A Story of Love, Heartbreak, and Everything in Between #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Better Luck Next Time: A Novel

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Copyright 2021

 

What Amazon Says

 

“Do you want to read something funny? Let’s say, a novel set at a divorce ranch in Reno in the 1930s? A book with memorably eccentric characters, sparkling dialogue, a satisfying plot twist, and some romance and sex?  A feel-good literary comedy/western? Here it is, then, the book you’ve been looking for: Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time.”—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement

The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.

 

My Thoughts

 

I like how the author tells the story from Ward’s first-person point of view. It’s as if you’re visiting him fifty years later, and he’s telling you his story. Some of it is funny, and some of it isn’t. This book offers a variety of life lessons on not just marriage and divorce. The ending will surprise and move you.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Pets and Writing #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do pets (or other animals) play an important part in your books? Tell us about them.”

Absolutely! I love dogs. I remember plenty of them when I was growing up. Now, I don’t want the responsibility of caring for them, but I enjoy incorporating them into my stories.

In my first novel, We Shall Overcome, my heroine’s boyfriend has an Irish setter named Molly. Last year when I was blocked on my novel-in-progress, a Great Dane puppy named Squeakers saved the day. Now, here’s an excerpt from my latest novel, The Red Dress, in which we meet Ginger, the family’s Black Lab.

***

The clicking of Ginger’s nails on the floor in the hall and the jingling of her collar interrupted Eve’s thoughts. She turned as the dog loped into her office and to her side and placed her head on her knee.

“Oh, Ginger, I wish the kids would take more responsibility for you,” said Eve, stroking the dog’s head. “I’ve finished the proofs, now, so all I have to do is check email, and then we’ll go for a walk. Okay?”

Ginger flopped onto the floor at Eve’s feet and looked up at her as if to say, “I’m holding you to that.”

Eve smiled and turned to her computer, where she clicked the Accept button on Charlene’s friend request.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said.

In answer, Ginger wagged her tail, thumping it against the floor.

***

What was Eve doing when Ginger’s jingling collar interrupted her? Who is Charlene? Read the book and find out. To participate in this week’s Open Book Blog Hop, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

A DAY OF FIRSTS #Fiction #Tuesday Tidbit

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I’m forty-seven years old, and for the first time in my life, I have a cavity. Here I am, in the dentist’s chair, about to have it filled. Because this is one of my worst fears, I feel as if my world is being turned upside down. I’m also afraid of being arrested and getting stuck in an elevator, none of which has happened, at least not yet.

“If you’d prefer, I could give you gas,” the dentist says. “but you’d need to rest at home afterwards.”

“No. My husband is partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes, and I need to be able to take care of him.”

“I understand. I’ll give you Novocain.”

As the drill whines, I close my eyes and imagine myself lying in bed with my husband while my next-door neighbor is boring holes into something. To my surprise, there’s no pain, only a cold sensation.

When I arrive home, a policeman is waiting for me. “Did you know you were supposed to appear for jury duty today?” he asks.

“No, I just got back from a dentist appointment,” is all I can think to say.

“You were sent a notice last week. I found it in the bushes under the mailbox.” He holds up a white envelope.

“I see by your cane that you’re blind. So, I understand why you didn’t get it.”

“Actually, I have some vision,” I say, looking at my husband, sprawled in his recliner.

I turn back to the cop. “You’re right. I didn’t see the notice. I’d be glad to serve on a jury anytime, but I need advanced notice, so I can make arrangements for my husband’s care. He’s partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes, and he depends on me for everything.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to take you in, anyway. You need to appear in Judge Watkins’s court this afternoon.”

I feel a sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. My husband, knowing my fears, bursts out laughing. I turn and glare at him. “That’s not funny. What the hell am I supposed to do with you?”

Between paroxysms of mirth, he answers, “Call Westwood Manor.”

Westwood Manor is the nursing home where he recuperated from his strokes and where he goes occasionally for respite care when I need to be out of town. It’s also the place where I worked for fifteen years before I decided to write full-time.

I turn again to the policeman. “Can you wait while I make arrangements?”

“Of course.”

With trembling fingers, I pick up the phone and dial the number I know by heart. I ask to speak with the admissions director I’ve known for years. Thank goodness he doesn’t laugh when I explain the situation. He assures me there will be no problem. “It just so happens I’m driving the van today because our regular driver is sick,” he says. “I have nothing else to do. So, I’ll be there to pick him up in a few minutes.”

The cop waits with infinite patience while I toss items into a suitcase for my husband. I’m glad of the distraction that keeps my apprehension at bay. As soon as I park my husband in his wheelchair by the kitchen door, the nursing home’s van pulls into the driveway.

If I’d taken the gas at the dentist’s office, I would be totally numb. I wouldn’t feel the handcuffs biting into my wrists or hear my husband laughing at me. I wouldn’t be shaking, as the policeman helps me into the back seat of the patrol car. At the station, I’m locked in a holding cell with four other people who also failed to appear for jury duty.

We swap stories. The others had either forgotten, or like me, didn’t know they had to appear. One guy had just returned from a long vacation and hadn’t gone through his mail yet.

Later that afternoon, after being given the regulation orange jump suits to wear, we’re taken to the courthouse in leg irons and handcuffs and herded into an elevator. The car ascends, stops with a jerk. After a moment, one of the sheriff’s deputies says, “I think we’re stuck.”

“Oh great!” I say, my heart pounding. “This day couldn’t have gotten any worse if it tried.”

A gentle hand touches my shoulder. I’m relieved to open my eyes and find myself snuggled next to my husband in our dark bedroom. My talking watch tells me it’s four in the morning. My husband says, “I need to pee.”

For once, I’m not irritated, as I crawl out of bed, pull him into a sitting position, and hand him the urinal. After he does his business, I climb in bed beside him, resting my head on his shoulder, as his good arm encircles me.

“Don’t you have a dentist appointment today?” he asks.

***

Those who know me might think this is a true story, but I assure you it’s pure fiction. I was inspired to write it years ago after reading a newspaper account of how four people who failed to appear for jury duty were hauled into court in leg irons and handcuffs. This story appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be downloaded here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

The Ring #It’s Six-Sentence Story Thursday Link-Up

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

It was gold with one tiny little stone, just like in the song by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. As I stood in the pawn shop with Kevin, gazing at this piece of jewelry in a display case, I remembered that in the song, the couple bought the ring, but their marriage fell apart, and the ring was tossed aside.

Kevin pointed and asked, “You like that one, Val?”

Tears stung my eyes, as I turned to him and said, “Oh, yes, and I’ll never cast it or you aside.”

We fell into a long, ardent embrace. In the busy pawn shop, I didn’t care if anyone noticed.

Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring the above work of fiction with her six-sentence story prompt for this week. If you’d like to participate in her blog hop, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books  

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook  

Website  

Coming to Her Senses #It’s Six-Sentence Story Thursday Link-Up

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

On a cold winter day, with snow on the ground and the wind blowing, Celia stared out the window of her squalid New York City apartment at the swirling flakes. She had no money left to pay for heat, electricity, and other amenities, and she shivered, wrapping her sweater more tightly around her. At least her cellular plan was paid until the end of the month. She withdrew her phone from her pocket and made a call. “Mom, you were right about me not being able to make it in New York. I want to come home.”

***

Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring the above story with her six-sentence prompt for this week. If you’d like to participate in her blog hop, click here.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books  

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook  

Website