Sunday, March 1, 2015

Memories of Bakery Bleu

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015
Consolidating my archived emails, I came across some that were labeled Bakery Bleu. Ah yes, the first bakery I ever worked at, the one described in my novel, Notes from Nadir. The one where I met Gordon, the owner and baker. A quick Google search revealed that things had changed since that interview back on a beautiful warm and sunny April day. No longer was the bakery there—it had vanished. 
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 19 ~ The Boss of Bakery Bleu
Upon entering the bakery, I noticed a bin of unwrapped baguettes on the counter. I saw a variety of rolls and sweet rolls on the shelves, and behind the man who stood at the counter, were rows of different kinds of breads.
I met Gordon, a tall auburn haired man bordering on pudginess. He wore a navy polo shirt with the golden-brown Bakery Bleu logo [a pair of crossed breadsticks] above one of his manboobs. He shook my hand and sat down across from me so he could see both me and all the baked goodies to the north.
“Do tell me about yourself,” he said in a hearty voice. His accent wasn’t local, that’s for sure. He sounded English. Of course, I didn’t think he wanted to know about my personal history but about how valuable I’d be as a minimum wage slave, I mean, employee. I smiled, and for once, I wasn’t unhappy about sitting across from the man even though he could only offer a part time job. I pulled out a pale blue resume and handed it to him. He nodded and looked at it. I knew he was probably surprised when he saw the word Dreamweaver on the bottom where I listed a few web related things.
“You had your own business,” he studied that piece of paper atop the black table. “You lived in Los Angeles…what’re you doing here?”
Much as I want to, I couldn’t avoid that question. The man was scrutinizing me now. I looked at his dark eyes, then down at the table. “Cheap rent. I live with my mom.”
He had a genuine, hearty laugh. It sounded so wonderful after not hearing much of it that year. And I laughed out loud myself. It was true, that cliché about laughter being healthy.
“I did too when I first moved here from London.”
“Not London, Kentucky?”
He smiled broadly and I was feeling more comfortable with this man I had just met. “England.” He replied, though I knew the answer and he knew I knew that he was from across the pond.
“The people are so boring here,” I said. Oops, not the kind of thing to say in a job interview, especially as I was applying for a job where I’d be waiting on those boring people. But this didn’t really feel like one. “I didn’t say that,” I said.
He leaned forward a bit, covered his ears and replied, “I didn’t hear that!”
God, we were like teenagers on a first date.
He began speaking of the duties. The first date was over; it was a real job interview. He went over them: waiting on customers, taking calls, helping out with orders, mopping up… “It’s not General Motors,” he said. “We’ve all got to pull together.”
Like team spirit? I thought, but left that unsaid.
He complained about how slow business was. And the customers’ taste in bread. “The baguettes are too hard!” he mocked, using a higher pitched voice. He shook his head and in his sexily deep voice said, “I lived in France for eight years. A baguette is CRISP. Here they think it’s burned. I offered to sell them dough if they want soft baguettes.”
I chuckled at that image.
“Look, I only have one important question for you…” he paused with the drama of a stage actor.
Hmm, this was getting interesting. 
To read more, click NOTES FROM NADIR.
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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wanna swap book reviews?

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

I’ve never been sought after as a book reviewer until I began posting on some Facebook book promotion groups. I’ve written book reviews in the past, but I don’t mention that on my website, blog or Facebook page. I also joined some groups where readers gave reviews. Soon I learned that 99% of those readers were also authors who needed their books reviewed. I was sent requests to swap reviews several times a day.

“Hi, are you interested for a review exchange? My book is FREE on Kindle.”

“Hi Lisa, can we swap for your book? let me know. thanks”

“Hi Lisa, are you up for an honest review exchange? I have downloaded your book and if you’ll give me a go signal then ill leave a positive review for your book. I have two books for free right now and ill appreciate if you”ll choose one for this.”

