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Interview with Children’s Book Author, Rita Avaud Najm

A new author, raised in Lebanon and France, writing children’s chapter books with a quirky twist.  Some of her dialogue is in simple French phrases with definitions as a footnote. Introducing youngsters to French. These are charming little stories about Rita coming to America as a child. T.S. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?   Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

RN. I don’t have a specific place. But I always keep a note book next to my living room seat to write any idea that comes to my mind. Once I gather my thoughts, typing and saving them on my laptop will be my next step. I usually keep it on my dining table where the lights are bright.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

RN. My note book should always be handy to look through my thoughts or my simple scribbles as a reference. My cup of tea is always there on my right side, yet many times I drink it cold since once I start writing, I don’t stop and keep on until I am tired, or hungry. 

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

RN. Other than writing Arabic poetry and French stories, writing plays and song lyrics since I was 7 years old, I am a painter. This hobby helped with illustrating my two books. I also do crochet and knitting. All of my storylines have to do with something I’ve been through in my childhood or things I do or did. My memories make my stories alive. 

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

RN. I prefer evenings. I know by then that my children did their homework, had dinner and the house is clean and the housework is done, for the day!

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

RN. Some people procrastinate because they are lazy. Others are afraid of change and the heavy success, or they just fear failure and risk. “Someday I will,” keeps those writers who might have plenty of amazing stories to tell and a vivid imagination never known, and always living in the past. Go ahead! Start that project! Celebrate your success and live the moment when your hard work pays off!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

RN. Besides my “Petite Rita,” the little French girl who represents me, I was shy when I came to The USA because of my French-Lebanese accent, anything can be my character when I have the story.  I can make a story about my cup of tea or my toothbrush… When you are creative with imagination, you can create and make any object or animal talk your talk.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

RN. French Dual immersion programs in many public and private schools are the reason behind my main character to be a French girl, as well as the love of students to learn a foreign language. I decided to publish those two volumes first, before any of my other stories, because of their passion to read and to learn some common French words.

Join us for Part 2 of this interview. ‘Rejoignez-nous pour la partie 2 de cette interview.’  November 24th.

To Purchase Rita’s books: click here

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. 
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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To purchase








Emma and the Lost Unicorn, A Children’s Book

Announcing the second edition of this popular children’s chapter book, Emma & the Lost Unicorn

Book 1 of the Fabled Forest Series: Emma, an earthling girl visits her friends in the forest with great regularity. She delights in the antics of Stare, the rhetorical owl and Cheets, the mischievous elf.  One day she’s introduced to Rainey, the unicorn,  a prince who’s been banished, for centuries, by the warlord, Hazard.   He can never return home unless Emma solves more riddles than Hazard’s Lieutenant, Kodak. The fable ends with a surprise twist which will delight readers young and old.  While written for children, this fairy tale is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults as well.

Queens, warlords, faeries, elves, unicorns, handmaidens, scary henchmen and one small mortal girl child in an enchanted forest.  This fable offers many subtle lessons.


Available in illustrated paperback, audio-books and e-books at all book stores. 

fairy tales, fables, elves, fairies, running away, audio books

greed, ecology, elves, warlords, love, friendship

fairies, books for children, literacy, reading, bullying, bullies, elves,

Book 4 in the series/Beautiful illustrations


Argentina Students Gift Me with an Original Poem


Argentina Adult English Class

Periodically I have talked about my friends in Argentina.  In 2009 I traveled there and was hosted by the most beautiful people whom I’d only met via email. So warm and generous with their time and attention. Highlights were: getting stuck (for a short time) in a nation-wide airline strike and being on the only plane to leave Bueno Aries for Villa Maria. A sister of one of my hosts, who had never met me in her life, vacating her apartment and handing it over to me for my stay. A beautiful university campus where I was honored to be a guest speaker for 10 days. A music department whose ‘final’ exam was to compose and perform their own music. (Amazing!) A high school putting on a play which I was able to attend and teach an impromptu, master-class in acting. And visiting a dairy farm where ‘frozen’ sperm was the subject of the day (lol) and how it was purchased, stored and implemented.  

Since that time I have been in close contact with one of the professors, Mariana Falco, and I consider her the dearest of friends. 

Mariana in center. Fulbrigh teaching assistant at St. Mary´s College

She also teaches English as a second language to adult students. She is a lovely, giving person and a wonderful teacher.

