and personal view into the life of a woman overcoming the challenges of being a victim of sexual assault. This memoir takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride and will leave you feeling liberated.

The Author
Entrepreneur, Best Selling Author, Publishing Liaison, and Motivational Speaker are just a few of the makings of O. Keeys (Omegia). After serving two terms in the military Omegia went on to apply her strategic planning to the publishing industry. She has garnered numerous awards and praise to include the Scribe Award for the National Black Book Festival, guest speaker for The Miami International Book Festival, and ranking in Conversations Magazine top 100 books of 2010 and 2011.

In between book touring Omegia spends her time dedicated to helping her fellow authors. She has over 20 years in the publishing industry in which she started out as a teen working in her mother’s book store. Omegia has many published books to include (Adult) Passionate, Playmates,, Can You Keep a Secret? and Erotic Moments: Love, Lust, and Desire, (Memoir) Rise and Fall of a Track Start and Single, Black, and Government Owned, (Young Adult) The Baby Girl and Unloved, and (Self Help) The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors.

Other Books By O. Keeys:
(Adult) Passionate Playmates,, Can You Keep a Secret?,
(YA) The Baby Girl, Unloved,
(Memoir) The Rise and Fall of a Track Star and Single, Black, and Government Owned,
(How To/Self Help) The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors – coming soon.

A Chat with the Author . . . 

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it? Wondering what my family would think. I overcame it by blocking them out.  

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day? I manage between writing and provided editing, formatting, and promotional help to other authors.

What inspired the idea behind your book? For Single, Black, and Government Owned I simply needed to finish telling my story. I left a lot of questions which needed to be answered while people where just getting to know me in Rise and Fall of a Track Star.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing the book? My biggest challenge is learning to accept you can’t please every person who reads your work. Sometimes a minor comment a reader mentions will come back up as I’m working on another title. I stop and mull it over and debate on if it rings true to my current character. For my memoirs this was a nightmare because I refused to change who people truly were. In the end I stuck to my gut and have been praised for it. 

What kind of research was involved for the book? It had been awhile since I was in the Air Force to I had to call my old supervisor up to get some of the terminology straight. I didn’t want to misuse Army terms instead of Air Force.

As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre? I juggle by focusing on which ever genre is shouting at me the loudest on that day. I don’t have a preferred genre but I found writing YA is a bit tougher for me because I’m second guessing the language.

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author? With the release of my memoirs I gotten so many messages from people thanking me for writing them. My goal was to help at least one person and I’ve exceeded that by far.

What type of heroine do you like best? I love the Angelina Jolie type. Kick butt and ask questions later. I hate the helpless characters. They tend to make me want to put them out their misery myself…lol

Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it? Mystery! I love mystery books. The art of stringing everything together and keeping me intrigued is amazing.

How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process? Since I had the first one approved the second part was a piece of cake. From start to finish was less than six months. Editing is always the hardest for me. I’m always nervous about the editing comments. Thankfully I didn’t have to do much to my memoirs. Well, one wanted me to end it stronger and it gave me a chance to do just that. I was thankful for the push.

Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing? All the above. Whatever I have when the wheels start spinning works for me.

This is Single, Black, and Government Owned

What the heck was I thinking? I stood in front of a brown brick building with about fifty other people, both male and female, being screamed at. We were lined up in four rows with ten in each column. I was in the second row, midway down and an arm’s length away from the each of the four other people surrounding me.

“Drop your bags! Pick them up! Hold them with your arms straight out!” one of the drill instructors yelled.

Dressed in their battle dress uniform (BDU’s) and Smokey the Bear hats, they swarmed us. Something about those hats made them more intimidating. For me, it was because it blocked their eyes, but for those who got the one-on-one attention of the drill instructors, it was something more. The fear could be seen on their faces whenever a drill instructor approached them. One guy with long, blond hair received special treatment with the hat. The drill instructor stood so close as he spoke to the boy, the brim of the hat smacked the boy in the forehead on every other word. By the time the drill instructor was finished, the poor guy had a red indention on his forehead.

“You rainbows are a bunch of freaking idiots! You just couldn't follow directions, could you? The Airman manual clearly said pack two changes of clothes,” another drill instructor added.

I found out later they called us rainbows because it was day one of Basic Training and we hadn't been issued our uniforms yet. The group of us standing together in formation with different colored clothing made us look like one big rainbow.

With my arms out straight and parallel on both sides of my body, I fought desperately to hold up my bags in my hands. My arms were just beginning to feel the burn and from all my years of watching military movies, I knew this was only the beginning. I held back tears as I reflected on what had gotten me to this point.

I was done, defeated. I had just walked away from my one true love—track. Running had been the one thing in my life that was consistent and then it was turned into a vice used by others to put me down. How dare I leave my son with my mother and step out into the world to better myself? How dare I dream to be something different than what I had grown up seeing around me? I was supposed to be like all the others who have a baby as a teen, drop out of school, get on welfare, and let all of my dreams fall to the wayside.

Well, I was determined not to live that life, so I took the scholarship offered to me and went to college. There I excelled academically and in track, but mentally, I was fading fast. The hard, protective shell I had put around myself no longer held the negativity at bay. The shame from my childhood was catching up with me. The more races I won, the worse I felt. Why would anyone like me deserve something good? Who was I to achieve any of the accomplishments I had? If I was so special, then why did something so horrible happen to me? Those thoughts were why I left my love and walked away.

