Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

Julianne McLeanJulianne has created & organized targeted national launches, press coverage, television appearances, publicity events and community service affiliations for a varied range of entities including: “Masai Barefoot Technology” – therapeutic footwear company; award-winning cartoonist Mark Lynch’s book – “How Green is My Planet” with forewords from Spike Milligan and David Suzuki; best-selling recipe book, “Barbies for Blokes” with recipes from celebrities such as Peter Brock, Jeff Fenech and Guy Leech and the sequel “More Barbies for Blokes” (These later publications were co-authored by Julianne); John Gill, eight times World Martial Arts Champion and Hornsby Council’s sports complexes that won the national award for “Best Swim School Promotion”. Julianne has just produced directed and written a DVD for Holland America Cruise lines based on their exercise programs and is publishing her new book “Cocktails and Mock Tales”.

Visit Julianne McLean on Facebook!

Mark LynchMark Lynch our Australian cartoonist, describes himself as being born “sometime in the middle of the last century.”

After doing a variety of Jobs, Mark became a QANTAS Flight attendant and he quips that “the next nineteen years of his life resembled an exotic beer commercial set in a variety of world- wide locations”.

Mark was editorial cartoonist for the leading publication, “The Australian” newspaper. His work has been enjoyed in more publications than you could count, ranging from Australian dailies, even ‘Le News Switzerland”. Mark’s cartoons appear in a variety of forms and diversity world-wide including video screens in the Berlin and Munich subway system where they are seen by 1.5 million people a day.

Mark is the recipient of 48 international and Australian cartoon awards!

Mark lives in Sydney with his lovely wife, Jenny, and two sons and to learn more about Mark and see further cartoons, visit www.cartoons-a-plenty.com

About the Book:

Cocktails and Mock- Tales is not just about alcoholic beverages. The book is about sensations that tickle your tastebuds and humour that tickles your fancy. It includes non-alcoholic beverages that the whole family can enjoy Cocktails and Mock-Talesand even herbal recipes for the adventurous.

Have one extremely tall high ball glass and a giant cocktail shaker at the ready


Unlimited centilitres of wit and humour

9 cl or 3oz titillating snippets of history and gossip

Add flavours of exotic destinations

A dusting of spice mixed with satire

Several centilitres of high spirits (optional)

Shake with vigour. Garnish with an open mind and your own sense of humour

Now you are ready to truly laugh and savour Cocktails and Mock Tales!

Amaze your friends and family with your knowledge of the origins of international beverages and excite their tastebuds with these exotic sensations.

For More Information

  • Cocktails & Mock-Tales is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I believe everyone has the gift of self-expression. It just takes a little courage to put inspiration into a form.

What was your inspiration for Cocktails and Mock-Tales?

Cocktails and Mock-Tales teaser 1On a balmy summer’s evening in the historic and pretty German city of Leipzig this book was conceived.

Here I was treated to the most sensational cocktail that I have ever tasted. It was so good, one could say it was “out of this world”. Master Cocktail Creator, Joerg Braun, told me that this cocktail was titled “Amadeus” after musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and was one of his award winning cocktails.

I tentatively asked for the recipe and Joerg graciously agreed, penning the ingredients on a paper napkin. A subsequent visit to the Mephisto bar and coffee lounge to sample their mock-tails deepened my resolve. Why not make these delicious recipes available to all? “Cocktails and Mock Tales” was born.

The next step was to find an illustrator. How could I overlook my old friend and colleague, Mark Lynch? Mark’s biting wit and satirical cartoons are surpassed by none. He, too, has won many prestigious awards for his cartoon works. Mark, fortunately for me, agreed to take on his part of the project.

“Cocktails and Mock Tales” is not just about alcoholic beverages. The book is about sensations that tickle your tastebuds and humour that tickles your fancy. It includes non-alcoholic beverages that the whole family can enjoy , herbal recipes for the adventurous, and even vegetable cleansers for the health conscious. A percentage of this book’s royalties will go to organisations promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Humour  and interesting information. You only have to see the cartoons to see how humour inspires me.

How long did it take you to complete the book?

Cocktails and Mock-Tales computerAbout one year, which included research and culling cocktail recipes.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am disciplined. I set my tasks for the day, but I do get my inspirations and let them free flow when I run or swim, My head is clear when I undertake these activities. My major role in life, at present, is to care for my elderly parents and so I work around these duties

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Choosing and recreating some of the recipes for my beverages, and researching the ones I had chosen

What do you love most about being an author?

Enjoying the inspiration and magic of creation.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

We went traditional and are happy with our publisher. The process took longer than I expected as we were not ready to publish when the publisher was ready

Where can we find you on the web?

My cartoonist:    www.cartoons-a-plenty.com

My publisher: www.asjpublishing.com


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Author Photo“Internet famous” for her humorous and inspirational self-syndicated webcomics about surviving the insanity of life and parenthood, Tanya Masse, AKA: “Comic Strip Mama” is a mama, a writer, a cartoonist and an entrepreneur who has faced a tremendous amount of adversity throughout the challenges of her life and has risen above it all!

Enter the Comic Strip Mama™ Blog Tour of AWESOMENESS Extravaganza Giveaway for your chance to win some AWESOME prizes!


Through her comics, award winning blog, social media platforms and literary works, she entertains and encourages others to: 

Make the best of the busyness, craziness, chaos, frustrations and challenges of life and parenthood!

