I know it’s only November and we still have Thanksgiving and December holidays to go before the new year. But I woke up this morning and thought Yikes, where did my year go? I feel like I’m racing to the finish.
And how much can I cram into the last month and a half?
I had a great year. Living at the shore is a sure fire way to reduce stress. Stuck on a plot point? A the minute walk on the beach will fix that? Well at least give you a new viewpoint when you return to the manuscript.
Did I bask in the sun all summer? No. I sat at my computer all summer. All winter, spring and fall (so far.) Am I a happy camper?
YES. YES. YES.
It was wild. I wrote my next women’s fiction. Whisper Beach, which comes out in June. About childhood friends who might or might not still be friends when the re meet at a funeral. A touch of the Big Chill Jersey Edition.
Then I wrote the first novel in a new historical mystery series (as Shelley Freydont). A Gilded Grave. It was really fun and hair-tearing. Lots of research. But that’s the beauty of working at something you love, and feel compelled to do. It takes pace in 1895, the height of the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island, which gave me a double dose of one of my favorite places because it came on the heels of my last Women’s Fiction Breakwater Bay which is a contemporary story set in Newport.
And last but not least a new Celebration Bay novel and novella to be out in time for Halloween next year.
It was a crazy year. Crazy and beach-soothing. Did I feel like I missed anything? Sure. Lots, but it was worth it.
I hope I get to repeat it next year. Though I will try to schedule better.
How did your year go? Meet your goals? Sat back and enjoyed life? A little bit of both? What do you love spending (almost) every waking minute doing?
Well, Thanksgiving sped by. I moved to the shore of New Jersey one week and went back to Bergen county to celebrate thanksgiving with friends. We do it every year, I guess you wold say, they’re our family, me and the two kid (now adults). Then back to the beach to revisions , copy edits and the boardwalk. Ah. I”m really looking forward to the holidays at the shore. The decorations are going up around me. I’m working but that’s okay. Getting a tree tomorrow. Yep. A real one. Always get a real one, they make s all sneeze and our eyes water but we love the smell, the look the whole nine yards.
Here’s a little excerpt from last year’s Christmas novella about Bri from Beach Colors and her new family, two girls , Mimi and Lily, she adopted from China. It’s on sale at your favorite real and virtual book stores. Enjoy and Happy Holidays.
A CRESCENT COVE CHRISTMAS
It was snowing hard. Brianna Boyce hunched over the steering wheel and squinted through the windshield, trying to keep the car on the road. A road that was quickly disappearing beneath drifts of white. They shouldn’t have stayed at the mall so long. It was only a little after five but already it was pitch black except for the blinding curtain of white.
She glanced at the back seat where her two newly adopted daughters were asleep in their car seats. Ming Li and Li Fan, Mimi and Lily. They’d fallen asleep before Bri had negotiated her new secondhand SUV out of the parking lot.
Bri knew how to shop, but she normally avoided the mall. But today with the weather being so fickle, she’d decided to give the girls a treat. And the trip had never given her so much pleasure. They’d taken in everything, stopped at every window to gaze at the clothes, the appliances, the bath products. At the toy store, they stared open mouthed at a pink plastic fairy castle and Bri decided to go back and buy it for their Christmas.
They didn’t ask for a thing as Bri pointed out things in her pigeon Chinese. They had no toys like this in the orphanage where they’d spent their young lives until a few weeks ago. They had never heard of Disney. Didn’t understand that these things could be bought and taken home. Could be theirs for their very own, not just some fairy tale land to be visited with their new mother.
They were afraid to sit on Santa’s lap, which was a bit of a disappointment. She’d had fantasies of sending out Christmas cards with them smiling, each on one knee. Bri tried to see the mall Santa through their eyes. He was pretty good, a huge man, well padded in his red suit, a white curly beard and a Santa hat with big white pompom that hung over his forehead.
They’d taken one look and cowered against her. His “ho ho ho” scared them. Bri smiled, bittersweet. Maybe next year when they were more accustomed to living here.
When Bri had started adoption proceedings, they’d been three and two. Now Mimi was five and Lily, almost four. It seemed like eons before she was finally allowed to bring them home at the beginning of November. And Bri was thankful. She had a lot to be thankful about.
She looked back at the road, slowed as she came to the curve a quarter mile from their home, an old horse farm she’d bought when she returned to Crescent Cove eight years before.
The SUV took the turn easily. She would never drive too fast again. She’d learned that lesson many years before.
Read more of A Crescent Cove Christmas at a store or app near you
Valentine’s Day is over, New Year’s is only a memory, so I decided to take a backward look at Christmas and my favorite thing to do during that season. A trip to the Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Train Show, a miniature wonderland of New York City that encompasses 6,000 square feet in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, mounted first in1992, by Paul Busse and a team of botanical artists.
Oh yeah. There are trains, too. But for me it’s the depiction of the city that keeps me coming back each year. Here are some of my favorites.
Statue of Liberty
Like immigrants of old, you’re greeted by the Statue of Liberty and from there are swept into a bustling city, not of steel and glass and exhaust fumes, but dried flower pods, seed, twigs and pure imagination.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, better know as The Met, unless you’re talking about the Metropolitan Opera, also know as the Met.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Though in reality the museum’s façade is made of stone, this version is made from Zinnia petals, grass fibers, arborvitae cones, Walnut shells, cinnamon sticks and many other natural pieces.
