And the Kindle edition is on $.99.
What do you do when your life takes a turn you never suspected? Well if you're a mother of two, living in suburbia, in a supposed to be fairy tale marriage then you pull out the vodka and write about what's happening.
When my Mom got sick with cancer it was like a bomb went off. I'd never lost anyone close to me and now here my mom was gonna have to go toe-to-toe with the dreaded disease. As usual, I put up my dukes and prepared to knock out the disease. But it wasn't in my body, it was in my Mom's and no matter how hard I fought it was she that had to win the battle. When she passed away from breast and ovarian cancer in 2001, it was the beginning of changes that would mean I'd have to decide if I was going to sink or swim in the pool of life.
This loss of my mother was further exacerbated when my "fairy-tale" marriage finally flopped and I was left alone with two kids and hadn't been in the workforce in eleven years. This was when Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother was born. I realized that I could wait for my fairy godmother to come and rescue me or I could go and rescue myself. The book narrates the road I walked discovering how loss, friendship, truth, and happiness illuminated how I had been sleepwalking through my life.
After the book came out, I spent the next few years helping other women find their inner fairy godmother. I was a speaker, radio show host, created the Fairy Godmother Conferences, and did one-to-one empowerment work with countless women. I also began thinking about Marissa, Andrea, and Beatrice. These names and characters began bouncing around in my brain until I wrote them down and ended up with half a novel.
Upon attaining Fairy Godmother status, I finally met the man of my dreams and together we decided to embark on a life rooted in following our passions. I had discovered what I wanted to do was write, so I picked up the half-way completed novel, Beatrice Munson, and finished it in a nine-hour writing session at Panera. Of course I was deliciously fueled with bread, cookies, and coffee.
In the decision to follow my bliss the muse descended and the ideas, characters, and plots of nine novels queued up. So, it was determined by a force far greater than I that writing is my work. It doesn't hurt that I get to do what I love and have a huge amount of fun doing it. A lot of the stories are based on places I've visited, people I've met, or just the whim of my imagination. My second novel, House on Plunkett Street is due out by November, 2011.
Synopsis for Beatrice Munson: In suburbia, Marissa Lyon's high school nemesis has moved in across the street. Afraid Beatrice Munson will cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school; she heads to Beatrice’s house armed with cupcakes. What Marissa finds is something she never expected.
How will Marissa and the women of San Martino deal with Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in life was to get a boob job or go to Egypt. The story is about friendship, love, White Cosmos, drag queens, cupcakes, and great party planning.
In Vista Heights you might not only recognize the women, you might be one of them.
You can find more about Lorena Bathey and access to purchasing all her novels at www.LorenaBBooks.com and she is also at www.facebook.com/lmbathey and on twitter at
Excerpt from Beatrice Munson:
Chapter One - Reminiscing is Fun
Beatrice Munson was the girl you hated in high school. She epitomized the Noxzema Girl commercials that aired during Friday night’s Donny and Marie show. With bouncy blonde hair and laughing eyes, Beatrice was cute enough to be popular but smart enough to be geeky. She was the perfect illustration of grace at a time when grace was usually just something you said at the dinner table. Worst of all twenty years later, Beatrice Munson had just become my neighbor.
I lived on a cul-de-sac in a monotonous suburb of San Francisco. Here the houses took on the form of their owners, or perhaps the owners had come to look just like their homes – bored, tired and just like the one next door. I was recently divorced, in my forties, and while it sounded like just another sad fact, it was actually the best thing that had ever happened to me. I knew I was a statistic but I didn’t care. If I had to be a percentage point in a magazine poll, then it was worth the joy and pleasure that freedom brought.
My best friend lived down the street and we talked every day. Her name was Andrea and in her high school she had been the girl voted “most likely to own a corporation.” Unfortunately, Martin, her five-year-old had derailed Andrea’s fast track to CEO. Yet, Andrea still had the air of being in control of all aspects of her world. Surety and organization were her tools as she ruled over her home as the President and CEO. Knowing that I needed a competent and compassionate ear about Beatrice moving in I called Andrea. She answered the phone in one ring.
“Okay, you are not going to believe who just moved in across the street?” I blurted.
“Hi Marissa, oh…is it Imelda Marcos? Is she going to let you borrow her shoes?” Andrea chuckled at her bad joke.
“No. Beatrice Munson.”
“You know Beatrice Munson from my high school. Didn’t I tell you about her? I think I did. Remember she’s the one that had flawless skin and stole Jeffery Bennett from me.”
Andrea still did not seem as impressed with this vital news and I heard her distracted tone as she spoke to her son. “Martin, please don’t put the cat on your sister’s head.” This was followed by a wail and the sound of the phone falling to the floor.
