ATOMIC SUMMER, Elaine D. Walsh and cancer charities

Atomic Summer, my debut novel, hit the book scene on June 21, the first day of summer.  Given that it is #11 on Amazon’s list of Hot New Releases in Coming of Age, after the first two days, I like to say it “exploded” on the book scene.  This might be a firecracker to an A List multi-published already bestselling author, but for this Indie Author just learning to navigate the world of social media and self-marketing, it was a small nuclear blast. 

Speaking of nuclear blasts, let’s start with the title and cover.  Three girls gathered, unaware a nuclear bomb is falling on top of them.  BOOM!  What is your reaction women’s fiction, coming of age, historical fiction reader?  I have done my job if it is to download it onto your Kindle, Nook, e-reader, or pick up the book and turn the pages, or visit my website to find out more, or look for an online review, because something explosive is going here.  You read it in the title and see it on the cover.   

THREE friends, TWO secrets, ONE lie, and the summer that changed their lives.

The world is ripe for destruction in 1953.  The Korean War drags on and the Rosenbergs are executed as spies.  Senator Joseph McCarthy convinces the country communists are infiltrating the government, and the threat of nuclear war festered in the collective consciousness of the nation.

While the nation worries about communist bombs, sixteen-year-old Bernadette Vaughn holds court in the family bomb shelter, finagling a way to read Kinsey’s groundbreaking work on human sexuality.  She obsesses about boys and big city life.  Her best friend, Faith McNulty is a devout Catholic who dreams of staying in their small town, marrying Allen Hanlon, and raising a family.  Their awkward and unattractive friend, Octavia Mansfield doesn’t have room in her life for boys, dreams, or God.  She spends most of her young life caring for her severely disabled brother.

Their conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world were imminent become the catalyst for a prank that spins wildly beyond control and draws in an entire town.


Left behind in the wake of that summer’s events are their unrealized dreams and open wounds.  In 1973, a reunion trip to the small town of their youth returns them to the summer of 1953 and the passion and betrayal that changed their lives.


What would you do if you thought the end of the world was imminent?  Spend the rest of the time you had with your family?  Make amends with others?  Go to church?  A bar, perhaps?  Walk out on your job and see as much of the world as you could before it disappeared into oblivion?  Follow some queues from TimMcGraw’s song Live Like You Were Dying and ride a bull named Fu Man Chu?  If you are sixteen versus sixty, will the answer be different?  And if you did something you would not ordinarily do because the end was near and therefore no consequences could follow, would your answer be different?  For those who believe in an afterlife, maybe not.  For others not even thinking that way, maybe. 

How didBernadette, Faith and Octavia answer that question?  What happened that summer that changed the course of their lives?  And why do they return in 1973 for a reunion trip to the small town of their youth?  You will just have to read the book to find out.

And when you buy the book, 100% of the profits from my book sale royalties in 2012 will be donated to cancer related causes and charities.  It was my mother’s story about her and her friend’s conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world was imminent that was the creative spark for Atomic Summer.  This book is dedicated to her memory.  She passed away in 2008 at the age of sixty-three after battling primary peritoneal cancer.  It is a rare and aggressive cancer with few warning signs.  She had already beat breast cancer when she was thirty-eight.  Most of us will never receive the diagnosis “you have cancer”.  Some of us will.  Few will hear it repeated to them as my mother did. 

I didn’t publish Atomic Summer to make money.  Writers want readers.  The page is our stage and readers our audience.  Our works are performances for our reading audiences to enjoy.  To perform for the reader was always my dream.  I published Atomic Summer to realize that dream.  If I can take my dream and turn it into a way to help other’s realize their dreams of cancer free lives, what better way to honor my mother’s life?  My initial goal is to find many readers for Atomic Summer, sold out performances, and write many checks to charity.  My bold goal is to have a bestseller and create a foundation to carry on charitable works.  I hope others will join me in this goal and enjoy a good read while accomplishing it.

Faith:  1973

I dislike peaches.  Cling, whole, half, frozen, or in pies.  It doesn’t matter what kind or any way they’re served, they’re still peaches.  Savannah Vaughn served peaches twelve months of the year.  She was vain about her peaches.  Truth be told, she was vain about everything.  Her appearance.  Her money.  Her home.  Even her Cadillac.  I imagine she figured anything that touched her life others desired for their own.  That extended right down to her peaches.

