Win a signed copy of How to Sex Your Snake

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How to Sex Your Snake by Melissa Banczak

How to Sex Your Snake

by Melissa Banczak

Giveaway ends June 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Are you a member of Goodreads? If not, you should be. I’m giving away some signed copies of my latest book, How to Sex Your Snake this summer and that’s where you’ll find them. The first contest goes live at 12:01 am on June 6 and runs till June 13. (I believe it ends at midnight) 

So follow the link above and get signed up. 

Write On,

Melissa

Seattle Roadtrip

What do you mean there’s no internet?

image
Yeah, I didn’t line that up very well, did I?

I’ve been on the road quite a bit this summer. Nothing exciting. Just things that needed to be taken care of. Two weeks ago I was in Seattle getting my youngest settled into a new place and I caught the Star Trek exhibit at the EMP Museum. Okay. That was exciting. And yeah, the last one leaving the nest is pretty thrilling. Not a week at the beach thrilling but yay, thrilling. So, scratch that. This summer has been awesome!

Thanks to a lack of internet at wee one’s new apartment, and another quick trip last week, I’m finally catching up here.

EMP has a lot to offer. Most likely. I skimmed it all looking for the Star Trek exhibit. Costumes, sets, props, miniatures, a borg chamber and a transporter set where you can act out a scene, complete with special effects, while a friend or kindly stranger records it from a monitor with their phone. There was a line and I was alone so I skipped that part.

image
Bad Kirk’s uniform from Mirror, Mirror
image
Look around, can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe? Wait, that’s Galaxy Quest
image
Kick-Ass women of Voyager. Well, their clothes anyway.

 

image
And the Guys! Plus Deanna, post intergalactic cheerleader

 

image
Forget the transporter, I wanted to play on this set

image

 

I did manage to find someone to snap a few photos of me in the borg chamber. How does somebody take out of focus photos on an iPhone?

 

 

image
The detail was amazing
image
Resistance is…wait…batteries low…hold that thought
image
Hey how did he get in there? Exterma-what? Hang on, let me get a little closer 

On a cold rainy night like tonight, all I want to do is bury myself under a zillion blankets and pop in some of the original series. Since I still have some edits for How to Sex Your Snake, that will have to wait.

Go boldly and write on,

Melissa

Use it or lose it

 

Hold still while I kick you in the head…

In the summer of 2004, I’d just perfected my running-jump-spin-and-break-the-board-kick (sorry to be so technical) and was a few months away from testing for my 2nd degree black belt when the Air Force realized it had been way too long since out last move and sent us packing. Since ATF hadn’t made it to Tucson, I decided to look for a new discipline. Aikido, Jiujitsu, the west’s version of Taekwondo? Boxing? It was an agonizing search that I lost countless hours to. Guess what I ending up choosing?

imageIf you said nothing, you win! I got distracted running camera on a music video. That led to more films and eight years later, I was on my way to Key West where exercise involved a bike, riding to the bar for some heavy shot glass lifting.

Twelve years later, I can’t twist my arm enough to scratch a spot in the middle of my back. I used to be able to stand next to someone and kick them in the head. That was a valuable skill. I miss it. So, last month I decided I needed to get back in shape and I signed up for a yoga app through my smart tv. Don’t ask me what it’s called. I can’t remember. I’ve use it three times. What is it with commitments?

But Mom! Everybody’s doing it!

image
ah pokemon thingies? hello? any of you out there?

Anyone playing the latest craze, Pokemon GO? I’ve been sad to see so many on social media bashing the popular game app. Who cares if people are using their cell phones to hunt and battle with imaginary creatures. I’m especially dismayed when I see writers join in the putdowns. Ah, hello, we live and die in the world of make believe. 

The game has been getting kudos for getting folks up off the couch and out into the real world, so to speak. It’s been a boost for small business, new friendships and even law enforcement thanks to at least two bodies discovered by players.

I even gave it a GO. Despite the fact that I live in the sticks. Check out that lovely screenshot. See how many nearby Pokemon are highlighted? Yeah.

