Friday, February 27, 2009

Twenty-two Tips on What to Wear For a TV Interview

by Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications

Recently one of my author clients was featured on FOX News Boston. Before he was interviewed on camera he was nervous but was able to recall the media training that we put him through a few weeks earlier. That, along with a pep talk, and he was good to go.

What about YOU? Are you ready to be interviewed by local or national TV? If you’ve not had media training, believe me it’s too late once you get the call. You may have to get in a car or on a plane within an hour’s notice. It’s too late to get the training then. That’s why you need to be prepared before you get the call.

My experience as a publicist has convinced me that one of the greatest concerns about being interviewed on television is what to wear. For radio or newspaper interviews, fashion doesn’t matter but how you appear is critical for TV. When my clients agree to media coaching, my first choice for them to work with is TJ Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide

TJ Walker is one of the leading authorities on media training in the world. With more than 20 years of media training experience, Walker has trained thousands of CEOs, authors, and experts, including leading government officials in the United States, European Prime Ministers, and African diplomats.

Here’s a quick list of “What to Wear and Not Wear!” that TJ Walker and other media coaches have developed that I share with you now so you can look terrific for your TV interview.

1. Don’t wear white, black or red. White glows and becomes the most noticeable thing on the TV screen. Black is too harsh and can suck up all the light. Reds “bleed” on camera and are distracting.
2. Pastel shirts work well on TV.
3. The safest color on TV is blue.
4. Don’t wear dangly earrings. They distract.
5. Remove jewelry that moves, makes noise, or could hit your microphone.
6. Be wrinkle-free.
7. Don’t wear stripes, herringbone, small intricate designs, or flashy jewelry. They are hard for a TV camera to pick up on.
8. Don’t wear checks.
9. Dress in a simple, boring manner, unless you are a fashion designer.
10. TV viewers should focus on your face and what you say, not your clothes.
11. Men should have about an inch of their shirt cuff showing.
12. Avoid light colored pants.
13. Wear over-the-calf socks so your skin doesn’t show if you cross your legs.
14. Don't wear more than one ring per hand.
15. Women shouldn't wear short skirts if you want people to focus on your message.
16. If you wear a dark shirt, dark suit, and dark tie, you will look like you are auditioning to be a hit man on the “Sopranos.”
17. Vests look stuffy on TV.
18. Don’t wear stripes. They dance around on the screen and are distracting.
19. Avoid hair products that add shine.
20. No visible logos or companies or brands, except for your own company logo.
21. People shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will.
22. If you do or wear anything distracting on TV, people will remember that and nothing you say.

Clothes are the major factor in controlling how you appear to viewers. While appearance is critical for success on television you also must be concerned about the words that come out of your mouth, the knowledge you display, and the self-confidence you demonstrate. Media coaches like TJ Walker and marketing experts like myself will make sure you are fully prepared for your big day!

The bottom line: RELAX, you’ll do fine. The butterflies you’re feeling are what will drive you to do your best! Remember, it’s not like they are going to ask you the square root of 656! They’re asking you about your book, your company, your story which you obviously know. Just follow these helpful tips and you’ll look as good as you sound.

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writers’ Podcast for March Will Examine the Many Amazing Powers of Our Minds

Writers in the Sky Podcast Guests Share Their New Books Concerning Hypnosis, Psychic Abilities, Criminal Mindsets, and Reading Our Dreams

Nashville, TN, February 25, 2009—The team members at Writers in the Sky just love it when our podcast guests, who are always wonderful, provide a cohesive theme to our month of interviews. This connection helps provide fluidity to our discussions and hopefully allows the listeners to build upon what they hear every week. In March, the four books that will be featured on our podcast each offer insight into the amazing complexity and power of the human mind. We will begin the month with an author who uses hypnosis to help people find love and self-acceptance. Next, we will speak with an author who has experience as a psychic and how she came to accept that gift. Our month continues with an interview about a new thriller novel, in which readers learn about both the criminal mind and the keen insights of those who protect and serve. Finally, we will close out March with a fascinating discussion about dream interpretation and how this skill can create a better life.

On March 6, Yvonne Perry will be interviewing Shayn Cutino about her new book The Anja Technique. Shayn is a certified clinical hypnotherapist who has discovered that the missing connection between each person and a productive life is the relationship they have with themselves. Shayn developed the Anja Technique to teach individuals how to love themselves and overcome the multitude of obstacles that attempt to block them from achieving a well rounded life. During her interview, Ms. Cutino will discuss her five-step process and how it can be used for the specific issues that are hindering your life. Purchase The Anja Technique through Amazon.

Our next interview, on March 13, also will be hosted by Yvonne and will feature the book Divine Intervention by Patricia Milner. The author will discuss how her psychic gifts have affected all areas of her life. Patricia is an international psychic medium, Reiki master, spiritual teacher and trainer who has been psychic since birth. Her spiritual retreats guide people through life’s changes and challenges by helping them with their spiritual growth and development. She also uses her music and singing voice to create her own meditation music. Divine Intervention can be purchased through Amazon.

