My FIRST BLOG

The purpose of this site is to find a larger audience for the ridiculous amount of writing I do. How ridiculous, you ask? In just one year I wrote four novels, nearly completed a sequel to the second novel and collaborated with my friend Laura Hall (best known for her piano skills on Whose Line Is It Anyway?) on a musical “Room to Grow” that is, quite frankly, brilliant.  I have since written a screenplay, a sitcom pilot and a few more novels. I am nothing if not prolific. All the while, I have been raising my two daughters and Laura and I continue work towards mounting a professional production of the aforementioned musical.I also like to draw and/or paint.

My immediate future needs to be about marketing, while continuing to do what I love, and what better way to go about it than to write? The fact that pen and paper is my favorite medium may serve as a hindrance to my computer-impaired brain, but I am determined to get past that, and lets face it, if this has been posted then I am well on my way.

All of my novels, Searching for My Wand, On a Hot August AfternoonThe Salacious Marny Ottwiler and Crashing Into Us, are all available for purchase on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Bridget-Straub/e/B006KEG0KE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 Go check them out!

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Excerpt Sunday 5

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Today’s excerpt is from my most popular novel to date, On a Hot August Afternoon which you can purchase just by clicking on the title!

Stephanie and Basil had a perfect wedding. By this time in their relationship they had worked through a lot and Basil was back to being his usual, happy, easy going self. They held hands at the makeshift alter, and you knew they’d be together forever.

I alternated between watching them to being distracted by Pete who chose instead to watch me. I could feel his eyes on me the whole time, and when the ceremony ended he was immediately at my side. We congratulated the newlyweds, and then stepped away from the crowd and kissed until his Uncle pulled us apart, reminding us that we were both supposed to be a part of the receiving line.

Technically I was meant to stand next to Theo, but Pete talked him into trading places, and held my hand as one guest after another congratulated him on his success. He did his best to refocus the attention on Stephanie and Basil. I must have heard him say a thousand times that this was their day and he was just happy to be a part of it. When we were finally allowed some champagne, we were all grateful to have survived and happy to be moving on with the reception.

Pete had been asked to perform the song they’d chosen for their first dance, which was Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”, and so wrong on every level. Pete had a hard time getting through it with a straight face, but Stephanie loved it and defends it to this day. He followed that song with “I’ve Just Seen a Face”, for his mom, and then “She’s So Jaded”, which he dedicated to me. When he finished it, he jumped off the stage, took my hand and danced with me until it was time for dinner. After, he showed me that he still had the key to Steph and Basil’s apartment.

“You’re going to come back with me, right?” he asked.

“Just for tonight, because tomorrow we have to go back to just friends,” I insisted.

“There’s no going back,” he told me.

 

Those words haunt me now.

 

I row out at least halfway across the lake until my arms and back ache and I can’t go any further. The water is surprisingly calm. This being the end of summer, the lake is usually polluted by jet skis and tourists. I try to lay back but the kayak threatens to tip and I quickly sit up, hugging my knees. I try not to think about Pete but it’s impossible. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was still watching me. Sometimes that feeling doesn’t go away until long after we’ve been apart.

I shift my thoughts to the girls and their being off with their cousins. As much as being at the lake can overwhelm me, they love the times they get to spend with the family, particularly up here. Pete tells great stories about his summers growing up and they all center around the lake and his cousins. I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for all of us.

Brooklyn’s favorite tale is of one summer when Pete went hiking with Jeanette and her then boyfriend, Greg, who thought he knew all when it came to local wildlife. They turned a corner on a generally deserted path and came upon a big old bear, sunning herself.

“Go stand next to it and I’ll get a picture,” Pete laughed when Greg assured them they had nothing to worry about because he reasoned the bear was in a deep slumber if it hadn’t heard them approaching.

The idiot took a step closer and the bear let out a roar that sent them running for their lives. I wonder what adventures the girls will have up here in future summers and if I’ll be up here with them.

I try to imagine my life without Pete, and tell myself it should be easy to do. After all, we are not strangers to being apart. We spend anywhere from two to four months apart almost every year. He tours and I stay home with the kids because traveling from town to town with roadies and rock stars is no way to raise little girls.

 

“Come home with me,” he said the day after the wedding.

“Just like that?” I asked.

“You’ll love LA. Did you know for example, that unlike in San Francisco, in LA you can go to the beach and not even freeze? And that’s always. Every single day is all palm trees and sunshine. You’ll love it.”

“I can’t,” I hesitated.

“I love you Stace, I won’t mess this up again, I promise.”

“I can’t do it. I don’t want to end up hating you again,” I said.

“But there won’t be anything to hate. We’ll live together, happily ever after.”

