Today's guest, Maria Geraci, is from Melbourne. I met Maria two years ago during the RT Booklovers' Convention in Orlando. I bought her debut book, BUNCO BABES TELL ALL, because bunco is a social staple among military spouses. More recently, she sent me bookmarks for her third book, BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB in sea green and flamingo pink. Her bookmarks also include a recipe for Flan De Queso. Yum, yum!
|Flan De Queso|
Please join me in welcoming Maria Geraci! From her website,
I grew up in Melbourne, a quiet little beach town on the east coast of Florida. My parents emigrated to the US from Cuba post-Fidel Castro in the early sixties, at a time when south Florida was gutted with Cuban refugees. Melbourne was the kind of town where you could ride your bike anywhere, and all the Cubans (all couple dozen or so families back then) all knew one another.
Kim: Can you share some of your childhood memories from Melbourne?
Maria: I think my experience was probably the opposite of yours. South Florida, and especially Miami, is heavily Hispanic, but I grew up in Melbourne in the 60’s and 70’s, and at the time, there were few Hispanics living there. All the Cubans knew one another on sight! So while we spoke Spanish in my home and ate Cuban food, the rest of my upbringing consisted of small town Florida living. Of course, growing up in Brevard County at that time, the Space program was a huge influence. I remember as a kid, getting out of class to sit on the grassy lawn that faced AIA so we could watch the space ships go off. It was always a blast (both literally and figuratively, of course).
|Launch from Kennedy Space Center|
Kim: Fast forward a few years in your bio. "I now live in Tallahassee, am married, have 3 kids and work part-time as a Labor and Delivery nurse." Did any of your training and experience as a nurse influence or contribute to your writing career?
Maria: Like any writer, all my life experiences contribute to how I view the world, and that of course, influences my writing. I’ve worked as a labor and delivery nurse for a lot of years, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I think, like a lot of nurses, I’m probably kind of irreverent in my humor. While obstetrics is generally a happy place, there’s also sad stuff going on and you have to cope the best way you can. I actually started reading romance when another nurse I worked with gave me a Julie Garwood novel. Talk about escapism! I started gobbling up romances after that.
Kim: You also wrote, "Playing Bunco for me was like finding a great novel. Pure escapism- only with Bunco you get to have your friends along for the ride. I looked at my bracelet and it was like “duh!” I knew then I had to write a book about a group of women who play Bunco." I've played Bunco with military spouses in the Netherlands, Baltimore, and here in Hawaii. Not one group plays by the same rules!
Maria: Kim, you’re absolutely right. I think the one thing you can count on in Bunco is that no group plays the same! One of the things I love about Bunco is that it brings women together to socialize.
I learned to play Bunco when we were living in Austin, Texas. That group played by one set of rules. Then we moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and that was a wild group of women (our husbands were all engineers working in the defense industry!) and they played by another set. My group here in Tallahassee plays by a mixed version of my other two groups.
Kim: Are you hard core or easy going player?
Maria: Definitely easy going!
Kim: Do you prefer to play for prizes or cash?
Maria: My group, The Tallahassee Bunco Broads play for prizes. Each month we have a “theme” and the prizes usually match the theme. I love looking at the stuff I’ve won over the years, because there’s a different story behind each prize.
December is the only month we don’t play for prizes. Instead we give the cash we contribute to a local charity like Toys for Tots.
Maria: I have two Bunco books, BUNCO BABES TELL ALL and BUNCO BABES GONE WILD. They're set in a fictional town in north Florida and center around a group of 12 thirty-something women who play Bunco. It’s a mix of romance and women’s fiction and it’s been called “sexy, funny, and satisfying.” I love that description!
Kim: Tell us about THE BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB.
Maria: My third book just came out in December. It’s not a bunco book but it’s a fun, romantic women’s fiction read. It’s about a woman who turns her dysfunctional book club into a boyfriend club where women come together to discuss the men they’ve dated comparing them to classic literary heroes and villains. It’s set in Daytona Beach, Florida and my heroine is half-Cuban. I really loved writing that book!
Here’s the back cover blurb:
At thirty, Grace O’Bryan has dated every loser that Daytona Beach has to offer. After the ultimate date-from-hell, Grace decides to take matters into her own hands and turns her dwindling book club into a boyfriend of the month Club, where women can come together to discuss the eligible men in their community. Where are the real live twenty-first century versions of literary heroes such as Heathcliff and Mr. Darcy?
Could it be successful and handsome Brandon Farrell, who is willing to overlook his disastrous first date with Grace and offers financial help for her parents’ failing Florida gift shop? Or maybe sexy dentist Joe Rosenblum, who’s great with a smile but not so great at commitment? Unfortunately, just like books, men cannot always be judged by their covers…
"Geraci fills the fluffy but enjoyable story with literary references and her leading lady is endearingly flawed. Romance readers will revel in the Austen-perfect happy ending and the warm friendship among members of the club." —Publishers Weekly
"This is a hysterical novel about a woman trying to find the perfect man. Grace's close knit family and friends serve as great secondary characters that add so much humor and love to this novel." —Chicklit Club Reviews
To find out more about Maria Geraci and her books please visit her website at http://www.mariageraci.com/.
|Florida's Space Coast|
Mahalo, Maria, for joining us at SOS Aloha! Maria is generously giving away a copy of all three books:
- BUNCO BABES TELL ALL
- BUNCO BABES GONE WILD
- BOYFRIEND OF THE MONTH CLUB
to one randomly selected commenter in the US or Canada. To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about Maria, Bunco, your favorite Hispanic food and/or your favorite beach town (preferably in Florida but I'll accept anywhere in the world).
2. Comments are open through Saturday, February 19, 10 pm in Hawaii to enter the giveaway.
4. If you are a new to SOS Aloha (US or international), I would like to share Aloha with you. Send your mailing address to email@example.com for a Hawaiian treat!
Kim in Hawaii
I am a fan of USA Network's BURN NOTICE because it takes place in Miami. While the storyline is fun, the visual shots remind me of my childhood romps around town.
I would play Bunco with Maddie. I think the game would bore Fiona since it doesn't involve guns.