Sarah Moore continues our month of interviews on March 20 when she discusses the novel Compulsion with new author Jennifer Chase. Ms. Chase uses her educational background in police forensics and criminology to bring amazing details to her thriller. In Compulsion, Chase creates Emily Stone, a woman who works anonymously to track pedophiles and killers and then bring them to justice. When Emily herself becomes the hunted one, the mind games increase with the tension. Chase found that her curiosity about the psychological aspects of crime inspired her desire to write, and that passion comes through in the characters she develops in her novel. During her interview, Chase will discuss the role that psychology plays in investigating crime scenes and how she unfolded the striking personalities in her novel. Please visit Outskirts Press to learn more about Compulsion and Jennifer Chase.

Our last interview of the month will be on March 27 and will feature Christina Sponias and a discussion of her new e-Book, Craziness Prevention. This book contains Sponias’ own theory for interpreting dreams and teaches people how to solve problems based on guidance received from the unconscious mind. Christina continued Carl Jung's research into the human psyche by simplifying the scientific method of dream interpretation. In her interview with Sarah Moore, Ms. Sponias will share how learning the techniques for translating the exact meaning of your dreams will allow you to find health, wisdom, and happiness. Please visit Christina Sponias’ website to learn more about the author and her publications.

“Once again, we are excited to offer our listeners an entertaining and thoughtful group of authors,” shares Yvonne Perry, owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services, which produces the podcast. “I look forward to the insight that each writer will offer into the amazing complexity of the human mind!”

About Writers in the Sky: Writers in the Sky blog, podcast, and newsletter is a three-fold production filled with information about writing, publishing, and book publicity created by Yvonne Perry as part of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (

Listening to Writers in the Sky Podcast on a computer is easy. Go to On the right sidebar there is a list of archived shows. Click on the interview you would like to hear and it will open a post that has a link to the audio file.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Poetry Corner February 2009

Working the Room

Champagne glasses clink together,
Laughter fills the evening air,
Music set its subtle mood as
Fashion flashes everywhere.
In the middle of it all
You begin to weave your loom,
And I can only stand in awe
To watch you work the room.

There’s a sparkle in your eye
Meant for all the world to know,
Captured from a midnight sky,
Projected in its afterglow.
Lifting up your audience
Far beyond the waning moon,
Magic follows everywhere as you’re
Working the room.

Others try to steal your spotlight,
But they can’t compete.
They just fade into the background,
Left to worship at your feet.

You are every roving star
Filling up the nighttime sky,
Flaunting wings of fantasy;
Never mind the reason why.
Finding favor everywhere to
Chase away the gloom.
There’s a celebration as you’re
Working the room.

~ Dennis S Martin


There’s a little red spot on my left breast.
Where the biopsy needle went in.
There’s a long purple smile beside it,
Where the surgeon pulled back the skin.
And she scraped all the bad ole stuff right out.
I put my pants back on, and I went home with my doubts.
Did I take one hormone too many?
Should I have drunk more red wine?
Did I smoke too many cigarettes?
Which of these risks was mine?
I was number eight out of ten,
On the clinic dry erase board that day.
We all put our pants back on.
We all went home to wait.

And we all have scars no one else can see.
From pain we don’t want to remember.
They make us move in different ways,
Leave places that are tender.

My Ex signed by all the Xs on the paper.
His lawyer shoved the pen at me.
A judge can sign off on all this stuff.
But I know I’ll never be free.
Somewhere we lost the real-deal love.
I went home, all by myself, and asked the stars above.
Should I have given him a baby?
Would he have stayed home a little more?
Why did he have to correct my grammar?
Why did I scream when he walked out the door?
We were the third divorce case,
In his lawyer’s office that day.
We all put our coats back on.
And went our separate ways.

And we all have scars no one else can see.
From pain we don’t want to remember.
They make us move in different ways,
Leave places that are tender.

~ Jan Bossing © Joelton, TN 2007

You Are Like the Light

You walked along the wrong path
For a very long time,
You stopped when you knew
You had crossed the line.

It took something very wrong
To make something very right,
Before you were in darkness
And now you're in the light.

You learned bad experiences
You almost lived in hell,
You learned possibilities
You were saved by the bell.

The "virus" I call the bell
Because it opened up your soul,
Before the world was over you
But now you're in control.

This time God really barked
He barked, but didn't bite,
It just scared you enough
To make you want to fight.

In your old path of life
You refused your way out,
But now you finally realized
What life is really about.

When you discovered your disease
You thought you were said and done,
Not realizing at all
Your life had just begun.

Now you're on the road
Now you must keep on living,
Testify your experiences
And heal by giving.

Enjoy your living life
Let go of all your fears,
Remember all the laughter
And forget about the tears.

Life can be very long
It can also be short,
Just have proof of innocence
When you reach heavens court.

Oh sister, you're in my heart
And this poem I had to write,
Before you were in darkness
But now you're in the light

I love you! I can't wait to see you again!
I miss you! But until then......

Written By Iris Erielle Foss for sister Maria before she died of AIDS

A Self

A Self
Is Found
In Each Belief
In Each Moment
In Each Experience

A Self
Is Energy
Completely Aglow
By The Match
Of Consciousness

Burning At Different Intensities
The Flame
Of Each Self
Becomes A Candle
Within The Framework
Of Spontaneous Selves

The Self
Is A Reflection
Of Becoming
In The Awareness
Of The Wick
The Wax
The Candle
And The Light

From the 2008 Collection of Spirit Songs by Hal Manogue poet and author of Short Sleeves Insights and Short Sleeves A Book For Friends

I Can Do It, Lord

I can be who you want me to be!
I need practice every day for the rest of my life,
But I know now that I can respond to you as you wish.
Please be merciful and kind to me.
Pay special attention to the ways I learn best and
Teach me according to my mind set.
Be as gentle as possible, I ask.

