Lynne Constantine

Lynne Constantine

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Lynne is the author of one of my favorite new books, Circle Dancehighres600

The compelling short story Deception will take you deeper into the lives of sisters Nicole and Theodora.

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Her short story , Mother’s Day   is a heartbreaking look at a young woman’s struggle with infertility.

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To learn more about Lynne and enter the giveaway to win a free ebook copy of Circle Dance, check out the links at the end of the interview.

Lynne Constantine

As a young child, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer – most likely because I was told that I argued so well that it was the best job suited to me!  What I most enjoyed though was reading and making up stories. I didn’t actually begin to write fiction until after college, however, my childhood memories are strongly dominated by my making up elaborate stories for my dolls or creating scenarios and alternate realities for my friends. Even into adulthood, many evenings were laughed away with family and friends playing “Would you rather” games in which I presented them with two or more difficult choices that they must decide between.

I’ve always enjoyed writing – it was my favorite subject in school but didn’t really think about choosing it as a career. I went to graduate school, got a Masters in business and joined the ranks of the corporate world. Even though I was successful, I wasn’t fulfilled.

My sister and I decided to write a book together. We thought about what we enjoyed reading and agreed that stories about families and relationships spoke to both of us. Some of our favorite books were about ethnic cultures and it dawned on us that there were very few about Greek American families. From these musings came the idea for Circle Dance.

I have always felt blessed to be part of a heritage that is so naturally welcoming and kind.  Being Greek connects us all in a way that I have difficulty explaining to my non- Greek husband.  Circle Dance is all about those invisible bonds and shared traditions that have been handed down to each of us.

 

Circle Dance Synopsis:

 

Young, smart and beautiful with everything figured out – or so they thought. Born into a prosperous Greek American family, sisters Nicole and Theodora have achieved the perfect balance between the old world rich in Greek tradition and the freedom of life in America.

Headstrong and independent, Nicole plunges into life head-first, too often ignoring the risks. Her talent and astute business acumen make her the perfect heir to her father’s empire, but his old-world attitudes prevent him from giving the top spot to a woman. Nicole’s world spins out of control when she falls for a married senator who shares her heritage and her dreams. While struggling to navigate previously uncharted moral waters, she uncovers treachery and corruption that will break both her sister’s and her father’s heart. The decisions she makes will affect the happiness of those closest to her and will define the woman she is to become.

The young and conventional Theodora weds and quickly learns that marriage is not the paradise she envisioned. She must soon confront the growing suspicion that her husband is not the man he seems. Forced to endure the constant disdain and disapproval of her patrician mother-in-law, she resigns herself to the fact that she will always be considered an outsider. As she struggles to succeed at her marriage, she seeks the wisdom and council of her beloved Greek grandmother who has been happily married for over half a century. Ultimately she must come to terms with the reality of her own life and take responsibility for the role she has played in deceiving herself.

As the dramatic plot unfolds, the two young women must confront deceit and betrayal and their own shortcomings – while they struggle to preserve the values they cherish. Set in Baltimore, Annapolis and the tiny island of Ikaria, Greece, Circle Dance provides a view into the lives of a dynamic family that has successfully achieved the American dream without abandoning the customs and traditions handed down through their Greek heritage. Artfully intertwined plots bring generations together in a dance of rejoicing and mourning, loss and healing that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

 

I write in several different genres: women’s fiction, short story, and thriller.

I used an outline when I co-wrote CIRCLE DANCE with my sister. I was necessary in many ways since we were writing seperately and the story needed to be cohesive. We found, though, that there were instances where our characters’ actions didn’t seem to be true to them. Years later we undertook a major re-write and allowed some of the plot lines to change and align better with who we know the characters were.

 

 I now use a very loose outline but write much more organically. I have an idea of a beginning, middle and end but allow my characters to take me where they want. I have completely revised or even thrown away plot points depending on the progression of my characters. I enjoy writing in this manner much more than strictly adhering to an outline.

 

I write just about anywhere. We recently moved to the beach and have a room with a view of the water on the top floor of our house. I like to sit up there and write in one of the chairs – but it isn’t set up as an office per se. I also write in cafes, restaurants, waiting rooms – wherever I happen to be with a little extra time. I take my laptop with my most places, put in my earphones, and write.

 

 

I like to take pictures and have fun with digital scrapbooking and putting together digital slideshows.

 

CIRCLE DANCE carries a very important message. It’s all about the strength of family and the importance of honor and honesty – both in dealing with others and with one’s self. There are strong threads of redemption throughout the book as well. We hoped to convey that even though we can make the wrong choices in life – choices that can hurt or even destroy others – if we take responsbility for those actions and admit our mistakes – we can find renewal and start again.

 

I have a lot of favorite authors. For suspense, I always go to Dean Koontz who is a master of storytelling. He hooks me from the first sentence. I love the way he creates characters that I care about. His protagonists have great senses of humor and the way he writes women impresses me as someone who has admiration and regard for females. Even though they are thrillers, they usually have an underlying societal message that I find important.

 

My favorite classics author is C.S. Lewis. His writing is gorgeous, his worlds fantastical and I love his worldview.

 

For contemporary women’s fiction I love Liane Moriarty. Her writing is fresh and witty and I fall in love with her protagonists. My favorite of hers is WHAT ALICE FORGOT, which is the book I think every woman should read. It’s a fun read that packs a real philosophical punch.

 

I most definitely schedule my writing time or else it would never get accomplished. I spent too many years only dreaming of writing to realize that unless I am very deliberate about what I expect to accomplish in any given week, the time will evaporate without my writing a word. I have a journal where I record my goals for the week: either in terms of word count or time to be spent writing. It depends on what I’m working on at the time. I then make two columns – one plan and one actual and I keep track of what I actually produce compared to what I planned.

 

I think e-books are wonderful in so many ways: the reduction in publishing cost, the speed with which an author can now get her work out, and the ability to carry hundreds of books around in one device. I think there will always be a demand for print books – at least I hope so. I can’t imagine not being surrounded by books; they are my first choice in home décor. I think e-books will greatly reduce the number of print books sold but will not replace them.

