Books Cubed Ep 1

I’m Melissa Banczak, author of the June Nash Adventure Series and when I’m not writing, I’m reading. I started this show to rave about new discoveries, chat with indie and small publishing house authors, and occasionally share from my works in progress. This is Books Cubed: Interviews, Raves, & Reads. 

Books Cubed started out as a Youtube vlog. And I had people asking me if there was a podcast version. And I said, I can do that! Probably. So, here’s the podcast version. 

And you’re probably wondering, who the hell am I? Well, I started out as a Literary Agent, years, and years, and years, ago. Probably everybody I ever worked with is uh, long gone. 

And uh, I’m an avid reader. And I write novels. And when, like I said in the intro, when I’m not writing, I’m reading. And I see a lot of really, really good books that are just not on people’s radar. And I really wanted to share things that I’ve found. Authors that I’ve met. And their works. So, that’s what this is. 

And uh, sometimes, I’m doing interviews. Like I said, sometimes, I’m introducing you to someone and their really good book. Sometimes, raving, I’m raving about books. 

Uh, there are just some really good thing…books that I’ve read that I just haven’t been able to connect with the authors and I’d like to talk about their books now. And then sometimes, I’ll be reading to you from my works in progress. In this first episode, I’m reading from my latest book which will be out hopefully the end of the year. 

I had some issues health wise and stupidity wise. And uh, I’m getting that fixed and that should be out soon. So, I”m just going to go ahead and start and I’m going to read to you and uh you’ll find that I’ve got, uh I think ten episodes as of Thanksgiving, 2018, so I’m just going to go ahead and move those over here. And then in the future, those uh, you’ll see the new episodes every Thursday and I hope that I can not ramble and say ah and uh, and all that stuff and annoy you and annoy myself and annoy my dog who you know, just wants to go for a walk and she’s looking at me oddly. 

So, I’m going to just dive into this uh, to this uh, chapter, from this next book. Welcome, thanks for coming by, please subscribe, leave me a review, leave me a comment, let me know what you think. Tell me what you’re reading. I love to hear about new books. 

So, this book is from a chapter that will be out at the end of the year. And at the moment, the book is called How to Square Your Grouper. But, I’m in the process of rebranding my series and they’re getting all new covers, and probably new titles, and uh, I’m not sure what it’s going to be called. 

I’ll probably update this in the show notes, later, when the title has been changed. So, I hope you enjoy it.

I was hung over.

And on a boat. That much I knew without opening my eyes. I could feel the deck sway below me, and a light breeze scented with salt and decaying fish guts was spritzing my face with drops of ocean. Somebody close by was fishing. I needed to sit up so I could call them over and puke on them.

I peeled open an eye, lifted my sunglasses and squinted at the black blob that hung in the air just above my face. Eew. Nobody was fishing. A greyhound was breathing on me. The blob bounced on the end of its muzzle and a fat wet drop of nose juice slid off the tip, splashing on my cheek.

Blast. There was only one person I knew who ran with a greyhound.

“Morgan?” I croaked. My throat was scratchy and my tongue felt like it was wrapped in sticky layers of cotton.

“June! You’re alive.”

A pair of neon green swim fins slapped into view. I opened my other eye and lifted my head. There was Morgan, my brother’s best friend and until recently my arch nemesis. He was wearing a black diving suit unzipped at the chest, those abs still looked rock solid for such a skinny guy, and holding a mask in one hand, and a funny looking backpack in the other. His wiry brown hair was back to normal and sticking out in every possible direction. A few weeks ago, I’d nearly scalped him with a jumper cable clamp, resulting in a partially shaved head and a whole lot of stitches. In my defense, I’d been stuffed in the trunk of a car and had mistaken him for the crackpot who’d kidnapped me. In the end, he’d been a good sport about me trying to kill him.

“I’d about given up on you for the day,” Morgan said.

Just past him, I could make out my reflection in the sailboat’s white fiberglass hull. Blast. My thick black hair, normally controlled in a long ponytail was loose, and thanks to a healthy dose of salty sea air, had achieved frizzying heights I’d never dreamed possible.

