A Wicked Welcome to Isabella Maldonado **plus a giveaway**

I’m delighted to welcome Isabella Maldonado to the blog today, to help her celebrate the debut of a new Nina Guerrera series! The Cipher, a police procedural/thriller, came out last week. Welcome to the blog Isabella. You’re talking about something we can all relate to!

Creative Chaos

By nature, I’m a neat and organized person, but I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Over the course of writing a novel, increasing levels of entropy creep into my workspace toward the end of each draft.

In a bizarre parallel with the frenetic pace of my characters hurtling toward the climax of the story, my life becomes increasingly chaotic when the end of a manuscript is in sight. I step back from social media, socializing in general, and sometimes household chores like tidying my desk.

Because I’m the designated vice-president-in-charge-of-household-papers, the pile of documents to sort, coupons to cut, receipts to file, and general detritus spreads until I consider putting on an outbreak suit to wade through it.

This stage of the process drives me a bit batty because, as I mentioned, I’m kind of a neat freak. But I’m in the flow, so there’s no stopping or slowing down to take care of routine paperwork. I vow to get to it later. The compilation of settings, plot pieces, and characters in my mind competes with the growing collection of incoming information screaming for my attention. All but the most urgent papers are pushed to the back burner as I sprint headlong toward the finish line.

At the end of the day, my husband ventures into my office with a fresh stack of mail. Scanning the desk, he raises a brow. I narrow my eyes. He wisely says nothing and puts the newest pile on a chair in the corner before slowly backing out.

True to my word, when each draft is finished, I clean and purge my workspace. The office is returned to its usual state of orderliness. Peace is restored. Like a bear in the springtime, I crawl out from the cave ready to engage the world again. Thankfully, this only seems to happen in the last month of the process.

Attached are a couple of pictures of my office as it is now. I’m embarking on a new novel, so I’ll document the before status of my surroundings. Later, I might get pics of the after status! Or not…

Do you function better in a neat and tidy, or a messy and free flowing workspace?

Isabella will send one commenter a copy of The Cipher.


Retired police captain ISABELLA MALDONADO wore a gun and badge in real life before turning to crime writing. A former Commander of Special Investigations and Forensics, she was selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico. She uses her law enforcement background to bring realism to her writing.  www.isabellamaldonado.com

About the Book:

To a cunning serial killer, she was the one that got away. Until now…

FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera escaped a serial killer’s trap at sixteen. Years later, when she’s jumped in a Virginia park, a video of the attack goes viral. Legions of new fans are not the only ones impressed with her fighting skills. The man who abducted her eleven years ago is watching. Determined to reclaim his lost prize, he commits a grisly murder designed to pull her into the investigation…but his games are just beginning. And he’s using the internet to invite the public to play along.

His coded riddles may have made him a depraved social media superstar—an enigmatic cyber-ghost dubbed “the Cipher”—but to Nina he’s a monster who preys on the vulnerable. Partnered with the FBI’s preeminent mind hunter, Dr. Jeffrey Wade, who is haunted by his own past, Nina tracks the predator across the country. Clue by clue, victim by victim, Nina races to stop a deadly killer while the world watches.
Links to website and to purchase: 


Isabella’s website includes links to purchase in several formats and venues.

58 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, Isabella! I function in some disarray nearly all the time. I guess I’m good at putting on blinders and attending to the task at hand.

    1. I know what you mean, Edith! I always start off in perfect neatness, and then the wheels come off as the edits get more intense and the deadline looms.

  2. I work better in a neat space. If it is messy I have to stop and pick it up before I can do anything ________________________________

    1. That happens to me too…which I’ve come to learn is my brain’s way of sneaky procrastination.

  3. I never gave much thought to how neat my workspace needs to be in order to allow me to do my various bits of writing. Plus, I have two spots where I do writing. At home, it’s in my room which is probably the embodiment of the word chaos. But I also write at work sometimes (I have downtime and don’t have to create busywork) and that’s a bit more neat because it is work after all.

    Normally, I say that an author’s book sounds great and I’m adding it to my want list or headed off to buy it in person or order it.

    But today, I can’t say any of that. Because I had already ordered The Cipher last week and got the email confirmation that the book had shipped yesterday. So it will soon be in my hands. Why? Because the synopsis sounded fantastic and I had to read the book for myself.

