York County Coast star columnist Shawn Sullivan publishes new book

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Mom has this expression she uses a lot. She says: “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”

That’s what she says when she’s having fun – mostly when she’s out somewhere surrounded by her grandkids. But she often thinks it when she’s alone—usually when she’s leisurely cruising the local country lanes or watching one of those Hallmark Channel movies with Andrew Walker on TV.

I have a literal side that often trips me up, and I often did when Mom said, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”

Once my family, my mom and I, with my cousin Jim and his wife Diane, were enjoying burgers and fries at a restaurant in Virginia. With a burger in hand, Mom paused, looking around, enjoying the company, the delicious food, and the nice weather, and conjured up her favorite phrase.

Good-naturedly – but with a desperation that is admittedly more befitting of a teenage son than a middle-aged son – I turned to Mom and said, “You said that the last time we were all out together. It’s obviously getting better or you wouldn’t say it again.”

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Jim, who is older and wiser, smiled and helped me end years of dullness.

“She probably means right now,” he said.

Mom smiled too. Jim was right.

Ah. I understand it. When Mom says, “It just doesn’t get any better,” she’s not speaking for all time. She says she enjoys the present moment so much that it cannot be improved upon.

You probably knew that. I do not have. See? This literal side.

The cover of Shawn Sullivan's new book,

And here I ask you: Are you looking for something easy to read when the carefree summer days fade away? Something to laugh or smile about? And sure, something that might occasionally bring tears to your eyes, if that’s okay with you? If so, maybe I have something for you.

I have a new book out. And – you guessed it – they say: “It just doesn’t get any better than this!”

I called the book a memoir. I looked up the definition and it fits. It’s basically a collection of this very column that I’ve written for the York County Coast Star over the years. Columns I wrote when I was the Sanford News editor are also included. The subtitle of the book is “Memories, Middle Ages and Mom’s Favorite Phrase”.

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I’ve taken about 75 of the hundreds of columns I’ve written and organized them into a book with a chronological order and a theme that serves the title. parenting. Marriage. Age. It’s all in there – the highs and lows of life, with an emphasis on the highs. On its 334 pages there are also stories that just want to make you laugh. That reminds me of my disastrous attempt to dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas. So did the time I left my car in the driveway all night. In full heat. At a time when auto thefts were in the news here in Sanford.

I am deeply grateful to Howard Altschiller, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Seacoast Media Group, for blessing this book. I originally wrote these columns under Deadline. I curated the book in my spare time – and wrote its introduction and afterword. This means I’ve revisited much of the material, tweaking it even further for grammar, clarity and impact where necessary, and adding details and anecdotes that I may not have had the time, space or inclination to explore the first time, to record them.

For example, a play called “Letting Go” focuses on the time I took my daughter, Maddie, to tour college in New York City when she was 17 and a graduate of high school. I expanded the piece to include the anxiety I felt when she went into town alone … and didn’t text me when she first arrived at her destination and then went radio silent for the next hour. I was at our hotel in Secaucus, New Jersey the whole time, trying not to think about all the Liam Neeson thrillers I’d seen over the years. Why didn’t Maddie text me like she said she would? Ah, here I am going to practice the fine art of advertising and say that the answer is in the book. Which is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

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I like to write. Publishing a book is rewarding. However, promotion is a challenge for me. I do not consider myself proficient in the arts and often feel awkward and self-indulgent when I have to practice them. But here’s the thing: I’m proud of this book and I believe I have something here – something you can relate to, something that will make you smile and laugh and maybe even cause a heartache or two.

If you decide to purchase the book or borrow it from a local library, thank you. i hope you enjoy it I hope it takes you, if only for a little while, off this roller coaster ride of a world we all ride on. I hope it brings you connection and joy.

To paraphrase Mom, it just wasn’t going to get any better.

Shawn P. Sullivan is an award-winning columnist and reporter for the York County Coast Star. He can be reached at [email protected]

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