by Lisa Diane Kastner
GENRE: commercial romance
Lauren has a dead end job as a waitress at the Oaklyn Diner. She becomes ecstatic when the diner is chosen to be the focal point of an upcoming movie, *Jersey Diner,* starring Jonathan Pearce. When filming ends she moves to California to start a new life with him. Lauren quickly discovers that all that she thought was real and true are in question.
Before me the television hummed. The remote felt heavy and big in my hands. With the next channel came my favorite interview show. The host, Lawrence Corran, spoke with Jonathan. I couldn’t believe it. They played a rerun of my favorite episode.
The two men were on a stage with a black backdrop. On a table next to them stood glasses filled with water. Lawrence, a small man with a receding hairline, thick horn-rimmed glasses, a goatee, and a rounded jaw, sat across from Jonathan. Jonathan lounged in his high backed chair. If someone else sat in the chair, it would have been overpowering, but he looked confident, relaxed. Mama used to call him a young Sean Connery. His thin black sweater provided a hint of the muscles underneath it. A grey suit jacket hung from his shoulders. The creases in his black suit pants followed the bend of his knees. I wanted to reach in and touch those creases. He glowed with each move and every word. He crossed his legs and formed a pyramid with his fingers.
“Wasn’t that screen test for the next day?”
Jonathan looked embarrassed by the question. “Yes. They said they could use someone with my looks and then sent me home.”
I moved closer to the screen.
“How long after that test did you get your first part?”
“Now. See students? Don’t get discouraged if they don’t call you back immediately. Even Jonathan Pearce waited to get his first part.” Lawrence flipped to the next note card.
“I was an extra in a military movie called, The Edge of Life.”
My lips moved in time with his.
“I had one line. I said, ‘Sir, yes sir.’” His eyes crinkled with a touch of a smile. I had heard this story a dozen times.
“Again, students. Not only did he have to wait six months but he also had a very small role.”
“After that my next role wasn’t for another year. I took night classes and got a job as a construction worker.”
“That’s how you stayed trim.”
“I wanted to spend my money on classes so I needed a job that would maintain my physique.” Jonathan turned, looked at me and leaned in. “Lauren. Lauren? How are you doing?”
I looked around the living room. I felt self-conscious in my clothes. I tied the knot in my robe tighter and pointed to myself as if another Lauren sat next to me.
“Yes. I wondered if you needed anything?” he said.
I hesitated for a moment. My throat dried up as I tried to respond. “I-I-I’m fine.”
Jonathan rested back in his chair, tension eased from his shoulders. “Good. I’m glad to hear it. I’ll be in town soon. We can get together for coffee.”
Did Jonathan Pearce ask me out on a date? “I’m sorry? I mean. Sure. That. Would. Be. Great.
” I reached my hand out to touch the screen. To see if I could be there with him and test if this was real. My fingertips reached the screen’s edge. The static electrified them, covered them in a fuzzy haze that spread up my wrist and traveled down my arm. It prepared me to become one with the images before me. Ready me to become one with Jonathan.
I prepared to break through the barrier of static, glass, and electricity, when Jonathan said, “Lauren, you better get to bed.”
He nudged my shoulder. “I gotta go now. Don’t forget. Coffee.” He winked. “Lauren. Lauren?”
His voice changed to emulate my father’s tone. Now that’s a gross thought. Someone shook my shoulder a little more. A fog broke free from my mind. It forced me to wake up. The television shone before me, my father clicking off the static filled screen.
“You should head to bed now.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lisa is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery.
She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award.
Lisa presented at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting. And presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel.
Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey The Redness migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy.
The book is on sale for $0.99.
Lisa stopped by the blog today and graciously agreed to share some of her writing tips.
Thanks for joining us, Lisa!
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
Great question. I think it depends on the author’s goals. Some authors really want to go with a big publishing house. Maybe because their favorite authors are from a big house or they equate working with a big house as a status symbol. Whatever the reasoning, they need that. Other authors want the freedom that comes with independent publishing. And still others will go with indie or small presses. Each one has its own pro’s and con’s. Big houses tend to have an easier time placing books yet they rarely spend money on promotional tours and tend to purchase books based on a specific market or demographic. So if you don’t write to that market or demographic then you probably wouldn’t be selected to work with a big house.
