Janet R Stafford


I'd be lying if I said the fall-winter season was easy for me. It hasn't been. The church where I serve added "Director of Communications" to my job, which was great because it meant extra income and give me to the opportunity to expand my skills in that area, but adding that to what I do was challenging.

In addition, the church has been stepping up and changing the way it does things. Not a bad plan considering churches are finding themselves increasingly irrelevant to many people. Our main focus has shifted to mission. We've started housing homeless families a couple times a year, for one. We do it through an amazing organization called Interfaith Hospitality Network, whose goal is to get homeless families healthy and independent. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I also have had some health issues. Nothing serious, just dealing with bronchitis and a sinus infection in the fall and stubborn sinus infection over the past few weeks. But it takes a toll.

So trying to balance all this has eaten away at my time for writing - and time to use social media to promote my work, and this is crucial these days. So I've lost ground, book sales have plummeted, and so on.

But the one thing I've been doing is polishing a spec script for HEART SOUL & ROCK'N'ROLL. My partner, Dan Bush, has been helping me through the process and as much as I argue with him over stuff, he is usually right about his criticism and suggestions. Weirdly enough HS&RNR started as a script, became a novel, and is now back to a script.
I don't talk much about HS&RNR because it gets overshadowed by the drama and strong characters of the SAINT MAGGIE series. But I love the little story and believe it needs a better hearing. So here goes.
First of all, it takes place in NJ. In a way, it's sort of a love letter to my home state. It's also a love letter to the United Methodist churches in which I've worked for the past 25 years or so.
My lead character, Lindsay (aka, Lins), serves in a church as an assistant minister. She has worked fourteen years in ministry. When she celebrates her 40th birthday and mid-life crisis smacks her in the face, she fondly looks back on her old days in a college rock band, something she gave up to enter ministry. She wonders if there's "something else" out there to which she is called.
There is. Or maybe not. On a vacation trip to Point Pleasant Beach, Lins finds herself falling in love with Neil, a divorced dad who lives over the music store he manages. Three nights a week he plays with his rock band, the Grim Reapers at a dive called the Flying Fish Club in Point Pleasant.
The good news; their love of music pulls them together. The bad news: Neil has had a terrible experience with a dysfunctional church and has become an agnostic/atheist. More bad news: he has a sister with a big issue.
Can a girl whose father was in the military and grandfather was a pastor and a guy raised by hippies ever get together? Will Lins find a new calling? Will Neil straighten out his life? Be prepared to laugh - but also maybe to cry.
I used my understanding of life in the church as part of the foundation for the story. Church of the Epiphany has strong, caring characters in its congregation: its unflappable pastor Drew, the church's busy-body-ish but goodhearted secretary Sue, Lins' best friend Patti (her Auntie Mame), and more.
For the rock band stuff, I had rely on my imagination plus what I know about music and rock'n'roll, These guys are never going to be famous, but they play their gig for the sheer love of the music. Neil's band: supportive Joey, sardonic Ben, and observant Yankee.
And, oh, yeah - a wise, homeless Navy vet named Kenny also enters into the mix. He served as a Hospital Corpsman and now hopes, once he gets back on his feet, to finish his Master's degree and find work as a counselor.
You might want to check out HEART SOUL & ROCK'N'ROLL. It's available at squeakingpips.com, Amazon (paperback and kindle), and other online outlets. And maybe, with a great deal of luck and a little faith, as a movie. 
P.S. My goal is to get back to weekly blogging again. Keep your fingers crossed!
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