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A New Twist on Starting Over in "Middle Ageish" by Shirley Goldberg

Please make welcome another lovely Rose sister (from The Wild Rose Press), Shirley Goldberg! We're celebrating her brand new book release, Middle Ageish, (Starting Over Book 1). The Tavern is serving champagne, so grab a glass and let's hear what Shirley has to say about her fabulous new story...


(New Haven ~ home for Sunny Chanel from Middle Ageish)

Middle Ageish, my novel, is romantic women’s fiction. It is as much about friendship as it is about dating, and as much about starting over as it is about finding your inner strength.

With everything in our world in flux these days, I thought I’d say a few words about my friends during these tough times.

The funny thing? I think dating and friendship are more closely related than we ever dreamed they would be.

Let me explain.

Date Your Friends, Narrow Your Distancing

Nowadays, friends are essential to our health. I don’t have family nearby, so maintaining my friendships is especially important, especially those friendships with history. It takes effort, but staying in contact with as many of our friends as possible is a priority for most of us.

In fact, I’ve put a name to this and say I’m dating my friends. Not so weird since I write a lot about relationships and find myself skewing almost everything in life to dating.

A few years back, I wrote an article about the quest for a literary agent, and compared that elusive search to dating.

Same with getting bids from tile guys for a recent project. I considered all candidates from the point of view of a woman dating online. Did the guy arrive late? How savvy were his social skills? Did he put on little plastic booties before coming into my house?

Friends with history are the best

When I needed a real estate agent, though, I turned to a friend, in spite of the old advice about keeping business separate from friendship. We went back 20 years, and there’s nothing like history for cutting through the stickiness that crops up with tricky stuff like selling your house.

She told me, for example, my room color choices (pale pink, please don’t laugh) were turning buyers off. I listened, we repainted, and the place sold.

A week ago, I had a two-hour phone conversation with two friends I originally met in Crete, Greece over 20 years ago. One now lives in Nova Scotia, and the other lives in Crete.

There’s nothing like going back, way back, remembering the old stories, the kind where you had to be there. Having a belly laugh over the time I spit out my wine at dinner in an outdoor restaurant because my friend made me laugh? No one but your oldest friend can share that with you.

I recently connected with a friend I’ve known over 40 years, and for the first time in a long while, we exchanged life stories, catching up on the personal stuff, remembering our childhood adventures, talking about my mom, who she remembers fondly.

Multiple back-to-back dates are great

These moments warm our hearts, ease our minds, help us wind down. Keeping our spirits up by dating a different friend every day is as important as eating well and exercising.

“All we really have is people – nothing else matters,” says my friend Patricia.

And having a couple of back-to-back dates is not only acceptable, it gives you energy.

“You get something different from every one of your friends,” another friend says, adding that with good friends, “There’s nothing you can do that is horrible; nothing you can’t say.”

Like real dating protocol, there are rules of etiquette to follow when dating your friends and acquaintances.

This has been a learning experience for us all as we look forward to the day we’ll reunite and celebrate. Meanwhile, I have a few gentle suggestions for making your phone and Zoom get-togethers events you’ll cherish. Click here to read more: http://:


Sunny Chanel's marriage is circling the drain when her husband marks his colonoscopy on the calendar and ignores their anniversary. With divorce papers instead of roses on the horizon, she says "au revoir" Paris and croissants, and "hello" cheap New Haven apartment and ramen noodles. Encouraged by her friends, Sunny jumps into online dating, twenty-three years and twenty pounds after her last date. To her surprise she discovers dating might require a helmet, and occasionally armor to protect her heart, but after years of being ignored, her adventurous side craves fun and conversation. She's middle-aged not dead. Then suddenly, on the way to reinventing herself, life takes a left turn when the one man she can't forget calls with an unexpected request.


Sneak preview from Middle Ageish

I hadn’t seen Noah since our kissy-face first meet. He’d taken on extra shifts, and I’d been busy packing and meeting guys whose names I didn’t remember.

I checked my email. A text blew in from Noah.

––To: Sunny

From: Noah

Subject: Kiss my face

Dear Sunny,

I’m a programmer and an analyst and I figure our date was really three hundred dates in one (1) and so the next will be #301. Here are the stats:

Canalathon: 6.0 hrs.

Eating: 2.5

Spot decisions: 0.3

Communication: 3.4

Navigation ie you: 2.5

Good night peck: 0.1, 0.1, 0.1, 0.1…

Final peck 9.0

I had a very pleasant time on our date to see if we should date.

May I accompany you to the theater Friday night?

Yes, dear.

Our seats are side by side

Sweet sleeps


To: Noah

From: Sunny

Mr. Noah: The theater? Such a delight. Thank you, yes.

I logged off and sat looking at my half-eaten sandwich. Noah made me laugh. I was having fun for the first time in a very long time. There was an upside to getting closer to Noah, concentrating on Noah, letting it go wherever it would take me, whether it finished in a dead-end or a long-term relationship.

The sandwich was tuna with mayo on rye bread. I took a bite. A tad dry because I didn’t have lettuce or sprouts in the house.

No sprouts in the house.

The phrase tinkled in my head. Noah would like that.

Even though I’d known him a short time, I knew he’d like that.



Meet the Author

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website offers a humorous look at living single and dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Middle Ageish is her first book in the series Starting Over. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

Visit my website for another excerpt from the book. Sign up and grab a copy of Happy Hour, a short story about an online meet and a tiny misunderstanding.

Connect with Shirley here


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