Friday, March 30, 2012

Beach Chat with Shelia Claydon

Fifteen quick questions answered by a writer:

Name:   Sheila Claydon

 Best beach memory:   The first time I saw Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower, South Wales. It was the mid 1970s and until then I had only experienced the overcrowded holiday beaches of the south coast, so the sight of something so deserted and tranquil was breathtaking. I have visited lots of other beautiful beaches since then but nothing has beaten the sudden rush of pleasure I experienced all those years ago.

One guilty pleasure: Reading when I should be doing housework

Dream car: It was a Mazda MX5 in racing bronze! I owned it for 4 years but I sold it when my first granddaughter arrived. I exchanged glamour and excitement for the safety of a hardtop plus space for a baby seat!  It was a fair swop though.

Three of your favorite things:
  • Hearing the first lark song of spring
  • A wood full of bluebells
  • An almost deserted beach at the end of a hot summer’s day 
(I get to experience all these things every year right on my own doorstep.  You have just made me realize how lucky I am)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beach Read: TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS by Lisa Lutz

I have been a Spellman fan since about 2008, and was heartbroken when Lisa announced she was ending the series after #4.  But low and behold a search for a complete list of the tittles (so I could recommend them on to a friend) turned up an announcement of the impending installment #5.  Needless to say, I was at the B&N store bright and early on a cold Tuesday Morning in February.  This is one of the few series I continue to purchase at full price hardcover.  That should pretty much tell you all you need to know…

Book Title: Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files Series #5)
Author:  Lisa Lutz
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction (with a chick-lit flavor)
Setting: San Francisco      
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  370
Publication date:  February, 2012
Publisher:  Simon & Shuster
Opening Line: For reasons that will forever remain a mystery, my sister scheduled the client meeting at the main branch of the san Francisco Public Library—specifically, the government section, which is low traffic, offering privacy for a new client intake. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beach Tale: "Easy Money", a short mystery

          Lance watched from his perch atop a stool at the Tiki Hut, a beachside bar that catered to the swimsuit clad.  Lance thought the tiki theme a bit overdone, but who was he to judge?  A balmy breeze blew off the Atlantic and beach babes strutted their stuff by the surf, and other normal circumstances Lance would be enjoying himself.
But tonight had a job to do.  He forced himself to keep his eyes on Charlie, his partner-in-crime, seated at the opposite end of the long teak counter.  Charlie paid the bartender with a crisp twenty-dollar bill, which was Lance’s signal to order a drink. 
          “Barkeep,” Lance called out, waving two fingers in the air, “I’ll take a Coke when you get a chance.” 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beach Chat with Sandra Wilkins

Fifteen questions answered by a writer...

Name: Sandra Wilkins

  Best beach memory:  Living in land-locked Oklahoma, I don't have very many beach memories but I love an old photo of when our family went to visit relatives in California when I was about four years old.  The blue skies, the ocean, a small sailboat and my little brother and I standing in the wet sand made a wonderful picture.  It's too bad I was so small I don't remember it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beach Tale: The Times They Are A-Changin'--Navy Spouse Edition

Let’s face it, times have changed, especially in the Navy Spouse ranks.  And it’s easy to see the changes when flips through an ancient copy of Welcome Aboard—A Service Manual for the Naval Officer’s Wife by Florence Ridgely Johnson (an Admiral’s wife, so she knows of what she speaks.)  Published in 1951, it gives a great perspective on what spouse life was like back in the day when the Navy’s unofficial motto was, “If we wanted sailors to have a wife we’d have issued them one in their sea bag.”  Some of the stuff is absolutely hysterical and horrifying at the same time.  Here are some excerpts, followed by a few editorial comments about Navy Spouses life in 2012.  Enjoy! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beach Chat with Sydell Voeller

15 quick questions asked of an author:

Name:  Sydell Voeller

 Best beach memory:  This might not be a "best" memory, but it is certainly my most memorable one.  One summer day, my cousin and I, who were both in our early teens, were walking on a broad curve of railroad tracks that paralleled the beach in my hometown.  We were chatting idly and concentrating on keeping our balance on the rails--but not paying much attention to anything else.Suddenly we heard a train roaring down the tracks from behind, blaring its whistle in warning! We screamed, then hopped off the tracks and clambered onto the rocky embankment that separated the tracks and the beach.  Once the train had passed, we saw the engineer crane his neck back in our direction to see, I assume, how we'd fared this near disaster.  I'm sure he was more than relieved to see we'd "made it in time!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beach Read: I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER by Sophie Kinsella

Is there anything worse than laughing hysterically on a quiet plane?  Not in my book.  But that’s just what I did as I read Sophie Kinsella’s latest offering while on a business trip.  It started as a quiet titter, then a snort or two escaped, and before I could contain myself,  a full-blown belly laugh erupted as Poppy Wyatt’s world unraveled. Poor Poppy.  But lucky me, because her trials and tribulations made my trip ever so much more enjoyable.    

