Phasing Out the Blog

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To my faithful reader,

Thank you for walking the path of this blog with me, but it’s almost time for the road to change. The blog has been a lot of fun to write and I’ve enjoyed spending time with you, but my social interactions online have shifted. I need to find where that road leads.

I hope you’ll follow me in that other direction. I’ve started a private Facebook group which I named Stacey’s Novel Family. (Because, hey, it’s all about creating the family you want.) If you have Facebook, and would like to be a part of that group you can either click on the link or reach out to me on Facebook. I’ll give away swag, share inside writing stuff like deleted scenes, and who knows what else, but I promise we’ll have fun.

Or you can follow my newsletter, if you already don’t. That’s where I will continue to share stories about the Noodges, the Coffee King, and my struggles or antics with aging.

The website will remain right here so you can always contact me, check out new releases, and find spots where I’ll be signing.

I hope to see you soon. The door is always open. Just walk right in and make yourself at home. Oh, don’t forget to bring the cannolis. Wink. 

All the best,

Stacey

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Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor – ASCH

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I often get asked how long does it take me to write a book. That’s a tough question. Do they mean how long does it take to write the first draft? How long it takes to edit the book? I wrote the first draft of A Second Chance House in maybe four to six months. Honestly, I forget. It spent eleven months in edits. That part I will not forget. I wrote the first draft of the second book in the series The Bridge Home in six months because I started it twice, wrote half and then trashed it to start over. Bridge is in edits now. I wrote the third book in the series The Essence of Whiskey and Tea in eight weeks. No one has seen Whiskey yet except me. Very different process for each. But here’s one thing that is the same in all my books. Some scenes just don’t make it into the finished product – like in the movies.

When a movie is filmed, many scenes are cut from the final version for a variety of reasons. I doubt film makers actually cut the film like they did in the old days, but the process is still the same. Get rid of what doesn’t work to tell the story.

Every word on the page has to count. If a scene isn’t doing it’s job, then it has to go no matter how much I like it. Many times I’ve had to delete cute dialogue, heartfelt confessions, or fight scenes. But I don’t actually delete them. I cut and paste them into another document. I’ve sweated over many of the scenes that don’t get used. I don’t have the heart to rid my world of them completely.

I thought my blog readers might enjoy seeing a scene that didn’t make into A Second Chance House. Think of it as a special treat for being my constant readers. Thank you for taking the journey with me.

 

Nothing good happened when the phone rang at four a.m. Grace pawed for the rattling phone on the pillow next to her. Blaise’s pillow, but he wasn’t there.  She had three weeks before she closed up the house and met him on the west coast. “Hello?”

“Babe? I think I’m dying.” Blaise’s voice was a breathless mumble.

She sat straight up, sleep forgotten. He wasn’t playing a practical joke. Not this time. “What’s the matter?” She switched the bedside lamp on and blinked against the glare.

“I’m sick. I’ve been puking for two hours and my side hurts. I mean fucking hurts. I can’t take it.”

“Do you think its food poisoning?” What was she going to do for him while she was in New Jersey and he was in California? Panic squeezed her throat and filled her lungs like water.

“I don’t know. Colton and I, hang on.” The phone sounded as if it slammed into the floor.

He hurled. She cringed.

“Sorry.” His voice croaked. “Colton and I had dinner around six. By eleven, my insides hurt so badly I threw up right in the kitchen sink. Is that food poisoning?”

“I never had food poisoning. Did you call Colton?” If they had eaten the same thing, then he’d be sick as a dog too.

“No, I wanted to talk to you. I thought I’d feel better if I heard your voice. Babe, this sucks. Hang on.” More hurling. “Sorry.”

“Where are you?”

“Curled up on the bathroom floor.”

She imagined him in a ball on the floor with his cheek pressed against the cold tile floor. “I’m calling Colton and telling him to go over. You need to go to the hospital.” She had to try to help.

“No, don’t hang up.”

“Blaise, I’ll be two minutes. Just keep the phone nearby. I love you.” It broke her heart to do it, but she pressed the end button and dialed Colton’s number. He was a mile away from Blaise and could help him.

She pounded out the numbers on the screen and waited for the ringing. Why did they continue to live on opposite coasts? She’d put her house on the market as soon as this was over. Please, let him be all right.

“Damn it, answer, Colton.”

“Yeah?” Colton’s brusque voice echoed in her ear.

