Saturday, July 1, 2017

Heroes

As part of my book promotion, I was asked to list five authors or books that most influenced me or my writing. It proved to be a nearly impossible exercise, since I could name dozens.

But, when pressed, I finally came up with these:

NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES: When it came to female protagonists, Nancy Drew was surely the original badass. Independent, brilliant, and bold, she was everything my preadolescent self hoped to be. I started collecting the series when I was nine, and I gained a whole new appreciation for it decades later when I learned most early books were ghostwritten by a newspaper reporter named Millie Benson, who lived and continued to write--with not nearly the national fanfare she deserved--in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

THE OUTSIDERS (by S.E. Hinton): I first read The Outsiders when I was ten, and I went on to reread it at least 20 times. It was the single most influential book that inspired me to write. Her voice, her characters, and the story she wove still resonate with me, even as an adult reader. Connecting recently with the author on Twitter, and having her congratulate me on publishing Finding My Badass Self, was a teenage dream come true.

ERMA BOMBECK: Erma was one of the first female newspaper columnists to gain national exposure and respect, with writing that captured everyday family life in both a laughable and often poignant way. As I have come to discover through my involvement in the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, she also continues to inspire humor and human interest writers across the world.

NORA EPHRON: To this day, I believe no one can write books and screenplays portraying the humor, heart, and essence of being a contemporary woman like Nora could. She was the voice of the "everywoman."

CARRIE FISHER: While best known to many as Princess Leia, it was Carrie's writing that most endeared her to me. With honesty, self-deprecation, and razor-sharp wit--and always the perfect turn of phrase--Carrie's writing taught me that even the weirdest or most cringe-worthy topics and situations are fodder for introspection and humor. Damn, do I miss her.

Your turn: Favorite writers or influential books you'd like to share?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway for "Badass Self" Now Underway

The Goodreads Giveaway for my upcoming book, Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares, is happening now! You can enter here:

It takes just a moment to enter for a chance to receive a free copy! As I've become so fond of saying about most opportunities in life (even some not so easy and pleasant as this): Why not?
 
#badassself

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Signing Events Coming Your Way

I'm excited to provide a list of my first book signing events for Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares.

I will be adding these to the event section on my author page: The 52/52 Project-Sherry Stanfa-Stanley. (Have you 'liked' and followed that page yet? If not, please click over and do so!)


MAUMEE, OH
Saturday, Aug. 19
1 – 4 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
The Shops at Fallen Timbers
3100 Main St.

ANN ARBOR, MI
Thursday, Aug. 24
7 - 9 p.m.
Literati Bookstore
124 E. Washington

PORT CLINTON, OH
Saturday, Sept. 2
1 – 4 p.m.
Private Event

WATERVILLE, OH
Saturday, Sept. 23
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Roche de Boeuf Festival

TOLEDO, OH
Saturday, Oct. 7
Time TBD
The University of Toledo Barnes & Noble Bookstore
1430 Secor Road

MILWAUKEE. WI
Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15
TBD

While most of these first events are scheduled for the Toledo area, several others across the U.S. are in the works. Location ideas are welcomed! If any cities seem particularly popular among suggestions, I'll do my best--I'm always looking for an excuse for a road trip!

Stay tuned for future locations and dates. Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What We Are Taught and Never Forget

My sixth-grade bus pass. I had no idea of my life journey ahead.
Social media, particularly Facebook, provides a fabulous opportunity to connect with new readers and friends, as well as a way to reconnect with people from our past.

This one is especially dear to me--a note I received from my sixth-grade teacher, Mary Kasper, who is now my Facebook friend:

"Your writing talent continues to amaze me, Sherry. You have a great sense of humor and your style makes one feel like you're just sitting across the table..."

When she wasn't busy needing to reprimand me for talking during class--which as no great surprise was often--Mrs. Kasper was just as frequently encouraging my writing.

I still have a story I wrote for class, more than forty years ago, on which she wrote: "If you don't do something with all your talent, I'm going to come back and haunt you."

Fortunately, she doesn't need to haunt me. She is still around for me to thank today.

Teachers DO make a difference. I truly believe she was a major factor in setting me on this path in life. I'm so grateful.

Thank you for believing in me, Mrs. Kasper.

Any teachers you'd like to thank? Do it today.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy

I received my first public review this week of Finding My Badass Self, on Goodreads.com!

A book blogger, apparently receiving an advance reader copy through my publicist, wrote this:

"Writing with humor, humility and truth, the author decides to make her midlife anything but mundane with a series of personal challenges from the silly to the terrifying, from the introspective to the hysterical — and finds that life can be so much more when you open yourself up to the unexpected."

And, she rated it FIVE STARS! One of only 15 percent of all the 779 books she has reviewed to receive that rating!

Overjoyed! Thrilled! Ecstatic!

Thank you, Slone, whoever you are!

Shall I mention, again, that the book will be released Aug. 15 but is available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, or any of your favorite indie bookstores? No? You already knew that, right?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Getting Past the Pain

Son #1 with Grandma Glo and Papa Denny
Mother’s Day seems an apropos time to look back on the day, nearly 28 years ago, that I first became a mother.