    So congrats on the new book Isabella, I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

    1. WOW! So excited to hear that you got THE CIPHER. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know!

  4. Like you, I’m generally a place for everything and everything in it’s place type person. I was raised that way and it works for me as an adult. However, also like you, life happens. Some event (maybe the arrival of dear friends we haven’t seen in ions) or thing (weather turns making the medical issues worse) changes the normal. Seems like in the blink of an eye (ok maybe a few days) there are stacks of things that need done NOW. Each time a major let’s get this done spell will hit and the Mr. Clean tornado shows up putting things in their place (thankful for hubby’s help), tending to the bills and making things all right with my world once again along with the thought “This isn’t going to happen again!” while knowing in the back of my mind that it will.

    I think it’s how we handle chaos that defines us. As I’ve aged, I’ve mellowed and I’m able to go with the flow better because I know eventually all will be back to order shortly. It wasn’t an easy lesson to learn since patience isn’t my virtue, but I’m getting there. Shoot give me another decade and I may consider the dust bunnies just early preparation for Easter. 🙂

    Congratulations on the release of “The Cipher”! Can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Appreciate the chance to win a copy. Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I must learn to acquire your Zen about my workspace! Glad to hear you’re interested in THE CIPHER. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response it’s gotten from readers.

  5. The blurb left me breathless. Congratulations on the release.

    I very much need a clean space to work. That said, as the story progresses, so too do the paper stacks, reference books with pages marked by sticky notes, notebooks of draft chapters and general “stuff.” Cleaning up at the end is part of a well-deserved exhale.

    Love your job title, may I borrow it?

    1. I know what you mean about the clean up at the end, and I like how you describe it as a well-deserved exhale. That’s precisely what it feels like!

  6. Welcome, Isabella. The book sounds fabulous.

    During the day, my workspace, both writing and day job, might get messy. But things must be put away by the end of the day. Papers filed, pens in the cup, all the notes thrown out or saved, etc., etc. I can’t face the new day with a mess in my face.

    1. YES, THIS!!!! I always feel better putting things away at the end of the day. I think it allows my brain a better shot at sleep, kind of like clearing the deck.

  7. Definitely neat and tidy over here! Your book sounds fantastic. Congratulations on its release!

    1. Thank you so much! It’s been a whirlwind of reaction. So much excitement and buzz. Totally unexpected and a lot of fun!

  8. Welcome! I have The Cipher waiting for me on my iPad and I’m looking forward to reading it. I’d like to say I’m neat, but I’m not. I’m always working around piles of something on my desk. After I turned in my last book in October, I cleaned off my desk vowing to clean the entire office. Nope, I just moved the stuff on my desk to my printer.

    1. I think a lot of creative types are like that. Many have told me it frees their minds to have a certain amount of disarray around their workspace.
      I’m thrilled to hear you ordered THE CIPHER and I hope you enjoy the ride!

    1. I know what you mean in the sense that you don’t want the place to feel like you can’t relax. I’m always trying to strike a balance between organized and comfy.

  9. Wow! This sounds like a very good book! I don’t mind a little clutter but sometimes it gets out of hand to the point I can’t stand it myself!

    1. I’m the same way. Once things start to accumulate too much, I have to do something about it or my brain will rebel.

  10. Congrats on the new series! It’s sounding good!
    I like to have things neat, unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. I don’t quite have the space to organize things the way I’d like.

    1. Space is absolutely essential, at least for me. In the pictures of my office, you’ll notice there are closed curtains. The reason is because we have two offices in my home, one for me and one for my husband. He offered me my choice. I would have taken his because the sun never beats down into the windows, but his is smaller. Instead, I chose the larger office, but the sun beats in almost all day, throwing glare on my computer screen…yeesh! I finally had to have darkening drapes put in, but I needed the extra space.

    1. I love meeting new readers! If you like edgy, gritty, fast-paced thriller type books, this will be for you!

  11. So excited to see this new series! I function better in a tidy environment, but that doesn’t mean I keep mine that way.

    1. I know, right? Where are the fairies that can keep everything around me spotless? I do function better that way, but I have a hard time maintaining while in the throes of writing.
      Hope you like the Nina Guerrera series.