As for me, I bravely set myself to practice the lessons
You give me from day to day.

My testimony is:
The Lord and I are working together.
We have lots on our minds…much work to do
(work in my inner person, testimony to give others,
fruits of the Holy Spirit to bring forth,
many good works to accomplish).

I remain your faithful and loyal servant.
What's my next assignment?

~ Dianne Hansen, Bipolar blog Enjoying Your Health :


Rain falls from the sky
down on to the white desert of satin,
from a dark hazel emotion
as the devil smiles away his sorrow
in seing his angel fly,
saying he was never afraid of anything,
except the part where he became a memory
blurred out of the sky.

See how many times I write sky?
Is because Heaven is inexistent,
and I cannot speak of that which I cannot pray
... and I cannot pray to the sands of satin...
not while the rain falls from the hazel-colored sky.


If you saw me, desire me
Like the moon desires the sun's sighs,
Like the clouds desire the touch of the rain.
Beautiful as the sunset,
Beautiful as the night sky,
You are far away...

I can't have the luxury of having you
Because I cannot have the luxury of having a soul,
That misses you,
That wants you,
That tells me just how empty is my existence without you.

How little poetic we become,
When we turn all mushy and nostalgic!

Yuvia Chairez. Born, raised, and currently living in the border town of Juarez, Mexico. Writer, Veterinarian, and Teacher, she has been published in several cultural magazines in Mexico (Fronteras, Armario, Tierra Adentro), as well as several poetry anthology books from various authors ("Ciudad de Cierto, Rio", "Voces de la Frontera", "Memorias del Encuentro de Poetras" -- all of them from Doble Helice Editorial). As a writer, she has won the David Alfaro Siqueiros Award given by the Chihuahua Culture Institute with her short story book, "De la Luna y Otros Vicios" (From the Moon and Other Vices). She currently works as an ESL Teacher at the North Regional University (URN). Web page:

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Seven Ps of Freelance Writing

by R.J. Medek

1. Performance – Performance in this case is not missing the deadline, writing your best and giving the customer what they asked for, and are willing to make any edits the client may ask for in a timely manner. If you want your brand to stand out, or be talked about in a positive light, doing what you said you would on time and the best work you can do will be your brand, and allow you to gradually negotiate for more money.

2. Presentation – Presentation is the overall look of the work done for your client. By that, means no typos, spelling errors, grammar errors, not following through with the guidelines set by the client. If you have any doubt as to what the client wants, ask before you start to make sure that you and the client or on the same page of the same book.

3. Professionalism – Professionalism is simple yet hard. Freelance writing is a job, just like working for someone. You must approach your client as your boss, because they are. The client offers you an assignment; you have to treat it as through your boss in a 9-5 job asked you to perform some task. You can do nothing less than your best effort to complete the assignment on time and to the client’s satisfaction.

4. Polish – Polish is not an easy task. Polish means to write and edit your piece of writing for grammar, typos, punctuation, or spelling errors and correct them. You need to do this within the time constraints, and guidelines given to you or negotiated with the client. When you take on a client’s assignment, polishing the piece has to be part of your time assessment when you tell the client how long it will take to complete the assignment.

5. Personal Contact – Personal contact is keeping the client informed how the assignment is coming along, if something came up, you need more time for research on a specific chart, technology, or whatever it is the assignment needs for completion. If say, you or a family member becomes ill and is taken to the hospital, this could cause a delay. Let the client know and ask for time or tell the client you will be unable to complete the assignment because of it. DO NOT leave your client hanging wondering where you and the piece are.

6. Persistence – When first starting out, your writing assignments may be few and far in between. If you give up easily, choose another profession. You have to keep writing and keep applying for jobs. Take this down time to update your resume, work on cover letters, read, write. Practice your chosen profession. Never let a day go by that you don’t write something or try to make a contact looking for writing jobs.

7. Patience – Patience is not the long suit of many. If you expect to make a ton of money from the start of your freelance writing career, you will be greatly disappointed. All of the hype that overnight you can become a great copywriter, or sell all kinds of eBooks, is just that, hype. It takes time to brand and market yourself. Like wines, it will happen when the time is right, and not before. There are places where you can write for free, like the church newsletter, something for the PTA, or your social club. These are good places to hone your skills, improve your writing, while giving you exposure to different types of writing, and people that may you’re your writing. You cannot be in a hurry with either your writing, or your writing career.

R J Medak is a freelance writer with 300 articles written. He has over 40 book reviews written and posted to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He maintains a blog at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book with a View February 2009

My Name is Michael
Author: P. J. Thomas
ISBN: 978-1-4327-3306-3
Publisher: (2009)
Genre and Target Market: fiction; China; human rights
Pages: 56
Reviewed by Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)

Sometimes I find it difficult to review a book when its message is so powerful and its potential to have a lasting impact on everyone who reads its pages is of great consequence. Will I do justice to what is being conveyed? How can I effectively capture the feelings I had when reading the book and the way its characters still enter my thoughts? These concerns sat with me as I reflected on the new release My Name is Michael by P.J. Thomas. This short book of fifty-six pages tells the fictional story of a child beggar in China, but the personal research done by the author in learning about this forgotten segment of Chinese society is horrifically real. I am confident that you will, as I did, become gripped by this book and read it in one sitting. Then, you will want to pass the novel onto your friends so that you can have others with which to share a discussion about this unforgettable story.

