Interview with Wendy Wax, Author of Ocean Beach

Wendy Wax is one of my new favorite authors, and I loved her book, Ten Beach Road, so much that I recommended it for the Mother’s Day issue of Women’s World Magazine.

In Ocean Beach, readers will be reunited with the heroines of Ten Beach Road — Madeline, Avery, and Nicole — as they come to South Beach in Miami to renovate yet another historic house for the television show Do-Over.  While the women have no qualms about working together again and having it televised, they are less interested in having their personal lives shown to the world on television.

Today, I’ve got an interview with Wendy Wax.  I hope you give her a warm welcome.

The characters from Ten Beach Road return in Ocean Beach. When did you know you were not done with these characters and their story and how soon did you begin writing it?

When I finished writing and revising Ten Beach Road I said goodbye to the lovely ladies of Bella Flora thinking that I had given them enough closure to send them off to live the rest of their lives and either find their happy endings or not in the imagination of my readers. But doing a series was something I had always thought about and for some reason as the launch of Ten Beach Road approached and as I talked to bloggers, bookstore owners, friends and fans about the book, ideas for a sequel began to take shape. This was new territory for me and it was very exciting. Over the years as I visited with book clubs and readers to talk about my books I was often asked if there would be more on some of those characters or stories and while I so appreciated the connection readers were making with my characters, for me they were complete and I had no desire to go back. But Maddie, Nicole, and Avery were different – and the idea of tackling another renovation with them for another sweat-soaked summer, seeing where there lives were headed and giving them new challenges was just too hard to resist. Shortly after the tour for Ten Beach Road ended, the writing of Ocean Beach began and now as Ocean Beach is about to hit shelves, I already find myself thinking about new renovation projects and new sunset toasts for my gals, so be sure to stay tuned!

Ten Beach Road was a hit with a number of women and made my recommendation list for Women’s World Magazine in May. How many readers have said they share their books with their mothers, sisters, and friends? And have any readers said they’ve shared your books with the men in their lives?

When I discover a new author or come across a book that I love, it’s automatic for me to share that information with the women in my life, so I love hearing from my readers that they “introduced” me and my work to their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. Especially since I write about the bonds between women and I feel those relationships are so important in life. Probably the most fun is when readers say “I told my mom/sister/friend all about your books but I made her get her own copy because I don’t want to let mine go!” What author doesn’t love to hear that?

I do hear from some readers that they’ve tried to get their husbands to read my books, because they’d like them to a) understand what women are thinking, b) understand why we need our women friends, c) act (and look) like Joe Giraldi from Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach or d) all of the above.

When writing your novels, do you start with an event in the news or a character? Please explain.

For me every book is different. In one case it may be an idea for plot that gets me started, in another case it might be a character that begins to take shape first or a news story that gets me thinking. In Ocean Beach it was a combination of things… our country’s obsession with misbehaving and self-obsessed celebrities was something that I touched on in Ten Beach Road and wanted to explore further. Then the idea of contrasting that with an “old school” celebrity who was a true gentleman and class act from the Vaudeville days began to take shape. Also, because Ten Beach Road was very current event based (the women are strangers who come together when they lose everything in a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme), I wanted Ocean Beach to be driven much more by their personal struggles.

Book bloggers have become very influential in the publishing world. Have you enjoyed your interactions with them on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook? And what advice would you give to other authors?

It’s a very different world now than it was when I first started writing. I love that the Internet has made connecting with fans so direct and so easy. In many ways, book bloggers are like independent booksellers in that they make a personal connection with readers, and love to share and recommend books and authors that they discover. Interacting with people like that, who are passionate about books and about reading, is something I will never get tired of, no matter what the medium.

Please recommend a favorite poet or poem and why.

I wish I had more time to read and enjoy poetry than I do. In fact with two teenage sons, a husband and some tight deadlines from my publisher, I wish I had more time to read in general! That said, I love how some of the modern poets like Lee Rossi (Wheelchair Samurai) and Laura Kasischke (Space, In Chains) incorporate modern imagery from our everyday lives into such an old art form. I have to also admit that I’ve always loved the poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou mostly because I think it would be lovely to feel that way about one’s self every day.

Thanks, Wendy, for answering my questions.

Author Wendy Wax

About the Author:

Award-winning author Wendy Wax has written eight novels, including Ocean Beach, Ten Beach Road, Magnolia Wednesdays, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist The Accidental Bestseller, Leave It to Cleavage, Single in Suburbia and 7 Days and 7 Nights, which was honored with the Virginia Romance Writers Holt Medallion Award. Her work has sold to publishers in ten countries and to the Rhapsody Book Club, and her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.

