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Musings & Meanderings: Kayla Maiuri has one ritual she must do when actively working on a project; plus: mothers, home decor, vintage stuff, where to submit, disco music, book recs, more

By Leslie Lindsay

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

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Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book


Hello, Friends!

My mother was a super-talented self-taught interior decorator. She also struggled with severe mental illness. I’ve never been formally trained in home design or decor, but those skills sort of emerged unbidden. Maybe they are part of my DNA. One may argue that mental illness is entwined in one’s DNA, too. Sure, I can get a little anxious or run-down, or maybe a little depressed from time to time, but who doesn’t? Especially in this day and age with constant posting, re-posting, sharing, scrolling, etc. It’s a constant barrage of…keeping up and comparisons.

Kayla Maiuri’s debut novel tackles many of these exact concerns, braiding the past with the present, a mother resistant to change, family secrets, architecture, and more. It’s an emotionally and psychologically astute character study that reads almost as if it could be memoir.

Interestingly, all of this stuff: mothers, home, decor, are all part of today’s Musings & Meanderings. Do you tend to think and act in themes? Seems I do! More on that under ‘obsessions.’

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.


~Leslie : )

There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Vintage stuff because IT ALWAYS HAS. Especially so if it’s locally sourced architectural salvage, like the treasures I fall in love with at Hudson Design House.
  • Setting up my ‘new’ office. Nothing about it is new [see above], and that’s part of its charm. I am in the process of rearranging, straightening, culling through stuff…hanging things. Funny how fall has a way of re-setting, right?
  • An online platform for printing travel photos. I am seeking something with a [surprise] retro/vintage vibe requiring very little effort from me. Got any ideas? Tell me!
  • Also! I am totally into this idea of ‘book bundling,’ a.k.a: ‘A flight of Books.’ A trio of books…I don’t know…call it what you want, but the idea is different genres/different authors with some overlapping theme or motif that marries well.

Are you following me on IG? That’s where you’ll catch #bookreels of these ‘Book Bundles’

I highlight current, forthcoming, and backlist books. Maybe you’ll (re-) discover a new favorite?

Some Writing Opportunities:

  • Nimrod International is interested in reading your fiction, poetry, and CNF for their themed issue, “Body Language,” which really encompasses a lot…open till October 1 for the spring 2023 issue.
  • Literary Mama is open year-round for work by both established and emerging writers about the complexities of motherhood. “We believe in a wide-ranging understanding of motherhood as experienced through multiple lenses and bodies.”
  • Cobalt Review would like your poetry, CNF, Fiction, and more.
  • Tahoma Review is reading for their Spring 2023 edition. There’s a fee to submit, but they are seeking flash, CNF, poetry, critique, more, through October 16.

New! Featured Author|Insights

Kayla Maiuri

Mother in the Dark: A Novel

Image designed and photographed by L.Lindsay

A novel about family secrets and a volatile relationship between a mother and her daughters.

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say MOTHER IN THE DARK is about?

Kayla Maiuri:

Escape; inherited grief; loyalties and betrayals amongst family; the ways that daughters blame their mothers and protect their fathers; how mothers and daughters can love, wound, and haunt.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write MOTHER IN THE DARK? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Kayla Maiuri:

I’m not very precious about my writing space. I can write at the kitchen table with people talking, yelling, eating, and I can write on the couch with the television going. My one ritual is that when I’m actively working on a project, I must touch the document every day. Maybe I will only shift a sentence or add a comma, but I have to at least acknowledge the work every day.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Kayla Maiuri:

Maybe working in psychotherapy. I feel presumptuous saying this—I know it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of emotional strength. I shouldn’t assume I’d be able to do it. But I love trying to understand people; all of their nuances and layers. It seems like the most natural jump.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Kayla Maiuri:

The Long Answer by Anna Hogeland. It’s a debut about female friendship and sisterhood, and the beauty and power of storytelling—how it fuels and sustains us. It’s a slow burn with a quiet but thought-provoking ending. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

Be sure to check out all featured author Further Reading Recommendations|Always with a Book for inspired selections.

Get your copy of MOTHER IN THE DARK HERE or where books are sold. Check out Kayla Maiuri’s website for more information, including talks and signings.

Take a peek at all of my 2022 recommendations at Bookshop.org|Always with a Book

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Recently-published Stuff You Might Have Missed:

  • An essay about an experience at a workshop/retreat, featuring design/architecture, and how we are all works-in-progress, in The Smart Set.
  • A piece in the nostalgia dossier of Levitate Magazine, about my childhood interest in a (vintage) kid’s rooms and spaces book.
  • A conversation with Carla Zaccagnini about her book, Cuentos de Cuentas (Amant/Verlag, spring 2000) in The Millions.
  • A Conversation with Marie Myung-Ok Lee in The Millions, about her new novel, The Evening Hero, featuring aspects of immigration, Minnesota, color, and medicine.
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Coming soon:

  • A conversation with Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder about her book, Existential Physics (Viking, August 9, 2022) in Hippocampus Magazine.
  • A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM.
  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A piece about being a book ambassador, reading about family, inheritance, post-memory, and landscape in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.
  • An interview with Lauren Acampora about the pursuit of art, the suburbs, growth and stagnation, more as related to her highly anticipated novel, THE HUNDRED WATERS, in The Millions
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

What I’m reading:

I am between books. Don’t worry; it won’t last long. I’m going to take my own advice and read a ‘book bundle.’ This one will get me prepared for an October Writing Retreat in Oregon.

Photo by Teona Swift on Pexels.com

What I’m listening to:

Disco! Oh my–it’s Studio 54 in here. When I was a teenager, I worked at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels at the mall. On Saturday nights, a local radio station played Disco music from 9pm to midnight. I still have good memories of breaking down the kitchen and scrubbing dishes to Donna Summer, The Village People, and The Trammps. Only now, I’m writing. Different kind of work, still energizing.

L.Lindsay archives.

You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I canFeel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

In the meantime, catch me on:

Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Let’s walk this bookish path together.


Some of you have been reading my reviews, interviews, and meanderings for more than a decade now. That’s huge and I am so humbled. Thanks for being here.

More than 2,800 folks read Musings & Meanderings.

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Created by Leslie Lindsay. I’m a proud book nerd. Connect with me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Bookshop.org. Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.

Learn more HERE.

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That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & book mail : )

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