Beatrice Munson. I felt the bitterness and anger of lost love in my mouth. When I had read the San Martino newsletter the week before and saw that Beatrice Munson had purchased the house across the street from me, I'd dropped the cup of fat burning tea I was drinking. Wedged between birth announcements and ads from former high school alumni was the article that was to alter the landscape of my life. I felt the feelings from high school ooze into my mind and heart. My anger at Beatrice felt raw and new even though it had been lying dormant in the vaults of my heart. I knew it was insane to feel the emotions of a teenager when I was middle-aged, yet I couldn’t stop the process. How would I survive if I had to live not only my teenage years surrounded by Beatrice’s perfection, but now I would be forced to stare at her bright and shiny complexion while the lines around my eyes deepened?
Life isn’t fair, I thought to myself. Because if life was fair I would be married to a hunky man who couldn’t take his eyes off me even if Beatrice Munson streaked naked down the middle of the street. Instead, I was an unmarried and overworked single mom whose highlight of the day was another sink full of dishes to wash. My world consisted of two children who often seemed to hate each other’s guts. None of this was the picture of suburban bliss I wanted to dazzle Beatrice with. It seemed fates cruel joke was to have me forage through my forties with Beatrice and her perfection living right across the street.
All morning I had been furtively sneaking peeks from various windows in my house which was keeping me from the weekly house cleaning and laundry. I kept going back to the clothes attempting to fold them, but I would see a window and make my way to spying since it was much more stimulating than housework. Someone moving in to this neighborhood was always interesting, but someone like Beatrice Munson moving in across from me was distressing.
I continued my sleuthing with the drapes drawn while exposing only one eyeball from my hiding spot. I kept hoping that I would see Beatrice while also wishing I wouldn’t see Jeffery Bennett. I never caught a glimpse of a lithe, blonde goddess but instead simply gazed at the backs of a few mangy looking moving men. My fate was sealed as I watched the moving truck pull away. Countless boxes were stacked in the garage and I wondered if Beatrice still had the red Hang Ten satin jacket and matching shorts I had been so envious of in high school. Did she still have perfect skin? Did she still chat with Jeffery Bennett? Worse, was she married to him?
Jeffery Bennett had been the cutest and coolest boy in high school. He had the rumpled good looks of Shaun Cassidy, coupled with the intrigue and aloofness of Fonzi, which made him incredibly enticing. I wasn’t the only girl in love with Jeffery in high school. Probably three-fourths of the female student body wished that Jeffery Bennett would choose their locker to stand by to flick his gorgeous brown hair. One day it happened and Jeffery stopped at my locker and chatted with me. I remembered how giddy and nauseous I felt as I stared into those brown and gold-flecked eyes. I wished for the moment to last forever with the Endless Love sound track welling up behind me. And that is when Beatrice Munson happened.
At my locker, I had just leaned into Jeffery to let him catch the scent of my Bonnie Bell Baby Soft perfume, when Beatrice slipped on a slimy shell of a sunflower seed on the floor and almost fell. She squealed as she slipped and Jeffery was off like a shot to rescue her from the germs and pestilence of the high school hallway floor. As his strong brown arms held her aloft, she looked up at him with her soft blue eyes and I knew that Jeffery Bennett would never darken my locker door again.
After the rescue, Jeffery and Beatrice were inseparable. They walked to class together. They ate lunch together. They waited together after school for their moms to pick them up. I’m sure that at night they whispered sweet nothings on the phone for hours, plotting how they would go to college together, get married, have perfect kids, and essentially have a blissful life together. It would have been sickening, if they just weren’t so sweet together.
I stood on the toilet craning my neck to see out the bathroom window while trying to get a better vantage point with which to see Beatrice unpacking her boxes. I didn’t see a man strutting around holding moving boxes aloft. There didn’t seem to be any children, since I did not see one piece of Fisher-Price plastic outdoor furniture. I had to know more. I needed better access. I wasn’t going to squelch my curiosity simply staring through windows all day. I ran down to the kitchen to see if I had the ingredients necessary to bake up a delicious decoy that would allow me entrance, and a chance to survey the situation at Beatrice’s new abode.
Forty-five minutes later, I had mixed cake mix with decadent chocolate pudding and an obscene amount of chocolate chips to create my mom’s recipe for the best chocolate cupcakes in the world. After they were dusted with powdered sugar, I put them on a platter and I checked my reflection in the mirror. I smiled while wiping a smudge of chocolate off my chin. I might be forty, but I believed I still had it…well…sorta had it.
The warm cupcakes I was holding reminded me of the night of the junior prom. My mom had agreed to stimulate the oily glands of teenagers by having me bring the same cupcakes to the dance. That was the first night that I had any actual contact with Beatrice Munson. Until then, she had just been a beautiful face in a crowd, one I wished I belonged to. However, that night I came face-to-face with my nemesis in the girl’s bathroom.