  Mariana and her class Skype with me and we have a hilarious time!  There is no language barrier when there is love! 

So, yesterday, the class surprised me by sending me a poem that they had written….(I blush)…about me! 


  TRISHA SUGAREK     (by O.Lopez  and Classmates)

Cierro mis ojos, en letargo                                     Close my eyes, lethargy overtakes me

Creo ver en mi sueño                                               I think I see in my dream

Su diminuta pero firme mano                               her tiny, but, firm hand

Un mágico movimiento                                         a magical movement

Esta se deslizaba sobre el papel                           this slides on the paper

Sosteniendo el lápiz entre sus dedos                    holding the pencil between her fingers

Las palabras que habitan en su mente                the words that inhabit in her mind,

Sabias ellas……….van cayendo                              wise them, begin to drop

Toda la sabiduría en la hoja                                  all the wisdom on the paper

Testigo fiel de lo que ella quiere decir                 the faithful witness of what she wants

                                                                                    to say

                 _____________                                                 __________________

De repente se detiene                                             Suddenly, she stops

Lee atentamente …… y vueve a leer                    reads attentively and reads again

Entrecierra sus ojos                                                squints her eyes

Y una bonachona sonrisa                                      and a good-nature smile

Ilumina su rostro                                                    lights up her face

Sus pupilas se agrandan e iluminan                   her pupils get enlarged and illuminate

Detrás de los lentes se ilumina y…piensa        Behind her glasses, she lights up and


Y se dice a si misma                                              and she says to herself

Si es un buen trabajo,sencillo y correcto          it is a good work, simple, and precise  

Su nombre es Trisha, una gran escritora          her name is Trisha, a great writer

Y es…………¡nuestra amiga!!                              And she’s ………our friend!!!


MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     In August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens and October’s author is Donna Kauffman.
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Think, Dog, Think! Guest Blogger (part 2)

(Continued. Part 2) A man and his canine partners. 

……It was great no matter what job I was doing. Who or what I was keeping safe, it was always about working with my canine friends and training them to protect me. When your best friend is also your protector and your rock you develop quite a bond, and this book is my tribute to them, my homage if you will, to Hooch and the friends that led me to him. I found that writing with emotion is not the best way to structure a book but a great way to get it all down. It was a fulfilling process for me and my finished book was then circulated to friends and family. The feedback was the structure wasn’t great. So I then took up the challenge to edit and rewrite, structuring my emotion so readers could follow the story properly.

Once finished it took me eight months to send to the publisher. It was probably the hardest thing I had to do was to actually decide to send it, I started this journey with one goal. I wanted one copy of a book I had written on my bookshelf. That was all. The decision to publish was a hard one as it was never about money or success and in my head it was never really to be public. In a book like this you bare your soul to explain the feelings you have and the circumstances you are in.  It was my family that convinced me, success or not it is an achievement that I am proud of.  I really hope you enjoy it.

‘Poleybear’ (as seen in photo on right)   Polar was a stray all of his life. As you can see from his coat he was a big fluffy German Shepard.


He inherited the name Polar, but my children started calling him Poleybear because he was like a teddy bear and lovely to cuddle for those that he would allow to cuddle him. I write a lot about him in the book because he was my biggest regret. He died as we were beginning to make headway with him and his issues. He was the tender age of three when he had to go.  He had not developed well due to his lack of shelter and nutrition growing up and it was just too much for him. 

Excerpt:  “I balanced myself and as the baiter walked closer he crossed the boundary. Hooch reacted. His hackles came up, he started pulling harder, begging to be set free. His growling started, deep in his throat at first, a guttural warning. His mouth opened slightly just enough to let the sound out. “Watch him” I whispered in a sharp tone and the sound erupted from Hooch’s mouth. A deep powerful bark, he raised his lips to show his gleaming white K9’s to prove he was serious. Spittle came from his mouth and he started bouncing on his front feet which exaggerated his look of impatience.  Every couple of barks he would throw me a look imploring me to let him go so he could do his job. The baiter gave me the signal by raising his arm, I waited for Hooch to shimmy back and knew he was on the cusp of surging forward. I unclipped his lead so he could follow through with his momentum. He surged forward. It was times like this I couldn’t help the smile on my face. Three or four years ago I couldn’t have done this and neither could Hooch.”

Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/hooch.offord 
Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jameshooch/

To Purchase:
Paperback book – UK  
Paperback book – USA

E-books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/

Did you miss part I of this wonderful post?  Click here

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Happy Holidays to One and All !!

Wishing my family, friends and fans the merriest and happiest of holiday seasons!  Hold your family dogclose and your egg nog closer.  May the coming New Year be filled with good health, prosperity and laughter.Sadie, 2012


in remembrance, Sadie

Thank you all for your support of my work this past year!trish-signature

Wear a Christmas hat!? You're joking, right?

Wear a Christmas hat!? You’re joking, right?

Miss Molly

Miss Molly



Melting away the shame…

Women Outside the WallsOne early, wintry Sunday morning I found myself sitting in the waiting area of an Illinois State Prison for Men.  I was about to visit a confessed murderer. I was writing his story for a stage play I was developing.

I felt like a fish out of water. Over dressed, out of place, and very conscious of the other women around me. Probably much like how Kitty felt, in my future book. The only males in the room were young, probably sons and nephews of the incarcerated men we were waiting to see. And here was an odd thing, everyone’s shoes were untied.  I found out later, and by personal experience, that the other visitors knew the drill.  The CO’s (correctional officers) would search our persons which included removing our shoes for inspection.

Trying hard not to stare, I observed the hopeful resignation on these women’s faces.  They knew each other and murmured news and gossip to one another.  I was definitely an outsider and did not belong.  As I sat there an overwhelming urge to know their stories and write them down came to me.  It was urgent that I find out what brought them to this place.  They didn’t look like bad people. They were women you saw at the store, on the street, in an office, ordinary in every way; wives, mothers, sisters.

Now it was time to go inside. I remember heavy steel doors clanging shut behind us. It was a scary moment; I had just given up my freedom. Even though it was for a short time, my rights and freedom were in other people’s hands.  I was assigned a table and sat down to wait for Bill. The suppressed frustration and rage in that room was palatable. Other than a short hug between loved ones, no touching was allowed.  I’m certain that contraband was exchanged but I never witnessed it. The women were indefatigably cheerful in front of their men.  It might have been a crowded city park, families sitting at picnic tables visiting, playing cards, giving their children snacks; save for the concertina wire at the top of the fence.

A year and a half later when I was in the final rewrite of my novel Women Outside the Walls I was working on the acknowledgments. One woman, in particular, had shared so much with me, about her life outside the walls.  I wished to thank her but still maintain her anonymity. I asked her if I could use her first name and only the initial of her surname. Would that protect her, I asked, and keep her clients from knowing about her personal life? Her reply to this question was this:
“It doesn’t matter if your readers figure it out and discover that it’s me…your book has taken away all my shame…”

Shirley K. had stood by her man while he served ten years.  Raising their children, supporting an unwed daughter and grandchild and working two jobs.  Half way through her husband’s term, Shirley’s son was sentenced to life for murder.  Now she was visiting two of her men in prison. She’s a hero in my book.  She did nothing to deserve this kind of life.  Never even had a traffic ticket. And that’s the common thread among these women.  Married, raising their children; mid-stream America, right?  Then their husbands or sons or brothers make a stupid decision and end up in prison.

I asked Shirley how she and the other women kept up a brave face when visiting their husbands. She told me stories about how after the visit was over the women, friends for years, had a designated rest area (down the highway a couple of exits from the prison) that they would meet at after visitation.  That’s where they shared their tears, grief, anger, and commonality of spirit.  But they never let their husbands see what they were going through. They were serving time in their own personal prison; doing their own time.

Little did I know that my novel about wives waiting outside the walls, while their men served out their sentences, would have this kind of impact. What I did know was, as I wrote the book, I met many women from all walks of life that had someone currently in prison or had that experience in the past. Most of my book is based on true stories told to me. As a writer it is not uncommon for me to have people, strangers, appear in my life to share and contribute something to my writing. It’s welcomed but uncanny.

Epilogue: Shirley’s son, convicted of murder and sentenced to life, had his conviction and sentence reduced to manslaughter and fifteen years.  He was released in 2014.
DON’T MISS BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   In April, a long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House) May’s author is Jordan Rosenfeld.