I propped myself up on elbows, fought the urge to spill my guts, and realized I was wearing a teeny tiny bikini. I stared down in horror at all my exposed flesh. “Am I wearing sunscreen?”

“Of course,” Morgan said.

I let out a little sigh of relief. Thanks to a chunk of Greek my misplaced father had grafted onto my family tree I didn’t burn as easily as my red-headed lily-white mom. Still. I didn’t want to end up with leather for skin in thirty years.

“I put it on you myself,” Morgan added.

And the horror returned. I didn’t want him touching my…wait…what was Morgan doing here? He was the reason I’d come to Key West. Thanks to a recent mishap, that was all his fault, I’d become a reluctant YouTube star and I was currently on vacation and not hiding out at all.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

He got an canister labeled CO2 from a nearby storage bin and began to hook it into the backpack. “You invited us.”

That didn’t sound like me.

“You called and said I should get my butt down here pronto. And to bring Cyrano.”

The greyhound let out a whiney little roo and a drop of nose juice hit my shoulder.

“Then I heard you order a shot of Zacapa,” he continued, “and the line went dead.”

Blast. That sounded like me.

When some people drink, they get silly. Some get mean. I get friendly. Not in the I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours kind of way. Though that has happened. But more in a let’s go shopping and do lunch kinda way. For some reason, alcohol made me want to be friends with people I normally avoided. Like my mother. And apparently Morgan.

If I’d called him, I must have been drinking for at least a week. I had a vague notion of a cabbie taking me straight from the airport to Duval Street. And then nothing. Maybe I needed to lay off the Zacapa for awhile.

“What day is it?” I tried to lean out of the path of Cyrano’s dripping nose.


Wow, I’d been drinking for a week and a day. Which explained my throbbing headache.

Then he grinned and added, “The 27th of April.”

Blast. Make that one day. I’d arrived on the 26th. It really wastime to lay off the Zacapa. I didn’t want to wake up someday and find myself on a month long European river cruise with my mother.

“How did we get a sailboat?” I asked. “Did I buy it?”

Another sometimes side effect of my drinking.

“It’s Matfei’s.”

“Who?” I know I’d never heard that name before.

“He’s one of the lawyers with the show,” Morgan said. “You’re

staying at his house. Though, it looks like you slept on the boat last night.”

I flashed on a business card with fancy gold lettering. “Oh yeah.” Matfei…something or other works for the production company that owns Gone Herpin’, my twin brother’s TV show. I’d needed to get out of town and he’d had an empty house. I tried to picture the address written on the back of the card. Which I hoped was still in my purse. And then I tried to picture my purse. Or rather its location. Lately, I’d had a bit of a problem keeping track of it.

“Are you staying at Matfei’s too?”

Morgan’s face lit up with a lopsided grin. “Would you like that?”

“No.” I tried not to look at his abs. Life had been so much easier when he’d been my arch nemesis.

“I’ve got a room near Mallory Square.”

“Oh.” Wait. Something about this didn’t feel right. I leaned on my left elbow and pushed Cyrano’s nose away with the other. “I called you yesterday?”

“Before lunch.”

“How you’d get here so fast?” We lived in the same sleepy little town in southern Arizona and a last minute flight had takenme thirteen hours and three connections on two different airlines to reach the little island.

“The jet,” Morgan said.

Yeah, that would do it.

Thanks to the popularity of Dewey’s TV show, The Roar and Soar Network had given him unlimited use of a fancy jet. Of course, it hadn’t been available when I’d needed to get out of town.

“Is Dewey’s with you?” I tried to look around Cyrano’s nose, which was back in my face.

“Nah, he dropped me on the way.”

“To where? He doesn’t have anything scheduled.” And I would know. I’m his assistant. I set up his appearances, answer his fan mail, and run interference from his weird hardcore fans, the Dewzers. Currently, Dewey’s show was on a three month hiatus. And when my brother wasn’t at work, he was out hunting the snakes and other creepy crawlies that he talked about on the show. There was nothing else in his life. I couldn’t imagine where he might have been going.