A St. Pete Beach, Florida native, Wendy has lived in Atlanta for fifteen years. A voracious reader, her enjoyment of language and storytelling led her to study journalism at the University of Georgia. She also studied in Italy through Florida State University, is a graduate of the University of South Florida, and worked at WEDU-TV and WDAE-Radio in Tampa.

Some Winners and Graham Parke Announcement

Winner Melissa of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Winners Ti of Book Chatter and Anita Yancey

Winner Anna of Diary of an Eccentric












And now an announcement from Graham Parke:

“I’m very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.” Graham Parke, Unspent Time

I’d originally planned to have a monkey draw two random numbers out of a hat (then use the inverse hexadecimal value – because you cannot trust monkeys, not at the prices I’m willing to pay) but apparently there are laws against monkey labor. There are permits involved. It’s a whole thing. So instead I asked a friend to think of two random numbers while dressed in a monkey suit, without telling him what the numbers were for. This seemed sufficiently random to me, although it later occurred to me how worrying it was that my friend would actually do this without ever asking why. There might be a thinly veiled cry for help in there somewhere…

Kindle Fire Winner:Cecilia HuddlestonKindle Touch Winner:
Kathy Habel 



A big thank you to all the bloggers and readers who supported the Unspent Time launch event (especially those who bought multiple versions of the weird little novels that wrecked a thousand reasonably useful minds.)

Anyway, here’s the results, thank you all for joining in, winners will be contacted and forced to accept prizes, let me know if you ever come across bits in the novels you like, stay healthy and sane,

Graham Parke

“We played for about half an hour before I realized we were actually playing two different games. What I’d thought of as ludo was actually a game called gin rummy, and what Warren was playing seemed to be a mixture of craps and table tennis. Once we started playing by one consistent set of rules, though, the fun was really over.” Graham Parke, No Hope for Gomez!

New in Mass-Market Paperback, Wendy Wax’s Ten Beach Road

Wendy Wax‘s Ten Beach Road (my review) is out in mass-market paperback, so for those of you who have missed out on reading this book and have a book-buying budget, now is the time to grab a copy.

I absolutely adored this book and its characters, strong women –Madeline, Nicole, and Avery — who face a financial crisis and rub one another the wrong way but manage to pull it together to restore their only remaining, shared asset, a house.  I loved this book so much for its summer feel, humor, and strong characters that I just had to share it with my mother, who normally reads action thrillers.  She loved it.

I even loved this book so much that it was one of my picks when asked by Women’s World Magazine which summer, feel good books I’d recommend for mother’s day.  (My recommendation made it into their May 14th issue on page 45, if you’re curious).

Here’s an excerpt from Ten Beach Road:

An eternity later, they hobbled out to the backyard just as the sky was beginning to pinken. Bedraggled, they dropped into the beach chairs with a scrape of aluminum against concrete.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this dirty in my entire life.” Madeline plopped a family-sized container of hummus and triangles of pita bread on the upside down packing box that their Sam’s purchases had been carried in.

“Me, neither.” Avery dropped a bag of Cheez Doodles beside it and swiped the back of her forearm across her forehead, managing to add another streak of dirt to her face.

Nicole set an unopened bottle of Chardonnay on the pool deck next to her bare feet and handed a plastic cup to each of them. “If there was an inch of water in this pool, I’d be in it.” Nicole slumped in her chair. “I think we should make it a top priority.”

“We barely have a working bathroom,” Avery pointed out. “It took me forever to clean the shower and tub up in the hall. There’s pretty much no water pressure. I’d rather have a shower than a swim in a pool.”

“I want both,” Nicole said, lifting the cup to her lips. “It’s not an either/or sort of thing.”

“Well, it is here.” Avery took a long sip of wine as the sun slipped farther toward the Gulf. “Everything’s not going to get done at once, but I will talk to Chase about the schedule and how things should be prioritized.”

Madeline looked ruefully down at herself. Together they could have posed for the illustration of “something the cat dragged in” – even Nicole in her high-end running clothes and her hair pulled back in a glittery clasp. This was only day one; she could hardly imagine what they’d look like after the long, hot summer that lay ahead.

Her arms were so tired that it took real effort to lift even the small plastic cup, but she nonetheless touched it to the others. “Cheers!” she said, and they nodded and repeated the toast. “Will you be able to run your business from here?” she asked Nicole as they contemplated the sinking sun.

Nicole’s cup stopped midway to her lips. In the pass, a boat planed off and gathered speed as it entered the Gulf. “Sure,” she finally said. “Have laptop and cell phone, will match make.” She turned her gaze from the boat that was now disappearing from view to focus on Madeline. “How about you?” Nicole asked. “Can you really leave home for the whole summer?”

Madeline finished the last drops of wine and set her glass on the makeshift cocktail table. “You make it sound like going to camp,” she said in what could only be described as a wistful tone. “I was hoping my husband, Steve, would come down and help for a while.”

