#WIPWednesday – Meet Martin ‘Marty’ Knight from ‘In The Best Interest of the Child’

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After their initial visit at the hospital where Rena has daily physical therapy, she and Olivia meet hospital volunteer, Martin ‘Marty’ Knight as they leave. Marty is concerned about the sadness in Rena’s eyes and tries to cheer her up as he helps her into the car. He is shocked to find out that Rena’s injuries and the death of her mother were caused by the same weather-related, multi-vehicle accident that claimed the life of his best friend, Victor Roddy.

During Marty and Rena’s conversation, Olivia finds herself staring at the man, convinced they have met before. She just cannot remember where. Marty also cast several glances in Olivia’s direction trying to figure out why she looks so familiar. His memory fails him.

As the story unfolds, Marty Knight will not only become a good friend and ‘grandfather’ to Rena, he will play a pivotal role in Olivia Chandler sorting out her past…and navigating her future.

  • Martin Eugene Knight
  • Age: 71
  • Retiree and Hospital Volunteer
  • DOB: October 31, 1943
  • Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Marital Status: Widower. Wife, EmmaJean, passed away three years ago after a difficult battle with liver cancer.
  • Marty and EmmaJean married right after graduating from high school. She died two weeks after their 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Has five children and eleven grandchildren.
  • Veteran of the Vietnam War. Entered the war near its beginning and served four years.
  • Received a Purple Heart and Medal Honor.
  • Enjoys building miniatures, fly fishing, and watching westerns.
  • Carries a keychain with a picture of his wife on one side, and a picture of his dog on the other. His dog passed away two months after his wife, at the age of 16. EmmaJean named the dog Dwight, because she was convinced he looked like Dwight D Eisenhower.

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#WIPWednesday – Meet Rena Averest from “In The Best Interest of the Child”

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Olivia Chandler’s latest client is eleven-year-old Rena Averest.

Rena and her parents were involved in a weather-related, multi-car accident. Her mother was killed and her father was severely injured and comatose for several weeks, and remains hospitalized indefinitely.

Rena suffered extensive injuries and was also hospitalized for several weeks. When she was well enough to be discharged, the hospital ran into major obstacles. Her mother’s only living relative was an older brother who lived two thousand miles away. Suffering with chronic cystic fibrosis, he was unable to care for Rena, and had in fact, even missed his sister’s funeral. Rena has grandparents, two uncles, and an aunt on her father’s side of the family…and they want absolutely nothing to do with her.

An extremely benevolent judge, taking into account all that Rena is currently dealing with, allows her to be placed temporarily with Courtney and Marissa Bellamy, friends of her parents since college, and Rena’s godparents. Not knowing how her father’s medical situation will resolve itself, the judge feels Rena needs the stability and familiarity of the Bellamy home. The Department of Children’s Services disagrees and take legal action to remove Rena from the Bellamy home and place her in foster care. The presiding judge, spurred on by the irony of DCS wanting to remove Rena Averest from a non-relative home only to place her in a non-relative home, stays the case and appoints a child advocate attorney to research the case and protect Rena’s interest.

And that’s exactly what Olivia intends to do.

Rena Irene Averest
Age: 11
DOB: May 6, 2003
Parents: Duncan and Irene Averest
Siblings: None
Favorite color: Yellow
Favorite music: Todrick Hall and all songs Disney-related
Favorite Book: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Pets: A turtle named Brutus
BFF: Margie Macy
Wants to be a surgical nurse when she grows up

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#WIPWednesday “In The Best Interest of the Child” #Excerpt

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Today I’m sharing a snippet from “In The Best Interest of the Child.” Olivia Chandler is finally arriving home after a full, exhausting day that didn’t go quite as she had planned. She has also just been assigned a special case by the court that will haunt and challenge her, and make her question everything she thought she knew about herself.

*Unedited and subject to revisions.

