Summer of ’97

I’ve always considered myself quite lucky to have many fond memories from my childhood and adolescence.  I’m very nostalgic, and I love pictures.  I have albums and albums of pictures from middle school and high school (when digital pictures were essentially non-existent).  Many times, as I go on a cleaning binge in the spare room, I get side tracked flipping through at least one if not more of those photo albums.

Recently, I found pictures from the summer of 1997.  (On a side note, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.  I think about how the interns a work this summer were born in 1997, and then I suddenly feel old.  Very old.  But I digress.)

It was the summer my friends and I were 15.  We were rising sophomores in high school.  It was the end of childhood and the beginning of young adulthood.  We were young enough to not (legally) be allowed to work too many hours in a week, but old enough to be out all day at the beach and then find our way to the boardwalk or a friend’s house in the evening.

Ocean kayaks, salt air, first love, coconut scented tanning lotion, run the bases, Oakley sunglasses, body surfing, snacks from Loretta’s, brilliant sunshine, humid nights…it’s all in the album – a perfect montage of that summer.

It’s been a few weeks since I returned the album to it’s place under the bed in the spare room.  Since then, I’ve thought back to the days on the beach, evenings on screened in back porches, and nights at the boardwalk from 20 years ago.  That summer is still so vivid in my mind.  Looking back, I guess it’s easy to see why.  While those summer months may have only been a snip of time over the course of our lives, it was when we were coming of age.  We forged an unbreakable bond as we saw each other grow from kids into young adults.

That summer was special; it was significant to our young lives.  I hope my memories never fade.

Journey to 13.1

I haven’t been blogging as much as would like, but I’m hoping that changes in the coming weeks.  Summer is such a fun time of year, but somehow, all the fun makes things very busy, and blogging has fallen through the cracks.

Another factor that has made my schedule a little fuller than usual is I’ve officially started training for my first half marathon!  

I’m excited, anxious, and apprehensive all at once.  However, it’s a challenge I’ve thought of doing for almost 10 years, and ever since I completed a 10k in 2014, the desire has been even stronger.

I guess I should rewind a bit…back to January of 2014.  I felt like I was in a rut.  Life was great, but I felt like I was stationary.  I wanted a goal; I wanted a challenge; I wanted something to invest myself in.  So I signed up for a Saint Patrick’s Day 5k race.

I never dreamed the 8 weeks leading up to that 5k would change my life.  (No, I’m serious.)  I had been an athlete as a kid and right on up through high school.  Then I remained active – went to the gym, did kickboxing DVDs, jogged occasionally on a beautiful day.  But in those 8 weeks during the winter of 2014, I became a runner.

I learned as a runner, it’s only me and the road ahead.  When I needed a challenge, I was up against myself.  Could I run faster than last week?  Could I top my pace from my last run?  Could I run further than I have before?  The reward was finding I could do something I never thought I could.

After that first 5k on a windy, but sunny morning in March of 2014, I ran several more 5ks during the spring and summer, and trained to run a 10k that October.  Prior to signing up for the 10k (6.2 miles), I had never ran more than 3.5 miles at one time.  And to be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to run more.  The training was hard, but the joy and triumph I felt as I crossed the finish line after running 6.2 miles was unlike anything I’ve ever felt.   I challenged myself to do something I had never done, and I succeeded.

I know most of you found my blog because of my writing, but I hope you’ll enjoy following along my personal running journey as well.  I hope it inspires you to challenge yourself (even if it’s not running or physical activity of any kind)!  The reward of accomplishing something you thought you couldn’t is amazing and it ripples through to all aspects of your life.

Yesterday, I finished the first two weeks of training, and I’ll be honest – I didn’t get off to the start I would have liked.  However, while I haven’t been able to stick to my training plan every day, I’m happy that my weekly miles are increasing and I’ve completed each week’s long run.  When I get discouraged, I keep my eyes on the road ahead because every day is a part of my journey to 13.1 miles.

Happy Olympic Day!

I love the Olympics! There’s just something special about watching athletes from around the world represent their countries with pride. The grit and determination is inspiring. 

We may not all be Olympians, but we can honor the Olympic spirit. We can all push ourselves to our own limits. We can push ourselves to be the best we can be with each step we take. 

So on Olympic Day, we got up before the sun and ran a 5k to start the day. 

So get out there today. Honor the Olympic spirit. Whether it’s a long run, a pick-up game of basketball, or even a walk to the corner, get out there and give it all you have. 

Summertime at the Jersey Shore

Some of my favorite childhood memories are from summer days at the beach. Squawking seagulls, rolling waves, ice cream men ringing their bells from the bulkhead, and lifeguard whistles comprised the soundtrack of my summers growing up. It may sound rather cliché, but through the craziness of my early 20s, I always found comfort in living – and raising my son – in the same place that held so many good memories for me. Each time I wiggled my toes in the sand, it took me back to a simpler time.

