Breakfast in Bakersfield

Bakersfield is the inspiration for the book within the book (THE TOM JONES CLUB) called Breakfast in Bakersfield. In fact, that was one of the titles I pondered using for THE TOM JONES CLUB, as it’s the subplot driving the main plot.

For those of you not familiar with this area, Bakersfield is a popular place to eat, well, breakfast, when you’re doing the L.A. to the Central Valley trek, although the old landmarks have disappeared.

Like the people in The Grapes of Wrath, California’s Central Valley was settled by those from Oklahoma and Arkansas during the Dust Bowl, including my dad’s family and my step dad’s family (my step grandma thought the movie was too harsh on the real people, although my grandma says it was pretty accurate). Still, you will feel that influence in the Central Valley today. In some places, it’s like time stopped. For example, my step dad’s family settled in this area and remain there today. So when my hubby dared to step foot in Aunt Betty’s kitchen, she was all alarmed and said, “There’s a man in the kitchen.” This was rather shocking for my Jersey Shore hubby who enjoys cooking. lol!

My step dad charged out of the Valley and headed for L.A. when he was still a teen. He longed for bigger horizons than what the valley offered. But we used to do the breakfast in Bakersfield thing on our way to his old hometown to visit his family about twice a year – usually once in the summer during the grape harvest (his sister’s husband’s family owned a vineyard) and once over Christmas.

We’d leave our home in Orange County (just south of L.A.) at about 5 a.m. and arrive in Bakersfield in time for breakfast at one of those roadside cafes with a “Let’s Eat” sign blinking on top – it was the highlight of the road trip. And that experience inspired me to write the “Breakfast in Bakersfield” scenes in THE TOM JONES CLUB, excerpt below.

Los Angeles, September 1973
Breakfast in Bakersfield

The Los Angeles traffic at that time of the morning back was practically nonexistent. They sailed through the hushed city, over the mountains, and to the crest of the Grapevine where they could see the entire valley below as the sun was starting to rise in the east. Matt pulled over at a rest stop so they could all stretch their legs.

At a long and lean six feet two inches, Matt and his Levi-encased legs seemed to be the only one needing stretching. He pulled out a Lucky Strike from his blue-buttoned shirt pocket, lit it with the lighter he carried in his left Levi jacket pocket, and exhaled quietly as he seemed entranced by the view. Red, Syd, and Mona stayed in the car, Red’s head leaning against the window as if she was snoozing while Syd watched Red, and Mona watched Matt.

Matt seemed to disappear inside himself as his gaze never left the valley below. He never said a word. He extinguished his cigarette, got back in the car, and kept driving until two hours later when he pulled up in front of a small shack with a large, red-lettered sign displaying “Let’s Eat” on top of the weathered building.

(THE TOM JONES CLUB, available on amazon.com.)

And this reminds me of the Dwight Yoakum/Buck Owen song, “Streets of Bakersfield.”

Introducing Mr. Unobtrusive

Some of the scenes in my writing were inspired by real-life events that happened at Disney World when we lived in Florida. For example, check out this scene:

“Excuse me. I need to catch my ride.”
A tall, dark and handsome stranger wearing the tightest black jeans Lucky had ever seen pasted on a man tucked into grey leather cowboy boots slid past her as she stepped back, allowing him to pass. Until now, she hadn’t realized she was blocking the transportation desk while she waited for her car. 

The desk was extraordinarily busy, and she had to wait longer than she normally did. Her plane wasn’t the only one that had landed at McCarran this evening. With so many people flying in from faraway locations, evening arrivals were probably one of the most popular in Las Vegas. And tonight, most were waving “Tom Jones Convention” banners. They seemed to be taking over the town.


“Oh, yes, of course.”

“I try to be as unobtrusive as I can.”

“Well, you’re hardly that,” she laughed. A man that good-looking couldn’t possibly be unobtrusive.

I met the real Mr. Unobtrusive at the valet desk at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at WDW. While waiting for the valet to bring us our car after having a wonderful dinner at Jiko, a mysterious man scooted past me to pick up his bag and said, “Excuse me, but I try to be unobtrusive.” My head spun around so fast and my imagination was immediately caught up in this mystery. Who was this man and who says something like that? I really wanted to know his story – where was he from, what did he do, what was he doing at WDW – he didn’t seem like the usual guest.

