How to Square Your Grouper is in Pre-Order!

Good Adventures,

My new June Nash Mystery, How to Square Your Grouper is on pre-order with a release date of May 10, 2020. Yay! To celebrate, I’m reading the first three chapters on the podcast.

Listen here.

Gifts from strangers are never good. Especially when they’re big bundles of drugs.

June Nash is back. In Key West on vacation. And not at all hiding out from her famous brother’s crazy fans, The Dewzers. It’s been a tough couple of months and she just wants a little peace and quiet. But life doesn’t work that way in June’s world. Drug runners have mistaken her for their contact and she ends up with a sailboat full of Square Groupers. Which the Coast Guard immediately takes off her hands. So she’s in the clear, right? Not even a little. Now she’s dodging bullets from rival drug runners as she tries to escape her mom’s attempt to bond and Morgan’s obsessive need to figure out why someone from their past has followed her to Key West. How do you go from sipping rum one minute to running for your life the next? With June, it’s just another Tuesday.

Links:

How to Square Your Grouper Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo

https://melissabanczak.com

That’s it for this week. I’ll see you next time. Go read a good book.

Melissa

Books Cubed: Ep 15 Remembering Essayist James Grattan

(Corrections: Diana was in a martini glass and yes I do know the difference between comments and show notes!)

Good Adventures,

This week I have a special guest – my daughter Codie and I are reminiscing about my friend essayist James Grattan whom we lost to suicide in 2016.

If you were a friend of James, and I didn’t get the Diana Ross story at the end correct, please let me know in the comments. And if you’ve got James story, share! 

Links:

Buy Notes from an Aging Insomniac here

Rather listen to the Podcast version of the show? You’ll find it here. Or on sites like itunes, spotify, and stitcher. 

~~~

What do I write? Thanks for asking. Get the free prequel to my June Nash Misadventure series and find out why a monkey was wearing June’s bra. 

Or dive right in and get the full length novel, How to Sex Your Snake

Need to interview someone and want some great questions? Check out John Fox’s 50 Brilliant Original Questions to Ask an Author.

I’ll see you next time! Go read a good book,

Melissa

ps. Some of these are affiliate links to help support my never ending grocery habit

“A monkey stole my bra”

I wrote this as I waited for Herman’s Hermits to start. (Epcot Garden Rocks Series) This month has been crazy and fast. Took mom to Key West for her birthday. Got photos with the clothing optional bar sign at Garden of Eden but we were too scared to climb the stairs. (Been there done that was terrified much) Caught up on sleep. I’ve been working on a new June Nash novel and indulged in too many 10 hr writing days. Did some West World binging. Great show. Watch it!

While you wait for the new June novel, I have a free micro misadventure. June is trapped in Costa Rica and nature is not her friend. Get it free on Amazon or Kobo. Tell a friend and leave reviews! Every time you do June smiles at a random Dewzer. And it helps me get up in the morning and write more.

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That’s it for now. Stay cool (the heat sucks today) and Write On,

Melissa

I ran a Marathon cause I’m lazy

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Catching Up

It’s been a crazy few months since I last posted. I’m working on two new books (one is just over a third done), I’m creating a playable novel (more on that later), I just finished a short Prequel for How to Sex Your Snake. (More later on how to get that), and I accidentally ran a marathon. 

My husband is the runner. I just tag along cause I like spending time with him. 

The race was the Space Coast Marathon and 1/2 Marathon up in Cocoa Beach on Nov 26. It’s a gorgeous course that takes you along the water as the sun is rising. And moving up over head. And setting behind your back. A marathon takes a hell of a long time to run. For some of us anyway. 

3…2…1…liftoff

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Starting point is a little park. You head south, turning around at around the 6 1/2 mile mark and come back to the park. That’s 13.1 miles. Anyone running the half stops there. Anyone running the whole, continues on past. They’ll run about 6 1/2 out then turn around and come back to the park for a total of 26.2 miles. But what happens if you sign up for the whole marathon but realize you just can’t make it? Well, at this race, there’s something called the ‘wormhole’. You take that path and it sends you to the half marathon finish line. It’s a nice out.

So, we’re approaching the wormhole and my husband says, do you want to take the wormhole? He did. I didn’t quite hear him and just kept running. If I’d of heard him and understood, I definitely would have peeled off into the wormhole. And as I ran the next few miles, I was wishing I’d have peeled off into the wormhole. 

I think I can…I think I can…I think…ooooo, booze. 

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Oops. A boat on it’s side. Kinda how I felt at about mile 18

But then a funny thing happened. I got into a rhythm. And lovely people had tables set up, along the way, with shots and snacks. (I stuck with beer) My husband made it to 21. Which was partly my fault. I’d knocked us off our training schedule, in part because of laziness and in part because of…no, totally because of laziness. It’s tough to get up in the mornings to run when it’s so warm and comfy in bed. So he was under prepared. 

Why did I keep going? Again, laziness. I was 5.2 miles from saying I’d run a marathon. If I’d have stopped, I’d have to run 26.2 more miles to say I’d run a marathon. Does that makes sense? 

And the crowd roars…

Well, for the winner maybe. Just not for me. By the time I finished, most everyone had gone home. I was just happy to see my sweetie cheering for me as I cross the line. 

In the end, I came in at 6:55:59. (The course is listed as a 7 hour time limit)img_1250

Cool. Now I’d run a marathon and I could go home and sit on the couch and get back to Glitch on Netflix. Which I did. And then Thursday came. And the email.

‘Are you ready for this weekend’s race?’

Huh?

Seems we’d sign up for a half marathon down in Key West. Mark couldn’t get the time off work so I headed down alone. I crashed at a friend’s place and went down to packet pickup point to grab my race bib and t-shirt. After they handed me my stuff, I asked I could just pick up my husband’s t-shirt. He’s not registered. He deferred to next year. 

Huh? 

img_1308Turns out, after we’d signed up for the race, eons ago and it was rescheduled at one point helping us truly forget about it. Mark finally figured out that he had decided that we should defer to next year. He had done that. (also eons ago) And I hadn’t. He says he reminded me many times. I’m no longer in charge of deferring my own races.  

Totally fine with that. 

Then before I left the packet pickup table, I looked inside my bag and discovered two race bibs. Turns out I was not only running the half, I was running a 5k the next day. My wobbly post marathon legs were not happy to hear that. But…that meant an extra day in Key West. The love of my life. (My husband doesn’t read this so he’ll never know he’s number 2)

In the end, over 8 day and three races, I ran 42.3 miles.img_1290

As I was sitting on a bench staring out at the ocean and eating my post race bagel on Sunday, my husband texted to see if I wanted to run a half this coming Saturday. I bet you can imagine what I told him. 

Rest well and Write On, 

Melissa

PS

I said no. And then I muttered a few of June’s favorite words.

PPS

Who the hell is June? You’ll have to read the book to find out and I can help you out with that. Here’s the first five chapters.

 

Crocodile hunting

Have a cow

Last week, we hit the Everglades National Park on our way back from Key West. No, that’s not a deformed Croc. It’s a manatee (aka sea cow) drinking fresh water that was dripping from a drainage pipe into the gulf. (Yes, I’m still working my way through video shot wrong.)

