Just In Time For Summer

Just in time for Summer

Crazy busy these days.  Two novels coming out June 7.

Forever Beach36kbForever 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, Golden Cage revisewhere 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.

Read excerpts  at Shelley Freydont  and Shelley Noble.

And check out my blog tour schedule  on the announcements  page. Now back to work.

What’s your favorite kind of summer reading?

A To Do List, really

to doI’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.

Whisper Beach

Whisper Beach

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!

 

 

Where Did it Go?

320px-Photo_Quarter_Horse_RacingI 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.

WhisperBeachIt 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 A Gilded Grave2 smastory set in Newport.

BreakwaterBay

 

 

 

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?

 

 

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE

Funtown Carousel in Seaside Park.

Funtown Carousel in Seaside Park.

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.

Please join me there for a few last photos.Stargazey coversIMG_0537

Sand Surf and Carousels

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.

 

STARGAZE POINT

 

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.”

 

 

STARGAZEY

Stargazey—What  a wonderful whimsical word.

 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,

Stargazey 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.

 I hope you’ll join us there.

Holy Moly!!

HOLY MOLY

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?

Holy Moly!!

 

THE NEXT BIG THING

Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack mystery series sent me these questions to answer about My Next Big Thing, which is of course my next novel.

My Next Little Thing, A Holiday two novella bundle.

But before I answer them, I want to mention my next little thing,  Holidays at Crescent Cove, a two novella bundle featuring the characters from Beach Colors will be available On December 11. Now on to the Next BIG thing.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

1.What is your working title of your book?

STARGAZEY POINT

2.Where did the idea come from for the book?

It sort of sprang from somewhere I didn’t expect. The idea of a town fighting for its life and at the mercy of nature and developers and how one person can turn the tide of the future.

3.What genre does your book fall under?

Women’s fiction

4.Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Carey Mulligan as Abbie

Terrence Stamp as Beau

Orlando Bloom as Cabot

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A traumatized documentarist flees to a small South Carolina beach town where she hopes to find sanctuary, but is changed forever by three septagenarian siblings, an old Gullah wisewoman and a man and his vintage carousel.

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agency, published by William Morrow

7.How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Three Months of long hours

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Beach Colors. I think  stores will appeal to the readers of Luanne Rice and Kate White.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was in England a couple of years ago and visited Mousehole, a Cornwall town which is the setting of a favorite children’s book, The Mousehole Cat.  It’s about how one small insignificant person, (cat) or act can change the life of an entire town.  Later , I wanted to write about someone who comes to a place for a safe haven and becomes the igniting force behind a town’s recovery. And though my story takes place on the shores of South Carolina, I though the same loyalty and determination would be right at home there.

10.What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love vintage carousels; many have been dismantled and sold off piecemeal to collectors. A few have been saved by passionate carousel lovers.  One of the characters in my book gives up a lucrative career to restore a carousel from his childhood.

Check out these authors to find out about their Next Big Thing

http://asfenichel.net/blog/2012/10/22/the-next-big-thing/   Mayan Craving Christmas Bliss by A.S. Fenichel (Nov 29, 2012)

http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

http://www.loiswinston.com  Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, Revenge of the Craftsy Corpse by Lois Winston

florence fOIS In The City …Ramblingsfromtheleft.wordpress.com

http://peachette48.livejournal.com  Dancin’ in the Dark , Kisses to Go by Irene Peterson

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:

Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

 

 

Phyllis Whitney

Writers I Love to Read

Well loved American suspense wirterPhyllis Whitney

A few weeks ago we were discussing Mary Stewart and someone mentioned Phyllis Whitney.  Whitney and Stewart were contemporaries, Phyllis 1903-2008 and Mary 1916. American and English.

Whitney was often called the Queen of the American gothic, though she insisted that she wrote romantic suspense.

I always like Phyllis Whitney, at first because she had once wanted to be a dancer and when I first started to write seriously, I felt a camaraderie with her, because I had been a dancer, too.

I hadn’t read her for awhile so I went back last week and read two of her books that I found on my bookshelf, Hunter’s Green (1968) and The Singing Stones (1990.) Her stories certainly have dark gothic overtones. A true women in jeopardy kind of story.

She was a master of creating that claustrophobic feeling of the heroine surrounded by people with dark motivations and machinations.  Everyone is suspect.  And she kept me guessing even though I had read them years before.

And though 22 years separated these two books, their themes were similar.  A young immature woman marries who she thinks is her soul mate  only to lose his love, or flee and has come back to try to understand herself.  And him. To see if she has grown at all and if there might still be a future for them.  Yet they are surrounded by people who are determined to stop them no matter what the risk or the price.

I confess this time around I did become a little annoyed at the timidity and naiveté of her heroines.  But this is classic romantic suspense.  And if I prefer the handier more outspoken heroines of Mary Stewart, I can certainly appreciate the feeling of hopelessness and the final development of the heroine.

Phyllis WhitneyFrom The Singing Stones

“When I went into my bathroom to stare at myself in the mirror, I saw crusted blood along the scratch on my cheek, but that was superficial.  My hair was a mess, and my coat was smeared with red dust.  All of which could be easily repaired.  I wasn’t so sure about the look in my eyes—a look of uncried tears.  Not because I’d nearly lost my life, but because I’d been looking at a batch of old pictures that belonged to two people who had lived in another time.  These were tears I didn’t dare to shed.”

