The Ruins of Ephesus

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How did it get to be April? I’ve been away the last few weeks, helping a senior relative move. Biggest tip I can offer, take photos of bookshelves (that house nicknacks) before you pack and then label each box for each bookshelf and include a map of where that piece of furniture sat in its particular room. You’ll get a lot of, where the stuff from that bookshelf that was behind my desk. There was a bookshelf behind your desk? is never the correct answer.

Since it’s mid-week -ish I’ll leave the Key West memories (and new book word count) to Sundays and instead share photos from one of my favorite trips.

Kadefikale on Hillside above Izmir
A view of Izmir, Turkey

Back in 2007, my husband was stationed with NATO in Izmir, Turkey. I was psyched when he got the assignment. Back in college, I’d planned on majoring in history. I’m one of those annoying people read all the notes on museum displays and block most of the exhibit. If I’d taken the time, in college, to see what classes I needed to get that particular degree I would have. (I’m not a big planner. So, after a fun 5.5 years and tons of lovely intersession classes (best way to get an A) I settled for a b.a. in social science with concentrations in History, Geography and something else. Maybe archeology) So let me stress again. I was psyched. Whoo-hoo. Turkey. The divider between Europe and Asia. So much history. So many ruins. So much to keep me busy during his one year tour. And then came the sad news. The US military did not let families accompany the service member to Turkey. Spoil sports. (The US was the only country with this rule as of 2007)

DSCN0374Now I was left with what amounted to a short vacation. And I had to chose wisely. We didn’t have a lot of money, the air fare alone ate up most of my budget, and we’d be leaving two high school aged kids home alone. I’ve seen enough movies to know nothing good ever comes from that.

After many anguishing hours pouring over city guide at the Waldenbooks down the street, I had a plan. A few days in Rome, a few days wandering the Kemerati bazaar in Turkey and because multiple days in Greece were impossible, an afternoon at an appropriate substitute. The ancient Greek city of Ephesus.

 

at Library of Celsus 2
The Celsus Library. All the good scrolls were checked out. 
on Cerastes street near Hercules Gate
That’s the library in the distance. We beat the crowds. For the first hour anyway.
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And then they showed up.  
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Statues. 

 

 

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And Cats
directions to the brothel-sm
And directions to the brothel.
at public latrine
Still nothing to read. Plus a super cold breeze from below. (hence my posture)
entrance to the Great Amphitheater
The entrance to the theater.
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Which felt much larger in person.
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The cheap seats.
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Excavations were in progress. 

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I flipped the photo so you could see the mosaic lion. He’s on the floor. 
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As are these two.
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A better shot of the size. 

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We saw at least a dozen cats as we wandered this field.
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The Domitian temple. First temple built in the name of an Emperor. 
entrance to Odeon
I still miss that antelope jacket. Which I bought in the Kemeralti bazaar. So comfortable. So soft. So well made. So tempting. Someone stole it from the back of my chair in Las Vegas a couple of years later.  
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An angel suggesting we hit the road. The crowds had arrived. 

Melissa and Kellie in the KemeraltiAnd speaking of the Kemeralti bazaar, I’ll save that for another mid week post. Such an amazing place. Think Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. You step in – you’re in another world. A labyrinth of stalls stuffed into every last bit of space, with enough twists and turns to lose all but the veteran shopper. In the meantime, I’ll be back on Sunday with more Key West memories.

Oh, and when I got home from my trip to Turkey, there were no cracks in the egg. Nice to know my kids are so well behaved. A tad disappointed to learn that my kids are so well behaved. Here’s hoping they had a crazy adventure too.

Write on,

Melissa

P.S. this is making me itchy to travel again. Have you got a favorite spot? Leave me a suggestion in the comments.

 

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

 

 

Preorders begin for my novel

I’m happy to announce…

e-book coverWell if you read the title, you already know. The kindle version of my first novel, How to Sex Your Snake, is now available to preorder on Amazon for just $2.99. Yay! It will be automatically delivered to your mailbox on February 14, 2017. (I’ll add buy buttons for ibook, Nook, Kobo, paperback and audio as they become available) If you haven’t already, you can read the first chapter here.

Valentine’s Day has special meaning to me. It’s not just that candy and flowers holiday. It’s also my dad’s birthday. This year, he would have been 88. After he retired, he had a nice little second career as a writer, so going live on his birthday is my way of feeling just a bit closer to him this year.

I’m hard at work on the sequel to How to Sex Your Snake.  If you’d like to know when it’s ready, you can join the Book Announcement List:


Thanks for sticking with me as this first book took shape. I’ve had many goals since I started. Most I didn’t keep. But – I’ve learned so much and now I feel like I know what I need to do to get this next one finished in a reasonable amount of time. Right now, I’m shooting for sometime around my birthday in late April. For now, grab a copy of How to Sex Your Snake. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks. Stay warm and Write On,

Melissa

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How to Sex Your Snake Book Cover Reveal

Plugging along

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Oddest looking dogs ever. Wait. Those are baby cows.

It’s been just shy of two months since James died. I was scrolling Facebook a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon an unattributed quote that sums up my sadness.

     “I believe the hardest part of healing after you’ve lost someone you love is to recover the “you” that went away with them”

There’s still that daily need to text him about things. He would have loved the pickup full of cows. I suppose in time the hollowness will fill back in. In the meantime, all I can do is get up off the couch and get on with it.

And on that note, the new book cover book…

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My soon to be released book

In less than 48 hours, June’s life will go from low-key to ludicrous thanks to a pool of blood, a missing body, slithering creepy crawlies and the imminent incarceration of her famous twin-brother.

