By Sheila Roberts
Moira Wellman has always loved makeovers—helping women find their
most beautiful selves. Funny how it’s taken her five years with her
abusive boyfriend, Lang, to realize she needs a life makeover. When
Moira finally gets the courage to leave Lang, the beachside town of
Moonlight Harbor is the perfect place to start over.
Soon Moira is right at home, working as a stylist at Waves Salon,
making new friends, saving her clients from beauty blunders and helping
the women of Moonlight Harbor find new confidence as well as new looks.
When she meets a handsome police officer, she’s more than willing to
give him a free haircut. Maybe even her heart. But is she really ready
for romance after Lang? And what if her new friend is in hot pursuit of
that same cop? This is worse than a bad perm. Life surely can’t get any
more difficult. Or can it?
With all the heart and humor readers have come to expect from a Sheila Roberts novel, Beachside Beginnings is the story of one woman finding the courage to live her best life. And where better to live it than at the beach?
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What initially got you interested in writing?
First of all, let me say thanks for having me. It’s always fun to talk books and writing.
Speaking of, I’ve been writing stories since the third grade. I guess that desire has always been there.
What genres do you write in?
I write women’s fiction – with a little romance thrown in and some humor.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I think you often write what you enjoy. I’ve always loved reading books for women and about women. (Starting with Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables.) That’s my world and I like writing about it.
How did you break into the field?
I’ve been around since dust, have crashed my career twice. Had to reinvent myself and start over. (But starting over isn’t always bad thing.) I fell into publishing while trying to make it as a songwriter. Came up with a book idea and, just for fun, wrote it. A friend of mine was already published and she helped me find an agent. I sent the book to the agent and it turned out she was happy to take me on. Turned out she already had a publisher in mind. Pretty easy beginning. But in this business you pay your dues somewhere along the line. I did all my dues paying during the middle of my career. J
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I hope readers will come away with a smile and feeling encouraged. Life has its problems, but most of them can be overcome and all of them can be dealt with. I’m a big believer in happy endings.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Hearing that my readers have enjoyed a book or been encouraged by it.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Getting the word out. With so many people writing so many good books the key word these days is discoverability. Like all writers, I want people to discover my books, sit down, spend a little time with me and let me tell them a story. Not so easy to do these days. Maybe that’s why I appreciate blogs and bloggers. You all do a wonderful service to writers.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Really work on learning your craft before you look for an agent or publisher or self-publish a book. Put your best foot forward so readers will want to let you in the door.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I love humor, so I gravitate toward books that make me laugh. But I also love legal thrillers (I’m a John Grisham junkie!) and action novels. (Currently going through all Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.) One thing I don’t enjoy are books with depressing endings. I don’t want to struggle through an entire story with my hero only to have him die in the end.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
Hmm. Maybe the songwriting. I still dabble with that, and my songwriting buddy and I wrote a song for one of my novels several years ago. If you want a chuckle, go to Youtube and search for Merry Christmas Mama by Sheila Roberts. You’ll see me in there getting hauled off by Santa.
Also, I beat the big C. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2013. I’m very thankful to still be here. My new hair came in white and sometimes I really miss my brown hair. But then I remind myself to be grateful I have any hair. Nothing like being bald for a while to make you appreciate something you’d been taking for granted all your life.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
I hope readers will visit my website: www.sheilasplace.com – lots of fun stuff there, from book excerpts to recipes and contests. My favorite on line hangout is Facebook. Please look for Fun With Sheila and come hang with me. Same with Instagram, which I also love.
Harry, hunkered miserably in his cat carrier, let out a pitiful mewl. There had been a lot of twists and turns in the road the last part of their journey and even though the highway had eventually straightened back out he still hadn’t forgiven her. She didn’t blame him. She felt awful over having added to his misery. The poor little guy had yakked up and she’d had to pull over to clean the mess and reassure him.
