Archive for January, 2012

ImageJulia Cameron and her marvelous book, The Artist’s Way, completely changed the way I approached writing, inspiration and creativity. I can honestly say that this book changed my life. It has also changed the lives of millions of artists and creative people worldwide. If you’re already familiar with Cameron’s work, you know I’m not exaggerating. If you’re new to her work, I urge you to discover it. It’s never too late!

Now, Julia’s 12-week program is available online:

Through interactive tools, you’ll be able to:

  • UNBLOCK yourself with powerful Artist’s Way exercises
  • TRACE your creative process in your own personal Artist’s Way Creativity Notebook
  • RECEIVE Daily Inspirations, Affirmations, and Artist’s Date ideas from Julia

The kit includes a contract, the artist’s date, artist’s date exercises, creativity pages and creativity notes.

For those of you on the go, there’s an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

You can learn more about this exciting program at My Artist’s Way Toolkit.

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If you’re interested in the private lives of people who make the fashion world, how they started and how they got to the top, you might want to pick up a copy of Karen Moller’s memoir, Technicolor Dreamin’: The 1960’s Rainbow and Beyond.

In her fresh and engaging voice, award-winning fashion designer and consultant Moller takes us on a trip through time, from the moment she was a rebel, restless, idealistic teen in rural Canada and decided to leave home and hitchhike to pursue her dreams, to witnessing and experiencing the counter-culture revolution of the 60s and 70s, to San Francisco, New York, London and Paris and working with such celebrities as Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, and The Beatles, to the creation of her successful fashion consulting firm, Trend Union, in 1985.

The memoir starts in present time with Moller having a conversation with her young niece Adele, who wants to postpone her university education in order to travel and see the world. Moller advises her to read a copy of Kerouac’s On the Road, a book that she read back in the 50s and that had an immense influence on her outlook on life. The book offered young Moller courage in her pursue of creative freedom and encouraged her to hitchhiked her way to San Francisco.

“Kerouac had seemed like some kind of God, a sort of prophet sent to liberate us from the conformist middle class lives we were being programmed to live,” writes Moller.

Moller talks about her childhood, dealing with a mother who had no time for a girl and a father who was irrational, self centered and insensitive. Moller’s dreams and creativity made her different in the eyes of her family. “I became a family joke,” she writes.

It wasn’t easy. She had to work herself through school and at times had little food to eat. But she persevered, and her talent and persistence eventually took her from San Francisco to New York to London, during which time she met and worked with many famous people. At the time, London was in the midst of a cultural revolution. The anti-war movement was at full swing and the city was alive with avant-garde art galleries and art centers. It was here that Moller started designing and printing her colorful textiles. She later moved to Paris, where she opened Trend Union.

Full of interesting anecdotes, the memoir is well written and offers an exciting and colorful glimpse into the world of fashion during the hippie revolution. Moller has a light and lively writing style that makes the reading experience engaging. The book is inspirational and proves that dreams can come true if we focus on what we love, work hard, don’t give up, and reach for the stars.

Author: Karen Moller
Book Title: Technicolor Dreamin’ the 1960’s rainbow and beyond
Web site: www.karenmoller.com
Publisher: Trafford Publishing (June 30, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1412080185
ISBN-13: 978-1412080187
Paperback: 332 pages
Price: $24.00, Kindle: 7.99

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Are you looking for a venue for your next romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal or thriller? If so, you might want a place steeped in history, perhaps a small town surrounded by woods.

How about imagining a young woman, newly residing in just such a small town? She knows no one. Perhaps she’s psychic, or only a bit different than the townspeople, citified maybe. But what if the town is famous, or should I say infamous, for its history of a witch, one their forebears labeled as such, persecuted and killed. And they still see the ghost of that unfortunate young woman.


While your story might be fictional, there is a very real place with such a history. Burkittsville, Maryland is the town that banished Elly Kedward, an Irish Catholic, from the town in the winter of 1785, labeled her as a witch. “Although her acts of witchcraft were allegedly evil in nature (she had taken small drops of blood from the local children by pricking their fingers with a very small sewing needle possibly to examine a new unidentified illness which she had discovered) the townspeople acted towards her in a way which, if possible, was even more evil than anything Elly could accomplish. They pounced on her, accusing her of being a dirty prostitute and being too reclusive and using her religion as a Catholic (the Blair residents were Protestants).”