“Just like that?” I asked skeptically.

“Just like that,” he smiled.

“I’ve never lived with anyone, have you? You have right? Where is she now? I’ll bet you thought that would work too, didn’t you?” I challenged.

“She is living with a friend of a friend and no, we were never going to be forever and we both knew that. We were transitory, that’s all.”

Somehow that sounded very grown up to me at the time. I wanted to believe that he knew what he was talking about and so I did. I agreed to return to LA with him to see if it was the city of inspiration that he promised me it would be. If we could really live together and be happy ever after.

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Worldwide!

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It blows my mind when I see stats like those above. Who would think someone in Saudi Arabia is reading my blog? Things like that delight me and give me hope that anything is possible. Then I have days when it would appear I have fallen off the face of the earth. No book sales, no readers on the blog, no response to posts or questions on social media, etc.  

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We all have days like that, right? Days that make us feel small and unimportant. Days when we want to take out our bat and say, Notice me!

BTW Beyond the Cracks is my latest novel, if you are looking for something to read. I’m just saying…

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Excerpt Sunday #4

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This is an excerpt from a book titled If By Chance that I have never published. It is one of my sister’s favorites and mine as well. I don’t know why I don’t publish it, but I just haven’t. 

 

      Fate is one of those weird, inexplicable things we spend way too much time trying to make sense of…

 

     It is Christmas day, 2008, and my mom and I are over at my Aunt Delia’s. We’ve opened our gifts, and stuffed ourselves with a breakfast prepared for us by my Uncle Kendrick. Although he works as a butcher, my Uncle Kendrick is a frustrated chef who can never prepare less than six things at a time, and because everything is delicious, we can’t help but eat it. We are lying around the family room, too full to move, when suddenly, my uncle announces that he thinks we should go place fresh flowers on my grandmother’s grave. We all stare at him blankly. “Fresh” would be the operative word here.

     My grandmother died when I was six, and I am now sixteen. I have only been to her gravesite once, when I was seven, and as far as I know, no one has been back since. It’s not as though my grandmother wasn’t loved, because she was. I have heard stories about her hundreds of times over the years, from both my mom and Delia. I have my own memories of baking cookies together and of her taking me to the carousel in Griffith Park. We just live by the theory that she is in our hearts and not the ground.

     My Aunt Delia and Uncle Kendrick met in high school, and although they are only in their late thirties, they have been married for twenty years. My grandma was like a second mother to Kenny. His mother had been dealing with cancer for years, but at that time she was doing well. His sudden desire to check in with my grandmother makes no sense to us, but we agree just the same. We can all see that for whatever the reason, he is serious about this, and besides, it gives us an excuse to avoid having to clean the kitchen. Not only can my Uncle Kenny never cook less than six things at once, but he can’t do so without destroying the kitchen.

     It is a rare day in L.A., in that it is cloudy and devoid of any sun. As we drive towards the cemetery, the skies open up and it starts to rain. I love the rain, admittedly because it’s not something I have to deal with very often. I’m sure that if I lived in Seattle, or even back east, I’d shoot myself, but while my mom and aunt complain, I secretly applaud the rain’s arrival. My Uncle Kenny curses the inability of anyone in L.A.  to drive the second the streets get wet. Sure enough, just as we turn into the cemetery, someone cuts us off.

 “That’s right asshole, hurry up,” my uncle yells. “Your dead relatives might not wait for you.”

     We all laugh. Then we drive around trying to remember where my grandmother is buried.

 “It was on a hill,” my mom says.

 “Oh, okay, Krissy,” my uncle laughs, “that really narrows it down.”

 “Towards the bottom though,” Delia says. “We couldn’t afford the top, remember?”

“You mean that cheap bastard wouldn’t pay for it,” my mom says, referring to their stepfather of ten years.

    Thankfully, I hardly remember him at all, but from what I’ve heard, my grandmother’s second husband was even worse than her first, and apparently that’s saying something. The only thing I know about my biological grandfather is that he left my grandmother for her cousin three months before my mom was born. Delia and my mom have never had any contact with him.

  “I think it’s that one over there,” Delia says, pointing to little more than a mound.

 “That’s your hill?” I laugh.

 “I told you he was cheap,” my mom defends.

 “Yeah, but how much more could the top have cost?” I wonder aloud.

“This is Los Angeles real estate,” Delia says, “you’d be surprised.”

     My uncle parks along the side of this slope, opens his door, and gathers the yellow roses we have stopped to buy on our way here. I was surprised that anyplace was open, and granted they are just from the supermarket, but still.

 “Kenny, wait,” my Aunt says, pulling on his arm, “you’ll get all wet.”

     Having stated the obvious, my mom and I both laugh.