 

I am working on revisions to my current work in progress – I’m working on a thriller that takes place in current day and deals with the changes on mores and values that society has undergone. There is a conspiracy thread running through the book that encompasses major spheres of influence and the role they have played in securing and manipulating these changes.

 

My sister and I have just started on a new collaboration. We’re very excited about working together again. This is a dual protagonist, first person novel about two women. I will write one woman and my sister, the other which will eliminate the need for us to merge our voices as we did with CIRCLE DANCE.

Book Links:

CIRCLE DANCE:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/IoVbLq

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1fD5bj9

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1eki4L0

Copia: http://bit.ly/1iKMABk

Audio Book: http://bit.ly/1iKMaL7

 

 

THE DECEPTION:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/IcXQrU

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1456hNF

 

MOTHER’S DAY:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/192LWaV

 

 

Website/Blog: www.lynneconstantine.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynneConstantin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynneConstantineauthor

Google Plus:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/106964860891918861448/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnecon/boards/

 

 

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Author Peggy Edelheit

Peggy Edelheit Peggy Edelheit1

Author: Peggy A. Edelheit

 

I have always loved the written word and have been making up and writing stories since I first learned to write, which my parents wholeheartedly encouraged while I was growing up. Although I read and appreciated every genre, mysteries were my preference of choice. I always read late into the night. I had to know how that mystery turned out! Constructing and deconstructing the mystery always intrigued me. Later as an adult, after ignoring certain voices in my head that began intruding on my daily life, I finally let those voices have their say. Sam sort of jumped out to the forefront. (I’m afraid there might be a lot of me in there too…chuckle)

I’ve been extremely lucky to travel abroad with my family over the years and have drawn from those travels and experiences for my writing. We had a home in the south of France, which was the perfect backdrop for 86 Avenue du Goulet, Volume 3 in my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series. That home was also the location for Volume 5.5, my French Memoir, The Riviera Is Burning. It’s my true story about how we fled the French Riviera wildfires one summer when they raged out of control. I can still see those flames. It was a frightening experience I wanted to share with my readers.

I have been blessed with three wonderful sons and live with my husband and Miniature Schnauzer, Sam. I spend time in both Bucks County, PA and South Florida.

 

The Samantha Jamison Mystery Series, Volumes 1-6, is a Mystery/Thriller series about an author, Samantha Jamison, aka Sam, who writes about how she gets caught up in unexpected mysteries, a kind of story within a story with a touch of humor. They are all written in the first person, so the reader has the same disadvantage as Sam, who is always turning around and talking to them and will sometimes ask the reader what they think is going on so they get involved in solving it with her. She confides in them. Maintaining my reader’s interest is important. If you lose your reader they will move onto another book and may not come back. With that in mind I try to keep my mysteries fast-paced page-turners with unusual twists and turns, and of course, my signature surprise endings.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Peggy-A.-Edelheit/e/B004RB75NS/

 

Samantha made her debut as my protagonist in Volume 1, The Puzzle, which takes place in Highlands, North Carolina. As a widow, Samantha Jamison, an author, revisits her husband’s past to solve the mystery surrounding his questionable death. She is a reluctant sleuth having always lived in the shadow of her husband. The reader is shown how Samantha grows and changes both as a woman and author while doggedly pursuing the truth no matter the consequences. Originally, The Puzzle was meant to be a standalone book, but by the end of the book, I realized I wasn’t finished telling Sam’s story. It would continue in a series. Sam decides she enjoys and is fairly good at solving mysteries. Because I once owned a log home in Highlands, it was a great location to write that first mystery with those beautiful but mysterious mountains as a backdrop. I used to sit out on our back porch daydreaming what a great isolated place for a writer to get caught up in her own mystery. Events in that book did happen including that frightening ice storm.

 

I try to write everyday. There may be times when nothing is developing the way I like it, but I keep typing anyway trying not to lose momentum. I’ve even deleted whole sections of a chapter if it doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t outline. Like I’ve said many times before, I like to compare it to throwing food against the wall to see what sticks. Some days nothing sticks, but I keep typing. I swap dialogue between characters too. The important thing is don’t stop. When a character suddenly dominates the conversation or the crew does, and they often do, I can’t type fast enough, wishing sometimes they would slow down so I can get exactly what they are saying, yelling stop!

 

My personal workspace is everything. In other words, I surround myself with what I love: family photos and events, memorabilia that elicits a smile or laugh whenever it catches my eye. I’m a firm believer in surrounding yourself with a comfort zone environment. I find it’s a great atmosphere for writing. It is my space and no one else’s. I have a mug sitting on the shelf behind me. It says: Careful, you may end up in my novel. (They do!)

 

I can honestly say that no particular author has influenced me more than another. I love a well-written story that grabs me the minute I start to read it regardless of the genre. But somehow, I always seem to drift back to mysteries and how complex they are. I love trying to figure them out. Samantha is always repeating to her “crew” in the series to always expect the unexpected.

 

With The Puzzle I tried to convey how Samantha felt: her scattered, rambling thought process connected to her fear, anxieties and hopelessness in the loss of her husband, her marriage, and her life, which she discovers was all a façade from what she thought she actually had, hence her rambling on the pages and her anxious, incoherent thoughts, constant questions and second-guessing herself. As the mystery progresses Sam evolves, gaining confidence and becomes a stronger personality. Much to her surprise, she becomes obsessed just like her husband was as she searches for the truth to The Puzzle.

 

Digital books seem to be outpacing physical books in sales everywhere. 99.9% of my sales are digital. All I see when I travel are digital readers. I find it much easier to travel with one device rather than several books, which are cumbersome. I love my large Kindle fire HD. As a lover of words, I quickly became a convert once I got my hands on one. As an author, forgive the pun: I saw the writing on the wall. After Volume 4 in my Samantha Jamison mystery series, I used digital format only. So far I am pleased with my decision.