My date was Billy Jones. As unexciting as his name implied, Billy and I were lab buddies who decided that rather than be the social outcasts that stayed home on the evening of the junior prom, we would go together. After one dance where Billy tried unsuccessfully to feel me up, I had retreated to the bathroom where I tried in vain to stop the giant tears escaping my eyes hoping they wouldn’t cause my blue mascara to run. It was then that I heard the bathroom door open and the distinct sound of Bare Trap wooden heels tapping across the floor. I wiped my eyes, swallowed my last sob, and decided to make my getaway. When I emerged from the stall, Beatrice Munson was staring back at me in the mirror.
“Hello.” she said with her perfect smile.
“Hi.” I tried to hide the sadness in my voice but Beatrice picked it up.
“Are you alright?” she seemed concerned and her gaze never wavered from my face.
I lied. “Yes, just that time of the month.”
“Oh, I understand. You’re Marissa right? You’re with Billy Jones, right?”
“Yes, he’s my lab partner.” And my unexciting date, I thought.
“Are you guys going out?”
“No, no.” I waved my hands back and forth to emphasize this. "No, we’re just friends. You’re here with Jeffery Bennett, right?” Knowing full well that she was and wishing instead that it was me.
“Yeah, Jeffery’s sweet.” Beatrice said this with a strange expression on her face.
I expected radiance from being in love with the most gorgeous and most popular boy in school, but that isn’t what I saw on her face. Instead she looked, well, as if she was hiding something. The smile she gave was real, but her eyes seemed unconvinced of the truth. There wasn’t joy as much as acceptance.
“He’s more than sweet.” I found the words gushing from my mouth before I could censure it.
Beatrice looked at me with open surprise and interestingly enough, concern. “Do you like Jeffery?”
“Um…no…I mean…well, he’s totally cute.”
“Yes, he is.” Again, Beatrice had a very strange look on her face. I would’ve thought she would be smiling and enjoying typical high school feelings, but she seemed to display deeper emotions than I, a typical high school girl, could decipher.
“I guess I better get back or Billy will wonder what happened to me.” I made my way to the door, checked my feet to make sure there was no toilet paper attached, and left.
The whole encounter had me feeling that something was up in the perfect world of Beatrice and Jeffery. That created intrigue I couldn’t ignore. I needed to find out what was at the bottom of that funny expression on Beatrice Munson’s beautiful, clear skin. Why did she seem so far away when she looked in the mirror? I wanted to understand the enigma that was the most popular girl in school.
Instead, I walked out to my date that was on his fourth cupcake of the night given the wrappers on the table in front of him. Billy’s prepubescent face was riddled with zits and I didn’t think my mom’s super chocolately cupcakes were going to help. I made my way over to him as he dropped the cupcake in his hand on the table and grabbed my hand to lead me out on the dance floor. I guess he figured a real live cupcake was better than a baked one any day.
Now standing on Beatrice’s porch, with cupcakes still warm on the platter, I realized that I’d yet to ring the doorbell. I felt the odd sensation in my stomach that I usually experience whenever someone mentions they have a friend they want to set me up with. It’s a subtle mixture of fear, dread, and wanting to run. Why was I nervous to ring Beatrice Munson’s doorbell twenty something years after high school? I was not the gangly, insecure teenager with braces on her teeth and tissue stuffed in her bra anymore, was I?
I pushed the bell listening for footsteps making their way to the door, but all I heard was a faint muffled voice. I rang the bell again. The voice got louder and less muffled. I listened validating the voice had said, “Come in.” I reached for the door handle and opened the door. The walls of the house that had previously belonged to the Sherlock family were painted a ferocious green color. It always had been a bewildering feeling whenever I entered their home, as if you were stepping into the cave of a leprechaun rather than into the home of a suburban family of four.
“Hello.” I called out. I heard the voice again but this time a shade louder, “In here.”
I made my way to the kitchen. I would soon be face to face with the girl who had dashed all my dreams in high school. I wondered if she would still be as pert and cute as she had been in our teens. I secretly wished that she had lost all her hair and grown a third eye as that would have made it much easier to be nice to her.
I was unprepared for what awaited me in the kitchen. As I turned the corner, I was taken aback. The room was red. Shocking, bright, unimaginable, red! And standing with her head halfway into a cupboard, was Beatrice Munson. This was not the Beatrice Munson that I had been envisioning. This Beatrice Munson had blonde hair sticking out all over her head where it wasn’t secured by a bright pink scarf. This Beatrice Munson had on a muu muu. Yes, a straight-from-Hawaii-neon-floral muu muu. The colors that covered Beatrice’s body were perplexing as they all competed for attention. The vibrancy and uniqueness made me unsure where to look. Yet even with all the hues and tones going on, only one focal point was for sure, and that was the beauty of Beatrice’s face.
Beatrice Munson had changed. Boy, had she changed. As she straightened up and looked at me, I realized right then and there that the dramatic change in Beatrice had been completely for the better.