Crazy busy these days. Two novels coming out June 7.
Forever Beach as Shelley Noble, about a young single woman’s determination to adopt her foster daughter, but her only shot at protecting the child she loves is to enlist the help of her estranged former best friend, who betrayed her when they were both in the foster system and who is now a high profile family lawyer.
Fortunately her friends are there to help her to see her way through with support, love and good times at the beach—their Forever Beach
And A Golden Cage, the second of my Shelley Freydont, Newport Gilded Age Mystery,where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.
With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal—or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable new bathing costumes, joining a ladies’ bicycling club, and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks. Mayhem ensues.
I’ve often wondered why I never get to the end of my to do list. Today I finally got it, because it’s a to do list, not a done list, or a never mean to do list, but a to do list, and the items that you don’t get accomplished just get transferred to the next to do list.
I’ve noticed that the ones that get left over from the list the day before, are also the ones that don’t get done today or tomorrow. There’s a message there. So tomorrow i’m putting the ones still to be done tonight at the top of tomorrow’s list. Think I can make it work?
For example, this blog. I have three novels and a novella coming out from now through September. Just thinking about it amazes me. I’ve been doing edits, copyedits, proof reading as well as beginning next years books. (May the force be with me . . .and you too.) I’ve written blogs for other people, but I forgot about my own.
But I’m still here and this year’s novels will be here soon.
My beach book comes out first. It’s sort of a Big Chill -2015 Jersey Shore Edition story. Four childhood friends , well actually three friends and the other girl who sometimes hung out with them, come back as adults to attend a funeral. Things have changed . . .or have they? Maybe they are finally experiencing all the things about friendship that they never understood before. But can they trust it? Or each other?
It’s a theme I like to explore, the meaning of friendship and trust and how far love can bend before it breaks.
What about friendship interests you most?
Whisper Beach June 16
Shelley Freydont mysteries coming in July, August and September. Whew!
What a winter, right? Add to that moving and a deadline that galloped toward the present and I’ve been hibernating in front of my computer screen.
But now the novel is finished except, fingers crossed, a couple of more read throughs. I have a couple of days before I need to start on the next one in earnest. And the weatherman promises Saturday will be warm enough for my first extended walk on the beach.
I’ve been several times. Thanks goodness for thermal clothes and warm coats, hats, gloves. Still except for a few occasions, my nose gave out before my feet did. That ocean wind can be a deal breaker for long strolls along the shore.
But now I’m psyched. I’m turning in my super dooper hybrid mountain bike (really it belongs to my daughter) and getting myself a beach cruiser. No gears, it’s flat here. And I don’t need to feel the wind whizzing by as I ride, I just need to peddle to the beach.
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
For those of you who follow my blog, or who have read my latest novel, STARGAZEY POINT, you know I love carousels. Carousels of all kinds from the endangered historic antiques to the put in a quarter ones at the mall.
A few weeks ago we lost a favorite. It wasn’t the oldest, or the most famous, it’s known best as the menagerie that replaced the animals that were auctioned off back in the nineties.
But when the music churned up and the the platform jerked to life, you couldn’t help but feel a little thrill.
Today over at my Shelley Freydont Blog I’ve posted some photos I took a few weeks before the fire that destroyed the Seaside Park Boardwalk. Many are of the Funtown Pier carousel, that though newer than the hundred year old Dentze;/Looff carousel a few blocks north (That did survive the fire) still has brought enjoyment to many and will be sorely missed.
We Jerseyans love our shore. We go down the shore for vacations, for holidays, for relaxing, for inspiration, just for the heck of it. Memories are made there. Lives are changed there. And many good times have been had there.
Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage. It hurt individuals, families, friends, neighbors. But in new Jersey’s indomitable spirit, everybody came out to lend a hand, donated goods, time and financial support, trying to make life a little more comfortable for those who lost their home, business or a loved one.
BUT WE’RE BACK!!!
Seaside Heights back and building
I’ve been busy with a bunch of deadlines and hours of writing, but I took a day off to drive over to Seaside Heights to see how things were going.
And they were going. It was a Tuesday and though the boardwalk wasn’t thronged, it is the very beginning of the season, it was there and looking good. Arcades were open, games and food lined way. Both carousels were up and running.
I’m a big carousel lover. I’m exultant that I finally got to put a carousel in my upcoming book Stargazey Point. The book takes place in a fictional town on the South Carolina shore, and strangely enough , though written well before Sandy, it’s about a town devastated by decades of hurricanes that looks toward its old carousel to lead it back into prosperity.
Yike’s, kind of scary. Little did I know then that I would be getting first hand experience of how my characters were affected and how their lives were changed, and most importantly of all, how they made a comeback, stronger than ever.
Carousels are more than just a ride, a fun few minutes, to me at least. They are symbols of childhood innocence, of hope, of dreams. A lot to ask of a ride that goes around in a circle with none of the high tech thrills and chills of being suspended in air, dropped through space, scared out of your wits. Up and down and round and round, sort of like life, and if you’re lucky there’s a brass ring to take home.
Here’s an excerpt from STARGAZEY POINT
Even when the carousel music slowly wobbled to silence, Cab could still hear it playing inside his head. Sometimes he heard it in his dreams and he and Midnight Lady would gallop over the sand, wild like the wind, his Uncle Ned had read that from a book once, wild like the wind.
His uncle locked up the carousel, stuck the cash box under his arm, and came to stand beside him. “Tired, son?”
“No sir,” Cab said, stifling a yawn.
“It’s a mighty fine night, ain’t it?”
Cab nodded. Stargazey Point was just about the best place in the world. Like living in a carnival.
