Memories of Bakery Bleu

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

bakery bleu pie notes from nadir lisa maligaConsolidating 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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“Notes from Nadir” 4 Years Later

notes from nadir lisa maliga ebook cover

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2014

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 summary of 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.

 

notes from nadir paperbackAmazon Kindlehttp://www.amazon.com/Notes-from-Nadir-ebook/dp/B00486UDJA

Paperbackhttp://www.amazon.com/Notes-Nadir-Lisa-Maliga/dp/1493519077/

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More links can be found here: http://lisamaliga.com/notesfromnadir.htm 

The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln as Alexander Thorpe?

Copyright 2014

By Lisa Maliga

I’ve seen this on other blogs, the author citing who inspired their main characters or else who they’d like to see play him or her if their book was ever turned into a feature film. During the final read through of my novel Out of the Blue…my overactive imagination kicked in. A lead actor for the movie version of my book appeared to me. Yeah, like my book would ever be turned into a movie. But, I was amused by the thought of the picture that popped into my mind – that of Andrew Lincoln, a fine British actor who’s probably best known in America for playing the character of the sheriff Rick Grimes in the AMC TV series, The Walking Dead.

That evening, I was rewatching season 3 on Netflix and my computer froze [hey, I was taking a break from redesigning my website and inputting my novel’s changes] right on Rick’s face. Like this:

sheriff rick grimes the walking dead played by andrew lincoln
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead

Coincidence?

Probably.

Yeah, definitely. But then I got to thinking that my character and the actor share a few traits. The obvious one is that Alexander Thorpe is English and so is Andrew Lincoln.

They both went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art [RADA].

They have blue eyes and light brown hair. Are of similar age and build. Their first names begin with the letter A. My character’s a bit of a drinker, well, don’t know if Andrew’s one or not.

Still, I was amused as I read my manuscript one last time and saw him as Alexander and not my character. It was during the reading of this part that I envisioned Andrew as Alexander…

 

Alexander finished his drink and left the pub. As he went up the walkway to his house, he glanced over at the hotel. A light in one of the upstairs rooms had just switched on. He saw a figure approach the window and open it. Alexander wondered if that was the young visitor. A glance at the car park revealed no strange cars. Probably too young and insipid, he reasoned. Perhaps she had no idea who he was. Maybe she was escaping from a jealous boyfriend or husband. Her family. Or the law. He opened his door, rarely locked when he went to the pub or hotel. Alexander entered his dark and empty house.

****

Had she known Alexander knew she even existed, Sylvia would’ve been elated. But she was far from that elusive feeling. She sat on the bed and turned on the telly, watching one of the three available channels, paying little attention to an inane show entitled Game for a Laugh.

Sylvia got up and turned away from the TV, once more questioning her reasons for leaving her comfortable life back in Richport, Illinois. She had a car, a job, and lived in a nice little suburban townhouse. Abandoning them, she had done, for her day and night dreams were no longer enough. Most people dwindled away their existence by imagining ‘what if…?’ but not acting upon that notion. How many had come close to realizing their imagination but found a reason not to enact it? She had boarded her first international flight and located the village where the man she was infatuated with lived. Until she actually met him, she was a failure. What if she didn’t meet him before her two weeks expired?

out of the blue a novel by lisa maliga

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

Out of the Blue: A Novel – NEW Cover, NEW Excerpt

out of the blue a novel by lisa maligaCopyright 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 carryon 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 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?

Summary:

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

“Notes from Nadir” is Here – Includes New Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013

It’s official—the SECOND EDITION of Notes from Nadir is available online in both eBook and paperback formats. This edition is almost 130 pages longer – yet the price remains the same! However, it is in a handy paperback version for those of you who prefer turning pages instead of hitting an arrow key!

Here’s a new excerpt:

Chapter 23 – The Factory in the Armpit of Nadir

I applied online for a job in a place I’d call The Factory. It was a creative job in that it dealt with listing auctions online, so I needed some writing and photography ability. Today I got an email from them and I wrote back that I was available for an interview. It was located in the stinky, hairy armpit of Nadir – the warehouse district on the south side of town.

Like the bakery, this wasn’t a place where I needed to dress in my white summer suit or wear those black and white sandals with insoles that read Made in Italy for Neiman Marcus. I was to meet Cheryl, the head of the online division that afternoon to discuss the job.

Driving across the large pot holed parking lot signaled that I was in the depths of Nadir. To the east was a rambling mart store and on the other side I groaned when I got a strong whiff of the Hardee’s fried grease.

I walked inside The Factory and saw large bins and steel shelves filled with scrambled junk. Lamps, toys, shoes, clothes, clocks, books, kitchen appliances, all manner of stuff just tossed or shelved with no sense of order. One area was packed with furniture; none of it suitable for Mom’s place—not even the garage. There was a small area where you could test the appliances and from what I saw of the hunks of junk they looked like they’d short circuit the place. I approached a cashier in a red T-shirt and asked if the head of the online division was in. “No, ma’am, she’s in a safety meeting,” the cashier glanced at her watch. “But it should be over in a minute.” Okay, I guess I’d look around … well crap my panties, what did we have here?

We had two middle-aged women sporting a few chins and several stomach rolls bringing in bags of fresh Hardee’s food. They set the greasy bottomed bags on a pockmarked old plywood end table, pulled up a pair of mismatched kitchen chairs, and consumed their burgers and fries. Right in the middle of the store but neither employees nor customers said anything or paid any attention. Geez, didn’t know this was a restaurant, too.

