The mad dash through a novel

A former high school English teacher and freelance court reporter, Patricia Gaffney is the bestselling author of several historical romance novels since 1989, including her debut, Sweet Treason, the winner of won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart award. Lately her fiction has taken a contemporary turn with The Saving Graces, Circle of Three, and The Goodbye Summer, all national bestsellers.

Guest Reviewer: Nora Roberts

The Mad Dash Through a Novel Nora Roberts, who also writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, is the author of over 150 bestselling, including: Angels Fall; Born in Death; Blue Smoke; The Reef; and High Noon, published in July 2007.

ItÂ’s been too long between Patricia Gaffney books. Too long, in this readerÂ’s opinion, to settle in with a story told in her unique and engaging style. Fortunately, Mad Dash is worth the wait.

By turns quirky, poignant and flat-out funny, Mad Dash mines the treasure trove of consequences, epiphanies and surprises when a long-time married couple experiences mid-life crises simultaneously.

The underlying question Gaffney asks through her utterly human characters shines a mirror on anyone whoÂ’s ever been in a relationship. How can I love you when you annoy me so much?

For Dash Bateman, floundering after the death of her mother, and with her only child off at college, a moment of impulse reaps enormous repercussions. An abandoned puppy, a husband with allergies, a simmering discontent add up to a flashover that has her walking out on her husband and their D.C. home to take up residence in their summer cabin in Virginia–with puppy.

It was all his fault anyway.

Andrew Bateman isnÂ’t one for change or for impulses. HeÂ’s perfectly happy–or so he tells himself–with his steady if routine career as a college professor. HeÂ’s certain heÂ’ll enjoy a little break from his energetic and often chaotic wife. A little peace and quiet, a little order, with everything in its place.

Besides, sheÂ’ll be back.

Over the six months of their strange and somehow intimate separation, Dash falls back in love with her job as a childrenÂ’s portrait photographer, and remembers not only who she was, but learns to understand and accept who she is. Andrew discovers peace and quiet isnÂ’t all he assumed it would be–and that if his eight-year-old neighbor understands women better than he does, it might be time to learn.

Using alternating points of view, Gaffney exposes he hearts and minds, the frustrations, flaws and foibles of the two central characters with such affectionate clarity, youÂ’ll find yourself rooting for both of them.

Mad Dash blends the colorful, impulsive Dash, the steady, yet hypochondria-prone Andrew with a cast of diverse, well-drawn characters, flavors them with a perfect blend of humor and heart, and simmers them together in entertaining style.

The result is a delightful soufflé of a novel the reader will remember long after the last page.

Gaffney's latest (after The Goodbye Summer) chronicles a 20-year marriage on the verge of imploding. Vivacious, impulsive professional photographer Dash Bateman is the opposite of her worrywart, straitlaced husband, Andrew, a history professor at Mason-Dixon College.

After Dash's mother dies and the couple packs off their daughter for her freshman year at college, Dash's crisis of purpose culminates with Dash fleeing her house and husband for an extended stay in the couple's isolated cabin.

As they attempt to live without one another, Andrew flirts with a feisty younger colleague and salivates over the chance to be chair of his department (if he can navigate the politics), and Dash finds a substitute mother, daughter and potential love interest.

Gaffney tells the story from both Dash's and Andrew's points-of-view, allowing readers to see how the two frustrate and fall in love with one another. The writing is lively, though scenes involving conversations about the nature of love and relationships can turn tedious.

The climax teeters on the edge of being over the top, but the denouement is just rosy. It's a lot of fun, and the faults are easily forgiven. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Not only men have midlife crises. Meet Dash Bateman. She is a free-spirited photographer who recently lost her mother and sent her daughter off to college. After a trivial fight with her history-professor husband, Andrew, over a puppy, Dash takes the dog and leaves.

Tired of Andrew's boring faculty parties, his hypochondria, and his obsessive list making, Dash feels trapped in a life she didn't plan. Out at their cabin, Dash explores the possibilities of reinventing herself and her life on her own. But it is the people around her who challenge Dash's desires and dreams. Mrs.

Bender acts as a wise, surrogate mother. Dash's best friend, Mo, is recently divorced and is playing the field with gusto. Greta, her young assistant, reminds Dash of her earlier self; and Owen the handsome handyman just might make her forget all about Andrew.