Live on the AWESOME side!

STOP taking life SO SERIOUSLY!

Embrace the INSANITY!

Focus on the POSITIVE lessons!

Recognize the BLESSINGS!

Find the HUMOR whenever possible, and


Connect with Comic Strip Mama at:




Purchase the book on Amazon.


Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Stairway to Awesomeness. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Thank you! My life was the inspiration for this book! Life is HARD and it isn’t always fair. And sometimes, life is downright insane! I have experienced many of life’s seemingly insurmountable blows and for many years I struggled and lived a dark, disturbing, depressing, miserable and reckless existence as a result. Eventually, I discovered why I was struggling so much. That is when I changed my way of thinking and being and reinvented myself into the person that I am today…a strong, happy and positive person and parent who strives to achieve “awesomeness”. Too many people take life WAY too seriously instead of focusing on the positive, recognizing the blessings and fining the humor. This book is based on what I have lived and what I have learned about what is most important in life.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist. 

A: Ummm…She had to google what “protagonist” meant and then I found out that my protagonist is ME. 😉  (Forgive my ignorance… I’m a virgin/not your average author.)

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00068]A: Well, I talked about writing a book for a good year before I started the actual writing process in February of this year. Then I changed my mind about the title and table of contents twice and I finally managed to complete and submit my manuscript at the end of May. It wasn’t long enough!! So I had a week to resubmit the manuscript to meet the publishing deadline. At the time I was also working on the start-up phase of my self-syndicated webcomic company so it was slightly challenging. Also, I can put the “pro” in procrastination! But I did it!! =)

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel? 

A: It’s real, motivating and humorous with a unique comic cartoon twist.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it? 

A: Once I am able to focus, writing is soothing and relaxing. I feel WAY more anxiety after I submit my work to be reviewed and critiqued!

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time? 

A: I really don’t have a writing schedule. I will meet deadlines, but I work around my life as a mama and an entrepreneur. I have managed to balance it all pretty well, but sometimes I am a little overwhelmed. It’s ok! I embrace the insanity and laugh it off when I look back. 😉

Q: How do you define success? 

A: Success should never be measured in dollars and cents… it should be measured by life well spent. I am successful in life because I am a strong, positive, happy, awesome person who makes an effort to positively impact, empower and add value to the lives of others every chance I get. I am also successful because of my skills, knowledge, experience, my open mind and my ability to make good choices. I take great pride in all of it.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author? 

A: Healthy and strong relationships consist of individuals who are true to themselves, love themselves and respect themselves first. You should never be expected to stop being an individual in order to be in a relationship. Your life partner should bring out the best in you, encourage you and support you. I am a firm believer in living your dreams. Life is too short not to. Communicate your feelings about living your dreams with your spouse and then try to compromise. You both need to be reasonable and not selfish, especially if there are children involved. But if you spouse flat out refuses to support you and is not being reasonable, then you should probably reevaluate your relationship. 😉

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree? 

A: I don’t agree. Writing my book was challenging, but it was an awesome and fulfilling experience. I feel a great sense of relief and pride knowing that others will learn from what I have lived and hopefully more people will make an effort to change their way of thinking and live a life of awesomeness!

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

A: Stairway to Awesomeness is not your average self-improvement book. It is the ultimate self-improvement book that goes against the grain of many self-help/self-improvement books out there. I take my readers on my very real tragedy-to-triumph life journey and explain HOW and WHY I changed my way of thinking about many things that so many of us are conditioned to believe. The 30 fundamental steps that I write and illustrate about are tried and true and life changing and I prove that achieving a life of awesomeness IS possible. There is also a very unique and humorous comic twist throughout the book that will make you smile as you make your own climb to awesomeness!

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ImageWith all the hundreds of thousands of self published writers trying to find an agent or make a name for themselves in today’s rapidly changing book market, I thought it would be interesting to satirically comment on the situation and write a crime fiction novella on the topic.  I’ve written four novels in the genre and, although some talented and successful writers who are friends of mine thought they were excellent, I haven’t yet reached that elusive ‘breakthrough’ status.  Undaunted, I decided to write this book, streamlining my style and trying a minimalistic approach since the supply of words on the world is plentiful but the demands seems to be falling.  Maybe it’s time for a novella renaissance?

About the book: Struggling writer, Sam Uhl, unable to find a foothold in the traditional publishing industry for his work, decides to go to New York and hunt down the literary agent who he believes unfairly led him along. From the very first sentence to the last, the story is a contradiction of comedic horror that Sam narrates with pseudo-intellectual aplomb.

ImageAuthor’s bio: Conrad Johnson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where he escaped violence, poverty and despair by going to sea and studying literature. Now he writes about what he’s lived and learned.

Link to author’s website: http://johnbyk.blogspot.com

Link to excerpt: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009MADSNA

Link to purchase page: http://www.amazon.com/dpB009MADSNA

Link to book trailer: http://youtu.be/0c3lxFYCFPQ 



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Instant Poetry (Just Add Words!)
Third Edition
By “Laughing” Larry Berger
ISBN-13: 978-1450255523
ASIN: 1450255523
September 2010
52 pages

Purchase HERE.