Originally, this scene belonged to Copper – an Orlando resort concierge who claimed she could figure out where a person was from just by looking at him. Copper then made it into The Tom Jones Club as Lucky’s new friend and I gave Mr. Unobtrusive to Lucky and placed them all in Las Vegas. Instead of knowing where a man was from by looking at him, Lucky’s claim was knowing what kind of a man he was by what he drank – check out Lucky’s Guide to Wine and Men.

The Tom Jones Club in Paperback

The Tom Jones Club is now available on amazon.com in paperback. I’m excited about this because, like all of my writing, it’s not always what it seems or there’s more going on than what you might see at first glance.

While it’s categorized as a romance, it’s more than that. I write about “women on the brink of change.” The story is Lucky’s and how one last business trip to Las Vegas changes her life when she meets the women of the Tom Jones Club.

 More about Lucky:

International Wine Sales Rep Lucky Stryker believes she can tell what kind of man he is by the kind of wine he drinks. And she’s had plenty of experience, traveling the globe in search of the perfect wine and the perfect man. But, for some reason, she ends up alone. Now traveling that slippery slope that starts at 35 and ends with 40, she’s in Las Vegas to close the door on her last business deal, and to open the door to a new life and love. 


From the back cover:

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But the last thing she expects is to land in the arms of a cowboy during the Tom Jones Club convention. A hot week with a cowboy in Las Vegas is one thing—eternity is another.

Fearing that any woman he gets involved with will leave him–the way his mother left his father–Eric Blake chooses women who are guaranteed to fulfill that prophecy. And Lucky Stryker is no exception. 

When Lady Luck throws the red hot dice, Lucky and Eric cash in on a red hot sizzling romance. So when their pasts catch up to them, and neither is who they appear to be, they are forced to answer these questions, “Can their hearts keep the promises their bodies have been making?” and “Will they finally get lucky in love?”

Available at Bookstrand, Mobipocket, Nook Book (BN.com), amazon.com in Print and Kindle.

The Book Review Club: Common Sense 101

My first book review for “The Book Review Club” in 2011 is Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chestertonby Dale Ahlquist.

G.K. Chesterton, who lived from 1874-1936, was also a Catholic convert. He was a journalist and author of many books, including several novels. The American Chesterton Society calls hims the “saint of the blogsphere” and I think he’s a great choice. If he were alive today, he would definitely be a blogger.

I first learned of Chesterton watching The Journey Home on EWTN. This show’s focus is helping Protestant pastors become Catholic. Pastors are in a special situation when they convert to Catholicism because they have their livelihood to consider. And as a convert, I love to read/listen to other convert stories. So, I kept hearing about this Chesterton – somebody was always quoting him, it seemed. I used to roll my eyes and say, “Here we go again with that Chesterton” and then I realized I often agreed with what Chesterton was saying and found him to be just as relevant for our day as his day.

As the author says on the back cover:

“Chesterton wrote about everything…. He was a prolific Englishman, who wrote numerous books on a variety of themes, hundreds of columns for London newspapers, epic poetry, and detective fiction. His unique writing style that combines philosophy, spirituality, history, humor, and paradox have made him one of the most widely read authors of modern times.”

I think that 2011 is going to be, not only a celebration of my first decade as a Catholic, but the year of Chesterton. I imagine that I’ll be quoting him from time to time throughout the year. As a blogger who sometimes writes of unpopular things, I need somebody like Chesterton on my side. 🙂

To find out more about G.K. Chesterton, see the American Chesterton Society.

For more book reviews, click on the graphic below.

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@Barrie Summy

The 2011 Blog Tour for The Tom Jones Club

Yes, it’s snowing in Las Vegas today. When we had that really big snow in December of 2008, the headlines read, “When hell freezes over” – lol!

What a perfect day to kick off the blog tour for The Tom Jones Club – it may be snowy outside but the blog tour is just warming up. The kickoff post is at The Plot – hope you stop by and check it out. But if you’re a regular reader of my blog, all of that information is found here.

Day 2 is all about getting to know the characters – Lucky Stryker, specifically. Stop by Tuesday’s blog post on The Plot, leave a comment, and become eligible for a free book (digital) giveaway.

Stay tuned for new blog tour posts about the characters, the story, and my writing.

But if you dream of a Vegas romance with hot, summer nights, then The Tom Jones Club is your book. Check it out:

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But the last thing she expects is to land in the arms of a cowboy during the Tom Jones Club convention. A hot week with a cowboy in Las Vegas is one thing—eternity is another.

Fearing that any woman he gets involved with will leave him–the way his mother left his father–Eric Blake chooses women who are guaranteed to fulfill that prophecy. And Lucky Stryker is no exception. 