“Hi Lisa, I just downloaded your book.My book is also free today. Would you like to trade reviews?”

“Hey There, Would you be interested in doing an honest review exchange for some free books? I have 4 free books.”

“Hey would you be interested in an honest review swap? I have two free books today. Please download 1 or 2 and send me over your book (s) Free Books Only Today”

“Hi Lisa . Do you have 99c books for exchange reviews? Please let me know . Thanks! Here’s my book :”

This is my latest request that I had to include as it’s so blatant. “Hi Lisa, I saw that you have an ebook available on Amazon – . I have one too, and I want to ask you if you want to exchange some reviews? I’ll buy your ebook and review it on Amazon with a 5 star and you’ll do the same with mine? Let me know if you are interested”

Whenever I got one of those review swap requests, the first image that came to mind was this:


Going by the casually written email examples, many of the free eBooks offered for review were of the same caliber. Worse than that, much of the information contained within the mercifully brief nonfiction titles could be found on Wikipedia and other online reference sites.

I’m not saying that all nonfiction titles are scams, but the way you can tell if they are is to see if the author is an expert in their field. Have they written a soap making book and make and sell soap? If the book is about dieting and weight loss, have they utilized the diet plan they write about? I’ve discussed it in this post about shopping for soap making or bath & body products eBooks, but it applies to all nonfiction titles.

What made me stop this quid pro quo review shenanigans? 1. I felt like I was at a certain vanity publisher’s message boards circa 2005 reading about authors asking other authors to buy and review their books. 2. Review swaps aren’t appreciated at Amazon.

So, I’m officially done with swapping, trading or exchanging eBook reviews.

If you want to put a stop to review swaps, feel free to share this photo!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Aroma of Love (The Yolanda's Yummery Series, Book 3) + Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2015

I wish I could write a book as fast as I read one, but that’s just not possible. Today, I’m launching the third book in the Yolanda’s Yummery series. Be prepared for sweet romance, pies, and a cold case dating back to the 1960s. Here’s the official blurb:

Yolanda Carter is gearing up for a hectic holiday season at her bakery, Yolanda’s Yummery.

The adjoining Beverage Bar is thriving due to owner Nigel Garvey’s expertise along with that of shift manager Quinn Hendrickson, a barista and a baker.

Visiting her grandmother’s gravesite, Yolanda is surprised to see a woman putting pies into an old-fashioned station wagon. Her parents mention an unsolved murder of her grandmother’s best friend who was an amazing pie baker. The story of the 1960s crime touches Yolanda, along with her new friend, Detective Winston Churchill. Her growing sleuthing skills lead her to search for the killer.

In between investigating and baking batches of pies in time for her latest product launch, Yolanda discovers more about the sweetness of love. And who is heating up the kitchen with Yolanda?

Includes the recipe for Yolanda’s Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

CHAPTER 5 Excerpt


That morning Nick was helping one of the older appreciated guests who was taken with both him and the Fancy Vanilla cupcakes. “Sonny, can I have that a cinnamon coffee Bundt cake with vanilla icing?” The woman with the white hair worn in a pageboy paused, then sneezed loudly. “No wait, how about butterscotch icing?”

Nick’s grimace almost passed for a grin. Jeannie noticed it and shook her head slightly, not wanting the young man to insult the older woman. “I’m afraid we don’t have butterscotch but we have caramel.”

“Oh goodie, I’ll have that.” The woman smiled broadly, focusing all her attention on Nick.

After she shuffled out of the yummery, Nick shook his head and stared at the almost empty tips jar. “The least she could’ve done was leave me a tip.”

Jeannie smiled. “Show her more attentiveness next time. Tell her how pretty her blouse is or something.”

“Jeannie, I don’t want to encourage her. Geez, she’s old enough to be my grandmother.”

“I’ll have you know that she’s the widow of one of the wealthiest real estate moguls in the city.”

“So? That means she could afford to leave a big tip.”