Popular women's fiction writer Gaffney doesn't fuss over plot, instead creating a funny, lighthearted, and tender look at what brings people together, what makes a marriage, and what it takes to keep it together. Kubisz, Carolyn

“I loved MAD DASH. Patricia Gaffney’s books are always heartfelt and wise–but most of all, laugh-out-loud funny–and this one is my favorite yet!”

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—Janet Evanovich“With humor and compassion, Patricia Gaffney tells the story of a marriage, and the flawed and fascinating people inside it. Both touching and funny, MAD DASH is an intimate view, through the eyes of characters who resonate, of the human heart.”

  • –Nora Roberts
  • –Susan Elizabeth Phillips, author of Natural Born Charmer
  • –Kristin Hannah, author of The Things We Do for Love
  • –Elizabeth Buchan, author of Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman

“I fell in love with MAD DASH. Head over heels. It's must reading for any woman who's been married longer than ten years. No one can beat Patricia Gaffney at writing moving and deeply revealing women's fiction that doesn't leave you racing to take an antidepressant when you're done.”“Patricia Gaffney is a powerful, original voice in women’s fiction. Funny, poignant, and true-to-life, Mad Dash is an absolute delight from start to finish. From the moment you begin the crazy journey that is Dash’s midlife crisis, you’ll see yourself, your friends, and your own family. Don’t miss this wonderful novel about one woman’s chaotic trip into the dark, secret terrain of her own heart.” “Mad Dash is a lovely, lovely novel. It is funny, true, wise, and inspiring, and I could not have enjoyed it more.”

Mad Dash is beautiful, witty, and wise; an intensely honest and compelling story of a couple in crisis where no one is to blame and everyone is. Gaffney’s portrait of a marriage is both great storytelling and exquisite writing–a wonderful book. Mad Dash is dazzling.”

–Jennifer Crusie, author of Manhunting

New York Times bestselling author PATRICIA GAFFNEY lives in southern Pennsylvania with her husband.

Mad Dash — Patricia Gaffney

What provoked this Mad Dash?

It’s not that I have a short attention span, and it’s not that I’m easily bored—in fact, I’m never bored. It’s just that I can’t write the same sort of book indefinitely. I run out of new things to say, and I’m terrified of repeating myself—God knows I do that often enough in real life.

So, after four books about either women’s friendships (The Saving Graces) or mothers and daughters (Circle of Three, Flight Lessons, The Goodbye Summer), I knew I needed a change. Women, women everywhere! Help! I was drowning in estrogen!

Don’t get me wrong—relationships among women are endlessly varied and fascinating, and my friends mean the world to me. But let’s face it, this is a two, count ’em, two-gendered world, and I had been ignoring the second one for a long time. Time to go back to my roots.

Yes, my roots. Did you know I used to write historical romance novels? Twelve of them, and I had the best time—what pure fun those books were, all set in different places, different times. Ah, romance. Emotional intensity, larger-than-life characters, great sex, unambiguously happy endings—what’s not to love?

Well, the twelve-ness, primarily, plus that old horror of repeating myself. Frankly, I was dying to get away from Love, capital L, and move into the subtler, arguably calmer world of just women.

That was then, this is now.

Mad Dash, my first new book in three years, is both a departure and a return. It’s a love story between grownups.

The main characters are Dash and Andrew, married for 20 years (can’t get much more grown up than that), and when we meet them, she’s leaving him. I don’t blame her: they found a puppy half-frozen on the doorstep, and Andrew won’t let her keep it. (Allergies.

) And Dash needs that puppy—her mother died last summer, and her only child’s just gone off to college. For Dash, the puppy is the last straw.

But she’s no picnic at the beach, either, spouse-wise, and I enjoyed writing about her from Andrew’s point of view. And I realized I’d missed writing from the male point of view, something I used to do all the time in my romances.

It’s fun and intriguing, keeps you on your narrative toes, and I think I do it well, possibly better than from the female pov. Wonder why? Maybe because my men usually get less screen time, and it’s easier to make a comparatively secondary character’s voice appealing.

You can leave more out. You can be coy.

Ultimately, though, Mad Dash is Dash’s book. Her voice is more urgent, her story more compelling.

She’s us—women in midlife confronting our failures and discontents, vague longings, leavetakings and abandonments, and let us not forget the dreaded perimenopause.

It’s a serious book, but it’s also a comedy, and so the journey Dash takes is a circle. Lessons are learned, some of them hard, and things end the way they should.