“It’s Grace. Did you eat the same thing as Blaise for dinner?”

“What are you talking about?”

Fear pushed its way up from her stomach and shook her vocal chords. She lost what little patience she could muster. “Did you eat the same thing for dinner as your brother?” She stilted her words so the dumb ass would follow her.

“No, why?” His voice took on a softer tone or had she imagined it?

             Dear Lord, it was his appendix. “I need you to go to Blaise’s. He’s on the bathroom floor throwing up and says his stomach hurts.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“Yes, Colton. I am. I’ve decided to call you at one a.m., tell you Blaise is sick to see if you’re stupid enough to go over and find out. Please go to your brother’s house and call him an ambulance.” She hung up and dialed Blaise.

“Babe?” He wheezed.

“Colton is on his way. Just stay put. I’ll stay on the phone with you until he gets there and then he’s going to get you to the hospital.” Hopefully, in enough time.

 

Who’s In Your Backyard?

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Not the Jersey Shore. Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I grew up at the Jersey Shore. The shore consists of the hundred fifty miles (roughly) from Perth Amboy to Cape May. That’s a lot of space and many shore towns in there. We had the boardwalk and the pier that housed the famous Haunted Mansion, an arcade, fair style games, and a bar at the end of the pier. Pier Pub. Clever enough name I suppose. I rode my bike to the boardwalk almost every day. I didn’t even realize I lived in a shore town even though after every Labor Day the streets emptied out. The shops closed up. As teens, we didn’t have a lot of places to go besides the movies and the parks to drink. In 1987, the pier burned down and my shore town wasn’t the same for many years.

The Coffee King and I bought our first house two miles from the beach. We sold that house during the housing boom in 2005 for a lot more than we paid and bought another house five miles from the beach. We lived down at the shore for fifteen years.

I loved both of my houses. The second house was in a pretty neighborhood with sidewalks, tree-lined streets, and mailboxes at the end of the driveway. The neighbors took care of their lawns, planted flowers in the spring, and parked in their garages. I never saw them. In fact, the people who lived to my right never said a word to us for the six years we lived there until a large tree that sat right on the property line fell into their yard after Hurricane Irene. Then the wife came running over to see who the tree belonged to. (Here’s a tip sweetheart, in NJ it doesn’t matter where the tree sits. Whose property it falls on has the responsibility to remove it.) We didn’t take that approach. We split the cost with her. You know if we wanted to put a fence up around our property she would have insisted that tree belonged to her and she wouldn’t be able to part with it. And on an aside, I used to wave and say hello to her every chance I had to just to aggravate her. Ha!

That town was what some call a backyard community. Kids didn’t play in the front yard because they were at sport practice, dance class, gymnastics, painting, and science club. No one sat on their front porch to watch the neighborhood spill out onto the streets like an old fashioned game of jacks. Including me. I had a deck and a privacy fence on two sides thanks to the people on my left and behind me. (Oh, the guy behind us was in his seventies and he swam naked. My house sat higher than his so I could stand in my kitchen or on my deck and see over the fence. Not pretty. Let me tell you.)

My readers have told me they like the town of Heritage River in A Second Chance House. (By the way, I came up with that town name because a Heritage River is a tree that grows in Tennessee where my fake town is located.) Someone asked, was there a specific town I had based Heritage River on. The answer – no. I wanted Heritage River to be the opposite of a backyard town.

Isn’t the charm of a small town that you know everyone? Of course, some times that’s not so charming. I wanted Heritage River to be a place where you can knock on your neighbor’s door and ask for sugar. Or where you can fall in love. Where the townspeople have your back. Here’s a tiny spoiler: in book three of this series The Essence Of Whiskey and Tea, the hero, J.T. Davies, isn’t very well liked by the people of Heritage River. He has a reputation he can’t shake even though he’s been gone for twenty-four years. He doesn’t appreciate the charm of the town very much, but he does know it’s a good place to finish raising his daughter and his father recently died so no matter what, Heritage River is home. And of course, there’s Savannah.

Heritage River is a place I could live. To me, it’s an extension of the Savage family. A family I would also like to be a part of. Hey, I kind of get to be a part of that family since I’m writing them. I love what I do. And I love my characters and my little southern town. I hope you will too.

