Archive for the Category » Creative Writing «

Parkland Shootings

In  remembrance  of  the  innocent  victims  killed  in  a  senseless  shooting. Inspired by that horrible day, I wrote a ten minute play for the classroom in the hopes that teens would learn more about the circumstances that led up to that day.  Perhaps more teens would open up about their thoughts and fears through performance of this play. The child (and yes he is a child regardless of his heinous actions) was in court yesterday pleading guilty to 17 murders of students, coaches and teachers. 

Synopsis:

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about so many mass murders.
This ten minute play for teens in the classroom is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The victims:
My Mr. Hale (play) is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter.

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Cheets Heads for Trouble…..Book #5 in the Kids’ Series, The Fabled Forest

   Book #5 in the Fabled Forest series.  CHEETS HEADS for TROUBLEsville

Cheets is looking for an adventure!  The elf has heard about ‘town’. Emma and her mother go there all the time but no one from the fabled forest has ever been there. Cheets is certain it is a magical place and perfect for him. He decides that he must head for Troublesville. He stows away in the car one day and, at the end of the trip, finds
him-self in busy, noisy streets all alone. He begins his adven-ture by befriend-ing two cats who live in a house with two humans. Then because of his undying curiosity and his obsession with carrots, he is captured in a trap and that’s when his adventure is no longer any fun. How can his friends back in the Fabled Forest help him when they don’t even know he’s in Trouble?

 

 

 

Don’t miss Cheets’ escapade and ultimate rescue!

 

Beautiful full color illustrations by Jefferson O’Neal.Click here to Purchase
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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A Book Review and a Writing Lesson

   1 out of 5 quills reviews, authors, writing

                                 

Second Chance Grill could have been an engaging, charming and entertaining read but….the writing was clunky and author, Christine Nolfi, did a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’.  Where she could have put a character’s challenge into the hands of the characters in her book to solve, she elected to get out a small soap box and preach about the issue (real time).  It was very distracting.  

I will digress from this review and begin a writing lesson. One of the first tenants of writing well is wherever possible, to ‘show don’t tell’.   (Example) The employees of the Second Chance Grill need health insurance.  This writer tells all about the challenges of a small business owner trying to find an affordable plan for employees. She almost crosses the line and leaves fiction for non-fiction.  The author could have easily ‘shown’ the challenge of procuring health insurance by creating a chapter/scene where she meets with some insurance agents. Or she reports back to her employees, Finny and Delia, about her failure to find insurance. But that she isn’t giving up and will continue to pursue it. Maybe Finny reacts with cynicism and disbelief. Maybe Delia has special pre-existing conditions that she’s worried about. 

Same for Blossom’s leukemia. Nolfi writes a couple of pages about leukemia in teens, percentages of poor diagnoses, bone marrow transplants. That’s ‘telling’. It would have been a better story if she’d let her characters show the grim percentages of death, tell of Blossom’s struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy.

And then Nolfi barrels into a fund drive to raise money for the transplant. This is where the writing gets particularly clunky and chopped up, and frankly, unbelievable.  The rhythm of the writing goes off the rails so, sadly, I can’t give it a good review. 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Glowing Review Bestowed on Emma and the Lady Aardvarks

‘ Trisha Sugarek’s Emma and the Lady Aardvarks is both whimsical and thought-provoking and will delight and attract fiction and nonfiction young readers alike, as a new mandate to save the planet emerges.  A time travel adventure about climate change and a mystical forest that features sister Aardvarks, who arrive in the mystical forest quite by accident when their time travel adventure goes awry.

Emma and the Lady Aardvarks adds another book to Trisha Sugarek’s Fabled Forest series for advanced elementary to early middle grade readers. The aardvarks meet friendly elves, fairies, farm girl Emma, and a host of creatures who inhabit a rare habitat, indeed. Annie is the shy one. Her braver sister Agnes has always protected her young sister, but even she quakes at the strange creatures and dialogues that emerge at the beginning of their new adventure.