I was intrigued when I received a copy of this poetry chapbook for review. It isn’t the typical poetry book. The author, ‘Laughing’ Larry Berger, ‘wrote’ or improvised these poems onstage as part of an audience participation free verse sets at coffee houses in Los Angeles in 1996.

It isn’t easy to write poetry, much less improvise it in front of an audience, which is why I was delighted to discover Berger’s wit, imagination, and flair for language.

The verses, some as short as a few lines and some long enough for two pages, explore various subjects and themes, from fun and light to serious and transcendent.

A good example of the author’s lighter poems is “Bubble Gum.” It catches a moment, a single snapshot of pure joy.

Soft and warm between my teeth,
an old lover returns
sweet and tangy inside my mouth.

Over and over she dances,
building evermore desire.

Slowly she turns up the heat,
stoking the fires
her passions no longer confinable
releasing the rapture of the moment!

And then
She slides along my tongue
For one

A recurring theme in this work is the idea that modern men are trapped, caged, slaves and prisoners of their own cars and apartments. The following stanza is from “Leprosy.”

Rotting corpses walking down the street
are they really so different from you and me?
They get up, go to work, come home,
all in steel and concrete coffins.

In other poems, such as “Four Thousand Years Ago (The Crack Baby’s Prayer),” the author takes a philosophical look at life, presenting the reader with a grim picture of society, injustice, and the violence inflicted by humans throughout history. Berger uses the symbolic metaphor of rivers red with blood—this metaphor, by the way, is also recurrent in some of his other poems.
Some of my favorite poems in this book are the ones where Berger captures one single moment of happiness in a world where disaster looms in every corner. For example, in “Green Tea Ice Cream,” which is about the prediction that the world will end in 2012, Berger ends the verse with:

Right now
I’ve got my green tea ice cream
I’m happy.

There are a several memorable lines in this collection. This from “Ten Foot Pole.”

Thousands homeless
or out of work, downing
Anti-depressant medication
As that statue out in the harbor
Spreads her legs to the world.

The following, my favorite, is from “Stop Laughing!”

To stop laughing
is to resign ourselves to
coffins of skin!

I’m not sure if Berger meant to leave his best poem for last, but “Cold KFC in N.Y.C.” was definitely the best for me. The poem, which reads like a story, is about a man who has just been mugged in Grand Central:

You see
an hour ago
I was kissing concrete
back at Grand Central
with the barrel of a
.357 shoved into the back
Of my skull.

The man, who has just missed death, goes back to his crummy, cold flat and collapses from terror and exhaustion. Later he wakes up hungry and the only thing left in his fridge is some cold KFC leftovers. Berger ends the poem—and the book—with:

And folks
I’ve got to tell you!

Instant Poetry (Just Add Words!) is a collection of forty-eight poems. I was surprised at the author’s creativity, good humor, and, at times, depth about the human condition. Some of these poems were performed on stage along the West Coast and New York and were created in interactive poetry readings. It is a unique and ingenious concept. I don’t read poetry often but I found Instant Poetry engaging and interesting. If you enjoy poetry and would like to try something different, I recommend you grab a copy of this book.

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David Pérez was born and raised in the South Bronx in New York City of parents of Puerto Rican descent. Growing up in the Millbrook Houses in the 1960s and navigating his way through Catholic school comprise much of the storyline for his memoir Wow! (11B Press, 2011). David has written hundreds of published articles for newspapers and magazines and is also a skilled editor. As an actor, he has appeared on stage, film and commercial print. He currently lives in Taos, New Mexico with his wife, poet Veronica Golos, and is the father of two adult children, Belinda and Jase.

Thanks for this interview, David! Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

Wow! is a memoir of a smart, funny and somewhat naïve Puerto Rican boy (me) growing up in the South Bronx in the 1960s, living in the projects and navigating his way through a Catholic elementary school populated by a trio of desperadoes known as the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

Wow! is not the typical “boy grows up in ghetto, survives despite drugs and violence” story. This childhood reads like an adventure tale with David and his somewhat wacky friends: Julio’s constant queries in Religion class (“What if you only steal bubble gum?”), and Chino’s challenges to authority (“I ain’t afraid of no Brothers of any heart!”). David’s brother George is worried about junkies stealing boxes of potato chips in broad daylight. Mom loves the Funk &Wagnell’s Encyclopedia. Dad has just discovered credit.

I called my book a “memoirito” because of its novella length (128 pages). Its episodic writing style also reminded me of the telenovelas that Latinos watch, or those popular pocket paperback novelas in Spanish with illustrations. Wow! has illustrations too, done by my brother George Pérez, an internationally acclaimed comic book artist. He drew the cover as well.

As far as inspiration goes, I’ve always been a storyteller, whether as an activist journalist, writer or actor—and especially as a father. Seeing my kids become adults so quickly made me think of my own growing up, how cool it would be if I could capture each moment as if with a pause button. Reviewing my coming-of-age eventually resulted in my memoir.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

It was a little of both, actually. My process began several years ago at an Ashram in upstate New York. Reminiscing on what an eventful life I’ve had, I took out a little notepad and began jotting down names of family and childhood friends, names of streets in my neighborhood, memorable events like first dates, each entry only a few words long. I filled several pages and only got to high school!

Months later I took an entry, for instance St. Luke’s or running track, and just free wrote whatever popped to mind. And that’s how Wow! sprang to life. Eventually, I made chapter outlines and began pulling the narrative together. Thus the writing became more structured, more focused, with intent.