I hope you’ll allow me to share a video with you. I held my Book Launch Concert on March 28 where Patrick’s Pub so graciously allowed me to be a part of the open-mic night and do a reading from A Second Chance House. There’s some noise in the background, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

 

 

Caution: No Glasses in the Shower

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I was brushing my teeth the other morning. When I went to pull my hair back to spit and rinse, I noticed a new wrinkle in my armpit. My first thought, “You’ve got to be stinking kidding me! Who the heck gets a wrinkle in their armpit?” Upon further inspection I realized it wasn’t a wrinkle. It was a hair. The size of the Mississippi River.

I don’t care what anyone says about how wonderful it is to get older. I hate the break down in my body. The reason why I have an errant hair under my armpit? Because I can NO LONGER SEE that close up in the shower without my glasses. You see the dilemma don’t you? (No pun intended.) I can’t exactly wear my glasses in the shower.

I wish my black hair didn’t turn gray. I miss my black hair, and now I have grays in places no one should have gray hair – my eyebrows! Do you know how hard it is to pluck out a hair from the middle of your eyebrow and not end up with a gaping hole? And I’ve seen women at the hair salon who have to die their eyebrows. Not pretty, but I’ll be one of them soon. The old lady with holey eyebrows, and armpit hair long enough to braid because until it touches my hip I won’t see it.

Yes, I’m a total victim to the belief women should fight aging. I mean really, why can’t I let my hair do whatever the heck it’s doing under all the hair dye I put on it? And so what if my skin is dry and wrinkled? The Coffee King doesn’t drown himself in very expensive moisturizer to keep wrinkles from appearing on his face. And he doesn’t die his hair. And he certainly doesn’t wear makeup to look prettier. So, why should I?

Because I don’t want to look old. I want to look young. My brain thinks I’m still twenty-five with more years ahead of me than behind. Because I still have so many things I want to do in this life and I’m worried I won’t have enough time to do them. If I trick myself into thinking I look the age my brain believes I am then I can fool old Father Time and the Grim Reaper. Hey, it worked for Dorian Gray.

Of course, I’m not fooling anyone. Least of all myself. I wear glasses to read now because my arms just aren’t long enough to get the writing far enough away. My body takes longer to heal when I pull a muscle working out. I have to work out harder and more often than I did twenty years ago. I can say “twenty years ago” and it feels like yesterday! My children are almost out the door. I can’t stop time. I can’t stop the aging process no matter how hard I fight her. She’s the top contender. She always wins.

So, where does that leave me?

Checking items off my bucket list and adding to it all the time. Learning something new every day. Taking time to laugh so hard you might pee your pants. (Unfortunately, at my age women also have that problem. There I go again! Sorry.) Loving the people who bring value to your life. Looking old age in the face and saying, “Come on, Bi – atch, I ain’t afraid of you.”

Don’t wait to do something you’ve been dying to do. Tomorrow may never come. You want to write that book? Write it. You want to sky dive? Then jump. Every day is a second chance to get it right. Tomorrow I’m going to wear my glasses in the shower.

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s a great thing about being a writer. I can make stuff happen for my characters I can’t control in real life. I gave Grace Starr a second chance to live the life she was meant to have. A home, a family, true love at the age of forty-five when she thought her predictable life was as good as it was ever going to get.

Come celebrate Grace with me.

I’m having a book launch concert at Patrick’s Pub, Neptune, NJ, March 28th 7 pm. I’ll be signing books and doing a reading. And right along side me will be fantastic bands playing awesome music. (I won’t be singing. Don’t worry.) If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Arell Rivers, I’ll be taking over Arell’s Angels (she’s a wonderful author. Check out her stuff.) on Facebook. April 15th, from 6 -8 pm to celebrate the release of A Second Chance House. Stop by for games and prizes, and to talk about writing, or whatever else you fancy.  We had a blast at the last Facebook party. If you missed it, here’s another chance for some fun.

 

The Bridge Home – Cover Reveal

Hello my faithful readers! I’m very excited to present the cover for the second book in my women’s fiction series with The Wild Rose Press due out fall of 2018.

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Harley Kenyon has guarded a secret for eighteen years. Telling would only hurt her son, and Harley would do anything to protect Knox. Colton Savage—the wild, impetuous rock star—is back in town to clean up a few of his messes. She could never resist his charms. His promises prove empty, and more than once, he’s left her for his seductive music career. But when the high school orchestra needs Colton’s skills, he promises to stick around. He’s not the man he was before and vows to spend his life proving it. Does she dare to believe him? Being with Colton means telling her secret.