 

New authors constantly ask me about any advice. First and foremost, don’t give up. It you have your heart set on writing then do it, even if you have to write early in the morning, late in the evening or during your lunch hour. Follow your dreams. Anything is possible. Sacrifice is a part of success. Don’t let other’s discourage you. Keep trying. Keep writing until you get it right. Read other authors to see what they are doing right. Proofread like crazy until it reads smoothly then use a professional EDITOR! A good editor will tell you what you should hear not what you want to hear. Once you get the book back from them make corrections, reread several times to make it flow. A beta reader helps or several. You might not like some of their feedback, but they are worth it. Then send it off to be published. Have your covers express exactly what you want to convey to the reader. You might have a great cover, but you better have a great story too.  

 

I’m currently working on my next book in my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series

Volume 7 (Name? Ah! Another mystery!)

Here’s a tease:

“Listen, I’m no detective or sleuth, I’m just an author.”

I knew some readers out there may not like my personal writing style, but this was taking it too far: almost surreal. I pinched myself hard just to make sure this was happening.

“Ouch!” I yelled.

…I’ll never write a book that pleases everyone.

“Hey, read the parts you like,” I said rubbing my arm.

“Are you crazy?” he asked, like I was the nut. I heard some authors are flaky, but you? I had no idea.”

…Everybody’s a critic.

 

 

 

Other Books by Peggy A. Edelheit

The Samantha Jamison Mystery Series & A French Memoir

Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/Peggy-A.-Edelheit/e/B004RB75NS

 

 

 

The Puzzle (Volume 1) Takes place in Highlands, NC

http://t.co/q2WqMCsK

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Without Any Warning (Volume 2) Takes place in Ocean City, NJ

 http://t.co/iaWjd5UX

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86 Avenue du Goulet (Volume 3) Takes place on the French Rivera

http://t.co/Zqs5277b

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A Lethal Time (Volume 4) Takes place during Motorcycle Week in Laconia, NH

http://t.co/fzR72h99

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Mouth Of The Rat (Volume 5) Takes place in Boca Raton, FL

http://t.co/S7NrAJikFr

Peggy Edelheit5

A Samantha Jamison Detour: My true French Memoir: Takes place on the French Riviera

The Riviera is Burning (Volume 5.5)

http://t.co/QYU3edNBYw

Peggy Edelheit5.5

 

Death Knell in the Alps (Volume 6 Takes place in Grindelwald, Switzerland

http://t.co/3g3OEjcUPt

Peggy Edelheit6 

 

For my blogs and excerpts of my books please stop on by to say hi!

 

My Samantha Jamison website is:  http://samanthajamison.com/

 

I’m also on Twitter: @samanthajamison.com

 

Remember: Chase your dreams, not someone else’s!

Khaled Talib – Author Interview

khaled talib

I love Social Media. Twitter baffles some, but I love it, too. One of the  things I love is when I am not available to tweet my own horn, others will do it for me. For example, when I am off visiting grandchildren, fellow authors make sure I keep visible by tweeting about my books. Khaled is among those faithful tweeters. When I decided to post interviews on my website, he came to mind immediately, because he is always going out of his way by promoting the books of others. Meeting people from all over the world is exciting and I’m honored to know Khaled.

Since 2002, Khaled Talib has represented an eclectic mix of clients at an independent public relations agency in Singapore.  As a PR practitioner, Talib has assisted clients in industries as varied as technology, aviation, human resource, medical, healthcare, entertainment, construction, education, food & beverage and tourism.


Born and raised in Singapore, the 48-year-old-author is a former journalist with local and international experience. He has written for magazines, newspapers, and news syndications.  Some of the publications and agencies he has worked for full-time include The Singapore Tatler, Wine & Dine, Gemini News Service, Egypt Today, and Cairo’s Community Times. His articles have also appeared in newspapers worldwide.

 

Talib has also given talks on public relations, and participated on panels and workshops. He conducted a full day workshop jointly with Singapore Press Holdings on public relations entitled, “Implementing an Actionable Media Campaign through Public Relations” held in February, 2013. His article, “Make the news work for you,” was published in the Straits Times’ RECRUIT section on 14 February, 2013, as a precursor to the workshop.  His articles on public relations have also been published in the Singapore Business Review.  

 

Talib has also given a talk to 160 students at a primary school on developing the imagination.

 

His espionage thriller novel, Smokescreen, is scheduled to be published early 2014. The novel will be published by Typhoon Media under its Lightning Originals Imprint.

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I began my career in writing as a journalist, working for a weekly industrial newspaper. But I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do forever. Strangely, some of my journalist colleagues used to tell me that they pictured me one day as a novelist. A voice also kept pestering me to write a novel. I have been telling everyone that this voice belongs to a nameless person in a tuxedo suit. No, he’s not a bartender.  

Little book of Muses

 

My first book is The Little Book of Muses. It is a collection of phrases to inspire writers. The idea was accidental. I had opened a Twitter account, but I didn’t know what to do with my page. I started to tweet stuff but nobody was really interested to retweet what I had to say. The information was boring. I took a step back to see what I was doing wrong. I decided to tweet a phrase related to writing that I had created — and it was an instant hit! I began to create more of these phrases.  Some people then suggested that I compile these tweets into a book, which I did. 

 

 Thriller is my thing. But I confess that when I began writing my novel, Smokescreen, I did not really set out to write a thriller. I did not have a genre in mind. I just wrote when I felt would be an interesting story.

 

 While I know exactly where the story is going, I don’t really have a layout for the route. It’s like hitchhiking – you know where you are heading, but you don’t know who’s going to stop the car or truck when you hail one down from the side of the road — or what’s going to happen when you get into the vehicle.   

 

 I work on a desktop in my bedroom. It’s my command and control centre. I don’t have a uniform like Captain Jean Luc Picard, but I do have a teleportation machine that takes me to wherever I want to go. But if you send me to a writer’s retreat in the woods, I’ll probably end up trekking, fishing, canoeing, taking pictures, and barbecuing instead of using the time to write.  And I still want to go to a writer’s retreat just to do those fun things.

 

 I don’t have a personal favorite author as I read all kinds of books. It’s hard to have a favorite when there are so many greats – past and present.  I don’t have a favorite book either. Every book that I am able to finish reading becomes a favorite. The experience is different with each book. I think Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a book every adult should read before they die. I was lucky to read this book when I was just twelve.