“Not necessarily. She’s frugal. She told me she frequents every 99 Cents Only store she drives by and hangs out at Big Lots in Culver City. She’ll drive out of her way to save money…” Jeannie helped herself to a fudge sample. “Just the way some folks are, I guess. Oh, and you didn’t offer her a sample. Next time make sure you offer every appreciated guest a sample – even the older ones who have a crush on you.”

“I forgot to change the tips jar sign today,” he said.

“That could be another reason, though I doubt it. Old widows are lonely, so just make her feel a little less lonely and you’ll get more tips.”

Now available at:

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Monday, December 29, 2014

"The Narcissist Chronicles: The WHOLE Story" plus an Arlen in Action Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga
Copyright 2011-2015

Here’s a new excerpt from the eBook The Narcissist Chronicles: The WHOLE Story. Read  about Arlen Stevenson’s first meeting with a woman he met online. A woman who sent him naked pictures of herself and is a fan of his zombie books. Mavis Preston, a lonely divorcée who enjoys trash talking with Arlen via IM and email. How will their planned weekend rendezvous turn out?



“Hello? Is this Arlen?” asked a breathy high voice.
“The one and only. I’m at this address here, numbered 6656 Bel…”
“Arlen, you’re here! Now!?” the phone clicked.
I looked up to see a stout woman with graying tightly permed curls and a pair of oversized glasses popular during the Reagan era, rushing toward me, her powder blue tracksuit emphasizing her undulating bulges and ripples. I pocketed my phone and embraced her, as I knew that was expected of me. I hid my disappointment beneath my pasted on smile—she looked absolutely nothing like those pictures she had sent…
Once I was inside her recently built home, I was impressed enough with the two story living room sporting a marble fireplace and walls containing built-in bookshelves. There was a large deck outside and a brand new gas grill that looked like it would cook lotsa steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and a few lobsters. The biggest turn on was the master bedroom with the elaborate king sized bed below a mirrored ceiling, plush beige carpeting which I wanted to test out when I got to some of my advanced sexual techniques, and the whirlpool tub in the adjacent bathroom made her look a whole lot better. Maybe ole Mavis was as good as she’d wrote.
When we went into her writing room, I saw that her computer was a laptop off in a corner next to a sewing machine and for some reason that disturbed me. Other than her bedroom, the suburban home seemed so normal and unsensual. Maybe it was the presence of a teenager; a door that was decorated on the outside with a poster of Hannah Montana, and remained closed because I doubted the woman wanted me to see evidence of her offspring. “Jeffrey, my only son! He’ll be spending the weekend with his father, like I told you earlier,” she assured me. The 4,000 square foot home was all ours from Friday through Sunday afternoon.
“I want you to autograph some books,” Mavis declared, leading me back downstairs into the living room. She immediately went over to a section and pulled out all three of my hardcovers, and I reasoned she didn’t break the bank to buy ‘em. Naturally, I always preferred it when they bought the more expensive and longer lasting version, and she happily handed them over.
“Why sure, Mavis, I’d love to…” hell, I just loved the fact that people actually bought my books and then wanted me to scribble in ‘em! I obliged her, thinking I was glad I’d left my overnight bag in the truck.
After the impromptu autograph signing, I pulled out my keys. “Mavis, I haven’t had a lot to eat today. Let’s say you and me go pick something up…”
“Nonsense, I won’t hear of it, Arlen. Why don’t I fix you a sub? I can make it to your liking…” she smiled suggestively.

Barnes & Noble NOOK version: The Narcissist Chronicles: The Whole Story






Friday, October 24, 2014

"Notes from Nadir" 4 Years Later

On October 21, 2010, the first eBook edition of Notes from Nadir was published on Kindle. Written as a series of blogs, Notes from Nadir made its online debut on March 3, 2010. My blog gradually began to attract readers. They seemed interested in reading the forthcoming novel that Notes from Nadir would later become.