Will Harley finally reveal what she knows and risk losing her second chance at happiness, or will she keep her secret and send away the only man she ever loved?

 

The first book in the series – The Second Chance House – arrives in March. Stay tuned for the exact date, book launch party invitations, and a sneak peek at Grace and Blaise.

The 5 am Work Out

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Happy New Year! Another calendar is turned to January. When I worked in an office, I always loved those desk calendars. I’d make notes all over it. By the end of the month, the page would be covered in notations, squiggles, or whatever. But when I ripped the page off and found a blank month waiting for me, all possibilities were open again. I’m in love with the blank page. Hence, my career choice as an author.

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We all know I like to exercise. Naturally, I try to encourage the Noodges to exercise too. Noodge 2 does. She works out with a personal trainer for fitness reasons and to help with a medical condition she has. Noodge 1 will exercise, but usually with a little persuasion from me. I want them both to be healthy and happy. Exercise aids in both of those things.

Teens today have pretty tight schedules. The advanced classes they take so their college applications look good require hours of homework. They have extra curricular activities, jobs, and a social life. Noodge 2 wanted to increase her cardio time, but didn’t know how to fit the workouts into her busy schedule. I suggested to workout before school.

I’m an early morning exerciser. In fact, I’m a morning person. My best time for everything is early. Noodge 2 is a night owl like the Coffee King. My early morning exercise suggestion was met with an eye roll.

We belong to the local YMCA. I offered to go to the Y twice a week with her at 5. She agreed. A new habit was formed, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I’m honored my teenage daughter wants to work out with me. Teens usually want nothing to do with their parents unless money is involved.

I will say, getting up at 4:45 (the Y is three minutes from our house, thankfully) to the alarm clock in winter is no easy task. I might do mornings, but I don’t do cold and dark very well. But I won’t bail on her or on Noodge 1 on the days he joins us. (When both of my kids come to the gym, my heart swells.) If they want to skip the gym, that’s fine, but I won’t cancel.

I’ve made encouraging my children’s interests part of my mothering goals. I attend the opera because Noodge 1 wants to go. I’ve attended the Pride Parade in NYC with Noodge 2 and three of her friends because she wanted to see that parade. Have you ever been to the Pride Parade? I have certain images burned on the back of eyelids I can’t unsee. Growing up in my house our whims weren’t exactly indulged. I wanted to do things differently for my kids.

Hence, the 5 a.m. workout.

aruba2018beachchairsRecently, we vacationed in Aruba. I love Aruba. “One Happy Island.” Put a visit there on your bucket list if you haven’t been. You won’t be sorry. Of course, the resort had a gym. And Noodge 2 and I found ourselves on the treadmill several times that week. Me and my girl. I grew ten feet tall when I looked over and saw her working out – with me.

That’s the key. She wants to be with me. My children are about to embark on the real world. Noodge 1 is only months away now. Even though he must go, I will miss him dearly. In the meantime, while they are still mine, I get to soak up the small moments in their company. And if that company is 5 a.m. in the gym, bring it on.

With this new year in front of us, remember to hug your kids a little more. Make time for the things they like to do even if you don’t. Tell them they are amazing, because they are. And if you have to, set the alarm clock and go to the gym. At 5 a.m.

Happy New Year. Love to all.

Favorite Christmas Films

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I’ve been driving my family crazy since the end of October watching Christmas movies. I can’t help it. I love them. To me, movies set in the winter in some sleepy little town where Christmas is the most important time of the year, and anything is possible, put me in the holiday spirit.

Christmas in the movies is magical. Dreams come true. Dysfunctional families see the light, or get on the right meds. (Oh, how that only happens in fiction.) I watch every chance I get.

Here is a list of some of my favorite Christmas movies in no particular order:

A Christmas Carol (Starring Alastair Sim He’s the best Scrooge.)

Miracle on 34th Street The 1947 version. Not that remake. Who would remake a classic like that?

White Christmas

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Hard not to like something with Henry Winkler in it.)

Scrooged

The Family Stone (Here’s a dysfunctional family trying to be on their best behavior for the holidays.) I like movies with large families. Not sure this is in my top ten Christmas movies even though it’s set at Christmas time.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?