The Mad Dash: Being a kid at heart leads to local author’s success

By Kelcy Dolan

Newly established author Tom Kiernan has always been a “kid at heart.” Embracing his youthful mentality, Kiernan made the life-changing decision to leave the corporate world last year to try his luck as a writer.

After more than seven months of writing and editing, Kiernan’s first book, The Mad Dash: Bite My Dust, was self-published through Amazon’s CreateSpace program and released on June 1.

The Mad Dash, a young adult novel geared towards middle schoolers, follows the story of Hank Martin and CJ King, two best friends entering their last year of middle school, when Hank learns he is diagnosed with cancer and has less than a year to live.

The two friends find a one of a kind cell phone with an app for time travel. While they search for a cure, the friends are chased by the “suits,” a mysterious governmental group desperate for the technology.

The Mad Dash: Bite My Dust, the first installment in The Mad Dash series, takes readers along for the adventure in a 200-plus page book.

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For the past year, Kiernan, 49, has taken quite a journey himself, leaving his corporate position as vice president of Global Enablement for American Power Conversion by Schneider Electric in West Kingston to try his hand at writing.

Kiernan grew up in East Greenwich and attended Tufts University in Boston, receiving a degree in political science and history. He would go on to work for Amica Insurance for almost 10 years, living in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He moved to American Power Conversion in 2000. He and his family, wife Billie and sons Michael and James, now live in Warwick.

Kiernan had always been interested in and enjoyed creative writing and publishing a book. Nearly eight years ago he had tried his hand at writing a screenplay with a friend, one that would go on to influence The Mad Dash, but with the time constraints of life, between family and work, the play never got off the ground.

“After 15 years, I was at a point in my career that if I was ever going to become a writer now would be the time,” Kiernan said. “So I took a leap of faith. It was a scary one, no doubt, but I’m so happy I did it.”

Kiernan explained that there are a lot of challenges that come with writing for a younger audience, especially for the “sweet spot” as children are transitioning from middle to high school.

These younger children haven’t always encountered the challenges that come with high school, and he believes as an author you have to “write to their innocence.

” These young readers are also looking for characters they can connect with, that have similar perspectives as their own, “speak in their language.”

Kiernan has a keen insight to this age group. With two sons, he was a coach for Warwick Junior Hockey League for several years and was “entrenched” in that age group.

  • “Connecting with these readers wasn’t really too difficult for me because I’m still connected to that kid inside my head,” Kiernan said.
  • Throughout his writing process, Kiernan had between 25 and 30 beta readers, offering criticism and advice to make The Mad Dash the best it could be, but his “champion” beta reader was his son, James, 14.
  • Although Michael is a little older, 18, James is still in the tail end of his middle school years and was a perfect representation of The Mad Dash’s readership.
  • James read four different versions of the text and was both his father’s “biggest fan and greatest critic,” telling his father when things didn’t make sense or weren’t as funny as expected, giving a key perspective of the book’s targeted audience.

Kiernan said, “I have had immense support from my family, especially my wife, Billie. Without them there is no way this would have happened.”

Kiernan also had a close connection with the subject matter of his book as one of his closest childhood friends was diagnosed with leukemia when they were quite young. The experience has always “stuck” with him and greatly influenced his writing.

Luckily, his friend recovered and he and Kiernan are still close friends today. This friend read the book and was endeared by the story.

For Kiernan, the hardest part of writing his first book was “killing his darlings,” cutting out pieces of his writing that his beta readers disagreed with.

“You become very attached to your writing. You may find something funny or really love a specific paragraph, but your readers may not agree with the overall story or have little relevance,” he said. “Ultimately, the advice is appreciated because it makes your book better for your readers, but it is still hard to get rid of.”

Although The Mad Dash: Bite My Dust has been released for a little less than a month, Kiernan has received a positive reaction from readers. Several middle schools throughout the state have endorsed his book for summer reading and Cole Middle School in East Greenwich highlighted the book for students encouraging them to read it for their “Free Choice” book.

Mad Dash; a novel

Synopsis:

The poor thing was cold and trembling, abandoned on their front doorstep. Dash, impulsive as always, decides on the spot that they should keep it. But her husband, Andrew, thinks it’s the craziest thing he’s ever heard.

A fight over a scruffy little dog doesn’t seem like much of a reason to walk out on your husband of twenty years—but the spat over the puppy is just the last of many straws.

Dash is so tired of the faculty parties at Mason-Dixon College that Andrew insists they attend even though he won’t mingle with his colleagues, tired of his constant fretting over illnesses he doesn’t have, tired of the glass of warm milk he must have every night before bed.