 

 I am a mood person. Whether or not I write depends on my energy level. I find it difficult to write based on a number of words in a day. So it depends, I could be writing in the morning or past midnight. But this doesn’t mean there’s a time void as I could be writing in my head even if I am walking.

 

As far as other talents go,  I am very good at staring at paintings on the wall. I tried making a documentary once, about the history of a community, but I had to stop the project due to the lack of funds. I wrote the script and even played the role of a director. It was fun and adventurous while it lasted. But the truth is, my passion lies in novel writing.

 

My espionage thriller, Smokescreen deals with the current state of affairs in the Middle East. I interviewed a Rabbi once for a magazine and he told me that people always talk about peace, but what kind of peace are we really talking about? He explained the two kinds of peace: Political peace and spiritual peace. Spiritual peace between the Arab world and Israel will never exist. So the closest thing you can create is a political screen, which in reality is an illusion.  But still, how do you accomplish a long interval of political peace that’s a win-win for everybody?

 

 Before they had print books, they had parchments, papyrus paper and clay tablets. I suppose back then some people preferred papyrus paper over clay tablets, and some preferred goat skin over something else. Initially, I was apprehensive about the e-book culture, but I decided to give it a shot. I bought myself a Kindle — and well, well, what do you know! I can’t live without it. My books are available in digital format. As for Smokescreen, if sales are good, the publisher will have a print version too.   

 

The idea for my next book came about when something eerie happened to me while I was in Europe. So I decided to weave this particular incident into a story. I can’t say what happened because that would kill the suspense. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but why does it always happen to me?    

 

 

DETAILS

Still in the works – Smokescreen Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Khaled-Talib_Official/439584646154580

The Little Book of Muses Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleBookOfMuses

Amazon page for The Little Book of Muses http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Book-Muses-ebook/dp/B00DY7FAEM

My twitter account: @khaledtalib

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview with Dr. Marty Finkelstein

Dr. Marty seven giftsIt’s amazing where  life takes us, especially when  considering all the experiences that may seem coincidental or serendipitous. I met Dr. Finkelstein when my late mother’s school friend Carolyn, told me that her daughter Julie, would be in my neighborhood. Carolyn had a gift for me and it would be an opportunity to see her daughter for the first time in fifty-five years and get my present. We both took time out of horrendous schedules to meet at  a coffee shop in Saugatuck, and it was love at first sight for me. The parallels between Julie and Marty and myself kept increasing as we spoke. They are interesting, dynamic people I wanted to have in my life.

In addition to being a passionate advocate for healing and healthy living, Dr. Finkelstein in an accomplished author, poet, musician and song-writer.  I encourage you to check out his blog for your own well-being.

 

I began writing poetry in my senior year in high school, which continued throughout college. It was while I was in college that I borrowed a friend’s guitar who then showed me the two chords I used to write my first song. I can still remember observing a beautiful girl in the distance, sitting outside between classes and spontaneously making up words while my friend strummed the tune on his guitar.  Initially, writing was a healing process as I discovered I could write about feelings that I could not always express verbally. I continued writing poetry and songs and always carried a notebook wherever I went. By the time I was 23 years old I had published three poetry books. Artichoke Hearts, Imaginary Buffalo, and Believing. It was exciting to see my thoughts and ideas manifested in a book I could actually hold in my hands and share with others.

When I became a holistic chiropractor, my writing took on other forms. I was still writing songs, and occasional poems, but now my interests were sharing aspects of wellness and healing. It seemed whatever challenge my life faced, inner guides helped me share lessons of my healing journey with others. Dr. Marty Divorce

I can remember leading a Healing Relationship workshop and sharing with the participants that it was not my plan to get married and divorced so I could write a book and lead workshops about it, but Life indeed does work in mysterious ways. In my book Divorce: An Uncommon Love Story, I share my authentic journey through divorce. Pain, anger, sadness, confusion, rage fill these pages at times, yet the book is a story about healing where forgiveness, compassion, love and transformation occur. The story, though it is mine, is a story for anyone facing challenges. It leads to the discovery of a path of healing which allows us to become greater than we thought possible. It is in this space of healing that miracles occur.

The most difficult part of writing a book for me is the beginning. Often I have a few ideas for books running through my head, and they can remain there until I truly make up my mind that I am ready to begin. Once I do, I like to create some outline or guideline, and then I have to discipline myself to specific times of writing since I am treating patients every day throughout the week. The joy manifests when I finally begin to write and feel the process unveiling itself to me.

It is at that moment the process transcends into a love affair.  There is something magical about the creative process, it is a sacred place where time disappears and all colors, shapes and sounds become more vivid and where the mind leaves the body and can travel anywhere effortlessly.

When I am working on a book, I keep a journal and wonderful writing pens with me at all times. It is interesting how attached we become to our tools for the creative process. I have learned to enjoy using the computer, so when I am home I sit by the computer waiting for the magic to begin.

All my books assist in the journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The message throughout or the central theme of each book is that we are truly here to evolve, to heal, to become more than who we may think we are. I believe life can be miraculous and magical for all of us. We never know at a given moment who or what might inspire us to shift our thinking, choose a different path, where transformation can occur in our life. Too often, we are led to believe concepts that do not empower our lives. I can still remember reading books that opened my heart and mind to assist me in my own ongoing journey of growing and exploring. Currently, I am reading The Biography of Steve Jobs. At times, I feel I am reading about my own life minus the expertise of electronics. His quest for knowledge, spiritual wisdom, connecting with the creative force, listening to Bob Dylan, and reading Be Here Now by Ram Das.

I invite anyone who reads my books to email me if you have any questions about healing in your own life. My commitment and passion is to assist others in their healing journey whether it be through my books, my healing work, individual sessions, or workshops.