But who was going to reassure her? This wasn’t her scene. She was a city girl, always had been. She’d grown up in apartments and she liked being able to go to clubs and dance, to go downtown or run out to the mall and spend some of her tip money on clothes. Lang criticized a lot of what she spent her money on (not that she had much to spend once she kicked in for her share of the rent and bought groceries), but he never complained when she came home with something from Victoria’s Secret.
There was sure no Victoria’s Secret here.
And so what if there wasn’t? She didn’t have anybody to look hot for any more. She sure didn’t want the somebody she’d had.
Lang had texted her six times before she’d finally shut off her phone. At first the texts had been contrite – Baby, you know I’m sorry, followed by, Why aren’t you answering? Then he got a little more anxious. Where are you? Then he got pissed. Damn, M, where the hell are you? The last two texts had been so full of cursing and F bombs and threats of what he was going to do if she didn’t quit ignoring him that she finally took Michael’s advice and traded in her phone for a new one in a T-Mobile store in Olympia, going with the cheapest phone and plan she could find.
There was no turning back now. Even if they made up, even if he said he was sorry he’d been mean to Harry, there would come another time when his temper would flare. Maybe she could have risked getting her jaw broken but she wasn’t about to risk any more of poor Harry’s ribs.
A bruised rib the vet she’d found in town had said. He’d given Harry something right there and provided her with pain killer meds for him.
If only there was something she could take to make herself feel better. She sure could have used some chocolate right then. What a mess her life was.
“It’s not how you start,” her high school English teacher, Mrs. Dickens, had once told her, “It’s how you finish. Remember that, Moira.”
Yes, she needed to remember that. She was going to finish well.
Here at the end of the world.
Okay, it wasn’t so bad. “Look at those cute little shops,” she said to Harry. Hard for Harry to do any looking from his cat carrier, so she went on to describe them. “They’re all different colors. Green, not dark green like Christmas but green, like an Easter egg, and orange like sherbet, and yellow like a sunny day. Oh, wow, and a go-cart track. I always wanted to drive one of those things. And there’s an ice cream place. It’s so cute. Pink, like a balloon at a baby shower. No, actually, darker than that. Like a sunset maybe. It’s got a big, old cement ice cream cone in front of it.”
Ice cream, sherbet. She parked in front of the Good Times Ice Cream Parlor. She still had a little cash left and she was hungry. Not simply for food but for hope. If a woman couldn’t find hope in a cute place like this where could she find it?
The lunch hour had passed and there weren’t many customers inside– only two old women seated at a tiny, wrought iron table painted white, enjoying milkshakes. The woman behind the counter looked almost old enough to be Moira’s mother.
The old ladies were staring at her like she had three boobs. Okay, so she had a nose ring and a tattoo of a butterfly flitting up her neck. Hadn’t they seen anyone with a nose ring or tat? Maybe it was her hair that had them gawking. (Although the strange lollipop red of the one woman’s hair was just as stare worthy, and not in a good way.)
Moira’s hair, on the other hand, was a work of art. A color that Michael had created, it was a gorgeous mix of pastels, silver and gold that he’d dubbed holographic opal because of the way it shimmered. Lang had thought it was hot.
What Lang thought didn’t matter anymore.
The woman behind the counter smiled at Moira and said, “Welcome. What would you like?”
A new life. “What’s your specialty?” She could have asked, “What’s good?” but anybody could say that. She liked the word specialty. It made her think of fancy French restaurants and TV celebrity chefs.
“How about some Deer Poop?”
Moira blinked. “Deer Poop?”
“In honor of all the deer we have around here – chocolate ice cream loaded with chocolate covered raisins.”
“Deer?” Just wandering around? The only deer she’d ever seen had been on TV or in pictures.
“Oh, yes. They’re everywhere.”
Wow. Now, that was cool. “Sure,” Moira said.
“Sugar or waffle cone?”
“Waffle.” Live it up, she thought.
“One scoop or two.”
