#BookTour “An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery” by MB Dabney


An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
by MB Dabney

About An Untidy Affair

An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
Suspense/Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Per Bastet Publications LLC (June 25, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1942166761
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1942166764
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B097YPJYWN

Struggling Philadelphia private eye David Blaise gets two routine but unrelated cases on the same day in May 1985 – the day city police firebombed the MOVE house, which killed 11 people and destroyed an entire neighborhood. When Blaise starts following a cheating husband and searching for a missing person who may not actually be missing, he also discovers his cases may be related, and that he is being followed. When his tail is murdered, implicating the P-I, Blaise must find the true killer before he is literally buried alive.

About MB Dabney

MB Dabney is an award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in numerous local and national publications, such as Indianapolis Monthly, NUVO, Ebony magazine, Black Enterprise.com, the Indianapolis Recorder, and the Indianapolis Business Journal.

A native of Indianapolis, Michael spent decades as a reporter working at Business Week magazine, United Press International and the Associated Press, the Indianapolis Star, and The Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest continuously published Black newspaper, where he won awards for editorial writing.

He has co-edited two anthologies — Decades of Dirt: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem from the Crossroads of Crime; and MURDER 20/20 — and has published numerous short mystery stories, including Miss Hattie Mae’s Secret (Decades of Dirt), Callipygian (The Fine Art of Murder), and Killing Santa Claus (Homicide for the Holidays). An Untidy Affair is his first novel.

The father of two adult daughters, Michael lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Angela.

Michael took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to do a Q & A for us!

Q & A with author MB Dabney

I can tell from your bio you’re no stranger to writing, yet this is your first full-length novel. Is this something you’ve always wanted to do or a new direction for you?

When I started writing fiction nearly 15 years ago, it was basically a new direction. I wrote the first draft of a Star Trek novel back in the 1980s, and started work on a suspense/thriller in the 90s, but I didn’t really focus on writing fiction until the mid-2000s as I started to wind down work as a daily journalist.

 Describe your protagonist, David Blaise.

David is a tall, lean, light-skinned Black man just reaching his mid-30s. He’s lived in Philadelphia his entire life, except for his years in the Navy as an intelligence officer. He is single and, as he struggles to make-a-go-of-it as a detective, has become a bit of a loner, though not by choice. He is smart, hard-working, kind, and a do-the-right-thing sort of guy in a general sense, though he is willing, sometimes, to do something that’s ethically questionable. A failing is that he can be myopic – so narrowly focused on a task that he can miss important information just off to the side. But he is often under-estimated by an opponent. Both his parents are dead. The oldest of four children, he has a difficult relationship with his two brothers and dislikes his brother-in-law. But he’s very close to sister and absolutely reveres his grandmother. He lives and works in West Philadelphia but has Sunday night dinner with his family in North Philly nearly every week.

 Do you write full time, or do you also work outside the home?

I’m retired and don’t work outside the home.

 What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

While I work on short stories throughout the year, as well as re-write and edit full-length work, I generally only start a novel in November, during National Novel Writing Month. The goal of finishing the first draft of a novel in 30 days is a great motivator. During NaNoWriMo, I dabble at writing a little throughout the day, time permitted, but really sit down and focus after about 8 p.m. until around 1 a.m. An Untidy Affair was my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month back in 2009 and I finished the first draft in 18 days.

I listen to portions of movie soundtracks as I write.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

Something of a hybrid, I think. I have a small, traditional publisher in southern Indiana but she works through KDP Select in Amazon

What do you do when you’re not writing?

In addition to reading, I love to walk. Gives me time to imagine stories that I can work on later. I love Star Trek and auto racing, especially Formula 1 and Indycar. I play tennis, but not often enough, and I enjoy traveling. Can’t wait to go abroad again.

Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?Pluto

No, certainly not as inspiration. But for 17 years we had a dog named Pluto, who, sadly, died last December. Pluto would sit at my feet when I was writing. And I certainly do miss that.

As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up? 

I wanted to be a lawyer and I considered law school well into my 30s, long after I started working as a reporter. But I never took any serious steps to do it.

What’s your next project?

I’m working on a prequel to An Untidy Affair that I plan to deliver to my editor by the end of the year. And if I’m far enough along with the prequel by then, I’ll write a novel in November and put it on a shelf to re-write later. If I do it, this year’s novel will be about an American driver in Formula 1.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Keep working on developing your craft and don’t ever give up.