“After being convicted of witchcraft, the townspeople tied Elly Kedward to a sledge and dragged her out into the woods in what was the harshest winter in human history. The townspeople led her blindfolded into the woods and tied her to a tree. There they set about abusing her, cutting all sorts of signs into her which labeled her as a witch, then the citizens pressed their palms into her wounds, and finally they left her by the tree, but they still kept coming out into the woods to see if she was dead. They kept on physically abusing her until they saw she was alive and set their dogs on her, which tore at her flesh. Then they saw she had survived every form of torture which she could undergo and finally they left her hanging by the neck in the branches of her execution tree.”

I can easily imagine how horrified and frightened Elly must have been. What a horrible death.

“Everyone believed she had died and that the witch had been punished, but her spirit was doomed not to rest: Her ghost returned the following winter and abducted half the town’s children from Blair.

A year later, children were disappearing in the same woods randomly. Afterwards, everyone fled the village of Blair, Maryland thinking Elly Kedward came back to life to haunt the village.”


“Home of the notorious Blair Witch, pretty much no one had ever heard of this tiny town of 180 residents in Montgomery County, Maryland, before the wildly successful 1999 movie, The Blair Witch Project took place there. No one, that is, besides filmmaker Eduardo Sanches, who grew up in Montgomery County.”


“The Blair Witch Project is a 1999 American psychological horror film, written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. The film was produced by the Haxan Films production company. It was pieced together from amateur footage and relates the story of three student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams) who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The viewers are told the three were never seen or heard from again, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) was discovered a year later. This “recovered footage” is presented as the film the viewer is watching.

A studio production film based on the theme of The Blair Witch Project was released on October 27, 2000 titled Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Another sequel was planned for the following year, but did not materialize. On September 2, 2009, it was announced that co-directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick were pitching the third film.[2] The same-name video games were released in 2000.

It’s eleven years since the movie but “crazed fans and witch hunters passing through still ask the locals about ‘the film’s token locations’ (such as Coffin Rock and the cemetery), even though most of the film wasn’t shot in Burkittsville. It does have a cemetery and a ‘Spook Hill’ on the outskirts.”The town has capitalized on the fame of the movie but would rather distance itself. It received four wooden welcome signs, which were stolen, given by Artisan Entertainment, who replaced them with heavier metal signs, which rusted, one of them also stolen.”


A fictional town similar to Burkittsville could well be the setting for your next story. As I write this, I almost shudder and have to check out the dark corners in my apartment as I envision trying to escape the witch hunters, with perhaps only one person on my side. Of course, that could be the hero, bravely standing for your protagonist and shielding her against an angry mob.

Maybe you should keep a couple lights on tonight.


About the author: J. K. Maze grew up in Chicago, studied voice at Northwestern University, and then moved to Minnesota, where she finished her degree at Metropolitan State University, changing her major to the arts and including anything and everything to help her with her writing. She’s been writing for years, and uses all the arts, music, art and writing, in her books by way of her characters.

She joined RWA and then KOD and Lethaladies in 2005 and since has succeeded in getting three books published as ebooks. Two are part of a cozy mystery series: Murder By Mistake and Murder For Kicks, and Joan is working on the third, Murder By Spook. Murder By Mistake is now in paperback form. She recently created two blogs: http://sleuthingwithmollie.wordpress.com is for my character, Mollie Fenwick, the protagonist in Murder By Mistake and Murder For Kicks. The second blog, http://homicideandmayhem.wordpress.com is for other, more serious mysteries.

Joan credits her recent success to the wonderful members of Lethaladies. Aside from writing, she also enjoy painting, crocheting and singing and being with her two girls, one son and seven grandchildren.