A lonely month dragged by and I began to realize the gravity of the situation I found myself in. It was way worse than the one I had left. I was living in a rundown apartment on the east side of Indianapolis without scholarship money to help pay my bills. The money I made working in the shipping and receiving department of a warehouse only provided enough so I could pay for the daycare in order to get to the crappy job in the first place. I reluctantly picked up a part time job at Walmart so we wouldn’t starve.

Once a week when I left the house, I set off a bomb to keep the roaches at bay. I had discovered the unwanted guests on a trip to the kitchen in the middle of the night during my first week there. When I complained to the rental office, I was handed roach motels. No way was I going to house those things. I wanted them gone, not stuck to the inside of a box in my kitchen.
Thus began my roach bombing campaign. I’d have my son stand in the hallway, I’d set off the bomb, and then run out the apartment. The roaches would disappear for a week and then return. Living in an apartment provided them an escape. They would leave and come back once the coast was clear.

I tried pleading with my neighbors to bomb their apartment along with me, but they blew me off. One day I took matters into my own hands. I saw an open window, popped the top on an extra bomb I had and threw it in. Cursing and screams spilled out into the stairwell. I picked my son up and ran to the car before they came outside and saw who the culprit was. My fear of being caught subsided as I made my way to work. It was gone by the time I got a phone call later that afternoon informing me I had not been hired for yet another job.

After going to more interviews and hearing the same thing over and over—You're a smart kid, but you have no experience—I was beginning to realize it had been a wasted effort for me to have busted my behind trying to erase the stigma of being a dumb jock. My grade point average meant nothing to Corporate America. Neither did my blank diploma. Oh, I had finished college, but somehow Indiana State University claimed I owed money. I was on a full-ride scholarship, but arguing with the Controller’s Office landed me nowhere, so I gave up.

I knew I finished and that was all that mattered. I had completed the American Dream. Go to college and you would land a good job, right? I had yet to see the good job, and from the look of contempt on the last person I had interviewed with, I knew I wasn’t going to find it any time soon.
I made a decision to go down to the military recruiting center, join the Armed Services, and get the experience I was lacking. I did not want to be a welfare recipient and at the pace I was going, I was bound to end up there sooner or later. I chose the Air Force after remembering a conversation with my dad from childhood. He had retired from the Navy and always said he didn’t want his daughter on a boat with all those men and only men with nothing else to do in life should join the Marines. My choices were narrowed down to Air Force or the Army.

Coughing in the phone, I faked an illness to my supervisor and called in sick to my dead-end job. Afterward, I headed over to the recruiting center.

A large man in a tan uniform stood outside the building as I approached.

“Where you going with that funny looking hair?” He stared me down, making my five-foot-five-inch frame feel less than two inches tall.

I had been in a hair show a few days prior, and my hair was burgundy and in an up-do with two chopsticks sticking out of it. Nothing that I would have ever worn had it not been for doing my friend a favor and filling in for one of her no show clients. I wanted to say something smart back, but the look in his eye told me better. Instead, I glanced at the sign behind him and let out a sigh of relief. It read, “Marines.” I was looking for the Air Force or Army office. I sidestepped my heckler and continued to the door beside him.

The sign read “Army” but no one was inside. I continued to the next door, which read “Air Force,” and poked my head in. A man in a blue uniform glance up from his desk, and his gaze immediately went to my hair.

“It was for a hair show. I normally don't wear it like this and the color is weave,” I quickly muttered. I felt like an idiot.

“No problem. What can I do for you?”

“I want to sign up.”

“Just like that?”

“Yes. I just finished college and now I can’t find a decent job. I need to have experience.”

“College, huh?” He smiled. “You have your diploma?”

“No, but I finished and my overall GPA was a 3.89.”

He flashed those pearly whites at me like he had just won the lottery. After introducing himself to me as Technical Sergeant Harvey, he quickly went through his spiel and gave me the practice ASVAP test, a test everyone had to take before joining. He looked at my score and said I could pick any job I wanted, as he slid me a book with all the jobs the Air Force offered.

I read over a few and picked Intelligence Analyst. The job sounded cool, sort of like a spy. Technical Sergeant Harvey had me fill out some more information and a form to take my real test and physical exam the next week. What he neglected to tell me was I’d have to get naked and let some cruddy old doctor look at my female genitalia, walk like a duck in my bra and panties, and pee in a cup with someone staring me down. It was more humiliating than the first day of gym in junior high, but I survived.

I waited until almost two weeks were left until my ship out date before I told my mother what I had done. She wasn’t too happy about it. In fact, she loudly voiced her opinion. Her “What?” still rings in my ears to this day. She had a conference with my oldest sister, Lette. In the end, they agreed to keep my four-year-old son as long as I signed over temporary guardianship to my sister. I was hesitant, but saw no other way.

And that is how I ended up there with my arms held up like an idiot. I think they had it timed just right for us to lower them before they ripped out our sockets. After that, they shuttled us around like cattle up into our barracks on the third floor, females on one side and males on the other. Metal doors kept us separated and someone always had to stand guard to allow entry. No males, unless they were our drill instructors. They even had a sign on the wall in case you forgot.

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