Maggie Dolan, forty-five-years old is struggling with getting older. With her husband disconnected and keeping something from her, and a daughter soon leaving for college, she realizes it’s her time to rediscover the woman she used to be. As Maggie starts out on this exciting and sometimes scary journey, she tries to navigate through the problems in her marriage, her daughter pulling away from her, her narcissistic mother, and the news that her father’s health is deteriorating. As Maggie gets overwhelmed, she finds herself making decisions that could blow up the life she’s always known. After Happily Ever After is a humorous and heartbreaking look at marriage, family, the empty nest, aging parents and what happens when they come crashing down at the same time.
Targeted Age Group:: 40-65+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Between Gen X and Baby Boomers, in the US alone, there are more than 75 million “mature women” searching for stories featuring relatable characters like this book’s protagonist, who is a middle-aged woman at a crossroads. The novel is inspired by mine and my friends’ experiences about our marriages and families. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve sometimes scrutinized the decisions that got us to where we are today. And at middle age, we face our own mortality when we witness the difficulties our parents go through as they age.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main character is not based on any one person, they are based on a combination of many women. The husband, daughter and parents are also created so the reader will see either themselves or their families and be able to feel like the issues they are dealing with in their lives, are not uncommon.
I zipped my jacket up to the top of my neck, which still didn’t keep the frigid air from whipping through my body. The sun hadn’t come out in two weeks, and I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever see it again. As I cursed myself for parking so far away from the bank, a handsome man wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap was walking toward me. His face was lit up by a smile. A smile so warm that it looked as if it rested on his face even if no one was around. As he got closer, the sun suddenly peeked out from behind a cloud. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Could this be the man for me? Would this be the day that something exciting finally happened? My heart began to race, and I saw my brand-new life in front of me. This man and I would spend all our time together, laughing, antique shopping, and having amazing sex. It would’ve all been perfect. . . .
If I were not already married.
At 5:55, I rolled out of bed and caught my reflection in the mirror above my dresser. That mirror was my enemy. It pointed out all the new wrinkles that had been born on my face while I slept. I was not taking to the idea of aging gracefully… gracefully.
The room was lit only by the glow of the clock. Jim was happily snoring and was no closer to waking up than our Bassett hound, Theo. I had five minutes before I had to get Gia up for school. She was going to be just as happy to hear my voice as I was to hear my mother’s twenty-three ago. My feet jumped as I touched the cold hard wood. Where the heck did I put my slippers? I walked through the dark room, feeling my way along the furniture. I made it past the footboard on the bed, and just when I thought I was safe, I stubbed my toe on the dresser. Damn those slippers. I bet they were laughing at me.
“Gia, it’s time to get up,” I called through the pain. I didn’t feel bad yelling when Jim was still asleep, he could sleep through anything. Hopefully, no one would ever break into the house and try to stab me in our bed.
After a moment, teenage mumbling echoed down the hall as sleep escaped her seventeen-year-old body. I shed my pajamas, and wondered how the heck did thirteen-year-old me morph into the body of a forty-year-old woman? Like most women, I resigned myself to the fact that it was out of my control. Or was it? If I started going to the gym again, I could tone up my floppy belly, my sagging under arms and my ass that was creasing below my thighs. As I got in the shower, I decided to either give it a great deal of thought or push it out of my mind. I stood under the warm spray letting it soothe me, and care for me. I would happily stay here forever.
“Mom.” Gia called as she charged into the bathroom as if she’d been left out of something. Forever was not living up to its reputation. I turned off the water, grabbed my robe off the floor, then wrapped my wet hair in a terry cloth turban. Her five-feet-six-inch lanky frame dwarfed my five-foot two compact self.
“What’s the weather like today?” She was wearing a silk shirt that barely hid the fact that she hadn’t put pants on.
“We live in Connecticut and its winter, what do you think the weather’s like?” I asked.
“It’s winter right now, but at some point, it’ll be spring.”
“You’ll get a warning, spring doesn’t really ‘spring’.”
“Mom you’re so funny.”
“You need to finish getting dressed. The last time I checked your school required pants.” I said. She rolled her eyes. Eyes I would’ve killed for. She had lush lashes that curled upwards, except for a few in the corner that curled down. At my age, my lashes were either falling out or turning gray. Long eyelashes were wasted on the young.
When she ran off, I threw on a pair of mom jeans, and a white hoodie and pulled my wet hair into a pink ponytail holder. Someday I’d find the motivation to update my wardrobe.
Before making Gia breakfast, I tried to wake Jim up. Not because I needed him for anything, but because it bugged me that he could sleep through all the commotion. I coughed loudly; he didn’t move. I faked a belly laugh, still nothing. I gave up and went downstairs.
