Staying in with Sondra Sykes Meek

model marine

You all know I’m supposed to be writing a novel but life (or actually death) keeps getting in the way? Well today I’m delighted to welcome Sondra Sykes Meek to stay in with me on Linda’s Book Bag and tell me about a book she has written despite life getting in the way!

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Sondra Sykes Meek

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Sondra. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?  

I have brought a coming of age story called Model Marine. I have chosen it because it is my only published novel. I have several (unpublished) short stories that will eventually become novels, but this one I finished first because the topic is nearest to my heart. I spent twenty years in the Marine Corps, and anyone who knows a Marine will tell you it is more than a job. It is not what Marines “do.” It is what we become and remain, for the rest of our lives.

model marine

It is also a family—sometimes a dysfunctional family—but the kind that will sacrifice everything for each other. I wanted to create a story that would reveal through its characters that environment. The kind of environment that infuses young adults with teamwork and comradarie, courage and discipline, hardship and sacrifice.

But the Corps is not perfect and neither are the Marines in this story. However, they demonstrate characteristics and endure hardships that turn women and men into heroes.

(Sounds really interesting – and fancy being a marine!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Model Marine?

You will meet Molly Monroe and several other people from her past and present. The civilians and Marines in Molly’s life intersect, and the story unfolds from their varied perspectives. Some of the same events are seen from multiple angles. Image and point of view are heavy undercurrents within this story of love, friendship, sacrifice, and redemption.

You can expect NOT to be told the story in chronological order. Molly has experienced head trauma, so there are a lot of flashbacks and trauma-induced dreams mingled in with the forward moving storyline.

This story takes place primarily at (or near) Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan; and the military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. However, there are snippets of past events in other locations scattered throughout the narration.

You can expect a mother who tries to control her daughter’s destiny, a brother who is the self-appointed protector, a family full of secrets, and an estranged best friend.

You can expect a protagonist who loves the Bard! So you shouldn’t be surprised to encounter forbidden love and a love triangle.

And of course, there are A.Few.Good.Men. and Women!

(I think this sounds a smashing read Sondra. I know a mother or two who try to control others’ lives myself!)

What else have you brought along and why?

A personal note about the cover: I snapped that picture with my smartphone one Sunday afternoon. That is my 17 year old daughter dressed in my uniform. She humored me with a thirty minute photo shoot before she ran off to work (at the book store).

I share this because nearly every aspect of developing and delivering this book has been squeezed into the spare moments of my life. I have a full time job, (using the other side of my brain!) a full time family, and a passion for writing that sometimes won’t let me sleep at night. Those of us who have that passion shouldn’t ignore it. I did for too long, and I won’t anymore.

(What excellent advice – go for it everyone (including me)!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Model Marine.

Thank you to Linda and others like her who give authors like me a chance to be heard!

Model Marine

model marine

Molly Monroe was a teenage beauty queen who had her future planned out for her. When she makes an impulsive decision to join the Marine Corps the summer after high school graduation, her boyfriend breaks up with her, her brother bears the burden of guilt, and her mother feels betrayed.

The people in Molly’s life have always tried to protect her. But she wants to protect herself.

As a Combat Camera Marine, Molly observes and records her environment from behind the lens, where image shapes day-to-day life. After she is wounded during a combat deployment, her dreams are frightening, and her memories are a kaleidoscope of scattered and chaotic scenes; a collision of past and present, real and unreal. Snapshots in time. Glimpses of war. Fragments of love: lost and found.

This story unfolds through multiple perspectives, and as the negatives and positives develop, an image of the Model Marine is sharpened into focus.

Model Marine is available for purchase here.

About Sondra Sykes Meek


Sondra Sykes Meek was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida. However, she have spent most of her adult life away from her roots. She joined the Marine Corps after high school and has lived in several locations since. After Sondra retired from the Marine Corps in 2010, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing and had hoped to spend the rest of her days writing fiction and delivering it to her world-wide audience.

Alas, life gets in the way!

Currently, Sondra is a wife and mother of two living in beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina. She holds a full-time job as a Cyber Security Project Manager in the Defense Industry. As intellectually challenging and fulfilling as her life is, she woke up one day last year and realized she wasn’t living the literary life she had dreamed. She decided to finish the book she started in her master’s program, and that is how she spent many weekends and early mornings last year. Hopefully, her hobby will eventually become her next career.

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