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-from-Nadir-ebook/dp/B00486UDJA

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Notes-Nadir-Lisa-Maliga/dp/1493519077/

B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/notes-from-nadir-lisa-maliga/1100144163?ean=2940012697790

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Notes-from-Nadir/du3hDkmS6ku7BTL-MCWctw

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

notes from nadir paperbacknotes from nadir lisa maliga ebook cover

Out of the Blue ~ Behind the Novel

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013, 2014

Out of the Blue was a unique book for me to write as much of the story takes place in England. It involved a little jaunt across the ocean. I took some time off from work and traveled around England for several months. Staying in London was too expensive so I went north – to the Cotswolds. There I stumbled upon a small village inn that served as a model for the Windrush Arms Hotel.

The village did boast a “television personality” a man nearing retirement age who had once upon a time been in two long-running British telly shows. I’d never heard of him but the way he was treated by the locals clued me in that he was “a somebody.” The barmaid was a young Italian woman who was also traveling around and improving her English. I later learned that she took up with the “television personality” but I never learned of their fate.

I wondered what if the actor was a little more known internationally? And what if the young woman who was interested in him was American? Thus, the beginnings of “Out of the Blue” were born.

Much of the action takes place in a small, scenic village in the U.K. It’s the late autumn of 1981, and the Princess of Wales was expecting Prince William. You’ll find no mention of cell phones, Prince Harry, i-anything, 9-11 … back then people actually smoked in pubs and ashtrays were even provided.

OK, without any more of an intro, here’s the official blurb:

out of the blue a novel by lisa maligaIt 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.

Out of the Blue is available in eBook and paperback formats.
Ebook links: Amazon, Amazon UK, B&N NOOK, Smashwords 

Notes from Nadir ~ An Excerpt

notes from nadir lisa maligaWeek 9 April 2009 – Mexican Fiesta 

On Friday night I celebrated getting a job. Mom was reluctant for me to spend money but she was also tired of my cooking which was about as versatile as hers. She knew I liked Mexican food but had never tried “real” south of the border cuisine other than those Ortega taco kits she used to whip up for us back in the day.

Oh yeah, nothing like making tacos out of the box. You got to brown that ground meat yourself and add overly preserved and processed dried seasonings. It was recommended you add some cheddar cheese, lettuce and sour cream, after the mess was piled into those crunchy taco shells that were a few years old. There wasn’t much difference between that dinner and a Kraft Tangy Italian spaghetti meal that also originated from a cardboard box. What else did we dine on other than that delectable duo? Well, readers, we had various flavors of Hamburger Helper to add to our evening meals which included Mom’s favorite: Cheeseburger Macaroni. There was also the infamous Kraft Macaroni & Cheese at least once a week. Could I stand any more diversity? Sure! What else could enhance suppers with Mom? Tuna Helper, that’s what! And, since we both loved pizza, we’d spruce up a frozen Totino’s with a dash of seven-year-old oregano from the spice rack. It was a credit to my metabolism that I didn’t end up obese.

So I’d do the honor of allowing Mom to try some real local food at a nearby restaurant that was called Terry’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. Promising name, I thought sarcastically.

Looked like a Denny’s inside. There were jaunty red booths and a few of those booths were augmented with wide swaths of electrical tape. Maybe the reason was due to the clientele. Well, the few people who populated the place on a Friday night seemed to be diners who had what Mom called “healthy appetites.”  The couple nearest me easily had a combined weight of 500 pounds and a few booths to the north were a mother and daughter team busily sucking back big drinks and consuming their nachos and dip at an alarming rate. The almost albino waitress wearing shorts and white blouse appeared as Un-Hispanic as you could imagine. When I asked for a to go menu I got a blank look for a second, then realization dawned across the red-haired gal’s features. I was handed a food splattered plastic covered sheet of typewritten selections like “Terrys Chicken Burito” and “Tacoes + Enciladas Special”. I figured I’d go for those two tantalizing options.

Arriving back home with a bag full of hot Mexican food was a bit of an event that Mom looked forward to as “it’s something different.” She’d even set the table, using plastic table mats instead of cloth ones, and gotten herself a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer that she sometimes allowed herself as a treat. I was curious as to how this restaurant’s offerings fared against native Los Angeles Mexican food.

I discovered a difference as soon as I opened up the Styrofoam container. It began with the salsa. Pico de Gallo wasn’t a complicated salsa to make and consisted of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, chilies, salt, and pepper. Maybe Terry thought that tomatoes equaled salsa. Canned tomatoes.

But the star of the show was “Terrys Chicken Burito” a bland flour tortilla that contained shredded chicken, at least they got that part right, shredded iceberg lettuce, chunks of tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream and still more shredded iceberg lettuce. Oh, and a smidgeon of coagulating American cheese. If there had been a pet dog then I would have exchanged the canned dog food for the burrito. It was a mighty slap in the face of fine Mexican cuisine. Even roach coaches back in L.A. served better burritos. You might be racing to the bathroom soon afterwards, but at least they were real burritos.

After we sat down and put the suspicious looking “Tex-Mex” food on our plates, Mom noticed my look of disappointment and had another sip of beer. I cut the thing in half and when she got her portion she took her knife and fork and delicately sliced off a small piece. After consuming a mouthful, she had a bigger swig of brew. “I think Taco Bell is better,” she stated.

“I think you’re right.”

“Lisa, next time ask for a sample or something.”

“Mom, there won’t be a next time. Next time I’ll try that Chinese restaurant.”

To read more about this novel, check out the page dedicated to Notes from Nadir