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The contents of this page will change regularly. If you have any questions, comments, or curiosities – please email me! If you do write, let me know if it’s okay to post quotes from your email (anonymously) or paraphrase what you’ve written on this web page. If so inclined, please do write whether you want your voice to be heard privately or publicly. I’m of the generation that loves correspondence, so who knows? You may receive a reply! (Wish I had the time to write them by hand and send them by post!)


Most writers have a favorite drink. I have always been such a lightweight with alcohol (People still tell me things like,”You can’t be buzzed! You’ve only had half a beer!”) that if I do imbibe while writing, it is in small quantities only. I never truly liked whiskey until I tried American Honey. Like Fiona Angeli, this spirit is a blend of bold and sweet, and not for someone who isn’t looking for a kick…

January 23, 2017 Official Publication Date

A deleted scene from draft one of  CHAPTER ONE: THE WAITING ROOM

This accidental novel got its start from a random writing exercise I designed for myself while on vacation in late December, 2012. Since I had no intention whatsoever to write a book, I literally wrote myself there without the benefit of experience or a plot. This deleted scene was originally in the middle of a very loooooooong chapter one. My intention was to show the reader just how uniquely main character Petra Orvatch’s mind functions and does not function. I knew it had to be jettisoned (Thank you, friends and editors!) to move the action along and shorten the bloated first chapter I’d created.


“I’m telling you, I saw a fish in that fish tank that had the face of a human,” Pete said as calmly as she could to the pet store employee. He was a mouth-breather, but she thought she saw his lower lip droop a little more with incredulity. “I couldn’t make that up!” She shoved her fists in her jacket pockets, hunched a bit forwards in his direction, read his nametag, and continued. “Look Vince, I know I sound crazy, but I also know what I saw and all I’m asking you to do is check it out.”

“Miss,” he returned slowly, an excess of saliva making his large lower lip shine beneath the florescent lights, “I can assure you, we do not have any unusual, exotic, or illegal fish for sale here at Petworld. Ivan, the tropical fish department manager, is on his lunch break. He’s due back in -” He paused to look at his watch, which was a large, garish Mickey Mouse watch. “–fourteen minutes. When he is back, maybe he can help you. I can’t because –”

“You can’t? But you’re right here next to the tank.” Pete’s posture was taking on the shape of anger and even the tips of her short, dark, spiky hair seemed furious as she spoke. Interestingly, she did not raise her voice. Vince opened his mouth but couldn’t find words, instead he tugged nervously at his blue and yellow Petworld vest and scanned the store as if looking for help with this bizarre customer. Pete took a few steps towards the massive tank and put her face close to the glass. She tracked different fish and followed them silently with both index fingers at the same time. Vince stayed where he was, closed his mouth for the first time in a while, and watched. It occurred to him that perhaps a friend put her up to this, that a joke was being played on him. One of his friends was a bit of a trickster and knew he was nervous about his new job. He started laughing, which didn’t amuse Pete. She glared at him until no more noises came out of his throat.

He backed up. She advanced towards him. “No, miss, I– well… I know I was laughing, but not actually at you.” Two tiny beads of sweat appeared on his forehead as he searched for the words. There was nothing in his employee orientation that could have prepared him for this. ‘The customer is always right’ flashed in his mind, but that was what his mother always said when she dragged him around to the superstores. This credo was not in his recent training, but maybe it could serve him somehow. Where was Ivan? Was this woman on drugs? He fiddled with his watch nervously, looked to the side and found some words. “I laugh when I’m nervous so -”

“I make you nervous?” she cut him off, her words short and overly enunciated. “Well–” She touched her pointed index finger ever so lightly to his chest, barely making contact with his vest. “–that goddamned fish with a face should make you nervous, Vince, not me. Don’t you know fish with human faces are bad omens? In Japan, they are known to cause tsunamis! That fish is a disaster just waiting to happen. Now are you going to take a look or what?”

“Miss, there’s no need to get upset.” He looked at Mickey Mouse. “Ivan will be back in ten minutes or so. He’s our tropical fish person and–”

“Fish person!” she hissed. “That’s exactly the problem. There is a fish in that tank that looks like a person and it’s only a matter of time before it disturbs other people and this should be your fucking concern, not Ivan’s, because you’re here and he’s not!”

The customer is always right, he repeated in his mind. He needed to make a decision. He tugged the bottom of his vest down with both hands as if to bolster himself, straightened his back, and responded with the best he had. “Well, uh – let’s take a look.”

“Finally! Are you going to get in there with a net so we can grab the fucker for a close inspection?”

“Excuse me, what aisle are the poopy bags in?” came from an elderly customer

who appeared around the corner. “I know this is the fishy section but you must know where the poopy bags are in the doggie section, right?”

Poopy, fishy, doggie, Pete’s head was going to explode. This was absurd. If the woman hadn’t reminded her of Grandma Sweets before her stroke, she might have told her to go to the fucky section.

“Aisle eleven, ma’am,” Vince answered with a forced smile.

“Thank you, son.”

“No problem, Ma’am. Thanks for shopping at Petworld.” Right after this last bit came out of his mouth, he regretted it.

“Real dedicated, huh Vince?”

He retrieved a long-handled net from behind the counter, rolled up his sleeves, and prayed this would end soon. Pete’s eyes brightened at the sight of the net and she began scanning all the fish in the tank. She moved systematically, almost robotically from left to right, top to bottom. “How far back does this thing go? Two feet? I can’t tell, it’s kind of distorted.”

“Not sure. I’m just going to open the top and get ready to get that fish.” He pulled a green formica panel open from the wall above the immense aquarium, revealing the bubbly surface of the water. He was looking into it when he heard her.

“There it is!” She sounded like a delighted child who just proved a grown up wrong about something. Vince saw her on her knees in front of the bottom left corner of the tank and knew he couldn’t reach in that far down, so he crouched next to her. Then he saw what she saw. On one of the larger black fish, he couldn’t remember what this type of fish was called, he saw the face of a customer standing about fifteen feet down the aisle reflected in the glass and had his ‘a-ha’ moment. “Do you see it? Get that fish! Right there! That fish is not right!”


My grandmother, Medella, with a gentleman friend circa 1950