Michael is a young boy in modern China who earned his beloved school name from an American teacher who tells the kids about the beauty and liberty in the United States. Tragically, in short time, Michael would be kidnapped and come to know a life which held no semblance of comfort or freedom. He is taken to the home of Mama Chang, who plays host to enslaved child beggars. Michael is quickly taken to The Butcher for procedures that, as graphically described, are revolting and provide physical results that make him a more sympathetic character to passersby. Despite these unimaginable circumstances, Michael never loses his ability to love, befriend, or place the needs of others above his own. My Name is Michael is an amazing testimony to the innocence and truth in children that endures in the face of the harshest abuse and dimmest future.

P.J. Thomas reminds us in the prologue that his book is a work of fiction, but he also acknowledges the reality in which his story is based. I must admit that I had no idea about the sinister practice of stealing children, disfiguring them, and then placing them on the streets to earn spare change. Luckily, though, the story of Michael and other boys like him has found a powerful voice. Thomas spent two years in China learning about its people and, when he took notice of the many children with deformed bodies, he managed to find a few people who were not terrified to share what they knew. The resulting book is a beautifully crafted piece of art. Each chapter heading, such as “A Cry for Help” and “Return to the Butcher” prepares us for another moment in which we will catch our breaths or become enraged. The use of stark words and phrases throughout the text creates a powerful image of emptiness. There is no room for flowery language in the world that Michael knows.

In addition to the power of his words, Thomas lays out the book in a way that captures and maintains a reader’s attention. Starting with the front cover sketch of a young boy who has lost both legs holding a bruised, abandoned baby, Thomas includes the occasional artwork to make his already stark images even more clear. By seeing the visual interpretation of The Butcher or Mama Chang’s face, the reader must face the concept of these unspeakably horrible people actually being human. Each chapter is also formatted to be short and feel almost abrupt. We are let into snapshots of Michael’s life and the reader gets whisked away after a few quick pages, effectively recreating the uncertainty and lack of peace in Michael’s life. Whether or not that was the author’s intention, this style choice definitely heightened the reading experience for me.

My Name is Michael is an important new novel that should be read by government officials, social activists and individuals who have concerns for children in any part of the world. As the character in the book known only as “The American” tells Michael when recording his life to that point, “When people read your story they will become outraged and speak out.” This is not a book that will make you feel good or that simply should be another check mark on your desired reading list. However, it is an expertly-written piece of fiction that is rooted in truths that will be, and should be, difficult to forget. My hope is that My Name is Michael becomes one important way in which information about the atrocity of child beggars is shared and action can be taken.


The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude
Author: Davis Aujourd’hui
ISBN: 978-1-4327-3047-5
Publisher: (2009)
Genre: fiction, humor, social commentary
Pages: 155
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)

When I reflect on the fictional nuns who have found their way into our collective consciousness through television and movies over the last fifty years, there seems to be the common thread of a dichotomous personality. These pious women are portrayed as kind-hearted servants of God and their communities, but also mischievous humans who are quite capable of less-than-holy behavior. Maria from The Sound of Music cared about those VonTrapp children, but she was known to be late to afternoon prayers. Sally Field was charming as The Flying Nun, but her unorthodox methods often had the Reverend Mother up in arms. And, of course, Whoopi Goldberg used her habit to hide from the mob during her turn as a nun in Sister Act. Davis Aujourd’hui adds another Sister to the roll call of memorable nuns in his new book The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude. With her alcohol-filled crucifix and Marlboro smoke signals sent straight to heaven as prayers, this sister will undoubtedly captivate your attention and have you turning the pages.

Sister Mary Olga speaks to the readers directly, with each of the chapters reading like the script from a classic radio broadcast. I doubt that many of the nun’s stories would have passed FCC scrutiny, however! She draws us in with opening remarks which immediately command our attention, like “T.L.I.A.M.G, my dears!” (the acronym standing for The Lord is a Mighty God) or “Now!” Then, she proceeds to share important lessons in Advanced Holiness using some of the residents of Bucksnort, Wisconsin, home of the Have a Heart convent, as the fodder for her tales. Readers of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude’s wise and unique perspective will quickly learn that no one is without a fascinating story to his or her name. Although you may never have discovered a body in the process of cremation as you tried to bake a cake or bore offspring who made inappropriate digestive noises while playing Baby Jesus in the annual Christmas pageant, I know that you will be able to relate to the flaws discussed by Sister Mary, albeit exaggerated, that are common to the human condition. Mr. Aujourd’hui’s inspired storytelling and fun use of words make each of these revelations all the more memorable.

Even while creating a hilarious cast of characters and series of events in which they are players, Aujourd’hui presents his readers with a serious commentary on the importance of tolerance and refraining from judgment. Through Sister Mary Olga Fortitude, he introduces us to people who are often considered outcasts in traditionally accepted society, from transgendered nuns and prostitutes to gay cowboys and morbidly obese women. While sharing their stories and secrets, Sister reminds us not to be critical of the unusual personalities we meet as the book unfolds. And, as reinforcement, she repeatedly confesses to her own shortcomings in terms of lust, gossip, and alcohol. The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude is a laugh-out-loud interpretation of the Golden Rule.