How long did it take you to write the book?

My book took about seven years to complete. I wrote it in spurts because there’s so much else in my life that I enjoy doing—spending time with family, going for hikes, acting in community theater, and other freelance writing and editing gig that I regularly get. So by necessity Wow! had to grow organically. My process also included sending sample chapters out to magazines, going to writing workshops for group critique (a must for all writers), and doing public readings, which I enjoy immensely.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Prior to Wow!, my main writing had been journalism, which I still do. This is a field where you don’t have time for writer’s block. You have deadlines to meet, other assignments waiting to be done. Journalism also requires that you get to the point quickly and concisely, and that’s similar to all writing—at least it should be.

That said, I did have moments with my book when I stared at a blank page for hours, or when I just couldn’t get beyond a first sentence. I struggle with beginnings a lot. It’s important, I feel, to draw the reader in quickly, to get them hooked into your story right off the bat. But since I had no deadlines beckoning, my writing blocks would kick in big time.

In addition, this was about my life. Given my primary training, this was much harder to write than some article about another person or event. Plus I didn’t have a word limit; there was nothing I couldn’t write. I could follow my writing plan or chuck it all together—which I once did, only to find myself frantically combing my computer to retrieve my original chapter outline. No question: Wow! was a challenge to complete. It was fun, yes, but definitely a lesson in how to keep your eyes on the prize.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Publishing has been interesting; I did tons of research about the various options. I started off by submitting directly to small and mid-sized presses, rather than seeking an agent. There are plenty of quality presses that don’t require an agent, Graywolf and Algonquin, for instance. Anyway, my manuscript was accepted by a small press two weeks after I submitted it; pretty incredible, I thought, and quite the confidence builder! Then I got other “we’re interested” bites from noteworthy presses.

As I was deciding what to do, I met with my brother George at his home in Orlando, Florida to discuss the cover and interior illustrations. He wondered if I should just publish it myself to “make most of the money and maintain all artistic control.” It was an option I was also considering, especially since I wanted to keep the book’s price at $10, a hard thing for a traditional press to accept since they would make little money—and me even less.

Soon afterwards, a friend of mine who’s into the film business discussed with me the idea of starting a press, and having Wow! be their launch book. As she put it, Wow! had cinematic elements well suited to the entertainment goals of her company, 11B Productions. We discussed terms and cemented a deal. Thus began 11B Press. I’m very pleased with my decision.

In terms of advice, the main thing I can offer is that you should explore each and every possibility, and then find out what works for you. At the same time, keep yourself open to the unforeseen and the unexpected. Seek out other writers and immerse yourself in the creative community as much as possible; many doors can open that way.

But all in all, keep things in balance. At a recent “21st Century Publishing” panel held in Taos, New Mexico (where I currently live), I emphasized that everyone has to seek his and her own journey. Why do you want to write? How important is a book to you, really? What other creative things give you pleasure?

Everything boils down to being true to yourself. It sounds metaphysical but it’s true.

What authors or type of books do you read for fun?

I read many different types of books, and since I work part-time at Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos (25 years in business as an independent bookstore) my reading list is totally out of control. I like books on politics and the economy (the more left the better), science fiction, humor, mystery, world history, science, new age, and memoir. Within this vast list of genres, authors I’ve enjoyed include Arthur Clarke, Chris Hedges, Michael Pollen, Graham Hancock, Elizabeth George, Naomi Klein, Vine Deloria, David Sedaris, and Michio Kaku. Recommended Taos authors include Summer Wood, Veronica Golos, John Nichols, and Frank Waters.

Among the many Latino authors I admire are Eduardo Galeano, Junot Diaz, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Cristina Garcia, Juan Flores, Julia Alvarez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Esmeralda Santiago, Abraham Rodriguez, playwright Jose Rivera, and almost all Latino spoken word and slam poets.

Not every book I seek out to read is fun. Yet even when a book is difficult to read because it exposes realities like war and violence and suffering, I still get a keen sense of fulfillment in feeling my worldview expand, in simply knowing. I get a rush out of truth, and good writing always does that to me, no matter what its content.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I only have a website, which is www.davidperezwow.com. There you can hear audio clips from Wow!, find samples of my other writing, and learn of my editing experience, among other goodies.

Do you have another novel on the works?

Wow II—The High School Years!

Thanks, David, and best wishes in your writing career!

About the book:

128 pages
$10.00 print version
$3.99 Kindle ebook

Click on the cover below to get your copy!

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Andrea Sisco is co-founder/owner of the popular book review site, Armchair Interviews. She's joining us to today to talk about her debut mystery novel, A Deadly Habit, to be released on July 17th by Five Star. Visit her website at AndreaSisco.com. To read my review of A Deadly Habit, click HERE.

Thanks for this interview, Andrea. Tell us, when did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I didn't decide.  It just happened.  Really, it just happened.  I had an idea.  I sat down and wrote it and when I wrote The End I said to myself, "You wrote a book!  Now try and get an agent and sell it smarty pants."  By that time I was determined.  I was 60 (a very young 60) years old and my bucket list cried out for author to be written on it.  Did I tell you how excited I am?  It's just bubbling over.

Your mystery novel, A Deadly Habit, features a feisty, stubborn, and quite endearing protagonist. What was your inspiration for her?