Whenever I read the opening paragraph of Chapter 1 from The Other Side of Later, I get a little pang of nostalgia. The first two sentences aren’t just true for Julia; they’re a direct reflection of my childhood as well. What’s funny is that I wrote The Other Side of Later before I had Baby D so I had no clue I would have a son someday as this opening paragraph came to life on my laptop screen. Now, the last part of the paragraph also rings true for me. I’m so happy I get to raise my son in the same place that holds so many great memories from my childhood.

As the summer goes on, I plan to share other little tidbits about The Other Side of Later and the places that provided me inspiration. I hope you enjoy reading about them, and I hope you’ll check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon.

Write it and they will read?

I apologize for the silly pun on a line from the great American classic, Field of Dreams.  However, as I pondered my lackluster, two year plus self-publishing venture on my way to work yesterday morning, the twist of words came to me and I couldn’t resist using the phrase as my post title today.

I’ve finally learned that just writing a book and even getting a good number of positive reviews doesn’t equate to sales.  I need to figure out how to reach readers.  I need to figure out how to get my book into the hands (or onto the eReaders) of my target audience.  But who is my audience?  Well, I hope if you’re reading this post, you’re my target audience!  However, to narrow it down, I think my writing is best geared towards women ages 25 – 45.  (Considering I’m right smack dab in the middle at age 35, I think that makes sense.)  More specifically, I think my books will appeal to women in that age bracket, who are busy, love a little romance, and relish in the moments they have a few free minutes to lounge with a nice, light-hearted book.

So where to start?  Well, several years ago, I had a personal blog.  That’s when I really started to write.  I blogged about a bunch of things – books, music, weekend adventures.  Some posts flopped; some posts received wonderful feedback.  Basically, I wrote about the things I enjoyed. Over the course of a year and a half, I connected with some pretty great people that I never would have met otherwise.

It was a fun and enriching experience.  If you met me in person, you’d find I’m reserved and very private.  I’m sure my friends and family would be a little surprised to learn I share bits of my life through blogging.  However, blogging taught me that it’s not that I’m unwilling to share; it’s that I’m simply more of a writer than a talker.

I plan to start blogging again.  I want to share a little about the places I go and the things that I do.  So much about the places in my books come from the area I’ve called home for my entire life.  I hope as time goes on, I connect with fellow bloggers again and eventually find my target audience.

Then one day when I write, they will read.

Life’s a balancing act!

Time for a reality check.  Recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water.  Without fail, the end of April and beginning of May are always busy…sometimes relentlessly so.  Work, family parties, just everyday day-to-day stuff.  For some reason, it just seems to balloon when the weather gets nice.  There are nights I sit lounge on my couch after giving Baby D a bath while my husband puts him to bed and I feel as though I’m a hamster in its wheel.  I’m working so hard but achieving nothing.  Is Baby D growing and thriving?  Yes.  Are we incredibly happy as a family of three?  Most definitely.  And they are the most important things.  But as I lay there, all I think about are the things I could or should be doing.  It’s still daylight; I should go for a quick run.  (That half marathon will be here before I know it.)  It’s only 7:30; I should write.  (That second book isn’t going to write itself.)

On a long run this past Saturday, I had a realization.  Life is a balancing act.  Yes, I did know that before now, but I realized that while I have goals for this year, and I have this grand plan about how I should go about achieving them, sometimes, life gets busy.  That’s just a fact of life – especially with a little one.  So if I don’t have a chance to go for that run or if I don’t open my laptop up for a couple nights in a row, it’s okay.  Part of balancing is compensating and readjusting; it’s not just being able to tackle everything all at once.

When Baby D gives me his big smile, I know I must be doing something right!

I know life will continue to get busier as the onset of summer is quickly arriving.  (Who else is excited for Memorial Day Weekend?!)  I hope to work on my outlook and share my journey about life – work – writing balance with you along the way!

Also, if you haven’t signed up for my weekly book review newsletter, click here to sign-up!  The first installment goes out Thursday!

Finding that peace of mind

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you probably know that along with writing I love to run.  It’s a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Most days, I have a goal in mind – a certain distance, a particular pace.  But some days, it’s not about the miles or the time on my watch; it’s about the road in front of me and the peace of mind I get in return.

So it goes without saying that one of my favorite passages to write in The Other Side of Later was the running scene in Chapter 3. Julia runs through Sea Grass on a familiar route.  As she tries to ease the tension of her workday, she relishes in the memories she finds along the path. Like Julia, each time I lace up my sneakers and go for a run up and down the same streets I have since high school, I feel comfort. There’s a normalcy that keeps me grounded.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Other Side of Later.

My sneakers ran on automatic pilot down a familiar path on Oak Street towards Veterans Park. After college, Aaron and I settled in my small hometown, whose Jersey Shore charm is undeniable while its name — Sea Grass— is unoriginal at best. Years ago, before the town became a suburb of Atlantic City, a majority of the area along the bay was covered with sea grass. As the story goes, fishermen, who used the area for crabbing, would refer to the track of land as Sea Grass. Through the years, as more people settled in the vicinity, the name stuck. While the name may have seemed generic and like any other small shore town, there were memories down every street and around every corner. Oak, the main street through town, appropriately name for the tall oaks that lined both sides, hosted the annual Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades. Each summer the bay front properties line with shops and restaurants were invaded by tourists or shoebies as us permanent Jersey Shore residents called them. This was home to me.