“Do you think?” my mom asks.

    My uncle ignores us, and gets out of the car. He starts reading all of the markers of the people whose families couldn’t afford to buy headstones, or like my mom’s stepfather, were just too cheap to do so.

“Oh crap,” my aunt says, “we’re probably supposed to join him. You know Mom is looking down on us, shaking her head.”

 “You girls,” my mom says in imitation of my grandmother, “what are you doing leaving him out there to do this on his own?”

     We get out of the car, and my mom, who is wearing her new boots that she all but forced me to buy her for Christmas, curses the fact that they are now getting wet., By this time my uncle is half way up this supposed hill, and says he can’t find her.

 “Yoo-hoo, Mom,” Delia calls.

     My mom starts laughing so hard that soon we are in near hysterics. Well, everyone except my Uncle Kendrick. He looks at us as though we are idiots who don’t know how to behave in a cemetery. His impatience makes us laugh that much harder, and he walks back towards the car in disgust. That he is taking this seriously is so far beyond our understanding, that we now have tears steaming down our faces. We are doubled over as we desperately try to pull ourselves together.

 “We have to stop before he leaves without us,” Delia laughs.

 “Why does he care so much?” I ask

 “Oh God, who knows? Because he’s weird,” Delia says, drying her eyes.

 “Okay, come on now,” my mom insists, doing the same, “clearly this is the wrong hill.”

     We look around at all the other mounds of grass that make up this well maintained Hollywood graveyard, each one looking the same as the next.

“Oh, for crying out loud, Mom,” Delia says, “give us a clue.”

     Just like that, the sun suddenly cuts through the clouds two slopes over.

 “Alrighty then,” both my mom and Delia laugh.

 “Kenny,” Delia calls, “I think it’s over there.”

     We all start towards the hill bathed in the only ray of sunlight to break through all day. This area has several groups of people paying their respects to loved ones and my uncle suggests, under his breath, that we should try to show a little more restraint.

 “Jesus, Kenny, what is with you? Lighten up, it’s Christmas,” my aunt says.

 “I’m just saying,” he defends.

 “So we’ve heard,” she says.

“Yeah, Kenny,” my mom teases, pushing him.

     We all look around, and after a minute or two my uncle calls,

“Over here.”

     We head over and stare down at the little plaque that simply reads “Dianne Jackson, beloved wife and mother, 1943 – 1998”.

 My mom looks up at my uncle and asks, “Now what?”

    He squats down and lays the flowers across the marker, and doesn’t immediately stand back up.

     “Having a little trouble getting back up there, Ken?” my aunt laughs, setting both my mom and I off again.

He shakes his head.

 “Sorry Dianne, I tried,” he says.

     He stands up and tells us we should say a prayer, and walks back to the car. We look at one another, and all burst out laughing again. I don’t know why it strikes us as so funny, but it does.

     The rain picks up and we run for the car. My mom is both laughing, and sliding in her new boots, until she crashes into a group of people heading up the hill as we are heading down. Too hysterical to stop, Delia and I get to the car before we look back. What we see is my mother laughing with this guy whose longish dark hair is curling over the collar of his expensive looking black trench coat. He is in tight black pants tucked into his black boots that somehow scream “Rock Star!”

 “Who is that?” Delia asks.

 “How should I know?” I answer.

 “Is he famous?” she asks.

     As I am about to say he’s probably just a wannabe, I notice the limousine parked at the bottom of the hill.

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What’s Your Obsession?

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Remember when I wrote about Hamilton Fever ? Well guess what, it’s only gotten worse. Now, not only do I listen to the soundtrack nearly every day, but I have gone to YouTube to watch all things Lin Manuel Miranda. Not only is he incredibly intelligent and talented, but he makes me love writing that much more.

The only down side, if there really is a down side, is that double edged sword that is both inspiration and disappointment. I watch the cast discuss the show and perform the brilliant songs this man has written, and I wonder if I have missed the boat.

When I was a teen I fantasized about running away to New York all of the time. I think I was going to live in Greenwich Village and be a struggling writer. Actually, I know I was, but at the time, I wasn’t sure what I would write. Now I think musicals combine the two things I love most, music and writing, so it’s kind of a no-brainer. 

When Laura Hall and I wrote our musical, Room To Growa few years back, I had so much fun collaborating with her.  I wasn’t sure how well our story would be received, but I knew we had accomplished something special. One of the biggest thrills of my life was hearing the songs we had written, performed. To this day when someone asks whatever happened with that musical, it is a source of accomplishment and pride that people still think about it and enjoyed, what to this point, has never been more than a school production.