There’s a lot to do and see in the park but I had only one objective. Find a Croc. Best place was supposed to be Flamingo Marina. (There was a computer issue so we lucked into a free day in the park – normally a 25 dollar fee per carload good for 7 days)

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The 30 miles drive beyond the main gate takes you through some prime critter viewing. We moved a tiny tortoise (not sure what kind but he had a round bumpy shell) off the road, watched a pancake toirtose waddle away in a hurry when we stopped, because he was in the middle of the road, and got out of the car to investigate two hit snakes. Another car came sailing along from the opposite direction and we were glad we’d moved the tortoise.

If you go, do not forget the bug spray! I still have welts from the biting flies. Thankfully, some other Croc hunters shared their deep woods off.

 

And on your left…more water

IMG_0458We thought about taking a tour. But I’m cheap and it was something like 35 bucks. I figured we’d look from shore this trip and maybe take a tour next time if we struck out.

Turns out it was manatee breeding season and the sea cows were very excited. And everywhere. Crocs were my priority but I found myself squealing with delight every time I saw a pudgy nose poke up out of the water. We spotted a dozen, along with two dolphins. Most were by themselves, but we did see a pod of five just before they dropped back below the surface. One of the other tourists let me look through his mega lens for a closeup. It was nice but I can’t imagine carrying around a giant camera anymore. (I’m sure my husband is happy those days are long gone too. I was always looking through the lens)

Are you using both those eyes? 

Lots of Vultures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some reason, wandering through them on the shoreline wasn’t as creepy as seeing them hanging out in this tree. It kinda felt like they were planning something.

As we were heading back to the car, full of regret for not spilling the 35 bucks for the boat tour, I spotted a little Croc in the water next to the sea wall. Success! He was maybe 5 feet, with all of him visible as he floated in the water. Unfortunately, I scared him by jumping around shouting Croc. He sunk from sight before I could get a photo.

Stinker.

Next time, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and spend the cash on the tour. Boats cover a lot more territory than I can on foot. Plus, the folks on that boat seemed to be having fun.

Next time, I’ve got more photos and video from the new Pandora rides at Disneyworld.

Until then, Write On,

Melissa

Free Summer Reads plus Crappy Video

(As usual, I suck at cell phone videos)

Yesterday, I wrote about our recent trip down to Key West. New book research, mojitos and the Hemingway 5K. You can read about that last part here. (and see more videos shot the wrong way)

We weren’t on the island for long, but I did have time to get in some last minute research on the new book in my June Nash MisAdventure series, followed by a meet up with my editor Lisa. And yeah, I hope to remember to turn my blasted cell phone sideways the next time I try to take video…. 

 

Free books and Previews

Work is progressing nicely on the next June Nash MisAdventure. More fun with Morgan, Cyrano, Dewzers and of course June and her bad decisions. I think it should be ready late fall/early winter. I’ll update that as things come together. In the meantime, how about a few free books for your summer reading lists?

Lose Yourself in Free Books

I’m excited to be a part of this very cool promo.  230 books and previews in 13 genres! You’ll find my first book in the June Nash MisAdventure series in the humor section. You’ve got 6 more days to get it for free, so don’t wait.

Until next time, Good Adventures (as June’s brother Dewey would say) and Write On,

Melissa

P.S.

If you download any of the books, stop back by and leave a note in the comments. What did you get?

 

Key West 5k

Just got back from Key West and the Hemingway 5k. It’s an evening run, start time 7:30pm. That’s me with my race shirt.

And this is the temperature. Kinda of. It was actually 89 degrees, feels like 89 thousand. I just noticed the song on the radio. We’d been hoping for temps in the 70s.

And this was us at race time.

Mojitos from the Rum Bar on Duval. Life is too short to be that sweaty.

Next time, I’ll share video from the Everglades National Park. (Give me a day to recover)

Until then,

Write on,

Melissa

The Big Swim

Waiting for Godot…err Diana

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Waiting….patiently…

It’s Sunday. Time for this week’s book update. Since my latest novel, a sequel to How to Sex Your Snake , takes place in Key West, and I’ve been immersed in research, I thought it would be fun to include some memories from my time on the island. Last week, we looked back at one of my favorite watering holes, the Bull and Whistle bar, which features 3 distinctive bars and with some iffy nudity. This  week, we’re outside, looking at some actual water. But first, the update. 

How to Square Your Grouper – A June Nash Misventure, Book 2

Premise: Following an embarrassing blunder, June heads down to Key West to hide out and accidentally becomes a drug runner.

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Captain Eddy rallies the troops

Genre – Adventure
New words this week –1239 (plus a few pages of handwritten notes)
Total word Count – 13,543 
Release date: Summer 2017

Goals last week: continuing my research, tightening up my outline

What I did: Mainly research. I spend the week reading up on the Coast Guard and some other things that will spoil the book if I mention them. The more I read, the less I feel like I know. I’m currently looking for someone who was actually in the Coast Guard. So, if that was you, drop me a note in the comments. Outlining – I realized I had two different outlines for the book. So, I’ve been combining both into a notebook. That’s my preferred method. I can take paper and pencil more places that I can take my computer. 