To further the point of the dangers to be found in judgment and narrow-mindedness, Aujourd’hui creates a group of women who are known as the Bunheads United Now organization (BUN). These ladies are known for their tight pulled-back hairstyle, which Sister Mary Olga points out is a hindrance to unimpeded brain functions. They are critical of anyone who does not fit the acceptable mold of behavior and they create superficial, seemingly perfect demeanors to hide their most personal doubts and insecurities. The leader of the BUN brigade, appropriately named Priscilla Bunhead, ends up on the receiving end of some vengeful scissors. Readers who have felt judged for their lifestyle or decisions will likely take some satisfaction out of this particularly amusing moment in the book.

The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude is a new release by Davis Aujourd’hui that presents a sharp and irreverent look at humanity. Offered through the lens of an unforgettable nun who knows everybody’s business but refrains from placing judgments (well, most of the time!), this novel is wonderful in its personality development and colorful language. And, as is promised on the book jacket, I am thrilled that more “misadventures” await those who quickly will become loyal readers. I have no doubt that Sister Mary Olga Fortitude has many more secrets to share and life lessons to teach, and I plan to be sitting in the front row.


Tuey’s Course
Author: James Ross
ISBN: 978-1-4363-8994-5
Publisher: Xlibris 2008
Genre: fiction, human drama, race relations
Pages: 286
Reviewer: Sarah Moore for WITS (01/2009)

I always enjoy the opportunity to review more than one work by the same author. I am able to see the evolution of his writing as well as develop a better sense of what he is trying to accomplish through the sharing of his stories and characters. Tuey’s Course is the third book by author James Ross, with his previous publications, Lifetime Loser and Finish Line on the bookshelves last year and earlier this year, respectively. The Prairie Winds Golf Course serves as the consistent backdrop for all three novels, but each book takes its readers on a completely unique journey. In his first book, Ross unveiled a captivating story of crime and shady business dealings. Next, he shared the coming-of-age of two teenage boys who learn important life lessons from their ailing mentor. Now, in Tuey’s Course, Ross challenges us in his brutally honest portrayal of race, class and political power structures. Those who have enjoyed Ross’ attention to creating rich detail and fascinating characters in his previous works, as well as readers who are discovering Ross for the first time with Tuey’s Course, will not be disappointed in this new release that makes you think and may even make you angry.

Tuey’s Course focuses on WeWildapheet Ulisees O’Tweety (known as Tuey) and his struggles to make an honest living while fighting the corrupt elected officials in his town who seem determined to thwart his efforts at every turn. Tuey diligently attends every council meeting and sometimes uses unusual methods to convey his frustration with the city’s establishment. In sharing the details of Tuey’s life and his standing on the socioeconomic ladder, Ross makes a bigger statement about the impact that race and money has on the voice a person enjoys in our society. And, he shows that the desperation eventually reached by the poor and the overlooked can lead to tragic results. Ross continues his practice of interweaving multiple plot lines by including a referee who throws football games in return for a payout, a gay priest who flies to Vegas for the weekend with his lover at the expense of a crooked banker, and a developer who is willing to commit crimes in order to get the land that he desires. All of these characters, as well as the golf course regulars we have come to know in Ross’ previous books, come into contact with Tuey to create a novel that manages to be both layered and cohesive in its storylines.

As was the case in Finish Line, Ross employs racial stereotypes when writing the dialect and creating the background stories of his characters. Tuey speaks with the vernacular of an African-American in a way that may have been more common during the period in which Ross’ distant relative, Mark Twain, was sharing his candid views on American society. The ethnic neighborhoods described by Ross are blatant in their names, as the Asian residents live in Little Chang Hai and the Arabs live in an area called the Sand Dunes. The popular rapper has a ridiculous name, the Asian investor is short and shifty, and the always-drunk pilot and a couple of his cohorts at the golf course have no hesitation in using derogatory slurs. Every ethnic label is exposed and exaggerated in Tuey’s Course. Upon my initial reading, I will admit that the language made me uncomfortable. I was concerned that, by taking this writing style to extremes, Ross was simply perpetuating unfair racial views that still exist in our country. Upon further reflection and after reading the conclusion of the book; however, I realize that Ross’ intention was to evoke emotion from his reading audience. Tuey’s Course is not a light read meant for casual summertime reading at the beach. You will be forced to examine your own reaction to the character portrayals and think about where our society places different groups of people.

James Ross succeeds in creating yet another thoughtful and detailed book in Tuey’s Course. He provides an important and unique voice to the works of fiction that are making statements as to who we are as people. I believe that readers likely will have varying reactions to the characters in Tuey’s Course, which will make for great conversation. And, it appears that Ross is not done with his writing endeavors. A serial killer who makes random appearances through news reports in both Finish Line and Tuey’s Course is still a mystery. Is this a teaser from Ross, or just a secondary plot to throw us off-track? Time will tell. For now, I recommend that you grab a copy of Tuey’s Course and prepare to react!


Saffron Dreams
Shaila Abdullah
Modern History Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932690736
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (01/09)

Arissa Illahi, a Pakistani woman living in New York, has it all - a loving husband, the freedom to pursue the work she enjoys, good friends, understanding family and a child on the way. Then one fateful morning her life shatters – the World Trade Center in NYC collapses in a terrorist attack, and takes with it Faizan, Arissa’s husband. Arissa’s world will never be the same. Not only has she lost her soulmate, her beloved husband and the father of the unborn child, but she suddenly finds herself in a world where she is perceived as an enemy just for being a Muslim.