Many thanks to Michael Dabney for stopping by today. Scroll down to check out his book links and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a print copy of An Untidy Affair. (US Only)

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September 8 – Nesie’s Place – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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#AuthorInterview Shawne Steiger, author of “Games We Played”

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Shawne Steiger wrote her first story when she was seven. Over the years, she has been a pizza maker, dressage teacher, house cleaner, and therapist. The one constant in her life has been her writing, which is why, after years working as a trauma therapist, she applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts and completed an MFA in Fiction writing. After learning that she’s happiest when writing, Shawne published short stories and essays in several literary journals. Supporting her writing habit with her social work degree, Shawne frequently incorporates her understanding of how trauma affects people into her fiction. When not writing or working, she enjoys going to the theater, reading and travel. Luckily her love of travel stops her from fully realizing her aspirations to enter the realm of mad cat woman, since she’s yet to find the perfect suitcase that will fit both her cats and still be light enough to carry.

Shawne Steiger | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub

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Thanks for spending time with us on the blog today, Shawne.

Games We Played covers timely issues unfortunately found in our real-world society. What was the motivation behind the book?

 I started writing this book when I entered the Vermont College MFA program. I actually did grow up in Carlsbad and I was one of only three Jewish kids in my class.  When I was around five or six, I played war with a neighborhood boy and we always played Nazis and Jews.  He did claim his Grandfather had fought for Hitler and there was an attic with a gun collection. That was always the germ of the story and the memoir piece I built the fiction around. I originally planned to tell just the childhood story from that child’s point of view, but when I started my MFA, my first advisor urged me to write from an adult’s point of view and focus on short stories.  By the time I graduated, I had done all this research on white supremacy and I had all sorts of material that had transformed the novel I had envisioned. I took a break for a while, because I got a new job that consumed a lot of time and I didn’t know what to do with all those pieces.  By the time I had a draft organized, 2016 happened and I realized my novel had suddenly become much more relevant than I had anticipated.  I rewrote some of it after the election. 

I’m particularly interested in intergenerational trauma.  How does all the trauma my Jewish grandparents and great grandparents experienced in Europe affect me?  How will the trauma we’ve all lived through this past few years affect the children, the next generation of children etc?  Children absorb so much from the adults around them, a lot of it unconscious.  One thing I know from my background as a trauma therapist is that sometimes people respond to trauma by becoming very rigid in their thinking and in how they see the world. We start to see everything in black and white and develop an us and them mentality in order to feel safe. It feels safer to “other” those who don’t look or think or behave like we do.   I think when people read my novel, they might get angry at Rachel and feel impatient with her at times. They might sympathize with and even like Stephen.  I want people to experience that discomfort, because I want to challenge us all to start seeing each other as full complex human beings. 

Do you have a favorite character in the story?

I’m particularly fond of Stephen.  He’s so broken, but he wants things and he wants to be good. He’s just really confused about how he defines good.  He has a lot to overcome, but he’s very driven to try to make things better. Rachel needs external events to get her moving, but Stephen creates those external events for himself. 

What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

I wake up at 5am, make coffee and write till 7, when it’s time to get ready for work. I try to write at least a little on the weekend, but I am most productive when I have long chunks of time.  Once a year, I get together with some friends at Cape Cod and we all just write all day every day for a week.  I generally get hundreds of pages out of that week. I will say COVID has affected my writing. I’ve mostly been teleworking, which theoretically gives me more time to write, but somehow I’m writing less.  I tell myself I have extra time and turn the alarm off and then wake up too late.  Luckily, the Cape Cod week is going to happen this summer, after a very long year of COVID lockdown. I’m counting on that week to get me back in the groove. 

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I’m published under Red Adept Publishing.  They’re an indie publisher and have been truly great to work with. I really could not have asked for a better experience. Everyone has been so helpful and supportive.

Do you write full time, or do you also work outside the home? 

I wish I wrote full time.  I’m a clinical social worker with a mental health background, primarily focused on treating PTSD. Currently my job is more administrative than clinical. My retirement plan is to do a little part time therapy and write. 

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

So many of these questions seem to require pre-COVID and COVID answers.  Pre-COVID, I read, watched movies, traveled, went to theater, went out to eat, went to the gym, took walks with friends.  COVID time has been a little quieter. I still read and I’m a bit of a TV addict (Handmaid’s Tale FINALLY returned).  I take walks with people and have one or two people over for outside gatherings (now that we’re all getting vaccinated).  I’m quite addicted to Pilates and my big investment this past year was a good quality Pilates reformer. 

Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?

Teddy and Seymour. Yes, they are named from J D Salinger short stories. Phoebe is 16 and not so photogenic, and Holden passed away.

 

As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up? 

First I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I found out science was involved.  I was into theater in high school, so I briefly wanted to act, but I couldn’t match pitch and I couldn’t dance very well.  At the time those deficits seemed like giant barriers.  I was also deeply into horses and I had a brief career training Dressage horses and teaching Dressage lessons before I went to grad school for my MSW.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

Totally addicted to Twitter.  I love the challenge of trying to say things in as few words as possible.  I could live without Facebook.  I’m pretty introverted and Facebook sometimes feels like all the social pressure that I struggle with in real life. 

What’s your next project?

I’m working on a psychological thriller. I’m really excited about it. 

