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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Story Behind Author, Carole McKee-Spalino, and Her Books

Carole, tell us a little about yourself first, and then about your writing.

I am a native of Pittsburgh. Although that will always be considered home for me, I have lived other places. In 1969 I moved to Germany and spent a year there as a military wife.  When we returned to Pittsburgh we were a family of three—having our daughter, Terra born in Germany in 1970. My husband resumed a position with his old company, but in Philadelphia instead of Pittsburgh. We moved to New Jersey and then to Delaware where we remained until after our son, Eric was born in 1971.

Things change, people change, and so did our marriage. After our divorce I remarried but it didn’t last long. We had moved to North Carolina and I returned home to file for divorce number two. The kids were glad to get back home to Pittsburgh and to reunite with their father. In 1984 their father disappeared. We searched and searched for him but he was never found, and has not been found to this day. He is officially on the missing persons list.
            From the point of my second divorce, I knew that I was done with marriage, so at age 41 I enrolled in college and earned an Associate’s degree in Nuclear medicine. I moved to Erie, PA to work in a local hospital there. The money was great but I was not happy.

Terra and Eric
It was in 1992 that I learned that my son was sick—very sick. He had been diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and the prognosis was not good. I’ll never forget the day I heard the news. I felt my insides crumble and my throat constrict. Eric—my wonderful, beautiful son did not have a future. It isn’t supposed to happen like that! Through experimentation and treatments Eric lived another 10 years. He achieved his Bachelor’s and then his Master’s in Physical Therapy and began working in a hospital near Philadelphia—not too far from where he was conceived, actually.  He married in 2000. We had all but forgotten about his illness—well not forgotten about it, but it seemed that his illness had taken a backseat to his achievements. When his illness suddenly got into the driver’s seat it was like a punch in the gut. Eric died in 2002 from what is called PNH, a serious bone marrow and blood disorder, and my life has never been the same.

Although I want to, I cannot write his story. Even after 10 years the wound is still open and raw. Just before he died, Eric asked two things of me: Please quit smoking, and please finish my degree. I quit smoking just after his passing and then, after moving to Florida I got my Bachelor’s and then went on to get my Master’s in school counseling. I know Eric would approve. My daughter, who I love so much, is still having a hard time with Eric’s death. Last year she left her home and walked away from me, and the rest of the family. All I know is that she is living in Utah, but she will not contact anyone. I believe she suffers from survivor’s guilt.

One major gift that Eric left for me was his son, Eric. He was born five months after his death. He is nine now and just such a reminder of his wonderful father. Lately he has been asking about his daddy, so I made up an album of pictures for him. If I eventually write Eric’s story, it will be dedicated to my grandson.

Why and when did you begin writing?

I don’t know when I decided to try my hand at writing. I know when my dog died I wrote a tribute to him (enclosed) and it appeared as an article in a vet’s newsletter. When I was in college, most of my professors old me I had a real flair for writing. A Sociology professor scrawled across the bottom of my term paper that I either have had an exciting life or I have one hell of an imagination, and that I should consider a career in writing. I know I’ve always had an imagination. In my mind I could act out stories. One day I decided to write down what was running through my mind, and “Perfect,” my first novel, was born. I entered the book in a self-published novel contest and it received an honorable mention, with a good critique. The judge who critiqued it said that I write from the heart and that my writing shows a lot of passion. This was the encouragement I needed. The birth of “Choices,” then “The Bushes are Red,” followed by “The Full Nelson”—all three making up a trilogy—came from my mind to print faster than even I expected.

Why did you choose this genre? How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

I don’t know why I chose to write in the contemporary romance genre either. I think it chose me. I once made a statement that since I couldn’t find the perfect man I create one in all my stories. I think that’s probably true. The critic who sent feedback on “Perfect” classified my work as mainstream, so that’s probably a closer description. All of my characters are believable and the places are real. The events that take place in my novels are also believable, if sometimes tragic or frightening. I’m not good with science fiction and gruesome stories give me goose bumps. So romance it is.
Can you tell us more about your books and how we can find them?
“A Tribute to Jackson” was a heart-rending short story of my love for my dog who died with kidney disease. Nobody has been able to read it without crying.

“Perfect” (ISBN 9781434318909 Author House 2007) was broken into three parts. Part I told of the birth and the life of a beautiful, talented girl named Katrina; Part II was about the young years of Nathan, and Part III was Katrina and Nathan’s meeting and their short life together. The book ended in tragedy. I don’t know of any person yet who has been able to read those last couple of chapters without tears.

“Choices” (ISBN 9781434369642 Author House 2008) is about young love. Lindy and Ricky are teenage sweethearts who go up against many adversities to be together. Events lead up to their young marriage at 18 after they run away to get Lindy away from her foster father who raped her. Theirs is a happy ending, promising a beginning that leads to….

“The Bushes are Red.” (ISBN 9781438960760 Author House 2009)   Ricky and Lindy are married for 15 years when they face every parent’s worst nightmare. Their child vanishes from her room in the middle of the night. Their nightmare worsens when they discover that the person who kidnapped their daughter was the same man who raped Lindy when she was a teen. The excitement builds when Lindy and Ricky defy the FBI and go after the man themselves. It is a race to get to her before the kidnapper boards a plane to leave the country with their daughter, taking her away forever.

“The Full Nelson” (ISBN 9781438989846 Author House, 2009) is an about-face. The kidnapper speaks out and tells his story. He tells about his sad unhappy life growing up on a farm, and then he justifies all of his actions, making himself seem like a prince….until the end, when the light finally dawns on him.

Readers didn’t want this saga to end so I have written a fourth book about these characters, but it is not published yet. This one is entitled “Consequences.” I plan on publishing this one sometime this year.

“Kisses from the Heart.” (ISBN 9781618428318, 2011) It is the story of Mindi Adams, a petite, pretty dark haired girl with eyes like quick silver. She is quick witted and sometimes sharp tongued. She operates her own business from her home in the country and she couldn’t be happier or feel more blessed. After catching her boyfriend cheating on her she immediately puts him out of her house and moves on. Life becomes status quo until the night of the storm, when lightning slashes the sky, thunder shakes the earth, and a prison bus overturns in a swollen creek. One of the prisoners gets into Mindi’s house and changes her life forever.

“Maddie’s Garden” (ISBN 978-1-4657-0790-1) has just been released as n eBook. Maddie is a lovely but lonely woman who desperately wants a family. Since she grew up in a loveless violent and dysfunctional home, all she wants is a normal loving family. When she finds the twins in her yard, her heart overflows with love for them. She becomes friends with their widowed father and accommodates him when he needs help. She learns that he is engaged to be married and it is only when he sets the date does she realize that she is in love with him. Maddie is sad but she isn’t the only one. The children are sad because they may never see Maddie again. They resort to drastic measures that only four year olds would think of, but in spite of their efforts he wedding date is set.

All of my books are available at any online bookstore as eBooks. The first four are available as paperbacks as well. Several public libraries carry at least one of my books.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I have a few others that are being edited. I believe “Second Chances” will be available next month sometime. This story tells of a woman who believes that people sometimes need a boost up in the world and she finds a way to give them a second chance at living. 
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?  

All of the places in my novels do exist, mostly in Pittsburgh or somewhere in Western Pennsylvania. A few new ones that will be coming out actually take place in Florida. The names of my characters just happen, but I notice that the “good guys” (and girls) have pretty names that I like, while the bad characters have either names I don’t like or names of people I don’t like. Usually, it’s just names I don’t like because here are very few people that I don’t like. I get an image of a character in my head and a name just seems to form.

I come up with a story line and then I develop a character(s) around it. I know what I want the person or persons to be like.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?
As far as villains—most of my villains lean toward insanity or are emotionally disturbed. Most of them have a propensity for bad language. It comes with the territory. Having worked with many people who were emotionally disturbed or mentally damaged in some way, I have a lot of characteristics to choose from.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
My favorite things about my book(s) are my characters. I often joke that I gave birth to them, but actually I guess I did. If not for me they wouldn’t exist. I sometimes think that the female protagonist is actually who I would want to be instead of who I am. I love the way my readers get emotional when they read my books. While I was at work one night, a girl I worked with was reading one of my books (Perfect). When I came back from break she was crying and she said to me, “Carole, how could you? You killed Jeff.” I said, “Tammy, he wasn’t real.” Her answer was, “He was real to me.” I can’t ask for more than that reaction out of a reader.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
 “Made it” moments: there have been a few. Graduating from college with my Bachelor’s at age 59, and then obtaining my Master’s at age 62 were two of my finest moments. I had fulfilled a dream both times. I received an “Academic Achievement” award, and I felt that that was another great moment.   Seeing every book in print are other “made it” moments. In spite of all these accomplishments, I would have to say that my finest moments were the birth of my children.
What is your writing schedule?
I have a flexible writing schedule. Severe back and leg pain has forced me to step away from the workplace, but I can’t fully retire yet. My day usually begins by going through my emails and then playing a couple of mindless games on the computer, just to get relaxed, and then I begin my writing for the day. I usually give it anywhere from 2 to 4 hours a day; sometimes longer; sometimes not as long. 
What do you do when you are not writing? 
When I’m not writing, I like to have a meal out with friends at least once a week. I do some volunteer work for the homeless shelters (great story ideas there) and I enjoy giving some time to the local Humane Society. Of course, the back and leg pain curtails a lot of my activity lately. I am an avid reader, so a lot of my time is spent reading. I also tutor first year Algebra, Biology, English, and English Literature and Composition.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published? Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
If I were to give advice to young writers, it would be simply this:  PROOFREAD. I read so many novels that would be wonderful if there weren’t so many typos, poor spelling, and extra words thrown in or words left out. I know it’s hard to proofread your own, so I would advise a writer to get someone else to do it. I have a great proofreader, who I didn’t start using until my 3rd book. Major difference in my end results! By the way, I’m willing to share her name with any new writer who would be interested. She gave me the go-ahead to do so. She’s reasonable, too.

One other piece of advice I would give a new writer is research your subject. Even if you write fiction, don’t guess at something that you’re not sure of. I have had people come back to me and ask if I checked my facts. The answer is YES. I have had a lot of different jobs in my life that I can use or reference--from Nuclear Medicine Tech to Metal Shop Machinist and plenty in between.  If I am using a field that I haven’t worked in, I research it first. I get facts from the police departments and crime scene investigators or from used car salesmen if that’s the career I’m writing about.

I don’t know that my genre is unique, but many of the details are different from any I have read. Many writers write from the heart, and I am certainly no exception. If a reader tells me that she laughed and then she cried, I really feel as though I have done my job well.

I have a website, but because the company went out of business, I can’t do much with it. I have yet to figure out who is available to maintain it. I just pay for the domain every year until I find out.

I am also on which is an author’s community website. I can be found on Facebook under Carole McKee. I answer emails from readers at either or Along with all of the online bookstores, the first 4 books can also be purchased from the book store at

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

He found his soulmate and got married  H

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Award Winning Author and Elementary Music Teacher, Mary Furlong, Tells Us about Her Crocodile Books

Mary Furlong, an elementary school music teacher, has performed as a singer and instrumentalist throughout the United States and Europe, covering just about every kind of music - from Standards & Pop to Country & Western and Bluegrass.

Mary created "An American Sampler," an educational assembly for schools and libraries that chronicles the history of American music, to teach children that Rock incorporates many types of musical influences and if it weren’t for these types of music, such as Gospel, Bluegrass, Country, Jazz, and Folk, there would be no Rock & Roll. Mary lives in the Chicago area with her husband, T.C.They have two sons and two dogs... and no Crocodiles or Monkeys…yet!

Tell us about the genre of your work. 

My books have been called "Stories that Sing" and "Reading Songs." Each picture book comes with a CD or mp3 of the music and story, along with the musical score and downloadable coloring sheets from my website

Why did you choose this genre?

I think this genre chose me!

I have always enjoyed collaborating with my fellow educators and integrating Music into the core curriculum.  Kids come with all sorts of different learning styles and learning with Music makes it much more fun!

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I have two published books under my belt:

Nile, Nile, Crocodile and 5 Monkeys and Little Crocodile.                                                                                                                                                                                             

What ages do you direct your books?

My target audience is children between the ages of 3 and 7, although older kids and adults have been seen smiling and tapping their toes!                            

Can you tell us more about your books?

Nile, Nile, Crocodile (ISBN-13: 978-1-60131-029-3) A story about a mischievous Croc who nibbles on freckles, jeans, sneakers, and even undies!  The book includes a map of Egypt and information about the Nile River and the Nile Crocodile.

5 Monkeys and Little Crocodile (ISBN-13: 978-1-60131-069-9) Little Crocodile is being teased by 5 little monkeys.  What would you do if you were being teased? You might be surprised at what Little Crocodile does!  The book has an anti-bullying theme and what you can do if you find yourself being bullied.  There is information about the Vervet or Green Monkey and the endangered slender-snouted crocodile, who is actually quite shy, as crocodiles go~

You can purchase the books at: Brilliant Sky Toys and Books. 847.438.8300

Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?

Absolutely!  The books can be integrated into various curricula, such as Science and Social Studies.

What is your favorite thing about your book/s?

My favorite thing about my books is that the kids learn while singing, moving, and having fun!

Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?

The illustrations in both books are by the incredible Aija Jasuna.  I was drawn (pun intended) to her work because of her concept of the characters and her sense of color.  Aija lives in Latvia and in spite of our language barriers, we were able to communicate just fine! Art and Music are definitely world languages!

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

I think it's different from most other genre because it is more "lyrical" and more like "composing" than just constructing a story.  There is rhythm and rhyme involved.

Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 

Getting this kind of Children's book published has been difficult because agents and therefore, publishers aren't sure what category these "singing stories" will fit.  They are not strictly Picture Books or strictly Educational (textbooks).

Why and when did you begin writing? 

Nile, Nile, Crocodile was written when I couldn't find a song about the Nile Crocodile while I was teaching Music/Art in an inner city school.  It became a favorite of my students.  One day, one of the Kindergarteners said she thought it would be a really cool book.  From the mouths of babes...

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I am currently working on a parent/teacher resource for teaching the connections between the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of Barack Obama. 

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?

Don't give up!

What do you do when you are not writing?

I am a laundress, chauffeur, cook, housecleaner (not so much), nurse, landscaper, animal tender.  In other words, the best job in the whole world, a Mom!  :)

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

I can't say this is a "made it" moment, but I was sure proud:  Both "Nile" and "5 Monkeys" received the Kids Music Award 2011 for best Reading Stories.
You can learn more about Mary on her website at:

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exploring the Author who Wrote The Accidental Anarchist, Bryna Kranzler

Can you tell us a little about your background? 

In college (Barnard College), I majored in playwriting (Program in the Arts: Writing-Playwriting), an impractical major if there ever was one, but I won the Helen Price Memorial Prize for Dramatic Composition. My first play, “Do Hermaphrodites Reproduce Only in the Spring?”, was a finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theater Competition. It was scheduled for production twice: the first time, the theater owner died, and the season was shut down; the second time, the director committed suicide. For the benefit of the arts community, I decided to get out of playwriting and get a real (read: “paying”) job, and spent 15 years  in public relations and marketing for health-care, high tech and consumer products companies before returning to writing. Sometime during that period (“the lost years”), I also earned an MBA at Yale University.  

Can you tell us more about your writing and your latest book? 

The Accidental Anarchist is the true story of an Orthodox Jew who was sentenced to death 3 times in the early 1900s in Russia – and lived to tell about it. He also happened to have been my grandfather, and the book is based on the diaries that he began keeping in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. That was when he decided that he needed to overthrow the Czar (Nicholas II, the last of the Romanov dynasty).

ISBN: 978-0-9845563-0-4  Available at:


Follow Me: @BrynaKranzler 

Tell us about the genre of your work.   

I don’t work only in a single genre, choosing the medium based on the story I want to tell. The Accidental Anarchist is a historical biography, but also have two unpublished novels, one of which I plan to rewrite as a YA book. I also write essays, and just yesterday submitted a cartoon to The New Yorker called “If Football Penalties were Applied to Parenting.” Also in the works are an ebook about self-publishing and a novelty book/card to be sold at bookstore checkout stands. 

Why did you choose this genre? How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre? 

When I wrote The Accidental Anarchist, it was difficult to define the genre. I didn’t want to call it Non-Fiction, because any personal recollections or documentation as in a diary is, by its very nature, an opinion or perspective. Nor did I want to call it a Memoir because I had never met my grandfather, and structured the book with a narrative structure that the diaries didn’t have. I also rewrote and summarized some portions of the diaries that had been published but were necessary to appreciate the unpublished material; tightened the pacing of the writing; and added content in my grandfather’s voice based upon historical fact or what I was able to learn from my mother. Biography seemed to be the most descriptive category for the work I had done that wouldn’t get me in trouble with Oprah. I’d also like to point out that In Cold Blood, which is the first book in the genre of Creative Non-Fiction, is typically shelved in Fiction in bookstores, so I also tried to think about how a reader might look for my book. 

Where do you get your ideas for writing? 


What is your favorite thing about your book? 

I kept the book in my grandfather’s unique voice that was filled with an ironic, not mean or sarcastic, sense of humor that was a remarkable contrast with the circumstances he wrote about: poverty, starvation and the horrors of war. I was pleased, when I let my mother read it, that she said it sounded just like her father, including the parts that I had written in his voice. 

Why and when did you begin writing?  Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?   

My father was a writer. In fact, he was the first Orthodox writer in Hollywood, so there was nothing unusual about the fact that I started writing when I was very young. I had one elementary school teacher, and I don’t remember for which grade, who gave us an assignment of writing “A Day in the Life Of…” We were to pick an inanimate object and imagine what life was like for the character that was a hangar, or something else. I wrote a whole series of “Day in the Life” stories, and remember how delightful it was to imagine the world from the perspective of different objects.

Unfortunately, I believed I was ‘expected’ to be a writer, and although I was drawn to it, I also resisted it, which resulted in a lot of wasted years that could have been spent developing my skills. 

What is your writing schedule?  What atmosphere do you need to write? 

I work out first thing every morning. That’s when my energy is highest, and if I don’t do it then, the day would get taken away and there would be no other time to do it. I run errands on my way home (if a business isn’t open by 8 am, I don’t patronize it; I don’t like to break up my day.) Then I go home to write. At the moment, I’m working at the kitchen table because my office is so overwhelmed with paper. I go back and forth between writing longhand and composing on the computer, but I seem to always need to be surrounded by various papers, various projects, which results in my no longer having a usable kitchen table.

For a few years, I wrote at a local Starbucks or Panera because I found the atmosphere less distracting than home. That’s right; all the people walking around me and talking, the music, the general cacophony – I found that less distracting than knowing there was a load of laundry to do or dinner to make; whenever I got to a tough spot in my writing, I used to hear household chores calling me, so I had to leave the house. But if I sat myself down at Starbucks for the day, I had no choice but to keep working. And it gave me the idea to for an article I wrote about people who had turned Starbucks into their “office away from the office,” which I called: “Have Laptop, Will Travel.” 

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future? 

I am working on an ebook about self-publishing, about half of which will focus on the mistakes I made so that other people don’t have to repeat them. That’s where I can add value in this category. I’m also working on a humorous novelty book about parenting, and plan to rewrite my first novel as a YA novel built around the first chapter. Of course, to get back to these projects, my book, The Accidental Anarchist, needs to start selling itself without my needing to constantly seek out opportunities to speak about it, which has been my most effective way of selling it. 

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and be published? 

Start young! Begin submitting your work to publications that accept contributions from kids and teenagers. Then, by the time you’re an adult, you’ll have a portfolio to show, and you will have also grown as a writer by having gotten advice on how to improve. That takes having a thick skin, which not everyone has at a young age. Find at least one person other than a parent, such as a teacher, who thinks you’re good and encourages you. That will help you take what’s useful from rejection without letting it demoralize you. 

What do you do when you are not writing?  

I work out regularly, though not for long enough, because I am always trying to lose 5 pounds that just won’t leave me. I love the movies, and see several movies a week that I review on my personal Facebook page. I also read a lot and go to the theater, and review these as well on my Facebook page. I spend whatever time I can with friends; I have really remarkable friends who are wonderful people. And I enjoy cooking. Lately I’ve been making desserts from a cookbook from a well-known baker in San Diego, each of whose recipes runs about 5 pages long and take several days to complete! 

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life? 

My happiest experiences have been seeing the success that my children are achieving. They amaze and inspire me every day.  

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I grew up on the periphery of Hollywood. Although my father was a writer, we were Orthodox, so it wasn’t easy to be part of the Hollywood ‘scene,’ and from my parents’ perspective, it wasn’t desirable either. But I was always fascinated by the movies and television, and used to accompany my father to the studios to watch different television shows being filmed, such as Medical Center. There was a time when I thought I wanted to be an actress because I longed to be “popular.” But after watching different shows being filmed, and seeing the hands of the clock on the set turned back over and over for the multiple takes it took to shoot each scene, I saw the work as incredibly boring. That was the best way to disabuse a kid of any notions of stardom.

I don't know if I knew it at the time that I was going to the studio with my father, but apparently Carl Reiner, who was a nursery school parent at the same time as my parents, was 'smitten' with me and wanted me to be Little Richie's next door neighbor with a recurring role on the Dick Van Dyke show. My parents turned down that offer, wanting me to have a 'normal' childhood. While it's true that a lot of child actors have not had made easy transitions to adulthood, it might have been nice to have had Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as surrogate parents... 

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Talking about Feather Schwartz Foster about Her New Book, The First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower, An Intimate Portrait of the Women Who Shaped America

Feather Schwartz Foster spent more than 35 years in advertising and public relations.  She has also been an independent presidential historian for nearly four decades, with a personal library of more than 1,500 president and president-related volumes.

Her first book, LADIES: A Conjecture of Personalities was published in 2003, followed by Garfield’s Train, and a children’s book called T: An Auto-Biography.  She began lecturing about the “old” First Ladies at various venues in New Jersey, her native state, including historical societies, libraries, woman’s clubs and senior organizations.  She has made more than 300 personal appearances, including dozens of radio and television interviews.  Recently moved to Williamsburg, she now lectures about the “old” First Ladies at adult education venues associated with both the College of William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Society and Christopher Newport University.  The First Ladies, released in February, 2011, is her fourth book.

Tell us about the genre of your work.  Why did you choose this genre?

I write history because I love it, and it has been sadly neglected for quite some time.  Obviously I am not in it for the money.  If I wanted money, I would have been an orthodontist.  Some people write what they “feel” – I am not like that.  I prefer to write what I “know.” 

Can you tell us more about your books and where to find them?

LADIES: A Conjecture of Personalities – PublishAmerica, 2003, ISBN-13: 978-1592863617

Historical fiction.  The OLD First Ladies (Martha Washington thru Mamie Eisenhower) each write their own chapters, and everybody – including the moderns up to Mrs. Clinton – chimes in with commentary.  It’s an entertainment! As a young nation grew into its own, it was not just the presidents who led the way. The remarkable women of the White House, often neglected by history, had a heavy hand in the shaping of America. The earliest First Ladies of the United States left countless untold legacies behind after their role at the White House was over.

Decidedly different from their modern day counterparts, the nation's first presidential wives made their impact not in terms of political policy or broad social and civic service, but instead with unique, personal, and often long-lasting accomplishments.

Read the unforgettable stories of how:

Martha Washington set the tone for First Ladies and walked the fine line between royal pretention and republican accessibility.

Sarah Polk worked diligently, constantly giving the high office her utmost attention.

Julia Grant not only adapted to the ups and downs of her husband's political career, but flourished wherever she landed.

And it was Nellie Taft's ambition that ultimately led her husband to the presidency.

Garfield’s Train – PublishAmerica, 2005 - ISBN-13: 978-1413769159

Historical fiction.  The Garfield family interacts with fictional characters in Long Branch, NJ.

Garfield’s Train is a novel of the New Jersey Shore, when Long Branch was the “Gilded Strand” of the Gilded Age. The wealthiest families in the country built elaborate 30-room cottages along the seacoast, frequented the casinos and racetracks, and lived the good life. Then President James Garfield was shot by an assassin in 1881. He lingered in pain for three months, and was finally brought to Long Branch to die. The fictional Dunbar family interacts with a supporting cast of General Grant, Roscoe Conkling, James G. Blaine, Susan B. Anthony, and of course, the whole Garfield family, recreating the bygone era of Long Branch’s proudest hours.

Show Le
T: AN Auto-Biography (children’s book) – Red Engine Press, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0978515836

            Black Beauty on wheels.  The story of an old car and its many evolutions and owners.

NEWEST!  The First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower, An Intimate Portrait of the Women Who Shaped America – Sourcebooks – 2011 - ISBN-13: 978-1402242724

Real stuff.   Brief bios focusing on certain aspects of their lives, rather than just the same-old, same-old almanac facts.  Ladies: A Conjecture of Personalities is a book of voices. First Ladies between Martha Washington and Mamie Eisenhower tell their own stories—or, to be more exact, whatever they want—in their own words and in their own styles.

 Ladies: A Conjecture of Personalities crosses boundaries between fact, conjecture, and, most importantly, centuries. Through dialogue-boxes, the ladies talk to each other across eternity, where anything is possible. The modern First Ladies, from Mrs. Kennedy through Mrs. Clinton, participate in commentary. They talk to the reader and they talk amongst themselves. And they sympathize, empathize, and quarrel amongst themselves. They talk about their husbands, their children, the White House, and the times they lived in. And, of course, politics. It’s chatty. It’s catty. It’s fun. It’s informative. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in history.Show More
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Real stuff.  I write either historical fiction – or totally non-fiction. 

Why and when did you begin writing?

Maybe ever.  Probably around age nine or ten. 

What is your writing schedule?

Schedule???  You must be kidding.  If I had a schedule I would have cranked out fifty books by now.  I have many virtues.  Strict discipline is not among them.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

Ah.  I have spent the better part of 18 months working on a book (non-fiction) about Mary Lincoln, Julia Grant and Varina Davis (the Confederate First Lady).  It is not going well.  I do not like Mary, Julia, alas, is boring, and Varina can’t quite make it on her own.  I have put it aside for now.

So I started another project about First Parents.  Not the parents OF our Presidents (that has been done before) – but about First Families AS parents.  It will be short and snappy.  I am not a psychiatrist.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?

Learn to write well.  Don’t worry about being published.  Anybody can get published today.  It has become practically meaningless.  Writing well is something else.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

Be literate.  Use good words and phrases.  Don’t be trite.  Pick good role models and examples to emulate.  And emulate, don’t copy.  Read a lot.

What do you do when you are not writing? 

I am in the retirement mode now.  We have a lovely life in Williamsburg, with lots of friends.  We drink a lot of wine.  I do a little theatre again (not acting – I am a writer!).  I teach at some adult ed venues affiliated with William & Mary and Christopher Newport University.  Life is good.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview and a book trailer for my new book that was just released...., Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Discussing Gay Partington Terry's Writing and New Book, Meeting the Dog Girls

I’m a Manx insomniac who grew up in northern Appalachia, I assisted my dad in his magic act as a teenager and since then worked as a waitress, factory worker, welfare worker, catalogued tribal arts for Sotheby’s, volunteered in Margaret Mead’s office before she died, taught tai chi and yoga. I’ve had poetry and short stories published in ezines, fantasy magazines and anthologies, and wrote “The Toxic Avenger” II and III. I’ve spent over 30 years studying tai chi, more than ten years  doing qi gong and yoga. I have two married children, three grandchildren, a long-suffering husband and I’m watched over by the ghost of a loyal (canine) Australian Shepherd. I lived in NYC for 30 years, Brooklyn for 6, and am now back in NYC (Harlem). At heart I’m pretty much a slacker who enjoys teaching my grandkids “weird stuff.”
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
My stories have found homes in SF/fantasy magazines, anthologies, & ezines but the biggest criticism I get is that I don't quite fit into any category (the story of my life).
Why did you choose this genre?
It chose me--and I'm grateful.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Meeting the Dog Girls is the first book of mine to be published, a collection of short stories. Some of the stories appeared in magazines like, Full Spectrum, The Silver Web, Deep Outside, Fortean Bureau, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet,  and Fantasy Magazine.  I was a contributing editor of Frigate, The Transverse Review of Books (, and Guru News, a participant in the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference 2000. I’m a member of SFWA, and wrote parts II & III of The Toxic Avenger for Troma. 
Meeting the Dog Girls  NonStop Press, ISBN#978-933065-30-4
Hard to describe my stories: There are nuns who embroider worlds, glass men, alien neighbors, an ancient China that never was, babies that float down from the sky, a farm on the border between life and death. There was a point when I thought I only wrote about time, death and mine subsidence. But I think I've gone beyond...way beyond. Oh yea, there are definitely some laughs along the way can be found on Amazon: at NonStop Press (there's an excerpt here also):

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
I take notes of names, places, things that interest me. Occasionally they appear in dreams.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?
Some of them are loosely based on people I've known but I suppose they're really all little pieces of me. Yike!
What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?
I've written a few characters that are nasty, for no other reason than they are MEAN to the core. They're fun to write because they can do and say things I wouldn't dare. But most of my characters come up against the world, nature or their own loose qualities.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
I don't have a firm grasp of reality and writing gives me license to play in my own worlds.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I don't think about genre when I write.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I've been writing off and on since childhood. Sometimes life interfered and sometimes I gave it up thinking I was wasting my time. I got a job, raised my children, took up embroidery (a disaster), tried to  perfect my pie crust (a more tasty disaster)…
What is your writing schedule?
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I'm always writing stories but I have this fictionalized autobiography, illustrated with old family photos, that I'd love to publish. It's called "Remains" and, ok, it's about death but there are a  lot of laughs in it.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Read and write all you can, and EDIT!
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Writing is a very strange compulsion, your family and friends will never understand why you want to spend large amounts of time alone and frustrated.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
Play with my grandkids, do tai chi, yoga, read, watch mindless TV…
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
When I sold my first story, I felt immortal--it didn't last.

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book released in 2012, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.