When Lady Luck throws the red hot dice, Lucky and Eric cash in on a red hot sizzling romance. So when their pasts catch up to them, and neither is who they appear to be, they are forced to answer these questions, “Can their hearts keep the promises their bodies have been making?” and “Will they finally get lucky in love?”

Available in digital at Bookstrand, Mobipocket, Nook Book (BN.com), and on amazon.com in  Paperback and for the Kindle.

Breakfast in Bakersfield

Bakersfield is the inspiration for the book within the book (THE TOM JONES CLUB) called Breakfast in Bakersfield. In fact, that was one of the titles I pondered using for THE TOM JONES CLUB, as it’s the subplot driving the main plot.

For those of you not familiar with this area, Bakersfield is a popular place to eat, well, breakfast, when you’re doing the L.A. to the Central Valley trek, although the old landmarks have disappeared.

Like the people in The Grapes of Wrath, California’s Central Valley was settled by those from Oklahoma and Arkansas during the Dust Bowl, including my dad’s family and my step dad’s family (my step grandma thought the movie was too harsh on the real people, although my grandma says it was pretty accurate). Still, you will feel that influence in the Central Valley today. In some places, it’s like time stopped. For example, my step dad’s family settled in this area and remain there today. So when my hubby dared to step foot in Aunt Betty’s kitchen, she was all alarmed and said, “There’s a man in the kitchen.” This was rather shocking for my Jersey Shore hubby who enjoys cooking. lol!

My step dad charged out of the Valley and headed for L.A. when he was still a teen. He longed for bigger horizons than what the valley offered. But we used to do the breakfast in Bakersfield thing on our way to his old hometown to visit his family about twice a year – usually once in the summer during the grape harvest (his sister’s husband’s family owned a vineyard) and once over Christmas.

We’d leave our home in Orange County (just south of L.A.) at about 5 a.m. and arrive in Bakersfield in time for breakfast at one of those roadside cafes with a “Let’s Eat” sign blinking on top – it was the highlight of the road trip. And that experience inspired me to write the “Breakfast in Bakersfield” scenes in THE TOM JONES CLUB, excerpt below.

Los Angeles, September 1973
Breakfast in Bakersfield

The Los Angeles traffic at that time of the morning back was practically nonexistent. They sailed through the hushed city, over the mountains, and to the crest of the Grapevine where they could see the entire valley below as the sun was starting to rise in the east. Matt pulled over at a rest stop so they could all stretch their legs.

At a long and lean six feet two inches, Matt and his Levi-encased legs seemed to be the only one needing stretching. He pulled out a Lucky Strike from his blue-buttoned shirt pocket, lit it with the lighter he carried in his left Levi jacket pocket, and exhaled quietly as he seemed entranced by the view. Red, Syd, and Mona stayed in the car, Red’s head leaning against the window as if she was snoozing while Syd watched Red, and Mona watched Matt.

Matt seemed to disappear inside himself as his gaze never left the valley below. He never said a word. He extinguished his cigarette, got back in the car, and kept driving until two hours later when he pulled up in front of a small shack with a large, red-lettered sign displaying “Let’s Eat” on top of the weathered building.

(THE TOM JONES CLUB, available on amazon.com.)

Lucky Stryker’s Guide to Wine and Men

International Wine Sales Rep Lucky Stryker believes she can tell what kind of man he is by the kind of wine he drinks. And she’s had plenty of experience, traveling the globe in search of the perfect wine and the perfect man. But, for some reason, she ends up alone.

Now traveling that slippery slope that starts at 35 and ends with 40, she’s in Las Vegas to close the door on her last business deal, and to open the door to a new life and love. And with each chapter she analyzes the wine or drink and how it relates to men…

From the back book cover of THE TOM JONES CLUB:

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But the last thing she expects is to land in the arms of a cowboy during the Tom Jones Club convention. A hot week with a cowboy in Las Vegas is one thing—eternity is another.

Fearing that any woman he gets involved with will leave him–the way his mother left his father–Eric Blake chooses women who are guaranteed to fulfill that prophecy. And Lucky Stryker is no exception. 

When Lady Luck throws the red hot dice, Lucky and Eric cash in on a red hot sizzling romance. So when their pasts catch up to them, and neither is who they appear to be, they are forced to answer these questions, “Can their hearts keep the promises their bodies have been making?” and “Will they finally get lucky in love?”

Read Lucky Stryker’s Map of Vegas
Watch Book Trailer
Buy book on amazon.com