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Reading is the best way to learn to write. Also, learn to separate your sense of self-worth from your writing. The best way to develop your craft and improve your writing is to get honest critiques from skilled writers. I’ve noticed some new writers react to critiques as if they are being judged or criticized. I’ve seen writers get defensive, because the critique made them feel bad about themselves.  Critiques are about helping you develop craft skills and make your story or novel even better. You can ignore critiques that don’t resonate for you, but if you find yourself ignoring all the feedback you get, you might be preventing yourself from growing as a writer. 

Please share an excerpt (extract) with us from one of your favorite scenes.

I think I’m not alone in saving hundreds of pages of “darlings” that I ultimately cut from the novel.  I thought, rather than a specific excerpt from the novel, I’d share an excerpt from a piece I wrote that ultimately made it into the novel in bits and pieces and not in its original form. The entire piece is 11 pages, but here’s a bit of it. This is an excerpt from a letter I imagined Rachel writing, but not sending her grandmother: 

I do think of you Grandma.  I do.  But I don’t visit.  I think of the way you invaded our house, your black suitcases heavy with kitchen supplies enshrouded in bubble wrap and newspaper.  Mother taut shouldered, chapping her hands in the sink while you purged our cupboards, dumping plates, bowls, silverware in black garbage bags, and I carefully organized the new forks and spoons in their separate kosher drawers with masking tape labels for meat and dairy.  Father hiding in his study surrounded by magic books and boxes full of hidden compartments.  I think of you at the kitchen table with my mother, inhaling curls of steam from decaffeinated Lipton tea and explaining exactly why we must honor the kosher rules.  “Do you understand, Rose?  We are in a covenant with God.  The Jews were chosen by God to be pioneers of religion and morality; that is our purpose.  You must understand this, and you must raise your children as religious Jews.”  Mother nodding, sipping, nodding.  Emptying our cupboards that day, you removed the big rose colored serving platter and my mother flung her arms out, spraying water all over the floor and surrounding countertops.  She snatched that plate out of your hands.

“I’ll keep this,” she said.  “It was a wedding gift from my mother.”

You squeezed your lips and crossed your arms.  “Well, I won’t have it in a kosher kitchen. It’s probably had meat and cheese on it at the same time.”  Your tone implied my mother must have murdered somebody and served the body parts on that platter.  My mother hugged it to her chest and crept out of the room like a dog just caught in the garbage.  You patted my head and said, “No Rachel, that fork goes in the meat drawer.  See, it was on the right side of the tablecloth.”  You pointed to the shiny array of silverware on the floor, carefully organized on right and left sides of our picnic tablecloth, glinting like treasure against the faded yellow flowers.  

I want to blame you and I want to hate you. I remember the day you came – us waiting at the gate, me clutching Guarder in one hand and my mother’s clammy fingers in the other, staring at my father’s back, hair curling darkly around the collar of his white polo shirt.  Streams of passengers rushed past us in twos and threes, hugging waiting friends and family members, crying, chattering about lousy food and nearly missed changeovers in Atlanta, the new clothes they found in Florida. We were a tableau, a still life in the middle of it all. You walked out alone in your gray skirt, white button down blouse and gray jacket. Your pantyhose bunched around your ankles. People stepped aside to let you through.  When I picture you coming off that airplane I think of the cactuses I once saw on a drive through Arizona – all determined sharp edges, able to survive on the occasional rain, sucking every droplet of water from the air around them.  You looked down and said, “Hello Rachel.”  None of the singsong voice usually reserved for children or the elderly.  I felt like when I played house with Stephen -him announcing, “I’m home, honey,” and me wobbling precariously over to him in my mother’s heels, touching my lips to his cheek, tingling with the fear and excitement of being a wife at six years old. 

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Games-We-Played-500x800-Cover-Reveal-and-PromotionalGames We Played

Publication Date: October 17th, 2020

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction/ Thriller

When actress Rachel Goldberg shares her personal views on a local radio show, she becomes a target for online harassment. Things go too far when someone paints a swastika on her front door, not only terrifying her but also dredging up some painful childhood memories. Rachel escapes to her hometown of Carlsbad. To avoid upsetting her parents, she tells them she’s there to visit her Orthodox Jewish grandmother, even though that’s the last thing she wants to do. But trouble may have followed her.Stephen Drescher is home from Iraq, but his dishonorable discharge contaminates his transition back to civilian life. His old skinhead friends, the ones who urged him to enlist so he could learn to make better bombs, have disappeared, and he can’t even afford to adopt a dog. Thinking to reconnect with his childhood friend, he googles Rachel’s name and is stunned to see the comments on her Facebook page. He summons the courage to contact her, Rachel and Stephen, who have vastly different feelings about the games they played and what might come of their reunion, must come to terms with their pasts before they can work toward their futures.

