Coming soon: Tuesdays with Jay No. 21: Map Reading

Sea glass in blue, green, and clear shades.

I love the contradiction of sea glass — all rough shapes worn smooth.

Have you ever walked along a beach and collected sea glass?

This spring, I took my first real vacation—you know, the kind where you actually leave the house and have new experiences—in thirteen years. The adventure was a trip with my bestie—some post-divorce healing I desperately needed. (I won’t rehash the divorce here; for a quick peek at the struggles of the last year, please read the Facebook post.)

So it was that I spent my birthday doing something I had never done before: wading along the shore and hunting for tiny bits of treasure sparkling in the sunlight.

The wind off the water tickled my skin. The rolling waves soaked my sandals and chilled my toes. The sun warmed my face. I stayed out there for what must have been hours, watching the water slide forward and back as rhythmically as a sleeper’s chest rises with each breath.

Hunting for sea glass

It’s a windy day on the shore, and the waves continually push new and interesting things onto the sand.

And now, at my writing desk, I rub the rounded edges of the sea glass as I think. The fragments are akin to worry stones, the fidget spinners of the older generations. Calming, soothing, and smooth, they lay quiet against my fingers.

The pieces weren’t always that way, of course. They started off jagged and shattered, their edges sharp and rough, able to make us bleed.

But then they took a long journey. The water reshaped them along the way. The easy rhythms swept the glass shards along, rounding and softening them as they went.

Last year was a traveling year for me—a long journey full of jagged edges that I couldn’t seem to stop cutting myself on. But in those moments on the beach, as I closed the book on last year and stepped into a new story, I found that I, too, had been smoothed and polished along the way. Life washes over me, and I am calm. I am content.

And it’s from that meditative place that my writing has its source. So I am pleased to announce the return of Tuesdays with Jay, starting this month with No. 21: Map Reading. I don’t expect the stories will be monthly for a while yet—I’m juggling two jobs and running a household just now in addition to writing—but I hope to bring you Jay on a quarterly basis after this year of silence. Henry and Alice’s favorite comedian still has plenty of things he’d like to share.

So if you’re already a subscriber to the newsletter, prepare yourself for more of our boy’s antics. And if you aren’t a subscriber yet, what are you waiting for? You’ll never be bombarded by emails, and you’ll always get an exclusive read that isn’t available anywhere else yet.

Thank you for exploring the Neighborly Affection shores with me. I think we’ll see a few more of Henry, Alice, and Jay’s stories wash up on the sand.

M.Q. Barber

M.Q. Barber is the USA Today bestselling author of the Neighborly Affection contemporary romance series. She's also an inveterate, unrepentant scribbler of ideas on whatever's handy.


  1. Alicia McKilligan

    Good to heat from you. Glad to hear that your healing has begun. Take great care xx

  2. Karen DiCioccio

    Oh, how lovely! I’ve been missing Jay. Wishing you good health and happiness.

  3. Best news I’ve read all week! Glad you’re doing better.
    And I look forward to your upcoming newsletter. 🙂

  4. Congrats on your Golden Flogger nomination! Well deserved! I, for one, am happy to see you healing and able to grab hold of your passion for writing again. Keep polishing the sea glass!

    • Thanks, Cindy! I missed writing so much while I was running around getting life organized. It’s wonderful to reconnect with such good friends. 🙂

  5. Welcome back to center. Balance is a tricky thing, glad to see you’ve come out the other side of these adversarial adventures with your head up and shoulders back. Along the way your ankles might have wobbled, but no worries, that’s only to be expected after all you’ve been through. The important thing is … you found it again.
    So much love,

  6. So glad that you’re not dead!!!! At my age(61) that’s always a possibility. You are manifestly and obviously a very strong young woman and you will survive this. Life is full of shit twists and turns but women can cope. Divorce is awful. But you are AMAZING and I suspect if I didn’t love your books so much I’d be happy to be your mum…….

  7. I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve missed Tuesdays with Jay and can’t wait for the next Neighbors installment. I’m sorry to hear about the challenging year, but it sounds like you’ve found a new path.

    Have you thought about creating an account on Patreon or something so we fans can actually thank you for our monthly emails of Jay-induced happiness?

    • Awww, thank you, K! That’s a sweet thought. 🙂 I don’t think I’d be comfortable having a Patreon when my schedule is so erratic, but maybe someday when life settles down and I can guarantee stories arriving more regularly.

  8. I’m so happy to hear you are well and strong. I just read the jacket info from the first book and wondered about the husband and puppy, so now I know the updated situation. Do you still have the pup or did the ex get custody?
    I love Henry, Jay and Alice. I’m still hoping for a new book!
    I want them to have a baby boy with Henry’s green eyes.. Please!!!!! 💚💚💚💚💚
    There are hundreds of books for me to read in my library, but so often I find myself rereading those same 5 books over and over❣
    😘 Take care,
    ~ Dawnie 🌸

    • Thanks, Dawnie! The pup stayed with me, so I’m a single dog mom these days. 😉

      A little boy with Henry’s eyes would be adorable, for sure, and the heartbreaker of the preschool set, LOL. I’m so glad you’re enjoying revisiting the books! I’m still plugging away on more adventures. 🙂

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