If there’s one thing I’ve really appreciated over the past two years, it’s when a reader takes the time to not only read, but also write a review about my book. So I’ve decided to periodically write reviews of some of my favorite books and share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!
I was cleaning off my bookshelf a couple weeks ago, and I stumbled upon one of my favorite books, Lake News by Barbara Delinsky. I’ve actually read it a couple of times since I bought it the summer of 2008 to read on a long, 10 hour flight to Hawaii. I had previously read Looking for Peyton Place by Delinsky and loved it so I was looking forward to reading Lake News as well. I wasn’t disappointed, and I liked the book so much that I’ve read it a couple of times since then.
Lily Blake and John Kipling are both from Lake Henry, New Hampshire, and both left after high school to create lives for themselves away from their small, New England hometown. However, through the twists and turns of their lives, they both find themselves back in Lake Henry. Lily, a music teacher and piano lounge singer in Boston, flees to her small hometown after being accused of having an affair with a newly appointed Cardinal, and John, a former reporter with a mysterious past and trust issues of his own, is the editor of the Lake Henry weekly newspaper.
Although he’s a former member of the Boston media, John is outraged at the lies and invasion of Lily’s privacy. Together, they build an alliance and work through their trust issues as Lily prepares to take on the Boston media to clear her name.
While the overall storyline may seem generic, Delinsky’s attention to detail, character development, and intertwining subplots sets this novel apart from the norm. As the reader, you travel to New Hampshire; you feel the damp air getting colder with the onset of fall; and you can almost see and hear the loons (birds with a very unique call) that make Lake Henry their home from the spring through November. But more importantly like in all of her novels, Delinsky has the innate ability to use these details to enhance her story rather than confuse or bore her audience.
Delinsky’s book always have a permanent place on my bookshelf. Her characters are old friends that I like to revisit on those cold, winter nights by the fire and also on those sunny, hot summer days on the beach. So if you’re looking for a great book to read while you cuddle up by the fire this winter, read Lake News and visit Lake Henry, New Hampshire.
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!
I can’t tell you how good it feels to say (err…type) that! The past 5 and ½ months have truly been the best of my life. With Baby D, every day is a new adventure, but when exciting things happen everyday, it can be exhausting. Very exhausting. So while I’ve been having so much fun, I’ve been so tired too, and writing has been the furthest thing from my mind no matter how many times I tried to will myself to do it along the way.
But this weekend I felt a spark; one that I hadn’t felt in a long time. The Other Side of Later was on a free promo with Amazon so I was on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram like crazy trying to promote it. I started reading other writer’s tweets and posts, and I saw how excited they were to write. I missed that feeling. Then yesterday, I took advantage of the mild weather and went for a run, and something clicked. The ideas started flowing, and I couldn’t contain the writing bug inside of me.
I hope it lasts because I can’t wait to share some sneak peeks of my next novel with you!
Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season. I can’t believe how fast it flew by! If the past four months taught me anything, it’s how fast time passes when you have a little one. Every day has been a new adventure, and I’ve loved every second, but I realized how easy it is for time to slip by. Because of that, I decided to think of a few things I want to accomplish in 2017 and focus on them throughout the year.
Learn how to balance work and family time – On the eve of my first day back to work, this one seems a little daunting, but I’m hoping my organizational skills come in handy especially in the early morning hours!
Finish the draft of book #2 – I really wanted to finish book #2 by the end of 2016, but time with Baby D was way more important. I’m hoping in 2017 we’ll get more of a routine and I’ll find a few minutes here and there to write while Baby D sleeps.
Run a half marathon – I’m all signed up for the Atlantic City half marathon in October. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for several years, and a couple months ago, I decided to take the plunge and sign up!
I hope I’m able to fulfill all three by December 31st! Do you have any goals for 2017? What are you doing meet your goals?
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge on Instagram. It’s such a great way to think about many of the things I’m thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving. I thought I’d expand on a few of my favorites so far!
Day 1 – Home
My entire life I’ve called the small southeastern corner of the Jersey Shore home, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else! There’s a bike path that runs through my town and several others. No matter the day of the week or the time of day, you’ll always pass a friendly face – children riding their bikes to school, parents pushing their little ones in a stroller, and retirees enjoying a nice stroll. The bike path promotes such a wonderful sense of community. I’m so thankful for a welcoming place to run and walk with Baby D.
Day 8 – Family & Friends
When I think of my family and friends, my heart just bursts with love and joy. As much as I like to think I have a way with words, I’m always at a lost when I try to articulate what they mean to me. The walls of my house are filled with pictures of all our loved ones, and I smile and count my blessings every time I walk past them.
Day 15 – Music
Oh, how I love Christmas music! While I typically try to hold off until the week of Thanksgiving to start listening, this year has been a little different. Since I’ve been home on maternity leave with Baby D, I’ve gotten the festive holiday bug to start listening a bit earlier than usual! As a kid, my parents would play songs by Dean Martin and Perry Como so my playlist has some of their classics along with my new favorites by Straight No Chaser, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson. With every song, I reminisce about how lucky I was to have wonderful Christmases as a kid and look forward to watching Baby D make memories each year that includes some of my favorite songs!
Are you participating in the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge? What are you thankful for?
It’s time for a little update. While I didn’t make a huge announcement, I dropped little hints here and there on Twitter and Instagram that I was expecting my first child. Baby D, as I refer to him on social media, arrived at the end of summer, and it’s been such an exciting and joyous whirlwind ever since!