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#AuthorSpotlight “The Bird that Sang in Color” by Grace Mattioli

TheBirdThatSang copy

~ Interview with Grace Mattioli ~

Hello Grace, and welcome to Nesie’s Place!

Your bio says you’re from the Pacific Northwest. Tell us a few things about yourself.

I currently live in Portland, Oregon with my husband and two adorable cats. I’m originally from New Jersey and have lived all over the country, mostly in San Francisco, where I was for seventeen years.

The Bird That Sang in Color sounds like a thought-provoking saga involving siblings. What was your inspiration for the story?

Years ago, after my brother passed away, I found a book of sketches he’d made of his life, and it had a profound effect on me. I started to wonder what pictures I would have of myself by the end of my life, and I really wanted to share this insight and inspiration with the world. Incidentally, the cover art for this book is one of the sketches from my brother’s pictorial autobiography.

How did you come up with the very unique title?

I wanted a title that fit the central theme of living free, and I wanted to use a symbol in the title as I did for my other two books. A bird is the best symbol of freedom I know of.  I also wanted to bring the novel’s themes of music and art into the title, and I wanted to illustrate the idea of living in color as opposed to blending into the background of societal convention.

This is your third book involving the Greco family. If I have it right, Discovery of an Eagle is a sequel to Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees. Is The Bird That Sang in Color connected in some way?

Yes, Donna Greco, the protagonist of my newest novel, is the matriarch of the Greco family. All of my books can be read as stand-alones, although I’d recommend reading all three for a richer experience. The Bird that Sang in Color was written as a prequel to the other two, but it can either be read before or after the other two.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I’m self-published and have done everything independently, including formatting my manuscripts for paperbacks and narrating my books for audio recordings.

Do you still work full-time as a librarian?

I worked as a librarian for over twenty years full-time and am currently working part-time as a shopkeeper. I also design jewelry, which I sell in several local stores.

What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

I get a certain amount of words written as early as I can in the day. I have a minimum word count of 400 words per day.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I like to garden, listen to and play music (mandolin, ukulele), spend time in nature, and watch great shows.

I read you have ‘awesome cats!’ Do they ever try to “help” or inspire you?

Yes, in fact I even put my cat, Cosmo, in my acknowledgements. He sat on my lap as I wrote and revised this book.

As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up? 

I had lots of different ambitions, including a writer, an architect, a journalist, and even an art therapist.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I can live without it.

What’s your next project?

My next project will be a novella, and the subject will be the homeless problem in America.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

I have lots. I published a small guide called Tell the World Your Story. It’s available on all major online bookstores for only $0.99.

Anything else you’d like to add, Grace?

As with my other books, this book is intended to give people inspiration and insight for living happily. I believe that happiness isn’t just important on an individual level, but on a global one as well. That is, it’s all the miserable people who are making all the trouble in the world. I’m hoping that readers of The Bird that Sang in Color will be inspired to live free and authentically so that they can create colorful pictures of their own lives.

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Congratulations to author Grace Mattioli on the release of her novel The Bird that Sang in Color!

Read on for a chance to win a copy of the book!

BirdColour 1The Bird that Sang in Color

Publication Date: January 17, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Part family drama and part self-actualization story, this is about Donna Greco, who in her teens, subscribes to a conventional view of success in life and pushes her freewheeling, artistic brother, Vincent to do the same. However, he remains single, childless, and subsists in cramped apartments. She harbors guilt for her supposed failure to ensure his happiness until she discovers a book of sketches he made of his life, which allows her to see his internal joy and prompts her own journey of living authentically.

Thought-provoking, humorous, and filled with unforgettable characters, this book invites readers to ponder what pictures they will have of themselves by the end of their lives.

“Beautifully rendered, hugely moving, brilliant,” Lidia Yucknavitch.

“a refreshing family portrait about interpersonal evolution…presented with affection, humor, and insight…an inspiring slice of life blend of philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a warm story and examines the wellsprings of creative force and future legacies…evocative, uplifting,” Midwest Book Review.

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Excerpt

the golden garden bird of peace were the words painted on the wall in Vincent’s room. I thought Dad would have painted over them because he couldn’t stand all that “hippie crap.” Beside the words hung a bunch of paintings he made. He painted trees, mountains, rivers, flowers, and people with real-life expressions that made them more than just pictures. They were alive, and they told stories.

Some of his paintings were abstract, my favorite being one that looked like a kaleidoscope with no beginning and no end and colors that bounced off the canvas like a beautiful neon sign sparkling against a black sky. I could stare at it all day. I went between staring at it and the album cover before me—Let It Be by the Beatles. Vincent sat by the record player, dressed in his usual Levi’s, T-shirt, and Converse high-tops, bent towards the revolving album, listening intently, his head of black curly hair moving back and forth, his right foot tapping the hardwood floor, keeping rhythm to the Fab Four.