I'm not sure where Penelope came from.  However, my editor, in a flurry of emails said at the end of three or four of them, "Oh, I get it, YOU are Penelope.  I was shocked.  My son Guy (he's an actor in New York) called and I asked him about my editor's comments since he had read the book.  He laughed and said, "Duh."  So maybe there is just a little of Penelope in me.  They say, write what you know and I guess I knew Penelope.  And I had been a probation officer for almost twenty years…

Did you plan in advance all the parts of the plot or did she lead you along the way? I wouldn't be surprised!

I did everything wrong.  I had no idea how to write a book.  I had the basic plot.  I a deadly habitsat down at the computer.  I wrote.  The result was A Deadly Habit (my husband titled the book).  The characters led me every step of the way and let me tell you it was an uncomfortable position to be in.  I don't like to lose control of things!  I tried many times to just slap them down, but they were like stubborn children and wouldn't mind.  By the end of the book I thought I would like to take my own gun and just shoot Penelope.  She can be a bit aggravating.  The process was painful and I won't do it like that again.  The next book is plotted!

Some of your secondary characters, like the nun and the priest, add a lot of humor to your novel. How did you come up with the idea for these characters?

I grew up a protestant and all my cousins were Roman Catholic.  I was entranced with the ritual, the pomp and circumstance of the faith.  I used to dress up in bed sheets and pretend I was a nun.  And let me tell you, I was a drama queen.  It seemed like a great deal of fun to have an elderly priest and a young nun trying to keep the impetuous Penelope on the straight and narrow (Yeah, that would be a Kodak moment).  So a little idea became Father Daniel and Sister Germaine.

Will this be a series? If so, when will the second one be published?

It began as a stand alone book and grew into a series.  I didn't sign on for another book, but it is happening as we speak.  I had to write it because Penelope was hounding me, not to mention the three emails from my editor. 

Tell us about your writing habits while working on this novel? Did you write every day? Were you disciplined?

My writing habits were despicable!  I don't want to talk about how I wrote this novel as it is embarrassing.  But I will tell you because I think other authors feel awful about how they write.  They feel guilty about their process.  And they shouldn't feel guilty.

They read those interviews where the author says: "Oh, I'm disciplined.  I write six days a week, five pages daily…" Or "I write every day for four hours."  Or the big lie, "I'm at my desk for five hours every day, even if I can't think of anything to write.  I just sit there."  Well doesn't that one make you want to slit your wrists?  Hey I've got a husband, children, grandchildren, a puppy and friends, two homes, not to mention the wash, ironing (yes I still iron) and bills to pay.  I don't have time to punish myself if I'm experiencing writers block.  I'm a woman with things to do.  I write or I don't write.  But what I don't do is gaze out the window (I'd just look at weeds that needed plucking or think about taking Sophie for a walk).  But what I did do was write erratically.  I'd write every day, all day for three weeks and then nothing for two.  It's difficult to do everything I do and then run Armchair Interviews and write a book.  I should be three women.  What I need is a wife.  Oh, did I say that as busy as I am, we're discussing another puppy?  Crazy woman that I am.  Yes, Sophie and I need a companion and we're thinking about a certain Yorkie.  A little boy that needs us.  My husband Bob has veto power and we're waiting to see what he thinks.  But I digress.  See how it goes?  Its tough to have a writing schedule when you've developed adult onset ADD.

What was the hardest part of writing this novel? The easiest?

The most difficult part was actually writing A Deadly Habit.  It's tough to be funny and I'm not sure I accomplished it.  I'm waiting for some reviews to tell me if I was successful.  I have an interesting view of the world.  I see it like a movie and I provide the running commentary.  I'm not sure others will think my view is humorous.  The easiest thing was writing The End.  In other words, when writing a novel, nothing is easy.  Oh, it was easy to tell everyone "I sold my book!"

How do you divide your time between maintaining a popular book review site like Armchair Interviews, which has about 100 reviewers, and writing?

I don't do a very good job at all.  I'm leaving my Minnesota home early this fall (mid October) and locking myself away in my Arizona home (I'm not telling anyone I've arrived) and writing.  I have to.  If I allow myself any leeway at all, I'll be off and running in another direction.  I'll start a new quilt, take the puppies (notice the plural—I am like Tinker Bell—I believe!) for a walk, I'll call my grandchildren or read a book.  Note to self:  You should cook something occasionally.  Your husband would certainly appreciate the effort.  That effort may help the puppy situation also.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

 A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci mystery will be released July 17, 2009.  The easiest way to purchase is from Barnes and Noble, Amazon or the publisher's website which is www.gale.cengage.com  If anyone is in the Twin Cities (St. Paul/Minneapolis) on July 30; please join me at Once Upon a Crime mystery bookstore at 7:00 p.m. for the formal launch.  OUAC is my FAVORITE bookstore.  If anyone is coming that night they can preorder A Deadly Habit via www.onceuponacrimebooks.com

And finally:  If you long to write a book, do it!  If I can write and sell a book at age 60, anyone out there with the desire can do it!  Go for your dreams.  Life can sometimes be a real downer and daring to follow through with a dream is better than those little bitty pills I've heard so much about.

Thanks for the great interview, Andrea, and good luck with your new novel!


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opertionemubookThird-rate Hollywood actors and top NASA astronauts come together in this quirky, hilarious romp of a novel.

