Love on the Lido Deck: A Nautical Romantic Comedy
by Barbara Oliverio
Sharp-witted, always-organized Keira Graham has traded in her high tech career as a systems analyst for the whirlwind world of event planning. As she builds up her fledging business, she learns that her widowed mother has news of her own – she has a serious gentleman caller! Is Keira ready for mom’s new romance?
When she gets a game-changing opportunity to organize a major event on a luxury Caribbean cruise, Keira turns to best pal chef Alexandria D’Agostino to help recruit famous chefs who will offer classes for foodies looking for fun in the sun as they gain cooking know-how. The cruise becomes a rollicking adventure for Keira, her sassy assistant Juliet, the entire D’Agostino clan, Keira’s mother and other surprise guests. And has Keira meet her match in charismatic Cruise Director Brennan McAllister, who could have something more than keeping everything shipshape on his mind?
I picked up the phone and punched in a number I would never forget.
“Maeve Graham,” answered the familiar voice.
“Mother, it’s me.” My mouth curled into a smile thinking of my mother probably just getting back from a charity breakfast, slipping off her impeccable heels to put on the comfy pink slippers I had knit for her when I was eight and going through my crafts phase.
“Keira, my sweet”—I heard the love in her voice— ”I was just thinking about you. Can you come over for tea and let me show you the new mare we’ve gotten in?”
My mother lived on the 35-acre estate that my father had inherited in tony horse country right outside the city. It was where I grew up, and the word home to me always conjured up the sounds of horses in the background. The stables were not as full as they once were, but she still had a number of our own horses as well as some that she boarded.
“Sorry, Mother, but I am slammed with work.”
“Oh.” I heard the disappointment in her voice. Then she brightened. “That’s okay, I’ll see you at the Witheroe wedding this weekend, won’t I?”
“Mother, you’ll see me there but as the event planner, remember? Not as a guest.” Although she had been the source of most of my first leads when I started my own event-planning service in Denver, my mother sometimes forgot that I was the hired help now.
“Of course, dear,” she paused.
“Mother, is something wrong?”
“No, no. I just haven’t had time to visit with you in awhile. I’d like to chat … you know … girl to girl.” What? Girl to girl? Had she been reading magazine articles on mother-daughter togetherness? We’ve al- ways had a good relationship, but if she suddenly decided to follow some strange trend in family togetherness—eek!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Readers’ Favorite Award™ Winner Barbara Oliverio is the daughter of Italian immigrants and grew up in North Central West Virginia with a love of reading and a passion for learning. Following a career path that included being a teacher, journalist, and marketer, she has lived as far away from home as Italy where she practiced her family’s native tongue as well as took advantage of living near to other European countries to travel extensively. A rabid Pittsburgh Steeler fan, she lives with her husband, an equally committed New York Giants fan, in suburban Denver where off-football-season dinner conversation is calmer and is usually accompanied by a meal she cooks from one of her mother’s treasured recipes. Other interests include New York Times crossword puzzles, good movies, and travel. She volunteers extensively for her parish and writes for its publications. She also teaches part-time for the St. Catherine of Siena Institute.
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Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in North Central West Virginia.
(Yes, I’m an actual coalminer’s daughter.) My parents immigrated from southern Italy, and I grew up in a household that was Italian in all respects other than the fact that it was physically in the United States. My childhood goal was to be a single gal and live in the city in a fabulous apartment with a stylish wardrobe – think “Mary Tyler Moore” or “That Girl”. I achieved that goal and more by living in Washington D.C and also living in Italy for a while. I’m still a city girl to some degree, but now I have a husband, a townhouse, and spend significantly less on shoes.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
My best friend Nancy suggested that I write a cookbook with a collection of my mother’s recipes. While I have quite a few of her recipes, there are not enough for an entire cookbook. The next suggestion was to bulk it up with some of the recipes I collected from the mothers/grandmothers of some of my former boyfriends. That idea stayed dormant, until one day when I looked around and noticed that a lot of romance novels were well beyond R-rated. I felt that someone needed to write stories about young women who were fun, witty and lived their modern lives while still maintaining their values. At that point, I concocted the story of Alexandria and her madcap dating adventures while she cooked for her boyfriends in Love on the Back Burner. Alexandria’s best friend Keira needed her own story, so the idea of Love on the Lido Deck was born, still keeping the PG sensibility.
How do you create your characters?
Each main character has a backstory. To get to that back story, I interview each one. That means that in my research stage, each one gets a “persona” sheet where they are physically described and I ask questions such as favorite color, movie, book, food, etc. Most of that information doesn’t make it into the book, but it allows me to write their dialogue more organically and describe them and their actions more authentically as the book goes along.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
I have been a “writer” ever since I can remember. I learned how to read when I was a tot, and would sometimes write little stories. My elementary school and high school teachers can attest to the fact that I loved to write. I arrived at college and chose journalism as one of my majors, and throughout my career have continued to write. As a technical writer, I documented everything from software to oscilloscopes. When I moved into the marketing world, I wrote marketing, PR, and web copy. Even after I made the jump into the world of fiction, I continued to write articles for periodicals and still contract for that type of writing today. I write, therefore I am.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I can’t write in complete silence. If I write at my desk at home, then either the TV is in the background or a radio show is going. Interestingly, it’s usually talk radio rather than music. If I’m at the local coffee shop or sandwich shop, I love the chatter around me. My “drug” of choice is iced tea – black or green.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Alexandria’s story was born from the idea of sharing recipes in an interesting story. Keira’s story came to me when I saw an advertisement for the largest cruise ship in the world and thought that it would be fun for the characters to be in a small “community” but in an exotic fashion. My current project came to me as I was watching a young woman on TV in an offbeat profession and thought that a romantic comedy based on an incident in her life might be fun. I also have a couple of ideas on file based on news stories that I’ve seen.
What do you like to read? Ha! What DON’T I like to read. I read everything from theology, philosophy, sociology, history, historical fiction, mystery, romance – well, you get the picture. Currently I’m simultaneously reading a book on Roman Catholic Canon Law, a study on how women were portrayed in the media in the 60’s, and a fun romance set in the South.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
READ, READ, READ. You will see the best (and know where to aspire) and the worst (and know what to avoid). Plus, you will fill the database in your head with great information that will come in handy someday. Also, join writing groups, take writing seminars, and just generally get together with other writers who are usually a great support system.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Share your love of reading books with children in your life. The ability to appreciate and read entire books is one of the most important things we have and we need to make sure we don’t lose it.