Finally, he turned his head away from the stereo and said to me, “I can’t believe this is it.” His face was serious and gloomy, and I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I pretended that I did because I’d never let my cool down around Vincent. It was because of him that I knew so much about rock and roll, which made me pretty sure that I was the coolest eighth-grade girl in the whole town and possibly in the whole state of New Jersey.

“I know,” I said seriously.

“I mean, I just never thought the Beatles would break up.” He shook his head with disappointment.

“So, this is their last album, then?”

“Well, yeah,” he said, like I should have known better.

“Hey, check this out, Donna.” With the speed of a light switch flicking on, he turned into an entirely different person, no longer sad and gloomy but light and happy. He showed me a drawing he made of an old lady sitting on a chair with half of her body missing, and it looked as if the missing half was on the other side of an invisible door. She wore a mysterious smile as if she knew some extraordinary truth.

“Where’s the other half of her body?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, grinning. “You tell me.”

“Wow.” I sat there, trying to wrap my head around this while listening to the song playing. Just as I was about to figure something out about the picture, and just as I was really getting into the song, he took the needle off, turned the album over, and put the needle on the first song on the other side, a tendency he had that bothered the hell out of our brother, Carmen.

He scratched his head and looked up, his eyes penetrating the ceiling, deep in thought. He resembled Mom with his olive skin, Roman nose, and black curls, and was the only one of us who got her curly hair. The rest of us had straight hair. Mine was super long—to the bottom of my back—and I wore it parted in the middle and was certain that I was wearing it that way long before it was the style.

Vincent was also taller than the rest of us at over six feet. Dad said he took after his own dad in stature. I never knew Grandpa Tucci because he died before I was born, but I was told he was called Lanky because he was tall and skinny. I was pretty thin myself and had a bottomless pit. People would say that all my eating would catch up with me one day, but that never stopped me from eating ice cream every day after school. Breyers butter almond was my favorite.

Vincent listened to the music with pure attention, like there was nothing else in the world as George sang I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. He was probably trying to figure out what the song was about or how he could play it on his guitar. His acoustic guitar sat in the corner of his room. He had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest because it was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the other side of the world without ever leaving his room.

His paintings and drawings covered the walls. A bunch of leather-bound cases of albums colored red and black and bone sat on the floor between a stereo and a wooden desk with piles of books and sketchbooks on top. Comic books, pens, and paintbrushes were scattered on the floor like seashells on the sand.

I shared a room with my younger sister, Nancy, and she insisted on having the room be as pink as possible. She was the youngest, so she always got her way. On top of making our room a sickening pink paradise, she had a doll collection with faces that really creeped me out, and she started pushing over my beloved books on our shelves to make room for her dolls. A doll named Lucinda with blond hair and a blue satin dress was shoved up against two of my favorites—Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Check this out, Donna,” Vincent said, emerging from his music-listening trance. He took a skinny metal whistle out of a plastic case. “Got it at the music store in town.”

“Neat. Some kind of flute?” I said.

“A pennywhistle.” He had a big smile that stretched from one side of his face to the other. “Or sometimes called a tin whistle.”

“I wish I could play an instrument,” I said. “Just one.” I was the only one in our family that didn’t play an instrument. Mom wanted me to learn ballet instead because she said I had a dancer’s body. I liked it all right and stayed with it until my teacher put me on toe, and the wooden shoes imprisoned my feet and made them ache hours after class ended.

“Have it.”

“Really?!”

“Sure.” He started fishing in one of his desk drawers for something.

“Thanks Vincent.” No response. He just kept on with his searching. I looked at the tin instrument wondering how I’d learn to play it, when he poked his head up and gave me an instructional songbook for it. I went through it seeing musical notation for simple songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was all new territory for me, but I knew I could learn it and thought I could go anywhere from there. I saw myself playing with Vincent as he strummed the guitar, playing on the street for money, playing in a small orchestra of other penny whistlers. Just then, Mom called out from the kitchen.

“Dinner’s ready!” I didn’t care that my fantasy was interrupted because I was starving. Vincent was always up for eating and was the biggest eater I knew. He seemed especially hungry because he was walking to the kitchen really fast. Even when he walked fast, he looked cool. He walked with a bounce in his step, his head bobbing back and forth like he was keeping beat to a song that only he could hear. I tried to walk like him once, but I ended up looking like some kind of uncoordinated monkey. I walked like Dad who moved fast and forward-leaning, like he was continually running late for something.

The kitchen smelled of garlic and fish. It was Friday, and Mom always cooked fish on Fridays. A big flat bowl with hand-painted flowers was filled with spaghetti, calamari and gravy, which was what we called tomato sauce in our house. My older sister, Gloria was setting the large wooden table that sat in the center of the kitchen. She wore her hair tucked neatly behind her ears and a black-and-tan argyle vest that fit snug on her shapely body. Her face had the usual serious, troubled look on it like something was wrong. Anthony—the oldest in the family—was away at college, and Nancy was at a sleepover, so the table was set for only six.

