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“Families Matter” Release Day

April 25th is here, and so is my seventh book, “Families Matter.”

Families matter. But the secrets of our loved ones can be devastating. Or overwhelming. Or heartwarming. Sometimes, the truth is better left hidden, but is out in the open for the world to see.

Just ask Emily, Julie, Kiki, Megan, and Hillary, women struggling to come to terms with the decisions of of their loved ones. Women repairing cherished relationships. Women learning just how tough it is to break family ties.

Women like us.

BrendaKStone_FamiliesMatter_Kindle

Five short stories that are compelling, easy to read, great for lunch break or that ride to work on the bus.

Available from your favorite retailer in digital format, and from Amazon in print. Click here to start reading today:

https://brendakstone.com/welcome/books/

Thank you for your support, and for you interest in my writing!

The Dirt on The Girls of Glam Rock

Hair Metal Banner

Well, it appears that our friends Motley Crue are having a moment right now with the film version of their memoir The Dirt. I can’t even count how many times someone has asked me if I’ve tuned into Netflix to get my Motley fix. Why so many questions? Because everyone knows that I’ve penned a series of books about 80s rock. Written as memoirs of groupies and rock stars, The Girls of Glam Rock Series was heavily influenced by The Dirt and several other balls to the wall tomes by rock stars who lived the life, some whom have survived to look like hell (like Motley) and some who lost their lives because of the decadent lifestyle of earlier years.

I hear that The Dirt is having a renaissance. It’s back on the bestseller lists. Motley is making lots of dough so they can have more cosmetic surgery to please their much-younger wives. And it’s a great read, though Nikki Sixx is claiming now that a lot of it is fabricated. Stop the world! But hey, fiction is what I do, so who am I to gripe? What a lot of viewers probably don’t know is that The Dirt is old stuff now: it was originally published in 2001, when it was still okay to reminisce about treating women like, well, dirt. I’m guilty of reading it three times. I consider it one of the best pieces of research I could get my hands on for my own books.

Yeah, I was there. (No, not in L.A., though I did move there in 1994.) I lived through the 80s. It was a magical time. But I wasn’t a groupie, so my “research” isn’t first hand. I had to hit the books to create my own. The Girls of Glam Rock Series is a fictitious account of young women coming of age in the mid and late 80s. Is it politically correct? Nope. Is it based on real people? Nope. Would I have wanted to live this life? Nope. But was it fun to write? Yes.

There are plenty of books out there (and on my shelf) written by actual groupies like Pamela Des Barres, Sweet, Sweet Connie Hamzi, and Roxanne Shirazi for your viewing pleasure. But to the very best of my knowledge, my series is the only fictionalized account of “the groupie life” on the market.

Let me make this clear, if my motto doesn’t already: I don’t write about weak women. These are not just girls spreading their legs for a rocker that looks like Brett Michaels, and I don’t believe that the most famous groupies are trash. In my series, Dandelion, Highway Child, Carolina, and Tulip are rock solid. They’re ambitious ladies with healthy egos and staying power. To be in their line of business, they have to be. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have some good, dirty fun. And it doesn’t mean they always like it. Sometimes, they bite off more than they can chew.

From Carolina, in Girls Gone Groupie, the first book in the series:

It’s time for one o’clock, two o’clock!”  Geronimo suddenly appears with his pants unzipped.  “And you’re gonna be six o’clock!”

            This must be some kind of great honor, so I sing, “Oh, thank you!”

            A clock game!  What could be better than that!

            More girls are being brought into the room and they’re stumbling and giggling, too.  The same three guys who pulled the cover off Smut’s instruments are putting us in a circle.  So cute!  Are we going to play something like Ring Around the Rosie?  Or wait, Mother May I? 

            “Oh, can I please be the Rosie and everyone can make the ring around me?” I throw my arms around the neck of one of the big bruisers.

            “Huh?” He looks at me in confusion, but then he must remember the rules of the game.  “But don’t you want to be six o’clock?” he asks.

            Six o’clock!  Of course, I want to be six o’clock!

