Monday, November 28, 2011

Beach Tale: “Christmas—Military Spouse Style” True Stories from the Navy Spouse Trenches

After 28 years as a military spouse, I can honestly say, no two Christmases have ever been the same.  The obvious difference is 18 different addresses over the 28 years, which means large artificial tree purchased for the large bay window in one house will not fit anywhere in the small transitional aparment.  Also, with operating temps what they are, at least 1/3 of the holiday seasons I’ve been separated from my husband.

All military families are faced with extra challenges during the holiday season.  Sometimes it’s geographically difficult or financially impossible to make our way home to join in traditional celebrations.  There are times the ship is deployed so the family at home has to celebrate alone.  Even when the ship is in port, some unlucky sailors pull Christmas “Duty”, meaning they have to spend a 24 hour period aboard that great big ball of steel and can’t be at home with the family.  So in true military spouse fashion we find a way to make the best of the situation, be it opening presents via SKYPE with our loved one an IA or finding ways to distract the children until our duty sailor can get off the ship that morning, or sharing the holiday meal in ship’s galley with the duty sailors (one of whom we’re married to). 

But we’re Navy Spouses, and hence have the ability to adapt to any situation.  Here are a few “stories from the trenches” on how some Navy Spouses have handled the challenges faced during holidays over the years. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beach Read: THE SPELLMAN FILES by Lisa Lutz

There was a tiny bookstore in a San Diego suburb that brought in mystery writers on a regular basis.  Having never heard of Lisa Lutz before, but  having nothing else to do on a lovely SOCAL Saturday afternoon (dh’s  ship was deployed), I went to hear what she had to say about the art of mystery writing.  I, of course, bought all of her books—which she graciously signed--and have been a fan of the Spellman’s ever since!  

Book Title: The Spellman Files, Book 1 in the Spellman series
Author:  Lisa Lutz
Genre:  Contemporary Comedic Thriller
Setting:  San Francisco
Format:  Paperback
Pages: 447  
Publication date: Copyright 2007, paperback edition 2009
Publisher:  Pocket Books
Favorite Passage:  (It would be easier to list my least favorite passage (there isn’t really one) as this book is just one delightful passage after another.  But after much consideration, I selected one from very early on in the book…) 
Car Chase #3
     Speeding over two hills, the BMW, followed by the Ford, reaches downtown in record time.  I check the fuel gauge.  Maybe an hour of high-speed driving left.  I turn right into an alley and sweep through to the other side, making a left turn onto a one-way street, going the wrong way.  Two cars sound horns and careen out of my trajectory.  I check my mirror expecting to have made some headway, but I can’t shake them.
     Driving south of
Market Street
, I accelerate one last time, more as an act of showmanship than an attempt to escape.  I follow it up by slamming on my brakes.  I do it just to rattle them, just to remind them that I am still in control.
     The Ford screeches to a halt about ten feet behind my BMW.  I turn off the ignition and take a few deep breaths.  I casually get out of the car and walk over to the sedan.
     I knock on the driver’s-side window.  A moment passes and the window rolls down. I put m hand on the hood of the car and lean in just a bit.
     “Mom, Dad.  This has to stop.” 

Beach Read Rating:  5 out of 5 Beach Umbrellas

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beach Tale: "Lucky Sevens" a short romance by Sandra Rarey

I'm very happy to welcome back short story teller extraordinaire Sandra Rarey and another tale of finding love.

Cherie Singleton pulled into the Showboat’s self-park garage. She hefted a borrowed travel bag from her borrowed car and wrangled it to the elevators. She had two days and two hundred dollars--barely enough to stay in the casino, where, according to her best friend, she was about to meet Mr. Right.
“Charlie said you can use our car,” Gina had told her.
Cherie had rolled her eyes. “You’ll do anything to persuade me to take that trip. How did you get Charlie to agree to that?”
“It was his idea.”
“You have the best husband in the world.”
“There’s a man out there as wonderful as Charlie just waiting for you. Didn’t that fortune teller say so?”
“I don’t believe in fortune tellers.”
“Well I do. She said you should gamble on love on the seventh day of the seventh month in the city by the sea. You have to go to Atlantic City next week.”
“Hogwash. There are hundreds of cities by the sea.”
“Not where you can gamble--she specifically said, ‘gamble’.”
“I’m not going.”
“What about the seven dollars you found on the sidewalk? You can’t ignore a coincidence like that. You know Coco Chanel started her business on the fifth day of the fifth month.”
“I have nothing to wear.” Cherie pictured glamorous women in fancy dresses and sparkling jewelry.
“I do. You’re going to have a great time, Cher.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beach Read: LIFE'S A BEACH by Claire Cook

For obvious reasons (like the title of the book is the same as my blog and the cover is irresistible) I had to read this one! 