There are books that are beautiful simply because they are so positive and pleasant. And there are those that manage to be beautiful in spite of the pain and the suffering and the heartbreak contained within. Shaila Abdullah’s Saffron Dreams is both. Her writing is mesmerizing. On one hand it feels like a classically cut diamond – precise, sparkling, blindingly beautiful, but also incredibly sharp. On the other hand her writing reminds me of a dish I’ve often had traveling in India – a thali. Yes, I am very well aware of the fact that the author is Pakistani and not Indian, but many of the foods she mentioned in the book reminded me a lot of India, and that is probably why I thought of thali. Thali is usually a round metal tray with many compartments, each containing a different item, such as rice, dhal, different vegetables and curries, chutney, yoghurt and something sweet to finish. Each of those items complements or contrasts the others to perfection, and together they are some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. This is the way I feel about Saffron Dreams. It was comforting, it was funny, it was spicy; and then heartbreaking, full of despair, filled with hope, amazingly fresh and vibrant and satisfying. Following Arissa’s story makes the reader realize how little most of us know and understand the world of Muslims, and how incredibly wrong so many of our perceptions are.

If you are looking for a tender love story, you’ll find it here. If you are curious about how people live, love and laugh in another culture, you are in for a treat. If you want to read about overcoming challenges, your wish will be granted. If it is simply beauty that you are searching for, you’ll find it in abundance in Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah. This is a book I would highly recommend to anybody who loves beautifully written and intelligent contemporary prose, especially to the readers who are curious and open minded, and to those who enjoy stories with strong female characters.


Taking the Sea: Perilous Waters, Sunken Ships, and the True Story of the Legendary Wrecker Captains
Dennis M. Powers
ISBN 9780814413531
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/08)

Taking the Sea is the fourth in Dennis M. Powers’ celebrated maritime narratives. Research on his book Sentinel of the Seas triggered Powers’ curiosity about the ships used during the building of the St. George Reef Lighthouse, and about the colorful Captain Thomas P. H. Whitelaw and other master wreckers. The book describes an era when shipping was the dominant form of transportation throughout the world. Powers writes about the courage, achievement, risks and the challenges these men faced.

Powers delved into the records of maritime museums, libraries, newspapers, and magazine articles to bring together the facts for the stories for this project. He supplemented this information with interviews and genealogical records.

The account begins in 1863 when, as a sixteen-year-old seaman, Tom Whitelaw, arrived in San Francisco. The book covers his career of over sixty years. Powers documents detailed descriptions of Whitelaw’s most memorable salvaging projects, including: The Rosecrans, the Respigerdo, the Umatilla, the Dumbarton, and the Blaimore.

Tom’s grandson Ken shared intimate insights into the family life of his grandparents and of his personal career with Whitelaw & Company.

Articles in the Literary Digest, American Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Sunset Magazine all have featured various aspects of Whitelaw’s story. His divers made 17,000 dives while Whitelaw’s salvage operations saved over 289 ships.

In addition to Thomas P. H. Whitelaw, Powers includes stories of other colorful divers and wreckers, like Dynamite Johnny, Martin Lund, T. A. Scott, William E. Chapman, and Israel J. Merritt. He tells of wrecking and salvaging phenomenon’s from the Bering Sea and the coast of Alaska, up and down the western coastline of Canada and United Sates and on the East Coast from Canada to the waters of the Florida Keys, and the islands of the Bahamas. I especially enjoyed the story of a ghost ship, the City of Columbus.

Detailed background on Maritime Law and its evolution include specific judgments, appeals, and settlements between, Ship Owners, Insurance Companies, and the Wreckers.

An amazing collection of photographs dramatically reinforce Powers’ narrative. The scope of his selected bibliography gives evidence of the background reading and specific research that has gone into the preparation of this book and which so deftly qualify Powers to compile this chronicle.

Powers’ writing is imaginative, informative, and motivational. He is a gifted story teller. His descriptions are strong and powerful. He paints word pictures of wave explosions, ferocious storm conditions, and the devastating loss of lives. I could almost feel the tension of the octopus gripping my leg, squeezing my arm, and throttling my throat in an underwater wrestling match.

Taking the Sea by Dennis M. Powers will be enjoyed by anyone understanding the call of the deep, lured by maritime adventure, and tales of an almost forgotten era in history when Spanish galleons, steam schooners, and tall-masted sailing ships gave fortitude to commerce and industry.

How to Make Colleges Want You Insider Secrets for tipping the Admission odds in your Favor
Author: Mike Moyer
ISBN: 978-14022-1367-0
Pages: 152 $12.95 Soft Cover
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. (2008) Non-Fiction

Whether you are a freshman or a senior in high school, this book is an eye-opener for you! Mike Moyer tells you the way to dramatically increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice. In How to Make Colleges Want You, he provides fresh approaches to getting your college application out of the maybe or no stacks, to the yes we want you stack. The book also contains references to Mike’s Web site: where additional information and additions to the chapters are contained.

Mike tells you what he did to get accepted to the college of his choice by describing his unusual activity of raising homing pigeons while in high school. He took a homing pigeon to his first interview with the admissions counselor and sent a message to himself from the counselor! This NTA (non-teenage activity) got him recognized as special.