Or Hunter’s Green

“As I ran along the pavement’s edge I brushed past wet shrubbery that slapped at me, weighted by the rain, and I almost fell as I stumbled over something which lay across the roadway at my feet.  Something which lay facedown and unmoving, clad in a green trench coat, with a plastic hood covering the head, a coat of hunter’s green streaked by scarlet threads that ran in the rivulets of rain.”

Much darker than Stewart’s stories, the menace is constant and unknown.

Whitney also wrote craft books.

From the Guide to Fiction Writing: Some of her advice to writers:

“Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too).  Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

And one of my favorites.

“Good stories are not written, they are rewritten”

So what do you think?  Can her stories appeal to today’s readers.  Or do we have to step back  to a less aggressive time  to experience the true intensity and fear and hopelessness of those young women?

 

Learning Lessons

When I left the gym this morning, The Sleeping Beauty Ballet was playing on the car radio.  Now those of you who know that I was a dancer in a former profession, won’t be surprised that I could still remember whole bits of steps.  The only time I was ever in Sleeping Beauty was when I was fourteen, many years ago.

It was a summer production by an established, semi-professional, regional ballet company,  being set by two dancers from the Royal Ballet in London. They held outside auditions and I was accepted.

It was that summer I learned my first big lesson.

I was young, I was away from home and I wasn’t really tall.  But I made the cut for the sixteen member corps de ballet.  A big coup.  It meant that I actually got to dance instead of just being one of the  townspeople who stood around watching the others dance. I was also called to understudy several soloists. I was in heaven until the next day.

That’s when I learned that one of the local girls who hadn’t made a place in the corps complained to her mother.  And the mother, being a patron of the ballet company, went in and demanded that her daughter be put in the corps. One minute I was standing waiting for my entrance at the end of the line, the next I was dismissed and the girl (whose name I will always remember but not share) stepped into my place.

I wasn’t so young and naïve not to see the looks that went around the room.  More than one dancer said something to me about it not being fair.  No, but it still had happened.  And I didn’t have a mother nearby to champion my cause.

Variation rehearsals were held in the mornings.  And each morning I was there, ready to dance my heart out, the umpteenth understudy for Blue Bird, Puss N Boots, Lilac Fairy, and every afternoon I would go into the group rehearsal and watch everyone else dance until it was time for the crowd scene where I had landed a spotlight role as one of the knitting ladies who the three spinning ladies came out of the crowd to down center, with knitting needles as I recall,  and were banished from the kingdom (offstage left). That was my summer.

I was living in a dorm with a group of ballet boys from a New York Dance company who had been imported to do the major roles.  They were nice but older and had their own lifestyles so after rehearsal I ate something from a corner market and sat in my room.  Kind of depressing even for a fourteen year old.

This went on for weeks and then it was time for our first costume fittings.  I walked past yards of shiny colored satins, bejeweled tutus of tulle and velvet, fur lined cloaks, to where the spinning ladies were being fitted.  A nice lady helped me into the heavy black wool dress.  It was several inches too long, and even in the air conditioning terribly hot and itchy.  But I put it on and looked down at the heavy long sleeves, the hand stitched  seams.  The cuffs and collar were edged in black braiding.  I’m sure there was years of sweat residing in its folds, but it was the most gorgeous  thing I’d ever seen and for a moment I didn’t miss the white gossamer tulles of the corps de ballet.

Rehearsals went on and I was given many compliments on my dancing the umpteenth understudy part of the variations.  Maybe they were just feeling guilty for knocking me out of the corps.  They told me I had talent.  The rehearsal pianist who said he had played for Pavlova told me  the world was waiting for me.  And ruined it all by telling me that I first needed to tape back my ears, because they stuck out, there was nothing to do about the points but hope for the best.

That’s when I grew  to love and appreciate those ballet boys and their odd lifestyles.  They said I had “diva” ears and people would kill to have them.  I can’t remember if I believed them or not, but I didn’t tape them back.

So rehearsals  continued and I continued to walk out of the crowd on cue to meet the other two spinning ladies, only to be banished from the kingdom and chased off stage left.

Then came the first dress rehearsal.  I put on the heavy costume.  Did I mention it was an outdoor amphitheatre?  Huge and hot.  The orchestra was in the pit, the music swelled.  Dancers took their places.  I watched from the wings  until it was time for the crowd scene.  I entered cloaked by the others.  And something happened.  I was suddenly in the kingdom of Sleeping Beauty.  It was the most magical thing I had ever seen, or heard, the  sets, the costumes, the music.  I floated on a cloud of sheer awe. And only dimly became aware of a voice yelling over the microphone that directors used when they were watching from the  front of house. “Third spinning lady, Where’s the damn third spinning lady?

The words barely penetrated my rapt state, until I was shoved out of the crowd and stumbled onto center stage to meet the two waiting spinning ladies who looked a little miffed.  We were banished stage left.  And the show went on.

I never reached that state of pure awe after that.  I didn’t dare. I waited in the wings, listened to the music for cue.  Was alert and ready when it was time for my less than fifteen minutes of fame. I never missed a cue after that, even though I never danced a step on stage.

That wasn’t the last time I lost a part or a role because someone had more clout.  But it was the last time I let it happen without putting up a fight. I learned some valuable life lessons.

One, if you don’t have a rich mamma, you gotta learn to take care of yourself.

Two, a truly great performer always has to reserve a bit of him/herself to keep the character doing what he should on cue.

Three, the shape of your ears can be dealt with and aren’t really that important.

And the most important thing of all.  People can step on you, push you down, laugh at you, or dismiss you as unimportant.  There are no small parts.

And no one, no one, can ever take away the magic inside you.

I”m sure we all have lessons to share.  What’s yours?