Many blessings, Dr. Marty

Books by Dr. Finkelstein

A Life of Wellness: Guidelines for Avoiding Illness

And Music….
MOMENTS IN TIME, 15 original songs

 

 

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Interview with Author Joan Donaldson

harp picJoan Donaldson is an author, musician, organic farmer, wife, mother and friend. We sat next to each other at a book signing two years ago and I knew I wanted her in my life. When I hear about brands, I think of Joan. Joan lives an authentic life. She lives off the grid at Pleasant Hill Farm, dresses in period clothing she sews on a treadle sewing machine, cooks on a wood stove, raises her own food….the list is long. She does drive a Ford Hybrid. I fully expected her to pull up in a horse drawn carriage the first time she visited me, with eggs and homemade goat’s milk cheese for my hostess gift. But they farm with oxen, so I think the small footprint of the Ford doesn’t really count. Her computer juxtapose with the windmills and solar panels at Pleasant Hill Farm. Tuesday morning, October 1 around 10:40, Joan will be interviewed on WJRW in Grand Rapids. So for those of you in the listening area, tune in and hear her chatter about organic fruit farming and writing. Joan’s latest book, Wedded to the Land is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. Enjoy the interview!

Through the garden gate

When I was four-years-old, my grandparents gave me a child-size baby grand piano. I sat down, composed a tune, set words to the notes, and sang my little song. When you think about it, writing and music flourish in similar ways…they draw upon tension to stimulate emotions, the lyrical flow of notes and syllables, and rhythms that drive our hearts. Today, instead of a piano, I play my harp, and throughout the day I hear my characters telling me their stories.

Because Celtic music has long been an oral tradition, I mostly play by ear, so my hearing is trained to listen for chord patterns that describe the key of the tune, the intervals between notes, and that occasional accidental that adds spark to the reel. I also listen for my stories. I rarely outline, partly because I’m not always sure who will pop off a train, or what my characters will describe. Sometimes when a new idea lands in my imagination, like an accidental note, I scribble the thought on a sticky note and paste it on my computer. Like leaves, sticky notes adhere to my computer and work table, they flutter to the floor, and waiting to be rescued. I write every day except Sundays, in my small office covered with blue-flowered wall paper, and a freestanding maroon shelf smothered with books. Two boxes filled with magazine, printed papers, and other research materials line one wall.IMAG0171 Often, my orange and white cat, Fergi, sleeps next to my laptop. When he leaps from the table, he scatters more papers; like layers of rock strata, they display my current research and thoughts.

I wrote stories and poems throughout my youth and received many rejection letters from the Horn Book Club; a literary venue for children’s writings sponsored by the Horn Book. One kind editor often critiqued my stories and sent me encouragement; I wish I could locate her and thank her for fueling my passion to write. When I wasn’t writing, I read constantly or memorized poetry because I loved to hear the rhythm in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems. I organized and bound a collection of my works when I was nine, but my first published book appeared in 1993.

the real pretendThe Real Pretend, illustrated by Tasha Tudor emerged from a moment when Tasha and I attended a workshop where we studied Spencerian Script. A local family catered the meals for the seminar and one day a sweet older lady served us our lunch. Tasha asked if Grandma Kathy, as the woman asked to be called, had a photo of when she was young. The next day, Grandma Kathy produced a black and white photo of her sitting on a pony, and Tasha requested the story behind the image. After we heard the tale about how Kathy’s pretend letter to a mail order company turned into a real order, and how she and her brother solved the problem, Tasha turned to me.
“You write that down and we will create a book together,” she said.

Three years later, I held The Real Pretend and marveled that my name appeared besides Tasha Tudor’s. About the same time, I began submitting personal essays about my family and farm to The Christian Science Monitor’s Home Forum section. The editor who selected the essays rejected most of my early pieces, but occasionally commented on a piece and those tidbits of encouragement fueled my desire to be published in that column. Eventually, my work appeared about once a month, and although the paper transformed into a weekly magazine that only prints one essay per week, mine sometimes find a place in the Home Forum.Friends of American Writers 2010

My bookshelf holds the other titles that God allowed me to publish, another picture book printed in both English and Korean, called The Secret of the Red Shoes, plus two young adult novels, A Pebble and A Pen, and On Viney’s Mountain that tells the story of an English Utopian community settled in Rugby, Tennessee in the 1880’s. That novel won the 2010 Friends of American Writer’s Award, represented the state of Tennessee at the 2010 National Book Festival, and was a finalist for the 2011 Bronte Prize for Romantic Literature. On Viney’s Mountain conveys my feelings about land use, working together, and the joys of traditional music and dance told by a young weaver who understands the pleasure of working with her hands. While these themes often appear in my narrative nonfiction, I felt that the history of Rugby, Tennessee could build a great novel. I loved spending time with Viney, her sister Lizzie, and the two male heroes, Charlie and Seamus as they told me their stories. Currently, I am writing a sequel to Viney in order to bring resolution to certain conflicts within those character’s lives.

“‘Good better best, never rest until good is better, and better is best,’” Tasha Tudor used to quote that ditty to me. In 2008, I earned my Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Those four residencies held in Louisville, Kentucky provided talented mentors who nudged my creativity and cultivated new story telling skills. During that time, one of my essays won the 2007 Hearst Prize for Excellence in Narrative Nonfiction at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, and my work appeared in Ten Spurs, Mayborn’s literary journal. Polishing my craft in essay writing helped my works to be printed in: Michigan History Magazine, Mary Jane’s Farm, Victoria, A Simple Life Magazine, Rosebud, and Ideals. Guideposts publications included my essays in two anthologies, At Home in the Garden and Home for Christmas. Testing companies began asking if they could republish essays on state reading tests, and this year, my work will appear in a text book on how to write essays.

For years, readers had encouraged me to republish my essays from the Home Forum in a collection, and in the fall of 2012, my manuscript won a book prize at the Maranatha Christian Writer’s Conference. Wedded to the Land: Stories from a Simple Life on an Organic Fruit Farm was released in 2013, both in paperback and as an ebook. The essays focus on growing blueberries and peaches, stuffing bees into a paper bag, making maple syrup, generating our own electricity, and raising our barn with numerous friends.

Suzanne Jenkins had taught me that ebooks are like variations within a fiddle tune, another way to communicate with readers. With her help, we created two short ebooks for the Simple Living Series, so that readers can discover how to make their own maple syrup and the art of cooking on a wood burning cook stove. While I believe that some readers will continue to yearn to hold printed books, others will peruse their tablets for the written word.