Somewhere in the depths of NASA, a team of scientists begin to conduct a top secret operation called OPERATION EMU… Soon afterwards, a Hollywood producer puts together a team of actors for a mysterious, low-budget movie…

Some time later, after an intense training period, NASA sends three astronauts to space on a special mission to visit a nearby planet believed to have intelligent life. The astronauts are sedated for the whole duration of the long trip. When they wake, they realize they have landed on said planet. However, a huge surprise awaits, for this planet is inhabited by primitive cave people who roam around practically naked and who are friendly and naive. Untouched by technology, they live simply and happily, without such worries as politics or feminism. Indeed, the men hunt, and the women cook and take care of their home’s bare necessities. Their religion consists of worshipping animal gods.

The story goes on to show the behavior of the three astronauts toward the aliens. Are the astronauts compassionate and protective, or does their dominating, imperialistic nature as ‘superior’ humans take control? How are their actions and interactions in this new, prehistoric environment where they suddenly have the capacity to become kings and even ‘gods’ to these weaker living beings?

Operation Emu is a thought-provoking satire, one that will make you wonder about Hollywood, science, and the US Space Program. The novel will also make you wonder about human nature and the advantages of technology, as well as our capacity to dominate. We have, in fact, achieved a lot in the last few thousand years, but at what price? Could it be at the price of our humanity? The reader will enjoy the story’s political and religious implications. The dialogue is sharp and propels the story at a quick pace. The characters are offbeat and some of the ridiculous situations will make you laugh out loud. Author B. Brandon Barker has created a smart, funny parody of what really means to be an ‘advanced’ homo sapiens.

If you enjoy satire, you’ll want to add Operation Emu to your shelf.