Trisha Sugarek’s dialogue and setting is anything but predictable, from a Spanish-speaking spider to a host of characters who greet the skittish sisters Aardvarks: “Patsy, where are your manners?” Donald strolled over to Patsy. “Everyone is welcome in the fabled forest, as long as they come in peace.” “Dios mio, how do we know they come in peace, pequeño? Se ven como bandidos!” Donald laughed, “No they are not bandits, Patsy. Don’t be silly.”

Colorful drawings bring the forest and its creatures to life as Sugarek spins a colorful yarn, from a magical portal that discharges a posse of puppies to the injection of facts about extinction, global warming, and threats to wildlife. While Sugarek’s Fabled Forest milieu has been explored previously in five prior adventures, it should be noted that newcomers need have no prior familiarity with its creatures or history in order to appreciate this warm fantasy of a magical place and a mandate to try to stop climate change’s impact.

Young readers just past the picture book stage will find the peppering of colorful drawings a fine embellishment to a tale that weaves elements of fantasy and reality into a thought-provoking adventure.’  D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREKfairy tales, fables, elves, fairies, running away, audio books

 

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Shaman, Author, Jennifer Monahan shares ‘a moment’….

  What’s Your Moment?

I’m a firm believer that each one of us has specific moments during our lives that shape us. Usually uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, these moments move us in a direction that we might never have gone in. For me, one of those moments happened on November 2, 2014.
It was a gorgeous, clear Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, one of those days where you just feel alive because everything is so bright and sunny. I was at an intersection in the Financial District, walking to the downtown area to do some errands. Even though the Financial District was virtually deserted, I waited for the “Walk” signal before crossing the street. I was about halfway across when something blue caught the corner of my eye…a split-second before a man hit me at 25 miles an hour with his blue minivan.

I don’t remember much after that. Eyewitnesses said that I rode on the hood of the minivan for about half a block until the driver slammed on the brakes to stop. (I later found out that the driver got confused and stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake.) I have no memory of riding on the hood, but I do remember falling. I landed on the pavement on my hands, knees and face and knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to move.
At the emergency room, all the doctors and technicians said that they had never seen a “human vs. minivan” outcome look as good as I did. “Good,” of course, is relative, as I later learned, and basically meant that I wasn’t dead. I had plenty of time to think about that during the six months I was laid up on my couch and the subsequent months of physical therapy.

The most difficult day of my healing process was when my doctors told me I wouldn’t walk again and that I would need to use both crutches and a brace for the rest of my life. I cried that day and then woke up the next morning filled with resolve. At my next appointment, I brought a pair of 6-inch heels into the doctor’s office, told the doctors my goal was to wear them, and suggested that they get on board because I was going to walk again.
I still remember the sense of pride I felt as I accomplished what in the past had been mindless simple activities: being able to curl my toes and pick up a facecloth was one of my first successes and gave me the confidence to continue to push myself to re-learn how to walk. I celebrated the day that I graduated to a walking cast and took my first steps without crutches. Friends cheered me on the first time that I walked (slowly) in a brace down a short flight of stairs. The day I walked a few steps without crutches, cast or a brace was the day I knew I had proved the doctors wrong. I was exhausted, covered in sweat and shaking, but was, in my doctor’s words, “a miracle.” It took fourteen months.
But the point the doctors had made about how “good” I looked after the accident kept swirling around in my head. There was no doubt in my mind that I had been lucky: had I fallen under the wheels of the minivan instead of going up on the hood, I would have died.

That moment and realization changed my life completely. I began looking at every aspect of my life and realized that while my life had been a good life, I had played by the rules and hadn’t taken many chances.  I realized that I didn’t want to play it safe anymore; I wanted to follow my heart and truly live life.

Tikal in Guatemala

Lake Peten Itza

And so, I did what at the time was one of the scariest things I had ever done: I quit my job and walked away from the security that it represented. Once I had given my notice, the next change was a lot easier: I gave up my rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco (a big deal, given how crazy rents are in San Francisco). I sold and donated a lot of my belongings and put the rest in storage. I had decided to travel.
I’m a nomad at heart, a gypsy. My work as a consultant suits me well, since I’m typically on a plane every week, going somewhere different. But that travel was for work and didn’t give me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do: really immerse myself in different cultures and locations.
First on my list of places to visit was Guatemala. I had become fascinated with Mayan archaeological ruins two years prior and had explored over a dozen sites in Mexico. Everyone told me that I needed to see Tikal in Guatemala. So, once I finished my book tour for my first book, I packed my carry-on bag and headed to Guatemala.