            My stomach isn’t feeling so good now as Mr. Big tells me to bend all the way over and put my hands on the floor in front of me.  What a terrible position to be in with wine in my belly!  And then that awful man makes it worse by throwing my dress over my head so I can’t see anything!  But I peek up from underneath it and see that Dandelion, Highway Child, and the rest of the girls all have their hands on the floor in front of them, too, and then the shouting starts: “Four o’clock!” “Eight o’clock!” “Eleven o’clock!”  and the three members of Smut have their pants around their ankles and are running around behind our girl circle like silly little boys playing with their hot dogs.

Carolina Clampett may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but she knows what she wants. And of all the groupies, she’s the one who gets the most of it.

Looking to read a great series and relive more of the 1980s after seeing The Dirt?

GGG Kindle Cover.jpg      Gunning for Groupie Gold Cover      Live Vicariously Through Me Kindle Cover

Check out my BOOKS page.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for my Seventh Book!

Cover Reveal

Seems like just yesterday I was trying to figure out the whole game of self-publishing to get my first book out to the world. Today, I’m revealing the cover of my seventh!

Do I have the entire game figured out? Definitely not. I’m in better shape than I was, but still have a lot of things to perfect. It has been a full two years since I started out. In some ways, things have gotten easier. In others, more difficult. It’s pretty simple to get frustrated in this business, and not nearly as simple to get your name out there and sell a few books. I’ve hit the whole spectrum of emotions. But, onward!

“Families Matter” is a collection of five short stories about women in conflict. It’s the fourth installment in my Women Like Us Series. This time out, I tackle the touchy subject of dealing with family member that aren’t always playing fair. Here’s how the back cover reads:

Families Matter. But the secrets of our loved ones can be devastating. Or overwhelming. Or heartwarming. Sometimes, the truth is better left hidden, but is out in the open for the world to see.

Just ask Emily, Julie, Kiki, Megan, and Hillary, women struggling to come to terms with the decisions of their loved ones. Women repairing cherished relationships. Women learning just how tough it is to break family ties.

Women Like Us

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And here’s the cover:

BrendaKStone_FamiliesMatter_Kindle

Once again, I have to give praise to my incredible cover artist, Syneca Featherstone. All I have to do is get a vision in my head of how I want my book to look, and she does the rest. And yes, this is a plug, and I’ll do it on every cover reveal day!

I originally scheduled the release day for April 15th, but let’s face it, my friends, it’s never a fabulous idea to be on vacation on a release day. So, I backed it up to April 25th. Stay tuned!

Until then, you can find my other six books on my BOOKS page, or sign up for my free newsletter on my CONTACT page.

Thank you for your support!

Patagonia, Step 1: How to Get There Cheap

Patagonia BannerPatagonia. Just the word conjures up images of adventure, of journeying to the end of the Earth, of unreachable lands. Guided trips to Patagonia are thousands upon thousands of dollars. Most of the ones out there start at $5,000 and go steadily upward depending on how long you want to be there and what you expect to see. Because of the steep fees, I put it on my “someday” list, never imagining that “someday” was going to arrive so soon.

I have to give one of my travel companions kudos for finding this one. Wasn’t me! I heard through the grapevine that she was “going to Patagonia,” I contacted her and asked the price, and suddenly I was “in” on the trip of a lifetime.

So here’s the big secret: you don’t have to pay $5,000 or more to experience Patagonia. I did it for $3,000, with all side tours, food, and spending money counted in that figure. Here’s my usual disclaimer: I’m not an expert at this, I’m not endorsing any company, I’m not getting paid to advertise anything. What I am here to do is to explain how a relatively poor chick got to a land that most people only dream of going to.

Here’s where you start: Tripmasters.  Is this the perfect place to book a trip? No, because nothing is perfect. But if you want to get to exotic places for a less than exotic price, this is where you go. I’ve used them for several trips and have no major complaints. You also have to be a DIYer to use Tripmasters. If you want a strictly guided tour, sorry, pull out your $5,000+ and begin somewhere else.

Tripmasters has many itineraries to start with, or you can build your own trip. I did the Buenos Aires/El Calafate/Ushuaia package. For the sake of sticking with my subject, I’ll do separate posts on all the aforementioned venues,  but I’ll at least mention that you either start in Buenos Aires or in Santiago, Chile, and decide where you want to go and what you want to do from there. I’ve been to both cities, and they’re worth a couple of days time. They also offer the chance to rest up for the big thrill ahead.