Getting into a competitive college requires a lot more than grades or regular school activities; it is a question of planning. Moyer makes suggestions to accomplish the goal of getting into a prestigious college with his inside secrets. A few are, attending a community college for a year or two to obtain better grades, transfer in to fill one of the vacancies left by someone who has moved on, and start in mid-year instead of competing with the freshman entry class.

Consider there are 43,000 high schools and an equal number of valedictorians who apply to highly competitive colleges. Their applications are your competition for admission to these colleges and even with good grades, you still are not in their strata. The techniques in this book are designed to raise your chances for admission by 10 to 20 per cent. When you apply Mike’s ideas during your high school years, the odds are even better.

Mike Moyer is unique, as he not only provides this fairly inexpensive blue print for success, he lectures at high schools giving students a great heads-up on obtaining admission to choice schools. He has a highly informative lecture on CD which is available at his Web site: As a bonus, Mike offers a 25% discount to readers of this column who want to learn more. Enter the code “CLARK” for the discount.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Friday the 13th and WITS has a Gift for you!

It's Friday, the 13th and Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services has published a special issue of poetry as a token of our appreciation for those who subscribe to our newsletter.

We have compiled over an e-book filled with poems written and submitted by our readers and made a very nice e-book that we think you will enjoy. Feel free to share it with others!

You may download the chapbook as a PDF from our Web site at

Graphic design (cover and interior layout) was provided by Jessica Dockter. Please let her know how much you appreciate her generosity by visiting her Web site to view the lovely samples

Just Do It- Getting Your Freelance Career Started

by Kelly Kilpatrick

Many people dream of a career in freelance writing for various reasons and motivations. While there are countless writers who are capable of being successful freelance writers, certain things ultimately end up preventing them from achieving success. Starting off a career as a freelance writer can be a challenging endeavor, but it is not impossible. Here are a few tips for people who are interested in freelancing that will help get things moving forward.

Write About Everything. As a freelancer, you will rarely be able to actually pick your topics, except during the initial bidding process. In order to make sure that you are marketable, you must be versatile. This means that you need to be able to write about as many topics as possible at a moment’s notice. Start working on building up your repertoire while honing your skills on topics and subject matter that lies outside your comfort zone.

Write Frequently. If you want to pound those keys full-time, you are going to be a busy person indeed. Expect to spend some quality time with your favorite coffee cup come three in the morning. Writing frequently will keep you in practice and on your toes so that you will be well-trained for the day when you have more assignments that you know what to do with.

Compile a Portfolio. A good portfolio highlights you abilities and your range, emphasizing style and professionalism above all things. Whatever you do, take time when selecting pieces to include in your portfolio that will speak to your potential employers about your abilities. Do not include everything you have written; rather, select the pieces which have earned you acclaim or that you are particularly proud of.

Submit Your Work Often. Getting the ball rolling regarding a freelance writing career involves perseverance above all else. Rather than waiting for someone to pluck you out of the crowd, you need to go out there and get it. This means that while you are waiting to get into the field, you need to submit a lot of articles and pieces often. The internet is a great place to start building a name for yourself, so start there as soon as you can.

This article was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of online schools. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Calling for Submissions for March 2009 Newsletter!!

It's time to submit your book reviews, articles, poems, and announcements about anything related to writing, editing, publishing, and book promotion.

If you wish to contribute anything to Writers in the Sky Newsletter for March 2009, please review the guidelines on our Web site:

Hurry, the deadline is February 24, 2009!!

To help us improve our newsletter, please select your favorite WITS feature at

I also want to let you know that my new eBook Book Marketing in the Digital Age Online Promotion Made Easy is available at You will find many free tips for book marketing on the site as well.

Yvonne Perry
Owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author's Corner February 2009

Welcome to the month of lovers—literary lovers that is! Readers and writers will find this month’s issue filled with ideas, places to contribute, and inspiring information.

Instead of thinking of Friday the thirteenth as an ominous day, think of it as a day to do something different—like read poetry! WITS is creating a special poetry issue to publish on Friday, February 13. If you would like to send a poem with your name, short bio, and a link to your blog or Web site, please get it to me before February 6 using WITS contact page.

The conversation I had with editor Carolyn Howard-Johnson was fabulous! We recorded our candid chat about editing books, querying publishers, and some of the common mistakes writers make and how to correct them. We also answered questions our readers sent us. If you missed your chance to eavesdrop on us, you can listen to this conversation with editors now. If reading is more your style than listening, you may read a partial transcript of the highlights of our conversation.

The WITS mentoring program is going strong. So far, we have learned how to write a media release, write a strong resource box, explored article marketing, and some handy dandy Microsoft Word features and keyboard shortcuts such as this one:

Pressing Ctrl+F together will open a box that allows you to type in the word or exact phrase you are looking for. Click OK and Word will start from the point in your document where your cursor is located and find the next word or phrase that is exactly as you typed in the search. To replace that word or word phrase, click the “replace” tab at the top of the search box and type in the word or phrase you want to substitute. Word will replace one at a time so you may review each change or you may opt to have Word replace all of the occurrences at the same time.
If you missed the deadline to sign up for our newbie class, you may want to speak with me about one-on-one mentoring sessions. You get the same lessons and assignments as the Tuesday group, but more individualized focus on a day other. Learn more at

As you know, we have three grandbabies on the way. So far, we have learned that Katie and Sareya are having boys. Amanda is scheduled to have her sonogram this month. We’ll soon know if the boy to girl ratio is 2:1 or 3:0. Thankfully, things are progressing well for all three of our daughters and the wee-ones in the wombs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Writing Life: English is a Fickle Language

English is a Fickle Language When One Word Has Opposite Meanings!