Jaguar-About to depart on another worldwide trip

I ended up in the small village of El Remate, in Peten, about 30 minutes away from Tikal. The village is in the jungle and home to a couple hundred families. The main road through town is the only fully paved road in the village and is dotted with tiny shops, restaurants and churches and runs alongside Lake Peten Itza. Chickens, dogs, and pigs wander around freely, holding up traffic when they decide to sleep in the middle of the road.
I rented a one-room thatched-roof hut, near the lake and village cemetery and about a 20-minute walk to the center of town. It had a covered outside patio with a couch and chair. The front door opened to the sleeping area. To the left of the sleeping area was the bathroom – with running water. To the right was the kitchen and eating area. But what really made the hut was the thatched roof. It rose about two and a half stories high, with a bamboo framework and dried palm leaves making a water-tight roof.

Join us next week for the conclusion of this fascinating journey! 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Emma and the Lady Aardvarks ~ Now Available!

The long awaited, (next in the series) Fairie tale in the Fabled Forest series is now available.
Beautiful, original, full-color illustrations grace the pages. A must to add to every child’s personal library. 

Book #6 in the series, The Fabled Forest, is a story about climate change and endangered creatures. Two Aardvarks, Agnes and Annie, arrive in the Fabled Forest by accident. Their travel agent, Time Portals to Your Next Adventure, malfunctions and instead of Australia, they are plopped down in Cheets’ clearing in the forest. Here they meet Donald, the fairie, Cheets, the elf, Emma, the farm-girl and all the creatures that inhabit the fabled, mystical forest.

Sisters, Agnes and Annie are so ugly they’re cute. With their jaunty hats atop their weird heads, with their rabbit-like ears and short elephant type snouts, Emma and Donald are entranced. They set about helping the two aardvarks to complete their trip to Australia while helping other endangered species.

The Aardvarks and the Painted Wild Dogs are endangered species and it is a dangerous lifestyle. In this fable children learn more about climate change wiping out habitat and about other endangered species and how we humans can protect them.

Available on Amazon.com or your favorite book store. 
Also available in a children’s play 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Murder Mystery Series by Trisha Sugarek

It is time to remind my fans and readers about the murder mystery series that I have been writing over the past years.  I am currently working on Book #11 . 
It’s an exciting series (even if I do say so myself) with two fascinating homicide detectives working the murder beat in New York City. 

Here’s the first three synopsis in the series but there are 10 in all.  Very story line driven so best read in sequence. 

Brush with Murder, Book #1

 Ben is a struggling, unknown artist, living in a loft in Soho. From his third floor walk up, he watches his beautiful neighbor as she comes and goes. Too shy and reclusive to ask her out, he paints her again and again. Suddenly the police are at his door. His goddess, his dream woman is dead
and the police like him for the crime. 

 

Dance of Murder Book #2

‘Strippers have been found with their throats cut and their dead eyes filled with glitter and the killer’s rage is escalating. To make things worse, Homicide Detectives, O’Roarke and Garcia have several dozen potential suspects all with a reason to murder these girls.’
Now the press has gotten hold of the story dubbing the murderer, ‘The Glitter Slasher’. City Hall is breathing down the necks of the Homicide Squad and insisting that they ‘get this
thing solved!’ Before there are more dead bodies. Finally the two murder cops make an arrest.
But, do they have the right person in custody?

Act of Murder Book #3

O’Roarke and Garcia are called when a famous Broadway director dies. It appears that everyone hated this man, making the murder cops’ job just that much harder. They have their pick of suspects as everyone within a five mile radius of Broadway had a reason to want this guy dead. From the jealous stage manager, to the resentful actors, to a disappointed and hurt lover.
From a scorned understudy, to his ex-wives, any one of them could have cheerfully done him in. This mystery takes the reader back stage into the tumultuous, gossip ridden, passionate world of the theatre.



