MONDAY MORNING COFFEE, ETC.

Another week, another morning of coffee and books.  I am already enjoying The Operator, but I have learned, sadly, that a book can start out in a promising way and then turn sour.  This one seems really good so far, though, and looks perfect next to my coffee.

I spent hours yesterday reading Been There, Married That, by Gigi Levangie…and it did start out so well!  I was laughing and eagerly turning pages.  And then, at some point, I found myself in that tricky place where I would read a paragraph or a page and get lost in my thoughts, losing my way in the book and in the story.  That kept happening…and I blamed myself.  I was too distracted, etc.

At 60% into the book, however, I realized that, no, the book was no longer holding my interest.  It wasn’t me, it was the BOOK.  In fact, I was bored!  I faced the truth that it would end up in the DNF pile.

I hate when that happens, especially when I’ve spent hours on a book.

Now some may love this book, and when I finally checked out the reviews, I realized that a few did.  But a handful of others had the same reaction that I had.  Plus, it doesn’t even matter that a few loved it if I hated it and couldn’t wait to put it down.  That’s how it goes sometimes.

All of this leads to my conclusions for the day as I start a new week.  Life is too short, especially in Pandemic times, to waste on books that just aren’t doing it for us.

In fact, my biggest frustration besides books I don’t love…is food delivered to my apartment like room service that is not only cold but disgusting. At times.  Sometimes it’s okay.  They do best with the breakfast foods. 

 

I made a decision to lift the lids of those cartons in which the food is brought…and check them out!  What are they hiding in those containers?  LOL.  Well, last night’s soupy chicken dish, for one thing.  I should have photographed it!

Since we can’t even leave our apartments to shop, I have been exploring online grocery deliveries, but I have hit a glitch on those.  I am afraid to try them, since the delivery person would have to leave the groceries at the front door for a staff person.  Nobody can enter this facility.  Although they do let in the mailman.  Hmm.  And Amazon.  Has anyone tried Amazon’s grocery fresh items?  I have ordered coffee and tea from them.

Option Two:  turn in a list to the staff person at the front desk, who then gives it to the person who actually goes to the stores and picks out the items.  I did that last week, and it worked great.

This could be a system that needs to work for a long time.  The more I read about how many weeks/months we will have to “shelter in place,” I get a little stir crazy.  But one who optimistically says “back to business by Easter” is, frankly, full of it.  This was, after all, the same guy who said it would “all disappear in the sunshine.”

“Good morning. This is the White House. Press (1) for disinformation about coronavirus testing; press (2) for disinformation about masks and ventilators; or press (3) for all other corona disinformation.”

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How are the rest of you hanging?  A day at a time seems the best plan for me, while also having hopes of finding supplies, groceries, etc.  And optimism about finding books and movies that will keep my thoughts away from the disasters around us.

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CREATING SPACES…AND BLOG HEADERS…

Today I’m playing around with the blog header here, and combining some images from Pinterest…and my own writing spaces.

Back in the early 2000s, I wrote on an old desktop computer in the corner of my dining room…in my house in the foothills. Lots of my favorite dolls and mugs cluttered up the space.

When I moved here, I set up shop near the window of my office/guest room, with lots of clutter around me.

Then I cleared out a closet, and draped it with a curtain…where my laptop found a coziness reminiscent of that original dining room space.

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My bookshelves have gone through some purges over the years that I’ve been here. 

My current shelves are also filled with dolls, framed photos, and trinkets.

 

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The books on my current header are messy and cluttered…a reminder of days gone by.

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SHAKING UP MY INTERIOR WORLD: NEW BEGINNINGS

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Today I sprang out of bed with a new energy…shower, coffee, computer.  And checking out various sites, including Dropbox, where I store documents and photos.  What sparked this energy?

A few days ago, I wrote about organizing my interior world, and that story included the discovery of new storage and an old manuscript.

Years ago, I started writing about a time in my life when I belonged to a very strange book club—we called it a gourmet/book club, because we met for gourmet dinners before discussing the books.  What happened afterwards became the main story…and how foolish choices made in the past can change lives forever.  But along the way, sometimes one can take the lessons from the past and make changes in the present…for the future.

 

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The manuscript is a fictionalized version of a very real time in my life, and while the core of it is based on true events, I took the usual liberties of an author by embellishing and changing things up.