In the winter when a primer coat of snow dusted Port Pompeii, every living soul contemplated how many inches we’d be digging out of in a few hours; all the while hoping the electricity would hold up to the storm.  Except Savannah Vaughn.  She thought about peaches.  Before the snowfall buried the cellar door, she would send Bernadette and Peter out to their bomb shelter to fetch jars she had canned in the spring.  Then she would go about making peach pie in the middle of a snowstorm.  I knew not to be caught at the Vaughn’s house when the snow was getting deep enough to provoke a “might as well stay here until the weather passes” comment.

The Vaughns were the only family in town with their very own bomb shelter.  In the event of nuclear war, the rest of Port Pompeii’s citizens were to head to the courthouse basement.  The whole town would vie for a spot in a place we knew wouldn’t hold us all, plus the ration of supplies needed to tide a town over while the radioactive atmosphere became safe again.  First come; first serve.  I shudder just thinking that thought today, but that is what it would have been, everyone racing to beat his or her neighbors there.  Except for me.  I was Bernadette Vaughn’s best friend and therefore entitled to a place in the Vaughn’s shelter.  After all, Savannah declared her children would need friends after such a horrible event, which we all knew was not just a question if it would occur, but when.  And when it did, I would be saved.  Savannah Vaughn expected those she invited in to her world to feel privileged, and for this one honor, I did.

Besides being a sanctuary that would save us when the inevitable nuclear war came, the Vaughn’s shelter was a favorite place to lounge around, cool off, grow bored, and grow up.  It afforded us the privacy that sixteen-year-old girls believe they need from their families.  The shelter was stocked with all the necessary supplies nuclear holocaust survivors needed: first aid kit, chemical toilet, gas masks, flashlights, tools, water, an air blower, and a generator.  An entire wall housed wooden shelving stocked with canned goods and glass canning jars crammed with peaches.  After escaping radiation poisoning, we wouldn’t escape Savannah Vaughn’s peaches.


Visit Elaine

Atomic Summer @Amazon



Nimitz Highway and River Street is an intersection on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  This is where Elaine impatiently came out of the womb ready to start on her own personal history.  She grew up in upstate New York against the backdrop of the flowering women’s rights movement with different ideas from my mother as to what life as a woman should be.  In college, she majored in psychology with the intent of being a “death & dying” counselor.  This would be her paying job while she wrote the next great American novel.  Plan B kicked in and she graduated with a B.A. in English, packed her car, and upset her parents by moving to Florida in search of her destiny.

Without ever having taken one business course, she created my own brand and became a successful business executive by day and women’s fiction writer by night.  So far, she has have lived a Lifetime Movie Network life, a mixture of extraordinary, ordinary, mundane, and terrifying, providing her great inspiration and fanning her creative flame.

The most powerful influences in her life and her stories are being a daughter, mother, friend, and soul mate.  But as a successful women’s fiction writer, does this surprise anyone?

Be Sociable, Share!

2 comments to ATOMIC SUMMER, Elaine D. Walsh and cancer charities

  • Linda Rumore

    Bought the book as soon it was available, and its great ! Inspiring,light hearted, and humorus, as well as the kind of book Us as woman can all relate to, Elaine has done a outstanding job,in her first book, I know there will be more to come ! Her Mother in deed would be proud, of Elaine’s work, not that She wasnt of who Elaine Walsh had already become, a sucessful bussiness woman, Mother, as well as friend ! Her Mothers Legency will be honored , by Elaines vision to help the Cancer Cause, with Atomic Summer book sales, This truly shows, her compassion for others and that is what makes Elaine who she is a Fantastic Woman !

  • Dana Hughes

    It doesn’t surprise me that Elaine would give 100% of her profits to cancer related charities. She is one of the most generous people I know, with her time as well as her money. As I’m reading this enjoyable book, I am reminded of her wonderful mother, Dianne. She was so proud of Elaine for the person she was. I know she’s smiling down at Elaine now and bragging about Elaine to God and everyone else in Heaven.