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A board-certified internist, Dr. Allen Malnak served as chief of medicine at Fort Sill, OK, and was medical director of a number of organizations, including the Emergency Department of Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital. During his long medical career in the Chicago area, he was also a clinical investigator in liver disease as well as an assistant clinical professor at the Stritch School of Medicine, and a practicing internist. Following retirement, he and his wife Patricia moved to Bonita Springs, Florida. His interest in the Holocaust was sparked by the fact that all the men, women and children of his father’s large Lithuanian family were sent to a death camp by the Nazis and murdered.

Thanks for this interview and congratulations on the release of your suspense thriller, Hitler’s Silver Box. What compelled you to write this story?

When my father came to America in 1906 at age 16, he had only one distant relative in this country. He left behind in Kovno, Lithuania a large family, including his parents, eight brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. They ranged in age from the elderly to babies. 

Dad died of natural causes during the Second World War and immediately following the war, my late brother Lewis and I began to try to track down our father’s European family. I was just 16 when the war ended. We wrote letters to everyone we could think of and after about a year received a detailed reply from the International Red Cross. Nazi records as well as witness reports indicated that all members of dad’s family had been murdered either in or near Kovno or after transfer to a death camp. Every man, woman and child! 

So, one entire side of my family was destroyed by the Nazis. Of course, I became interested in the Holocaust and began reading articles about it even during my high school and college years. During my internship at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, I read a short book, Doctors of Infamy, which covered many horrendous medical experiments performed on concentration camp prisoners by Nazi physicians. The book was so disturbing that after reading it, I tossed it into a garbage can. My next book on the subject was Elie Weisel’s NIGHT.  I then became occupied with my professional career as well as with my growing family for many years. When I reached the age of forty, I decided I owed it to my dead family members to engage in a real study of that terrible time. I then spent perhaps two or three years of my limited free time reading every book I could find on the Holocaust. 

Years later, I retired from the practice and teaching of internal medicine, and my wife and I moved to Bonita Springs Florida. I noticed in the Naples Daily News an article describing a course in writing fiction being held at the Naples Philharmonic. The teacher was Hollis Alpert a well known novelist, biographer, short story editor as well as a movie critic. 

I took classes with Hollis for a couple of years. He would give us assignments, often listing several subjects that we should use as the basis of a short story. He would critique each story and at the next weekly session read some of them to the class. 

One topic I picked was titled “A Silver Box.” For some reason, I decided to write it about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box which would be a present for Adolph Hitler. 

After reading the story in class, afterwards, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel

What parts of the novel are actual historical facts? 

While Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel is a work of fiction, it’s loosely based on the fact that during the Second World War, Nazi scientists worked up to the war’s end on a multitude of secret weapons on which Hitler pinned his hopes for a last ditch victory. 

These weapon systems ranged from very long range rockets that could be fired from underground bases to alternative physics, robotic warriors, new energy sources, radical germ warfare and of course, nuclear weapons. 

In the novel, the facts were modified to suggest that many objects which were later called UFOs were also developed by Nazi scientists in concealed locations, and various secret laboratories were set up around the world including in areas of both Arctic and Antarctic wastes where explorers had never trekked. 

What was your writing process like while working on this novel? Did you have a disciplined schedule? 

Because of various acute and chronic illnesses, I could not keep to a writing schedule. I followed the mantra of “write—rewrite—get it right.” Unlike many expert suggestions, I constantly re-edited my previous work, then edited it again and again.

From conception to typing ‘The End,’ how long did it take you?

About ten years.

The story takes the reader from Chicago to Paris to the Czech Republic. Did you travel to Europe as part of the research?

I have visited many countries in Europe and Paris is my favorite city in the world. I had many plans to visit the Czech Republic, but like Max in the book, health problems kept canceling the plans.

What was the hardest part of writing Hitler’s Silver Box?

Dialogue and careful descriptions were difficult crafts to understand and learn, but the hardest part was describing the conditions that Max went through in the concentration camp using the “particular” silver, the provenance of which nearly drove him and me mad. The dramatic ER scenes were easier because they were based on my personal experiences. Since like Bruce in the novel, I also have claustrophobia in tunnels, writing that scene caused me some discomfort.

What’s in the horizon for Allen Malnak?

If my health holds up, I just might write a sequel to Hitler’s Silver Box. If the Spielberg types come sniffin; around to make the novel into a movie, well I just might be forced to interview Charlize Theron to see if she’s “hot” enough to play Sari.