Some trips you can kind of go with the flow and figure out what you’re going to do when you get there. I’ll point out the obvious by saying that this is true in Buenos Aires or Santiago. But if you’re going to do Patagonia on your own, do some research and figure out a few things at each of your destinations. We booked our day trips when we arrived, so I don’t think you have to book months in advance. A general game plan is important, however, so you aren’t wasting time once you get to this dreamscape, or scrambling to decide what natural wonder to prioritize. I highly recommend Perito Moreno Glacier, Lago Argetino, and Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, all day trips from El Calafate. The thrill of going to Ushuaia is more to brag that you were as close to Antarctica as possible without paying the ten thousand bucks, but the Penguin Island cruise is worth the much cheaper charge, and the town itself is pretty quirky for being the End of the World. More on both in later posts.

November to March is considered summer and peak season in Patagonia. Weather is always going to be a factor here, as I found out pretty quickly, another reason to decide what your objectives are for your trip. Take the word “summer” with a grain of salt when you’re talking about Patagonia. “Summer” weather features fierce wind and an ever-changing cornucopia of freezing rain, bold sun, and weeping clouds. The further south you go does not necessarily mean worse weather. In fact, the climate in Ushuaia, “the End of the Earth,” was much calmer than some of the points we reached from El Calafate, five hundred miles northwest. Also consider that you’ll be covering a lot of ground even if you’re going to be in a car or bus, with the weather constantly changing depending on where you are. Pack as a typical outdoors person: layer, layer, layer! And don’t plan for temperatures over 55 F.

Before I send you on your way to start planning your trip, here’s one more thought: if you’re considering renting a car and driving  yourself, at the very least know how to change a flat. Those are some rough roads around those parts, particularly to and from Torres del Paine National Park, and within the park proper. Consider leaving the driving to people who do it all the time.

Now, start dreaming of your first glimpse of Patagonia!

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Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: Picking Travel Companions

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Heck, it’s been too long since my last blog! I’m supposed to be doing this more often, not less! But I have a great excuse: traveling. Argentinian Patagonia! (Stay tuned for at least one post about that trip, if not more. There’s a lot to tell!) Anyway! After two weeks of being in the constant company of two fellow teachers, one of whom is not at all compatible and the other being very compatible, I’m compelled to write about the subject of picking people to travel with. This is a transaction that is crucial to the optimal health of a trip, but not nearly as easy as we might think. The person you get along with in other parts of life is not necessarily the person you’re going to get along with halfway around the world. Take my word for it, I’ve learned this lesson one too many times. And I still have not remedied it completely, giving the same wrong co-travelers second and third chances, hoping said individuals have “changed,” or just plain liking them and wishing for the best. Well, following this trip, it’s finally clear to me that if it doesn’t work the first time, it isn’t going to work any other time, either.

I’ve been traveling for almost forty years. Seriously for twenty-five of them. Like crazy for the past fifteen. I lucked out for the first several years of my traveling life, my beloved mom being my one and only partner on the road of life. After she took the big journey to a better place in 2004 I started traveling alone, and though it was tough not having her and being by myself so much, I learned to embrace it, and later, to love it. I still prefer it. But after much trial and error, I can say I have a couple of really good friends that I’m comfy with.

Here are some things to consider when picking who you leave town with.

First of all, what are your objectives when you travel? For a while, I was seeing an increasing amount of travelers going to foreign countries to party. This is not my type of person to go anywhere with. If it’s yours that’s fine, but be sure you have the same goal. There’s nothing worse that trying to enjoy a trip while someone else is drunk and slamming doors when you’re trying to sleep. Or, trying to wake the same person up a few hours after the party is over to catch a flight. Discuss what’s on the agenda before you leave, agree to it, and stick with it to the best of your ability. Traveling can easily invite the unpredictable, but some of that can be avoided by figuring out ahead of time what the purpose of your trip is before you set foot on that aircraft or slam the door of that car.

How about the activity level of the trip? Is your travel mate able to keep up with you, or vice versa? If not, can you make separate plans and carry them out comfortably so that everyone is happy? You don’t want someone rushing you through what you want to do to get to what they want to do, and you don’t want to do the same to someone else. Nor should you be slowing each other down. You’re all putting money into this grand scheme and you want to get what you want out of it. Travel with someone close to the same ability level.

