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Monday, April 5, 2021

 Hi friends.  The photo is from the summer.

It's been over a year since I have posted and what a year this has been! I won't go into everything but it has been a year that I hope I never have to live again. I have received all of my vaccinations and I am free to go outside. Yet I still worry, because my daughters, who live with me, are not completely vaccinated. One had her first shot this Friday, and what an experience that was. 

I went with her and so did my older daughter in the car to Lord and Taylor's parking lot. We had to go into a certain entrance and we were in traffic waiting to go. Traffic was directed by a National Guard officer and then we went up into the parking lot where lanes of cones denoted where we could drive. National Guard officers directed us there too. After almost an hour of waiting we were directed to the place where they could speak with us. My other daughter had tried to schedule her appointment but at the exact moment that both of my daughters were scheduling their appointments the computers on the scheduling end went down and so they only got one of my daughters appointment. My other daughter had come hoping to persuade them to give her a shot but it didn't work. She was not happy but she managed to schedule one for tomorrow. So that is good. 

Getting the shot was fast and then we were directed to move through to another place where someone put this box on our car and then at the place we had to wait the designated fifteen minutes afterward to see if you have any reactions. My daughter barely felt anything and then did not have any real after effects. 

I got mine back in the beginning of March and I couldn't move my arm above my head both times for a day or two. But the second time the injection site got red and my arm got swollen and red to the elbow. It went away after a day. No other real symptoms except both times I felt tired and cranky. LOL

During this year I have also published another poetry book The Child Poet unfortunately not under my name but I co-authored and the other author published it without my knowledge. It is a wonderful book for children so please check it out. I have also been baking a lot and have rediscovered my love for this. 

April has ushered in National Poetry Month and I have been writing at least a poem a day. I have gotten out of the habit of writing this blog and since I am so busy otherwise I may not write another post for awhile. But I thought I would connect with anyone who is still reading this and will share with my new friends who do not know this side of me. 

I think poetry has kept me sane these months, since I could write whenever it got to be too much. And there has been so much that has happened that it was hard to keep quiet. Physically, there was the fear in the beginning and the constant vigilance to be safe. Hand washing has caused my hands to be dry and scaly and lotion doesn't help that much when you are washing your hands too many times to count. Using hand sanitizer also affects your hands. But everything is better than being exposed to this disease. Cardboard has come to be my enemy. Packages have to sit awhile or else you need to wash your hands after touching them. We get a lot of packages, since we have been doing all of our shopping online including groceries. I have ventured into a few stores in the last week and it has been a very enlightening experience. What I used to enjoy has become a stressful task. I am still wearing a mask in public and I am waiting for the day when I can safely go unmasked everywhere.

I have done a lot of live things online with my new friends and that is what I feel is the best thing to have come out of this. I have met so many wonderful and creative people through my position as Regional Director of the West of Motivational Strips. Connecting through writing and poetry is the best and making friendships with people who are halfway across the world is an awesome adventure. As a result of so many in person Zoom meetings too, I have become very comfortable on live videos. This has made me think that perhaps I might want to try doing a video version of my radio show. But that is a topic that has yet to be discussed with my network. But I have also been a guest on several interview shows.

On the writing side I have so many new poems I am thinking of publishing another book soon. And I am almost finished with the second sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, The Mill Valley High Five. I am hoping to make this a series: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Who Is Jennifer Taylor? The Mill Valley High Five as the Mill Valley series. Right now I am on Chapter 30 and hope I get to the end. 

I have an idea but I am not sure when the end will come. I have a feeling it will be very soon. I never know when I'm going to end a book until the writing stops. For me that is the end.

So hope you all had a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover. Our Passover was just for the three of us and we did a whole dinner. Or let me say, I did a whole dinner and also shopped for a little of it in real stores. Then I did the cooking and the cleaning up afterward. My daughters helped a little but for the most part it was me. I was happy to do it, because it is important to have traditions. I usually spend that time with family but my family couldn't come. But as we read the Haggadah and the old words were said I truly felt that it was very important to have a Seder this year. We have gone through so much and we are in a way like the Jews who were forced to leave their land. We were forced into our homes and many things were forbidden to us for a long time. We had a terrible oppressive leader that we needed to remove and we did that. Unfortunately, the venom he sewed was not that easily removed so we had January 6th. That is a day I will never forget.

January 6th and September 11th were two of the worst days I have ever spent. Add in the one where I saw George Floyd killed and the very worst day when my husband passed away. I felt grief for our country and sadness that a monument to democracy had been desecrated and lives were lost. But I am thankful that despite all of the violence and chaos we finally were able to have a new president. And now life has gone back to a more relaxed pace and I can have faith that a sane person is at the head of our government and will keep our country safe and running. It makes me feel better and I can sleep a little better most times.