My favorite illustrator is Tasha Tudor, who nurtured me as a writer and homemaker, and my favorite author is CS Lewis, because he wrote in so many different genres: theology, poetry, and the beloved Chronicles of Narnia. I fly a Narnian flag at the little shed where I weigh in blueberries during you-pick season. My farm may not be as lovely as Narnia, but it belongs to Aslan.

While waiting for you-pickers to emerge with their buckets of berries, I piece quilt blocks, work in my garden, or play my harp. Music, flowers, calico and words permeate my life and trickle into stories. I am always plotting a new novel, researching a topic for an article, or pondering how to organize a longer narrative nonfiction work about the great fruit farming history of Southwest Michigan. As Robert Louis Stevenson said: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

To learn more about Joan, go to

www.joandonaldson.com

Stores offering Joan’s books for sale.

Reader’s World
194 S River Ave
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 396-8548

The Silver Lantern
3790 North State Road 5
Shipshewana, IN 46565

Cranes Orchards and Pie Pantry
6054 124th Ave.
Fennville, MI 49408

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Author Interview with Elizabeth Appell

Becoming an author has brought joy and satisfaction to my life, a great part of it due to the interesting people I’ve met.  Interacting with readers, both fans and not so much, has been wonderful. Meeting other authors, especially those who write fiction as their main genre, is thrilling because I am star-struck; loving successful people and seeing what makes them tick. Elizabeth Appell fits that niche.

Lessons from the Gypsy Camp

Elizabeth Appell’s 2004 novel, Lessons from the Gypsy Camp   a must read, was published by Scribes Valley Publishing, a small, indie press run by David Repsher. Appell adapted the novel into a screenplay and it was optioned by Lane Management, Los Angeles. Several of her short stories have been published in literary journals including Snake Nation, The North Atlantic Review, The RiverSedge, and The Portland Review. She has written screenplays that have placed in important competitions and one of her plays, Confessions of a Catholic Child premiered in Los Angeles. She recently completed a new novel, Elements of Betrayal. Appell loves film. She made two award winning shorts and is now packaging a thriller, Trusted Friends with two female characters as leads.

Elizabeth and Don

An Interview with Elizabeth Appell

I don’t think I ever “realized” I wanted to write. I just wrote. I wrote stories, poetry, and plays. I was always going to movies, but it didn’t occur to me that somebody had to write, film, edit, and market those films. This glance back makes me feel stupid. I can’t imagine why I didn’t go to film school.  In a way I’ve made up for that egregious error by making my two short films, Easy Made Hard and Warnings from the Bathtub  The iconic actor, Karen Black, starred in Warnings. She recently died. I feel deeply grateful that I had the amazing opportunity to work with her. But when it comes to going to film school, by jumping in and doing was the most powerful way for me to learn.

                                                         ***

In the fifth grade I wrote and directed a play. One of my actors was not taking the project seriously, so I asked him to leave. A hundred years later at our high school reunion I asked him if he remembered the incident.  He did. I immediately apologized.  He interrupted me. He’d become a working actor in New York and told me how grateful he was that I had “fired” him. He said he’s never forgotten it and that event has served him well in his career. You never know! 

                                                         ***

My first published novel is Lessons from the Gypsy Camp. It tells a story about a young girl who defies her father, an alcoholic and the county prosecutor, to save the life of a gypsy man accused of murder. The idea came from my childhood. I lived in a small town. On the “other” side of the levee lived the gypsies. In this case they were actually itinerant workers. There was a caged cougar and a band of misfits to whom I was very drawn. I broke every rule in my parents’ book when I sneaked over. Much of the story comes from those secret forays.

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I enjoy switching genres as well as formats. Lessons from the Gypsy Camp is a drama, but the newest novel, Elements of Betrayal I think will be considered a literary mystery. My short film Easy Made Hard falls under the rubric of an an urban tale, while Warnings from the Bathtub would be considered…hmm…not sure. Maybe magic realism as was my play, Confessions of a Catholic Child. The feature I’m working on is a thriller.


When I start a story, usually there’s a kernel of truth lurking somewhere. The setting for Elements of Betrayal came from a school I attended in high school. One of the borders was terribly troubled and attempted suicide. I took that event and massaged it every way possible  until it took the form of a young girl who could save her literature teacher from being found guilty of murder by testifying they were together at the time of the death. But because he won’t admit he’s in love with her, she, who is his alibi, jumps off the third story.  Trusted Friends came from a ride along I did with a young female rookie cop. What happens in the story didn’t happen to us, but some fringe events bumped up against us. Enough to get my juices going. 

                                                    

Before I start writing I do an outline. I’m not married to any of these initial ideas or events that are in the outline, but when I go to write the next day, I find comfort in knowing that I at least have a path to follow. Often I find new paths as I move through the journey, but very few dead ends.


I can write anywhere. When my daughters were young I’d drive them to their activities and sit in the car and write on yellow legal pads. At home I have a wonderful office with double doors. When the weather is nice they are open and my muses, a border collie, Bill, and a poodle mix, Dune, can go in and out without requiring their staff (me!) to continually get up to attend to them. They return panting to hear the newest part of manuscript I’m working on. They’re excellent listeners. Dune and me at Stinson Beach

                                                          ***

My office is filled with taxi paraphernalia. Years ago I started a computer magazine for kids called DIGIT.  I got it pretty far a long and then went to New York to try and get a publishing partner. This was 1983 or 1984. Checker Cabs were everywhere in the city. I was so enamored with these big, yellow, happy cars that I only went to my appointments in a Checker. When I came home I was so excited about my means of getting around that wonderful city that people started giving me taxis.  I have close to a hundred little taxis, some actual Checkers, several from other countries. Unfortunately we could only get out four issues of DIGIT magazine. A little ahead of our time.