Any last words to my readers?

The incidents that pushed me to finish Hitler’s Silver Box were linked to the website of one of our local newspapers. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, ant-Semitic slurs, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and the murderous Waffen SS, while denying every aspect of the Holocaust.

I’ll close with a quote from a novelist, Jerry Ahern, who reviewed my book for “Gun World Magazine.”  

“Future generations have serious responsibilities, chief among these not to repeat past mistakes. Sadly, these days, there are still those who, out of ignorance or foul intentions, somehow revere the scourge that was National Socialism. That’s why, it’s good for the rest of us to get reminded from time to time, at least, how truly despicable the Nazis were.”

Read more about the author and Hitler’s Silver Box:  



Website: www.hitlerssilverbox.com

Purchase from Amazon.

This article originally appeared in Blogcritics.

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About the author

Bertena Varney, author of Lure of the Vampire and coauthor of Vampire News 2011 is from Winchester, KY, has lived in Lexington and Mt. Sterling and currently resides in Bowling Green, KY.

While in college she used all of her extra essays, projects and independent study classes to study vampires in pop culture….thus the creation of Lure of the Vampire.

She has been employed as a middle and high school as well as college instructor. Here past employers include Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University and National College and she is currently lecturing at Bowling Green Community College.

She found her love for pop culture at an early age and applied her knowledge and love to the recent craze of vampires to create her book, Lure of the Vampire.

She has been the guest star and presenter at the following events: The Witching Hour in Salem, Mass., Sirens Conference in Vail, Co, ScareFest, Dead Winter Con, Fandom Fest, Lexington Comic and Toy Con, Dance After Dark, Mystical Blood Lust, as well as local television and radio interviews. She has had book signings at Joseph Beth, Half Price Books, The Ghost Hunters Shop, National College, The Matrix and more.

She is currently a writer for True Blood on HBOWatch.com, Examiner.com and Yahoo Associated Content. Please read on to learn about the book as well as the programs that she prepared for all ages.

Lure of the Vampire is so fun to have that you will spend hours researching the links as well as the contributors of the various authors.

Sections include the following: Mythology, History, Literature, Movies, Television, Recreation, Children’s Vampires, On the Web, Education, and Real Life Vampires. There are lists, websites, essays, and interviews included in the book.

Lure of the Vampire: A Pop Culture Reference Book of Lists, Websites, and “Very Telling” Personal Essays is a perfect quick to grab reference book for the vampire fan or author. It’s concise enough to assist you in finding links to what you are looking for without our being too cumbersome and confusing.

Lecture and Workshop Tours

Here are options as to programs based on her book as well as her experience as a freelance writer, book reviewer, and book promoter:

Overall lecture and PowerPoint on all sections of the book- history, mythology, movies, books, television, games and more.

Vampires in Literature focusing on Adult Books.

Vampires in Literature focusing on Young Adult Books.

Vampires in Literature focusing on Children’s Books.

How to create your own vampire and paranormal book blog (I can do this for both adults and/or teens)

How to become a paranormal book reviewer ( I can do this for both adults and/or teens)

 Prices for programs

All workshops and lectures will be 1-1 ½ hour long, with a PowerPoint presentation, question and answer time. The library will receive a free print copy of Lure of the Vampire and a free PDF copy of Vampire News. There will also be a drawing for a guest to win a free copy of the Lure of the Vampire. All will receive a PDF copy of Vampire News and bookmarks, etc.

Cost is as follows and is based on travelling from Bowling Green, KY

  • Local or within a 1 hour drive- $100.
  • Over  1 hour drive – $100 plus transportation

If you would like to book her for a lecture, workshop or book signing please email her at vampireprofessor@gmail.com or call her at 859-437-0082.

You can buy Lure of the Vampire at Amazon.com in print here- http://amzn.to/nwifDw.

Ebooks are available on Kindle and Nook.

Her writing website is www.bertenavarney.com

Her vampire research website is http://searchforthelure.webs.com

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4837666.Bertena_Varney

To sign up for her newsletter go here.. http://eepurl.com/exZYQ

Book Trailer- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDi00YAQBxc

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