Visit the author’s website at http://www.bbrandonbarker.com/

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My name’s Joe Davis. I run a small detective agency that handles the usual type of case found in a small town like Meadeville. Runaway mates and divorce cases our specialty. Occasionally, we get a case with more hair on it, but never anything like the one that just wandered in off the street one day.
It was a typical July afternoon when even the sidewalks were sweating. I sat in front of an open window with a small fan blowing on my face as I leaned my back against the desk with my feet on the sill. The copy of Playboy I’d been lusting at slid off my lap when the door to my inner office opened.
I jumped up and got into my desk chair and tried to look busy. The hair on my neck and arms rose as if an electrostatic charge had passed over me as I sat. I glanced up. I never should’ve done that.
A character dressed in a black robe was blocking the doorway. His face was lost in the folds of an overlapping hood.
“Come in,” I said. Never should’ve done that either.
The guy–well, he wasn’t a guy… Couldn’t tell what it was. He just stood there.
“You are Joseph Daniel Davis?” His voice was deep with gravel in it.
“Yeh. What do you want?” I didn’t like the get up. “It ain’t Halloween,” I said. Made me hotter just looking at him and besides, he give me the creeps.
“You find people?”
I didn’t like twenty questions with the door open. “Close the door and we’ll discuss it,” I said.
You can imagine my shock when he turned to close the door. A huge, long-handled scythe with the blade pointing back rested on his shoulder.
I blinked and shook my head. Couldn’t be. Some stupid prank.
I pulled my pistol from the side desk drawer where I keep it and pointed it at him just in case.
He set the scythe against the wall with a large crack in the plaster and approached my desk. Then he pushed his hood back so I could see his face. I wished he hadn’t done that. He didn’t have a face!
I froze in my chair. My pistol fell onto the desk. I had trouble breathing. Death heads do that to me.
He loomed over my old wooden desk so I had to look up at him. A skull doesn’t have any expression but I swear those empty eye sockets could see me.
I couldn’t even shudder.
“What do you want?” I did manage to croak.
He pointed across the desk at me with a fingerbone that poked out of his sleeve.
“You can stop being afraid,” he said. His jaw moved, but I didn’t see how he could form any words. His voice sounded like rocks rolling around in a tin can.
How was it I could understand him?
I tried to breathe again. I stammered, repeating, “What–what do you want?” I still couldn’t move.
“I’m not here for you,” he rattled. “I want to hire you.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” I forced the question out. “Did my ex-wife send you?” I didn’t really believe this was happening. He wasn’t real. Somehow I was being had. And I thought my vicious ex was the most likely to set me up.
“I’m not a joke,” he rattled again. “I want you to find someone.”
“How do I know you’re real?” I asked. “I don’t think death has a physical form.”
“You require proof. Very well.” He touched the pot of the only other live thing in the office, an african violet my last secretary gave me. Its meaty leaves shriveled as the lavender blossoms turned brown.
Then he turned back to me. “Do you believe now?”
I was forced to, wasn’t I? “Yes.”
“Fine. Shall we continue?” he asked.
I closed my eyes. Ah…I could move my eyelids.
As if he knew what I was thinking, my visitor said, “You can move if you want. Fear paralyzed you. Not me.”
I tried to move. I could. A little. My brain began to function, too. Well, sort of. I realized if he was Death and had come for me, I’d be gone. So maybe he was telling the truth about not coming for me. And maybe I was going to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. A guy in his line of work probably said anything he had to, to get the job done. I mean, he was one of those Four Horsemen.
“Okay, who is it you want found? And I gotta know why. For the records.” I tried not to let him see I thought I found a way to get rid of him. “And I don’t do nothing illegal.” Meanwhile, I’d try to think of how to send him on his way–without me.
He straightened and moved back from the desk a few inches. “I want you to find Calvin Desmond James. It’s his time.”
That threw me for a loop. His time? “You want me to find some guy so you can take him?”
The skull nodded.
I started to shake my head when the weirdness of the situation hit me. I laughed.
He never moved.
I started to feel uneasy. “I can’t do that. I can’t be no party to no killing.”
“You wouldn’t kill him.” Death said. “I will. He’s going to be thrown from his motorcycle and I have to be there.”
“Why do you need me?” I tried to figure this out.
“We don’t know where he is.”
Well, there went any theory I might have had. Death couldn’t find somebody? I didn’t believe that.
He read my thoughts again. “We need him.”
“Who is he that he’s so important? Why don’t you just go on to your next vic–er the next person on your list?” My body suddenly went limp. I was free. I could move so I did. I slid my chair back against the wall as far from him as I could get.
“Several years ago they hired him to program our computers–we didn’t know how–and when he was done, he said his work was guaranteed and if we had any problems to come get him. We found a problem and now we need him.”
“What’s the problem? I know several geeks who could probably fix it.”
Death shook his head. “Mr. James left his name off our list.”
“Just one guy. Why not forget him and go on to the next one?”
“He’s not allowed to live forever. He’s eighty-three now and it’s his time.”
This was really getting strange. “So because he’s old now, you gotta take him? How did you know about him at all if he’s not on your list?”
“We share data. The birth records have to match the death records. If we let him go, it becomes a bookkeeping nightmare. Always short one in the accounts closed column.” He leaned over the desk again. “That would never do.”
Death works for a bunch of bookkeepers?
“How do you know when he’s supposed to go, if he’s not in your records?” I asked. I couldn’t figure out how they could know the time a guy was supposed to go and not know where he was. Didn’t make any sense.
“The time of passing is included at birth. Each person has an allotted time. No more. Each one is different.”
“Don’t you keep track of him while he’s here?”
Death shook his head. “That’s the Life Department and they have trouble keeping their data up to date since the invention of the automobile.”
I kept quiet for a minute. Let him think I was considering taking the job. Okay. One thing sure to drive him away.
“You’ll have to sign a contract,” I told him. “It’s a standard form. I don’t take any job without a contract. I have to protect my license and, in case you don’t pay,” I figured I had him here. Death wouldn’t be carrying cash or have a credit card, “I have proof you hired me if we gotta go to court.”
No response. Nothing. Several seconds passed and then he nodded. The hood fell over his skull again.
“I’ll sign the contract,” Death said in that rolling-rock voice of his.
How could he? For a few moments I didn’t know what to do. He’d called my bluff. So I took it one step farther. “I require five hundred bucks up front for two days and expenses. I refund anything not spent and you get a copy of the expense sheet. A bill, if it takes longer than two days.”
He nodded again. The skeleton of a complete hand came out of the sleeve this time with five one-hundreds in it. He lay them on the desk.
I opened the center desk drawer and took out a contract and pen. While I had it open, I put the pistol back, then pushed the form over to him. He appeared to stare at the form for a bit and then one word appeared on the line where the client signs.
I sagged in my chair. I had Death as a client. I was stuck. I figured if I tried to weasel out now, he’d take me for spite. Besides, I needed the money.
So, okay. I had a new client. He wanted a man found. I took a deep breath and found my backbone. Yeh, I know. Bad pun.
“Do you want to know what Mr. James looks like?” Death asked.
I shook my head. “Nope. Just tell me how you got in touch with him the first time.”
He appeared to ruminate over the facts. “We ran an advertisement in the help-wanted section of the local newspaper.”
“And he answered it?” I asked.
Death nodded, his hood fluttering in a breeze the came in my window.
I looked at the sky. A storm was coming in. There’d be lots of noise in those clouds. They were black as sin, black as Death’s robe. I’d have to close the window and then I’d roast. The landlord hadn ‘t installed the new air conditioner yet.
“How long will it take you to find him?” Death asked, interrupting my train of self-pity.
I looked at him. Well, best get it over with. “Not long,” I told him.
I pulled the cover off the computer and turned it on. I seldom used it, not being a techno-geek. It sat on a little stand in a shadowy corner out of the way. It always took a while to warm up. After a prolonged period of coffee-grinder sounds and grunts like a contented pig, the screen lit up. I clicked on the logo for my server and waited for the connection.
No, I didn’t have the speedy service. Cost too much. I only used the machine to play games and visit a few adult sites. Yeh, I know. I had too much free time. My ex-wife says the same thing. I need to get a better job…
Finally, the server answered and I was on. I brought up the search engine I favored and clicked on the name find logo. When the screen came up, I typed in Calvin Desmond James, clicked and waited.
Death seemed taller now. His hood faced the monitor. I swear his bones rattled with excitement.
A screen came up, notifying me of sixty-six Calvin Desmond James in the country.
“I’ll need Mr. James’ last known address,” I told Death as I started looking for an eighty-three year old man. The name find service I subscribed to included age, occupation, address, criminal record, date of birth, phone number, and other information.
“He never gave it to us.”
I raised my head to look at him. “How did you pay him? Didn’t he send you a bill?”
The hood moved in a negative fashion. “He was paid just as you have been.”
Great. So now I had to check all the names.
I scrolled down slowly, discounting the first fifteen. On the sixteenth, I sensed that static electrical charge again.
Death pointed at the screen. “That’s him. He’s eighty-three.”
“There might be more than one. Let me finish checking before you go rushing off and maybe get the wrong guy,” I objected. Much as I wanted him gone, I had to be sure.
He seemed to be fidgeting with his robe, but he waited. I noticed though that he moved closer to the door and his scythe.
I rolled through the rest of the list and found no more of a matching age. I scrolled back up to the sixteenth name. “That’s him,” I said. And felt sad for the guy who thought he’d fixed it so he’d live forever. But bookkeepers are a persistent bunch. They’ll spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to find a missing penny so I guess Death is one of them.
Death opened the door and turned to me. “If we ever need to find anyone else, I’ll be back.” He vanished.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Copyright 2009. This story may not be copied or reprinted without permission from the author. Previosuly published in New Mystery Reader.