Like most of us, for me it was a day of elation, as well as tremendous challenge, tedious waiting, and terrifying episodes of pain. Which, upon consideration, basically sums up the entire lifetime experience of motherhood.

Son #1 was way late. (This set the scene for every single morning of the boy’s high school years.) The night before I finally was scheduled to be induced, I went out for a Mexican meal as a last-ditch effort to bring on labor.

I’d been offered loads of unsuccessful inducing advice—such as going for long walks, driving over bumpy train tracks, or having lots of sex. (I had gained forty pounds and was apparently harboring the Goodyear Blimp in my body. Sex? Really?) But an extra spicy burrito and guacamole apparently proved to be the miracle. Even today, guacamole and chips are the answer for almost anything.

Still, this baby was in no hurry. So even after I’d experienced contractions in very short intervals, was admitted to the hospital, and received an epidural (THANK GOD), my labor dragged on for the longest time known in the history of the universe. Or so it seemed.

When a monitor showed my contractions had lessened to some degree, yet my pain had gradually become even more horrific, I questioned whether the epidural was working.

The attending nurse assured me everything was functioning fine. Huh. I’d always had a fairly high pain threshold and found it hard to believe I was suddenly overreacting, but who was I to argue with a professional?

As I silently and sometimes not so silently swore, I told everyone who would listen that I had changed my mind about this birth. Couldn’t we just forget this whole thing?

And while I second-guessed my decision about having a baby or even about ever having sex, a new crisis arose. The fetal monitor indicated potential distress.

We tried a few simple fixes, including having me position myself on all fours on my bed. No easy task, considering the blimp that protruded from my belly.

Finally, my doctor came in again, looking weary and worried. “This baby is definitely in distress,” she said. “We need to do an emergency C-section.”

I was good with this decision. Not only was I ready to relieve myself of this pain, but I was now consumed with a greater concern about my baby’s life. Take him, now!

I was wheeled into the operating room. As they quickly prepped me for surgery, Daddy-to-be appeared even more stricken than I was. Probably because he wasn’t prepared to see several of my organs yanked out and laid upon the table, as we’d been informed was the modus operandi of this procedure.

“It will be fine,” he attempted to soothe me, as the doctor approached with a scalpel.
She reached down, and although I couldn’t see past the surgical drape over my abdomen, I knew she was ready to start cutting.

“Except for a slight tugging sensation, you won’t feel a thing,” the doctor reassured me. “You’re totally numb from the epidural.”

Except, I was not.

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! The pain! I felt it all as soon as she began slicing me open. I screamed.

“Stop! I can feel everything!” I shouted.

Her eyes widened in terror and she immediately stopped. Perhaps just a moment too late.

I had feared for a couple hours that the epidural wasn’t working. I had never in my life wanted to be so wrong. But with one slice across my pelvis, I knew I was right.

My horrified doctor told my husband he’d have to leave. They needed to administer a general anesthetic to quickly knock me out and take the baby.

The last thing I remember was grasping his hand. And next, being semi-awake, still moaning in agony, in a recovery room.

Apparently, not only did the epidural not take, but my pain relief pump, which my husband kept squeezing—over and over to relieve my obvious pain—was also not working.

It was the very worst birthing experience I could ever imagine.

Except, I soon discovered my newborn son was alive. Very beautiful and totally healthy. And I was fully in love with this tiny new human.

As I gazed down, now successfully semi-drugged, at my firstborn child, all was forgiven. And eventually, almost forgotten.

Two years later, I inexplicably made the decision to have a second baby. Oh, that insane tug of maternal love.

So much pain and so much worry. That never ends, of course.

The only difference, years later, is we no longer depend on the presumed magic of an epidural to ease things. Thankfully, we have wine.

And a child that makes it all worthwhile.

Motherhood clearly isn't for the weak or the weak-hearted.

Happy Mother’s Day, to all of us who have endured—and enjoyed—the journey.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Remembering Easter Holidays Past

Easter morning on my grandparents' porch, circa 1965ish.
LONG before I ever envisioned any of the escapades from The 52/52 Project, which are detailed in my upcoming book "Finding My Badass Self," I played the Easter Bunny for two years at Toledo's Southwyck Mall. 
 
Although hundreds of photographs from that seventies gig are probably lying faded and forgotten in boxes of old family photos across Northwest Ohio, I do not possess a single one to share. 
 
Pure gold, buried deep in someone's basement.

What I do have is this much earlier photo of my two sisters and me, resplendent in our straw Easter bonnets and patent leather shoes. My cute, photogenic sisters are to the right. I'm the chubby goof on the left. Some things never, ever change.
 
What's your favorite Easter, Passover, or holiday story? Any fun or embarrassing photos to share? What in the world do you think I am holding here? (I'm almost afraid to know.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Days of Birth

Today would have been my dad's eightieth birthday. Here he is with my mom on one of the happiest days of his life: the birth of his first grandchild (my oldest son).

He died nine months later, a week after he turned fifty-three. After all he'd done for me in his relatively short life, I was happy I had been able to provide him with that final gift.

This afternoon, Ringo the Wonder Retriever and I walked to the cemetery. I blew my dad a kiss and told him we missed him.

As I walked back home in the snow, I could almost hear him beside me, whistling a tune.


Who do you miss?