Confessions of a Valley Girl

Recently, I took a trip back to Los Angeles to visit my parents and research my work in progress. I got reflective about what the Valley (San Fernando–and yes, it is the inspiration for the phrase “Valley Girl”) used to be like and what it’s like today. I think when I miss “home,” it’s the L.A. of my youth that I wish was still there. I’m sure it’s like this for many people. Funny, how when you’re growing up, you take so much for granted and today you wish you had it all back the way it was.

So on this trip, I took some photos of landmarks that are still there–and near-and-dear to me.

The L.A. River
The L.A. River

For those of you who would think a river would be banked with bushes and trees, the iconic L.A. River flows throughout the city. This used to be Los Angeles’ source for drinking water until the aqueduct. I remember it being a discarding spot for stolen shopping carts and kids on Sting Ray bikes who managed to get down there and ride the slopes.

Our first house in the Valley in Chatsworth. It has a swimming pool.
Our first house in the Valley in Chatsworth.
Our first house in the Valley. Chatsworth. It was
The side of the house sat around the corner.

We moved here in 1964 and my dad put up that retaining wall, built the gate, and put in the grape-stake fence. At the time, the front of the house had a tree in front of the left window (my sister’s bedroom) and I’d climb the tree to sit on the rock roof (no longer there.) We didn’t have central air, just a swamp cooler. Our dog, Curley, was thrown into the pool during the 1971 Sylmar quake. I remember thinking this house was a palace to live in. I walked everywhere. To elementary school and junior high.

The 7/11 on Lassen and Mason Avenue.
The 7/11 on Lassen and Mason Avenue.

When I entered junior high, I cut through the neighborhood and came out at this corner where the 7/11 still sits today. Man, I  bought a lot of candy there. The big sweet-tarts the size of jawbreaker that you had to grind down with your bottom teeth. Pixie sticks, Charms, Lemonheads. I liked the fruit Slurpees the best. Never fond of cola flavored.

The old dance studio is still here, just renamed.
The old dance studio is still here, just renamed.

My mother enrolled my sister and I at Rozanne/Zimmerman’s dance studio. As an uncoordinated child (and adult), taking ballet was torture. The building on the right with the peak used to be Coronet drugs. I have fond memories of walking up there with my grandmother and picking out a needlework project to do with her. Mostly embroidery on pillowcases.

Chatsworth High today.
Chatsworth High today.

There’s fencing around the school now. Back in my day it was an open campus. The buildings are marked with alphabetical letters. J Building was where the smokers stood and puffed between classes. I don’t recall anyone getting busted. Once in a while, you’d catch a whiff of something sweet lingering in the air from the potheads. Speaking of which, connected to CHS is Stoney Point “continuation” school. It was where the trouble-makers went. It’s still there today. We had nicknamed that high school Stoner’s Point. We always ate lunch outside–year round. And there were apple vending machines. No pop on campus that I recall, nor candy machines. The LAUSD made the best coffeecake. If I can find the recipe, I’ll post it in a future blog. We would go to school in the morning and you could buy fresh out of the oven coffeecake. I didn’t get hot lunch very often. That was a treat. My favorite sandwich was raisin bread, butter and American cheese. What was I thinking?! It was at CHS that I really developed an appreciation for writing. My creative writing teacher, Mrs. Farquar taught us how to capture ideas and put them on paper. I still remember her putting on an Allman Brothers recording and telling us, just close your eyes and let inspiration take you. I still have that notebook around here somewhere.

The Burger King is alive and well--just where I left it in 1977.
The Burger King is alive and well–just where I left it in 1977.

My first job. I hated the uniform. I worked the drive through. The fry cook always had a layer of grease coating his acne. Poor guy. I hated cleaning up the shake machine. Back in the day, we had to service the tables and part of the clean up duty was to wash the metal ashtrays on each table.

My first apartment on DeSoto Avenue in Chatsworth, across from the CHS football field.
My first apartment on DeSoto Avenue in Chatsworth, across from the CHS football field.

I lived on the second floor, toward the back. My first apartment–and I shared with a girl named Debbie. I’ve often wondered what happened to her. The apartment complex looks pretty much the same as it did in the ’70s. I moved out from my parents’ house at age nineteen, not knowing how to cook much of anything and calling my mom to ask her how to bake a chicken. Today I’m an excellent cook and I credit my mom’s love for cooking. Now I visit L.A. and I cook meals for her and my dad and put them in their freezer.

So that’s a bit of history about me. Where did you grow up? Do you still live there? If not, do you ever go back and visit? Share your stories!

Starbucks Coffee Card Winner

Lisa W. was the winner of the $20.00 Starbucks giftcard! Check back for a new contest coming soon! And also a very special appearance from Bella Luna. PINK MOON will be available for your ereaders in the next couple of weeks! My cover designer outdid himself on the fabulous cover!

$20 Starbuck’s Gift Card!

To celebrate the e-publication of LUCY GETS HER LIFE BACK, Stef Ann is running a new contest from now until February 28, 2013. A winner will be drawn randomly and they will receive a $20.00 e-gift card to Starbucks! Hot coffee or tea, and a steamy romance, to pass the cold winter days! To enter, simply sign up for our newsletter (you can sign up again if you are already subscribed to be entered in the contest). To have your name put in the drawing twice “LIKE” Stef Ann’s Facebook page. Good luck!

