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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Anniversary Blog Fest: Karen Stivali


I’m not a typical beachgoer. Too much sunlight tends to make me lightheaded and cranky. I don’t go to the beach in pursuit of a perfect tan. In fact I’m usually the palest person on the sand. It wouldn’t take more than a tiny bit of glitter for me to make a convincing Cullen. I don’t swim in the ocean because whenever I try I lose a contact lens and without my contacts I can’t see well enough to determine which way is sandy shore and which way is out to sea. I don’t dream of exotic island locales or plan winter vacations in tropical lands. Yet, in spite of all that, my favorite vacation spot is, in fact, a beach.

For the past fifteen years I’ve spent one week each summer at the same sleepy little beach town on the southern coast of the New Jersey shore. Not the Jersey shore you see on the TV show. This is a tiny town with a cozy old-fashioned main street, miles of boardwalk safe enough to walk any time of day or night, and some of my favorite foods in the world.

Fifty-one weeks a year I look forward to my peaceful seven days of morning bike rides on the boardwalk. I crave the local flavors. The creamy homemade chocolate fudge and the luscious Italian ices. The freshly pulled salt water taffy. The thin-crusted pizza and hand cut cheese fries. The evening strolls watching the moonlight dance on the water. The late night performers who set up on the boardwalk to entertain with Beatles cover songs, yo-yo tricks and juggling displays. Those are my ideas of a beach vacation. I love the soothing sound of the surf rolling in and out. I love the feel of the wooden boards creaking under my feet as I stroll for hours. I’ve lived in five states in my lifetime, traveled to over a dozen countries and I currently reside hundreds of miles from the Jersey shore, but for that one week a year it feels as if I’ve come home.

The fifteen summers have seen me through a major move, a career change, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, the anxiety of being on submission with agents and publishers and finally, this summer, the anticipation of my first full-length novel being released. Two summers ago I finished writing my novel, the night before we drove to the beach. I spent that evening printing out all four hundred pages while I packed so I could hold it in my hands for the first time. I read it sitting under a beach umbrella with my toes dug into the soft white sand.

Last summer I headed to the shore buzzing from the high that not only had I been offered a contract to publish that novel, but the sequel had just been contracted as well. This summer I savored fudge and freshly fried donuts trying to quell my nerves about the fact that in a few short weeks my story will actually be available for readers. Sooner than I can believe I’ll be able to hold an actual paperback copy in my hands, of a book I wrote. That’s a dream I’ve had ever since I can remember.

I’ve only been back from vacation for three weeks and I’m already looking forward to next summer. Atypical beachgoer that I am, the beach is still my favorite place on earth. My annual summer reprieve. A place where I can remember the past and dream of the future.

Do you have a vacation spot that’s like a touch stone? Someplace you want to return over and over? Or is your ideal vacation all about the adventure? Leave me a comment and share your favorite vacation destination.

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About the Author:
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she’s not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what’s left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic love stories filled with sarcasm and sexy details.

Karen has published three erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave: Marry Me (June 2012), Long-Distance Lovers (co-written with Karen Booth, March 2012) and Always You (Passionate Plume First Place Novella Winner, RWA 2012). Karen’s first full-length novel, Meant To Be, will be published by Turquoise Morning Press on August 26, 2012. Its sequel, Holding On, will be released on November 26, 2012. A prequel to these novels, the short story "All I Need", appears in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (Turquoise Morning Press, August 2012).


Rita Wray said...

I am also a beach person. Walking along the beach is so relaxing and it gives you a good feeling. I love the feel of the warmth of the sun on my arms.

JeanMP said...

Every two years we go to Sarasota, so for me that is the week I can soak up the sun and relax, look forward with great anticipation to that vacation.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Catherine Lee said...

Which Jersey beach do you go to Karen? I'm a former Jersey girl who spent a few summers in Belmar. Now I live near the beach in NC. I'm pale, like you. I go to the beach on fall and winter mornings and walk, often for 2 hours. Sometimes I pick up shells, but mostly I just walk and look and listen. Every time I do it, I'm rejuevenated. My hubby & I go out to breakfast/brunch afterwards. SO, I can't wait until the tourists are gone and we locals have the beach to ourselves again. That's my weekly "staycation"...throw in an occasional weekend trip to Charleston or the Outer Banks and I'm good!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

elaing8 said...

I don't have a favorite spot.I don't get to take many vacations.But I would like to go to Australia one day.

Debby said...

I have been to many beaches and I hate sitting on them. I feel like I am cooking.
debby236 at gmail dot com

KarenStivali said...

@Ingeborg - Yes, nothing as relaxing as a walk on the beach!

@JeanMP - Always wanted to go to Sarasota. Have to try it some day.

@Catherine Lee - We go to Ocean City but I used to go to Belmar with friends when I was in college. Would love to visit the Outer Banks.

@elaing8 - Australia is a dream vacation for me. I've got several friends who live there but it's sooo far away.

@Debby - Yep, I don't like the cooking sensation, that's why I stay under the umbrella or go early morning or after dark.

Thanks for all the comments!

Karen H said...

I love the beaches too but I don't visit like I would want to. Don't know why, but I just never take the time to drive 2-3 hours to get to the Outer Banks. I live inland in NC. But, the time I have spent there have been magical. Love walking in the sand and the sound of the pounding surf.

I think my dream vacation would have to be a long tour of Australia.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Tina B said...

That sounds like a wonderful vacation spot and I can totally understand why you look forward to going every year. I live near a beach, so I kind of have my vacation spot all year. :)
I don't have a specific/favorite spot that I like to return to. I like going on an adventure with the family or friends. I prefer to visit new places whenever possible. :)
Thank you for sharing.
trb0917 at

Tina B said...

Congrats on your debut, Karen!