With that being said, I’ll be honest. Ideally, I wanted book #2 to be released this December, but that’s not going to happen. I thought I may be able to write while I was on maternity leave. And while I’ve had the time while Baby D naps, I’ve had terrible writer’s block about 90% of the times I’ve sat down to write. With Baby D turning 9 weeks this week (seriously, where did the time go?!?), I’ve decided I need to get to try to get the creative juices flowing again. I had every intention of having a blog post ready to go on November 1st, but again, writer’s block hit. But then I found a great challenge on Instagram – 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.
I thought it was such a great way to reflect on the things I’m most thankful for each day. While I’ll post a picture every day on Instagram, each week, I’m going to write a post and expand a little bit here. I’m hoping the prompts for each day help me get out of my writing slump.
I hope you’ll follow along and share the things you’re most thankful for too!
The boardwalk was cold and blustery, not an anomaly for a December night. The damp, salt air blew my hair, which had been swept back off my neck in a loose chignon hours earlier, all around. My heels clicked against the boards as I tried to avoid the gaps between them. I clutched my grandmother’s classic long, velvet winter swing coat to my body as I walked. I had no destination in mind, but somehow I was drawn to the pier. I walked past the abandoned carnival games and listened to the waves crash against the wooden support beams. It had been over two months since Drew showed me the pier, but as I approached the railing we leaned against that October night, I was back in that moment with him. I looked back at Atlantic City. Casinos were lit up, some with red and green lights to mark the upcoming holiday…
Some of my favorite parts of The Other Side of Later are the details. They’re small, usually sentimental, and probably don’t mean a thing to anyone else, but including them made my debut novel more special to me. In the excerpt above, I made sure to mention Julia’s coat used to belong to her grandmother. That’s a direct lift from my life! There have been several formal occasions through college and my adult life when I’ve gone to my parents’ house and dug through the walk-in closet to find my grandmother’s classic, long velvet winter swing coat. It’s truly a classic style that finishes off whatever dress I’ve picked and when I wrap it tightly around my body, I smile knowing that she’s extremely happy and smiling down on me because the coat is still getting good use many, many years after she bought it.
I know these small details are most likely overlooked as The Other Side of Later is read, and that’s okay. But as I continue to share the background behind some of the details in my books, I hope you enjoy them!
“Those guys have earned the right to walk into that stadium and wave their nation’s flag. That’s the single greatest honor an athlete can ever have. That’s what the Olympics are all about.” –Cool Runnings
I was never even close to being an Olympic caliber athlete, but this quote from Cool Runnings, one of my favorite movies as a kid, still gives me goosebumps when I hear it. Two summers ago, my husband, parents, and I took a trip to Germany and Austria. Along the way, we toured Olympiastadion in Munich and visited Bergisel Sprungschanze in Innsbruck. I walked on the track of the stadium built more than four decades ago in Munich, and I jogged up the steps of the ski jump stadium in Innsbruck to touch the Olympic rings built 50 years prior. In both moments, I couldn’t help but think of all the other athletes – high school standouts, weekend warriors, and elite professionals alike – that had done so in a similar manner. What an honor it must be for every Olympian to represent their country as they walk into that stadium tonight!
Who else plans to watch the Opening Ceremonies from Rio?
I distinctly remember a night as a 17 year old as a high school senior when I laid on my childhood bed sideways with my feet hanging off the side of the bed staring at the ceiling thinking about how a year from that night I’d be in college, away from home and away from my family and friends. Growing up, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that I’d go to college, and I can honestly say that without an ounce of bitterness that some carry with them about the choices – or lack thereof – presented to them in their young adult lives. Regardless of my parents’ wishes for me to go to college after high school, I always wanted to go to college too. I liked school; I saw college as the next logical step. That wasn’t the problem that night half a lifetime ago.
That evening, I was looking ahead to the future, and it was exciting. College football games, meeting new friends, campus life – I had heard about it all. It sounded great, but there was this allusive event so to speak that existed in my head – actually moving to college. I looked around my room and the reality of it escaped me. I knew it was coming in less than a year, but how? What would this room that I lived in for 17 years look like after I moved? (Little did I know college dorms are so small that my childhood bedroom remained virtually untouched from the way it was that night.) How was I going to feel living away from home? No familiar face each evening when I done with classes; no childhood friends to eat lunch with. How was that possible?
Well, I knew it was possible, but it still remained an enigma until that early September years ago.
And it’s funny because 17 years later, I’m staring down another one of life’s unknowns – childbirth. My husband and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child – a boy – at the end of the month! (I can’t believe I can finally say I’m due this month even if it is still 4 weeks away!) Just like that night half a lifetime ago, there are so many exciting and amazing things on the other side of labor and delivery. But it’s those whens and hows that leave me on edge just like I was as a high school senior anxiously awaiting the move to college. When is it going to happen? How will it all go down?
Of course, I guess that’s what makes it such an exciting part of life. As much as I want to know, sometimes not knowing makes it all the more special when it happens.
Happy 4th of July! Here at the Jersey Shore, Independence Day always signals that summer is in full swing. The area is full of tourists – aka shoebies as us locals call them, days are warm and long, and beach days are plentiful.
The opening paragraph of Chapter 1 of The Other Side of Later always gives me a pang of nostalgia when I reread it.
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.
If you’re looking for another book to add to your summer reading list, check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon for only 99 cents!