About the author:

Anne K. Edwards enjoys writing mysteries, but dabbles in children’s stories and other genre. She reviews for some publicists and web zines and is co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. She is a member of Pennwriters and Books We Love. She does an occasional editing job and loves to read. Her website is http://www.Mysteryfiction.net.

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Author Mary Cunningham

Author Mary Cunningham

Your hair is getting white, you’re losing muscle tone, you wish gravity didn’t exist so wrinkles wouldn’t take hold of your face, menopause is finally kicking in – really kicking in. Is it the end, or the beginning of great things to come?

Authors Diana Black, Mary Cunningham, and Melinda Richarz Bailey share their experiences — sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, sometimes funny — about their road ‘downhill’. Or is it really to middle age? They also share their dreams and realizations about life and what it really means to be 50.

WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty is a combination of short personal essays, poems, and witty quotes that will touch your heart and enlighten your mind about the aging process. At the end of each chapter the authors invite readers to write their own experiences and thoughts, so you may want to have a pencil or pen in hand as you read.

Bad hair days, chocolate (and expanding waistlines!), dogs, the menopause (flashing!), being a woman, cell phones, and computers are some of the topics covered in the book. Take a look at this short segment on the powers of chocolate:

Seriously, how could something so rich and luscious;
something that can make most grown WOOFers lie, cheat
and steal; something that can, with one delicious, melt-in-your-
mouth morsel bring a menopawsal, endorphin
deprived, raving lunatic back from the brink of insanity;
be bad for you?
Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking
about. Who hasn’t searched underneath the sofa cushions
in January for a stray piece of Halloween candy?

And of course, every WOOFer over 50 must have a WooFer name. In the book, Diana Black is ‘d. d. dawg’, Mary Cunnigham is ‘Milkbone’, and Melinda Richarz Bailey is ‘Mad Dog’. Towards the end there is a list of names with their behavioral characteristics, so you can choose the one that best suits the WOOFer in you.

WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty is a light, humorous, entertaining, and certainly uplifting read. I finished reading it in two hours. Many of the segments are hilarious and made me laugh out loud – and mind you, I’m not 50 yet. This little book would make a great Christmas or birthday gift to anyone who loves a good laugh, but especially to those Woofers over 50.

For those interested, the authors have formed a club for WOOFers: www.woofersclub.com.

And there’s also a blog: www.woofersclub.blogspot.com.

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coverwebagain31Your hair is getting white, you’re losing muscle tone, you wish gravity didn’t exist so wrinkles wouldn’t take hold of your face, menopause is finally kicking in – really kicking in. Is it the end, or the beginning of great things to come?

Authors Diana Black, Mary Cunningham, and Melinda Richarz Bailey share their experiences — sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, sometimes funny — about their road ‘downhill’. Or is it really to middle age? They also share their dreams and realizations about life and what it really means to be 50.

WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty is a combination of short personal essays, poems, and witty quotes that will touch your heart and enlighten your mind about the aging process. At the end of each chapter the authors invite readers to write their own experiences and thoughts, so you may want to have a pencil or pen in hand as you read.

Bad hair days, chocolate (and expanding waistlines!), dogs, the menopause (flashing!), being a woman, cell phones, and computers are some of the topics covered in the book. Take a look at this short segment on the powers of chocolate:

Seriously, how could something so rich and luscious;
something that can make most grown WOOFers lie, cheat
and steal; something that can, with one delicious, melt-in-your-
mouth morsel bring a menopawsal, endorphin
deprived, raving lunatic back from the brink of insanity;
be bad for you?
Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking
about. Who hasn’t searched underneath the sofa cushions
in January for a stray piece of Halloween candy?

And of course, every WOOFer over 50 must have a WooFer name. In the book, Diana Black is ‘d. d. dawg’, Mary Cunnigham is ‘Milkbone’, and Melinda Richarz Bailey is ‘Mad Dog’. Towards the end there is a list of names with their behavioral characteristics, so you can choose the one that best suits the WOOFer in you.

WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty is a light, humorous, entertaining, and certainly uplifting read. I finished reading it in two hours. Many of the segments are hilarious and made me laugh out loud – and mind you, I’m not 50 yet. This little book would make a great Christmas or birthday gift to anyone who loves a good laugh, but especially to those Woofers over 50.

For those interested, the authors have formed a club for WOOFers: www.woofersclub.com

And there’s also a blog: www.woofersclub.blogspot.com.

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