I tossed it aside back then to start working on Interior Designs, which I recently published, and which I started during NaNoWriMo in 2010.  At that time, I wrote the first 52,000+ words.

Defining Moments was another novel I had begun around this same time, and zeroes in on the aftermath of a woman’s failed marriage:

Blurb:  What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?  When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.  But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.  How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?

 

 

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In my excitement over rereading and changing some things as I begin the rewriting process for this resurrected manuscript, which I’m tentatively calling Echoes of the Past.…I am once again excited and reborn.  Yes, reborn is how I feel!

The kind of excitement I recognize from the writing of all of my novels: six of them published, and now two manuscripts to play with.

Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue, which may go through some changes:

     But at moments throughout the day, her thoughts slid backwards, despite her best efforts, and she could almost see that younger, idealistic version of herself. That girl who had believed in endless possibilities, who had fought the system hell-bent on winning. That young woman who had ignored her ideals in one summer of foolish choices, transforming herself from a fresh young thing with her whole life ahead of her into this woman of today, who often longed for yesterday and a clean slate with fresh options.

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Nothing gets my juices flowing more than a new journey, which often is a new manuscript.  And blogging is another way to keep the excitement levels high…connecting with other bloggers and finding that immediate satisfaction from comments and conversations.

What’s not to love?  What rejuvenates you on a Hump Day…or any day?

 

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HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: A GOODBYE, SOME NOSTALGIA, & READING

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Do you feel nostalgic during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas?  Do your thoughts carry you back in time, highlighting your favorite memories?

Today I was writing a brief article about my journey as one member of a group blog entitled Dames of Dialogue.  Due to my numerous other responsibilities, I am bowing out of the group…and when looking back at some of my contributions, I found this article entitled Home for the Holidays, in which I wax nostalgic about my memories of those moments.  Here are some of my opening remarks in the article.  Click the link for the full story.

When we think about home, we are immediately swept away by all kinds of images—emotional ones, to be sure—and they range from nostalgic to other, less positive images.

There are many clichés about home, from “home is where the heart is” to “you can’t go home again.”  We each have a wide range of memories about home, starting with our own childhoods.  Probably the ones that are most familiar are those associated with special events and holidays.

Right now, with Christmas looming, “home for the holiday” themes abound, from the ads we see to the TV movies that strike a nostalgic chord about home.  Those “Norman Rockwell” images used to grace the covers of popular magazines.

My childhood was full of TV families in their homes that came into our own homes, creating an image of home and family— from “Ozzie and Harriet” to less conventional ones, like “The Beverly Hillbillies.”  One such TV family’s existence owed its life to a holiday special about home, which then expanded into a TV series.  Remember the voices calling out in the evening?  “Good-night, John-Boy!”  Of course, you say, “The Waltons”—they became almost an institution, with those homey scenes.  Those poignant tones calling out at the end of the day conjured up nostalgic images.  Even if you never had “home-like” experiences like those.

Some of you missed out on those particular scenes, growing up after shows like that faded away.  But for us “Baby Boomers,” our younger days were replete with these shows.

In my own life, my homes have been varied.  Growing up in a farmhouse surrounded by fields and country roads, I had a different kind of experience from my own children, who lived in all kinds of houses, including apartments and townhouses, as well as suburban ranch style or English Tudor ones.  We even lived for awhile in an A-frame cottage in the foothills.  But in each “home,” their fathers and I brought our own little piece of home into the physical dwellings, and encircled our families with our traditions. (Continue reading).

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My holidays this year will be as a guest in my daughter’s home, where her Christmas tree is the kind I remember from earlier years.

Heather, Steven, & Noah's tree

Other favorite holiday moments will center around reading.  I have a pile of books that I hope to enjoy over the next couple of weeks.

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And a little mystery is good, too.

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Today I’m reading Hush Little Baby, a terrifying story of what happens when a woman finds her life in danger.

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If you come back here on January 1, you will discover what my first book of the New Year will be, as part of a challenge created by Book Journey.

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MONDAY FROM THE INTERIOR: MAILBOX MONDAY & WHAT ARE YOU READING? — NOV. 12

 

 

Good morning, and welcome to another Monday, in which we celebrate our reading, blogging, and life.  Mailbox Monday is hosted in November by Bermudaonion;  and Book Journey brings us another edition of What Are You Reading?

