A lofty place for authors, writers, and readers to connect
Vol. 5 Issue 3
Writers in the Sky E-Zine
Whether you are a published author or a
writer-wanna-be, this e-zine is for you. Here, you will find
articles, book reviews, announcements, poetry, and information
about the craft and business of writing, publishing and book
marketing written by our readers. Our goal is to connect the
writing and publishing community through networking.
A word from WITS owner, Yvonne Perry
Turning Creative Juices from a Trickle into a Flood
by Suzanne Male
Pen Names: To Hide or Reveal – That’s the Question
by Scott Lorenz
The Writing Life
by JJ Murphy
Book With a View
Read this month's book reviews
Adversity Brings Blessings
by Pierette Simpson
Poems from our readers
by Yvonne Perry
Welcome to another issue of Writers in the Sky E-zine. Our subscriber base continues to grow and our community
is becoming even closer-knit thanks to your participation in our
poetry chapbook released on Friday the thirteenth of February. I’ve received some
wonderful comments about the lovely e-book that our
graphic designer, Jessica Dockter, put together with all the terrific poems
you sent us. You may download the chapbook as a PDF from our Web site at
By the way, Valentine's Day has a way of bringing up memories! This month's poetry corner shows that we have been thinking about past lovers. Check it out!
Last month, I mentioned that three of our five children are expecting babies, and that both my daughter Sareya, and my step-daughter-in-law Katie
(the administrative assistant for WITS) are having boys. We now know that my daughter-in-law Amanda is also having a boy. But, wait! There’s
more! My step-daughter Ryah just joined the baby club, which means four of our daughters are expecting babies this year! But, wait!
There’s more! Sarah Moore, the author’s assistant for WITS, is due in August, which means she and Katie are helping WITS grow its future team members!
And, speaking of family, did either of your parents serve in the armed forces? Angela Grett and I are looking for people who were
raised in military families to
take our survey and give us input about your family dynamics. We plan to compile and use the answers to
write a book to help unite civilian and military families with a better understanding of this unique culture. All answers will remain confidential.
I hope you enjoy this month's e-zine and will leave a voice mail comment about the e-zine or your experience with WITS by phoning (214) 615-6505 ext 7282.
Turning Creative Juices From a Trickle into a Flood
by Suzanne Male
Creativity is an odd and fickle mistress. It seems to drop out of the ether at odd times—Incredible ideas, a unique observation, an entire novel
or film idea, appearing seemingly out of nowhere and landing in your lap for writing cultivation.
It might seem like there’s no recipe for creativity. It certainly appears completely random—like you are sitting on a train staring
out the window a la J.K. Rowling when the proverbial lightning strike hits, or at an Indian zoo like Yann Martel when the
Life of Pi light bulb appeared
over his head. Creative ideas can certainly land at unexpected times, but there are definitely ways we can summon the muse; encourage her close and turn a
dry spell into abundance.
A quiet mind is a fertile field. Truly inspired ideas seem to come to a quiet mind. Very few authors get their inspiration while
watching television, but the noise that gets in the way of a quiet mind can come as much from the inside as the outside.
The inner voice is a source of the constant, mostly negative or fearful, chatter in our heads. There are various ways you can tell it to be quiet.
Proven methods include meditation, yoga, and journaling. You might also notice that the idea river runs smoothly when you are on a holiday or break from work.
Stress is a big creativity killer.
Stand near the already inspired. Some creative people are incredibly inspiring. They produce works that take your breath away and you
walk away from the experience with a creative itch. It’s not the desire to emulate what they’ve done, but the desire to create something
yourself, something equally inspiring.
One way to propel this desire is to experience art, or attend events that you know you will enjoy. It’s no use going to the ballet if such
art bores you to tears. If you know the intense prose of Salman Rushdie novels inspire you, or the music of Leonard Cohen makes you feel creative, go there
to get the itch.
Rules of engagement. One way to give creativity a boost is to get involved in life. Not just living, but ‘eating’ life. Develop a love of learning, be interested
in life and in people, think about things, be passionate and open, and seek out experiences and immerse yourself in them.
Just write. Doing creative writing exercises is a very practical way of adding spark to your writing life. After all, one quintessential truth is the more you write,
the more you open up to creativity and the more it flows. Merely concentrating on writing and being creative will bring more creativity.
Invite the muse to a party. There is a Biblical truth that says where two or three are gathered in God’s name that He is there in the midst of them. This works with the creativity muse, too.
If you gather with one or two friends who are creatively minded and talk ideas, the river will start to flow. The muse loves such events and blesses the party with inspiration.
Party is a good word to use. After all, when it comes to writing, this is the fun part. When your creativity is flowing it makes you feel alive, full of possibilities, positive, and excited. It’s obviously the recipe for something amazing.
Suzanne Male is publisher at independent press Smink Works Books (http://www.sminkworks.com) and is co-founder of the Writers’ Resource Centre (http://www.writersworld.com.au). She is author of the new book
A Year of Writing Inspiration: a prompt a day for the creative writer, which contains 365 writing exercises to encourage inspiration and creativity, and generate story ideas.
Listening to Writers in the Sky Podcast on a computer is
easy. Just click this link:
and go to my blog. On the right sidebar there is a list of
archived shows. Click on the interview you would like to
hear and it will open a post that has a link to open the
audio file. For information about being a guest on Writers
in the Sky Podcast, see
Shayn Cutino shares her book, The Anja Technique, the Art of Self Love with podcast host Yvonne Perry. Shayn
is a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a member of the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, the International
Hypnosis Research Institute and the International Hypnosis Federation.
She has discovered that the missing connection between each person and a productive life
is the relationship they have with themselves. Shayn
developed the Anja Technique to teach individuals how to love themselves and overcome the multitude of obstacles that attempt
to block them from achieving a well rounded life.
Purchase on Amazon.com.
Yvonne Perry will host the show and interview Patricia Milner
as she discusses her book, Divine Intervention, and how her psychic gifts have affected all areas of her life.
Patricia is an international psychic medium, Reiki master, spiritual teacher and trainer who has been psychic since birth.
Her spiritual retreats guide people through life’s changes and challenges by helping them with their spiritual growth and development.
She also uses her music and singing voice to create her own meditation music.
Read more or
purchase on Amazon.com
Sarah Moore will be discussing the novel Compulsion with new author Jennifer Chase,
who uses her educational background
in police forensics and criminology to bring amazing details to her thriller. In
Compulsion, Emily Stone works
anonymously to track pedophiles and killers and bring them to justice. When Emily becomes the hunted one, the mind games
increase along with the tension. Chase will discuss the role that psychology plays in investigating crime
scenes and how she unfolded the striking personalities in her novel. Please visit
to learn more about Compulsion and Jennifer
Chase. Purchase Jennifer's book on
Sarah Moore will interview Christina Sponias as she presents her
new e-books, Craziness Prevention and Dream
Interpretation as a Science. These books contain Sponias’ own theory for interpreting dreams and teach people how to solve problems
based on guidance received from the unconscious mind. Christina continued Carl Jung's research into the human psyche by simplifying
the scientific method of dream interpretation. In her interview, Ms. Sponias will share how learning the techniques
for translating the exact meaning of your dreams will allow you to find health, wisdom, and happiness. Please visit
Christina Sponias’ Web site
to learn more about the author and her publications.
Pen Names: To Hide or Reveal – That’s the Question For Authors
by Scott Lorenz
A rich tradition has existed for hundreds of years for fiction writers to use pen names. The most famous pen name, of course, was Samuel
Clemens writing under the name Mark Twain. A lesser known use is that of romance writer Nora Roberts who uses the pen name J.D. Robb when writing suspense novels.
Alice in Wonderland was authored by Lewis Carroll, a pen name used by Charles Dodgson, who had gained a considerable reputation as a
mathematician, and didn’t
want to create confusion by writing fiction under his real name.
As a book marketing expert, I have represented a long list of authors, some of whom have chosen to use pen names. Others have asked me about the wisdom
of using a pen name. My general response is to advise against a pen name but there are good reasons not to sign a book with your real name.
Nora Roberts certainly has a marketable name. After all, her name has appeared on the
NY Times Best Seller List for a combined 660 weeks–100 weeks
in the number one spot. Over 280 million copies of her books are in print, including 12 million copies sold in 2005 alone. So with a marketable name like that,
why would Nora Roberts ever want to use a pen name? By the way, Nora Roberts also is a pen name; the author was born Eleanor Marie Roberts.
In 1992, Putnam publishers asked Nora Roberts to come up with a second pen name because they could not keep up with the prolific writer’s romance novels,
let alone the new genre of romance suspense novels she wanted to write. So she took the initials J.D. from sons Jason and Dan and shortened Roberts to Robb. She also
has written under the pen names Jill March and Sara Hardesty.
One of my clients served as a Navy Seal in the Iraq War and then returned to write a book on the war that was critical of Islam. To protect his personal safety and
maintain security for his family, my client wrote under the pen name Chuck Bravedy. The author was concerned that extremists living in America would be offended and angered
by his controversial book and come after him or his family.
The fact that Bravedy’s name was “not in the phone book” raised some attention from the Pentagon.
Officials called me to inquire about Chuck Bravedy
because they did not have his name in their files. The Pentagon was concerned because they want to keep phonies from impersonating military officials.
One client I represented, who asked my advice about using a pen name, was a former CIA operative. He was concerned about the impact a pen name would have on
promoting his book. He wondered whether radio and TV interviewers would be willing to use the pen name during an interview or would insist on using his birth name.
Some CIA friends of my client also had published books and used their real names without problems. To cover his bases while he decided, the former CIA officer went ahead and registered
Web domains under his real name and under his pen name. After talking with him about the options, my client decided to
use his real name.
I also have represented authors who used a pen name because they had a past they were not proud of and wanted to protect their family members and loved ones
from public embarrassment.
From a marketing standpoint, if your real life identify is associated with a business and you want the book to promote your business, or vice versa, then a pen
name should not be used. But if you have success, and don’t want that success threatened by pursuing an avocation of writing, then a pen name would be in order.
Pen names may create marketing challenges, most of which can be overcome, and so the marketing implications need to be examined before publishing.
Reasons for using a pen name include:
• To avoid embarrassment
• For personal safety or security
• If you write under more than one genre
• If your name is hard to pronounce or spell
• If your name is not marketable
• If your name conflicts with the name of another author
• To hide gender (a male writing in predominantly female genre)
• To avoid confusing readers if you are well known in another field
If you want to hide from the public and from people you
whom you have or had a working relationship, then a pen name is fine. But, if it’s not important then why bother?
So, my vote is to use your own name. Here are just a few points to ponder.
• Use real name if you are not trying to hide from anyone
• Use real name to brand your name for speaking gigs or consulting assignments
• Use real name if you are planning to write a series of books
• Use real name so acquaintances can better locate your published works
• A real name builds trust and confidence amongst readers
• It's far easier to brand a real name than a pen name
• Expertise is validated by an individual’s real-life experience
• Long-term loyalty with readers is easier to build with real name
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm with a special knack for working with individuals
and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors,
doctors, lawyers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books.
Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at
www.westwindcos.com/book or contact Lorenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by phone at 734-667-2090.
Add your announcement or brag about your
writing accomplishment. Tell us about your book or business.
Share information and ideas or send articles or advertorial
for the next issue by contacting us on our Web site
www.writersinthesky.com/contact.php . Here are some
announcements from our readers this month:
Did your parents serve in the armed forces? We are looking for people who were raised in military families to
take our survey and give us input about your family dynamics.
All answers will remain confidential.
Arline Chase, publisher at Cambridge Books, says, "We are proud to have published
Steven Clark Bradley's book,
Patriot Acts, especially in these times. Today, it is
more important than ever for Americans to be aware of the
dangers our country faces. Yes, this book is fictional. But,
its premise is certainly a plausible one."
Today, America faces enemies that make the world of the Cold War seem like much brighter times. Islamic forces have declared Jihad on America causing the
greatest threat to the life of the United States since World War II. In
Patriot Acts, America finds itself under covert nuclear attack from the Islamic Republic
of Iran, which has linked up with radical American Militia groups. They have set aside their political and religious differences to carry out the widest attack to
America in the nation's history. Colonel Fisher Harrison, the best trained Special Ops killer the military has, is the only one person who can effectively retaliate
against their aggression. The only problem is that Colonel Fisher is in a federal prison, framed for a murder he did not commit by his former boss who is now the
President of the United States of America. Take an amazing journey from Alaska to the Midwest and to the center of the Islamic Republic of Iran as two enemies
unite to save the nation from two adversaries in league to bring the country to its knees. You will be amazed how close to home and to reality
Patriot Acts could be!
You might be interested in Scribal News Calendar filled with announcements about book signings, writing conferences and
seminars, and podcasts related to the writing industry. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to
email@example.com with “Subscribe Scribal News”
in the subject line.
Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power, coauthored by Chicken Soup for the Soul editor Susan M. Heim, recently received a 2009 Mom's
Choice Award! This book offers practical and fun ways for parents to develop and nurture maximum brain power from the womb to baby’s first birthday.
Read more at www.susanheim.com.
Have you been by the official Black History Celebration blog and introduced your book? The 2009 Black History Literary Affair
has kicked off, so make sure to leave full details about your book and business for the community at the Meet and Greet Center. Also, please add your
comments to our first community discussion, Why is Celebrating Black History Important. There is a video showcasing five educators from ATL
discussing Black History. Check it out and share your
thoughts, too! Tell your network to visit with us too. Don't
forget to tell all your friends about the event and the blog
http://profilesinblack.blogspot.com. This is a community event; all visitors are welcome to leave their messages and promote
their business/books in the comments sections.
www.JustOneMoreBook.com is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children's books.
Each weekday morning, we take a few minutes out of our morning coffee ritual to discuss one of our many favorite children's books.
We also feature weekly interviews with authors, illustrators, experts and enthusiasts in the areas of children's literature and
literacy as well as listener-submitted book reviews.
Through this podcast and Web site, we are building a lively, interactive community linking children's book authors, illustrators, readers
(parents, children, librarians, teachers, and literacy activists), and publishers.
Busy parents and educators can now discover great read-aloud children's books while they are busy doing the many tasks that would otherwise
rob them of the opportunity to research great children's books in more traditional ways.
Our guests have included celebrity authors such as Sheree Fitch, Rachna Gilmore, Jack Prelutsky, Daniel Pinkwater, Eve Bunting, Eva Ibbotson,
Henry Winkler and Mary Ann Hoberman and celebrity illustrators such as Mo Willems, Bob Staake, Marc Brown, Oliver Jeffers, Simon James, Jane Ray,
Wallace Edwards and Kevin Hawkes. We have also aimed the spotlight at interesting and lesser known authors and illustrators.
Episodes range in length from five to twenty-five minutes and can be played directly from our
Web page or downloaded to a portable mp3 player, such as an iPod,
for listening on the go.
This podcast is powered by passion. We have no advertisers or sponsors. Our goals are to link children with great books and to help create happy
memories for children and the adults that read to them…and to have fun!
The Just One More Book! Podcast has been recommended by the American Library Association as one of its American Library Association (ALA) -
Great Web sites for Kids and has been featured in Canadian Living Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Family Fun Magazine and such prestigious
literary publications as School Library Journal, Books for Keeps,
Canadian Children's Book News and Publishers Weekly. We are also regular
contributors to ChildsLife, The Edge of the Forest, and Parent Source online newsletters. Watch for us again in the February 2009 edition of
Canadian Living Magazine.
Ever dream about getting wonderful trips with incredible people to
exotic places for FREE? In my FREE e-book How to Make Travel Writing Work for You, I give you the fast track to achieving this goal.
Go to my Web site www.LindaBallouAuthor.com. Enter your name and e-mail in the top right corner of homepage and magically the e-book will appear.
While you are visiting, check out Wai-nani’s page. There are reviews, a first chapter and reader comments.
Linda Ballou, Adventure travel writer and author of Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai’i
My book, Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest
Sea Rescue in History, has received honorable mention from
the New England Book Festival. And, a movie producer in Rome has purchased the world rights to my book. Also, I’m going to Italy in
May to receive an award from my fellow Italians, thanking me for vindicating my people from a historical injustice. In July, I will
be the featured speaker for the American Library Association in Chicago. Thanks again and all the best to you and your team at WITS.
Your Web site looks outstanding!
Pierette Domenica Simpson
Memphis hosts the newest writers' conference in the Mid-south this March 20-22. With a faculty of Hugo, Nebula,
World Fantasy, and Darrell Award-winning authors, editors, and publishers this promises to be a cornucopia of writing and publishing wisdom.
As a conference within a fantasy and science fiction fan convention, registration includes all the food, programming, and fun
for which genre fans are famous.
Where else can you enjoy vital workshops to further your writing career and creativity, all while watching Darth Vader and a winged fairy walk through the lobby?
Sponsored by MidSouthCon and Meadowhawk Press and featuring guest faculty including C.J. Cherryh, Mike Resnick, Jackie Gamber, and Ann and Jeff
Vandermeer among many others, this conference welcomes and encourages writers of all genres. Sharpen your prose, broaden your horizons, or
just share the camaraderie of fellow writers. This conference will not disappoint with a registration fee of only $40. More details at
Many thanks to Karen Pierce Gonzalez for mentioning WITS in her newsletter KPG E-News which features news you can
use to promote you and your business. Subscribe at
http://www.karenpiercegonzalez.com and receive by email How to Generate Media Visibility.
Do you know anyone in the music industry who needs lyrics
for about 100 new songs? Please contact Dennis Martin.
Discover the Copywriting Keys to Unleashing Your Social Media Marketing Success in 2009 & Beyond
No matter what your business, no matter what product, service or expertise you are selling, you need the right words to sell. Of course,
in this “Web 2.0” world, there are so many places and platforms that need relevant and persuasive words—blogs, press releases, Squidoo lenses, articles, newsletters, and bios/profiles for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to name a few.
Many successful marketers will tell you that copywriting—the ability to put what you are selling into words that actually sell—is
the #1 most important skill to have in marketing. And this is true now more than ever.
My colleagues Craig Cannings of VAClassroom and Allison Nazarian of Get It In Writing have teamed up to present an amazing (and did I mention FREE?)
webinar event on this very topic. In the world of social media, and social marketing in particular, your credibility, your visibility, and your reputation are the measures of your success. And the key to being able to shine in social media lies in the words businesses use to
create the conversations they are having.
Craig, Allison, and I invite you to take advantage of this session: Discover The Key Copywriting Techniques For Unleashing Your
Social Media Marketing Success in 2009 & Beyond. This is an event you don’t want to miss—the “secret weapon” so many
successful marketers have and use can (and should) be yours too.
Free Webinar Event
Thursday March 5
5 p.m. Eastern (2 p.m. Pacific)
Register at CopywritingKingdom
This free webinar event and the Special Report are perfect for
solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, small business owners, coaches,
freelancers, copywriters, virtual assistants, and online professionals.
When you sign up for this no-charge event, you will also receive Craig & Allison’s Special Report:
Five Copywriting Strategies
Guaranteed to Successfully Bring You, Your Brand & Your Business Into
the New Kingdom.
Your announcement could be here. Check out the
and send us your blurb.
The Writing Life: Book Review
by JJ Murphy
The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way is a scholarly work, but the author’s wit and humor kept me engaged. Sometimes, I even laughed out loud. Willard Espy’s comment
that “Bryson might well have called it . . . The Mother Tongue-in-Cheek,” is on target. Consider the first two sentences: “More than 300 million
people in the world speak English, and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to. It would be charitable to say that the results are sometimes mixed.”
This book takes my February musings on “Antagonyms” to the next level. Bryson writes: “Any language where the unassuming word fly signifies an annoying
insect, a means of travel, and a critical part of a gentleman’s apparel is clearly asking to be mangled.”
“Imagine being a foreigner,” Bryson writes, “that when a person says to you, ‘How do you do?’ he will be taken aback if you reply, with impeccable
logic, ‘How do I do what?’”
I thought that the world spoke English because of American economic influence, but according to Bryson, a large vocabulary, flexibility, and relative
simplicity of spelling and pronunciation contribute to the global adoption of English. I was surprised to learn, for example, that when Volkswagen set up a
factory in Shanghai, German engineers and Chinese managers communicated in English, putting everyone “at an equal disadvantage.”
Bryson casts a wide net over this topic. Chapter titles include: The
Dawn of Language, Where Words Come From, Good English and Bad, Order Out
of Chaos, English as A World Language, Swearing, Wordplay and The Future
Some of Bryson’s observations gave me pause to think. He writes, “In modern humans, the lowered larynx isn’t in position from birth.
It descends sometime between the ages of three and five months—curiously, the precise period when babies are likely to suffer from sudden infant death syndrome.”
I’m not saying it’s true or not—the idea would not have occurred to me.
While many readers challenge some of Bill Bryson’s theories about the continuing evolution of spoken and written English, Bryson does provide citations for
those who wish to check his interpretations.
Bryson’s anecdotal style and his lively examples make an otherwise daunting subject, fascinating and fun to embrace. I’ll read this book at least ten times,
confident I’ll observe something new.
JJ Murphy is a freelance nature writer, photographer, blogging hiker, forager, locavore, and tree-hugger with more than 50 years
of eco-centric living experience. Visit www.WriterByNature.com
if you need relevant content that captures your personal style and tone.
Savory Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking
Author: Howida (Dodi) Elhalogy
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Genre and Target Market: cooking, food, culture
Publication Date: 2008
Book Length in Pages: 84
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)
I always take a little time to skim through cookbooks while at my local bookstore. I like discovering new ingredients, or perhaps just new ways to use already familiar ingredients. I enjoy taking a moment to envision the great dinner parties I will host and the compliments I will receive on the unique and delicious menu I prepared. Above all, I love to stare at the beautiful pictures of the final product as created by the author. While my limited culinary skills may never allow for an exact visual replica of the dish as it’s intended, the colorful presentations provide something to which I can aspire. The new cookbook
The Savory Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking by Howida “Dodi” Elhalogy exceeds all of my prerequisites for a great addition to anyone’s kitchen collection.
Mrs. Elhalogy grew up in an Egyptian village as the daughter of the province’s mayor. Since her family did a lot of entertaining on their large estate, Mrs. Elhalogy learned at a young age to prepare meals for special events and eventually mastered the art of Middle Eastern cooking. She decided to pull together her family’s recipes into this beautiful cookbook as a way of preserving a cultural tradition and of introducing a new audience to the amazing flavors and textures found in the dishes of the Middle East.
I was first struck by the beauty of the book. Mrs. Elhalogy uses rich colors of yellow and orange on the cover, along with a photo of garlic, onion and cilantro (I’m already sold … you cannot do better than those ingredients for a great-smelling kitchen!) to draw her readers into the culinary treasures inside. Once I turned the pages, I found page after page of beautiful pictures highlighting the table presentations that can be created with her recipes. When necessary, there were even “action photos” showing how to proceed correctly with certain steps in the recipe. I am a cook who hesitates to try a new recipe unless I can see the intended end product, so the pictures that accompanied each recipe were much appreciated.
The recipes themselves provided explicit step-by-step instructions. I have tried to work from other cookbooks that take certain steps in the process for granted, inevitably leading me to make a critical error. Not so with the recipes written by Dodi. The recipes develop methodically from the initial washing of ingredients to the necessary garnishes. I feel confident that, even though I would be working with some food that is unfamiliar to me, Dodi has provided enough instruction to ensure my success. And, just in case aspiring cooks of Middle Eastern cuisine still have some concern when working through her recipes, Dodi includes a glossary of some of the more unusual ingredients, along with their alternate names and descriptions. This component of the Helpful Hints section, along with the recipes’ Arabic translations on each page, provide an opportunity to learn about the individual foods while you are bringing them together for a meal.
As I read through each recipe, I was struck by an even greater opportunity that this book provides than just creating amazing food. A primary way of learning about a culture is through its traditional foods. I think back to “Culture Days” as a young child at school, when we would bring in a meal from the country of our choice. Learning about food opens the doors to other conversations, and this truth continues into adulthood. Why is a particular ingredient a staple of the diet in certain cultures? What are the most common cooking methods and why are they used? What are the standard customs practiced when eating a meal? I believe that by discussing these questions and other topics that may evolve from the conversation, we can gain greater appreciation and understanding for individuals from around the world. The recipes in
The Savory Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking provide an excellent catalyst for just this purpose.
My husband and I have long considered Middle Eastern cuisine to be among our favorites. I already have tried several of the recipes, including the Tabula Salad and Koshary, to rave reviews around my dinner table. I look forward to wearing out the pages of
The Savory Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking as I teach my own children the great Egyptian traditions that Dodi learned in her own youth and now, thankfully, shares with all of us. For those who are interested in expanding their culinary horizons, or perhaps simply want to enjoy the beauty of a well-planned cookbook, this offering by Howida “Dodi” Elhalogy is a must-have addition to your home library.
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com (2009)
Genre and Target Market: thriller; fiction; criminal psychology
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)
There are certain types of books that are almost guaranteed to keep me turning the pages into the late hours of the night. The first is any novel that develops a compelling story of the complexities found in human relationships. Second, I love a great piece of historical fiction that places me in a previous moment in time. And, finally, I gravitate towards thrilling mysteries that are filled with breath-taking action and plot twists. For literary satisfaction on the last count, I am so excited to have discovered new author Jennifer Chase. Her first book,
Compulsion, is a fascinating story of serial murderers, pedophiles, and the one amazing woman who is able to bring them all to justice. When a book contains these elements and is well-written, which
Compulsion most certainly is, you have the recipe for an amazing read.
Author Jennifer Chase introduces us to the great character of Emily Stone. Working anonymously with her camera, computer, and trusted weapon at her constant disposal, Stone goes on the hunt for some of the most violent and deplorable criminals one can imagine. She uses her police background and natural ability to get inside the criminal mind to gather detailed, on-the-scene evidence. Then, she sends her information to the police and another villain is taken off the streets. When Stone’s identity is revealed to the latest killer on her radar screen, the fast-paced action that unfolds becomes the heart of the story and takes the reader on an amazing journey of heightened adrenaline and fear.
One of the greatest strengths in Chase’s writing is the careful unfolding of her characters’ personalities. The man known to the readers for most of
Compulsion’s pages only as The Killer is first revealed through the gruesome crimes he commits. We learn of his brutal style of murder through the description of police on the scene. Further into the book, we are let into the mind of The Killer and the motivation behind his violent spree. Chase’s portrayal of a man sitting alone with his twisted thoughts brings the character into a more frightening focus. When the name and full story behind The Killer is finally revealed, the weight provided by the complete picture of this terrifying man is felt. The author employs this same development technique for her other characters, which adds an important element to the tension and sense of uncertainty. But don’t think that you are necessarily on the right track when learning more about a person in this novel. I found myself fooled by Chase’s convincing efforts to lead us down a path of assuming the guilt of an innocent person on more than one occasion.
Both the language and overall format of this book are evidence of Chase’s genuine talent in the genre of thrillers. For example, the tension and terror of the book escalates as The Killer and The Accomplice become more voracious in their need for prey. As they drive across the country with the intention of murdering Emily Stone, their need to commit violence at every step is overpowering. Readers can envision these men clenching their fists and tapping their feet with nervous energy and Chase reminds us at the close of every chapter in this climactic series of events that, “The Killers are coming.” It is a taunt that helps to create a sense of terrified anticipation. Each chapter is also quite short, often not more than three or four pages in length. This purposefully abrupt , snapshot approach jostles the reader from one event to the next, and is wonderful at generating the way that Emily Stone must feel when moving from one case to the next and not knowing who or what may be around the corner.
The new novel Compulsion by Jennifer Chase is a captivating thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page is read. The careful character
development results in real, three-dimensional men and women, even if some of them are almost unimaginably horrifying. The plot, with its slowly revealed layers, is one
that engages the readers immediately and takes them on quite an adventure. I was excited to read on Chase’s back cover that she is currently at work on the next book
in the series. She can be certain that this new fan will be among the first to read the next installment. I believe that you, too, will find that
Compulsion will leave you
excited for more.
Author: Irene Brodsky
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com (2009)
Genre and Target Market: poetry; women; education
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)
I am always eager to discover the expression that is shared by an artist through a chosen craft. Whether he is a composer who brought notes together to form a symphony centuries ago or a young poet who thoughtfully constructs her word patterns even before she knows how to tie her shoes, I love to get lost in such honest emotion. As a musician and a writer, I know that any moment or any object can inspire an outpouring of self. I have recently found a new poet named Irene Brodsky who shares much of her personal story in her just published collection of freestyle poetry entitled
Poetry Unplugged. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Brodsky and have only had the opportunity for one phone conversation, but I feel that I have some sense of her background and what she holds so dear through her wonderful use of words.
Irene Brodsky, like most Americans across the country, felt a powerful need to express herself after the tragedy of September 11. As a resident of New York City, she had a front-seat perspective on that horrible day and found herself drawn to poetry has her chosen means of releasing her overwhelming emotions. She wrote a compelling piece of poetry titled “The Tallest Twins” in which she portrays the World Trade
Towers as her close friends. This personification served as a less painful way of coping with the grief she was experiencing for her friends who worked in those buildings. The poem became the opening selection in
Poetry Unplugged and serves as an appropriate and compelling introduction to the rest of her work.
Throughout the poems found in Brodsky’s Poetry Unplugged, one clear characteristic of the author becomes pleasantly apparent. She is a woman who does not have to search to find points of beauty and astonishment in her everyday surroundings, and she never takes this precious realization for granted. There are several poems that recall childhood memories from places like Howard Street or Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Her words in these selections create a nostalgic visual of a New York that, for the most part, exists only in the memory of those who lived through the era. What wonderful pieces these will be for her readers who look back at their own childhoods in New York with fondness. Ms. Brodsky also shows a love for the natural environment, with poems detailing her day spent with a doe, vacations to the Catskill Mountains, and even the simple appreciation for the beautiful color of an apple. When someone’s writing encourages me to take a second look at the ordinary grandeur that surrounds me, I am truly thankful.
Ms. Brodsky’s work also should serve as a source of encouragement for women who are considering a significant change in their life’s path. She chose to return to college at the age of fifty-five and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. There are several poems in
Poetry Unplugged that share Ms. Brodsky’s sense of pride at this great accomplishment. Her poem “Graduation Day” encapsulates all of the strong emotions that anyone feels when achieving one of their life goals, from a sense of disbelief to new confidence to just a bit of sadness at saying goodbye to friends. I felt a particular connection to “Spring Has Sprung on the Quad,” with lines such as “Pictures have been taken, The Quad is all aflutter, A special day awaits!” I read this poem several times, and recalled wonderful visuals of my own graduation nearly fifteen years ago. Perhaps some of Ms. Brodsky’s readers will be inspired to create such memories for themselves!
I sat down with Irene Brodsky’s Poetry Unplugged as someone who has great appreciation for the written word, but hardly as a seasoned critic of poetry. I closed the collection of work as a fan of Ms. Brodsky’s use of language and the confident sense of self that gives her poetry both an inviting approach and a real sense of purpose. Her personal story, namely her decision to return to school later in life and now pass on her learned craft to new students, is a wonderful starting point to attract readers before even enjoying her first line of poetry. When readers discover that the quality of her art is such that they want to reread her words to themselves and others, they will hope that another book of poetry is in Ms. Brodsky’s future. Whether or not such a publication is forthcoming, I at least would love to grab a seat in her class one day and experience the contagious excitement she feels for poetry and simply for life.
Nightengale Press (2008)
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry for WITS
I’m Thankful for Divine Intervention!
How would you like to be able to see, hear, and feel the spirit world and have no one believe you when you tell them? What if your own mother rejects you when, as a child, you mention your invisible playmates? Your friends make fun of you behind your back. You might think you are a misfit. Such was the case with Patricia Milner whose psychic gifts began to manifest at a very young age.
Feeling like an outsider who didn’t belong with her family or schoolmates, Patricia sought refuge in the fields, gardens, and woods where she would be greeted by angels, guardians, animal spirits, and other light beings who encouraged and directed her through difficult times. Unable to turn off the divine voices that seemed to be everywhere, she finally became rebellious—especially toward those who picked on her for being different.
She faced many physical and emotional tragedies. If not for her daughter, born when she was only eighteen years old, life might have been too much to bear. It was this precious soul that kept Patricia moving to the next level of her spiritual development. Protecting little Angela led Patricia to escape her abusive marriage. One would think that all this trouble would have made Patricia crazy or bitter. She’s neither. Instead, she now uses her experience and her spiritual gifts to help others who are going through similar hardships.
All in all, I found the book a very interesting read. While my spiritual gifts are not nearly as developed as Patricia’s, I can relate to her experience and have no problem believing that what she experienced was real. We all have spirit guides that provide divine intervention. Some people just seem to acknowledge it more than others.
Reviews and podcasts of children's books are available at
Just One More Book. We have chosen to recommend
these two books this month:
Kate and the Beanstalk
is written by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Giselle Potter,
and published by Simon & Schuster (ISBN: 0689825501).
This refreshing departure from the boy-burglarizes-giant version of the giant beanstalk story has our girls swooning, roaring and cheering each and every time.
Nic Bishop's Frogs
a Cybils 2008-2009 Non-fiction Picture Book category
winner authored and illustrated by Nic Bishop and
published in 2008 by Scholastic (ISBN: 0439877555).
This gorgeously photographed and casually narrated ramble through the often mind-boggling traits, anatomy, actions, stats,
and abilities of the humble frog family will change your view of frogs forever.
Adversity Brings Blessings
by Pierette Simpson
In 1956, I survived the most catastrophic collision in history between two ocean liners: the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. Fifty years later,
I authored Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History. By doing so, I became the first survivor in history to publish an
all-inclusive book about one’s own shipwreck, including humanistic and scientific aspects. I wanted to portray the mystifying event that could
have been another Titanic, yet contribute a work of historical significance.
Alive on the Andrea Doria has brought me unpredicted satisfaction as an author and as someone who believes in leaving a valuable legacy for mankind.
I’m grateful for:
• Providing a legal defense and a vindication on behalf of my fellow Italians, who were unjustly blamed for the collision and sinking of the luxury
• Receiving a global award given by my native region, the Piedmont. The award recognizes patriotism and talent in piemontesi who have contributed
works or projects highlighting culture, language, literature, and the arts.
• Selling world film rights to a Roman producer for the Italian version of my book,
L’Ultima Notte dell’Andrea Doria.
• Receiving the Collegian Award from my alma mater, Wayne State University. It recognizes alumni who have made contributions in their field of
study to the community at large. • The New England Book Festival recognized
Alive on the Andrea Doria for general excellence and the author's passion for telling
a good story;
and also for the potential of the work to reach a wider audience. The award was in the biography/autobiography category. (January 2009).• Reaching
the title of best seller in three categories of Amazon.com: maritime science, admiralty law, ships and shipwrecks.• Being the keynote speaker at the American
Library Association convention in Chicago. Having my legacy (my book) acknowledged in our libraries has been my dream!
If anyone is wondering if they can be a successful first-time author, my answer is ABSOLUTELY. It takes a lot of hard work to write a book, get it published,
and keep up with its promotion. For me it’s been a gratifying journey. If you have a book in your heart, commit to putting your legacy in writing.
Perry’s Web site has a wealth of information and support to get you started.
Pierette Simpson is the first survivor in history to publish an all-inclusive book about one’s own shipwreck, including humanistic and scientist aspects.
After publishing Alive on the Andrea Doria! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History, Pierette has been called to serve on several projects within the maritime world.
She continues the Andrea Doria legacy by speaking about her book to national audiences.
Drink to Us
Raise a glass,
Raise a bottle,
Drain the keg if you please,
Run your engine full throttle
In the cool evening breeze.
Be a friend,
Be a partner,
Be the one that I trust.
Drink a toast to forever,
Drink to us.
I can recall all the good times we’ve known,
The million and one ways our friendship has grown,
The laughter, the tears, the frets and the fuss,
So let’s toast to ourselves,
Drink to us.
Raise a glass,
Raise a bottle,
Drain the keg if you please,
Run your engine full throttle
In the cool evening breeze.
Be a friend,
Be a partner,
Be the one that I trust.
Drink a toast to forever,
Drink to us.
Never say never, and always be true.
I can’t imagine a time without you.
We’re taking our time. There’s no need to rush.
Raise your glass one more time.
Drink to us.
Dennis S Martin, from Rhythmic Notions,
a collection of poems soon to be available on Lulu.com.
A Conscious Painting
I Paint In Fragments
I Move From Canvas
To Canvas Expressing
To Be A Conscious Painting
Of Inner Consciousness
The Ink Well
Of Acceptance Dries
In The Air
My Brush Dips
Itself in Blood
As Mental Enzymes
Turn Into Human Thoughts
Copied From Memory
Unique Mysteries Drizzle
My Outer Edges
With Magical Desires
Fresh Beliefs Become
A Colorful Vibration
And My Nucleus
A Family Of Nuances
That Shade Themselves
An Art Form
Of Timeless Motion
Captures My Multiplicity
In Free Style
And I Rest
On A Easel
Hal Manogue, from his 2009
Short Sleeves collection of Spirit Songs, due in print this year.
Let Her Go
by Jan Bossing © 2009 Joelton, TN
She comes to him in the dead of night.
In dreams that bring him to his knees.
He’s forty-five now and in the dream.
But she’s still seventeen.
So young, so fine, so free.
Then he’s awake and he’s shaking.
He knows she is dead to him.
But he’d trade his soul to the devil,
Just to bring her back again.
So young, so fine, so free.
She’s gone, Buddy, let her go.
Even if you found her, it wouldn’t be the same.
So hold that sweet woman beside you,
The one you sometimes call by that other one’s name.
They were just kids being kids.
In My Dreams
by Irene Brodsky, Poetry Unplugged
I love him
He doesn't know it
My heart sings
He can't hear it
My hand reaches out
He will never feel it.
I have no right
to love him
as I do,
For I'm not free
I belong to another
What more can I say?
If things change,
he will come to me.
I'll cry myself to sleep
and see him in my dreams!
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© 2009 Yvonne Perry