Monday, February 22, 2021

MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF - by Kathleen Cook

 I have discovered the joy of being vulnerable, of making fun of myself in writing. The “confessions” genre is very popular, because everyone wants to know that someone else does the same dumb, silly, ridiculous things that they do (but won’t admit). They respect others who can talk about the things that show their foolish side. 

For example, I’ve had strangers phone to tell me how much they loved my article in the newspaper. How they got my number, I’ll never know, but in a small town with only 600 residents, I’m not surprised. They love it when I admit to being a newbie to the rigors of Maine. They guffaw at my descriptions, such as when I wrote: 

During my first October in Maine, I purchased a nice, shiny red snow shovel. Old man winter wasn’t going to catch me napping! My neighbor Bruce came over one day and spotted it sitting in a corner, the $19.95 sticker still attached. He confused me when he said, “Oh, I didn’t realize you had small children. That should be fun for them.” 

It sounded like a joke that lost its punch line. Was the snow so easy to shovel that small children could do it? I’d heard about Maine winters, and that didn’t sound quite logical to me. I explained, “I want to get a jump on the snow. I haven’t seen it in five decades while living in Phoenix, but I’m looking forward to shoveling it for exercise. I suppose we might have some by Thanksgiving, you think?” 

He smirked and said, “We’re late, actually. The first snowfall usually arrives in October.” 

I clapped my hands in amazement! I would get to use my shiny new shovel sooner than I thought. He looked at me and smiled, just like my uncle smiled when, at five years old, I insisted on opening the pickle jar all by myself. Come to think of it, that didn’t turn out too well. Why did I recall that broken pickle jar now? 

Just as Bruce was leaving I asked, “Have you got your shovel out yet, too?” 

He answered, “Yeah, I just put it on today.” 

“Put it on?” 

“Yep, it’s sitting right outside.” 

I looked out and saw a four-foot wide snow shovel (which I later learned was called a snow plow) attached to the front of his pickup truck. He turned back and said, “When you need help with that shoveling, let me know.” He didn’t say “if.” He said “when.” Hmmm. 

Our first snowstorm hit the next week, and it suddenly dawned on me why he had asked if I had small children. I hung that mangled shovel on my wall and called it art, and then nearly broke my neck trudging through the drifts to yell, “Bruce . . . HELP!” 

End Quote. 

When you open up, confess (and even exaggerate, just a little, as I did in the previous passage), you lift your readers’ spirits, make them feel good about themselves (after all, they now think they’re smarter than you are!) and you forge a relationship that allows you, later, to display your acumen without making them feel inferior. Everyone loves to know that while you are smart, they have at least one area of expertise in which you lack knowledge. Eventually, you wind up on an equal footing. 

On the other hand, when you try to dazzle them with your wit right off the bat, you set up a distance between yourself and your reader . . . a distance that may or may not be erased in the future. No one likes a smarty pants. 

Erma Bombeck knew this so well. She once said, “He who laughs, lasts.” It is my belief, (I am sure she shared, it) that the one who makes them laugh, also lasts. Be the one they remember forever, the one that made them laugh by laughing first at yourself. Publicly. With abandon. Without shame. You’ll find yourself laughing, too. 

Kathleen Cook is a free-lance editor and the author of twenty books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project). She is currently the Arizona Authors Association newsletter editor.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

New release by Donis Casey: Valentino Will Die A Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood Mystery


Donis Casey is pleased to announce that her second Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood Mystery, Valentino Will Die, is just released. Publisher’s Weekly says “Lovers of old movies and Hollywood gossip will have fun.” 


Though Bianca LaBelle, star of the wildly popular silent movie serial "The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse", and Rudolph Valentino, the greatest screen idol of all time, have been friends for years, in the summer of 1926 they are making their first picture together, a steamy romance called Grand Obsession. One evening after dinner at Bianca's fabulous Beverly Hills estate, a troubled Rudy confesses that he has received anonymous death threats. In a matter of days, filming comes to an abrupt halt when Rudy falls deathly ill. Could it be poison? 