Mom was at the sink, getting a salad together. Above the sink was a long window that looked out onto our backyard, its ledge covered with little ladybug statues, which Mom loved because they meant good luck. She wore a red-and-white apron over a straight skirt and boots and took long, swift strides around the kitchen. Watching her get dinner together was like watching a performance. She’d put on her apron instead of a costume. The music played: the chopping of vegetables, the clanging of metal spoons against pots and the sweet sound of pouring. She’d dance around, gathering ingredients, sautéing, stirring, occasionally turning towards us—the audience—to say something or laugh with us so that we’d feel a part of the show. She presented her perfect meals like works of art, displaying them on the table, and we’d applaud by eating—grabbing, twirling, chewing—until we couldn’t fit anymore in.

Dad was opening up one of his bottles of homemade wine. I had a sip once, and it went down my throat like an angry snake. He leaned on the table like he needed it to support him with his eyes half-shut and his black-and-gray hair falling forward in his face. In his tiredness, he didn’t speak, but even when he was quiet, he was loud, and whenever he walked into a room, everybody knew it, even if he didn’t say a word.

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About the Author

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Grace Mattioli is the author of two novels–Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees and Discovery of an Eagle, and a book of short stories, The Brightness Index. Her forthcoming novel, The Bird that Sang in Color, will be released January 17, 2021.

Her fiction is filled with unforgettable characters, artful prose, humor, and insight about what it takes to be truly happy. She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats. She worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie!

She has been writing creatively since she was a child and has participated in various writing workshops and classes. Her favorite book is Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. Her favorite line of literature comes from James Joyce’s novella, The Dead: “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

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#AudioTour “The Ross Duology: Parallel Lies Book 1” by Georgia Rose

Audiobook Series Tour: The Ross Duology by Georgia Rose

Author: Georgia Rose

Narrator: Henri Merriam

Publisher: Three Shires Publishing

Released: Jan. 23, 2019

Series: The Ross Duology, Book 1

Length: 9 hours 20 minutes

Genre: Romantic Suspense

A woman with a hidden past. A new love on the horizon. Will the truth set her free or cost her everything?

Madeleine Ross has meticulously organized her world to leave no trace of her criminal past. After creating a new identity for herself, her only remaining connection to her previous life is the security work she does for a small-town insurance company. But when she starts falling for her handsome boss, Dan, she’s worried letting him in will expose secrets best kept locked away….

As their attraction grows stronger, Madeline’s attempts to keep Dan in the dark go horribly wrong when a dangerous ex emerges from her unsavory past. After her former flame gives her an offer she can’t refuse, she has one choice left: ditch her life as a thief to let Dan in or embrace her shady dealings to destroy her only shot at a happy future….

Parallel Lies is fast-paced romantic suspense. If you like troubled heroines, character-driven action, and powerful emotions, then you’ll love Georgia Rose’s thrilling novel.

Buy Parallel Lies to unlock a secret identity today!

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Georgia Rose is a product of rural England and the countryside setting is the theme running through her books. She loves strong characters and finds developing them incredibly satisfying.

Instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines and these can come from a fragment of conversation, via Georgia’s not so surreptitious people watching or most often from her overactive imagination.

Georgia’s busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog.

She loves afternoon tea, the way the word loquacious rolls off the tongue and she sincerely believes inanimate objects have feelings.

She does not care for clowns or kites and can’t understand why adding salt to caramel is seen as a good thing.

She also hates every photo ever taken of her…

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Q&A with Author Georgia Rose
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I not only produce my own books but those of other authors too and while I was at the launch of a client’s book I was chatting to one of the guests who I knew to be an actor and it suddenly occurred to me she might be interested in narrating my books. I asked, she was and we took it from there. She lives in the next village to me and with the huge learning curve, for us both, she has taken the lion’s share and sourced the studio, sound guy and dealt with the mechanics of the whole thing, something I’m tremendously grateful for.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I haven’t considered that at all actually. I write in first person which I think lends itself particularly well to being read as you can really get into the character. But as there is something inherently lovely about being read to I’m sure all books can be enjoyed in audio.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • No, it never crossed my mind. I thought it would be prohibitively expensive so concentrated on the ebook and paperback versions.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • I decided to ask Henri to narrate Parallel Lies, rather than my trilogy, as that was a standalone, and I thought if it didn’t work out at least I was only in for one book. At the time I forgot readers were requesting a sequel and I was already trying to come up with the plot for that! So I ended up doing Loving Vengeance too. Henri and I had a couple of meetings to discuss the project and Henri read Parallel Lies first, which she loved, and I gave her a printed out version on A4 paper. She went off to record it then when Loving Vengeance was released we repeated the process.
  • Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • We discussed a couple of the characters and their accents but otherwise I left Henri alone to do with it what she wanted as she is far more experienced than I. Fortunately I am delighted with the result, although I was tremendously nervous when she first sent it to me!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • No. People who know me tell me this or that character reminds them of whoever but they are wrong. I wouldn’t base a character on anyone although obviously all your writing is influenced by your surroundings and people you’ve met in your life in some way.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I don’t! And I’ve really struggled for the last few years. However, I am feeling the enthusiasm again and thoroughly enjoying my current project even though it’s the start of a series. If I look at the whole thing it feels completely overwhelming so I don’t, I simply concentrate on putting one word in front of another and we’ll see where it goes from there.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I am not, although on the rare occasion when I have, a long solo road trip for example, I have loved it. I don’t have the opportunity to listen to books at the moment. I work from home and can’t listen when I’m doing that. Then when I walk the dog or drive anywhere it’s generally in silence as I need the quiet in my head to work on the stories I’m trying to write.
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • I have never been in a reading slump so that’s not an issue. When I get in a writing slump though I start something new even though I know I shouldn’t. I abandoned a manuscript that is 75% complete at new year as it was getting difficult and delighted in opening up a new blank page instead.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • A standalone is all round easier to write (until those readers start demanding a sequel!) as the whole story is nicely packed into one book. The downside is that it’s harder to market. Writing a series can become unwieldy and I fear leaving one of those hanging threads behind in my race to the end. However, it is easier to market a series and readers do love being able to read one book after another in one they enjoy.