I think I eventually caught 6 of those worm things that live in the grass (I’m deep in cow and potato country) and 3 things that looked like sparrows.

After a week I got bored and deleted. Another thing I couldn’t commit to. Jeez.

And speaking of the sticks, my pooch Stitch is ready to go do this:

image

 

Go take a hike and write on,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

image
Rum Induced Red Eye

 

The Yellow Brick Road

A few Saturdays ago, I got a birthday card from one of my favorite people, James. On the front, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion are gazing up at something wonderful. Probably Oz. Inside, James made a joke about pickings being slim at the Winn Dixie at one am. To me, though, the card was perfect.

Key West, where James lived and were I spent two wonderful years, was my Oz. I’d left the bleak brown desert of Arizona, crossed the country via the Yellow Brick Road (A.K.A. the Interstate Highway System) and arrived on Duval Street where the colors were brighter, the rum smoother and the smells smellier. By the time I left the island, twenty-five months later, I was a women who’d found all that her heart desired. Two amazing friendships and the best orange rum cake in the universe. (I already had true love)

When I opened James’s card that Saturday, it was late. I sent a quick message telling him that the card had arrived on my actual birthday, I loved it, and that somewhere over the rainbow there was lots of rum. He didn’t reply. I didn’t think anything of it. Sometimes we went days between replies.

The next morning, I woke up to an email from a mutual friend. James was no longer with us.

I had to sit up, read the message twice and then wake my husband. Did this really mean what I thought it meant? Sadly, it did. Sometime between mailing my card and my birthday, James had taken his own life. I can’t say I was completely surprised. There was a lot of sadness in his soul.

I can say that I was pissed.

And then sobbing uncontrollably.

And then pissed again.

When someone dies, it’s easy for the survivors to only remember the good stuff. James wasn’t perfect. He could be argumentative and exhausting and difficult. But he was also funny. And cheeky. And sarcastic. And above all else, fiercely loyal to those he called his friends. And that circle was wide and eclectic. In the days that followed his death, those friends began sharing their James stories. And so many of them began the same way. I saw him and I knew I had to be his friend. It was that way for me too. He had an intoxicating energy that you just had to be a part of.

Rolling a piano down the street and stopping to play for traffic. Strolling to the bar with two great danes and a parrot on his shoulder. Wearing a top hat to the grocery store, just because. Teaching a friend to embrace Madonna: take control, don’t be second best, express yourself. 

All hail Matti Makkonen, inventor of the text message

image
oh that Lucy

For the last few weeks, my days have been filled with so many I need to text that to James moments.

There’s an I Love Lucy special being advertised on tv. Does he know? Is he going to watch? Oh my God, some toy company made wide eyed Joan Crawford and Betty Davis, Whatever happened to Baby Jane dolls. Has he seen the ad? The dolls eyes are amazingly creepy. That actor from that tv show has a bio out. Has he read it? The writing is the absolute worst. He needs to grab it from the library so that he can leave one of his scathing catty reviews. It’ll be so hysterical!

I pull out my phone. Poise my thumb over the keypad and then suddenly remember.

Did I text him that much during the four years that I knew him? Probably not. But knowing that he’s no longer there makes each lost moment feel devastatingly important. Something that only he would understand. And appreciate. And love.

Put it in Print

image
scoping out a house that was inspiration for a setting in our book

James was a writer. That’s how we met. I joined a little critique group and there he was. He wrote essays. Sometimes they were gut wrenching; the loss of his beloved Great Dane left me in tears for days. Sometimes snort inducing; his annoyed take on the idiocy of organized meditation made me want to sign up for a class. Just for a laugh. We’d talked a lot about what he’d include in a second volume. It would have been good.

I’m crushed that he and I will never write the book we plotted out about a girl who steps off a cruise ship in Key West and meets a bartender who inspires her to rethink her life. We joked that it was our story.