Morgan shrugged. “He didn’t say. I didn’t ask.”

I’d have to call Dewey when I got back to land. And found Matfei’s house.

“Are we done diving?” I asked. I felt done.

“We’re having too much fun,” Morgan said as he struggled into the oxygen-toting backpack.

“I’m having fun?” I was pretty sure I wasn’t.

“You are. You’ve been watching Cyrano.”

“Really?” I couldn’t imagine how. It wasn’t like I was in any shape to stop her if she decided to jump in after her daddy.

“I’m gonna get in a couple more dives before the sun goes down. Don’t sail the boat away.”

“Right,” I said. I didn’t think I could. Even if I’d wanted.

I craned my neck to watch Morgan’s green swim fins slap across the teak deck toward the back of the boat. There was a whirring noise, and a chunk of the boat began to lower itself toward the water. Huh. That was convenient. Kinda like the tailgate on my pickup.

I let my neck drop back onto my pillowy hair, and stared up through the poles and wires that normally held the sails. How many dives was a couple more? I lifted my sunglasses to check the sun. And then let them drop right back into place. The fiery red ball was still pretty high in the sky so a couple more dives probably meant a couple more hours. Which was actually a good thing. I could get in a hangover reducing nap.

There was a splash and Cyrano let out a sad little greyhound roo and a couple of drops of nose juice splashed on my stomach. And then she poked me with her nose. So much for my recovery.

I drew up my knees, grabbed the underside of my thighs and ever-so-slowly pulled myself up into a sitting position. And got a better look at Morgan’s greyhound.Some sort of orange foam thing covered her back, clipped under her chest and featured a convenient carrying handle on top.

I couldn’t imagine why someone would want to carry a Greyhound around like a piece of luggage.

Then I noticed a rope dangling from the handle. My eyes followed it down her side, onto the desk and over to my foot where the other end was tied around my right ankle.

Blast. No wonder she’d stayed on the boat. Morgan was using me as a greyhound anchor.

Cyrano rooed a couple more times and I rubbed the soft brindle colored fur on her neck. “It’s okay, sweetie. Your selfish jerk of a daddy will be right back.”

She laid her long nose across my shoulder and purred. Not unlike a cat. Or a motorboat. Wait. I squinted past her at the ocean. It was a motorboat. Headed our way. Fast.

It zoomed around to Morgan’s diving spot and I used Cyra- no’s handle to pull myself to my feet. And kept holding on as the waves hit, rocking us from side to side.

Down in the motorboat, three white guys who looked like they’d just stepped off the set of a hair-banging music video, clung to the edges of a black tarp that covered a massive bumpy shape in the center of the boat.

Two of the them leaped up onto the tailgate thingie that Morgan had dove from, one continued up onto the deck, while a third, still in the motorboat, ripped away the tarp and tossed up a bundle that looked like an brick wrapped in plastic. The guy on the tailgate caught it and tossed it to the guy on the deck. He dropped it by my feet and turned to grab the next one.

Uh oh. Presents from random strangers were never good.

The guy still on the motorboat waved an arm at me. “You shouldn’t let your dog sample the product. It could kill her.”

I followed his line of sight to Cyrano. She had that first brick between her front paws, and her teeth were well into the process of tearing away one of the corners of the plastic.

“Hey.” I snatched it away from her and was smacked in the face with an odor that could only be described as a family of skunks on holiday. I gagged and poked a finger in the hole.

This was not good. I’d been around enough stinky Gone Herpin’ crew members to know what this stuff was.


Less than forty eight hours in Key West and I was a drug runner.

And that’s it for now. Next week I’ve got an interview with Carrie Jo Howe who wrote Island Life Sentence. We talk about Key West, my favorite place in the whole wide world, and machetes. So, join me next week and until then, go read a good book. 

Links: For more about me and my books, visit my website at

If you’d like to watch the Youtube version of this show, you’ll find it here