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I am not “throwing away my shot!” as they say in Hamilton. I don’t know what the future holds. I could write another musical, or I could resurrect Room To Grow, but sooner or later I will experience the  high of having my lyrics sung back to me again. Mark it! It’s just a matter of time.

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Look For the Light

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I love a picture with great light. 

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This one is interesting

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And this one is just powerful!

Hope your everyday is filled with light.

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Excerpt Sunday 3

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This is an excerpt from Crashing Into Us which you can buy just by clicking this link!

CHAPTER ONE

 It was a sharp turn back to my past when I picked up the phone and heard Chris’s mom, Linda, on the other end of the receiver. We hadn’t spoken in years. There was no animosity between us, but Chris and I had split up ten years before, and although the kids still saw her on occasion, the two of us had stopped communicating.

“There has been an accident, Chris is in the hospital and is asking for you,” she said sounding upset.

“What kind of accident?” I asked.

“It’s serious, please come quickly, Allie, it’s very serious,” she repeated.

“Okay, of course, where are you? What hospital?” I asked.

“Cedar Sinai, the one by the Beverly Center.”

“Okay, but what happened?” I couldn’t help asking again.

“He’s been injured,” she said shakily, and hung up.

I wondered if I should call the kids, but I didn’t want to scare them, and not having any real information, I wasn’t sure how serious this was. Of course, I reasoned that on some level it had to be serious or elseLinda wouldn’t have called me. But then again, she had said Chris was asking for me, which meant he was conscious, so how serious could it be? I decided to wait.At twenty-four, Dylan would be at work. He was both interning at a local radio station and working as a pool man on the side. He was living with a couple of friends and constantly broke, but that seemed appropriate for a boy his age. We’d had our rough patches in the past and yet, knock wood, he seemed to finally be maturing, at least a little.London was two years younger and at UCLA studying film. I figured she’d be in class.

I walked out to my Audi A7 that, in a moment of recklessness, had cost me a fortune. I had been pissed off and jealous that Chris had been able to buy himself the R8, a car that costs what some people spend to own a house. The A7 was fifty thousand less than what he’d spent on his car, and yet still a good twenty thousand more than I had intended to spend. It is a beautiful car, though, charcoal grey, leather seats, Bose sound system, etc.

Traffic, as is so often the case in LA, was ridiculously backed up, and it took a long time to get from the Valley down to Beverly Hills. I walked into the emergency room and asked where and/or how I would find Chris Taylor.

“You are?” the nurse asked.

“His wife,” I said, not bothering to add the ex, although by the skepticism on her face, I suspected that she knew.

I sometimes forgot that strangers knew who Chris was. That happens when you direct Academy Award winning films. Unfortunately, he hadn’t done that until after we split. If he had done it sooner I’d have been able to afford the car I’m driving, but I digress. The nurse picked up the phone and told someone on the other end that there was a woman looking for Chris Taylor and claiming to be his wife. She listened for a minute and then asked for my ID. What the hell? I thought. I produced it, and she gave me directions to the ICU.

Suddenly my heart was pounding and I was scared. He’d asked for me, though, so he was okay. I mean he had to be, because he was the father of my children, and even though he and I knew all of the right buttons to push in order to hurt each other, we still loved one another in our own twisted ways. I walked out of the elevator and was met by his brother Tim, who looked anxious.

“What’s happened?” I asked.

“He’s wrapped that fucking car around a tree.”

“Oh shit,” I said. “Is he okay? He will be, right?”

My stomach was plummeting to the floor with my heart rapidly following.

“Are the kids on their way?” Tim asked, ignoring my question.

“No, I thought, your mom said Chris was asking for me, she didn’t tell me, I mean, I thought…” I stammered.

“I’ll call them, you go in, but Allie, he’s no longer conscious,” he informed me.

For a brief second I couldn’t move wondering what that meant, but then no, just no! I couldn’t go there. This was Chris; he was just pushing my buttons again. I moved forward, sure that he’d open his eyes as soon as I entered the room.

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I Got Hacked!

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Does anyone understand the point of hacking? I mean, if you were getting into an account where there was bank information, or social security numbers, I can see where a crook could use that, but Facebook? Who wants to hack memes and cat videos? (Not that I post either of those.) Seriously, other than causing me a big old hassle, what was the point?

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Now after jumping through a whole bunch of hoops, I can look at Facebook on my phone again, but I cannot figure out how to fix it on my Toshiba laptop. A friend said I might need to uninstall Facebook and then put it back on. Okay.

So, when it still wasn’t working this morning, I tried that. Only problem is that I can’t find where it is! I’ve gone through programs, apps and settings, but apparently it is nowhere to be found. Touche hackers! If your aim was to drive me crazy, you are well on your way!

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Has this happened to any of you? Do you have a solution for me?

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