Speaking of money, consider how you think about money and how much you actually have when choosing your running mates. If you’re careful and a budget-minded traveler like I am, dealing with someone who is either a spendthrift or has a lot more money than you can be a downer. You may even be inclined to kick out that credit card just to satisfy the status quo and not appear cheap, only to cry later.

Warning: Don’t leave your hometown with anyone who requires you to be a tour guide. “I’m following you” is what you don’t want to hear. Believe me. It may make you feel good that someone trusts your judgement, but it usually means that your “follower” just can’t bear the thought of researching and carrying out plans of their own. Find followers on social media, not on a trip to some faraway land.

Trust is important in any kind of relationship, but becomes even more crucial in a traveling one. Remember, if you’re sharing a room with someone, they’re going to know about pretty much everything you have in your suitcase, including money, jewelry, and items that may not be valuable, but are special to you in other ways. This is another tough lesson I learned when the wrong roommate made off with a present one of my students bought me fifteen years ago. Gone forever. So is that travel companion!

If you’re having trouble finding the right buddies, I suggest traveling alone. It has its perils like anything else, but has a lot of benefits, too, the biggest one being that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it, and you don’t have to worry about anyone else. Which doesn’t mean that your trip isn’t going to get messed up. It just means that you’ll screw up your trip all by yourself instead of someone doing it for you. Personally, I’d rather have myself to blame for a bad trip than resent someone else for it.

Take my word for it. It’s better that way.

Happy trails!

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Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: The Wonder Years

I do a lot of writing, both fiction and nonfiction. And, I plan to do a lot more writing, both fiction and nonfiction. In fact, I have so many writing plans that I recently had to sit down with myself and figure out how and where I’m going to get all this done! Friends have asked me when I’ll write about my life and my travels. My original plan was to do that in a series of short books, but I decided to continue to concentrate on fiction, and tell my personal journey in blog form instead. Perhaps those books will eventually come. But for right now, this post is the beginning of my autobiographical adventure.

Whenever I think of where to begin my story, I think of the line from my favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy is about to hit the Yellow Brick Road, and asks, “Where do I start?” The answer: “It’s best to start at the very beginning!”

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I have to call my first ten years “The Wonder Years,” because it was the only time in my life that I had two parents alive. A wonder to me, indeed!

I was born in Palmer, Massachusetts, on December 14, 1966. Lyndon Baines Johnson was president, the Vietnam War and accompanying protests were heating up, the miniskirt was climbing the thigh, and five older sisters were waiting at home for the latest addition to the family. My mother always told me I was named for the Barbie Doll. (Yes, my real name is Barbara, and I grew up being called Barbie. One of my sisters called me Babette. Hearing the Beach Boys paying homage to Barbara Ann was not a welcome event for me.) When I was less than a year old, I had pneumonia and, by all accounts, almost didn’t make it through. Mom kept that oxygen tent in her closet for a long time, and I still think of how I got a glimpse of it every now and again. It was a real enigma.

My favorite color was green. Whenever my blue eyes would fall on the color my heart did a flip. Old photos from the Wonder Years show a chubby-faced blond in one of several nifty outfits the color of plants and grass. (My apologies…these shots are buried. But I can offer this one, my first grade school picture. Ain’t I a doll?):

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Most of the memories are from holidays, particularly Easter, out in front of the old homestead, with varying family members present, depending on where everyone was at the time. My oldest sister was away at Long Island University, and the third oldest was more than a bit of a wild child, so they weren’t always around for the holidays. I can’t help but think that these pictures are a bit of a miracle, being that we had hardly any money. The fact that we even had a camera and Easter clothes is a testament to the kind of people my parents were. Mom and Dad always “managed” for their six girls, even if they had to sacrifice something they wanted. Sacrifice– what a novel concept. Though I don’t have children of my own, I believe in parents putting the needs of children first, at least up to a certain age. It’s a dying art, but one that was ingrained in me by how I grew up.