 

MAILBOX MONDAY:

 

This week, nothing came in the mail….Nada.  Zilch.  But I downloaded a book onto Sparky; and bought a book at Barnes & Noble, so I’m all set.

1.  Slightly Cracked (e-book), by Susan Whitfield

 

Sugar Babe Beanblossom and Daisy Marie Hazelhurst are lifelong friends, sharing happy and sad times, enjoying outrageous antics, and enduring hot flashes. When Daisy gets sick, Sugar Babe encourages and protects her friend, and DRIVING MISS DAISY takes on a whole new meaning.

2.  Not Young, Still Restless, by Jeanne Cooper

 

The long-awaited memoir from one of daytime television’s most celebrated and beloved actresses.

Three or four days a week, Jeanne Cooper drives from her Hollywood Hills home to the job she’s held for more than three decades: bringing life to the character of Katherine Chancellor, the outspoken, powerful, and insanely wealthy force of nature who, along with Jeanne herself, has become a legend in the world of daytime television and its number-one show, The Young and the Restless.

Now, for the first time, her fans will get to know the woman behind the iconic character. With her signature fearlessness, honesty, and humor, Jeanne chronicles her long tenure in Hollywood and describes her life before, during, and away from the CBS soundstage.

Not Young, Still Restless follows Jeanne as she makes her way from small-town Taft, California, to the heart of the Los Angeles movie industry, where the list of her feature-film costars reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood’s Golden Age—Maureen O’Hara, Raymond Burr, David Janssen, Robert Taylor, Tony Curtis, Shelley Winters, Glenn Ford, and Lee J. Cobb, to name just a few. Jeanne writes vividly of her first foray into the new phenomenon of television and how she found her home at The Young and the Restless.

Jeanne’s story charts the ups and downs of a long and rich life, including the breakup of a marriage that produced the three great loves of her life—her daughter, Caren, and her sons Collin and the actor Corbin Bernsen—before it ended, leaving her a single working mother. She also speaks honestly and openly about her battles to overcome alcoholism, defeat breast cancer, and age gracefully in Hollywood, a process that made her the first reality-television star when her character’s (and her own) face-lift was filmed live on The Young and the Restless.

In Not Young, Still Restless, the Emmy Award–winning actress inspires readers with her ability not only to survive but thrive as an octogenarian in today’s Hollywood.

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WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 

Welcome to another week of sharing our love of reading, blogging, and life.  Come on by and chat about your week; and then visit some other blogs to enjoy the famous community spirit.

Stop by my Rainy Days and Mondays blog on Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week, where I’ll be reviewing Curiosity Killed the Kat (on blog tour) and posting an interview with Author Elizabeth Nelson.

 

On the Blogs:

Let’s talk about our weeks.  I had a really productive week around my home, inspired by some of the books I was reading and movies I was watching.

I took some “interior journeys,” if you will, and here’s the story of one of them:  MY MANY JOURNEYS:  RECONFIGURING, RELOCATING, & PONDERING.

Continuing my October Shelf-Clearing (until Nov. 14):  I have added more books to the Reading Room.

I took some time to enjoy the moments:  Finding Pleasure in the Whimsical.

My Sweet Saturday Sample continued the story of Interior Designs.

And then I wrote my Sunday Check-In Post (Row 80), followed by Sunday Potpourri: Reflecting on my Week.

Reading:  Click Titles for Reviews –

1.  Happier at Home (e-book), by Gretchen Rubin

2.  The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell

3.  Finding Casey, by Jo-Ann Mapson

4.  The Glass Butterfly (e-book), by Louise Marley

What’s Up Next?  Click Titles/Covers for More Info:

1.   The Empty Glass, by J. I. Baker

2.  She Can Tell, by Melinda Leigh

 

3.  Killer Takes All (e-book), by Erica Spindler

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I hope to enjoy a really great reading week!  What about you?  Come on by and let’s chat.

TEN BEACH ROAD IS NOT JUST FOR THE BEACH — WENDY WAX TELLS US WHY — OCT. 19

 

 

Top 10 Reasons to Spend Time at TEN BEACH ROAD in October

TEN BEACH ROAD is hitting the shelves anew this month as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Group’s READ PINK® program.