Rockefeller Center, the building in the center. Lined with buildings, the angels blow a
fanfare as you walk down the court way to the skating rink and tree. To the left the New York Stock Exchange. To its right is Radio City Music Hall. Don’t use this as a guide around Manhattan. The Stock Exchange is actually downtown on Wall St. and Radio City is behind the Center on the Avenue of the Americas.
Folies Bergere Theatre
The lost Folies Bergere Theater, built in 1911, renamed the Helen Hayes in 1955, and torn down in 1982. Remembered here in magnolia and poplar leaves, bamboo, wisteria pods, cattails, beechnuts and many more found bits of nature.
The Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, his only New York City Building. The art is viewed from a sloping spiral walkway. My choice is to start at the top and proceed to the bottom. This miniature representation is made of black locust shelf fungi.
Bet you can guess what this is
Need a clue?
Another great landmark that no longer looks the way it once did, Pennsylvania Station ws a grand old building.
Since 1919 Belvedere Castle, in Central Park has been the location of the National Weather Service.
And last but not least, Tammany Hall one of my favorites, when the theatre district centered around Union Square before it moved up town to Broadway. The Era of Boss Tweed, Roosevelt, Jenny Lind, and PT Barnum.
There are so many more, the bridges, and museums, and brownstones and statues. And if you can’t make the show, theres ‘a lovely accompanying book to the exhibit.
Thanksgiving is over except maybe for that last piece of pumpkin pie.
But I’m still looking forward to my Thanksgiving e-novella to become available Dec 11. It’s part of a two novella e-book about the characters from Beach Colors. One takes place at Thanksgiving and the other during the Christmas holidays. That suits me just fine. I love holidays. I’ll celebrate just about any holiday as long as it is a happy one.
So today for the ongoing holiday season I’m offering a sneak peak of Thanksgiving at Crescent Cove.
Grace Holcombe has just won a law case to grant permanent historic designation to Crescent Cove’s boardwalk, plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with her friends until the father she hasn’t spoken to since she walked away from his law practice, shows up unannounced, asking for help and forgiveness. But his rejection of Grace several years before has left a deep pain. Is this time for giving thanks enough to give Grace the heart to forgive or will it take a little help from her friends and the warm and welcoming town of Crescent Cove.
Thanksgiving at Crescent Cove
Dottie’s Diner was filling up fast but a waitress led them to a booth along the front window. Someone had left a folded newspaper on the table and as Grace slid into the booth, a headline caught her eye.
She froze half way in. Stared at the headline. The diner went out of focus. The noise buzzed to nothing. It couldn’t be. It. Could. Not. Be. She touched the paper with one finger, inched it around so she could see it better.
“Excuse, me,” she managed. She slid out of the seat right into Jake. There was a momentary scuffle as she tried to get away.
“Sorry. I just remembered. I have to go.”
Jake stepped back to let her pass. She stumbled toward the door.
Margaux ran after her and stopped her at the door. “Grace. What is it? Are you okay? Are you sick? Can I do anything?”
“I’m fine, I just have to—I’ll talk to you later.” Blindly, Grace pushed through the glass doors to the sidewalk.
Since March , I’ve written a Christmas novella , a Thanksgiving novella and I’m now working on a Christmas mystery (Dec 2013). The days grew longer, the plants sent out new shoots, the snow melted, and I was still enjoying the holidays in my office. School let out, graduation came and went, the pool was cleaned and opened. And I was deep in bleak midwinter.
Well not so bleak. I was having a ball following my characters through the snow, tackling their problems as they prepared turkeys, decorated trees and learned the true meaning of the holidays. I was totally engaged.
Then one day I caught myself going to the closet to get my coat to go to the gym. It was 80 degrees outside.
Talk about being lost in a book.
So last week I took a break and went down the shore with friends. We went mid week so the beach wouldn’t be so crowded, the traffic wouldn’t be so gnarled.
At least not so crowded and gnarled as the weekend would be. It was still pretty busy. And hot, oh boy was it hot. And muggy.
Never fear, what time we didn’t spend on the beach, we spent in air conditioning, playing dominos and drinking some excellent wine made by friends. They have over two hundred bottles in their basement. They get as involved in wine making as I do in my characters and their stories.
One thing that I did notice. It’s hard to relax, even when you’re relaxing. Even the folks lying out in the sun, seemed to be tanning with a vengeance. All loaded down with coolers and chairs, and books, and e-readers and boom boxes, and ipods. Phones are constantly in use though the glare of the sun really cuts down on efficient texting.
Still, a good time was had by all. We came home on Friday. I was still in ninety degree beach mode. In domino victory mode. Still thinking about drinks with little umbrellas in them.
But it was time to get back to work. So I booted up the computer, back to my Christmas mystery.
And stuck. I noodled around. Tried to pick up where I left off. Couldn’t get a rhythm going. So I took a break. Made some dinner. Turned on the television, promised to get an early start the next day.
Channel surfed for a bit and landed on the Hallmark Channel. And guess what they were showing. Hallmark Christmas Movie Weekend. In July. Several hours later I was back in the snowy, festive days of December.
Cape May Christmas
Evidently I’m not the only one who needs a little good cheer in July.
And as far as inspiration goes , I’m back in the swing of all things mystery and holiday. And I realize that it helps sometimes to have a little distance on what you’re writing about. Christmas seen from the summer.
What do you think? Do you write or read “in season” or does it matter? Do you find yourself listening to the Beach Boys in December or the Vienna Boys choir on the Fourth of July?