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Book launch party

Today was the day! Sweltering but I was heartened to see such a huge crowd. And to sell out the stock of books I had brought with me that day.

Good times!

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Tomorrow = Launch Day!

Launch TimeIt’s hard to believe, launch day is here! It’s been a whirlwind ride to bring The Gray Lady of Long Branch to publication, but it’s done. Hard to believe when I think about lounging around in that adorable little beach home on the rain-drenched Florida Panhandle, forced to stay inside, that the seed of an idea sewn there would blossom into this novel.

But it did. And I’m so happy with the finished product. I honestly am. While writing it, there were more than a couple of times that I laughed out loud and some funny thing I’d written, or sobbed with tears over another part.  I hope you, my reader, gets the whole gamut of emotions I did while putting it together.

And I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I put it together, I’ll acknowledge that. But I also had some voice or unseen force or muse whispering to me along the way. It may sound crazy, but it’s my truth.

Elizabeth Gilbert, writer, gave a TED talk that nails it, this inspiration that comes at times. I’ve watched her presentation several times and each time, it inspires the hell out of me. And each time, it reminds me to have the courage to trust in my personal “geni.”

I use the term “courage”, and, honest-to-God, that’s what it is! You have to learn to take the ego out of whatever it is you are doing, and just trust. Trust in that inner voice, and just do your job. So inspired am I by that TED talk that I’m putting more of them here:

“If the divine cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts, than ole! And if not, do your dance anyhow and ole to you nonetheless! Just for having the shear human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”

If you’re curious as to the kind of inspiration that went into The Gray Lady of Long Branch, here’s a link to the publisher’s entry on the paperback version. It’s also available from the Publisher in ebook form.

I’d love to hear from you on the topic of inspiration or muse or geni voice. Do you hear or have you heard it too?

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Me: Part 2

Us and boysAfter a couple of years in the country, we relocated back to Nashville where I went through two years of high school before another move to Murfreesboro, an hour south of Nashville. During my high school, I got involved in school programs, ranging from sports – basketball, track and swimming – to acting (yes, acting!) and church (I was secretary of our CYO group) and even earned a 100 hour badge as a candystriper volunteering at the local V.A. hospital.

Despite all these activities, the transition to Murfreesboro was tough since I’d left some close, wonderful friends behind during a crucial time in my teenage years to try to gain acceptance in a school where most everyone had grown up together. I processed my feelings in writing and escaped into books even more. In fact, I often got in trouble for reading off-topic in class — even honors English class.

I absolutely loved writing and felt comfortable doing so. So much so, that in college, I frequently wrote other student’s term papers along with my own.  I left school to earn a paycheck, married young and soon had a couple of children and life as a stay at home mom bringing in a little side money as a sportswriter for a local weekly paper and then working as a stringer for another local newspaper.

My tumultuous six-year-marriage ended so I entered the ranks of the 9-5 employed in customer service. A few years later I remarried a wonderful man — my best friend — and continued to work, too busy to write. I returned to school and received a B.A. (cum laude, I might add) in Mass Comm from Middle Tennessee State University. While there, I was writing for the school newspaper and as a stringer with the Tennessean, covering some random stories from a major pollution issue to the cotton crop’s prospects to tragedies such as a young boy dying from diabetes.

After graduating, I moved into a fulltime reporters role with a suburban Nashville daily paper and wrote for a few years longer before deciding a corporate communications job would be more lucrative. I simultaneously joined forces with a friend of my brothers and co-wrote a screenplay and, with my partner’s approval, wrote the subsequent novel based on the story. It gathered dust on a shelf as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on but I’m glad to say became my first published novel, Empty Sky, which was finally published in 2014.

The art came into play this way: My two sons joined different branches of the military and served in Iraq. They both served in the infantry and both were embroiled in some of the worst fighting during our years there. My eldest, a Marine, was in Nasariyah in the beginning of the war which was described as “a Turkey Shoot, with our Marines as the targets.”  My younger son was in the mechanized infantry in Anbar Province where half-ton IEDs were the widow-makers and son-stealers.

I’ll be honest. It unbalanced me for a few years. Not that I became a raging alcoholic or ended up in an institution. Rather, I let anger and outrage over what I perceived as an egregiously ill-advised course of action eat away at me. I was bitter and intense and outspoken and not a pleasant person to be around.

Then I found art.

My sons were stateside and safe and I was able to let down my guard. With a makeshift studio beckoning, I taught myself some basics and took classes and workshops and found a community of fellow artists to paint with.  It was the release I needed and at once my soul felt so much lighter!

Technological advances sent my consulting business the way of travel agencies, and forced me to find steady employment. I did, and have since moved to Florida with my husband. Thankfully, we have a great home with a great studio and separate office where I can paint or write as is my inclination. I decided after finally publishing Empty Sky last year to take a stab at completing the sketch of another story I’d started years ago. Over this past several months I finished it. It is my sweet second novel The Gray Lady of Long Branch and it’s being released August 25.  I hope you’ll consider reading it!


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Final editing going on for The Gray Lady of Long Branch

Gray Lady of Long Branch book cover front and spineThe book is done and is now going through final edits. I’m so excited about this one! I love how it’s come out, after all these years.

I don’t know if I’ve shared this elsewhere, but the deal is, I was staying at a famous wordsmith’s beach home on the Florida Panhandle in 2009. The coast was stricken with Red Tide, so we couldn’t go near the beach. The weather was meh, and we could only visit the beachy boutiques and eateries just so much, so we stayed inside for a lazy couple of days.

It was then that it hit me: A place like this, where the writer goes to create her own huge hits, must be bursting with creative energy residue. I thought more about the place and the stories it must hold. One thought led to another and I grabbed my laptop and began to write. I’d gotten four chapters in (I write extremely fast) by the time we had to pack up and head back home, saying goodbye to our beautiful little retreat.

We made it home safe and sound and all was well until I turned on the aging behemoth of a brick that was my laptop at the time. It was dead. Nada, nothing, zilch. I’d lost all the work I had already done. I wasn’t as concerned about that as about losing the inspiration I had from the muse or energy or whatever it was whispering in my ear during that burst of creativity. I had no choice but to give up on those stories, accepting that the digital ninth circle of hell had swallowed them whole.

But the voices kept speaking to me. The characters begged to be let out of their cage. And after five tortuous years, I freed them.

They are the people that make up The Gray Lady of Long Branch and they are stubborn, insistent, fun, human, frail, wild and genuine.  They go through heart-wrenching traumas, and experience first love. They get in a shitload of trouble, and hold it together for beloved family members breathing their last. They die, they are born, they eat, they drink and make love with lust and the timidity of virgins.

They are my creations and they make up The Gray Lady of Long Branch. I hope you like it! Consider placing an advance order to save big on the cover price.  If you are stateside, get the free shipping deal at that same link.

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Empty Sky book release update

So, we’re getting closer to a firm release date.  It looks like late August when all is said and done.  In time, I hope, for Labor Day reading opportunities for folks lucky enough to take some time off then. I’m hoping readers will head to the beach for a beach vacation with my book in tow! Or trek to a cabin in the mountains, armed with some good reads, including Empty Sky.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Whatever the case, Empty Sky looks like it will be available in paperback form in late August. We are working on a book release locally, as well as book-signing events in Nashville and Asheville too, since both of those locations are front and center in this book.  Nothing is firm yet, though, so stay tuned!

The front cover of the novel Empty Sky by Maura Satchell
The front cover of the novel Empty Sky by Maura Satchell