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Reviews on my book – loving these!

Word cloud built around some of the key words and phrases in reviews written about The Gray Lady of Long Branch novel.
Word cloud built around some of the key words and phrases in reviews written about The Gray Lady of Long Branch novel.

I’ve got to confess… I find it weird — but very gratifying of course — to read enthusiastic reviews of The Gray Lady of Long Branch. I mean. I loved writing this book. I felt the emotions in it. I cried at the sad parts, laughed and chuckled at the humorous areas, and felt the elation and sorrow and everything in between that was depicted in this book.

So it’s with great pleasure that I’ve read reviews of others who felt those too.  Here are some of them. But one commercial announcement first: If you haven’t read the book, and these reviews compel you, feel free to purchase from the publisher at 30% off using the discount code MSBlog for whichever format you choose (and remember, it makes a great gift!).  So now, without further delay, some lovely, favorable book reviews:

“Satchell excels at drawing readers into the lives of her characters and making you care about them. The characters, and their experiences, are all easily relatable to our own stories, our own personal triumphs, challenges, and tragedies.” —  G. Robert Frazier’s Adventures in Writing

 “In these pages, you’ll meet several owners and renters who come, stay a while, and leave. … The multiple stories of the various visitors – families and renters – all narrated by the house, is the glue that holds the truly remarkable history of the house together. The people celebrate the good times, and support each other through the bad times. …I cried at the sad ending, but at the same time, was happy with the surprise circumstances of the ending. It is my pleasure to give ‘The Gray Lady of Long Branch’ 5-stars. It is a book I’d read again, and recommend to others.” — Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author

“The Gray Lady of Long Branch is a house set on the New Jersey shore in the town of Long Branch. Inside its walls, life happens – life, death, and everything in between. The house here tells its story through the stories of its inhabitants from World War II to almost the present time… The book is sweet. The simple approach to the story telling does not make these moments more or less than what they are. It simply describes them. The different scenes cycle back to some of the same characters such that you see them at different points in their lives. The book is about the small and the big moments of everyday life.  I enjoy the story for its simplicity and for its unvarnished sense of real life.” —  Memories from Books Blog

“Recommended, a nice, light, relaxing read. I read Sci-fi often enough, so I was comfortable suspending belief and listening to a house as narrator. I never saw the twist at the end coming…Bravo.” JohnChic / Library Thing

“With interesting characters and their interactions, a plotline that proceeds nicely through the years with visits to local New Jersey shore restaurants and other attractions, “The Gray Lady of Long Branch will delight New Jersey residents and former residents and those readers who love fiction of 20th century life.”Alice D. / Goodreads

“Her tone is conversational, candid and often humorous. She is proud of her appearance. She describes her observations and expresses opinions. The plot is engaging. The novel is so well written that only the Gray Lady could be the narrator. From the very beginning, it was easy to feel affection for the Gray Lady. The author takes on heavy issues, some of which are love, honesty, respect and loss. The characters are well developed and their stories easy to relate to. As for the ending: I didn’t see it coming!!! A total surprise.  I loved reading this unique and very special book. Highly recommended.” — Evie / Library Thing

“What a glorious beach read or story to read in the midst of any season when one is heartsick for the simple and timeless joys of summer vacations by the ocean’s shoreline. The sub-title of “If Walls Could Talk” is so appropriate as “The Gray Lady” shares her perspective of the history of her memories. There are stories within the overall history of the beach house and together they share not only the genealogical story of the families but are also shared within the chronological history with an American perspective. For anyone that has a history of memories at the beach with their families, this story will be a very endearing read and will also make a lovely gift to remind one of cherished times with sun, sand, and surf shared with family and friends.” — Corduroy / Library Thing

“What a beautiful read. … The gray lady saw families through their good time right along with the grief that they experienced. I really enjoyed this story and could relate to many of the events.” Joanie / Goodreads

“This was a lovely read with a chick lit feel to it… The author writes well and puts a lot into her characters and story. I enjoyed the concept of key American dates being referred to. A recommended read.” Jane / Goodreads

“I loved the book. Having an outside source telling about a family is a nice way to tell their story. Having the old Victorian home tell it is a nice alternative.  I will recommend this book to friends.”SandraCeltic / LibraryThing

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Music in art creation – my process

Druid Tree Painting by Maura Satchell, ArtistAs you might know, I make visual art as well as write. Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting thing. I work by two different mental processes when creating, depending on whether it be by words or pictures. Here’s the scoop:

The other day I was asked about my process in writing my (insert shameless plug here) second novel The Gray Lady of Long Branch  (Four Pillars) and in explaining my strong dedication to the organic process, I also mentioned I work in silence. No music, no television, no people (if I can help it, but that depends on how close to deadline).  I do this because those external distractions would dim “the voices in my head.”

I know what you’re thinking: Get out the straightjacket. =)

In all seriousness, though, I can only describe it in this way:  Thankfully, I type blindingly fast, so, I process my thoughts in my brain and type to follow up. Usually it’s my own thoughts, but sometimes, I get the voice of the character, or a reminder voice of an old professor, or some other voice coming to me. It informs the process of what I’m doing or downright puts the dialogue right into my mind, accent at all.

When creating visual art, I find creating to music pleasant and sometimes very helpful. It seems to free up my work so my strokes are less controlled, more flowing and easy. The most striking marriage between my painting and music came several years ago when I was working on this Druid Tree painting for a solo show at a fabulous restaurant in Nashville years ago. I was painting to Dave Matthews Band and still remember the feeling of that union as I created that work.

How about you? Check in and tell me what type of art you work on and about your music or non-music preferences. OR, take this conversation to your favorite social media channel and carry on the discussion there!

 

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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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Jazzed about this wonderful review of my upcoming book!

Gray Lady of Long Branch book cover front and spine
The Gray Lady of Long Branch (Four Pillars) Fiction, 283 pages, ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9857093-8-9

Disclaimer: The reviewer now writes fiction and has a terrific blog for writers on which he reviews books, dissects the writing life and more. But in my former life as a journalist, Gary was my editor. He notes that at the end of the review, so read it for yourself and see what you think.  If you’d like the short version, here are the Cliff Notes:

In this case, Satchell’s novel focuses on the lives of those coming and going at a grand Victorian beach house in New Jersey. Built in the 1910s, the house serves as the unique setting and narrator (yes, narrator!) of more than a dozen vignettes within its walls, taking readers on an emotional journey through time. The stories relive milestones in the lives of the DiStefano family who owns the house, friends, and visitors who rent the house for weekend getaways or vacations.

The stories are often warm and uplifting, and sometimes sad. Satchell excels at drawing readers into the lives of her characters and making you care about them. The characters, and their experiences, are all easily relatable to our own stories, our own personal triumphs, challenges, and tragedies.

And in case you can’t suspend your disbelief that a house can act as a narrator, stick with it. All will be made clear in the end.

Satchell has always had a knack for telling stories in a compassionate way and for letting the passions of her characters define them, and that skill is evident here. Prior to crafting fictional stories as a novelist, she chronicled real-life stories as a reporter for The Tennessean in Nashville and other area newspapers.

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Win one of five free advance copies of The Gray Lady of Long Branch

Goodreads LogoThe Gray Lady of Long Branch is scheduled for release August 25 and I’m giving away five advance copies to lucky readers on Goodreads. If you are a member of that massive community of bookavores, Goodreads Giveaway for The Gray Lady of Long Branch. They choose the winners, but since five books are being offered, the chances are decent, right? Apologies to overseas fans, but postal fees what they are, this deal is for stateside readers only.

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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.