                                                     ***

I don’t have one favorite author. I love to read and I’m always open to writers I’ve never read before. Some I go back to include Elizabeth Strout, Joyce Carol Oats, and Jefferey Eugenides. As for screenwriters I’m in awe of Alan Ball  (American Beauty) and Woody Allen. When it comes to playwrights it’s hard to do much better than Authur Miller and Harold Pinter. I don’t have a favorite book. I’m fickle. If I’m reading a book and thoroughly enjoying it, then that one becomes my favorite…until the next one comes along.

                                                    ***

Most of my energy now is going into packaging my movie, Trusted Friends. It has a $2Million budget which is low in movieland, but for me it’s an uphill battle. I love the two main characters in this film. Both women, both complicated, one is good with tinges of bad. The other is bad with tinges of good.  I’m looking for an experienced producer to partner with me on this project.

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I love the way books and films can be delivered electronically. I still hear my friends say they want to hold the book in their hands. I understand that, but downloading a book to my Kindle is wonderful. I get it immediately.  I underline, make notes, and look up words like mad. I also am addicted to streaming movies. A couple of clicks and there it is on my screen, either on my computer or on the big TV screen. I suspect it’s not going to be too long before hard copy books will be a thing of the past and DVD will go the way of books. Ah, here’s to the Cloud!

                                                     ***

I’m so grateful to amazing writers like Suzanne Jenkins.  Not only is she creative and smart, but she generously shares with her writer friends. Bless her.

                                                          ***

Misc 003

For more information about Elizabeth Appell check out the following links. Please support her by following her on Twitter, liking her on Facebook, and especially, buying and reviewing her books.

Twitter: @eappell
Trusted Friends (new feature) www.trustedfriendsthefilm.com
Warnings from the Bathtub: www.warningsfromthebathtub.com
Vimeo for both short films: vimeo.com/user4758724

 


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Atlas of Women-A collection of short stories

atlasofwomen

Women are the heart of the home. (Unless it’s a home with a man as the heart!) This volume is about women. The stories are a melding of truth from my own experiences and fiction created from both observation and fantasy.

            Mademoiselle, a novella, started out as young adult genre. But as I wrote, Philipa grew up into a young woman who found her way after a short detour, choosing the more difficult path.

            The Golden Boy ended up exactly as I imagined it would. A family deals with a loved one’s mental illness with love and support, but when there is no longer any hope for normalcy; prayer and grace allow them to step aside.

            Tribute to a Dead Friend is my tribute to every woman who’s lost a close friend but continues to be inspired and comforted by her spirit.

            A Night Encounter, currently published on Amazon, is a short story about regrets and self-forgiveness. A daughter’s disrespect borne of sibling rivalry comes back to haunt her in a most unusual and gentle way. As in every work, there are elements of truth in the story, but it is pure fiction. I spent time in my garden last summer, convinced my late mother was there with me. It was a very therapeutic and comforting experience.

            Vapors, selected to appear in Willow Review 2013, is a fantasy in which a wife discovers a way to make her presence known after her husband reveals a painful secret.

Release Date: Summer 2013

 

Guest Post by Pamela Smith

Guest Blog Post by Pamela Smith of Babylon, Long Island, New York

(Note: In memory of Pam’s late husband, Jack Smith the book Pam of Babylon is free on Amazon until May 26th.)

                This weekend will be the three-year anniversary of Jack’s death. Three years since we cancelled our annual Memorial Day picnic, and had a funeral instead.  Amazing how quickly time has passed. I decided to come forward when I heard Mrs. Jenkins was considering writing another book about me and my family. So much has happened since she released Family Dynamics and there’s enough material for several more books. My boyfriend, Dan Chua suggested I write one myself and I’d mentioned it to her. That’s when she offered to give me the platform here on her blog.

I still can’t believe it’s been a year since you last heard from me. We were just planning our annual picnic when Family Dynamics ended. Another Memorial Day is fast approaching, and we are having the picnic this weekend.  It’s so much more than a picnic though. Did you see the video on Youtube yet? You’ll understand what I mean when you see it.  We even had dignitaries here last year, judges and friends of Dan’s in high places.  It’s really that lavish if do say so myself.

                The biggest news is that I’m a grandmother! Lisa gave birth to a little girl, Megan Anne last February. Everything I said about not wanting to raise another child still stands; Lisa is a great mom and I am not that involved with the baby’s day to day care. They are living here at the beach, up in the apartment above the garage.  I make time for Megan when it is convenient for me. I love to babysit her, and since Dan and I are homebodies on the weekend, if Lisa and Ed want to dash out after she’s in her crib for the night, I’m happy to keep an ear open for Megan.

                Lisa and Ed got married right after they found out the news…you know what I mean, in mid June. I’m so afraid Mrs. Jenkins is going to rub that in my face over and over again like she’s known to do. Anyway, it was a small wedding with just the immediate family present. Brent was here anyway because he was going to drive Julie’s car back to Pasadena. My mother and mother-in-law, Sandra and Tom, the Ford’s and Jeff Babcock attended. I didn’t ask my sisters and their families because they’d just been here for the picnic two weeks before.

                Ed’s still teaching in the Bronx, but is searching for a job here on the island and then they’ll look for a house to buy. Dan tried talking him into going to law school, but he doesn’t want to have that much work with the baby here. He’s very involved with her care. His mother and father come often from New Jersey; Megan’s their first grandchild, too. I’m happy to have them here. There’s plenty of room. Mrs. Ford loves the beach and does everything she can to be pleasant and helpful. I keep telling her to relax, but she says she wants to be sure they are invited back. They’re here now for the picnic, upstairs in one of the guest rooms.

                Who can forget Nelda and Bernice? Oh my God, those two are a comedy act. They seem to be getting younger in spirit, except for the more frequent lapses of memory my mother-in-law has. Both of them look great; we had to hire a personal care giver who comes into the home every morning just to primp them. But it’s worth it to maintain their dignity.  We don’t have an elevator in this house, believe it or not, so they’ll be staying down here in the children’s wing for the weekend. I am expecting them to arrive any minute.

