Monday, September 23, 2013

Fifty Textures of Sand - and a Sense of Place with Guest Author Nancy Gadzuk

I'm delighted to introduce my friend and fellow author Nancy Gadzuk, whose first novel, Moon Beach Magic, came out recently under the pen name Natasha Alexander. I'm about half-way through the book, and it's hilarious - reminds me of Carl Hiassen's quirky characters. And although it's not a beach read, the book and this post make me want to take my shoes off and head for the wet sand! Enjoy! ~ Sheila

Fifty Textures of Sand - and a Sense of Place

by Nancy Gadzuk

Exactly ten years ago today I was packing everything I owned into the empty Carlo Rossi wine cartons I’d pick up each day at my local packie (package or liquor store to those of you not from New England) to move south. I couldn’t believe how much cheap wine my suburban Boston neighbors were able to guzzle every day to keep me in empty cartons.

Sun. Sand. Beach. Warm winters. I was ready.

What I noticed first was the quality of the light here on the North Carolina coast. For one thing, there’s simply more light than I’d been accustomed to. Longer days. More days of sunlight. Somehow the light here feels more luminous and alive than it did in New England. When salt water shimmers under that light, I fall in love.

What I noticed next was that people stop. And talk. I meet barrel-chested macho fishermen on the beach who make kissy noises to my dogs. People in the grocery store who grab something from my cart and ask what I use it for. People on the street who want to know if I’ve found my church yet. Wherever I go, people talk like we’re friends. And so I guess we are.

I write about quirky characters stumbling toward self-awareness, decent pasta, and possibly love. Maybe it’s the light, maybe it’s the sand, maybe it’s the coastal lifestyle (whatever that is), but once I began my flat-out, full-time focus on writing fiction, I couldn’t imagine my stories taking place anywhere but in a sleepy southern coastal town.

I hope I’ve conveyed this sense of place in my novel, Moon Beach Magic, which was released earlier this month.  My partner and I like to take road trips, and I think we’ve visited every funky little beach town from North Carolina to the Texas/Mexico border. Moon Beach is an amalgam of the very best of these gems.

Moon Beach Magic is, not surprisingly, a beach read. In addition to that sense of place, I tried to include something for everyone: mob threats, explosions, pastries to die for, a sleazy lawyer, redneck do-gooders, missing deeds, misunderstood artists, magic potions, shapely legs and long red hair, a loaded gun, a junkyard dog, hungry wildlife, and the threat of massive development.

Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

As Vince’s world explodes behind him, he flees his dead-end life for a fresh start in sleepy Moon Beach. But when a land-hungry con artist shows up in town, Moon Beach becomes anything but tranquil.

Now Vince and his to die for burnt sugar ricotta pastries, a feisty octogenarian with a major stake in prime coastal real estate, a beautiful young woman with a penchant for scrap metal and forgery, and the local wildlife must all join forces to try to save the beach–and each other–from an environmental disaster.

Greed. Deception. Sleaze. Dynamite. Definitely a recipe for trouble in paradise.

Unless adding a bit of Moon Beach magic to the mix can conjure up a generous helping of just desserts for everyone instead.

In earlier lifetimes, Nancy Gadzuk worked in publishing, taught at various levels from kindergarten through university, designed interactive video, attended theological school, and conducted ethnographic research in urban schools. (Not all at the same time, though.) If she’s not writing, she’s probably walking on the beach or singing.

She writes fiction under the name Natasha Alexander. Her novel, Moon Beach Magic, is available in both print and ebook form from online retailers and in print from selected independent booksellers. Visit her Natasha Alexander persona at Goodreads or her website:


Please come back on Thursday, when Sparkle Abbey will be guest blogging 
about why writing is hard - like training a puppy!

In the meantime, you can find my Animals in Focus mysteries 
and lots more under the tabs at the top of the page. 


  1. Thank you, Sheila, for hosting me on your site today! I enjoyed the opportunity and know I'm in good company with the rest of your guest bloggers. I'm looking forward to hearing you talk about The Money Bird Tuesday evening.

  2. Hi, Nancy/Natasha. I envy your beach life, but I relate to your difference in light observation. When we moved from Indianapolis to Fresno, that's the first thing I noticed. It seemed like the sky was bigger here. Good luck with your new book.

  3. this was a delight! Nancy, why don't you publish under your own name?

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Elaine. When I started writing fiction for publication, I was still working and writing for academic institutions. I thought it might be confusing to have the same person doing "serious" educational research while using explosives, guns, and pastries to create a fictional world. Now I'm writing fiction full-time (YAY!) and will probably ease into using my own name.

  4. this was delightful!! Nancy, why don't you write under your own name? Just curious

  5. Thanks, Linda! Life near salt water is the best, in my opinion. But you are near mountains, also good.

  6. I read your previous book, Nancy, and am waiting my turn as my husband finishes Moon Beach Magic. Cannot wait to get my hands on it and get back into the story with Vince!

    1. Thanks, Alese. I hope you enjoy it. And thanks for visiting here.