After pulling into her garage, Olivia pressed the remote to close the door behind her. Feeling the beginnings of a migraine pulse behind her ears, she leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes. When had her day gone down hill so bad as to bring on her killer headaches? Olivia did a mental recap of her afternoon. A celebratory lunch with the senior partners of her firm for her prevailing in three child custody cases in the last ninety days, which would all eventually be used to strengthen children’s rights when they oppose blood relatives in court; the Cox and Janey vs. Janey decision, which didn’t immediately end the way she would have preferred, but would gain the desired outcome in time; and her meeting with Lacie Cox to tell her about the court giving custody of her to Mileda Janey. That kid was tough. She took the news better than Olivia expected and even smiled and hugged her. But Olivia could see the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes which were shadowed in sadness. She was excited about getting to spend more time with her dads, and told Olivia that even though they had to rotate weekly visits, she knew she would get to see them both every week. The child spoke with confidence when talking about the two men she loved dearly. Melida had never been much of a mother, but Ronnie and Matthew had both, in turn, did their best to make sure Lacie never went without and always felt loved. However, it was Melida’s avarice and narcissism that eventually would push each man out of the home. Hopefully, those same characteristics would be her undoing in a very short while. Lacie would be fine, and now that Ronnie and his current wife, Fran, were expecting their first child, Lacie would soon be a big sister. She couldn’t undo the bad times of her childhood, but she was young enough to make cherished, new memories with family that loved and wanted her.

Olivia abruptly stepped out of her car and slammed the door. She could feel the muscles in her neck tightening, and felt like Fate was sitting on her shoulders with a sledgehammer determined to crack her skull. Try as she might to not think about it, Olivia knew the source of her frustration.”Dammit Olivia, stop it and stop it now! You haven’t even read the file. Why are you getting yourself all worked up?” As if defeated, Olivia leaned back and sagged against the car. “Oh great. Now I’m talking to myself. The crazy has truly come home – I have become my mother.” Thoughts of Sarina Chandler instantly changed her feelings of frustration into anger. Grabbing her bags and the take-out meal she probably wouldn’t eat tonight from the backseat, Olivia made her way to the door that opened into the mud room. Kicking her shoes off without stopping , she stomped up the two steps and into her spacious kitchen, dumping her things on the counter, nearly knocking over the large vase of calla lilies. Scolding herself for being such a wimp, Olivia removed the file from her briefcase, and just stared at it. This wasn’t just a file, it was a child who needed her help, someone who needed her to make sure their voices were heard and their wishes known. She had handled thousands of these files over the last fifteen years…and she would handle this one as well. She would not let this child down.

#WIP Wednesday – “In The Best Interest of the Child”

My current WIP is coming along nicely! Still don’t have a release date I want to publicly announce yet, but getting close! Many thanks to all those who’ve advised, mentored, beta-read, edited, or just made me laugh when I was ready to trash it all! I’m well aware that I am unwell, and appreciate your support!

In The Best Interest of the Child spans nearly thirty years in the life of Olivia ‘Livvie’ Chandler.

As a ten-year-old, Olivia has the perfect little girl’s life: a school she loves, good friends, a nice home, a talented mom, and a successful father she adores. Tragedy rips all of this away from her, and plunges Olivia into the foster care system, where for eight years she is neglected, humiliated, abused, and nearly raped.

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Fate smiles on Olivia shortly before she ages out of the system, allowing her the means to attend college and law school.

Years later, Olivia is a successful child advocate attorney, giving a voice to children who are so easily ignored by those claiming to act in their best interest. She has little time for personal relationships, and her lifelong fear of abandonment reminds her never to get too close to anyone.

The successful attorney stumbles though, when she’s assigned a case by the court that too closely mirrors her own haunted childhood. Olivia never gives her minor clients less than her all, and the only way she can help her eleven-year-old client is to face down and acknowledge her demons. This same case also brings a man into her life who sees her for who she truly is, and will not allow Olivia to push him away.


Watch for updates as I get closer to publishing. You’ll meet the characters, learn some of their quirks and read excerpts from this story of forgiveness, renewal, and love.

Felicia Denise