                My life has settled down to a dull roar. Dan moved in here with me at the beach, and I have to admit it was a little odd having another man sleeping next to me. We remodeled the bedroom completely so that all traces of my former life with Jack are gone. I’m still not completely comfortable in there yet. Remember, Jack was away all week, so it took some getting used to having someone else around all the time. I’m grateful Dan is very involved in the Native American community here on Long Island, volunteers his services as an attorney and helps at his family’s farm. It gives me some space. I won’t say much about our personal life, but will leave it at…vavavoom!

                Okay, I know you are all wondering about Brent. He and Julie announced their engagement last summer, but then nothing more happened. She moved to California in the fall and then by Christmas, came back home to White Plains. My son doesn’t say much, but he told Lisa and she told me that he realized he didn’t love Julie enough to stay committed to her.  Boy, that was a shocker. They have been together since high school. I called Julie to tell her how sorry I was and that I hoped we could remain friends. The response I got was totally uncalled for. She started screaming at me, said I was to blame for Brent’s “problems” whatever that means, and that I should prepare myself for more shocking news. Then, she hung up on me. I called Brent right away, but he said she’s just angry with him for leading her on for six years, and not to take it personally. That was like a slap in my face. How can you not take it personally when someone says you are to blame for her problems? Anyway, enough about Julie. Brent says he’s going stay single for a good long while to recover from Julie.

                I don’t want to say too much about Sandra because it feels like I’m gossiping. I will say she and Tom are doing wonderfully, baby Miranda is growing fast, bringing the family a lot of joy. Tom’s mother is very involved in her care. Tom’s stepmother, Gwen is a frequent visitor too. Evidently, it takes a lot of balancing on Sandra’s part to keep the two women in Miranda’s life. I know my sister would be so happy to know how well everything is going with her daughter. Now I’m gossiping.

                And the biggest shocker of all is that Peter Romney got married! He met someone during one of the Save the Library campaigns; they hit it off right away and got married within a month. She’s from a wealthy family, lived in the city all of her life, and is just as perfect as Peter is. Confidentially, I thought she was a little dowdy, but maybe that is the only way she can look and stay as pristine as Peter must expect her to be. It appears that he and Sandra are working together well, since I never heard another word about her leaving the company. All I care about is that my check arrives each month.

                I guess that’s all the news I have. I know Mrs. Jenkins will dig through our garbage, looking for more morsels for you. It makes me sick, but I never read her books anyway, so what I don’t know won’t hurt me.

               

Another Interview-Blogcritics

The following interview is one that appeared at www.blogcritics.org during my                                      Book Tour for  The Greeks of Beaubien Street. 

* Taken from their interview questionnaire -More than 100,000 daily visitors rely upon Blogcritics.org — the famously “sinister cabal” of more than 2,500 writers — for the latest news, opinions, and reviews on music, books, film, TV, popular culture, technology, and politics. Blogcritics.org is an online magazine, filtered microcosm of the blogosphere, and a full service news and reviews source, covering all aspects of contemporary culture and society.

 Blogcritics.org is an official Google News and Yahoo News source, syndicates content to online editions of newspapers around the United States via the Advance family of websites, and has won numerous awards, including a Bloggie, Forbes.com’s Best Media Blogs, and was recently showcased on the prestigious AlwaysOn and Technorati “Open Media 100″ list.

If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?

 Jill’s story is about a strong, Greek American woman who is able to traverse the streets of Detroit, while keeping one foot in the traditions set by her family. She is a no nonsense workaholic with no girlfriends, an odd boyfriend who refuses to grow up, and an uncanny intuition, inherited from her mystic grandmother that acts as her secret weapon to crime solving success.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?

I like the dialogue between Jill’s cousin Andy and his mother, with their thoughts juxtaposed.             

“We’re coming in tomorrow for the market. Want to go with?”  Anna Zannos asked her son.  “You should bring the kids with you.  School will be starting soon and then we won’t see them until Christmas.”  The unspoken, Your wife hates us and doesn’t want her kids influenced by us.

            “We’ll see, Mom.  Dana may have something planned for them.”  The unspoken, Dana and I are on the verge of divorce and making waves with her is the last thing I need to do right now.

             “Maybe next week?  We can wait until next Tuesday to do our shopping, can’t we Papa?”  The unspoken, Your father is almost dead.  He should see his grandchildren one last time.

             “Next week might be better, Mom,” Andy said.  “But don’t change your shopping day for us.”  The unspoken, I would rather poke out my eyes than ask you to shop next week.  Do you think I have a death wish?

           “Then you’ll shop with us tomorrow?” Anna asked.  The unspoken, This is what happens when you have just one child.  Oh God, why are you punishing me?

         “Sure, I’ll shop with you tomorrow. I need to go for the store anyway.”  The unspoken, Why is God punishing me?  Why didn’t they have more than one kid?

           Andy hugged his silent, long-suffering father and gave his mother a kiss goodbye.  His parents were young, his father was just sixty-seven and still as virile as when he was a young man, and Anna was only sixty.  She acted like they were ready to die. 

What are five important things that you take into consideration while writing your story?

1. I try to make at least one quality about a character likable.

2. I ask myself if the story be as interesting if I left a certain character out? Or event?

3. As much as I try not to censor myself when I write, I don’t want to be completely insulting to anyone. For instance, in The Greeks of Beaubien Street, Jill has a brother with Down Syndrome. I have a sister with mental retardation. I had to be really careful when adding some painful truths. It was a fine line to traverse.

4. Do I know enough about a topic to make it realistic without spending a year researching? I love people who share their expert knowledge.

5. Although I realize I’m writing fiction, I don’t want it to be so off the wall that it becomes sci-fi. For instance, the Detroit in The Greeks of Beaubien Street is a conglomeration of the Detroit of my youth, in the 1950’s and 60’s, and post riot Detroit. I haven’t been there in thirty years, so it really is a product of my imagination.

 What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?

 I was lucky enough to be at a place where there was no long any excuse not to write.

What genres do you prefer to read?  Which do you enjoy writing in?

 I love Contemporary Fiction. My favorite authors are Pearl Buck, Paul Theroux, Maeve Binchy and PD James. I definitely prefer to write fiction, although I am writing craft based how to books and that is fun.

What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat? Rune stones, computer, makeup, bra, toothbrush.