Book Title: I’ve Got Your Number
Author:  Sophie Kinsella
Genre:  Fiction (Chick Lit at its best)
Setting:  London, England
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  433
Publication date:  February, 2012
Publisher:  The Dial Press
Opening Line:  Perspective.  I need to get perspective.  It’s not an earthquake or a crazed gunman or a nuclear meltdown, is it?  On the scale of disasters, this is not huge.  Not huge.  One day I expect I’ll back at this moment and laugh and think, Ha-Ha, how silly I was to worry--

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beach Tale: "Prescription for Love" a short romance

          Maddie wasn’t sure she could take another step.
          “Which grocery store shall we hit tonight?” her sister Kara asked.
          “Huh?”  It was all the response Maddie could muster as they finished the grueling eight-mile run along the beach.  She bent at the waist and rested her elbows on her knees as she sucked in lungfuls of refreshing salt air.
          “I’m thinking the Green Grocer over on West Washington might be good.” Kara, who was in far better shape than Maddie, sounded less like a steam locomotive puffing up a mountain and more like someone who had just finished a game of Wii bowling. 
          Maddie had assumed, erroneously, that joining her sister on an after-work run would replace their usual evening activity of late—man hunting.  Kara had read in a magazine that a good place to meet eligible bachelors was at the grocery store, so the sisters had been cruising a different one every night for the past three weeks.  So far, they hadn’t met a single eligible man.    

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, for the first time in my life this year I joined a book club.  Not a mystery-reading book club—that would be too comfortable--but a literary fiction-reading book club.  I needed expand my horizons and read something outside my genre of choice. I can honestly say that never in a million, billion, ga-zillion years would I have read this book of my own accord.  But I also have to say, as literary fiction goes, it wasn’t overly painful. 

Book Title: The Language of Flowers
Author:  Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Setting:  San Francisco and surrounding area
Format:  Large print (not that I’m “that old”, I just clicked on the wrong version when I placed a reserve at the Library) hardcover edition
Pages:  524 (but remember, that’s the Large Print edition)
Publication date:  August, 2011
Publisher:  Thorndike Press, arranged with the Ballantine Publishing Group, a Division of Random House, Inc. 
Opening Line:  For eight years I dreamed of fire. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beach Tale: A Beach-themed Fable

              Way back when I was a young girl, my parent’s would park us in front of the TV on Saturday morning and toss us a box of Cap’n Crunch or Fruit Loops cereal (both great for leaving a “trail of crumbs” a lá Hansel and Gretel.)  Mom and Dad would then slink off to the kitchen where they could enjoy a morning of peace and quite with their coffee and paper.  I know your first thought is quite possibly, “Why didn’t anyone call Child Protective Services?” But let me explain that 1) the cereal was fortified with 14 vitamins and minerals (I think) and 2) there were some teaching moments on Saturday Morning TV back in the day.  Like Aesop’s Fables.  I can almost hear the music now as a cartoon fairy flies onto the screen and opens a voluminous book of Fables, and I would watch with rapt attention as I learned my moral lesson.  You might remember the classics such as “The Tortoise and the Hare” or “The Ant and the Grasshopper” or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Fox and the Grapes” (from whence we get the phrase “Sour Grapes.)  Classics, all. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Beach Chat with Nina Pierce

Beach Chat:  15 questions asked of a writer.  Go! 

Name: Nina Pierce

 Best beach memory:  One night we went for a late night walk on the beach. We never carried flashlights and just enjoyed the beach by moonlight. This night the bioluminescent bacteria filled the sand and the water. We spent a couple of hours stomping the sand to see our footprints highlighted in green and splashing in the water to make it light up. It was very cool.

One guilty pleasure: Dunkin Donuts vanilla iced coffee with cream and liquid sugar (I just pretend they make mine without calories)