Smaller houses tend to have distinct purposes/goals so as long as your writing fits within those purposes/goals then you have a higher likelihood of being selected. Smaller houses used to be at a disadvantage when it came to distribution. That’s not true any more since many PODs have strong distribution channels which include the big retailers like Costco, Target, and the like.
Independent writers are the equivalent of owning their own businesses. They have complete ownership for all aspects of the book – story, editing, selection of cover design, distribution, marketing, and so on. The great part of being an independent writer is you have complete and total ownership over everything. It’s your world. In today’s market, many independent authors have done incredibly well and even surpassed sales for authors out of large houses.
Personally, I’m somewhere between the smaller/indie house and independent writer. I like having that accountability and flexibility.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I read everything but mostly cross genre and/or magical realism. I like walking into a world and experiencing it from a different point of view. I like surprises. I want to read a story that catapults me into another world and by the end of it leaves me with that fabulous feeling like my mind has been expanded and I’ve lost my breath (for a moment).
How do you approach starting a new book?
I often start with an image or an event and allow myself to free write. After I have five or more pages then the story tends to appear. I’ll research the topic before I start writing and along the way. I like to verify information as I go along. I will free write for another 50 pages or so and then I’ll map out the rest of the book. As I continue to write, I’ll adjust the storyline summary to reflect what’s actually written. Once I’ve written a complete first draft then I’ll go back over it for consistency and see where there are opportunities to strengthen the story.
What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
Oh wow. There are so many. For inspiration, Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are phenomenal. For nuts and bolts of writing then, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Volger. I actually have a bookshelf full of books on writing.
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
I love, love, love food. I’m a total foody. I love experimenting by going to different restaurants. I love a good workout. Right now I’m into yoga. Before that I was into running at least three days a week. Before that I was into Zumba. I also adore movies. I just saw Colossal and was blown away. I love hanging out with my husband and wandering the planet together. Our last stop was to San Francisco. I’m hoping we can return to Paris together next year.
Do you have any personal heroes/heroines?
I think everyone has a little bit of a hero/heroine inside them. Yesterday, my hero was my husband because he let me vent after a rather challenging day. Just the sound of his voice puts me at ease. Growing up my dad was my hero because he was fun and cool and still a dad. I’ve had teachers who were my heroes like Mr. Marcucci who nurtured a lonely, introverted student and helped build her self esteem. Or Da Chen who was one of my teachers in my MFA program. He sent me a note saying I had written the perfect story. Before I could call him and tell him to stop messing with me, he messaged me and said he wasn’t kidding. It was perfect and I needed to send it out ASAP. I framed that email. 🙂
Have you had any unusual or noteworthy occupations?
Now this is an interesting question. When I was in college I did a lot of freelancing jobs. I worked the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour in the crew’s kitchen. I worked in the office at the docks for a boat distribution company. I was a dancer and co-hosted a couple of shows for Dance Party USA, a syndicated show on the USA network in the 1980s. I modeled in my later teens. I’ve done radio and voiceover work.
What was your best date ever?
My best date? Any day when I get to hang out with my husband is a best date. I cannot describe how it makes my soul sing for whenever we are together. We recently spent Christmas in San Francisco and every day exploring the town together was amazing. That said, simply hanging out at home and snuggling is pretty phenomenal too.
Tell us something you are really proud of.
Hmm … I dunno. I won a Bubble Yum biggest bubble blowing competition when I was 11. I won a 10 speed bike. That was kinda cool.
Can you confide something you wish you were better at?
Oh yeah, tons of stuff. I wish I was more athletic. I wish I was more patient. I wish I had a super duper high metabolism so I could eat anything I want. I wish I had 1% of Bill Gates total net worth. Oh wait … that’s not what you meant. 😉
I’m with you on all of those goals!
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Lisa Diane Kastner will be awarding a $50, a $25 and a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winners (three winners) via rafflecopter during the tour.