Why can’t he see that with her mother gone and their daughter off at college, Dash needs something more? Now, living on her own for the first time in years, Dash can do whatever she wants . . . if only she could figure out what that is. But every time she starts making plans for the future, she finds herself thinking about the past—remembering the mother she’s lost, her daughter’s childhood, and the husband she isn’t entirely sure she wants to leave behind. . . .

By turns poignant and hilarious—often on the same page—Mad Dash is a novel about the funny ways love has of catching up to us despite our most irrational efforts to leave it behind.

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Review:

A former high school English teacher and freelance court reporter, Patricia Gaffney is the bestselling author of several historical romance novels since 1989, including her debut, Sweet Treason, the winner of won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart award. Lately her fiction has taken a contemporary turn with The Saving Graces, Circle of Three, and The Goodbye Summer, all national bestsellers.

Guest Reviewer: Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts, who also writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, is the author of over 150 bestselling, including: Angels Fall; Born in Death; Blue Smoke; The Reef; and High Noon, published in July 2007.

It’s been too long between Patricia Gaffney books. Too long, in this reader’s opinion, to settle in with a story told in her unique and engaging style. Fortunately, Mad Dash is worth the wait. By turns quirky, poignant and flat-out funny, Mad Dash mines the treasure trove of consequences, epiphanies and surprises when a long-time married couple experiences mid-life crises simultaneously. The underlying question Gaffney asks through her utterly human characters shines a mirror on anyone who’s ever been in a relationship. How can I love you when you annoy me so much? For Dash Bateman, floundering after the death of her mother, and with her only child off at college, a moment of impulse reaps enormous repercussions. An abandoned puppy, a husband with allergies, a simmering discontent add up to a flashover that has her walking out on her husband and their D.C. home to take up residence in their summer cabin in Virginia–with puppy. It was all his fault anyway. Andrew Bateman isn’t one for change or for impulses. He’s perfectly happy–or so he tells himself–with his steady if routine career as a college professor. He’s certain he’ll enjoy a little break from his energetic and often chaotic wife. A little peace and quiet, a little order, with everything in its place. Besides, she’ll be back. Over the six months of their strange and somehow intimate separation, Dash falls back in love with her job as a children’s portrait photographer, and remembers not only who she was, but learns to understand and accept who she is. Andrew discovers peace and quiet isn’t all he assumed it would be–and that if his eight-year-old neighbor understands women better than he does, it might be time to learn. Using alternating points of view, Gaffney exposes he hearts and minds, the frustrations, flaws and foibles of the two central characters with such affectionate clarity, you’ll find yourself rooting for both of them. Mad Dash blends the colorful, impulsive Dash, the steady, yet hypochondria-prone Andrew with a cast of diverse, well-drawn characters, flavors them with a perfect blend of humor and heart, and simmers them together in entertaining style. The result is a delightful soufflé of a novel the reader will remember long after the last page.

“About this title” may belong to another edition of this title.

The Mad Dash Through a Novel

I have a confession—I overuse the em-dash. That sentence, in fact, would have been better written with a colon.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—I mean, as executive director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)—an organization that espouses the notion of “writing with abandon” for 30 days each November to create a 50,000-word novel—dashes come in quite handy.

Dashes Catapult Sentences Forward

Dashes—although they interrupt sentences—also catapult sentences forward, because of all punctuation marks, the dash possesses action, drama, and speed. As Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty so astutely put it, the dash is “the yowl of a pirate dashing into a fray”—just what one needs to write a novel with high velocity.

Dashes dash in every sort of way—they dance giddily, sashay, stab, and rumble—connecting even as they disconnect in their insistence on motion. Dashes assert—where parentheses and commas de-emphasize.

Sure, they can annoy readers with their cajoling—and they often force readers to struggle through options and assemble sentences themselves—but they also give prose a pulse, lifting sentences from the flat textures they typically reside in.

Dashes Show Simultaneity

My favorite use of the dash is to capture the simultaneity of life—the paradoxical crowding of texts, tweets, memories, yearnings, and to-do lists in our increasingly distracted, disjointed heads.

Our thoughts are a thicket of asides and interruptions—so the dash is the best punctuation mark to represent the dramas of our ADD states—to present the schisms and drifts of a character’s consciousness in its entirety.

In fact, the dash wasn’t even commonly used before the 1700s. It’s a punctuation mark that has only found its place in the modern world’s multiplicity and speed.

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