Read the 1st chapter now and get 2 and 3 when you join the book release mailing list.

So is it done? 

No. But I’m finally back to my 40 hour work.  A late summer release is still looking good.

If you feel so inclined, check out the first chapters, sign up for the book announcement list and then drop down to the comments and let me know your thoughts on the cover.

Be safe and happy and Write on,

Melissa

 

 

 

Key West State of Mind

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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

10-13-15 Tuesday Word Count

 

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poop!

A black bear has hitting the apple tree on the edge of our back yard leaving lots of piles of lovely poop. So far, the dogs haven’t spotted him. (we haven’t either) The last bear I saw near our house, was off in the brush, watching us stroll by with the dogs. (I think I’ve mentioned that horrible day) Bears freak me out a bit. They’re huge. After two seasons here, I’ve still only run into two bears while on foot. I’m hoping that never climbs to three.

Onto the word count.

How to Sex Your Snake

Genre – Mystery
New this week – 564 words
Total Count – 39,087 words
Release date:  Pre-orders Dec 10

Writing has sucked this last month. I’ve been running ’round in circles with rewrites since early Sept not liking any of the drafts.

wiz of oz puzzleFeeling really blocked, unlike the bear who has been scarfing down all the apples from our tree, I turned to one of my favorite mind-freeing activities that doesn’t involve rum.

Puzzles!

I love puzzles so much. Always have. One of my favorite memories of my dad is working together on a giant puzzle of a lion head. I think I was about 10.

So anyway, after about two weeks of non stop puzzling, I got back to the computer and churned out the rewrites. They went off to the retired cop and came back with a big thumbs up. I’m moving through chs 3-11 fixing a sentence or two here and there so that the changes make sense. I’ll be back to work on the ending of the book either today or tomorrow.

Goals from last time: Getting the rewrites done. It took long enough but it did happen.

Goals for next time: See, I didn’t write next week, since I’ve had some issues getting a blog post out every week. I have 8 chapters that need that final draft touch. If I can tackle each chapter over 2-3 days, I can finish by Halloween. Then the draft goes to my editor for a final pass. Once I get that back, approx mid Nov, I will implement the changes and then send copies go out to my format readers who will be looking for anything that was missed. (Not by my editor but by me not getting the change fixed correctly. My editor is a seasoned pro) Hopefully, the readers will be sending manuscripts back to me the first week of Dec. The book will then move into pre-sales on Dec 10. Sooner if the stars align.

Nanowrimo. Are any of you doing it this year? I love this event. It’s part of the reason I want to finish this month. I have enough of my outline for the next book in the series and I’d like to knock out a rough 1st draft in November. If you’ve never heard of nanowrimo, it’s national novel writing month. You write a 50k word book in 30 days. If you decide to do it, make sure you plan ahead and put together as much of an outline as you can. It will make the writing flow easier. Outlining always does. Now I’ve got to get back to work. Today is a double run day. (easy 3 miler this afternoon, yasso’s later tonight) We’re training for another half marathon.

Hope the leaves are beautiful where you are. (they kinda suck here. None of the gorgeous reds we had last year)

Write on,

Melissa

9-15-15 Tuesday Word Count

dogs sunning on porch
when we move, the surviving voles and chipmunks will thow a block party.

Today marks day three of my Harvey Fierstein impression. At least I managed to get up off the couch, stuff a few tissues in my pocket and head to breakfast at the casino. I used lots of hand sanitizer and tried not to stand too close to anyone. Right now, I’m out on the patio at home, basking in some of the last rays of sunshine before winter hits. This time last year, we’d already had snow. I think. I remember it coming early.

I managed to get some work done on the book this week, despite being sick. I tried to think of a completely non writing related post and failed beautifully. I’ve already written about the trees and the occasional bear and that’s pretty much it.

Nothing else interesting. Oh, I got 4 out of 5 double 7s this am so I won 45 bucks instead of 7K. Thank goodness. I don’t know what in the world I would have done with all that money. On to the word count.

How to Sex Your Snake

Genre – Mystery
New since Thursday –  664 words
Total Count –  38523 words
Release date: Pre-orders mid October

Goals from last week: edits on the fixes to the crime scene. I’m almost done with that. I’m feeling pretty good so I might have the energy to sit out here for a while. Uh oh. I just saw husband give me his I’m starving look through the sun porch (snake room) door. I might get sidetracked here shortly.

I wrote a couple of drafts of fixes to ch 2 and 3. One more pass and they should be good to go. After that, I need to get back to a my second and in some cases third drafts of 13-18. Though, chapter 18 might get absorbed into 17 and 15 might end up being split into two. In any event, I still have quite a bit to do to finish. If I can get a good two weeks of work in, I could still be done end of September. Maybe. Probably not though. If the next couple of weeks are like the last couple of weeks, I’ll still be plugging away come Halloween. I just hope my beta readers don’t get bored and wander off.

This log has definitely been helpful to me in analyzing my work flow. If you haven’t kept track, it sucks. I think I write 3 to 4 days a week, usually for 3 hours but sometimes for up to 6. I am making continuous notes though, so when I do sit at my computer, I work continuously. That’s something I suppose.

Goals for next week: as usual, finish. Other than that, finish. Oh and I’d like to finish. Realistic goals? Final draft of 2, 3 (with the changes) final drafts of 12 and 13. We’ll see what happens. Have a good week and enjoy the warm weather if you’ve got it.

Write on,

Melissa