PUBLISHED IN: 2015.
THE AUTHOR: Janet R. Stafford.
THE EDITOR: My beta readers for this book were: Laurie Doscher and Charles G. (“Dan”) Bush.
THE PUBLISHER: Squeaking Pips Press, Inc., my micro-publishing company. Its mission is to publish character-driven stories that are moving, thoughtful, inspirational, and hopeful.
SUMMARY: HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is a romance. It is the story of the growing relationship between Lindsay Mitchell and Neil Gardner. Lindsay (“Lins”) serves as an assistant minister at Church of the Epiphany in central New Jersey. She loves where she works, but upon hitting the big 4-0 begins to wonder if perhaps she might need a change. Memories of her college days leading a rock band keep pestering her. “I just want to rock out one more time before I die,” she moans to friends Patti and Sue. Patti, her former bandmate, thinks she has the cure for Lins: spend three weeks’ vacation with her at Point Pleasant Beach. Lins agrees, but reluctantly – after all, Patti has a history of getting her into all manner of uncomfortable, if not out-and-out weird situations.
Their first night in Point, Patti is true to form. She takes Lins to a local dive called the Flying Fish Club. It is Karaoke Night and Patti convinces a hesitant Lins to get up and sing with her. When they do, they draw the attention of Neil Gardner, who just happens to have a real rock band and likes the sound of Lins’ voice. Impulsively he joins the two women at their table and asks Lins if she will sing with him. Although Patti practically shoves Lins onto the stage, once the music gets going, the two singers have at it like a couple of pros. Chemistry abounds to the point that Lins wonders if there is such a thing as “song sex.”
Hmmm … Chemistry on stage and off. This could be love, right? Maybe. But there’s a glitch. Lins discovers that Neil has a deep antipathy toward religion and refrains from telling him what she does for a living. Neil, meanwhile, has secrets of his own – liking living in an efficiency apartment over the music store he manages, like having an ex-wife and a daughter, and like having a sister with big troubles. Will Neil and Lins get together? Is Lins being called to a new vocation? Will Neil be able to deal with his ex-wife and his sister, not to mention his self-image? God only knows.
THE BACK STORY: The rationale for writing the story was that I had completed the second book in the Saint Maggie historical fiction series and wanted to do something not set in the nineteenth century! I also wanted to write something that required minimal research.
However, the inspiration behind the story has two roots. The first sprouted when the church I serve was going to do its annual talent show. I was joking with my boyfriend that I wanted to sing a rock song that year. My words were, “I’d just like to rock out once before I die.” The second root emerged when I was driving to church one Sunday when I was feeling kind of burned out. Suddenly Lenny Kravitz’s song “Fly Away” came on the radio. Yes, I thought, I would so love to fly away and do something else. The next thing I knew I was seeing my drive to the church as if it were the opening of a movie, with “Fly Away” playing in the background. Weirdly enough, the feeling of seeing my activities as though they were part of a movie continued throughout the early part of the morning. That sense stayed with me, so I wrote HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL as a film script first, completing it in 2013. Later I novelized the script and published Lins and Neil’s story as a novel in 2015.
Because I wasn’t doing a story requiring a great deal of research, I used things with which I was familiar as elements in the story to give it a sense of reality. The environment of Epiphany Church is built on my knowledge of the actual church in which I work, albeit much of the description is heavily fictionalized. I love the people where I currently serve, so I also built a supportive, caring group of friends and colleagues for Lins. That said, I’ve never been in a rock band … although … back in the day I went through a singer-songwriter phase and got to perform once or twice. The world probably should be grateful I gave that up! Aside from my brief “career” in music, I lived in Point Pleasant Beach and its environs for a few years, so I put Patti’s shore house in Point. I also became dedicated to using the Jersey Shore location after the devastation of Super Storm Sandy. Many people still are not into their homes several years after the storm. I know that New Jersey does not have the most stellar of images, but I love my home state and wanted to show it and its people as I know them – so Snookie and her buddies do not show up! In the same vein, given Christianity’s negative image these days, I wanted to show people contrary to stereotype, because these are also the people I know – loving, open, caring, and kind. You know, people who try to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, rather than being obsessive rule-followers. Finally, I wrote about average-looking people in their forties because you don’t have to be young and gorgeous to have a romance!
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title came from the three prominent themes in the story – heart (love), soul (faith), and rock (music).
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It has great characters! I love them. They’re funny, caring, and flawed. They’re human. The book deals with love and relationships (the good and the painful), faith and doubt, vocation, life and death, and the power of music.
REVIEW COMMENTS: None yet. Help me out!
AUTHOR PROFILE: As a human being, I’ve been around for a while. That’s right, I’m entering the wonderful world of little old lady-hood. I’m also grossly over-educated, having romped through higher education and come out with a Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in North American Religion and Culture. I love history! To me, history is not just dates and places it is stories about people’s lives and their world. Hence, I generally write historical fiction. In my younger years, I worked as a secretary for a couple of major corporations and a college.
I received – or more correctly gave in – to a call to enter ministry in my 30s. My initial sense of calling was to go to seminary to deepen my understanding and my writing. I have been scribbling since I was in second or third grade, and being a writer is part of who I am. But it was difficult back that to explain to seminary administration, not to mention church officials, that my call just might not be “traditional” track. If you said, “I have a call,” everyone decided that meant ordained ministry. So I did the traditional track thing but did not get ordained. Instead, I ended up serving as a Christian educator and/or assistant pastor at five churches over 23 years. Thanks to my Ph.D. I also worked for six or seven years as an adjunct professor at two universities (not at the same time, mind you). I taught interdisciplinary studies and history, and loved teaching college-age people.
During that time period, I tended mostly to write skits and plays for worship, promotional materials, exams for college, and curriculum for use in the local church. But deep in my heart I wanted to publish fiction. So what made me start writing fiction again? A divine nudge, that’s what. I got the push to get serious back in 2009. In 2011, I published SAINT MAGGIE, and just kept on writing. It is fun, challenging, and rewarding, especially when I get to talk with readers at book clubs and other venues. In my personal life, I share my home with an enthusiastic mini-Australian shepherd named Tippy. I have a wonderful boyfriend named Dan – who brought with him a daughter and son-in-law, and later two grandsons, whom I love to pieces. I’m not rich, but I am blessed. Who can complain?
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I think there are several larger issues in HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. There is Lindsay’s issue about following her heart and having faith, because she is just a little bit neurotic. Neil’s issue is his struggle with his sister, his background, and his life in general (he thinks he’s a loser). Despite his rock ’n’ roll demeanor onstage, Neil essentially has been beaten down and lacks self-confidence. Through him I was able to look at how addiction is so destructive and difficult to deal with for family members. In addition, the storyline gave me an opportunity to address a number of hard questions relating to economics, religion, faith, and contemporary perceptions of religion.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZJENK5Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d2_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1N1RX5YMBJEEVQPG1QQX&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2079475242&pf_rd_i=desktop#reader_B00ZJENK5Y
LOCAL OUTLETS: I’m all online, I think. If someone sees it in a bookstore, take a photo and send it to me!
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:
Amazon (Kindle & print): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZJENK5Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d2_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1N1RX5YMBJEEVQPG1QQX&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2079475242&pf_rd_i=desktop
Barnes & Noble (Nook & print): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/janet+r+stafford+heart+soul+%26+rock+’n’+roll?fs=0&_requestid=67635
Lulu.com (eBook & print) https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=janet+r+stafford&type=
My Squeaking Pips Press store : https://squareup.com/market/squeaking-pips-press-inc