Sign up to our newsletter here:

Click Here to Enter!

What kind of Hero do you crave?

We saw the movie FLIGHT last night. Ohmygoodness! Loved it. Well, anything Denzel is in is fabulous, and I think this might be my favorite Denzel movie of all time. His acting was top-notch and the character he played was complex. I got to thinking about heros in romance novels.
I prefer the guys who start out imperfect, who you’d never want to get involved with because you think there just isn’t any hope for them, but with the love and encouragement of a good woman, they make a turn around.

In FLIGHT, Denzel has his own demons and I won’t give away how he processes them and what he ends up doing at the conclusion. If you could pick any type of hero to read about, do you like an imperfect man who evolves by the end? Or do you like a hero who’s got it going on from page one, and he sweeps the heroine off her feet?

New Contest!

To celebrate the ebook release of GIRLS NIGHT, I’m doing a contest! To enter, click the “Contest” page and fill out the fields to be subscribed to my newsletter. If you’d like to double your chances, I will enter you twice if you visit my Facebook Page and click “Like.”

In honor of the spirit of romance, I’d love to hear your favorite love story on how you met your significant other. Please comment and let us all know how you found true love–just like Vince and Jillene in GIRLS NIGHT!

$50 e-gift to Amazon.com!

To celebrate the e-publication of GIRLS NIGHT, Stef Ann is running a new contest from now until December 15, 2012. A winner will be drawn randomly and they will receive a $50.00 e-gift card to Amazon.com! To enter, simply sign up for our newsletter (you can sign up again if you are already subscribed to be entered in the contest). To have your name put in the drawing twice “LIKE” Stef Ann’s Facebook page. Good luck!

Sign up to our newsletter here:

Click Here to Enter!

Life Update

It’s been a while since I blogged. Life gets in the way and I’ve stayed busy since retiring from writing romances. For twenty-five years, I enjoyed creating heros and heroines who captivated my readers and I thank you all for your support.

The past few years, I’ve learned how to fly an airplane, raise sheep, make homemade pasta, and I’ve enjoyed my gardening in the summer. My husband and I frequently travel and we’ve gone to some amazing places. This year we cruised through the Virgin Islands–visiting five countries. As I’ve transitioned into normal life, as it so happened, about a two years ago, I got a fabulous idea for a new book. It’s not a romance and it’s not women’s fiction. Rather, a commercial fiction idea that would appeal to both men and women. It spans many decades and is richly textured. Writing this book is slow going, and I find myself sidetracked researching the 1950s and 1960s. When I approach the 1970s, I won’t need to research much at all–I lived it. The book is set in Los Angeles, my hometown. I grew up in a time in L.A. when things were uncomplicated, your summer days were spent taking the beach bus to Santa Monica. High school days were all about cruising Van Nuys Blvd.

As I make progress with my latest novel, I wanted to reconnect with my fans and let them know what I’m up to, as well as announcing that five of my beloved contemporary romances will soon be available via eb00k format. My very first contemporary romance, GIRLS NIGHT, made the USA TODAY and Waldenbooks bestseller lists. This was a fun book to write and I’ve recently reread it myself and fallen in love with Vince all over again.

What do you consider a fun girls night?

Dream Works

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve taken some time off from writing to pursue other interests, one of them being getting my private pilot’s license. It’s been a fun journey and has given me a sense of freedom quite unlike any other. When you’re taxing down the runway at full throttle and your nose lifts, that initial feeling of being weightless is amazing!

I’m learning to fly in a Cessna 172, just a little smaller than my husband’s 182. Since I love to travel, I can’t wait to fly myself to my own destination. Warmer climate comes to mind.

As many of you know, after a long and wonderful career writing romance novels, I retired from the genre two years ago. I’d been fortunate enough to have 23 books, 1 anthology, and 1 e-short story published over the course of 24 years. Silly me, I thought that would be my “The End” in a profession that has been amazing to be a part of.

Last year, I got a story idea that was just too fabulous to ignore. I began writing this new project on my own time, no deadlines, and I’m so enjoying writing a story for me–my dream work. It’s commercial fiction set in Los Angeles, California. I was born there, and my memories of growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s are quite fond. I moved to Boise in 1992, but I think once you’ve been raised in a place, you remember it the way it was in your youth and you long to go back. As a writer, I have that opportunity to turn back time, to write what I know, and to bring the L.A. of my childhood onto the pages of a work of fiction. Not only can I recreate a setting that I lived through, I’m focusing my plot around a single object that everyone can relate to no matter where you grew up.

And that’s all for now about my dream works: Flying and writing.

If you have a dream or something you’re passionate about, feel free to post!

Blogging Break

Blogging Break. I’m going to take a break from blogging. I’ve got a lot of travel lined up for this year and I’m looking forward to visiting family and friends, and seeing new places. If you have any questions or comments about my books, please feel free to e-mail me. Thanks for being readers!