Goals for next week: finish up my outline sometime during the week. I’d like to start the actual writing around the 20th. (I’ve got a few pages here and there but it’s mostly in outline form) I’m still living in a delusional state thinking I will be able to hand the book to my editor around tax day. We’ll see. 

This weeks trip down memory lane:

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I spy with my little eye…

See the boats on the right? Diana Nyad is somewhere in the middle, about to finish her world record Cuba to Key West Swim. Mark and I happened to be biking down the southern side of the island, probably headed to Caroline’s for a cuban sandwich, when we noticed the news crews and the swarm of people on the beach. Mark checked the internet and Diana was still a few hours away, so we did our lunch thing, wandered Duval a bit and then headed back to Smathers. By this point, it was close enough that we decided to lock up the bikes and find a good spot. We lucked into a roped off section and ended up against the barrier. When Diana came ashore, we’d have a ringside seat as she emerged from the Atlantic Ocean. 

And then, of course, life happened. Later, Ms. Nyad said that as she was approaching Key West, she wasn’t sure where she was supposed to land so she just picked a spot. Which wasn’t anywhere close to where everyone was standing. Chaos ensued and people raced to be first to her new landing spot. Mark and I were separated and I quickly gave up. There was no way I was going to get close up to the action. I texted my husband, took my sandals off and headed for the sidewalk and our bikes. And got stuck in another crowd. I pulled out my phone to text Mark again and realized, almost too late, that Diana was on a stretcher being wheeled to an ambulance by EMTs. I hit video on my cell phone and held it up just as they went past. If you’re interested, you can read more about her historic record here. 

 

That’s it for this week. Next Sunday, we’ll reminisce about men dressed in tiny shorts pushing a bed up the street. Believe it or not, it has absolutely nothing yet absolutely everything to do with the time the tiny island of Key West succeeded from the United States.

Until then, keep your head above water, don’t drink too much rum, and Write on,

Melissa

 

 

 

Key West Quickie

The Rum is for Research

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The rooftop patio is clothing optional. And no, you really don’t want to partake. 

Last week, I was reading a blog post from one of my favorite tv writers, Ken Levine, and he talked about a director friend who wanted to make his next movie in Hawaii. Didn’t care what the movie was. He just wanted a few months in paradise. I totally get that. Why immerse yourself in something that doesn’t tickle your fancy?

 

That’s why I decided to set my next book, a sequel to How to Sex Your Snake, in one of my favorite places on Earth. The spot where I hung my hat from ’12 – ’14.

You can’t go home again…

Screw that. Sure you can.

For two years, the tiny island of Key West was home and I spent my days pedaling from sandy shore to quaint cafe to rowdy bar. Mornings strolling the stretch of surf on Smathers Beach, afternoons parked at a corner table in Sippin Cafe hammering out How to Sex Your Snake, evenings meeting up with my husband and/or friends for half priced happy hour munchies and booze.

What better place for June’s next MisAdventure?

While I know the island fairly well, there are always things I will need to double check for accuracy. Rather than spend all my time surfing the internet, I thought it would be a lot more fun to get my research the old fashioned way.  In person.

Two weeks ago, I was down, taking some preliminary notes and photographing spots where all sorts of delightfully horrible things would happen to poor June. As I continue to work my outline, more questions will spring up and I will probably head back down in about six weeks seeking answers. And a bit of rum. And maybe a morning of drag queen bingo.

As I continue to research and write the new book, I’ll post updates each Sunday, just like I did for How to Sex Your Snake. This time, though, since my setting is Key West, I’ll include favorite memories from my time on the island. Think rum, rebellion, ribs, sexy men pushing beds down the street, and eager tourists getting their drink on and letting their hair down. Fill out that little form in the upper right corner to follow along.

 

 

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They make an excellent Club Sandwhich

 

Onto this weeks update:

How to Square Your Grouper – A June Nash Misventure, Book 2

Premise: Following an embarrassing blunder, June heads down to Key West to hide out and accidentally becomes a drug runner.

Genre – Adventure
New this week – 0
Total Count – 12, 304
Release date: Summer 2017

 

 

Goals for the week: Continue my research and outline. Right now it’s all about the planning. The tighter my outline, the faster I’ll write the actual book.

This weeks trip down memory lane: See that photo at the top? That’s the Bull and Whistle Bar. It’s a three story establishment and a hopping spot for drunken sing alongs on the first floor, aka The Bull. Get there early. Most nights you’ll find a singer/s covering hits from the good old days along with original offerings. The bartenders are friendly, the featured performers get the crowds roaring along and you’re bound to make a friend or two. When your voice gives up, climb the stairs to the second floor , aka The Whistle, for a game of pool and a quiet drink while you watch the madness of Duval Street from a safe spot on the balcony. And when you’ve gotten your second wind, head to the stairs one more time and climb all the way up to the Garden of Eden, a clothing optional rooftop oasis. And while that may sound titillating, beware. For every beautifully firm co-ed grooving topless on the dance floor there are two pasty old naked guys sitting on towels at the bar. Unless that’s your thing. Then by all means, indulge.

And what about me? Did I ever find myself grooving in the garden? Sort of. We got a lot of company while we lived in Key West and visitors always wanted the full experience. And while my dancing never involved nakiditity I was known to sneak a peak or two at those  who did.

That’s it for this week’s update.

Keep your clothes handy and Write On,

Melissa