 

Lady Sings the Blues

image
Martini Me

James had a thing for Diana Ross. Her attitude. Her amazing voice. Her voluminous hair. Her attitude. I know I’m not the only one out there with a mix CD of her songs compiled by him for my specific needs.

And though he loved her best, it really wasn’t just Diana that did it for him.

The man simply loved music. It defined each moment in life. It set the mood. It lifted the spirit. It gave one the strength to go on. For a time anyway.

Not long ago, one of his dear friends, DJ Donna Flaggs of WHCP radio out of Maryland dedicated an entire show of smokey blues to James. If you’re not already a member of soundcloud, you can still listen with a free 30 day trial. He’d have thought the fuss was silly but I know he would have secretly loved the selections.

I’ll miss you the most, Scarecrow

IMG_1120-1-1.jpg

It’s only been a month. The urge to text James my every waking thought will probably go away soon. I’m going to finish the book I’m currently writing and then revisit the outline we wrote for our book. Maybe I’ll contact his sister about pursuing the story on my own. Maybe not. Right now, it’s still too soon. I’m thankful for the new friends I’ve found through James. They’ve made the loss bearable. I’ll be back in OZ, a.k.a. Key West in the fall and I hope to connect with many of them. We’ll talk about James and drink rum and probably sing some Diana Ross. And maybe I’ll text him about it.

 

Sing along and Write on,

Melissa

Key West State of Mind

IMG-20120128-00055.jpg

It’s raining. It’s 39 degrees. And I’d be miserable but I just got the first 19 chs of How to Sex Your Snake back from my editor. A quick look through tells me that I don’t have much to fix and I see lots of checkmarks. (for stuff she loves) Now I just need to get those last 3 chs perfected and forwarded. Fingers crossed that I will be able to send the complete manuscript off to my format and error checkers first week of May and that the book goes live sometime before June 1.

I’m still waiting on the cover from the artist but I’m told that I’m next in the queue.

135 days till my plane lands in Key West. It’ll just be for four nights but I plan on making the most of it and not sleeping till I’m off the island. The beach, Duval Street, the chickens, the little Jazz Room, and 7am happy hour at Schooner Wharf.  That’s my idea of perfection. What’s yours? Where do you head when you need a vacation?

Stay dry and Write On,

Melissa

p.s. I had a blog when I lived in Key West. It’s called, Twist of Key Lime. I think pretty much everything I wrote about is still there. I plan on adding as much to it as I can while I’m on the island.

p.p.s. cynthia kester – could you please drop me on a note at my work email – melissabanczak@gmail.com

And the winner is…

20160317_215329So, my youngest offspring and I are both trying to finish things. He’s working through some videos prepping for an IT certification test and I’m trying to get my latest project, the novel, How to Sex Your Snake finished and off to my editor. We decide to engage in a little friendly competition to see who would finish first. The deadline was today. (at midnight) And the winner is…”

Nobody. Yet. We had something unexpected take us out of town yesterday so we pushed the deadline to tomorrow. I’m not sure where he stands at the moment, he’s being secretive. Me? Well, let’s take a look:

How to Sex Your Snake has 25 chapters. (I’m one of those anal outliners)

Chs 1-18 are locked.

19 is probably done. I need to read it one more time but I’m saving that for later.

Ch 20 is done.

Ch 21 needs one line to smooth out a transition.

ch 22 needs a new ending. I made changes in the story (and rewrote my outline for the ending) and now a new last paragraph is in order.

ch 23-25 need complete rewrites. Everything I had is gone now, thanks to the new ending. Well, ch 25 has the same ending but the chapter has always been in an outline form. I expect each to come in at about 1500-2000 words. (for a total of 15-20 new pages)

As you can see in the photo above, I drank wine so I’m done for the night. Even a small glass just kills me. I have a practice 10k in the morning (and a race on Sunday) then it’s back to the computer until I finish or give up trying. I’ll drop a quick note tomorrow.

Until then, have a nice night and Write On,

Melissa

ps.

Did you lift a pint for St. Paddy’s day? I completely forgot about it.