“Oh, is he retired?” Avery asked.

Madeline felt her cheeks flush. Nicole raised an eyebrow and poured them all another glassful.

“Not exactly,” Madeline admitted. “He was a financial planner who made the mistake of putting all his clients’ money in Malcolm Dyer’s fund. Along with his family’s.”

Her teeth worried at her bottom lip. She hadn’t meant to say so much. Or sound quite so pathetic.

“He stole my father’s entire estate,” Avery said. “Everything he’d built over a lifetime of hard work went into that thief’s pocket.” She grimaced and shoved her sunglasses back up on top of her head. “I still can’t believe it. Anything short of being drawn and quartered would be far too good for him.”

Madeline saw Nicole shiver slightly. “Are you cold?” The sun had not yet set, but its warmth had diminished.

“No.” Nicole turned her attention to the boat traffic in the pass. A Jet Ski swooped close to the seawall, its plume of seawater peacocking behind it. The rider was big shouldered and solid with jet black hair and heavily muscled arms. Nicole watched idly at first, presumably because he was male and attractive, but straightened in surprise as the rider locked gazes and offered a mock salute before revving his engine and zooming away.

“Do you know that guy?” Madeline asked Nicole, surprised. “He waved at you.”

“No,” Nicole said. “I don’t think he was actually waving at me. He …”

“Yes, he was,” Madeline insisted. “He acted like he knew you.”

“That guy was definitely hunky,” Avery said. “And he was definitely eyeing Nicole.”

“He must have thought I was someone else,” Nicole took a sliver of pita and chewed it intently before changing the topic. “So, how many kids do you have?” she asked Madeline.

“Two,” Madeline said, unsure how much information to share. “My son’s struggling a bit at school; he’s in his freshman year at Vanderbilt,” she said. “And my daughter, well, right before I left she lost her job-she’s a filmmaker- and she came home unexpectedly to live.” She cleared her throat as if that might somehow stop this bad news dump. “That was right after my mother-in-law moved in.”

“Good Lord,” Nicole said. She lifted the bottle, eyed the little that was left, and poured the remaining drops into Madeline’s glass. “No wonder you want to go away to camp.” She smiled with what looked like real sympathy. “Drink up. Girl; I’d run away from home, too, if I had to deal with all that.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, sipping their wine, as the sun grew larger and brighter. A warm breeze blew gently off the Gulf, stirring the palms and riffling their hair.

“Maybe you should get your daughter to come down and shoot some ‘before’ video for us,” Avery suggested. “That’s actually what led to Hammer and Nail.” She furrowed her brow. “I had no idea what was coming down the pike when I shot that first ten minutes.”

Madeline considered the small blonde. “My mother-in-law seemed to think it was your husband’s show, that he got you on it.”

“A lot of people came to believe that,” Avery said, her tone wry. “Including my ex-husband. But the idea was mine. I’m the one who sold it, and us, to the network.”

They fell silent as the sun burned with a new intensity, shimmering almost white, then turning golden red that tinged the Gulf as it sank smoothly beneath it.

“God, that was beautiful,” Madeline breathed as they all continued to stare out over the Gulf, unable to tear their gazes from the sky and the last painted remnants of daylight. “It makes me feel like anything is possible.”

No one responded, and she supposed she should be grateful that no one trampled on her flight of fancy. The show was over, but Madeline could still feel its power. It moved her in a way her fear and even her resolution and Little Red Henness had not. She raised her now-empty glass to Avery and Nicole. “I propose that we all make a sunset toast. That we each name one good thing that happened today.”

“Good grief,” Nicole said. “Look around you.” She motioned with her empty plastic glass at the neglected house that hunkered behind them, the cracked and empty pool, the detached garage with its broken windows and listing door. “Is your middle name Pollyanna?”

Madeline flushed at the comment, but she didn’t retract her suggestion. “I’m not saying we should pretend everything’s perfect,” she said. “I’m just saying that no matter how bad it is it would be better to dwell on the even slightly positive than the overwhelming negative.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Avery asked. They all still held their empty glasses aloft. “How good a thing does it have to be?”

“That’s up to you.” Madeline said. “I’m not interested in judging; there will be no ‘good enough’ police.”

“Well, that’s a good thing,” Nicole snorted.

“All right, hold on a sec,” Madeline said. She went into the kitchen and retrieved a second bottle of wine from the fridge, grateful that John Franklin had had the power turned on. As she refilled their glasses, she searched for a positive. Nicole was right, it wasn’t an easy task.

“Okay.” She raised her now-full glass and waited for the others to do the same. “I think it’s good that three complete strangers were able to reach an agreement and commit to a course of action.”

They touched glasses and took a sip. Madeline nodded at Avery. “Your turn.”