Fifteen minutes later I was sitting across from Gia enjoying a cup of coffee while she scarfed down a bagel and cream cheese. She pushed a paper across the table not noticing the dab of cream cheese on the corner of it.
“Can you sign this, so I can get out of third period and go see my college counselor?”
“If I don’t sign, would you have to skip college and live with me forever?” The phone started ringing, but I ignored it.
“Not going to happen. I just hope I get into UCLA. I want to go to California where it doesn’t snow and there’s sunshine twenty-four hours a day.”
“If you really believe that I don’t have to worry that you’ll actually get in.”
“That sounds like something Dad would say.”
“You were blessed with parents with a great sense of humor.”
“I meant it’s annoying that you both make the same bad jokes. She wiped off the cream cheese from the paper, then licked it off her fingers. The phone rang again, but after two rings the person hung up. Can you just sign this?” Gia asked handing me a pen.
“Fine.” I took the pen she held out to me and signed.
“Don’t fault me for loving you so much I don’t want you to leave.”
“Do you love me enough to let me stay home from school tomorrow?”
“Nope, that’s where my love draws the line.”
She took the pen back from me and stuffed it in her backpack, then looked up at the clock on the microwave. “I gotta go.” She let me kiss her goodbye and I followed her to the front door.
I watched as she walked across what would be our grass if it wasn’t completely covered in fresh snow. Her heavy backpack weighed her down causing her to stride awkwardly. As she crossed onto the sidewalk, she dropped her lunch and in one fell swoop picked it up. I yearned for the little girl who always turned back wanting to see me wave one last time, but this young woman didn’t give me a second thought.
When I quit my job seventeen and a half years ago to stay home and raise her, I told myself publishing would have to wait. I was sure I’d go back to my editing job when Gia entered kindergarten, but she was such an anxious kid, I needed to be here when she got home from school. And now seventeen years had flown by and in a short time she’d be gone, and I was going to be alone.
I closed the front door because my fingers were getting numb, but I continued to watch her out the window. When she got to our corner, she walked toward a boy who was leaning against a black Honda Civic that was parked at the curb. I assumed it was her new boyfriend, Jason, although she still hadn’t let me meet him. He had dark hair that was shaved on the sides, then slicked up and over with gel. At least he didn’t have one of those man buns. Why he had to drive her when we lived only three blocks from school, I didn’t know. Well, I did know, and I didn’t want to think about it. He honked his horn until she got in the car. I’d hoped a daughter of mine wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior, but she smiled at him and got in the car. I could tell he was the same kind of boy I used to go for in high school. The kind that was full of himself. The kind that always broke my heart.
I went back upstairs and as I passed Gia’s room, the door was open, and I saw her wicker hamper in the corner laying on its side. Half her clothes were hanging from the rim, the other half scattered on the floor surrounding it. Was it really that difficult to put dirty clothes in a hamper? When she was four, we used to play a game together to keep her room neat. Barney the dinosaur has not been given enough credit for all the good he did in my house.
I sang at the top of my lungs. “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” After I finished my solo, I realized I’d picked up all her laundry and was now carrying it downstairs. I’d read the books; I’d heard the experts. I knew I should’ve left it and had her do it herself, but those experts weren’t coming to my house and listening to her whine that she had no clean clothes.
When I was half-way down the stairs, Jim called out from the kitchen. “Maggie, have you seen my keys?” I stayed put hoping he would find them, although I knew he wouldn’t. This was a dance we’d been doing for the eighteen years. The keys were probably on the kitchen counter under the huge pile of Psychology Today magazines. The magazines he never had time to read. The magazines I kept quietly throwing out when he wasn’t looking. I heard him tossing things around and I knew in his haste he was dumping stuff everywhere. I had to find his keys before the hurricane moved from the kitchen to the living room.
When I walked in the kitchen, Jim looked at me hopefully, as if I’d been sent from the Promised Land to help him.
“I can’t find my keys and I have a client coming in early.” He said pushing his bangs off his forehead. I sighed as he started looking in the appliances. Did he really think they’d be in the toaster oven? I glanced at the hook near our back door that we put in for this exact purpose, but his keys weren’t there. I moved the pile of magazines and handed him his keys. “Thanks,” he said relieved.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy After Happily Ever After Print Edition at Amazon
Buy After Happily Ever After Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Buy After Happily Ever After Print book for sale at Bookshop.org
Links to Purchase Audiobook
Listen to a sample of Audiobook at Amazon
Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
Buy After Happily Ever After On Amazon
Buy After Happily Ever After on Barnes and Noble/Nook
Buy After Happily Ever After on iBooks
Buy After Happily Ever After on Google Play
Buy After Happily Ever After on Kobo
All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.