The READ PINK® program was created by my publisher, Penguin Group (USA) to promote public awareness of breast cancer and breast cancer research and to support and recognize the contributions of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation®(BCRF) by connecting the cause to books written by, for and about women.

For the past two years, Penguin’s Read Pink donation has sponsored 500 hours of research time and I’m incredibly proud and honored to have my book on the shelves with the Read Pink Seal on the cover and information about BCRF in the back of the book.

But… it’s October!  My books usually hit the stores when temperatures are rising, school is out and we’re either headed to the beach or at least daydreaming about sand, surf and sun.  So this got me thinking about what makes a book a beach book, and why we should throw caution to the wind and read them all year long.   After all, if some fashionista somewhere can decree that white pants are acceptable all year long, then why can’t we do the same with beach books?

Not convinced?  Well, let me share my “Top 10 Reasons to Spend Time at TEN BEACH ROAD in October” list with you and see if we can get on the same page.  (Pun fully intended!)

1.    Since school is back in session, it’s important to set a good example for your kids by reading.  If you pick up TEN BEACH ROAD, you’ll be enjoying a sweat-soaked summer with Maddie, Nicole, and Avery as they rehab a dilapidated beachfront mansion in Pass-a-Grille, Florida.  Your kids will just think you are very smart and studious.

2.    If you need something to warm you up, the men of TEN BEACH ROAD are hot.

3.    Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why books that really take you away are necessary in the summer.  What better time for a good mental escape to the beach than a cold, rainy day in October?

4.    When you’re looking ahead to long cold months with the sun setting earlier and earlier each day, you can at least feel good that you have not lost everything in a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme like the women of TEN BEACH ROAD.

5.    If your neighborhood is getting too cold and windy for DIY projects, you can read about Maddie, Nicole and Avery’s work on Bella Flora and just tell your hubby that you’re in the “planning stages” for next spring and summer.

6.    Did I mention that there are some hot guys in TEN BEACH ROAD?

7.    Reading beach books in the summer can make you feel bad about not being quite bikini ready… but in October, you can pull out a big cozy sweater and some chocolate cake and know you have months before you have to worry about that again!

8.    If beach vacations are not just for summer, then beach books shouldn’t be either.  October is actually a good time to head to the beaches in Florida.  The crowds have thinned and the temperatures are still warm.  You could leave the kids with Dad, grab your girlfriends, a few copies of TEN BEACH ROAD and call it a book club weekend!

9.    Friendships are timeless, and so are troubles.  TEN BEACH ROAD is the story of three women who are thrown together when they lose everything.  It could be set in Aspen in March, Boston in December or Dubuque in May.  The story is about the women, their lives, and their bond.  So reading it in October wherever you live will work.  I promise.

10.    I think I have mentioned that there are some hot guys in the book, but it bears repeating!  If you’re looking for a way to warm up, there’s nothing better than picturing Joe Giraldi running shirtless on the beach.  (Not sure who Joe is?  Pick up the READ PINK® edition of TEN BEACH ROAD to find out)!

So, show the world the kind of woman you really are: brave, fearless, and bold.  Wear white pants after Labor Day, drink a Piña Colada in December and proudly show off your copy of TEN BEACH ROAD in October.  You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood, and you can be proud knowing you’re supporting a great cause!


Visit Wendy at her Amazon Author Page.

 

 

THE HOLLYWOOD SPIN ON LIFE — A REVIEW

 

 

 

Set against the backdrop of Southern California and the Hollywood spin, Reel Life: Two sisters on the verge escape to the movies spotlights two sisters unable to really communicate or connect with each other or other family members.

To illustrate what does bind them all, movie themes brought the story to the reader, from The Wizard of Oz to The Red Shoes.

Betty and Jamie’s individual points of view, their troubles and relationship woes, weave the story between the past and the present until, at the end, we come to enjoy a reconciliation between them as a life event forces them together.

Parts of the story were more captivating than others for me; I enjoyed the dialogue between the sisters, with the bursts of irony that seemed to be their signature style. But much of the story fell flat for me because I truly could not connect to either of them. I wanted to love this story…but it seemed repetitive in parts and bogged down with minutiae in other sections.