 

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Tuesday Talk with… author Danielle Van Alst

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Danielle Van Alst

Thank you for spending a little time with us here on the blog today, Danielle!

Where are you from?

A galaxy far, far away

Married with children, pets, or annoying roommates?

I’m single because I like sweatpants and staying home.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

Hybrid.

How long have you been a writer?

Since the day I could hold a pencil and make scribbles on paper.

Are you a full-time writer or do you also work outside the home?

Full-time writer, worrier, and self-doubter because that’s all part of the job description.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

About six months.

Pantser or Plotter?

A little bit of both. For my novels and children’s books I’m definitely a plotter but, for my poetry, I’m totally a pantser.

What has been your biggest challenge in your writing journey?

Two things, the first challenge would be dealing with parlaying self-doubt about my work. The second biggest challenge would be trying to find honest and competent people to work with during the publishing process.

I know you’ve written children’s books, poetry, and historical romance. Did I miss any?

I also write short stories and horror.

Do you prefer writing in one genre over the others?

I enjoy writing in all genres. I want to write all the stories!

What’s your favorite genre to read?

That’s a tough question! I guess my answer would have to be that if it has pages and words written on them, then I’ll read it!

What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Transcription by Kate Atkinson and I’m loving it! It’s a historical fiction novel that deals with WWII espionage and betrayal.

Favorite author?

Choosing a favorite author is like choosing a favorite child! I enjoy so many but, if I had to pick, my top authors are Dorothy Parker, Karen White, Susanna Kearsley, Paula Brackston, Bill Bryson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Some authors need complete silence to write. How about you?

Yes, complete and total silence. I need quiet to plot all the murder and mayhem in my next book!

Where do you get the most writing done?

At my desk.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I could totally live without it. If I could go back in time to before social media even existed I would do so in a heartbeat. I’m only on it out of sheer necessity for my work.

When you take off the author-hat, what do you do for fun?

I like to read, do graphic design, watch vintage film, dabble in photography, and I practice certain forms of mysticism.

Where do you see yourself, or where would you like to be… in five years?

I hope to have several more books out in the coming years and to keep growing my author platform. I also plan on opening a publishing company to help independent authors turn their dreams of being published into a reality and help them avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve encountered along the way.

What’s the inspiration behind your latest release?

My latest release is my historical fiction/romance book Fateful Voyage. The inspiration for the book is my fascination with fate and destiny and how two very different lives can collide together in a chance meeting. I think it’s interesting how there are billions of people on this planet yet, we only have meaningful relationships with very few people. It’s almost like those lives were meant to intersect…like it was written in the stars and that’s what makes those particular relationships extra special.

Who’s your favorite character?

My favorite character in the book is Kay because she is modeled after someone near and dear to my heart. Kay is the doting mom-figure in the book and is constantly watchful over Gwen. I love how protective and nurturing she is and how watchful she is over Gwen’s wellbeing. Kay is a loving, caring, kind, and compassionate soul, and even though she can be a worrier at times, that is what makes her so enduring. Her love for Gwen is so intense that she will do anything to keep her safe.

What’s your next project or release?

My next project is a historical fiction/drama all about the witch trials in colonial America. It delves into the dark past of the witch hunts and looks into the psychological and sociological reasons for the mass hysteria that took so many innocent lives. It’s set to be release in late spring or early summer so keep your eyes peeled!

