Never Give Up: The Bride of Zilla

Never Give Up CoverDespite the lemons of COVID-19, this has been an exciting time for me as an independent author. As an example of lemonade, last month I had the honor of being a guest on one of our local radio programs, along with our state attorney general. In addition, my body of work is now gracing the shelves of four library systems here in Minnesota.

Yes, an author’s work is never done, but I love it that way. While preparing my upcoming Christopher Family Novel for release, I have three in queue for my series. The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self are my first full-on M/M romance novels. The Rise of Sherry Payson takes us into the creative mind of an author with humor, romance, and mystery.

But back to Never Give Up. It is a whodunit, a historical whodunit which delves into the lives of the intended victim and his family. Still, like Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, there’s a certain sense of humor in it as well. How many of you out there know, have known, or know of, a Bridezilla? The following excerpt takes you on a little flashback into the mind of Judge Berry’s daughter (and family Bridezilla), LaVera Marchelle Berry:


Just who said planning a wedding would be fun? Everyone got on my nerves, even Chauntice, who was my maid of honor. Could she not understand the simple concept of total perfection? There were plenty of times I couldn’t stand to be around Derrick or put up with all the rehearsal time he had to put in. I had to change the color schemes six times because they weren’t right. I wanted a perfect wedding, and things and people kept coming up short. Finding the right caterer was a dismal chore. I wasn’t about to use somebody’s cousin I’d never heard of for a photographer, and even the photography studios around town had tired products and layouts. As for wedding gowns, I went through dozens and dozens of them, and I only found a suitable one after I went off to New York. And Daddy…he may have been paying for the wedding, but he needed to come off the money and spend more! I wanted to scream, and I did. I was the bride, and it was my absolute privilege to change my mind as often as I pleased. This was my wedding, and they were all working for me!

April 1, 1978—my wedding day—was fast approaching. Chauntice, as it turned out, had just about had it with me. A week before my big event, she literally sat me down and gave me a mutinous look. “Listen, Bridezilla,” she growled, “this may be your wedding, but you are not—I repeat, not—going to drive everyone around you into the loony bin. It’s a miracle that Derrick is putting up with you at this point. If I were him, I’d be ready to call off the wedding now!”

“Look, Chauntice! You’re my maid of honor. This is my day! I want my wedding to be absolutely perfect! If I say ‘Jump’ you’re here to say, ‘How high?’ If I want you to prance through hoops, you lift up your hooves and prance! That’s what you, the bridesmaids, the caterers, and everyone else are here for!”

Chauntice’s voice got low and deadly. “One more crack, LaVera, and not only will I smack that makeup off your face, but the rest of us will come in here and beat the crap out of you. By the time we’re done with you, no amount of makeup will cover that up.”

Slowly, my sisters filed into the room and gave me the same deadly expression as Chauntice, ready and willing to carry out her threat. I knew at that moment I’d said too much. “By the way, don’t think for a minute that Daddy doesn’t know about the way you’ve treated everyone.” Linda’s voice was frosty. “He’s probably ready to cite you for contempt of court and have you locked up. As for Derrick, if this wedding is any indication of what your marriage is going to be like, I hope he dumps you before it’s too late.”

I was ready to give Linda a quick retort, but it stopped in my throat as I scanned the room, with the murderous looks still cast in my direction. Deshawna took a step towards me. “Now get this straight, LaVera. Either you pull it together and clean up your act, or we are going to walk out on you and leave you hanging. Is that clear?”

I nodded quickly, especially when I noticed that Mama had entered the room and was giving me The Look. My sisters exchanged glances, pondering my acquiescence before Deshawna continued. “Chauntice, since you’re the maid of honor, is there anything you want to add?”

Chauntice stared at me like a hungry hawk ready to swoop down on a rabbit. “As a matter of fact, there is. You’re going to go to Derrick and apologize to him for your behavior and your drama. You’re going to do it today, and it had better be sincere.”

I have never been one to grovel, but after a healthy serving of humble pie, when he came home from rehearsal that evening, I did just that. It was no surprise Derrick didn’t let me off the hook easily. For the next five days, he watched my interactions with everyone involved in the planning to make sure my actions matched my words. That, added with my Berry charm, finally convinced him Bridezilla was dead and the fabulous LaVera Berry was back. Inwardly, I breathed an immense sigh of relief at dodging the firing squad.

I wouldn’t have believed it, but things went smoother after that “intervention.” The rehearsal dinner was lovely, and Derrick’s parents, Wardell and Aiyana St. James, could witness the love between us and the warm hospitality of my parents. On my wedding day, I felt positively beautiful in my strapless, modified A-line wedding gown as Daddy walked me down the aisle, seeing my very handsome husband-to-be standing at the altar and the wedding party at their respective places. My sisters were smiling, but there was no mistaking the cautionary look in their eyes that said, “LaVera, don’t you dare screw this up.”

@2019 by W.D. Foster-Graham


Believe in dreams and never give up.




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