I’m at a disadvantage in the 21st Century, because I still have a 20th Century vocabulary. I need help finding the right key words for my own Web site. And when I’m researching online it could take me days to find the word or words that yield the Web sites with the information I actually want.

So, this column is devoted to words that are spelled the same way, even have identical pronunciation, but can mean very different things.

One of my favorites is fast. I find three meanings for this word. If I travel by car I’m moving fast, as opposed to walking. If I tie my tent stakes so they will not move at all, they are held fast. When I choose refrain from eating for a set period of time, that is a fast.

More of my favorite ambiguous words:
  • Clip –what you do to a coupon, or what you do with a paperclip
  • Note –what’s written on paper, or the specific tone a musical instrument makes
  • Sanction - which can mean either to permit or to penalize
  • Seed – to plant them for food, or to remove them from food
  • Seeded – added to the bread’s crust, or removed from fruit or vegetables
  • Shade –tint or hue of a color, or refuge from the sun under a tree or large object
  • Trunk – what grandma packed for a voyage, or a tree’s stem

Context is crucial to the meaning of these words. If you teach English as a second language, you have my deepest respect.

I’m not the only writer who has pondered this paradoxical ambiguity in words. My clumsy keyword search did lead me to this Web site: The writer claims to have created the word ANTAGONYMS to describe this group of words. That works for me. The author is kind enough to create a longer list than my few examples, including slang circa 1999.

JJ Murphy is a freelance nature writer, photographer, blogging hiker, forager, locavore, and tree-hugger with more than 50 years of eco-centric living experience. Visit if you need relevant content that captures your personal style and tone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Writers in the Sky Podcast Schedule February 2009

February 6

Sarah Moore, author’s assistant for Writers in the Sky, will be interviewing Irene Brodsky about her new book Poetry Unplugged. Ms. Brodsky is a recent, sixty-two-year-old graduate of Brooklyn College and Poetry Unplugged is her first book of poetry. In this collection, she shares freestyle poetry that reflects on childhood experiences, everyday observations, and her life in Brooklyn. As Ms. Brodsky shares on the back of cover of the book, “Just step inside to find something for everyone!” Listeners will learn about the inspiration behind Brodsky’s poetry, her method for writing, and reasons that she chose to return to school and pursue writing at this stage in her life. For more information about Poetry Unplugged and Ms. Brodsky, please visit

February 13

As we enter into this Valentine’s weekend, Dodi Elhalogy will be our podcast guest to discuss her book The Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking. Perhaps listeners will be inspired to cook a nice meal for that special someone! Mrs. Elhalogy was raised on an estate in a small Egyptian village. Since her father was mayor of the province, many important social events were held in their home. By helping her mothers and sisters prepare for these functions, Mrs. Elhalogy mastered the art of Middle Eastern cooking and is now showcasing her family’s traditional recipes. During the interview with Sarah Moore, Mrs. Elhalogy will share more about how her family background prepared her for this book, the health benefits of the recipes she included, and how the book is formatted to include cultural and culinary details. For more information about Dodi Elhalogy and The Secrets of Dodi’s Home Cooking, please visit

February 20

This week’s podcast interview takes a serious turn as Sarah Moore discusses the new book My Name is Michael with author Thomas Pompeo. Mr. Pompeo spent two years in China absorbing the culture and learning as much as possible from its people. Along the way, he discovered a horrible trend of children being forced to beg in the streets. He decided to create the fictional story of My Name is Michael to shed light on a very real problem. Mr. Pompeo’s interview with Writers in the Sky will focus on how he gathered the material for this novel and the risks he took in doing so. Listeners also will have the opportunities to learn more about the characters developed by this first-time author and the process he used to share this story in the most effective manner possible. Those who wish to learn more about My Name is Michael or its author can visit

February 27

To end our month of podcasts, Writers in the Sky offers an interview with a new author whose first offering is both a hilarious page-turner and a smart social commentary. Davis Aujourd'hui will be discussing The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude with Sarah Moore. This novel, the first in a series, centers around a hard-drinking, chain smoking nun who shares the latest gossip on the colorful personalities in her town while doing her best to refrain from judgment on their behavior. As readers quickly learn, even those who portray an air of perfection have some ridiculous flaws. Through Sister Mary, we all learn about acceptance of others who live on the fringes of traditional society. Mr. Aujourd’hui will discuss the messages he tries to impart through Sister Mary and how they stem from lessons learned in his own life. Listeners also will learn what they can expect from the future books in the series. Please go to to learn more about The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude and Davis Aujourd’hui.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Writers in the Sky E-zine February 2009

It's the first Tuesday of the month and the entire WITS E-zine has been published and emailed to those on our permission-based subscription list.

If you are reading this post right here on our blog, you may notice that there's no February e-zine here to read. That's because we took a vote and everyone agreed that anticipation and patience, as outlined in option 3, is a great virtue. Therefore, we will post the individual features/columns/sections of the e-zine in intervals over the course of the month. If you have subscribed to the RSS feed of our e-zine blog (which is a very good idea), you will get a notice whenever we post something on the blog.

However, if you just can't wait for the sections to go live (who could blame you?), you can read the entire February 2009 e-zine now!