Blurb for the upcoming book: The Hunted

A Community Under Siege

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers–mainly young women–suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history. This is their story.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Never let anything strip you of your passion for writing. This is a tough crazy-making business and there will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But, at the end of the day, you have to remember your love for the craft. There is always going to be constant noise about what you should and should not be doing as an author…ignore it! Do what feels right to you. There is no right or wrong way to write. If you have talent and patience and determination then that’s all you need.

Love that advice! Thanks for stopping by, D! Don’t be a stranger! Continued success to you!

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Danielle is a multi-talented writer who has published in three genres

 

Children

Poetry

Historical Fiction

Stop by her Amazon Author Page today for book links, and don’t forget to follow her on social media!

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Banner Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Tuesday Talk with… author Abbie Johnson Taylor

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Abbie J TaylorNesie’s Place welcomes author Abbie Johnson Taylor to the blog today!

Thanks for visiting with us today, Abbie. Tell us, where are you from?

Thanks for having me! I currently live in Sheridan, Wyoming, but I was born in New York City in 1961. Since then, my family has lived in Boulder, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona, before settling here in Sheridan in 1973. I went away to school in the 1980’s but returned and have lived here ever since.

Married with children, pets, or annoying roommates?

I was married in September of 2005. Three months later, my husband suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. I cared for him at home until he passed in 2012. My memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, tells our story.

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

Most of my books are self-published, but That’s Life: New and Selected Poems was published by Finishing Line Press.

How long have you been a writer?

I started in 2000, so I’ve been at it for eighteen years.

Did you plan to become a writer?

Not originally. After graduating from college in the 1980’s, I studied music therapy, completing two years of coursework which included nine hours of practicum followed by a six-month internship before becoming registered. I worked with senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities before taking an interest in writing.

What inspires or motivates you?

I’m inspired by anything from current events to life events. After reading a newspaper article about a protest against the war with Iraq in 2003 and having an interesting encounter with a police officer, I started writing We Shall Overcome. The Red Dress, my novel in progress, was inspired by a story I heard during a memoir writing workshop.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

It took me two years to write We Shall Overcome and another two years to publish it. My wedding and subsequent care-giving took center stage for a couple of years.

Pantser or Plotter?

I’m a little of both. I won’t start a story unless I know how it’s going to end, but I let the plot and characters take me where they will.

Have you ever taken the NaNoWriMo Challenge?

No, and I probably won’t. I don’t like the pressure of writing so many words in thirty days. I want to take my time.

What’s your favorite genre to write or do you only write in one genre?

I don’t have a favorite genre. I enjoy writing fiction, poetry, and memoirs.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I like memoirs, romance, and some general and historical fiction if it doesn’t contain too many descriptions of violence or sex.

What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?

I sing in a women’s choral group and participate in water exercise classes at the YMCA. I also work out at home with the help of audio exercise programs.

Where do you get the most writing done?

I do most of my writing at home in my office, but occasionally, I sit in my recliner in the living room or at my kitchen table or in my back yard during the spring, summer, and fall months when the weather is favorable.

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I use Facebook and have a blog, but that’s it. The rest I could and do live without.

What’s the inspiration behind your latest release, and please share an excerpt with us.

My Ideal Partner is the story of how I met and married my husband, then cared for him after he suffered two strokes until he passed.

EXCERPT

In September of 2005, Abbie Johnson married Bill Taylor. She was in her mid-forties, and he was nineteen years older. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. Abbie Johnson Taylor, once a registered music therapist, uses prose and poetry to tell the story of how she met and married her husband, then cared for him for six years despite her visual impairment. At first, there was a glimmer of hope that Bill would walk again, but when therapists gave up on him seven months after his second stroke, Taylor resigned herself to being a permanent family caregiver.

She discusses learning to dress him and transfer him from one place to another, sitting up with him at night when he couldn’t urinate or move his bowels, and dealing with doctors and bureaucrats to obtain necessary equipment and services. There were happy times like when she played the piano or guitar and sang his favorite songs, or when they went out to eat or to a concert. She also explains how she purchased a wheelchair accessible van and found people to drive it so they wouldn’t always depend on the local para-transit service’s limited hours. In the end, she describes the painful decision she and Bill made to move him to a nursing home when he became too weak for her to care for him in September of 2012. He seemed to give up on life and passed away a month later.

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What’s your next project or release?

As I said earlier, I am working on a novel entitled The Red Dress. It’s the story of how such a garment affects three generations of women.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Do a lot of reading, especially in the genre you wish to write. Try to write every day, even if it’s just a journal entry or email message. Hone your craft by attending workshops, joining writing groups, and reading books and magazines on writing.

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Many thanks to Abbie for spending time with us today here on the blog. Check out her book, My Ideal Partner—How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, available on Amazon.

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Amazon

Also by Abbie Johnson Taylor

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

How to Build a Better Mousetrap cover

Amazon

We Shall Overcome (Paperback)

We Shall Overcome cover

Amazon

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Follow Abbie on Social Media!

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