A Story Behind the Story

It’s been almost a decade in the making, and so it feels fantastic to say I have finished writing the rest of the story of one of my most beloved characters. I’ve wanted to elaborate and reveal more about Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge for such a long time.

Well, ok, I’m not entirely done. But I finished the first draft of Beach House Memories. That is a feat within itself and most writers would agree the first draft is the hardest part. While I’m not popping the champagne bottle just yet, I admit that when I clicked on the “send” button, I popped the top off a yogurt container, and went out on the back porch to bask in the warm afternoon sun while savoring every spoonful in that tiny little cup.

That peaceful moment of accomplishment is a stark contrast to two recent experiences I had during the writing that made my heart nearly give out and my mind swirl with momentary panic.

I make it a habit of frequently hitting CTRL+S on the keyboard while writing. One afternoon though, near the end of an all-day writing session, on a rainy, windswept day I might add, the doorbell chimed. I stepped away from my desk knowing I’d be back in just a few minutes. Little did I know that an island-wide power outage would strike and last hours! When everything did finally power back up, I’m sure you can guess my reaction. Lesson learned… or not.

A few weeks later, my daughter and her family flew in for a quick visit. The sweet sounds of my young grandchildren frequently lured me away from my writing. They are ages three and almost two. Can you blame me? As the computer sat unguarded with the book document on the screen, my youngest slipped into the office and went right to bright colors of the screen and began playing on the keyboard. My unsaved work erased again.

While spending two full days re-writing the work I had lost wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, maybe it was for the better. Some of the scenes seemed more compelling the second time around and I like to believe that things happen for a good reason, if I’m willingly to open myself up to those positive possibilities. And it’s hard to write a book with your head looking over your shoulder at the past with regret.

The revision stage is next and much more remains to be written. So a champagne toast is still a way’s off, but it feels so good to know I’ll soon be sharing more of Lovie Rutledge’s story with all of you- my readers- the heart and life of my career. Cheers to that!

Beach House Memories nationwide release May 2012


  1. I love "Lovie" ! I also loved both "The Beach House" which I reviewed on my blog and " Swimming Lessons".I look forward to this book also.
    When I think about lost work I think of the story Kathryn Stockett told me.
    " she had just finished her first novel the morning of 9/11. Her PC crashed taking the book with it! She sat down the next day in her NY apartment with no electricity and started writing "The Help" with a pen in a spiral notebook" !

  2. I loved the BEACH HOUSE so much and was thrilled when the sequel SWIMMING LESSONS was released. It is so exciting to learn that a prequel will be out next summer! Mary Alice, just want you to know you have so many fans and I'll be anxious to share the news about BEACH HOUSE MEMORIES with all my book group friends. (-:)


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All the best,
Mary Alice