Last year I published the second edition of “Notes” and even with a book tour, sales and reviews weren’t happening. The problem may be the title – nadir isn’t a common word. So, if you’re curious, and haven’t already gone to Dictionary.com to check it out, here’s the official description along with a hint about what Notes from Nadir is all about.

If noon is zenith then nadir is 6:30. And it was 6:29 and counting down. Way down. Merriam-Webster defines it as: "The lowest point." Nadir – it was the place where I was inevitably going. Lots of stuff got me headed in that downward direction. Decisions made too late. Unmade calls. Calls made that weren't answered. Missed connections. Being at the right place at the wrong time. Excuses. I was caught in the web of my own cause and effect and the resulting karma was ripening. Ripening of karma meant that payment was due pronto. And who paid for my own karma? Me. No checks accepted. No credit cards. And there sure as heck weren't any I.O.U's.

Only one place left to go. Back east. Back to a place I no longer called home. Back to a mom I hadn't lived with or seen in many years. She had a new house in a quiet semi-retirement community. She had a spare room. Two-car garage. Free internet. And a few conditions…

Chapter 5 – Arriving in Nadir

In the morning, I awoke before sunup, knowing that it was my last day on the road. I didn't want to hang around a motel room when I still had a few hundred miles to go. Soon I'd cross the Mississippi River and be in another state. I'd see things that hadn't been seen in years: Hardee's, Sunoco, Steak 'n Shake, and White Castle.
Driving into the rising sun. Crossing into a state that had a top speed of 65. I saw more snow. When I was partially through the state, I stopped and got gas. It was definitely colder and I stepped over some snow to get to the pump. Being almost "home" was starting to suck.
The end stretch of the 2,000-mile journey led through flatlands and farmlands with intermittent groves of trees to eradicate the geographical monotony. How dull and colorless compared to the dramatic scenery of Arizona and New Mexico. Those miles rolled by as I reluctantly headed east to a "home" I had never seen since Mom moved to her one-story dwelling eight years ago.
The miles vanished. My arrival was imminent. I glanced at traffic heading west and recalled how it was when I was driving in that direction—full of hope. Now, I was full of despair, full of failure. Each mile led me closer to the "cornfield with lights" as my father, who had escaped before me, referred to it.
I changed to a smaller two-lane road that would lead me to within a mile of Mom's new house. I had long ago memorized her address and she'd told me which streets to take and how easy it was to find. The new subdivision was called Hampton Lake and it was for older people. She'd sent me some pictures of her house and it was as generic as any modern one-story frame house with neutral colors and a few windows offset by some shrubbery and trees. Passed a place where I used to work and saw it had been replaced with a mart type store. Couldn't help noticing the traffic signals were the old fashioned kind that were strung on wires rather than posts that extended across the intersection like they did in L.A.
I took a wrong turn and had to go another mile in some suburban/country area before I found the right street. I drove slower than normal until I saw the large wooden Hampton Lake sign. Next to it was an American flag. As I drove to the end of the cul de sac I had reached the End Point of my journey.

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35983

Monday, September 22, 2014

Out of the Blue: A Novel – Revised + New Excerpt

Copyright 2014
By Lisa Maliga

Most of my newly revised novel, Out of the Blue, occurs in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Back then, a person could board an airplane with a large bottle of shampoo in their carry on bags. Back in the era where in-flight movies were shown on a pull-down screen and they shut the lights off in the cabin. Back when they issued silverware with meals, and you didn't have to pay extra for dinner as it was part of the cost. Those days when people smoked on airplanes, although they were confined to the back seats.

Customs consisted of being asked why I was in England, how much money I had, they didn’t bother to look, and a kindly older gentleman wished me a “happy holiday!”

I visited Cornwall and saw Pendennis Castle. In Falmouth, I was surprised to see supermarket cashiers sitting down on the job. Traveling to a small Cornish town, I discovered the local Jigsaw Puzzle Club met every Tuesday afternoon in the library's upstairs reading room.