As Rudy lay dying, Bianca promises him that she will find out who is responsible. Was it one of his many lovers? A delusional fan? Or perhaps Rudy had run afoul of a mobster whose name Bianca knows all too well? She calls on P.I. Ted Oliver to help her investigate the end of what had seemed to be the charmed life of Valentino. Find the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc.

DONIS CASEY was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A third generation Oklahoman, she and her siblings grew up among their aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents on farms and in small towns, where they learned the love of family and independent spirit that characterizes the population of that pioneering state. Donis graduated from the University of Tulsa with a degree in English, and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science from Oklahoma University. After teaching school for a short time, she enjoyed a career as an academic librarian, working for many years at the University of Oklahoma and at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Donis left academia in 1988 to start a Scottish import gift shop in downtown Tempe. After more than a decade as an entrepreneur, she decided to devote herself full-time to writing. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is her first book. For the past twenty years, Donis has lived in Tempe, AZ, with her husband. Find out more about Donis at: or FanFiction

Monday, February 15, 2021

How French words found their way into the English language - by Vijaya Schartz


According to Merriam Webster, there are over 7,000 French words today in the English language. The pronunciation and spelling might differ slightly, but they are plainly recognizable. 

So many familiar words in the English language are French, like: attache, avant-garde, aviation, bachelor, ballet, bon voyage, brunette, bureau, cabaret, chauffeur, chic, cliché, cul-de-sac, debris, deja-vu, delegate, detour, dossier, elite, expatriate, façade, fiancé, film noir, gallery, gazette, heritage, homage, hotel, identity, illusion, insult, irony, liaison, literature, machine, magnificent, massage, metabolism, neutral, novel, occasion, parasol, recipient, reservoir, ricochet, rich, ridicule, risqué, sabotage, sentiment, silhouette, solicitor, souvenir, technique, uniform, variety, etc. to name a few. 

Since the French and the British were enemies for centuries, why did so many French words make it into English? We all learned in school that the Normans, Vikings who had settled in Normandy, led by William the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066, by winning the battle of Hastings. 

After their victory, these French speaking Normans established a new nobility in England, and used French as the official language of the English court. And for two centuries, all legal and official English court documents were written in French. The Norman nobles took control of the lands by marrying into former English nobility. In time, the two languages and the two cultures melded. 

During the Crusades, Richard Lionheart battled in France, to reclaim French territories previously owned by the Normans. This conflict about territory between the English and the French led to the 100-year war (1337-1453) during which English soldiers lived and battled in France, some of them for most of their lives. 

For these reasons, many medieval English words were derived from the French, and French words and expressions survived a thousand years into the English language. Words like chivalry, majesty, archer, assault, court, dungeon, enemy, felony, honor, injury, judge, justice, liberty, noble, prison, parliament, quarter, royal, robe, sir, survive, tournament, treason, uncle, among many others, are French words brought by the Normans.

As for the modern French words in the English language, many come from cooking terms. Rather than making up an English word, it’s easier to use the original French word and Anglicize it. So, in a “restaurant” on the “Menu” you can have your potatoes “sauteed,” with a “soup” and a “roux,” eat an “omelet” a “salad” or “escargots” which are the most common variety of snails. But snails sound slimy, while “escargots” sound like a culinary delight. 

A “cuisine,” in French, refers to a kitchen. By extension it also means what you cook in it. “Four,” for a French person has nothing to do with numbers. It’s just a baking oven. 

When I first came to America, my husband asked me if I wanted my pie “a la mode.” When I asked him what it meant, he looked flabbergasted that I didn’t understand his French. You see, “a la mode” only means “in fashion,” which is nonspecific and doesn’t relate to pie, or, as I quickly discovered, vanilla ice cream. See, the French do not mix pie with ice cream and would consider this a “faux pas.” I quickly corrected my preconceptions in the matter. Since then, I always eat my pie “a la mode.” 
I also wasn’t familiar with French fries, as there is nothing French about them. Fries were invented in Belgium, where half of the population also speaks French. Maybe that’s what created the confusion. But the French simply call fries “frites” or “pommes frites” as potatoes are “pommes de terre,” which translates as apples of the earth. 