  12. I tend to spread papers and such all over my desk during the workday, especially when I have a lot to do. But I do clean and tidy and put everything away at the end of the day before I go home. These days, since my desk is our dining room table, that’s even more important. Congratulations on your new series! aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Right now, my son is using our dining room table as his classroom (remote learning due to Covid) so I feel your pain about stuff all over the table at the end of the day and tidying.

  13. Welcome to the Wickeds, Isabella. Your working habits sound a lot like mine. I revise on paper so there’s always a huge mess by the end of each draft. Cleaning it up and putting stuff away is like a cleansing ritual for me. Then I can move on to the next draft or the next project.

    1. YES! A cleansing ritual is a good way to put it. I am tempted to have a ceremonial burning, but then I think, “What if I need that later?” so I end up filing it. I’m going to have to just shred it all at some point. Either way, it’s filed and out of my sight, so that’s good when it’s time to move on.

  14. I like neat spaces, but I’m lazy and indecisive. I can’t decide what to do with some of the stuff I have, so it sits there.

    1. I suffer from worrying that I’ll get rid of something important too, so I mostly file things away. That way, I don’t have to be concerned I’ll lose anything, but it’s out of sight and mostly out of mind. At least it’s not cluttering my office and brain. It is hard to cull things though…

    1. You’re lucky! You must have that perfectly well-adjusted mind that can function in any environment. I’m jealous!

  15. I function better in a neat and tidy room. Sometimes, messiness is unavoidable, and I notice I don’t focus as well. I will go through my stack of mail and shred many papers. It’s always satisfying when I finish going through the stack of papers. Of course, it happens again within days. LOL

    1. Yeesh! I agree. What is it about papers that make them accumulate so quickly. I thought we were all supposed to be going paperless, but there they are…creeping in all over the place.

  16. When I’m working, papers surround me & I constantly shuffle through them looking for the one I need. Now that I’m retired, the work clutter is the knitting project(s) in progress!

    1. I wish I knew how to knit! It seems like it would be so Zen and so relaxing. In my mind, I’m knitting with a cat curled up beside me. In real life, I have a hyperactive dog, a young son, and constant chaos around me!

  17. I wish my office/library looked like that… even once in my life. I’m a pack rat, borderline horder. My only saving grace is I do manage to keep the mess confined, mostly, to the one room. As I vow again to clean and de-clutter, I’ll keep your before picture as my inspiration. 😊

  18. I like to do things a little organized, to where I can find my things easily, I get a little frantic when I can’t find something I knew I had, even though sometimes after I put them away I can’t find them, 🙂 but actually I can do things either when things are neat or not neat at all. I love the sound of your book, I love mysteries and I love good page turners. I enjoyed your interview and you sharing about your book. Have a Great week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family. Thank you so much for the chance .

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the interview. I’ve had the same problem sometimes with putting things away a little TOO much out of sight. Usually, I’m organized enough to find them, but every once in a while, something gets away from me.
      Happy to hear you like page-turners!

  19. I start out with a tidy workspace, but it usually ends up messy. The good thing is I remember where I put things and can find what I’m looking for.

    1. I think that’s the secret. As long as you can lay your hands on something when you need it, you’ve really accomplished the goal.

    1. You are in the majority here. It sounds like most people devolve as things get hectic. I know that’s my pattern, especially when it comes to the flood of papers.

    1. Hi Dru Ann!! I can understand that you would have to have a neat desk. You have so much going on all the time…it’s got to be a matter of survival for you!!

  20. I used to be very type A personality. When I became disabled, I have had to learn that I cannot do everything so I am struggling to do what I can do and let the rest go. Your book sounds very intriguing. Thank you for sharing your talent.

    1. I understand what you mean. Sometimes life has a way of teaching us what our true priorities should be. I know that has been the case with me during some of my more trying times. I hope you are doing well.

    1. I can relate. I love a neat and tidy workspace, but keeping it that way in the throes of writings is a challenge.

  21. My desk is piled high. Sometimes it drives me crazy but, I can usually find what I am looking for. I work on a portable desk rather than my desktop so than isn’t a problem.I just need to find the time to file things.

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