On occasional Saturday nights, selected clients of Sarah Joy's salon convene for haircuts and socializing. One evening, a shotgun pressed against Sarah's forehead changes their little paradise forever.

1. You're tired of conventional adversary/hero stories.
2. You want to read something different.
3. As you get older you are learning to appreciate both the concept and the idea of "quirky".
4. You're intrigued to know that there are parts of this book that you will love and parts that may mildly offend you.
5. You have hair.
6. You periodically get your hair cut.
7. You like to actually get to know characters, and settle into a book.
8. You like to feel, when you're reading, like you're either in front of a raging fire or on the beach.
9. You want to figure out who's holding that shotgun.
10. You want to figure out where the fictional salon, The Conscilience (Sarah Joy, Proprietor) is located.
11. You want to buy the book now, just for the cover!
12. You're trying to figure out what to do with the Amazon gift certificate you got for Christmas.
13. YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT SUMMER READ - everyone will be talking about it, you know!
14. Every purchase helps residents of the Jersey shore in their rebuilding efforts. Please buy two!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


You should be asking yourself some questions about this book—questions such as “Why should I read this book?” “What is this book about?” and “Why would someone write this book?” If those are the questions that you came up with as well (on your own, not copying from anyone), good job! We’re going to get along well. Let me comment here, possibly addressing these questions. 

A good place to begin is the title. The story takes place, for the most part, in a salon called The Conscilience, owned and operated by a woman named Sarah Joy. Like most normal people you run into with your cart at the Food King, she’s an interesting person, one worth getting to know. She has this in common with most of the other characters you will meet.

Since this letter is an unlikely place to introduce her to you, I will. Characters in stories usually don’t come alive to the reader until the storyteller provides a description. Since this is a work of fiction, perhaps you can take a moment to picture your own Sarah Joy. When you leave her salon, you’re looking forward to the next time you see her. What would that person look like to you? Who could give you the hint of a head and neck massage before your haircut begins, and make you feel special and appreciated? Who would you feel completely comfortable talking to? Perhaps you just need to picture a face—one that you can look in the eye. Perhaps you just need to picture a smile. Can you imagine a laugh so infectious that, if you heard it, you could find its owner in a crowded room? Can you feel the touch of two hands on your shoulders that makes you instantly relax and look forward to an hour of pampering and good conversation? This should be all the description you need to get started.

Since we’re discussing a beauty salon, realize that, by the time you finish this book, you will think differently about them. You will have a template for operating a successful business. If you are a salon owner, you’ll come up with many new ideas for your own place. If you’re someone who has hair and gets it cut, you’ll be pissed that so little is done where you go, so you’ll be pointing out their shortfalls from now on. Keep thinking about what more can be done where you get your hair cut, to get them closer to the ultimate (Sarah Joy’s). There is a sea of ideas to sail in here for you. 

In further dissecting the title, the phrase “Saturday Night” appears. On some Saturday nights, when Townsend’s Florists is closed, when Sheffield’s Drugs and Sundries is snoring, and when Just Lamps is dark for the day, The Conscilience is open for business by appointment only. Regulars are scheduled in, frequently as couples. Friends work to secure the four or more time slots; then they all show up at 5 PM with wine and cheese, and settle in for a special evening. Not many people, I would guess, develop social situations around getting one’s hair done as extensively as do some of the Saturday night groupies at Sarah Joy’s. It’s a night for talking and imbibing. Sarah Joy knows how to be the catalyst to make everyone talk a little too much. Usually that makes the night even more fun, or so I’m told.

I heard some male eyes roll when I told you that the story takes place in a salon, possibly suggesting that this book is written primarily for female readers. This is, honestly, BS. If you’ve ever gotten your hair cut, this book is for you. I know a woman (unidentified) who was reading the book and enjoying it—until she made the mistake of sharing a few paragraphs with her husband. She’s now waiting to finish the book because her husband stole it and he’s reading it! I rest my case: this book is not written for “the ladies". This leads to my advice. For your personal sanity—buy two copies right from the start, and squelch the endless arguments that erupt when there’s only one copy in the bedroom. While the book has not even been printed at the time of this writing, there are rumors that some small Caribbean countries are actually requiring that the book be sold in pairs! I should also point out that it is the perfect book to be read anywhere—whether you’re cuddled up by the fire, on break at work, “working” at work, or by the pool! No, I don’t have a pool either, but with your help …

As the new owner of two copies of this book, with no questions asked concerning how you got them, you have a few assignments. Your first task, realizing that this is pure fiction (wink), is to determine where the salon and Sarah Joy are. You probably know someone who knows someone who goes there. There are certainly enough hints. The second assignment, for you to ponder while you’re getting your money’s worth in terms of meeting characters, is to think about who may be “the bad guy” in the last chapters. While this is largely a “slice of life” kind of story, with no particular beginning or ending, it also may be more. The end of the story contains the following lines (at least they were in a rough draft, I believe):

No one heard the door open. Sarah Joy was the first to notice the business end of a shotgun coming into her styling room from the main entrance. She raised her hand to silence the group, and they all froze. That shotgun was attached to a very unhappy-looking …

I feel obligated to warn you that this is a bit of a whodunit: not a typical whodunit, but there is a moment when you know there’s a gun but you don’t know who’s holding it—a moment of suspense, confusion, or personal satisfaction if you are anticipating whose finger is on the trigger. I just hate it when writers spring stuff like this on you late in the book and you feel like you need to read it over again, so I’m telling you now. Also, I promise it probably won’t be the guy who is introduced on page 901, who stopped by asking for directions, one page before he returns with an attitude. Keep this in mind as you get to know some of the characters. I’d recommend that you just be suspicious of everyone you encounter—in this book as well.

Thank you for spending some time with all of us whom you are about to meet. We’re glad you’re here. Did you bring any wine? Great!

But seriously …

Textbooks instruct writers on the importance of creating strong protagonists and antagonists when writing fiction. The story must have a pivotal character who wants something more than anything else, and a strong opponent who becomes a dangerous foe. Certainly much exciting and dramatic fiction follows such writing rules. I prefer to live a slice of life with the characters who appear when I write. Life—where you get to know the good from the bad by how they act and how they live. Life—where, if you participate, you’ll find that ordinary people can do amazing and surprising things. It’s easy to develop the story of a hero, different to appreciate that average people in life can rise to become a hero at any moment—or an antihero. For every hero who makes the news, there are thousands who quietly do what needs to be done, usually surprising even themselves.

I hope you will enjoy getting to know the special, average people in this book—except, perhaps, for one or two.

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