Six girls! Whenever I tell strangers about myself I’ll usually hear, “Your poor father!” Wrong. Dad didn’t have any problems with being surrounded by women. As the last daughter, I had a special relationship with him. He was a World War II vet, and dealt with many issues that, at the time, didn’t have names. Now, we would probably call Dad’s struggles PTSD. As a result, the first three daughters born have different memories of Dad than I do. He was much better by the time I came along.

Mom never had the luxury of being a housewife. She worked third shift taking care of disabled individuals to help Dad pay the bills and feed six kids, one of whom was disabled like the people Mom took care of. We were always at the dinner table together, a tight family unit with a lot of love between us, and a strong example to follow in our beloved parents.

Mom and Dad were well into their 40s when I came along. Schoolmates assumed they were my grandparents, and I frequently got teased about them. I was a bullied kid in other ways in school, too, but this particularly hurt. They were my world, and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

At the age of ten, I would have to learn.

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Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: Second Major Book Review

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Five years ago, I made the decision that I’d move toward a career in writing romance. Armed with an idea to craft a series about 1980s rock and roll groupies living and loving in my old stomping ground of Los Angeles, California, I started visualizing and creating the lives of some memorable characters. After writing for a short time, I realized that it wasn’t going to be a romance after all, so I just went where it took me, and figured out that what I really want to write is women’s fiction. The resulting book was Gunning for Groupie Gold, the second book in my Girls of Glam Rock Series. No, that isn’t a misprint. Second book in the series, first one written. Here’s the back cover story:

The Girls of Glam Rock are back, and this time they’re on a mission to help Dandelion do the last thing requested of her by her guitar god daddy before he died: give up her groupie lifestyle for good and settle down for a life of head banging and bliss with a worthy rocker. Dandelion sets her sights on hair metal front man Sammy Gunn, and with her target acquired, the girls prepare to rock ’n roll. But winning Sammy’s heart will take more than just Dandelion’s determination and her friends’ good intentions. First, she must contend with sexy singer Em’rald, the current object of Sammy’s hard-to-earn affection, and then with her own mother—grand dame groupie Tulip—a Mrs. Robinson in the flesh who drags Dandelion into a confusing competition for Sammy’s attention. Between competing with Em’rald and Tulip, and struggling to win Sammy’s heart, Dandelion finds herself caught in a snare of secrets and lies which, when revealed, promise to ruin her chances with Sammy forever. Not even Dandelion’s success as an MTV video vixen is enough to get her man, and she looks for advice from an unlikely source. Dandelion knows she is gunning for groupie gold with Sammy. But is she singing the wrong song? Or, in spite of all the obstacles, is Sammy the rock ’n roller destined to fill Dandelion’s heart and make her daddy proud? If she can just convince Sammy they’re meant to rock on together forever, it will be a love ballad for the ages.

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Recently, the book was reviewed by Chick Lit Cafe:

Gunning For Groupie Gold by Brenda K Stone is a wild tale of rock n roll through the eyes of the sexy and seductive glam girls and set in the eccentric and fierce era of the 1980s. The story starts out with each quirky and off-beat groupie’s side on who they believe has the prerogative, not to mention the accuracy to tell the chaotic and rash events that had occurred. Who was going to take the all-time world champion title of becoming the best damn groupie there ever was?! And that meant, even if it took beating your own daughter to it!

Unpredictable, hilarious and downright deranged, Stone’s characters each held their own uniqueness that really grabbed my attention and pulled me in. I felt like I had traveled back in time to a crazy scene of sex, drugs and rock n roll with big hair and tight neon clothing. The thrill of being on a stage in front of a crowd, the glimmer and glitz of a life of fame and fortune was felt throughout Gunning For Groupie Gold and each turn of the page. I could hear the fans cheering and screaming in my head. Stone’s perfect descriptions of a fierce mass of heavy metal worshippers, and the legendary tales that came along with it, were highly entertaining.

A fun, drama filled story packed with attitude and charisma, Gunning For Groupie Gold had me holding on to every maniacal scene with its energized and sporadic characters. They are fully developed with unique relatable personalities. This is one of the best books I have read this year. I would definitely recommend this head banging, crazed band life tale of being a groupie and not just any groupie, but the best groupie there ever was and living through it all to tell it.

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Relive the hair metal 80s in my Girls of Glam Rock Series, available in print and digital formats on my BOOKS page.