I kept reading, though, because I wanted to know what happened, and because the hint of some big reveal aroused my curiosity. In the end, the “big reveal” slid right by with hardly any notice. Perhaps I just didn’t “get” the characters; and I see that other reviewers loved this book. Therefore, potential readers should keep in mind that not everyone enjoys the same kind of story. For me: three stars.

MONDAY FROM THE INTERIOR: MAILBOX MONDAY & WHAT ARE YOU READING? — FEB. 13

Welcome to another Monday from the Interior, in which we share about the books we received in the mail (or bought), and talk about our bookish week, past and future.

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by Metroreader; and Sheila’s Book Journey leads us in What Are You Reading?

 

MAILBOX MONDAY:

This week I’ve received two books in the mail that I purchased, and one on Sparky, my Kindle.

1.  Spin (e-book), by Catherine McKenzie

“[A] charming debut…With fresh, fast-paced storytelling and a personable, self-deprecating protagonist, McKenzie whirls a perfectly indulgent tale.” (Publishers Weekly on SPIN )

“McKenzie’s tale of girls gone wild and gone to rehab is ripped straight from the latest tabloid headlines and will keep readers intrigued to the very last page.” (RT Book Reviews (top pick) )

2.  Outside the Lines, by Amy Hatvany

When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love.

3.  What Happened to Hannah, by Mary Kay McComas

As a teenager, Hannah Benson ran away from home in order to save herself. Now, twenty years later, the past comes calling and delivers life-changing news: her mother and sister have passed away, leaving Hannah the guardian of her fifteen-year-old niece.

Returning home to bitter memories and devastating secrets, Hannah must overcome her painful past to pave a future with her niece, the last best chance at a family for both of them. She begins to create a new, happier life with her niece and rekindles a relationship with Grady Steadman, one of the few people she’s ever called a friend.

But she can’t forget what she cannot forgive, or lay to rest those ghosts that will not die. Will love and trust—and the truth—give her the strength to stand her ground and fight for what she deserves?

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WHAT ARE YOU READING?

This weekly event is our opportunity to plan out the week ahead, celebrate the one we’ve just finished, and visit lots of blogs.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that feels surreal in its range of experiences?  My reading this week certainly falls into this category.  From the light-hearted to the dark and disturbing, the titles I’ve completed have left me somewhat on the edge.

In my blog posts, you can see a reflection of the week.  From the beginning, as I created a new website, to my weekend reading experiences:

CREATING A NEW WEBSITE:  A BIG PROJECT

A NEW BEGINNING:  AN EXCERPT

WEEKEND READING — AND A MOMENTOUS OCCASION

Review:   Rainshadow Road (Friday Harbor Series), by Lisa Kleypas

Review:   How to Eat a Cupcake, by Meg Donohue

Review:   The Long Drunk, by Eric Coyote

Review:   Iodine, by Haven Kimmel

 

What’s Up Next? (Click Titles for More Info.)

1.  First, Best & Only, by Barbara Delinsky

2.  Ship of Souls, by Zetta Elliott (Vine Review)

3.  The Bungalow, by Sarah Jio

4.  Creative Spirit (e-book), by Scott Nicholson

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That’s my reading week, past and future.  I think this new week has a nice mix of books.  What about you?  What are you celebrating, and what’s ahead?

 

 

 

 

ONE MAN’S JOURNEY TOWARD SANITY — A REVIEW

One man’s journey from a volatile and troubled childhood to a productive adulthood is stymied whenever he enters intimate relationships. A first marriage ends dramatically when the main character, Jeremy Walker, lifts his hand to strike his wife. He is able to curtail the impulse, but his subsequent efforts to curb the anger and potential violence in future relationships interfere with his ability to maintain closeness. The death of his second wife ends short of anything violent happening, but then he remains on his own for several years.

Until he meets Macy Caldwell. A single mother of a twelve-year-old girl, she offers an opportunity for Jeremy to try again.

But as the relationship progresses, Jeremy continues to struggle with his urges and impulses. What will happen to ultimately destroy his attempts? And how will Jeremy finally deal with the recurring “voices” that threaten everything he is trying to build in his life?

The story in One Voice Too Many was captivating, and the pages turned quickly for me. However, at times the writing style felt stilted and too formal for my taste. Despite these issues, I was quite intrigued by Jeremy’s journey and hoped for a satisfactory resolution. In the end, there was much left hanging…but perhaps this conclusion left room for hope. Three stars.