Book Review ~~ An Irish Country Welcome

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills

An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor

Publishers Weekly says, “Taylor is a bang-up storyteller who captivates and entertains from the first word.”  I agree that Taylor is a wonderful story-teller who definitely ‘captivates’. From the first word….not so much. I really am a fan of the Irish Country series (have read every one of them) but I found this particular one in the series a bit of a slow starter.  But, in all fairness, on about page 30, it really took off. 

The story line is impeccable. To get the most enjoyment, and there’s plenty to be had, I highly recommend that the reader start with book #1.  The story thread and characters are so strong that reading the series in its proper sequence is a must.

An Irish Country Welcome contains all of the previous characters from the village of Ballybucklebo. Readers continue to follow Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly on his rounds, in his surgery (doctor’s office) and in his personal life.  Doctor Barry Laverty is by his side, as a full partner in the practice. Nicely settled, married and soon to be a father. 

Taylor introduces new characters with each book, so seamlessly that the reader will take great joy in meeting them. There are bits of dry, Irish humor along the way. Just enough personal strife to keep things jumping. On a larger scale, the Catholic and Protestant ‘troubles’ have flared up throughout the country and is threatening to disturb the peace of this small village. 

Did you miss my Interview with Patrick Taylor?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan.
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Book Review ~ Mike Lupica’s Stone’s Throw

 

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

 

 

5 out of 5 quills

Mike Lupica writes so well  in Robert B. Parker’s voice that you immediately feel you’re driving your rental car up the main street of Paradise Massachusetts. You drive towards the beach, park, and walk up the path to a piece of land that’s called The Throw. It reveals some of the most beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean on the East Coast . After you get your fix from the ocean views you drive over to the local police station to say hello to your friend and deputy chief, Molly Crane. Chief Jesse Stone and Molly are  working a case. The beloved (by everyone) mayor of this small town has….. (Opps! Almost gave it away). 

One of my favorite characters, Crow, returns in this story. If you’re a fan of Robert B. Parker’s (and Mike Lupica’s) I don’t need to elaborate. If you’re not, well….you should be.  The plot twists and turns and surprises the reader with a page turning cop/murder mystery. 

Right up to, literally, the last page. SURPRISE!  Thanks, Mike!  

The writing is just as excellent as the rest of Mike Lupica’s work. Mike writes all of the Jesse stone and Sunny Randall murder mysteries for the Parker estate so we can look forward to more from this fine writer. 

Did you catch my Interview with Mike Lupica

Release date: September 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
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New Release ~ Creative Writers’ Journal and “How To”

Bigger and better.  Revision 2021 newly released Journal/Handbook.

How To Begin To Write
How to Create interesting Characters
How To Write Fiction
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry

275+ lined, blank pages for your writings.  Each page with an inspiring famous quote from actors, authors, playwrights, poets. 

Review:  Midwest Book Review 

“Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook begins where so many writer’s guides should: with the basics of how to pursue a dream job as a writer. The problem with most writers’ guides is that they assume some prior degree of excellence or experience; but this handbook poses something different: the opportunity to begin with no prior skill level or experience. All that’s needed is the desire and passion to be a writer, and everything flows from there.
So if you ‘scribble’, if you like words, if your stories ‘find’ you, and if you aspire to be something more (say, a published blogger); then here’s the next step in the process. From how ideas begin to how they are nurtured and written down, there to be refined until they see the light of day (i.e. other readers), this journal offers support, insight, and ideas for jump-starting the creative process and linking it to action.

White, lined journal pages offer a workbook approach that augments white space with inspirational quotes on the process from other, successful writers. So while you’re staring at the usual journal blank pages, inspiration can spark from others’ experiences and insights.
This isn’t just about prose, either: Sugarek includes sections on different formats, from Haiku Poetry to writing a stage play. Each section offers inspirational insights into format, structure, and writing challenges – then uses the journal/quote format to encourage readers to put something down on paper.
So if it’s nuggets of information spiced with the encouragement of fresh lined, white space that is needed, Creative Writers’ Journal and Handbook offers a success formula beginners can easily absorb, all packaged in a survey that assumes no prior familiarity with writing.”
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan.
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