The late August humidity was oppressive. The air felt heavy. It was like a snowsuit clung to my legs with every stride. As I reached the bike path surrounding the park, the sun disappeared behind clouds rolling in from the west. The shade was a welcome change and helped take my mind off of the heat so I could enjoy the peacefulness of the park.

I felt the built up tension from work gradually disappear as I hit my stride. I was about halfway around the loop when I felt a large drop of rain hit my forehead. I closed my eyes for a moment and hoped that I imagined it. As three more large drops hit my face and arms, I knew it wasn’t my imagination so I quickened my pace in an effort to beat the worst of the storm. I was over a mile away from my house so as the rumble of thunder got louder, I realized it would be a losing battle. Within seconds, I was in the middle of a complete downpour. Multiple lightning strikes illuminated the darkened sky so I sprinted towards the gazebo in the center of the park.

Please check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon!

Spring at the Jersey Shore!

It seems like everyone has their favorite season, but my favorite thing of all is the change of seasons!  Whether it’s the chill in the air in the fall or the first hint of a warm breeze in the spring, my excitement builds with the transition to a new season.  As the weather changes and the calendar flips to a new month, there are always things to look forward to.

The past week (with the exception of today…it’s such a rainy afternoon) has been absolutely beautiful at the Jersey Shore.  Spring certainly has finally sprung!  Yesterday, my parents, Baby D, and I (my husband took a much needed nap after being up with a teething Baby D all night) took a walk on the Ocean City boardwalk, and it almost felt like summer!  The sun was warm, the waves were crashing, and the seagulls were squawking.  The sweet salt air and sounds of amusement rides got me so excited for the upcoming season.

The warmer months is when my little corner of New Jersey really comes alive.  Bayfests, boardwalk vendors, ice cream stands, long days on the beach… much fun!  My goal is to share glimpses of my summer with you, and maybe entice you to put the Jersey Shore – the place, not the TV show – on your travel bucket list!

Have a great week!


“We all have a song that’s somehow stamped our lives…”

…takes us to another place and time.” Even though my husband thought it was a little weird when I said it, I find the lyrics to Kenny Chesney’s song “I Go Back” to be so true.

Last week as I was driving to Shop Rite, I heard the song “The Way You Love Me” by Faith Hill on the radio. Instantly, I was transferred back to 2001 when I was a college freshman. While it’s not one of my all-time favorite songs, I believe it was a favorite of mine at the time. When I got to a red light, I rolled my windows down and enjoyed some fresh air as the notes filtered through the car’s speakers.  I found myself remembering so many things about my everyday life 16 years ago.  (Was it really 16 years ago?!?  How in the world has that much time passed?  I guess that’s a story for another day.)  Anyway, I remembered the clothes I had, my favorite foods, my Spanish professor who taught more of a contemporary issues class rather than Spanish I, Friday nights watching Pretty Woman (I wasn’t quite the partier at 19). Thinking back on it I smiled, and knowing that it was really 16 years ago, not just 5 like it seems, makes me laugh. I guess the saying is true, the older you get, the faster life goes by!


The One Where I Couldn’t Get the Car into Park 

Do you ever have a day that you could title in a similar fashion to all of the Friends episodes? Earlier this week, I was talking with some friends at work about funny (well, actually stupid) things we’ve done. I recalled the first time I traveled for work and had to rent a car. 

I landed in Providence, RI, and rented a car to drive to Cape Cod. It was late fall and I had an evening flight so it was dark outside from the moment I got in the car. I pulled out of the rental car parking lot, found I-195 East, and I was on my way to the Cape. An hour and a half later, I pulled into the hotel parking lot ready to park and check-in. However, I soon realized I had a problem…a BIG problem. The car wouldn’t go into park. Seriously, it wouldn’t go into park. So there I was, 22 years old on my first business trip hundreds of miles from home in parking spot in a rental car with my foot still on the break and not able to put it into park. After about 10 minutes of wrestling with the gear shift, I took both hands and threw my entire body weight into it and shoved the car into park.

You would think that would have been enough for one night for little ol’ me. Nope! I was hungry so I ventured out and to find dinner. I drove down the road to the Friendly’s I passed on my way in, threw the car into park again, ordered take-out, got back in the car, drove back to the hotel, and threw the car into park for yet a third time that night.

I actually met another colleague at the hotel the next morning and he drove to the test site for the following two days. I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t want to have to deal with the gear shift anymore than I had to. At the end of the second day, we finished early so I decided to be brave and take my rental car out for a little sight seeing. When I got into the car, it was the first time I had been in it during daylight hours. I looked down at the gear shift, and in fine print that can only be read during daylight hours, it read “press down to shift gears.” I stared at it for a moment and had one of those “how about that” moments. Then I tried it out, and what do you know, it worked like a charm!

As it has turned out, I have many interesting stories like this from traveling, but I think this is the funniest!

Oh and one other thing….Taylor may refer to a similar experience in book 2!