By: PJ Colando
Genre: Americana Humor
Jackie and Steve Breeden, Baby Boomer parents, have built a solid, idyllic life on a small Midwestern farm. Aching body parts remind them that they are not getting any younger, and neither are their dreams. They long to get their lives on the road like their hero, the late Charles Kuralt.. Opportunity arrives when their married son loses his job - and home to foreclosure. They become reverse empty nesters, and buy a Winnebago to cut loose and explore America.
Son Brandon, and his ambitiously conniving wife Amy, embody their generation’s prevailing sense of entitlement. Before the older couple departs, Amy embellishes the micro-dairy business by growing and selling marijuana edibles, dragging Jackie into the scheme. As the local bank vice president, Amy secretly increases the amount of the Home Equity Line of Credit that financed the Winnebago. Oops - adventures and adversities ensue.
Stashes reaches behind the sensational headlines about job downsizing, recession, foreclosure, medical marijuana, and generational conflicts of ideals, expectations, and values to show how these issues can actually play out in comical real time. Our times.
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About the Author
Last summer, in a real life plot twist, she became a published author, PJ Colando, with her debut novel, STASHES. It is Americana humor, filmic fiction; a farce, but real life. The logline is “Baby Boomer parents gallivant around the country in a Winnebago, leaving the family farm in the hands of their immature son and conniving wife. What could go wrong?”
PJ’s short stories and personal essays have been published in ‘The Adelphean’, ‘ASHA Leader’, ‘Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’, ‘IUPUI Letters’, ‘Not Born Yesterday’, ‘The Lutheran Message’, and ‘Orange Coast’ magazines, as well as The Orange County Register and The Indianapolis Star. Her written work has also been anthologized in Open to Interpretation, The Biscuit, She Writes, and Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother. She blogs regularly on her author site: pjcolando.com.
She is having a blast!
Q&A with Pat
What inspires me:
I believe I can write about anything, and because my creative wings haven’t been crimped, I can. Especially when given a picture. Or I can conjure one. A vivid imagination reinforced by an atypical world view and a multi-nuanced vocabulary. Lines of dialogue, especially the quick quips of friends, also send me scurrying for a pen - or I record on a phone app. Perplexing human interactions also compel me to write. That’s how I solidify feelings, impressions, and/or blights.
Can you tell us more about your work as an author?
More about me as an author:
Praise swarmed me and my Voice early, before I even knew what Voice was. A famous writer shared his key: being a smart ass, which I am. A whipper-snapper was what my grandpa called me. Just like him and my dad, nuanced by my reader’s vocabulary. I can fill a page faster than most anyone - free flow is not my problem. Editing well is. How does one know what is pithy, deathless prose, the words that relate emotion to the fore? Creative, original, everlasting words. That’s my goal, along with freedom of expression.
I’ve had dozens of short stories and personal essays published as well as my novel, Stashes, in the few years that I’ve called myself a writer, my encore career. I’ve overcome the fear that I will never be able to write the perfect words - being accepted for publication does that for you. Validation, the kind word or critique of a peer. It’s all good - and, when/if it isn’t, it behooves to listen. That’s how one learns, while I strive to write right.
If you were not a writer what do you think you'd be doing for a living?
If I was not a writer, I’d be a speech-language pathologist, which I still am. There’s a frightening shortage of licensed SLPs, so I continue to work part-time. The career is 100% problem-solving, 100% of the time. It suits me and my creative, empathetic nature. The field is constantly evolving via new knowledge about the neurological system, the command center of communication, of life.
Any new or exciting projects coming up that we can look forward to seeing from you?
New and exciting project: the sequel to Stashes, which is titled Hashes and Bashes. I love my people and am closing a storyline left open in Stashes
How can my readers connect with you or learn more about your books?
Readers can connect with me: http://www.pjcolando.com. My email address is listed on the author site: email@example.com.
Sneak Peak from the Book
“You look pretty, Amy. It’s nice to see you in a dress,” Jackie said.
“Thanks, I got it on sale,” I reply.
I beam at my newly worn thriftiness. The women at the bank consider me stuck up, but I maintain distance because they are assistants and I am management. Ha, I hear their inane coffee klatch conversations on break, all nail polish colors and Kohl’s. I stash information like rich men stash money.
“It’s a nice go-to-church dress,” Jackie ventures.
I recognize another religious ploy and shift the topic to supper’s preparation: “What can I do to help?”
“There’s not much to do, Amy. Kroger had small turkeys on sale, pushing Thanksgiving on us, so that’s what’s in the oven. I guess you could mash the potatoes. We’re going to make them with Mrs. Molden’s recipe.” Jackie tucks a curl behind an ear and flashes an invitation.
“Oh, the ones with cream cheese. Bran loves ‘em!”
With that I move into the farmwoman’s place, in the kitchen. I see Brandon and Steve drop onto the couch in the family room, a pillow’s distance apart. Crowd noise soon alternates with commentator drone to signal more TV sports.
Jackie’s kitchen always befuddles me. It’s a spacious square with an island in the middle reminding me of town, where two-story buildings surround a stocky courthouse. Jackie’s bounty of drawers, shelves, and appliances are a respectable homemaker’s template: utensils stashed until called into duty, bedded in flowered shelf paper changed annually during spring-cleaning.
The kitchen has a walk-in closet, though it’s called a food pantry and is as big as the one I have for clothing. All of the abundantly stuffed storage spaces are cloaked in cherry wood – planed from trees on the farm property, I’m told.
My kitchen has lots of great stuff, too, and I’m sorry to be losing its prestigious bling. The stove alone could finance a small car – if we could wrest it to sell before the foreclosure.
Sustenance, food is central to farm life. It shows love. I lived on cold pizza most of my life, never been to a grocery until I moved here. Though fields and fields of corn cover the land, fresh vegetables scare me. I avoid the Kroger rainforest bins; the automatic mist that blesses the produce, to keep it alive longer for the ravenous, always startles me. Michigan has more fat people than I’d ever seen. In California body fat seemed forbidden, so my mom and I fit in.
I am Amy, and I highjacked a book