 

 

Super Tuesday!

20160130_073644-1
You’re gonna vote right?  Don’t make me smack you. 

Today is Super Tuesday! That means that people in 12 more states get to make decisions for me. I’m really tempted to move to Iowa so that my primary vote actually counts. But snow. So. I’m not gonna. I hate to think that by the time they get to my state, there won’t be a choice anymore.

So, go forth people of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and  American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific.

If you live in one of these places, get your hiney to the polls. I don’t care about your politics or lack thereof.  And no, don’t think that your single vote doesn’t count. Less that 60% of eligible voters show up. Don’t let 40% of Americans continue to be losers.

Get up early, stay out late, bring a book for the line, just get your freakin’ ass to the polls.

GO VOTE. Now. Make the time.

Vote. And Write On,

Melissa

Unfriended—Why “Cleaning Up” Your Friends Could Be Costing You BIG

Hey guys, I see this unfriending thing all the time on facebook usually with some sort of note about wanting only people who are important to that person. I’m reblogging Kristin’s post because she has a really good point about networking being for everyone, not just writers. (Just for the lost dog posts alone, don’t unfriend) You never know when that friend you never talk to can step up and become your hero.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Link Humans courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons Image via Link Humans courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I started out writing a blog about unfriending. That post became 2800 words and since I’ve vowed to do better about length? I cut it in half. Then that grew to 3200 words. So I had to cut it again.

Aaand then again.

Apparently I have a lot of opinions about unfriending.

After almost a thousand blog posts I seriously cannot believe we haven’t talked more about this. Unfriending. What an awful word. Un-friend. To be un-friended.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I actually posted some thoughts on the whole “unfriending” thing and there does seem to be a generational difference. Young people will unfriend  someone who’s misbehaving then add them again later. From what I understand it’s like a time-out.

I will say that, us older folks?

It is NOT a time out.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 5.40.53 AM

I can promise that us older folks will take…

View original post 1,887 more words

Hitchhiking

IMG_1441-1
A couple of weeks ago, it was nice enough to run outside. I think it was 17 degrees that day. You don’t know how much it pains me to say that 17 degrees was nice.

The other day I decided to play hookie and drove down to Appleton for the day. Since I was in no hurry, I took the long meandering way, through the backroads, only getting lost once when my map software stopped working, swinging by the casino for a quick break, and two hours later getting back on the road forty dollars poorer and only halfway to my destination. At one point, I was passing through one of the tiny villages en route, and I saw a guy hitchhiking. He had three or four plastic shopping bags dangling from his hands as he stuck out his thumb and for half a second, I thought about how cold it was and how far he might be from home. And then I was past him and my momentary twinge of guilt was replaced with an image of Ted Bundy.

That’s not to say I haven’t stopped for hitchhikers in the past.

In Arizona, my son and I picked up a rather tall man and his adorable red headed toddler one scorching afternoon. The poor man’s car had broken down and he told us that the two had already walked several miles as cars zoomed past and ignored them. We dropped father and son at the first gas station we passed. Years before that, I stopped for a couple at the entrance to an airport. They were next a stalled car, with suitcases beside them. I don’t know why I picked them up. Maybe it was the desperation they oozed. They jumped in, professed their love for me and I got them to the departure area with just enough time to make their flight. I always wonder what happened to their car.

So what makes us stop and what scares us away? If you think about Mr. Bundy, everything about hitchhikers should scare you away. Things are not always as they seem. That father could have kidnapped that small boy and been on the run. That couple could have simply found a stalled car and posed next to it, their suitcases empty and waiting to be filled with the dismembered body of a gullible driver.

My days of picking up strangers are probably over. I’m not as adventuresome as I was in my younger days. How about you? Have you ever pick up a hitcher? Were you the hitcher?

Leave your story in the comments and Write on,

Melissa

p.s.

If you can find it, watch The Hitcher starring Rutger Hauer, an absolutely terrifying movie. Don’t bother with the remake. They changed the story and completely ruined it.