As London was too expensive, I took a train to the Cotswolds. There I stumbled upon a small country inn that served as a model for the Windrush Arms Hotel.

I’ve contemplated rewriting this book for over a year and only got around to it this summer. This book has romantic elements, but I feel it’s more suited to the coming of age/contemporary fiction categories. Out of the Blue contains scenes that convey why Sylvia’s attracted to older men, and we see another side to Mrs. Gardner.

Here’s a scene that describes main character Sylvia Gardner’s burgeoning obsession with the English actor:

Having more information on Alexander, she was relieved that she could see his current flick, Up In the Air. It was playing in a second run movie theatre on the other side of town.
She made the trek to the Eastside Theatre, a white brick building surrounded by an empty parking lot. Weeds sprouted from cracks near the edge of the sidewalk. At noon on Sunday, the movie house looked deserted.
Sylvia pulled her car into a space and got out. The humidity was the same as the temperature. Her nervousness accelerated her own perspiration; she was seeing a feature film starring her newly beloved. 
Up In the Air was about the adventures of a turn-of-the-century English balloonist who wanted to fly over the Himalayas. 
She gave her two bucks to the guy behind the box office window. A hefty woman at the concession stand stared into space. The enticing popcorn boiled from the trapdoor inside the machine, the sound and scent permeating the lobby.
Inside the cool, dark theatre, third row back. She rested her bare legs on the seat in front of her and waited for the event. Minutes later, he appeared. In the cinema, she encountered Alexander Thorpe looming several feet high. The stereo amplified his timbre. His British accent sounded overly proper to her ears. Amidst the lightly populated movie house she sat, her infatuation moving and speaking on screen expressly for her. The sight of him enraptured her. Flying above a pristine landscape in a brightly colored balloon, she soared along with him. Alexander Thorpe, the man who had appeared out of the blue.
Sylvia was bathed in the reflected light from the screen and watched him glide past the Swiss Alps as he watched the magnificent scenery. She envisioned herself onboard. For a fraction of a second, she really was there, her feet touching the basket’s bottom, his hand reaching for hers. They were about to look into each other’s eyes when she was back in the third row of the Richport cinema keeping cool on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
Her fixation intensified over the months. In October, she was working a few hours overtime at the drugstore. Her increased wages were not enough to allow her to make a down payment on a plane ticket to London, but if she saved her money, then the likelihood of meeting the actor would increase. She realized the Englishman was not going to stop by Jenson’s Drugstore and purchase a pack of Marlboro’s and a Playboy. The only way to find the man was to journey to his homeland. Sylvia kept her desire to herself, for who would understand her burgeoning obsession with an actor of some renown? A man old enough to be her father; a man she had never met?
  
Official Description:

It all began in the summer of 1979 …

Sylvia Gardner is a naïve library clerk who lives with her dysfunctional mother in Richport, Illinois. Vivian tells her daughter not to trust men because they only want to use her. After being dumped by her first boyfriend, Sylvia falls in love with an English actor after watching him on a PBS drama. Researching Alexander Thorpe’s life and career for two years, she saves her money so she can visit him in his Cotswolds village. She stays at the Windrush Arms Hotel, soon discovering they share a secret connection.

Complications ensue when Harry Livingstone, the hotel’s drunken proprietor, takes a fancy to the young American. As in her dreams, Sylvia and Alexander get together – but with unexpected results.

Amazon Kindle version: Out of the Blue
Amazon Kindle UK version: Out of the Blue
PAPERBACK version: Out of the Blue
Barnes & Noble version: Out of the Blue
iTunes version: Out of the Blue
Smashwords version: Out of the Blue


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magical Cakes of Love: (The Yolanda’s Yummery Series, Book 2) – Plus Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga
Copyright 2014

In Magical Cakes of Love, there is romance and mystery as one of Yolanda’s regular customers has gone missing. For those of you who’ve read The Great Brownie Taste-off, you’ll know that Yolanda Carter always refers to her customers as appreciated guests. In the second book, appreciated guest Captain Angus, a homeless man who enjoys her brownies and cupcakes twice a day, mysteriously vanishes. As the story unfolds, the lead investigator thinks that either Yolanda or her best friend, Teagan Mishkin, might know more about the missing man’s whereabouts. Way more as they’re his suspects.