Uncle Ned said goodnight to the women closing up the community store. They were going home for the night, but out on the pier people played the arcades and ate cotton candy and drank lemonade. If he listened real hard, Cab could hear music coming from the pavilion out at the end, where the grownups would be dancing to a real live band.
Ned put his arm around Cab’s shoulders. “Time we were getting home. Have us some left over barbeque and get to bed.”
They walked away from the beach, the lights, the sounds and into the night. They were half way home when Uncle Ned stopped in the middle of the dark street. “Look up at the sky, Cab.”
Cab did. The sky was black and there more stars than you could ever count. He sighed. School would be starting soon and he’d have to leave his uncle for another year. He didn’t want to go, he didn’t like boarding school, everyone here was nice.
“I wish I could stay in Stargazey Point forever.”
“Maybe you will one day. It’s a magical place, sure enough. It can mend your heart, make you strong, and show you the way to follow your dream. You remember that, Cab. There’s not a better place in the whole world than right here at the Point.”
I confess I’d never heard of Stargazey Pie until late one Christmas Eve. I was wrapping after everyone else was asleep and watching PBS. A short film using the illustrations and text from the Antonia Barber and Nicola Bayley book, The Mousehole Cat, made me forget what I was doing. I watched in total awe.
I immediately ordered the book to read to my kids. Tom Bawcock’s Eve is celebrated on Dec 23, honoring the fisherman who saved the starving town of Mousehole (pronounced mauzel) in Cornwall, by braving a terrible storm to take his boat into the sea to catch enough to feed his neighbors. In the book his cat, Mawzer, take sa leading role by taming the anger of the Great Storm Cat.
The outcome of this daring and successful feat was stargazey pie, a fish and potato pie,
unusual because the heads (and sometimes the tails) of whole fish stick up from the pastry as if gazing at the sky.
I tucked that word, Stargazey, away just to enjoy in solitude.
I just held onto that word, tucked away, sometimes savored, and sometimes forgotten.
I began writing mysteries, romance and finally women’s fiction. I titled my first womens’ fiction novel, Beach Colors, and a theme was born.
The next novel takes place in a fictional coastal town in South Carolina. Forsaken and forgotten after a series of hurricanes and a changing economy, it is still a magical place. But what to name it? I began the book, nameless.
At one point one of my characters and his young nephew are looking up at the stars and he says, “There are a millions dreams up there, boy, and one of them belongs to you.”
And it came to me. Stargazey. I named my town and my novel Stargazey Point. A prequel novella, Stargazey Nights.
Coming July 9
Coming June 4
For me, they both are perfect titles.
Stargazey Nights is available June 4. And Stargazey Point in on July 9th.
You never know what interesting things you might stumble upon doing research.
In my current work in progress aimed for 2014 and titled so far as Breakwater Bay, one of my characters is a book illustrator. He is doing the illustrations for and yet another children’s version of the Odyssey.
Now I’ve studied Homer, but it was a while ago and I wasn’t sure which characters were in the Iliad and which were in the Odyssey. So I googled.
Holy Moly!!!! I couldn’t believe what I found. I say that all the time, Holy Moly! My characters often are heard saying it. I always just assumed that it was one of those mildly drat kind of expressions like gosh durn and other light weight swear words that won’t get you into trouble with readers or your mother.
Well, guess again. Holy Moly is an herb. A Holy herb. A magical herb that is written about in the Odyssey. Hermes gives this herb to Odysseus to protect him from Circe, so that he can rescue his crew, whom she has turned into swine. Sounding familiar?
Supposedly this magical herb is grown from the blood of a giant killed on the isle of Kirke or Circe.
It has been suggested that this was actually a plant in the species Galanthus or the snowdrop; evidently it substances can counteract the affects of hallucinations. As kids we were always told snow drops were poison. Here’ s a lovely photo of the snow drop taken by Simon Garbutt.
Anybody know how moly or molu grew from an herb in the Odyssey to an expression of surprise?
One of the great side benefits of writing fiction is doing research. You might imagine that there isn’t much need for research since you’re making the story up, but getting details right makes the story more believable . Besides it’s so much fun.
The novel I’m working on now takes place in contemporary Rhode Island around Newport and the less populated area of Little Compton. I usually like to make up the towns I write about. But Newport offers such a wealth of possibilities that I was seduced into using it as a backdrop for this story and gave me a clue as to the profession of my protagonist. An architectural restorer.
Lots of research needed there. And it’s fascinating. My heroine works in Newport, but was born and raised by the sea just across Narragansett Bay.
As I was researching the coastal regions of Rhode Island I discovered an interesting historical character, which led me off on a tangent that interests me. Women who’ve made a difference.
Enter Ida Lewis who tended the Lime Rock lighthouse from 1857 when her father the official keeper suffered from a debilitating stroke. When he died his wife mother was appointed keeper . But it was Ida whose responsibilities it was to keep the oil lamps lit as well as taking care of her siblings and rowing them back and forth from school on the mainland each day.
Needless to say Ida became very strong and was also a very adept swimmer, both unusual activities for women of the times. After her mother was taken ill, she was solely responsible for the running of the lighthouse and was granted the position of keeper in 1879 where she served until her death in 1911.
But even more fascinating is the number of lives she saved during her career. She made her first rescue at the age of 16, when four young men took out sailboat which they managed to capsize. While the men attempted to stay afloat, Ida cast off the rowboat and hurried to save them. She managed to haul all four into the boat and row them back to the lighthouse. That was the first of many rescues this intrepid woman conducted and she is credited with saving somewhere between 18 and 36 lives.
She became the most famous lighthouse keeper of the period.
Thirteen years after her death the Lime Rock Lighthouse officially became the Ida Lewis Lighthouse.
Many articles were written about her in the leading magazines and newspapers of the day. To read more about Ida and other female lighthouse keepers: