Changing Tides

This is the last official update on this version of the blog/website. I’m in the process of getting the  new website set up on its  new home servers. So, if you followed this blog, please, since I think it needs to be redone, follow us over there and bear with me as I get things settled. Authors: Spotlights will be linked from one to another and won’t go down with the disuse of this site since its running the free url that wordpress provides that won’t expire and will continue once the new site isn’t such a shell.

Author Spotlight 7-25- Meet Marielena Zuniga!

In this week’s spotlight it’s my pleasure to introduce author, Marielena Zuniga!

Marielena Zuniga headshot (2)   Loreen on the Lam book cover [BookBaby]

1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Marielena Zuniga, a difficult name to pronounce, but I like it because it’s lyrical and reminds me of my roots. I was born in South Texas. My father is Mexican-American and my mother is Scotch-Irish, from Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, the town featured in my novel, “Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery.” I’ve been a professional journalist and writer for more than 35 years and earned many prestigious writing awards along the way. After years of writing for others, I’m now focusing on my creative writing and novels. And I feel fortunate to be living in Bucks County, PA, home of James Michener and Pearl Buck.
2.) Where can we find you on the internet?
I’m working on revising my website, so for now, folks can find me at: or on Facebook and Twitter.
3.) Why did you choose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?
“Loreen on the Lam” is a mystery and I chose this genre because I believe everyone loves a good mystery. Whether it’s a traditional “whodunnit” or a novel that leaves the reader asking “What’s going to happen in this relationship?” or “What’s motivating this character?” — it’s always about mystery. But I also focus those mysteries on women’s issues with some spirituality thrown into the mix. My writing style varies and I surprised myself when I wrote “Loreen on the Lam,” a humorous tale. I’m usually prone to the serious and introspective.
4.) Tell us about your latest book.
“Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery” is the story of Loreen Thigpen who has to find a way to get home to her dying mama in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. There’s only one problem. Loreen is in a prison in Houston, Texas. She not only wants to mend fences with her mama before she passes, but her mama hints of some news about her grandpa, who mysteriously disappeared 25 years ago. Working in the offsite auto mechanics program, Loreen steals the tour bus of Josh Montgomery, a famous country music star, and along the way picks up three passengers: an abused woman; a deaf-mute Bible salesman; and a Catholic nun. One of them is a murderer. The book is two mysteries in one and alternates between two timelines — when her grandfather went missing and the present. The book is also funny and a Southern romp!
5.) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?
What a great question! And a tough one. I’d have to say “Jane Eyre” — not because Jane had such a difficult life, but because she was a woman of great courage and overcame great odds not only to survive, but to find belonging and the love of her life in Mr. Rochester.
6.) What was your favorite book growing up?
Jane Eyre. My mother gave it to me to read when I was 13 and I devoured it. But prior to that, I couldn’t read enough of the early Nancy Drew mysteries.
7.) The infamous question — what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there?
Nothing I say here hasn’t been said before, but I’ll say it anyway. Writing is a discipline. Yes, it can be fun and at times IS fun as you create your own world. But it takes work. Also, find a good critique group for honest feedback about your writing and most of all (easier said than done), don’t give up! Discouragement is the bedfellow of all writers, and we’ve all been there when rejections start to pile up. If you love writing, you’ll keep writing.
8.) What are your preferred methods to use while writing and environment?
There’s a word in meditation practices that applies to writing: STAY. I simply stay in the chair, in front of my computer, and write. Some days the words flow; some days they don’t. But I stay. I also prefer quiet. No distractions. And for inspiration I’m fortunate to look out my window at woods and a winding creek.
9.) What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even Monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies?
I’m not much of a game person but as a wordsmith, I love Scrabble! My other hobbies are reading, long walks in nature, listening to good music and going to see community theatre, when I can.
10.) What can we look forward from you in the future?
As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something completely different” I’m writing something completely different. The book has a working title of “The Last Year of Birdsong” and has strong spiritual and metaphysical overtones. It needs a good bit of work and I’m revamping much of the meat of the book, so I guess it’s time to stop this interview and start writing. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers!
It’s my pleasure Marielena, thank you for answering my questions!

Author Spotlight- Meet Ted Galdi

It’s my pleasure this week to introduce author, Ted Galdi!

Ted Galdi Photo                 Elixir Cover - Ted Galdi


1)Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I’m a twenty-nine-year-old debut author living in Los Angeles.  I’ve been working in the software 
industry for the last few years and recently decided to write my first novel.  It’s a thriller called 
Elixir, which will be released this summer. 
2)Where can we find you on the internet? 
The official website for Elixir has some good content on it, including the book trailer, 
three-chapter preview, and even a featured-song playlist.  Check everything out at 
3)Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style? 
I’ve always been interested in fast-paced gritty stories and Elixir, a thriller about a teenage 
genius battling to put together a cure for Ebola, naturally emerged from that interest.  Unlike 
many other thriller writers however, I put a big emphasis on character development.  A lot of the 
effort in writing the book went into making the characters layered yet realistic.  As for the 
writing style itself, I use a very direct, stripped-down approach (ie, no filler or fancy words) and 
avoid lengthy expository passages.  The result is a story that gets out of its own way. 
4)Tell us about your latest book. 
Elixir is about Sean, a teenage prodigy who just wants to lead a normal life.  However, his 
extreme intelligence makes this difficult.  For instance, the US government exploits him so he 
can break computer codes for the NSA.  This winds up leading to some disastrous situations and 
Sean swears off mathematics and academics in general.  However, four years later he’s forced to 
embrace the life he’s been trying to run from when his girlfriend becomes mysteriously ill; he 
realizes he’s the only person on the planet smart enough to put together a vaccine in time to 
save her.  Though the story is filled with action and suspense, at its heart it’s a coming of age 
book about a teenager’s quest for personal identity and first love. 
5)If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why? 
The normal present-day world is crazy enough for me.  I’m content here. 
6)What was your favorite book growing up? 
The Catcher in the Rye. 
7)The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there? 
Try to choose protagonists you can relate to.  This makes the writing not only easier but more 
realistic.  For instance, even though I am not a super-genius like my protagonist Sean, I was in 
deed an 18-year-old boy once and this made writing about another 18-year-old boy pretty natural.  
This is not to say you can’t write about sensational, off-the-wall people.  You can.  Just make 
sure they have a link to something real in your life, even on some level. 
8)What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment? 
I prefer writing in private at the desk in my home.  Music and coffee are both musts. 
9)What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even 
monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies? 
I’m not much of a game player.  So much of my free time goes into writing so I’m pretty busy 
with that.  As for hobbies, I love skiing and going to concerts. 
9)What can we look forward from you in the future? 
I still haven’t decided what I’m going to write next.  I just finished Elixir last month and am 
focused on getting the word out.  However, I do have a handful of ideas that have been brewing.  
Thanks Ted for taking the time to answer my questions.

Author Spotlight 7/11- Meet Devon Taratino

It’s my pleasure this week to introduce author, Devon Taratino!

authorpic              ForeverCoverPAID copy

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Devon Tarantino. I speak French, love traveling and have a metal spine. (Scoliosis was not my friend growing up.) I live in Utah as a non-Mormon, which has been quite the experience. I really enjoy where I live, but it definitely has a unique character that took me a while to adjust to. I’m originally from Indiana, but have also lived in Texas, Florida, and France (for three months working as an au pair, which was godawful.) I crave stories, wherever I can find them, so I love reading, television, music… anything that can captivate me. I’ve always had a passion for writing, so it’s amazing to have finally written a full-length novel!

2) Where can we find you on the internet?

3) Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?

I didn’t really chose the genre. The story just kind of came to me and I started writing it. However, I love romances and I hate when there are gaping holes in the logic of a fantasy world, so I’ve found that I tend to stick more to modern-styled New Adult fiction when I write. My writing style is realistic, funny and fast-paced. I definitely try to be true to life. 

4) Tell us about your latest book.

My book, Forever, is about a girl and a boy who meet in a karate class when they’re nine years old and become best friends. It covers the span of their friendship, including the various hardships they encounter such as money, geography, divorce, sex, death, and general thick-headedness. Throughout the book you see them grow, not only within their relationship, but individually as well. 

5) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?

That’s a difficult question. If I could only pick one, I would go with the Harry Potter universe (book form, of course, and only if I was NOT a muggle or squib. Haha.) I like that there is magic, but I also like that it ties to modern society. I definitely would not want to live in any time period other than my own, because I like the technological advances we have, such as central air and hair defrizzers. I’m also a fan of wearing pants and driving and voting… stuff like that. I love the world Rowling created, and always daydreamed about living there when I was growing up. And besides, who wouldn’t want to be able to use magic??

6) What was your favorite book growing up?

That depends on the age. When I was young, it was the general Sweet Valley High series. In my teens, Harry Potter. Currently… I have three authors that I’m in love with– SG Redling, Tammara Webber and Madeline Sheehan. Anything by those ladies is something I’m going to love. Passionately.

7) The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there?

Look into doing NaNoWriMo course ( It really got me over the hurdle of writing. I started with about a 30 page story and ended up with a nearly finished book in one month. I am a procrastinator, so this kind of thing was amazing for me. I did it again in April and plan on continuing every single month they hold it in the foreseeable future. 

8) What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment?

I have to write alone, so I typically write in my room or in my bath. (I live in Utah– it’s cold here.) I am a MUCH faster typist than hand-writer, so I have to write on a computer, and I type on a Mac (best money I ever spent.) I also like a little background noise, but nothing with words I can latch onto, so I go to Pandora and listen to the Piano Guys station, which creeps my sister out, but works for me. Haha.

9)What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies?

I am ridiculously competitive, and there is a dark side that comes out of me when I play board games, so for the most part I avoid them. However, I like games where you can win using logic, so I like Rummikub and I am addicted to Sudoku. I have a group of friends that do RPGs (role-playing-games), which technically, yes, includes Dungeons and Dragons, but is much more story driven than most people might think. It’s basically six or so people who get together once a week and create a character-driven story over the course of several weeks/months. It’s incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun! And no one dresses up.  

10) What can we look forward from you in the future?

Right now I’m more than 100 pages into my second novel, which is going to be called Savages. The story follows two main characters, Jared and Emmeline, and takes place around the turn of the 19th century. 

Jared is English and Emmeline is American. Jared is the son of a whore who meets his half brother, on his dad’s side, when he’s 13. They two look startlingly similar, save for their eyes, and become good friends, despite the illegitimacy of Jared’s birth. During the Napoleonic Wars they two work as privateers, a legal and incredible lucrative form of pirating. Once the war is over, however, the crew decides to find less legal way to keep the money rolling in. They plan to kidnap a group of high society girls from the most prestigious Academy in America and ransom them back to their families. 

Emmeline was born the only daughter of a wealthy, widowed doctor who raised her in the wilds of America as he administered medicine to any people whom he might’ve been able to help. When he dies helping a Lakota tribe of Native Americans, Emmeline, sixteen at the time, marries into the tribe. Everything is happy and peaceful until one day when they are attacked and her husband is killed. She eventually ends up with her uncle living in Boston, and he enrolls her in the best school he can, which turns out to be the one Jared is using as his target. 

Jared’s plan is perfect, but he hadn’t counted on Emmeline, a total wild card in more ways than one, or how he would react to her. 

Basically, it’s a historical romance, even though I hate that phrase. It implies a whole lot more sex than is in it and… like heaving corsets, which were out of fashion during that time anyway. But, they do fall in love, so there you go.🙂  

Thanks again Devon to taking the time to answer my questions.

Short and Sweet Update

Poking in before I post today’s author spotlight to apologize for not posting in a long time. I’ve been deep in the writing cave/ doing summery activities, but by the time I actually come in to blog I need to be off and running again. Consider this the official warning that probably for the next little bit posts with the exception of the spotlights will be in and out. On the plus side, it means those books I mentioned in an earlier post will hopefully be done sooner for everyone to enjoy🙂. Hope everyone had an awesome fourth of July!

7-4 Author Spotlight- Meet Sandra Carey Cody

It’s my pleasure to introduce author, Sandra Carey Cody.

109300048111121CDP                    Lethal Journal - print

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Sandra Carey Cody (Sandy to anyone who’s known me for more than five minutes). I grew up in Missouri, surrounded by a family who loved telling stories. My husband’s job transfers have taken me to various cities in different parts of the country and I can honestly say I’ve loved them all. Now I live in Pennsylvania in a small town so pretty you’d think it was designed by Walt Disney. My Jennie Connors/Riverview Manor series (Left at Oz, Put Out the Light, Consider the Lilly, By Whose Hand and the recently-released Lethal Journal) is set in a retirement community and features Activities Director Jennie Connors, a single mom who is learning to balance her newfound independence with her responsibility to her two young sons and Riverview’s lively residents – all while solving the occasional murder.  Love and Not Destroy is set in a museum of antique tools and folk art; it was intended to be a standalone, but is crying to be part of a series.

2) Where can we find you on the internet?


I blog at:

3) Why did you choose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?

I write traditional mysteries. Why? I love stories where good triumphs over evil, where the bad guy gets what’s coming to him and the good guy emerges victorious, maybe a little banged up, but wiser for his/her efforts. And the world is a better place. That, in essence, is what a mystery is. When I need a break, I write short stories – not mysteries unless you consider (as I do) the bump and jostle of day-to-day life a mysterious thing. My writing style?  That’s a tough one – a little like being asked to describe how you look. I’d say I write light, but not laugh-out-loud funny, though I’m usually smiling as I record the lives of the people I’ve created, and some of my scenes make me laugh. My books are pretty soft-edged; you might even say G-rated. Violence takes place off the page. I believe in happy endings or at the very least justice.

4) Tell us about your latest book.

The title is Lethal Journal. Riverview’s newest resident Jake Appleton has Jennie stumped. He refuses to mingle with the other residents, just sits alone and stares out the window, mumbling that the world is full of crooks. Has he witnessed wrongdoing in the construction project going on outside? Or is he looking back over his own life? Jake’s not telling; he shares his thoughts only in his journal. Then he is murdered and the journal disappears. Could the secrets hidden in its pages have caused the murder of this lonely old man? Jennie is determined to find the journal and restore peace of mind to the residents she loves.

5) If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?

I’d love to live in Camelot. Having said that, let me specify – I want to be a queen or at least a lady, not a serving wench. But I don’t want to sit around and do needlework. I’d like some adventure, complete with a handsome knight on a white horse. Is it too much to ask for my own seat at the Round Table? And my very own white horse too, please.

6) What was your favorite book growing up?

An old book from my father’s childhood: King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table, with illustrations by N. C. Wyeth.

7) The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out there?

Never, never, never give up. I was a grandmother before I was a published writer and I’m having the time of my life! Secondly, don’t let anyone else tell you what to write. Write what you love to read. Write for the joy of telling a story. Kindred souls will find it and, if they don’t, you’ll still have the joy.

8) What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment?

I’m easily distracted, so I like it best when it’s just me and my computer. No company for chitchat. No music. Sometimes a cat in my lap – not my choice, but you know cats. A cup of tea, a handful of chocolate kisses for when I get stuck, a pile of books on the floor beside me. I’m not a great speller, so a dictionary is a must. There’s a window by my desk and I’m on the second floor, so when I pause, I look into a giant maple tree, usually filled with squirrels chasing each other along its branches

9) What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming (even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies?

I don’t really have the patience for games. If I’m not writing, I like to be outside, gardening or walking around the neighborhood, stopping to chat with other walkers. I’m also a quilter, but don’t have much time for that these days. Of course, reading.

10) What can we look forward from you in the future?

I’m working on a sequel to Love and Not Destroy. (Remember the standalone crying to be part of a series?) The title is The Cruelest Lie, based on a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson: “The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” It’s too soon to say what the book is about. More than anything I’ve ever written, these characters are taking over and telling me what they’re going to do. I had a destination when I started writing the book, but the characters are leading me down a new path. As a writer, that’s about as exciting as it gets.

Thanks again Sandra for answering my questions.

Author Spotlight 4-27-14- Gail Campbell

In today’s Spotlight it’s my pleasure to introduce author, Gail Campbell.

me    gailccover

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in a small pennine town on the edge of the moors in England, UK.  I spent my early career as a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) travelling from base to base.  Unfortuntely in those days women didn’t go to sea like they do today, so I only travelled around the UK.  It was a great time in my life and I met some wonderful people.

Since then I have had a long career in sales, travelling throughout the UK, Europe and occasional trips to Massachusetts, USA.  I also love travelling on a personal level and I am in love with the Far East!  I’ve yet to get to Australia and New Zealand, but they are on my bucket list!

As well as travelling I love to write and have written short stories and poems from being a small child.  “Fractured Minds” is my debut novel.  I also love photography and walking with my husband and our Norwegian Elkhound dog.

2.  Where can we find you on the internet?

Facebook:  “Fractured Minds by Gail Campbell”
Twitter: @galian2 (paperback) : (eBook):

3.  Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?

I have always loved the fantasy/horror genre.  Stephen King is a big influence, his writing ticks all the boxes for me.  His novel “Insomnia” had me in tears at the end,  I just get so involved with his stories!  I have a very vivid imagination and dream an awful lot, usually quite weird and wonderful dreams.  It was my dreams that inspired me to write my novel.

My writing style is character driven.  I would like people to feel they really know the characters, how they feel, how they think, but I do like to throw in some surprises.  My horror element is not gory, more psychological which I think can be more frightening.

4.  Tell us about your latest book?

My novel Fractured Minds uses the idea that mental illness can cause the mind to fracture, leaving little cracks that can allow evil forces to take control.  Here’s a synopsis:

Melissa is troubled by severe headaches, low mood and disturbed sleep. She has the same recurrent nightmare in which a young girl, Rebecca, pleads for help to escape from a dark force, Noctilious, who has found his way into her mind and taken her from the real world to his.


Rebecca reveals that Noctilious has taken many people, and Melissa is one of his intended victims. Unable to convince Melissa that the dreams are real, Rebecca takes desperate measures and attacks her. When Melissa awakes the next morning she is shocked to see bloody marks on her arm. Melissa confides her fears to her husband, Adam, but he thinks she is ill and urges her to visit the doctor as he feels that she is becoming paranoid and unbalanced.


Embarking on an investigation Melissa tracks down Rebecca’s family and is shocked to discover that Rebecca disappeared from her home in mysterious circumstances over five years ago. Melissa quickly realises that her dreams are in fact reality and her unique ability to move from one world to the other is the only hope for Rebecca to escape and return home to her grieving family. But what is it that Noctilious wants, and can Melissa rescue Rebecca before it is too late?
My book is suitable for adults and young adults.

5.  If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be an why?

It would have to be “Back to the Future” – I love the 50’s, the style of clothing, the cars, the bright colours.  I could spend some time in the 50’s and then zoom off somewhere else, in the future or the past.  I could really see some amazing things and meet some great people!

6.  What was your favorite book growing up?

I think I have to say “Black Beauty” – I adore animals and I so wanted a horse at that time!

7.  The infamous question – what advice would you give to any aspiring and hew authors out there?

I would say never give up on your dream.  To actually spend the time writing a book and then to publish it is a wonderful thing.  Everyone has a gift, whatever that may be, and if you think your gift is writing then do it.

8.  What are your preferred methods to use while writing and environment?
I like to just punch out my thoughts on the computer as they come.  I try to jot down key points of the main characters, just so I don’t forget.  I like peace and quiet to write, I don’t even like the radio on.

9.  What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)?  If you’re not too much into gaming (even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies?

I’m not a gamer at all I’m afraid, it just doesn’t appeal to me at all.  I do love entering competitions though, and I’ve been lucky enough to win trips to Thailand, Vietnam and Tenerife as well as lots of other useful and not so useful gadgets!  I also love photography and walking with my Norwegian Elkhound dog.

10.  What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Well, my book is a stand alone book but can very easily lend itself to a sequel.  I have lots of ideas to carry the story forward and I will be starting this real soon.  I also have the idea of a completely new story with dogs featuring very strongly!

Thanks Gail for taking the time to answer my questions!


Author Spotlight 6-21-14 Introducing Rita Lee Chapman

This week it’s my pleasure to introduce author, Rita Lee Chapman!
     Missing_in_Egypt_Cover Winston_-_A_Horse's__Cover
1)Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
Hi Tiffany.  I am Rita Lee Chapman and I was born in London, moving to Australia in my 
early twenties.  I write as Rita Lee Chapman because there was already someone writing 
under Rita Chapman.  I wrote my first book, Missing in Egypt, when I retired to 
Queensland from Sydney.  
Missing in Egypt is available as an ebook and paperback at Amazon 
and as an ebook from Smashwords 
2)Where can we find you on the internet? 
I have a website at where I host a different guest author each 
week.  If anyone is interested in being interviewed please contact me through the website. 
3)Why did you chose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style? 
I love travelling and had recently visited Egypt, which is very impressive and so different to 
other destinations.  It seemed an ideal place to base a story and so Missing in Egypt, a 
romantic travel mystery, evolved from my holiday.  My second book, Winston – A Horse’s 
Tale is for horse lovers from teenagers upwards and is told by Winston himself.  He is, of 
course, an Australian horse.  I would like to think my writing style is easy to read. 
4)Tell us about your latest book. 
Winston is a good-looking palomino horse whose life involves several different owners and 
many adventures.  As you read his story, told by Winston himself, you will appreciate horse 
ownership from the horse’s point of view.  Born on a country property in Australia, Winston 
tells of his breaking-in and education and the different people he encounters – good, bad 
and ignorant.  As well as his own story, Winston includes the experiences of other horses he 
meets along life’s way.   
Whether it’s jumping, eventing, hunting or just hacking, Winston tries hard to please his 
rider. Follow his successes and his failures from his breaking-in to his show jumping win. It 
is an eventful life – the story of one Australian horse out of thousands, but one that you will 
Winston is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon at and from Smashwords at 
5)If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why? 
It would have to be Winston – A Horse’s Tale because I love living in Australia. 
6)What was your favorite book growing up? 
Why, Black Beauty of course! 
7)The infamous question- what advice would you give to any aspiring and new authors out 
Just do it.  Now that you can self-publish you too can see your book in print and it is the 
most wonderful feeling.  My second piece of advice is edit, edit, edit. 
8)What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment? 
I like to be able to sit at my computer and for the words to flow.  With Winston – A 
Horse’s Tale this was exactly what happened.  However Missing in Egypt was more of a 
struggle to work out where it was going and I am finding the same with my latest book, 
which is more of a mystery/thriller.  Once I have the plot sorted in my mind then I can sit 
and write.  I like complete peace to and often settle best when it’s raining – the great 
outdoors doesn’t appeal then! 
9) What are your favorite games (tabletop and/or video)? If you’re not too much into gaming 
(even monopoly counts!) what are your other hobbies? 
Table tennis, although I don’t play very often.  As a child I played chess with my grandparents 
but I have forgotten how and keep meaning to learn again. 
10) What can we look forward to from you in the future? 
Hopefully a best seller eventually! 
Thanks Rita for taking the time to answer my questions.

Dear Stranger…

Since I delayed in the post allow me to set it up in the proper time frame. This past weekend after my husband got out of work I decided to surprise him with getting his Father’s Day present a day early which involved going to Target. Now, I should mention we rarely shop at Target for several reasons that aren’t important for this post, but the machine was there so, despite my husband’s protests of me dragging him to a store, we went. Needless to say after we got his present- which was a French Press coffee maker- his tone drastically changed and we browsed the aisles a bit and ended up with a few more things before checking out. While we waited, I heard a few children a couple of checkouts over go into the usual childlike wonder at my current hair color which caused me to smile and I turned my attention munchkin where he sat in the cart looking at the stuff we had bought. After we leave and are home a few my husband turns to me, noting a few looks I had overlooked while I was talking to munchkin about the things in the cart. I look perplexed for a moment, so he reminds me we are far from normal- we’re both in our mid-twenties with  a three year old, and in my case- which has been confirmed by an insane amount of strangers- I look younger. The biggest guilty party of the depth of dislike and unwelcome he described, though was the hair, mine being the blue it is and his falling to about mid-back. Now- looks and some glares are no strange thing to me since going outta the box in regards to my hair, but given that my husband took it on himself to silently tell the guilty party here that her glare wasn’t welcome drove it to a new level since it showed that it was enough to bother him, and he gives about ten thousand less cares about what other people think and actually encourages me to do the same. And while I usually try to simply ignore things, this incident as well as a few others prompted this response:

Dear stranger,

You know me. I’m the one that sticks out like a sore thumb in a crowd if only due to one fact of my appearance- my hair. I’m the one that you just spent the entire wait in line giving a death stare to and sending silent messages that generally boil down to unwelcome before moving onto my husband. You don’t know me though, just as I don’t know you- not the true me or you anyway. Since you will never give me the chance to tell you- why don’t I do it now. Yes, my hair is blue- it might not be to your tastes, but it is to mine. There is no reason for you to make me feel unwelcome, or try to because of that fact. I don’t make you feel unwelcome, or at least try not to because your hair is a shade of my natural color, brown and I happen to dislike that color on me.  Besides taste, there is another reason my hair is blue and that is because very recently I managed to overcome my self-esteem issues and start doing things for me and not what the popular opinion wants. I dyed my hair since high school at various times, but because of this was always too afraid to try the wild colors. This re-found ability enables me to brush off most of the stares, but doesn’t make me immune to them by any means and especially not the harsh ones like you gave today. But that stare will never allow you to know this about me because of simply closing your mind due to appearances.

You will also never know though we look young, my husband and I have been together for 7 and a 1/2 years, almost been married a whole year and have been through hell and back, even more than some- as we joke, we’re only waiting for the richer part of the marriage vows. I’m trying to keep in mind that you would never know this without asking or really taking in the rings on my left hand, but I wonder if the wrinkled nose, like something that smelled rotten was underneath it, was really needed. Chances are it wasn’t.

Yes, everyone at some point does the judging stare in various degrees, the only thing separating one from another is the intention of the stare. They can range from simply taking in and casting silent judgements to trying to drive away as you were. It only partly worked, it was enough to make us feel unwelcome but not enough to make us simply drop everything and go away. We all have our own preferences painted by our own internal styles or what is shown out there in the world (ex. Media coverage or reality tv shows), but it doesn’t make driving away based on that any more right or any less hurtful. So, next time you see someone who might not look like everyone else, who has something about them that might stand out whether it’s hair or something- think twice about what message that stare might deliver because even the toughest people can crack and you might not know their whole story.


Note: I wrote this with the thought that for good or bad or right or wrong, we all cast judgements, you only need to go the nearest high school to really see it. The main thing is being on the receiving end of the judgements like the one my husband and I experienced and what that cuts off because such a judgement is cast and if people should be judged that way for things like blue hair. If you comment keep comments along these lines and not how right or wrong or anything like that such judgements are, all that is, is a can of worms and leads to just comments being combed since I don’t think anyone will agree anytime soon on it sadly.

Author Spotlight 6-13- Meet Angelo Falanga

This week’s spotlight shines on author, Angelo Falanga.


1. Tell us a little about yourself

By Labor Day 1995 I had been living in Brooklyn, New York for three months with my maternal grandmother, helping as she recovered from open heart surgery. Celebrating the holiday, a block party had been organized by too few of the neighbors to bother getting a permit to close off the street. I was cooking chicken using a barbecue grill wheeled up onto the concrete in front of my grandmother’s stoop when a neighbor sat down in a beach chair set up behind me. That neighbor was Frank A. Stokes. What began with a one hour conversation once the chicken was cooked would become fifteen years of work and friendship with the late composer and bandleader. Stokesified! is my memoir of the experience, based on more than 20 hours of interviews I recorded beginning in 2001. I studied Political Science at California State University, Long Beach. I left college for a job on the NBC game show, Time Machine, while studying comedy writing with Get Smart writer Dee Caruso at UCLA. I worked from 1985 to 1992 for the late lighting designer Wally Russell as a personal assistant and in the stage management of the Los Angeles Opera while Mr. Russell served as the company’s Technical Director. (See The Wally Russell Foundation and The Wally Award, bestowed for excellence in lighting design) I lived and worked in Germany from 1992 to 1994, traveling throughout the continent during these years. For Mr. Stokes, I assisted in the home studio where three albums were produced and with the booking then staging of live performances while managing Mr. Stokes’ web presence, also serving as a photographer and videographer. I live and work in Las Vegas, Nevada.
2. Where can we find you on the internet?
To purchase my e-book Stokesified! or download the first 5% free:
To purchase my e-book Stokesified! for your Apple devices:
3. Why did you choose the genre you write in and how would you describe your writing style?
My book is a memoir not a biography because the man I wrote about did not live to see it completed. Frank A. Stokes went into his fatal heart attack while sitting next to me on a December morning in 2010. My book about his life and career was supposed to end with the release of the album Mr. Stokes left less than half completed and the shows he was preparing to perform in the summer that neither he nor his wife would live to see, as she would pass away from cancer in the spring of 2011. One of the musicians I interviewed, a Native American drummer who had known Mr. Stokes for decades and also recorded for Pink Floyd on The Wall also passed away, having gone into his fatal heart attack onstage behind his drums. I never expected to inject as many of my own observations into the work as I had to out of necessity. The book is based on 24 hours of interviews with Mr. Stokes and others that I painstakingly transcribed. Early on I realized that what Mr. Stokes and the people around him were saying was far more important than what I had to say. One of my friends who saw the work before it was released said that I was functioning more like a court reporter than an author. As for my writing style, I’ve always been a speed reader, and the fast flow of words through my head definitely effects the way I write. Grammar classes were always a nightmare to be endured and forgotten. Grammarians didn’t like the way I tend to write in long flowing sentences. 
4. Tell us about your latest book
Frank A. Stokes was a brilliant composer and so much more. It took years of me working for him before I dared ask if I could write about him. On the afternoon of Friday, June 15, 2001 as Frank was preparing in his Brooklyn, New York apartment to play a three hour, three set gig of his original music in SoHo, downtown Manhattan, I finally asked. Frank A. Stokes was Navajo, with his paternal grandfather having been born in Wyoming in 1876 then removed to the east coast to go to an Indian school at age 11. Frank’s grandfather lived long enough to teach him the ways of his people, having been a race car driver and a black faced vaudeville dancer. Frank had a paternal uncle who ran Brooklyn’s RKO Theater, so, from as soon as he could stand the theater became in effect his babysitter. Frank would be backstage among the musicians and see the original Rock N’ Roll shows of Alan Freed and Murray The K. His childhood was like a dream until his parents, who never married, separated. Frank went into foster care and emerged to find his mother had married a violent alcoholic. This is why I waited so long to seek Mr. Stokes’ trust in telling the story. His is the most vicious tale of child abuse I have ever personally know of. Mr. Stokes’ would be quick to point out others had it far worse than him. Mr. Stokes spoke for the book with amazing candor. He would grow up to play the electric bass and found himself in the heart of the 1970’s New York City underground scene centered around CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. Even as he was breathing fire and playing the heaviest music in the city with later to be famous punk acts opening for him, Frank A. Stokes wanted to create jazz. By the time I met him in 1995 he was taking the first steps to assemble the world class group of players that would feel like an extended family, saxophone player Dave Morgan, who worked with Ornette Coleman and for years on the Tony Awards, drummer Dan Walsh, a Berklee graduate of remarkable talent who is the best possible drummer for something as demanding as what Mr. Stokes envisioned, Mac Gollehon, perhaps the world’s most recorded trumpeter, having played with everyone from Hector Lavoe to Mick Jagger and David Bowie. With Mac Gollehon, Dan Walsh and Dave Morgan Mr. Stokes would also play in a side project that appeared at Carnegie Hall with Gil-Scott Heron and Dizzy Gillespie’s drummer, the New School professor Charli Persip, whom I also interviewed for the book. Things were going well, then, as Frank was minutes away from recording in his home studio the keyboard part to carry the recording of his daughter’s favorite of his song, the World Trade Center was attacked. Mr. Stokes would have the debris of the World Trade Center rain down upon his home. The neighborhood where he made his living was devastated. His response was to expand his musical family by bringing in the Native American musicians, singers and dancers that would be with him to the end of his life. Frank A. Stokes had a term he coined, Stokesified, to describe how any sound he heard he made his own. When I asked Mr. Stokes what he thought the subtitle would be, he said, “Standing On Mother Earth, Sliding On A Bass String.”
5. If you could live in any world from a book or movie which would it be and why?
With all I’ve seen in show business since I was introduced to Bill Cosby at age 13 backstage at the Las Vegas Hilton and I knew I had to get into the game, it’s felt like I live in an alternate universe. I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had. If there’s one entertainment universe that’s been a constant in my life, I’ve been a Trekker since age 3. My father took me to the first ever Star Trek Convention at the Americana Hotel in Manhattan. The ideas of life having value and dedication making justice possible were instilled within me by The Great Bird Of The Galaxy. I would also have loved to have been a 1969 New York Met.
6. What was your favorite book growing up?
Growing up in Brooklyn and on Staten Island until our family moved to California when I was 11 you’d see the water, you’d smell the ocean. I had thoughts of being a sailor, so I’d read military histories and sea stories like Alastair McLean wrote. In my early teens I found The Razor’s Edge. The bulk of my reading was newspapers and magazines, but by high school I found Gravity’s Rainbow, On The Road and Naked Lunch. These are my three favorite novels.
7. The infamous question – What advice would you give to aspiring and new authors out there?
People make way too big a deal out of the mechanics and the ritual of writing. It’s true that my speed reading and command of the language gives me an advantage, but, they’re all the same words, we all know them. What makes a good writer is the ability to achieve the suspension of disbelief. This can be done simply by talking into a tape recorder and getting readers used to the flow of your voice. This can be done also by realizing there is an artistry that goes along with writing, an ability to slip details in that make people feel as if the experience is real. People who don’t have much experience writing tend to under-write, to not set scenes firmly enough, and then it can get like a chain reaction car crash as the underwritten scenes make stilted dialogue stand out like a sore thumb. Another piece of advice that may seem odd comes from my speed reading. I tend to take a longer view and watch the patterns in the writing. To me, Thomas Pynchon and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are the ultimate masters of writing that flows and is well constructed. Beginners tend to have a pattern of stops and starts, as if only being able to see two sentences ahead as they’re going along. 
8. What are your preferred method to use while writing and environment?
All I need is a computer and Charlie Parker. I’ve tried writing by hand and it didn’t work. It wasn’t fast enough and since I’m also my own editor the way I make substitutions isn’t practical on the pad. I wouldn’t recommend going as far as I do editing myself to people starting out, but, I had some great teachers from the worlds of journalism and advertising, again, another advantage I’m grateful for. When I write I need to have the background noise eliminated. I can’t have lyrics being sung, as the point of eliminating the background noise is to not hear things people are saying as I concentrate, so, I have a 10 CD set of Charlie Parker I use most often. I can also use the 4 CD Re-issue of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, or the 4 CD set of John Coltrane like at the Village Vanguard.
9. What are your favorite games? 
Again, this question goes back to working with Frank A. Stokes. When Frank was fourteen a drunk driving friend of his mother’s first husband snt the car Frank was riding in the front seat of into the back of a truck and sent him through a windshield. To keep what remained of his vision, Frank was using video games from when he first got his computer in 1997. Frank loved the game MechWarrior3 and I played it online with him as well. One of the people we played this game with was lost on September 11, 2001 as a passenger on Flight 93. As the debris was falling on us in Brooklyn, our friend was lost in Pennsylvania. You’ll beat me at chess and there aren’t any other games I play. I escape into books and films like Akira Kurozawa’s Dreams.
10. What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I have two novels underway, one inspired by being around the days of 1980’s computer programming and the other a piece of sci-fi about the problems and culture of an alternate world. I hope to have them both done by the end of 2014, but I’m not exactly a deadlines kind of guy… 
Thanks again Angelo for answering my questions!