Somehow, because the medieval English nobles spoke French, the French word tends to sound more luxurious. A “mansion” a “manor” or a “chateau” sound like places where upper nobility “resides.” That’s probably why Cadillac calls some of their models “deluxe.” French makes it sound more expensive. 

Another French import is the modest “beret.” It was a traditional civilian cap for centuries, favored by the Basques, long before it was adopted by French Special forces in the 20th century. Shortly after, many other countries adopted the beret as military attire. 

Cadet” in French means “second son.” In the old days, to avoid dividing the lands, only the oldest son inherited the charge and the fortune of his father. So, the second son had to find a job, and for noble families, short of buying a bishopric, only a military position would do. It’s interesting to note that the American word has evolved to mean a student in a military or law enforcement academy… that they are no longer second sons, and some cadets are now women. Yay! 

Once in a while, the French word has come to mean something else in the English language, just enough to confuse a native French speaker. “Madame,” for example, is a mark of respect in France. But when you speak of a Madame in the US, it’s usually the woman in charge of a house of ill repute. Same word, very different meaning. 

When I first saw a jar of “Marmite” on the shelf at AJ’s I wondered what it could be. Given that a marmite is simply a cooking pot in French. It didn’t tell me what was in it. After tasting it, I could only assume that it was made of the burned residue in old cooking pots, to give some taste to bland English food. In truth, it’s a condiment made from yeast residue in beer vats. 

Coin” in French means corner. In English it’s loose change. This may come from the fact that coins used to be cut into halves and quarters to make change, which created corners. 

Queue” in French is an animal’s tail. Then it also refers to a waiting line (where impatient dogs would wag their tail). 

Library” is also a French word, but it means bookstore. For a French person, the familiar place that collects thousands of books you can borrow is called a bibliotheque. 

Talking about books, you can find mine everywhere online. Here are two 5-star sci-fi fantasy romance.

Arizona Literary Award 2019

Something’s rotten on the angel planet. When Avenging Angels turn up dead, Urielle, their Legion Commander, suspects the handsome intruder brought unspeakable evil to Azura.

Maksou never met a woman he couldn’t seduce. He came to the forbidden planet to rescue his friends and get rich in the process, but the jungle crawls with lethal life forms… including a gorgeous warrior angel, who saves his life but keeps him prisoner and challenges his irresistible charm.

Urielle, sworn to protect Azura at all costs, has no use for a maverick who ignores the rules and endangers the planet… no matter how attractive. Especially when the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA) wages a secret war to get their greedy hands on the priceless crystal at Azura’s core.

Byantium Space Station novel

Special Agent Tyler Conrad works security undercover on the Byzantium Space Station and adheres to a strict moral code. When strange beings with wings are murdered, and a dangerous lion wanders the station’s indoor streets, Tyler’s investigation leads him to a mysterious woman, who could make him break all his rules and get them both killed.

Forbidden to love, the beautiful Malaika, guardian of the glowing crystal in the temple of the Formless One, is an illegal mind-reader who hides perilous secrets. She has seen the great evil coming to Byzantium but must hide her extraordinary abilities or perish with her people.

When Admiral Mort Lowell, a hybrid Tenebran nicknamed the Vampire, makes a surprise visit to Byzantium, Tyler knows something wicked is afoot…

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

New Release: The Ultimate Reference Book of Law Enforcement Codes Gang slang and much more - by Mike Rothmiller

Find this book on amazon HERE

This book is to be used primarily as a reference for writers desiring accuracy in their work. It is impossible to list every possible abbreviation or code since technology and laws change, requiring a new or update abbreviation. A writer should double check with the concerned agency for up-to-date accuracy. 

Writers must pay attention to various terms used within law enforcement; as an example, on the East Coast, police stations are generally called Precincts or Barracks. On the West Coast, they are called Divisions or Stations. Also, on the East Coast, criminals are called Perpetrators. On the West Coast, they're called Suspects or Defendants if they have been officially charged in court. Using correct police terminology for a particular agency is imperative to demonstrate you've conducted research. 

