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Me: Part 2

Us and boysAfter a couple of years in the country, we relocated back to Nashville where I went through two years of high school before another move to Murfreesboro, an hour south of Nashville. During my high school, I got involved in school programs, ranging from sports – basketball, track and swimming – to acting (yes, acting!) and church (I was secretary of our CYO group) and even earned a 100 hour badge as a candystriper volunteering at the local V.A. hospital.

Despite all these activities, the transition to Murfreesboro was tough since I’d left some close, wonderful friends behind during a crucial time in my teenage years to try to gain acceptance in a school where most everyone had grown up together. I processed my feelings in writing and escaped into books even more. In fact, I often got in trouble for reading off-topic in class — even honors English class.

I absolutely loved writing and felt comfortable doing so. So much so, that in college, I frequently wrote other student’s term papers along with my own.  I left school to earn a paycheck, married young and soon had a couple of children and life as a stay at home mom bringing in a little side money as a sportswriter for a local weekly paper and then working as a stringer for another local newspaper.

My tumultuous six-year-marriage ended so I entered the ranks of the 9-5 employed in customer service. A few years later I remarried a wonderful man — my best friend — and continued to work, too busy to write. I returned to school and received a B.A. (cum laude, I might add) in Mass Comm from Middle Tennessee State University. While there, I was writing for the school newspaper and as a stringer with the Tennessean, covering some random stories from a major pollution issue to the cotton crop’s prospects to tragedies such as a young boy dying from diabetes.

After graduating, I moved into a fulltime reporters role with a suburban Nashville daily paper and wrote for a few years longer before deciding a corporate communications job would be more lucrative. I simultaneously joined forces with a friend of my brothers and co-wrote a screenplay and, with my partner’s approval, wrote the subsequent novel based on the story. It gathered dust on a shelf as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on but I’m glad to say became my first published novel, Empty Sky, which was finally published in 2014.

The art came into play this way: My two sons joined different branches of the military and served in Iraq. They both served in the infantry and both were embroiled in some of the worst fighting during our years there. My eldest, a Marine, was in Nasariyah in the beginning of the war which was described as “a Turkey Shoot, with our Marines as the targets.”  My younger son was in the mechanized infantry in Anbar Province where half-ton IEDs were the widow-makers and son-stealers.

I’ll be honest. It unbalanced me for a few years. Not that I became a raging alcoholic or ended up in an institution. Rather, I let anger and outrage over what I perceived as an egregiously ill-advised course of action eat away at me. I was bitter and intense and outspoken and not a pleasant person to be around.

Then I found art.

My sons were stateside and safe and I was able to let down my guard. With a makeshift studio beckoning, I taught myself some basics and took classes and workshops and found a community of fellow artists to paint with.  It was the release I needed and at once my soul felt so much lighter!

Technological advances sent my consulting business the way of travel agencies, and forced me to find steady employment. I did, and have since moved to Florida with my husband. Thankfully, we have a great home with a great studio and separate office where I can paint or write as is my inclination. I decided after finally publishing Empty Sky last year to take a stab at completing the sketch of another story I’d started years ago. Over this past several months I finished it. It is my sweet second novel The Gray Lady of Long Branch and it’s being released August 25.  I hope you’ll consider reading it!


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Book number two nearly done!

My Gray Lady of Long Branch book cover front and spinepublisher, Four Pillars Media Group, and I have narrowed things down and it looks like we’ve chosen the cover of my second book, The Gray Lady of Long Branch. I’ll await an actual physical mockup before I give the go ahead, but this means, it looks like we’ll have a release date some six weeks from now, say around end of July or first of August. That will work as it’s in time for some last summer reading.

The idea for this book came several years ago when I was staying at a friend’s beach house in Florida. It occurred to me a place like that had to have witnessed squillions of special occasions and played witness to all varieties of culture.  As my mind wandered, in fact, I created several chapters while there. Unfortunately, the files got corrupted and I lost them, but the concept and broad brush strokes remained.

And beckoned. And kept calling out to me like orphaned children needing adoption. Life became too busy for several years, but this past year, I was able to bring them — and the remainder of the book — to life.  And frankly, I love it! Now let me tell you about this sweet gem of a book that I’m so very proud of. Here’s the back cover copy which will give you a feel for it:

If walls could talk…

A grand Victorian beach house in Long Branch, New Jersey is the setting — and narrator — of this novel that weaves a rich and colorful tale of the home’s owners. A wealthy banking family, and later the flawed but endearing DiStefano family celebrate milestones and make memories in the “Gray Lady.” Their stories intertwine with those of some of the interesting vacationers that occasionally rent this Jersey Shore beach home.

In addition to observing and reporting on the people that dwell inside, the Gray Lady is witness to seven decades of cultural touchstones and historical events, as experienced by the home’s different inhabitants. She takes the reader on a Jersey Shore journey during the Vietnam War, the 1960s, the death of Princess Diana, Y2K and September 11th as these events relate to those who seek shelter under her roof over a period spanning seven decades.

The Gray Lady of Long Branch is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs right to the very last entertaining sentence.

Stay tuned for information on it’s launch! It shouldn’t be long now! Does it sound like something you’d like to read?

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>The Wall – what to do with it?

Insertion of a hint of a bikerace? Create a fictional race called the Barmouth to Snowdonia Trek? Helmets and a bicycle wheel? The jury’s still out but at least inserting this little gimmick will give the depth between the wall and the Theater structure. Any other thoughts or suggestions?

ARGH!!! This has been tough!!!