This week my guest in My Writing Corner has a book that sounds like it's perfect for those days when
Cyndie "CJ" Zahner says she is a digital-book hoarder, lover of can't-put-down books, wife, mother, grandmother, author, and Mensa wannabe. That last trait might explain the inspiration for her first novel, The Suicide Gene. Her second and third books, Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, were inspired during long runs on Presque Isle State Park in the town she grew up in, Erie, Pennsylvania.
For her fourth novel, Cyndie jumped genres, hopping from psychological thrillers to women’s humor. Her new book Friends Who Move Couches has been described as a laugh-out-loud yet insightful “Almost a Memoir” novel inspired by her life. It touches upon family struggles, friendship wars, quieting your inner critic, and surviving rejection.
While Cyndie now lives in Wendell, North Carolina, she spends summer and fall in Erie. Before becoming a novelist, she worked as a grant and freelance writer. Her articles varied from business to women’s health to the paranormal.
In 2015, she began looking at life differently when her brother and his wife were diagnosed with dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s. At that time, her husband pulled her aside and said, “Quit your job. You’re a writer.” After twenty years of service, Zahner picked up her purse at work one day and quietly walked away.
Now, she rises before dawn, writes, runs, and smiles much. A hard worker and story lover, she’s determined to read, write, and run happily ever after.
Let's take a look at that latest book, Friends who Move Couches:
Married to a workaholic, mothering three rebellious kids, and feuding with neighborhood friends, Nikki forgets her problems one afternoon by smoking marijuana. That blunder ignites a lifelong yet dormant medical condition, and she loses her driver’s license. Suddenly stranded in her home, she’s forced to stare out the window at women who have ostracized her.
Her true friends encourage her to concentrate on her health, but Nikki is her own nemesis. She embarks on a scheme to win back neighborhood friends and plunges into efforts that only end in muddying her reputation. She becomes the butt of neighborhood jokes.
Foolishly, her ache to mend her broken relationships escalates.
Not until her two-timing husband asks her a question that catapults her frivolous suburban life into a tailspin is she forced to stop reaching for others and stand on her own.
Now Nikki must decide who to keep in her life and who to kick to the curb.
Want more? Let's get an excerpt:
…The adorable smirk on his face widens, and I look away. I set a ball on the right tee—I’m right-handed—and stand back to take a stance, intentionally ignoring him.
My first two or three or twenty shots go nowhere. Eight times I miss the ball completely. My inability is embarrassing. The eighty-year-old lady beside me is knocking the names off the balls from her rubber square of the driving range, embarrassing me further. At least her direction faltered. She couldn’t hit a ball down the middle to save her life. She was slicing? Splicing? I’m not sure of the correct term, but she had a wonder ball. You wondered where it was going.
Once, when I am about to swing, she hollers over to me, “Honey, you’re tense. Relax a little.”
At this, the smiling pro agrees. “You are tense.”
He steps up behind me like they do in the movies. He leans close and sets his arms and hands over the top of mine. His chest rubbing against my back and shoulders is disconcerting and yet nice at the same time. While he blah blahs on, I think, gee, this is what it’s like to spend time in another man’s arms. Even if he is gay, it feels fine.
In twenty years, no one has been that close to me other than Mark and one homeless guy who roamed the streets downtown where I worked before the kids were born. Before my stretched, child-bearing hips began knocking lamps off end tables.
The homeless guy’s name was Winky. He had one eye.
I still had it going on back then.
So the smell of Blake the Pro’s cologne as he breathes down the back of my neck seems up-front and personal. A little too sexy for an old married mom. I don’t hear a word he says. At the end of his little speech, he manipulates my fingers into an extremely uncomfortable position on the grip of the club, and all I can remember of any instruction before I swing is that the little old lady told me to relax.
I relax, swing the club, and it sails through the air—the club, not the ball. That’s still perfectly perched on the tee.
Humility overpowers me, and I burst forward out of my little rubber stall and run for the club. The last thing I hear before the eighty-year-old lady’s ball makes a line drive to my temple is Blake the Pro yelling, “Don’t go after your club.”
I regain consciousness and refuse the ambulance. Blake the Pro says he’ll give me a ride home, but once we are riding in the car, he admits he lied. He’s taking me to the hospital. Anger and delirium overpower me. I try to get out of the car at every red light, but I keep rolling down the window instead of opening the door.
Once we arrive at the emergency room, he does all the talking. He strolls into the room with me as if some of this was his fault.
I don’t dare to admit I am a hopeless born loser.
We make glib chat in the sterile silver and white room while we wait for the doctor. I encourage him to go home several times, but he says he’ll wait for Mark. Finally, an hour later, the door opens and in walks—you got it—Doctor Death.
“Well, hello again, Ms. Grey.”
I look at Blake the Pro. The twinkle in his eye has re-sparked. Is he laughing inside?
“Do this often?” Blake the Pro’s teeth are so straight and white that it strikes me. I may have found the perfect match for Evy.
Mark walks in and Blake the Pro apologizes but, oddly, stays. Maybe the look on Mark’s face as he traipses through the door arouses Blake’s curiosity.
Furious, irate, and enraged with me, Mark wanders off on a teeth-gritting tirade, ranting about some lunch opportunity with a client being rushed.
Embarrassedly, I counter, “Do you think I got hit in the head just to ruin your lunch?”
“You’re always getting yourself into these fixes,” he grumbles.
My mind whirls. I can’t respond calmly. It’s hard concentrating with Blake the Pro and Doctor Death listening. I become enraged. I progress to screaming.
“I’m not doing these things on purpose!”
Then, Doctor Death enters my ring of fire.
“You passed out,” he doesn’t yell, but his tone closes in on disgust. “I’m adding the time to your license suspension.”
No, no, no. That will take me past Christmas.
“I took a blow to the head,” I yell.
“Nikki, lower your voice,” Mark chides.
“Doesn’t matter.” Doctor Death is heartless. “You lost consciousness.”
I pick up a tall metal IV holder off the floor. Mark tries to pry it from my fingers, but this time my grip is firm. I step toward Doctor Death.
“How about you run for the door, I swing this with all my might and knock you on your ass. Let’s see if you lose consciousness.”
Clearly, I have more than just friend problems.
If you would like to read on, here's where to buy your copy
FREE on Kindle Unlimited
If you would like to get in touch with Cyndie, here is her contact information:
Book Gorilla: http://bit.ly/CJZahnerBookGorilla
Book Circle Online interview: http://bit.ly/CJZinterview
Beyond Reality Radio 9/11 Interview: http://bit.ly/BRRCJZinterview
Thank you, Cyndie, for being my guest! Any comments or questions for Cyndie?