I've included a secret law enforcement list of slang and abbreviations used by various criminal organizations, including: The Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerilla Family, Mexican Mafia, Motorcycle gangs, Skinheads, Black street gangs, Hispanic gangs, etc. You can find this book on Amazon and other outlets. 

Mike Rothmiller is a New York Times Bestselling Author, nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, historian, former cop and Army medic. He's also served as a TV reporter, an award winning documentary producer and television host for ESPN, PBS and other international television markets. He's written and produced over 25 television documentaries, numerous TV and radio ads and has authored movie scripts. His nonfiction book, "My Hero. Military Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads" (St. Martin's Press) received international acclaim and holds the honor of being the only book in history to have forwards written by three living Presidents and General Norman Schwarzkopf. He has served on numerous non-profit boards. Additionally, he's been a corporate President/CEO and directed three divisions of Sony Electronics EMCS-America. He's authored 23 books and his most recent; Secrets, Lies and Deception and Other Amazing Pieces of History was featured on Fox News and over 40 Television News Stations across America. Readers of his books include; three Presidents, former First Lady Laura Bush, the late Charlton Heston and Queen Elizabeth II.

Friday, February 5, 2021

New release: Ranger Henry The Case of the Toy Thief - by Caren Cantrell


Set in the Old West, Henry dreams of being an Arizona Ranger and keeping law and order in his town. So, when his friend's toys start to disappear, Henry jumps on his hobby horse and goes looking for the culprit. But situations aren't always what they seem. After falsely accusing several suspects, Henry worries that maybe he isn't Ranger material after all. Then a flock of chickens gives Henry an idea. He'll have to use all his powers of observation to find the varmint. 

While the story is meant to be fun and entertaining, there is a subtle theme for children to remind them that they shouldn't jump to conclusions or rush to judgment based on appearances alone. 

Here’s what others are saying: 

Caren Cantrell's narrative weaves a delightful children's story that takes young readers into the mind and heart of Henry and his desire to be of service to his community. The story is brought to life by the unique, vivid illustrations created by Gail Maguire, culminating in a team that complements each other's work for the benefit of us all. Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite Find the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other outlets.  

About the author:

I write stories about characters who are a little different and don’t quite fit in with everyone else. They might have a flipper that’s too short or whiskers that curl. Or they might just be vertically challenged like me. I love describing the adventures of an underdog who rises to the challenge. Most often I write picture books. Writing for kids is something I’ve toyed with since I was little. I have eight lovely grandchildren who helped get me started and are a constant source of inspiration. I’m writing books for each of them with a character who shares their name. Lately, I’ve been dipping my toes into middle grade – and now I’m writing a science fantasy adventure called The Sun Thief. To find out more about Caren, click her website 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021


For the first time ever, the Tucson Festival of Books presents a free and entirely online festival for 2021. On Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, 2021 we will host a full virtual festival with live author sessions from all genres, featuring favorite sponsor venues, all offered with the quality you’ve come to expect from the Tucson Festival of Books.

“We value the safety of the Tucson community and are excited to share this immersive, virtual experience with all book lovers and fans of the Tucson Festival of Books,” said festival Executive Director Melanie Morgan.  “For planning purposes and the continued safety of our festival patrons and community, it makes the most sense to plan our 2021 festival as an online event. This event allows us to pivot and provide wonderful online content in our current environment, while looking to the future and bringing the full festival back and better than ever to the University of Arizona campus—as soon as it is safe.”

The two-day event will showcase live author events for adults and children from many categories and will feature familiar venues such as the Arizona Daily Star stage, the Pima County Public Library Nuestras Raíces stage, Western National Parks and Science stage. Most content will be provided live or with live Q&A with select sessions on demand.

Beginning in April 2020 the Tucson Festival of Books began providing online content with author presentations through the Authors In Conversation Series, Author Podcast Series, and recently introduced Imagination Fridays, a series for children and teachers in partnership with the University of Arizona’s Worlds of Words. Since, the festival has done weekly online events and will continue with the Authors In Conversation Series and Imagination Fridays through the end of 2020. To view this content and learn more about what the festival is doing visit