“One,” Moira said, deciding to limit the living it up. Who knew if things would work out here? Who knew how long that paycheck Michael was sending would last? With what she had in her bank account even one scoop was a splurge.
“You’re new to town.” the woman observed.
“I am.” Moira glanced over her shoulder to find the two older women still checking her out. The freak show had arrived.
“I just got here,” she said. “I’m hoping to find a job. Your town looks adorable.” For the end of the world. Where were the people her age? Were there any?
Moira dug out a bill, but the woman waved it away. “On the house.”
“Really?” Wow. The woman handed over the cone and Moira took a bite. “This is …” Anyone could say good. “Tasty.”
The woman smiled. “All our ice cream is. What do you do?”
“I’m a hair stylist. My old boss sent me down here to meet a Pearl Edwards.” Moira was suddenly aware of the two older women whispering behind her. She could almost feel their stares.
“Pearl, she’s the best. She owns Waves,” said the woman. “Everybody in town goes there. Well, everybody my age and older.”
Old ladies and tight perms. This wasn’t the end of the world. This was hair stylist hell.
You’re here now. May as well check it out.
Now one of the women behind her spoke. “I have an appointment there. You can follow me if you like.”
Moira could have found her own way there, but she thanked the woman and agreed to follow her. People at the end of the world were nice to you, even if they did stare.
“I’ll see you later, Alma,” the good Samaritan said to her friend, and pushed away from the table. Standing up she wasn’t much taller than she’d been sitting down. Moira was five feet five but she stood a good six inches above this woman. There wasn’t much to her, either. She looked like she needed to go on a diet of daily milkshakes. Her sweatshirt was pink and it clashed with her hair and lipstick. I Got Moonstruck at Moonlight Harbor, it informed Moira.
“I’m Edie Patterson,” said the old woman. “Everyone calls me Edie and you can, too. I own the Driftwood Inn.”
The Driftwood Inn. Moira had a sudden vision of a cute little place with driftwood at its entrance. “That sounds charming.”
“Oh, it is. It was one of the first motels here in Moonlight Harbor. My great niece Jenna manages it and she’s fixed it all up and brought it back to its former glory. It’s one of the sweetest places in the whole town. Isn’t it, Nora?”
“It sure is,” agreed the woman behind the counter.
“If you need a place to stay while you’re getting settled I’m sure we can give you a room,” Edie said as she led Moira out of the ice cream parlor.
No way could Moira afford to stay at a motel indefinitely. No way could she afford to stay anywhere. She murmured her thanks and tried not to panic.
“Jenna doesn’t like me to drive,” Edie confided. “She’s always worried I’ll get in an accident. But she was busy giving someone a massage – she’s a massage therapist, you know – so I just went ahead and took my car out when she wasn’t looking,” said Edie conspiratorially, pointing to an ancient car that maybe got fifteen miles to the gallon on a good day. “That’s my car. You follow me.”
It wasn’t hard to follow Edie Patterson. A kid on a tricycle could go faster. They crept out onto the street and inched on down the main road.
It gave Moira time to finish her ice cream and check out the place. The buildings looked like they belonged in a movie from the sixties. And what was that? Some kind of store shaped like a giant shark. It looked like you entered through its gaping mouth, complete with long shark teeth. Now, there was something you didn’t see every day.
And wow! Deer. There were two of them, grazing on the grass in the median. There was something you didn’t see in Seattle.
Seattle. Lang. How many times had he tried to call her by now? He had to be really pissed.
Let him be. He didn’t deserve her. And Harry sure didn’t deserve the way Lang had treated him. She was glad she’d left. Glad.
Except she was sad, too. And she ached a little for what she’d had with Lang when they were first together and everything was good. And she half wished she could have that back.
She was a mess.
her books published in a dozen different languages and made into movies
for both the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. She’s happily married and
lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not hanging out with
girlfriends, speaking to women’s groups or going dancing with her
husband she can be found writing about those things near and dear to
women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.
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