Book Title: Life’s a Beach
Author:  Claire Cook
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Setting:  Marshbury, MA and a brush across Cape Cod
Format:  Hardcover, Library edition (but chatter on Amazon indicates it may be available for a free download)
Pages:  250
Publication date:  2007
Publisher:  Hyperion Books
Favorite Passage:  <sorry, the bookmarks marking my favorite passages fell out and I wasn’t willing to reread the entire book to find them again.  But there were a few times the author offered a great turn of the phrase.>>

Beach Read Rating: 3 out of 5 Beach Umbrellas

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beach Tale: Flash Fiction Challenge

I'm BAAAaack!  And what a weekend it was at the New England Crime Bake conference for mystery writers!
As part of the conference fun, attendees are invited to participate the Flashwords Contest.  The challenge is to use 10 words from a list of provided words (culled from the titles of the books written by the keynote speakers) to create a 150-word bit of fiction that includes a crime or at least the hint of the crime.
This year’s speakers were Barry Eisler and Nancy Pickard.  The words to be used were:  Assassin, Bitch, Body, Coast, Confession, Detachment, Die, Fall, Fault, Ingredient, Killing, Marriage, Murder, Rain, Requiem, Scent, Secret, Storm, Truth, Virgin.

I accepted the challenge and submitted the following:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beach Bling: New England Clam Bake

I’m so excited!  Today I’m heading off to the New England Crime Bake for Mystery Writers and Readers.  The keynote speakers will be veteran mystery writers Barry Eisler and Nancy Pickard.  There are a lot of great workshops throughout the weekend, and a Sleuths, Spies, and Private Eyes Banquet and Costume Party (if I get up the nerve I’ll go dressed as my favorite sleuth, the intrepid Nancy Drew...but I’m not the kind of person who likes to draw attention to myself.)
I know what you all are thinking…Hmmm, that makes me think of a New England Clam Bake, and I think I’ll throw one of those this weekend! 
     What a great idea!  Let’s do it! 
Wait, I see a hand in the back of the room. Yes, you with the Coldwater Creek beaded bouclé jacket.  You’re question?
“Can you clarify what exactly is a New England Clam Bake is, please?”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I met Gina Ardito through the Avalon Authors blog and found her interviews and comments so funny and interesting that I hurried myself off to the nearest library and checked out her latest book.  So last weekend while a freak winter storm raged outside (thankfully we were spared any of the white stuff!  It was still October!), I curled up and lost myself in the world of April Raine and Dr. Jeff Prentiss.  It was one of the most delightful weekends I’ve had in a long time! 

Book Title: Nobody’s Darling, A Nobody Romance
Author:  Gina Ardito
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Setting:  A secluded cabin
Format:  Hardcover, Library Edition
Pages:  202
Publication date:  April, 2011
Publisher:  Avalon Books
Favorite Passage:  “....You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for.”
     “Gee, Thanks.”  She snorted
     He started to explain, and she held up a hand.
     “Don’t worry.  I won’t let it go to my head. Besides, I’m not really book smart.  I’m more like TV Guide-crossword-puzzle smart.” 

Beach Read Rating:  5 out of 5 Beach Umbrellas

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beach Tale: Navy Spouses, Then and Now

          After 28 years of navigating the murky waters of navy Spouse Life without a compass, I recently discovered there IS a Navy Spouse Manual!  And it’s plum-full of good advice, a real How-To manual on what to do and not do in various aspects of being a military spouse.  Welcome Aboard—A Service Manual for the Naval Officer’s Wife was penned by Florence Ridgely Johnson, wife of an Admiral.  Okay, so it was written in 1951 and its age shows when it talks about an Ensign making $129 a month (which wouldn’t even cover dinner and a movie in today’s world.)  It makes the life of a Navy wife sound incredibly romantic, a social merry-go-round of formal calls, fancy teas and elegant dinner gatherings.  But times have changed…and to prove that, here’s a sampling of how things worked then (1951) and now (2011). 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beach Bling: First Friday Spicy Marinated Shrimp

It’s First Friday today on the Life’s a Beach Blog.  That means it’s the First Friday of the month, an excuse to party.  The tradition that has its roots in the United States Air Force wherein fighter squadrons gathered as a way to build unit cohesion.  (Or so says Wikepedia.)  But Navy wardrooms celebrate it, too.  We’re going to give it a beach twist and dedicate the First Friday Beach Bling post to foods and drinks that one might serve at First Friday Beach Party.  So grab your favorite beach beverage and belly up to a bowl of Spicy Marinated Shrimp and relax while you watch the sun set over the water.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read All About Me!

Affirmation that I'm a "Published Author"--I've had my first interview.   Come learn a little bit more about me at The Avalon Authors Blog.


I joined a book club for two reasons:  to see how readers interpreted things they read, and to push myself outside of my genre comfort zone.  While the subject of this month’s read (Hadley Richardson’s five year marriage to Ernest Hemingway) is intriguing, it’s a safe bet I wouldn’t have picked this book up on my own accord.  But I’m glad I read it.