Here’s the official description:

With the successful launch of Yolanda’s Yummery in the trendy Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, Yolanda Carter is on a roll. Her fame is starting to grow as news spreads about all her delicious desserts. An accompanying Beverage Bar will open in three weeks. She’s involved in a budding romance with sophisticated British tea baron, Nigel Garvey. Life is sweet.

Complications arise when Captain Angus, a regular homeless customer, disappears…and Yolanda becomes a suspect. 

Someone is framing Yolanda for the crime. Lead investigator Detective Churchill is certain that she murdered the captain. Best friend Teagan Mishkin is also a suspect and wants to clear both their names. Will Yolanda’s relationships be derailed by the daily disasters she’s encountering? Can those Magical Cakes of Love save her and the yummery?

This is a clean romance/cozy mystery, and not only was it fun to write, the cover was a joy to photograph. Yes, I had to go to the yummery to pick up one of those Decadent Chocolate Magical Cakes of Love and take almost 100 pictures of it. The day was warm and sunny with a high of 85 and even though I’m cold blooded I had to lower the temperature of the air conditioning unit from a comfortable 78 down to 70 degrees.

It was difficult to avoid sampling the cake, and I thought about cutting a slice and putting it on some fine china but I did that after I finished taking and previewing the pictures.
I’d like to stress that Yolanda doesn’t ordinarily make wedding cakes but in this book she makes an exception, as a favor to a good friend’s sister who’ll soon be tying the knot.  Here is part of that scene:

Excerpt from Chapter 2

Suddenly a shorter woman with dyed black hair pulled into a stubby ponytail walked in, looking around. She wore a shapeless mauve sundress paired with black sneakers. “So this is the yummery,” Rosemary said. “Kinda on the small side…” She walked over to the display case and saw only three Magical Cakes of Love and barely a dozen brownies. “Did we come at a bad time?” Rosemary asked, her forehead wrinkling.
“Rosemary! So nice to see the bride-to-be,” Yolanda said to the disgruntled woman. “Well, no, you came at the end of the day. I was just going to put everything in the fridge, but I made sure to save you a Decadent Chocolate and a Fancy Vanilla Buttercream Magical Cake of Love to test.” She gestured, moving towards the back of the store. “Let’s go back to my office and we’ll sample them.”
Thirty minutes later and they were still in Yolanda’s office with the two cakes cut into several slices, and the chocolate cake had fewer of them.
“Now I tried on 128 wedding dresses before I found the perfect one…” Rosemary commented, taking another bite of the chocolate cake slice on a paper plate. “It was a nightmare trying to get one in my petite size and style because I wanted the Sweetheart Serenade model. It’s ecru lace with puffed sleeves edged with rhinestones and pearls and a silk crinoline skirt with a detachable eighteen-foot lace train edged with pearls…oh you’d think I was looking for something unusual!” She sighed and rolled her big watery blue-gray eyes. Rosemary pulled out her iPhone and punched the screen a few times. “Here’s the winning dress…” She turned the phone’s screen so it faced Yolanda and a blurry shot of some off white creampuff meringue of a wedding dress was seen.
“That looks nice,” Yolanda stated diplomatically, glad when the phone was removed from her line of vision.
“Well it should. And let me tell you about the sixty-one punch recipes before the right one … and I think the florist is going to be changing again soon…” She enjoyed another bite of her cake, paused, and took another. She sighed loudly. “You’d think people could handle brides changing their minds occasionally.”


Smashwords: Magical Cakes of Love

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