Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.
Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down.
What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?
Analisa took her into the cheery kitchen with its yellow gingham curtains and tablecloth. She let go, finally, to fill two tall glasses on the counter with tea from a crystal pitcher. Marisol glanced around. The appliances were all upscale, all with extras she longed for but couldn’t afford just yet. Everything in Analisa’s kitchen matched. The realization provoked a little sigh of envy.
“So tell me what you’ve been up to down in Florida. Sun and fun, right? It must be true, with that bikini body.” Analisa shared her own envious sigh, and Marisol felt somewhat better.
“Just work. And Mark. That takes all my time.” She sipped the tea, the bite of spice and sweet tang of citrus refreshing her, if not sparking her tongue to chat. Analisa, always the talkative one, hardly let Marisol get a word in, and that worked just fine. Her forte was the written word; even back home, she remained shy and soft-spoken.
What I need is a little Jerrika Jones in these face-to-face conversations.
The thought reminded her of her resolve to reveal herself this weekend as the popular blogger. Analisa was asking her where she worked. Time to try out the truth. The words tripped over her lips, though, when she attempted to speak. “I… Well, you know, bloggers. I mean… Do you use the Internet?” She flushed red. “Stupid question. Of course you use the Internet. Who doesn’t?”
Analisa stared at her blankly. “Mira, I’ll show you.” Marisol pulled her laptop out of her bag and set it on the table. “Do you have wireless?”
Analisa cracked up. “Wait, wait, wait. Little Marisol Herrera, who sewed her own finger on the machine in Mrs. Martin’s home ec’ class? The girl who couldn’t figure out which end of a plug to put in the wall? You’re a computer whiz?”
Marisol rolled her eyes. “Please, querida. Just hook me up, and I’ll show you.” A few minutes later, she pulled up Jerrika’s bold page. Mothering Without a Man splashed in strong white letters across a dark red banner at the top of the screen. In the corner above the sidebar, posed the cartoonish drawing of Jerrika—a tall, thin, sharply-dressed woman with features reflecting Marisol’s own ethnic heritage. A friend of hers created the toon, drawing the image chic and sassy. Definitely all Jerrika Jones. She turned the small computer screen to Analisa.
Her friend’s eyes narrowed as she scanned the page. “Oh, yeah. I’ve heard about her. She was on the radio with Katy Blaine last summer. We were all listening on the floor in the nurses’ lounge. She was funny as heck, that Jerrika. Giving men in general what-for, ragging on deadbeat dads. She…”
Analisa trailed off as Marisol looked her steadily in the eye. “She… Dios mio, Mari. Are you telling me you’re…her?”
A Bite Of… Alana Lorens
1. Do you believe in character autonomy, or are you very strict with your creations?
As I’ve matured as a writer, I’m trusting my instincts and characters more and more. I used to be much more “we must stick to the outline!” The last several books I’ve written, I didn’t even have a plan where I wanted to go with the story. I created the characters and gave them instructions, kind of like the improvs where Drew Carey throws a situation out on Whose Line is It Anyway? Then I followed them along their adventure.
2. Who are your literary heroes? How much do you think their writing has impacted on your own efforts?
I’ve always been a genre reader as well as writer. As a teen I read gothic romance and suspense from Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels and the like. Those books taught me about how to make sure there is an interesting plot in addition to the romance, and also how NOT to make them all develop exactly the same, so your story would be predictable.
Then I found Dean Koontz and Stephen King, who instilled a deep love of exploring the unknown and unbelievable.
Science fiction and fantasy also were instructive, learning about how to catch a reader’s sympathy for an underdog who rises to success, like the characters in Anne McCaffrey’s dragon tales, and the way Tolkien separated his characters so that chapters would alternate among them, drawing out a whole well-rounded story.
I think we can learn from all of them.
3. In the box of chocolates that is life, what flavour will nobody in your house eat?
We’ve had a lot of flavors in our life, when we had three kids on the autism spectrum—some are sensitive to sound, others are unable to control themselves, some learned to speak super early and others not until they were four or five. In the last few years, my last daughter and I have been quite hermit-like, so I’m going to extrapolate that we are avoiding the flavor of people. Ha! Even without COVID, we were already cultivating a quiet, quiet life with little disturbance. And face it, people can be bloody annoying. 😊
Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub and her own website.