Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Couple Next Door - Spotlight and Excerpt

How far is too far when it comes to protecting your marriage? Find out in this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense for anyone who loved The Couple Next Door.

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.

And then one of them breaks the rules.

The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

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Excerpt:

I come to on a Cessna, bumping through the air. My head is throbbing, and there is blood on my shirt. I have no idea how much time has passed. I look at my hands, expecting to see restraints, but there are none. Just an ordinary seatbelt looped around my waist. Who strapped me in? I don’t even remember boarding the plane.

Through the open door of the cockpit, I see the back of the pilot’s head. It’s just the two of us. There is snow in the mountains, wind buffeting the plane. The pilot seems completely focused on his controls, shoulders tense.

I reach up and touch my head. The blood has dried, leaving a sticky mess. My stomach rumbles. The last thing I ate was the French toast. How long ago was that? On the seat beside me, I find water and a sandwich wrapped in wax paper. I open the bottle and drink.

I unwrap my sandwich—ham and Swiss—and take a bite. Shit. My jaw hurts too much to chew. Someone must have punched me in the face after I hit the ground.

“Are we going home?” I ask the pilot.

Click HERE to continue reading.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

That Crazy Perfect Someday - Spotlight, Q & A and Excerpt

That Crazy Perfect Someday
by Michael Mazza

In his debut novel THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY (Turtle Point Press; June 13, 2017; Trade Paperback Original; $16.00) Michael Mazza, a San Francisco-area writer and internationally acclaimed art and creative director, introduces us to Mafuri Long, a UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to ever dominate a record eighty-foot wave.

Set in 2024, THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY follows Mafuri, who has already achieved internet fame, along with sponsorships from Google and Nike and is now intent on winning an Olympic medal. Keeping Mafuri from going for gold is her clinically depressed father, a social media scandal, and an Aussie competitor hoping to level her with bogus doping charges. 

Says Mazza about the inspiration for  THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY:  “I’ve never come across a novel about a professional female surfer, and I wanted to write an authentic portrayal of one living in a world of high-stakes competition.” Mazza’s son surfed competitively for many years up and down the California coast, which is where he absorbed surf culture first-hand, and where he saw quite a few incredible women surfers. He wanted to do them justice by telling their stories and immersing his readers in a family drama where all the forces of a near future, media-saturated world crash down on two lonely souls with everything to lose.

Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light. 

Asked about what it was like to get into the mind of Mafuri, Mazza says: “Writing the action scenes was easy. The challenge of writing a fully realized, first-person female character, however, was daunting.”  Mazza is proud that his all-women cast of advance readers who provided him great feedback along the way, as well as Ruth Greenstein, his editor and publisher, gave him their stamp of approval. Says Mazza, “I hope my readers feel the same way.”

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Michael Mazza, That Crazy Perfect Someday Q&A for Dew on the Kudzu


1. When did you begin writing?
I began writing short stories about 20 years ago. Novels about five years back.
Its been a long, lonesome road, but practice is whats needed to get a grip on the craft.

2. That Crazy Perfect Someday is set in 2024. Can you tell us how the world has changed in this near future?
Machine learning and AI are evident in subtle and not so subtle ways. Cars drive themselves, surgery is performed remotely, holograms are in wide use, robots take on menial tasks, and chips are hacked under human skin to read vitals. Typical TV resolution is 8k. Drones monitor the sky and deliver packages. On the Social front, offerings become more fragmented, catering more and more to specific interests. Also, people shift brands, and Facebook begins its decline. Whether all of it or some of it comes to the fore, well have to wait and see. My goal was not to predict the future but to make an entertaining read.

3. How did you avoid the typical sports/surf clichés that are often in sports novels?
Like most sports stories, That Cray Perfect Someday has winners and losers, but its played out not in a stadium or on the field, but more so in the arena of a family drama. I also avoided the Sean Spicoli surf dude cliché in favor of an authentic portrayal of the surfer personalities Ive come to know.

4. Do you think characters or plot are more important in telling a story?
I like to start with interesting, fully realized characters and then follow them. Their motivations often lead me places that are more surprising.

5. What can readers look forward to from you next?
I have two other novels in the works: One novel is in its fourth draft the other is half done. Well see where they go.

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An Excerpt from That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

Google Mafuri Long.
Click video.
And voila!
Thats me, surfing the monster of all wavesan eighty-foot beast. Im like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue thats rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first chick to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddys advice before we left the dock for the open sea. Dont ride that horse with half your ass, he said, sending me off with a fist bump. Go after it, cowgirl.
The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spots called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. Its one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.
Youd usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, its monumentallike, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated itnot my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling abovebut a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, thats what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and its bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the boards feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I pulled out of the wave.
            When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs. Jaxthat's what people call my dadsays I have a gift. He says he noticed it the first time I stood up on a wave in Sendai, Japan, back when I was five and we were surfing together, years before that tsunami leveled the place.
The sponsorship money let me set my marine biology degree aside for a while. I couldn't find a job in the field anyway. Let me restate that: I was offered one at SeaLand San Diego straight out of UCSD, basically to put on a carnival show with a thirteenth-generation orca after her act was reintroduced, but I passed because that isn't science, and a creature like that should be ambushing seals out in the ocean and not squeaking for mackerel treats in a man-made swimming pool for some spoiled kids' amusement. So the money lets me spend my days training, and my eyes are on the big prize when the Olympics begin on August 4.
It's around 8:00 the following morning, and I'm out in the water at Mission Beach for a photo shoot, which I do on occasion for sponsors that include Google, Target, and Nike. Today it's ad posters for Nike, in partnership with Target, who will put them up in their stores or something. I really don't pay attention.
We're an hour into the shoot and Jax's episode last night still troubles me even in the bright, post-dawn sun. A photographer named PK is trailing me in the water while the hipster-kook art director in wannabe surf garb, a Parisian beret, and sunglasses watches from the shoreline and barks at us through a bullhorn.
"I need an ass shot! Ass shot, PK!" he yells for the second time. "Ass shots sell wet suits!"
"Is he serious?" I ask.
"He's serious," PK says.
I shout back to shore, "Here's your ass shot!" and follow up with a not-so-friendly hand gesture.
"That's not nice," he yelps back. Behind him, a robotic beach Zamboni combing the sand swings a wide arc and nearly takes him out. He doesn't flinch. 
"Darn," I say. "Just a little more to the right..."
PK is treading water next to me in his wet suit. The black neoprene hood and his bushy mustache make him look like a walrus. He's adjusting the f-stop on his waterproof camera above the surface.
"Between you and me, the guy's a total dick," PK says, setting the motor drive. "Most of these ad guys are."
"What a perv."
There's a loud squawk and a click from shore.
"I can't go home without an ass shot!"
"That's the third time he's said that."
Squawk!
"Ass shot!"
"Fourth," I say. "I'm done."
PK swipes his hand across his throat to say we're finished. The bullhorn crackles.
"That's good," the art director says dryly. "Real fucking nice."
PK looks at me like it's just another dick day. I watch the guy drop the horn into the sane and fire up a cigarette. It isn't enough that last night's events put me in a funky funk, but now I'll have to deal with more of the art director's nonsense when I get to shore. Not to mention the funny feeling that a whole lot of madness is yet to come.
                                                                       

© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press