Miami Morning, contemporary literary fiction, by Mary Clark, All Things That Matter Press
Forty-something Leila Payson loves her job as a high school social sciences teacher, adventures with a diverse group of friends, and her volunteer work. But when she discovers one of her students is going deaf, she finds herself on a learning curve of her own. At an earlier time in her life, she spent a year teaching in South Africa, where she met an occupational therapist and others working in creative ways with people with disabilities. Now years later, when the students asks for her help, she embarks on a pivotal journey that calls on everything she’s learned.
And while she juggles work, family, and her friends’ adventures, an attractive man keeps appearing at her favorite places.
There’s magic in Miami, and Leila Payson is reveling in it. Come along for the ride as she meets her challenges with courage, a dash of philosophy, and a splash of humor, too.
Miami Morning is in final edit. I want to thank those of you who have joined my book launch team. And those who have read and commented on the book in its various drafts, thank you for your help in making this a better book. So hang in there! I know I am.
COMING SOON! Watch this blog for special offers related to the publication of my new book, Miami Morning, coming from All Things That Matter Press. You can also sign up for email notifications and receive information about additional Special Offers on my website.
From South Beach to South Africa, Leila has an adventurer’s heart.
The creation of my heroine, Leila Payson, was inspired by a woman I knew. She, like Leila, had a full-time job, but she spent hours each day as the “guardian angel” of the local playground, and in community improvement activities. Her smile made others smile. She was generous, but she knew the cruelty human beings are capable of. She was curious about the world, courageous in her approach to problems, and had a self-deprecating sense of humor. Without any fanfare, she did her work and improved the lives of many people, even if only in making them believe in their own decency. I feel passionately that such good people make all the difference in the world.
Leila lives in a place I love: Florida. Although I don’t live in South Miami, my intuition and research led me to this place. It was perfect for her. Leila enjoys the big city, with its cultural richness, and also living in a smaller town, with nature near to hand. There’s a wealth of experience in this book: teaching, disability issues, occupational therapy, a diverse group of friends, travel, family, romance, food, and nature. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Leila Payson, known to her students and friends as Miss Pacer, is always pushing the boundaries of her experience, to become a better teacher and human being. She enjoys her work as a high school Social Studies teacher, her adventures with her diverse friends, and her volunteer work at a local playground. But Leila is at a midpoint in her life.
When one of her students begins to lose his hearing, she immerses herself in learning about people with disabilities and the challenges they face. This takes her back to an earlier time when she spent a year teaching in South Africa. There she saw an occupational therapist at work, and met others working in the disability community. Now, years later, when the student asks for her help, she begins a pivotal journey.
Besides this, a mysterious man keeps appearing at her favorite places. Her friends keep her on her toes. And at Leila’s high school, a young guidance counselor sees Leila as a mentor, while the other counselor views her as a rival. Trouble is brewing in the paradise of South Miami. But are there new possibilities as well?
Publication date: Spring 2016. Publisher: All Things That Matter Press.
Please visit my website at Mary Clark, Author to sign up for email notifications about my new book, Miami Morning, special offers and giveaways.
I’ve been asked to respond to the following questions about My Main Character in a Work In Progress.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
My stories are primarily character-driven, with what I hope are strong settings and varieties of inter-relationships. My last book, Tally: An Intuitive Life (All Things That Matter Press 2013) is non-fiction, and could be seen as a character study. The main character, PJ, was a Greenwich Village Bohemian, one of the last of the early 1900s tribe by the time the other major character, Erin Yes (yes, from the Greek, erinyes, The Furies) meets him. With their mutual friend Rogue they become “entangled” as human beings who find one another interesting do, leading to a mental and emotional dance of ages.
Recently, I’ve been writing about Leila Payson, a fictional schoolteacher in Miami. It’s a complete change of pace for me. Leila is inspired by a woman I knew in New York City, and several other remarkable women.
2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in contemporary Miami, specifically South Miami. This neighborhood is next to Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. Leila lives near Fairchild Botanical Garden and Matheson Hammock Park, one of the most popular parks, especially with locals, in Miami. She meets friends at a South Beach café. The setting allows me to write about Florida, a place I love.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Leila is forty-something. She is a Social Sciences teacher, with tenure and a Masters Degree that is also beginning to age. Teaching is her life, and most of her waking moments and a good portion of her REM sleep, are dedicated to her students.
In her work and everything she does, Leila tries to act in a way that does the most good and least harm. Upon graduating college, she works for a social service agency in inner city Miami for two years. Her boss is the energetic Sally Lacrosse. After this, Leila begins work as a public schoolteacher. After the first few rough years, she settles in and the work is exciting. In time, though, she feels the narrowing that comes with too much routine.
Leila joins a relief agency in a foreign country. While there she learns of the debate about giving aid to others and whether it fosters dependence rather than responsibility. The aids groups are re-evaluating their role, becoming more holistic in their approach. Leila also becomes the friend of and helps out an occupational therapist. What she learns she takes back to her job of teaching, and into her life. She revives a local playground, where she meets the neighborhood families. Her personal and professional aspirations and values are integrated, and that makes it a spiritual experience as well.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
After 15 years on the job, Leila wonders if she is “aging out” of being useful to her students and to the kids in the playground near her home. A world of opportunity has opened for women in her lifetime and she wonders if she is doing as much as she could. There are still stereotyped behaviors and attitudes toward women, especially women who engage in critical and philosophical thinking.
In her personal life, there have been several loves, but for some years, she has lived alone. She has close friends, who are younger and busy with their new ventures. After lunch with them one day, she sees at another café, a “man with a book.” She is surprised to see him again at a local art gallery’s exhibit of bird photographs. Is he a philosopher? An artist? An ornithologist?
Once again, she re-evaluates what she is doing and how it matches to her sense of a life worth living.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Leila is working to find just the right niche to maximize her abilities, particularly a way of living that enables her to use her wings and fly.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The working title is Leila: Bird of Inspiration. I am contemplating putting some excerpts on my blog once it’s nearly complete.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
This is in the budding stage and will take months to complete.
And now, I’ve tagged these four extraordinary authors (and I don’t say that often) who have agreed to join the blog tour. Their Meet My Main Character blog post will be online May 19th.
Matt’s first novel, Conversations Among Ruins, is coming soon from All Things That Matter Press. His second novel, The Brothers’ Keepers, will be published by MuseItUp Publishing. Currently, he is working on his third novel. The link to Matthew Peters’ blog is: http://www.matthewpetersbooks.com/blog/ Read his Meet My Main Character blog post.
Marta is an Argentinean writer, translator, and psychoanalyst publishing with Jorge Pinto Books Inc., New York. She has written three novels, a self-help series, and other works. To learn more about her, please visit her Amazon page, and her website, and on Facebook. Read her Meet My Main Character blog.
Marylee writes literary fiction and creative nonfiction. Her book, Montpelier Tomorrow, to be published by All Things That Matter Press in 2014, is about a mother who would do anything to keep her family from harm. She blogs and writes about writing, long term illness, and caregiving on two sites: http://maryleemacdonald.org and http://maryleemacdonald.us
Jo is a South African writer and blogger. My 4-star review of her novel, African Me and Satellite TV, is on Amazon. Her new book is the science fiction/paranormal/fantasy novel, Shadow People. Please visit her website, African Colonial Stories.