“Hmmmm, let me think.” She looked out over the seawall at the gathering darkness as the three of them sat in a spill of light from the loggia. A few moments later she raised her glass. “I think it’s good that this house is not going to be torn down. It deserves a facelift and a new life.”

They clinked and drank and turned their gazes to Nicole. Madeline could hardly wait to hear what she would say.

Nicole looked back at the house, then at them. A small smile played around her lips, and Madeline wondered if she was going to tell them to stuff the happy crap or simply refuse to participate. But she raised her glass in their directions and with only a small sigh of resignation said, “It’s a good thing no one saw me in that minivan. I can’t imagine how I’d ever live it down.”

The mass-market paperback release of Ten Beach Road is in advance of the June 26 release of the sequel, Ocean Beach, in which the three lead women — Madeline, Nicole, and Avery — from the previous book are back.  I just knew Wendy Wax was not finished with these characters!

About Ocean Beach:

Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan – until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and the project, together. With a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they’ll weather life’s storms…

Yes, you’ll want both books.  Don’t forget to follow Wendy on Twitter and Facebook.

To enter to win 1 copy of Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax you must be a U.S. or Canadian resident.  Leave a comment below by June 1, 2012, at 11:59PM EST to be entered.

If you’ve already read Ten Beach Road, leave a comment telling me why you want to read Ocean Beach to be entered by June 1, 2012 at 11:59PM EST.

Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax

Wendy Wax has an excellent beach read with substance in Ten Beach Road for those of you looking for an end of summer winner.  Ripped from the headlines, these three women find that their only remaining asset is a rundown beach house (Bella Flora) in Florida after Malcolm Dyer — aka Bernie Madoff — stole their life savings.  Madeline’s life has been flipped upside down when she realizes her investment advising husband not only lost his clients’ money in a giant Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Dyer, but also that of his family.  Meanwhile, Avery has discovered that her father’s estate was similarly lost just as her stint as a co-host of Hammer and Nail on HGTV as her ex-husband edges her out with his elbow.  Nicole’s situation is a bit different because she had a personal connection to Dyer and her trust was more born of that loyalty than a financial desire, which makes her financial crash all the more crushing.

“‘Yes, it’s a fine old home,’ the Realtor said as if their surprise had been of joy.  ‘And as you’ll see a large portion of it has been renovated.  It just needs a little tender loving care.’

‘More like hospitalization,’ Nicole said.  ‘Or a team of paramedics.'” (page 56)

Add to the mix, a former childhood male friend, Chase, who had the perfect family life that Avery wanted and an FBI agent, Giraldi, stalking Nicole and looking for Dyer, and you’ve got a bit of mystery and sexual tension.  Wax has a down-to-earth sense of humor that livens up the playful interactions of three strangers, who soon become friends offering advice and support as they deal with family drama.  Her characters are varied and out to prove themselves to one another, their families, and everyone else, demonstrating their strengths and hiding their weaknesses as best they can.  Avery is the degreed architect portrayed on television as an airhead; Nicole is the bombshell who makes her living pairing up the rich and famous; and Madeline is the trunk of her family tree, the one that holds it all together just as the hurricane is set to rip everything apart.

“The army had spread out to attack different sections of the garden.  John Franklin sat on a camp chair that had been placed near the fountain, a smile on his face as he watched his wife command her battalion.

‘Mrs. Franklin wanted to get started before it got too hot,’ Avery said.  ‘I don’t think a single one of them is under seventy-five.  They’ll fill in with some new plantings after the house has been pressure washed and painted.’

Nicole moved down the hall to peer out the rear windows above the loggia; that was the one advantage in being last in line — she didn’t need to hold on to her spot.  Only her bladder.  ‘Good God, that woman is climbing up that tree.  I think she’s got a . . . ‘

The whir of an electric saw drifted p to them followed by the crash of a limb landing on concrete.”  (page 237)

What makes this novel more than women’s fiction is the mystery of where Malcolm Dyer is and how tragedy can either pull families apart or bring them together.  Readers searching for a summer read to close out their holiday season should seriously consider Wendy Wax’s Ten Beach Road for its tropical locale — Florida — its hot men — Chase and Giraldi — and the triumph of its female leads as they find their inner strength and pursue their dreams of redemption.

This is my 52nd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #134 and Library Loot #5

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto from Shelf Awareness.

2.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for review in the fall.

3.  Whiplash by Catherine Coulter, which my husband found in our Sam’s Club cart; I’ll probably give this one to my mom since it’s more her cup of tea.

4. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison from Shelf Awareness.

These are from the library sale, only one for me though:

5. Dubliners by James Joyce

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

7. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

8. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

11. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

12. Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon

13.  If I Stay Gayle Forman

14.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What did you receive this week?