Monday, May 8, 2017

Jersey Diner VBT

Lauren has a dead end job as a waitress at the Oaklyn Diner. She becomes ecstatic when the diner is chosen to be the focal point of an upcoming movie, *Jersey Diner,* starring Jonathan Pearce. When filming ends she moves to California to start a new life with him. Lauren quickly discovers that all that she thought was real and true are in question.

“Here’s a copy of the script, read through it and then go over the scenes with the girl.”
“I can try. I never acted so I don’t know how much of a help I’ll be.”
He plopped it into my arms. The script weighed more than a stacked tray.
“This isn’t about acting. It’s about realism. That’s why we need your help. You’re a real waitress and this one just doesn’t get it.” He smirked. “If I could get ten cents for every time one of these actresses thought they could feel their way through a part. I’d be a zillionaire. Then give me a dime for every time they were wrong. Oh. I’d be …” He stopped. “Start reading.” 
I had opened the cover and started flipping through the pages.
“Good. I knew you’d be the right person for the job. We’ll pay you for your time. You can be our ‘Resident Expert on Serving.’ Ya know, like a martial arts expert.”

Thank you so much for having me here today and for the opportunity to talk about whatever I want. Now that’s a true gift. 

With such an open platform, I figured I’d take the opportunity to truly embarrass myself and in the spirit of staying in line with themes in JERSEY DINER, I am going to write about my most embarrassing moment (because my protagonist, Lauren, is great at getting herself into rather compromising situations). 

When I was a teenager, I was a dancer and Regular on Dance Party USA which ran on the USA network. My friends and I would go to tapings on weekends, sometimes weekdays and danced our butts off. We would tape several shows at a time.  Sometimes we’d go on location to a club or on a cruise. It was fun.

I grew up with weight issues. I had been on a diet since I was a child. I hadn’t even hit my teens before I was put on a vegetable diet, a no fat diet, a low fat diet, an all orange diet, an all green diet. Once my father told me to eat only whatever he ate. Little did he realize that he had a killer metabolism and I did not.

Anyway, so I’m on this dance show and I had lost several sizes through dieting and exercise. The producers noticed and asked if I wanted to be featured on a Teen Talk (a show segment in which the host, Andy Gury, talked about something relevant to teens). I said, sure.

Andy and I prepped the questions beforehand. I had my answers nailed down. We go on air and he asks me our canned questions. My friends are around me to be supportive and then Andy tosses me a curve ball.  He asks what it was like to be teased; ridiculed.

I started to answer when memories of kids teasing me, calling me names, publically ridiculing me flashed through my mind. One specific instance in which a boy who I secretly had a crush on went out of his way to throw eggs at my school bus. I was a fat nerd and he was a kid from my neighborhood who didn’t do well in school but everyone admired him. He didn’t need to be a jock. He just had this amazing bad boy presence. A natural leader. Anyway, so I’m on the school bus for a field trip and him and his friends toss eggs at it and he makes these gestures reflecting my obesity.

I’m in the middle of answer Andy and before I can finish a sentence, I bust out crying. Not just a single tear but a full on blubber cry. They stop taping. I mentally erase the memory and regain my composure then we restart.

I never watched the episode. I was too humiliated. I almost stopped going to the show.

Then a few weeks later, I’m on the set and one of the producers pulls me aside. She says the phones lit up when they aired the show. Even her own home phone rang like crazy with calls from friends who saw it and had kids or had been kids who were humiliated and bullied.

She told me how they asked to say thank you. How they admired me for being honest. I nearly cried again (I’m the person who cries at heartfelt commercials) and she hugs me. A big, full on, mama bear hug.

Sometimes sharing our most embarrassing moments may be a painful moment for ourselves and yet it helps others (and in the end, helps ourselves as well). This something that Lauren will learn in JERSEY DINER.

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Don't forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Lisa is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery.

She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. ( She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award.

Lisa presented at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting. And presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel.

Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey The Redness migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy.

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The book is on sale for $0.99.


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Love the blurb and the cover of this book!

  3. Oh, that had to have been so hard, but it's wonderful that it helped people!


    1. In the moment, I felt humiliated. In retrospect, I was thrilled it helped others.

  4. LOVE the excerpt Lisa, gotta get the book :)Your bio was sooo cool, I've been there with weight issues too, school kids can be harsh. I finally went on a program that works for me & I finally am 20 pounds to goal weight (95 pound loss!). Thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Congrats on the weight loss, Mindy. Hope you love the book and good luck with the giveaway.