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A Dog’s Life…..(short story)

Rocky, Fiona, Gus (left to right)

Rocky, Fiona, Gus (left to right)

How did God know that we would need a companion who would unfailingly soften the hard edges of life that is a human’s path? Unlike any other animal, or for that matter, person, a dog just knows…and comforts its humans when sad, in poor health or just needing a good laugh.  We talk about their devotion and unconditional love because that’s what we experience when we have a dog as a friend.  We reach out and there’s always a silky head to stroke.  We come home and they act like we’ve been gone for years.  In the lonely night they snuggle against us because that’s what we need in the dark hours.

Rocky…..A golden retriever picked up wandering the mean streets of Aransas Pass, Texas. Estimated age, 18 months…a pup really.  A rescue volunteer group called me to see if I could adopt him.  Of course I could; at the time I had 5 acres, stock fenced.  He was a hellion with little manners but house broken and so willing to please me.
At the time, my property had a barn and out under a shade tree, an oval shaped, tin, watering trough about 3 feet deep.  One of Rocky’s favorite pass times was to crawl over the lip of the trough more »

That Magical Space Where You Write…

writers, fiction, create, authors, children's books, art, painting

this author’s studio

I think one of your tools, as a writer, should be a special work space.  Do you have an extra room? Even, if its all you have, a large closet will serve.  Somewhere you can call you own, a space that will, I promise you, become a creative oasis. Where no one enters except  by invitation.

And it can change from day to day. I have interviewed many authors and they write on the beach, a coffee shop, on the train, in a lonely cabin in the mountains.

An author's work space... the train

An author’s work space… the train

I’ve always had the luxury of a spare bedroom to call my studio.  On my walls I am surrounded by my own water color work, framed letters from my publisher, photos of theatre productions. In one corner is my desk and a comfortable chair.  My desktop computer has the place of honor as I do all my writing there.  I simply can’t write long hand as I cannot write fast enough when the spirit is on me!  I type seventy five words a minute and sometimes that’s too slow.  more »

Inspiration…Wherever You Can Get It!

poetry, writing, inspiration, writer, native american, superstition, talisman, totems,                   I was sitting, in my car, on a freeway, (some might say a parking lot), stuck in traffic, not moving.  To while away the time I was reading the bumper stickers and signs in the back windows of other automobiles.  Wondering if I’d ever get home, it suddenly struck me; the parallel between totems, talismans, and these stickers, magnets, paste-ons that modern man posts on his steel steed to declare his beliefs.

Here is an excerpt of the poetry that was born while impatiently sitting in traffic.  Grabbing scraps of paper from the floorboards, writing on a restaurant napkin, old receipt, the back of a grocery list… lest I forget my words~~~~

Totem and Talisman  ©

Totem. Storyteller of the tribe’s history and lore,
felled and carved in reverence, from the tree centuries old  sculpted in living wood;
a face, a fish, a spirit, a bear, the sun, the moon

Totems live on as statuary in the garden;  a wooden rooster tops the mail box.
A mural brushed upon a barn wall; the flag of a beloved country, the star of a lone state.

The Nations painted their sturdy, brave little horses before battle…
a circle of paint about the eye for truer vision, hand prints on shoulder
and flank to ward off the spear

Today’s tribes paint their vehicles with bumper stickers, magnetic ribbons,
and window decals. All proclaiming some truth, totems to tell other tribes what they believe.

Support this, hate that, down with this, up with that.  Proud to be a redneck,
a woman, a boater, a christian, a Viet Nam vet, proud to be a farmer,
a republican, a parent, a fisherman.  Prouder still to be a soldier,
a grandpa, a boy scout, a sailor, a golfer, an Irishman, a lover of guns.’ ©

Keep yourself open to inspiration…eyes, ears, brain and heart.  You will be inspired by strange and wonderful things and you will write strange and wonderful things. You will leave totems for following generations to read.

To read more of my poetry……..click here
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!       Julia London in October and Matt Jorgenson later this winter. Coming in December!  My review of a new release by Dean Koontz, Ashley Bell.

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A Day In The Life Of A Writer

anxnst.mouseIt’s time once again to share with other writers, my hopes, my fears, my successes, my setbacks. My days as a writer look very much like a pizza loaded with toppings.

My time at my keyboard, has been filled feverishly working with an editor on The Art of Murder because a publisher is sniffing around my campfire.  That is to say, the senior editor for a publishing co. said my mystery series had ‘tremendous potential‘ but wasn’t quite there yet.  Now we wait and see if my editor and I were able to do what they needed in order to offer me a contract.

Yes, even though I am moderately successful as an indie author, I am still chasing a traditional publisher when I stumble across one.  more »