What I learned from all of this is that nothing is going to last and we have to keep being vigilant to protect ourselves and our democracy. The same kind of vigilance we are now using to protect ourselves from the Covid-19 virus should be given to watching our government by every person in this country. We can't be complacent that all will turn out okay. We have to be making sure that it stays the way we want it to stay.

So that's it for now. I still have my radio show but it has a new name: Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. It is still on the 4th Thursday of every month at 4pm Eastern time. If you miss it you just click on the link on my page and you will hear it. My next show has two great authors: Roberta Seret and Michelle Burns. Check this out. 

Until the next time I hope all of you are vaccinated soon and that very soon our world can go back to normal. I leave you with a poem I just wrote about this:

What Does the Future Hold?
For me it means walking outside without a mask
And meeting my friends for lunch
Having meetings in person and not on Zoom
Things I never dreamed would be wishes a year ago
Pummeled by the onslaught of so much in so little time
I have craved the idea of being normal again
As if it were an exotic elixir never to be drunk
My thoughts have caressed it as a forbidden dream
And though that dream is almost a reality
My brain does not completely believe it is a truth
For why should we trust when all trust has been tarnished?
Our future is brighter now than a year ago
and as we converse about a subject never conjured before -- vaccination status -- 
I picture a time when this will be a fun memory to discuss 
as we all laugh about the time we had to wear masks 
and were shut in our house for 6 months 
and had to wash our hands so much 
they were red and scaly and even lotion didn't help
What does the future hold?
I only hope the future will allow our children to live the lives
we hoped and prayed they would have
and the world will finally accept that peace is the only way
for us to live together
Though if we don't act soon there will be little left for our future generations. 
Really as I think about it, I hope the future holds bright days 
and more friends and lots of writing.
Copyright 2021 by 
Barbara Ehrentreu

Friday, March 27, 2020

                                   IS stock from The Hour Detroit

I meant to write on Wednesday but I was unable to find the time. I wound up having a very full day. First, a student needed to be tutored and I got approached on my tutoring app to do it. I haven't tutored all year so I did it and the lesson went well. We scheduled a lesson for today and tech was not kind. First the girl couldn't see the whiteboard and then all of a sudden the sound on my end cut out. I had been using a computer but that wasn't working. So I switched to my iPad and that was worse. Finally, since it was obviously a problem on my end, we rescheduled for Monday. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly. 

So it's weird getting all dressed up from the waist up. I put on makeup to hide my scary eye scars. I had to had eyelid reduction surgery this summer and it made me look freaky for awhile. Now they are almost back to normal but without makeup they look scary red. So makeup, a decent top and fix my hair. On the bottom I'm wearing my Betty Boop sweat pants. So I feel like a TV announcer who is wearing jeans and a very nice suit jacket and tie. But we never see the jeans. LOL

Anyway, this is Friday and the 5th day of our complete stay in the house. My daughters are working from home and so am I. Of course, I do that all the time, except for tutoring. So after the tutoring I went straight over to this awesome website: Poetry of Dark Angel that is on Facebook and did a 15 video. You can see it there. I read my poetry and talked a little bit. As I have told many of my friends, I hate seeing myself on the screen. I guess that almost everyone feels that way. 

As I said, I meant to write Wednesday but then it was too late. On Thursday my entire day was devoted to my radio show, Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. Here it is for anyone who would like to hear it. I think it was a great show this week. Many times this week I have heard how the arts can heal us and I believe it. Watching the Broadway stars sing to me and hearing the exquisite violin music of one of my friend's soloists on my show was breathtaking. Art does soothe your soul so if you aren't doing anything that concerns art you should try it. 

Also yesterday I got outside on my balcony!! Feeling and breathing in the fresh air did wonders for me. And I talked with the Aetna nurse and was able to allay some of my anxiety that I'm sure many of you have. Being calm and doing some deep breathing helps a lot. The air helped too. It was great seeing that the world was still going on but it was emptier. People are still walking on the boardwalk and walking their dogs. Kids are still playing and it was fun to hear the bird and feel the sunlight. It's 65 out now so I will be getting out there again soon.

Life is going on and though I am in the house I am trying to do things to keep myself occupied. I am watching less TV and more people doing things on TV. I rarely watch a movie, though I did last night. And I am watching the news sporadically to keep up with stuff. It is too devastating to watch all the time and I hope that it gets better. Right now we are having a huge storm of disease and this one we can't run away from as I said a few times. We are in a bunker and safe for now and hopefully it will protect us and all of us will come out of our safe havens stronger.

I talked with my brother about having a virtual Passover. We are going to connect the entire family in England and Japan and Manhattan and right here in Greenwich,CT. it should be fun as it always is and we'll just do the best we can to follow a seder together. During normal times that is not always very successful so online it should be different. This is the ultimate in social distancing I think!

In closing I would just like to say how grateful I am to the medical profession who are fighting this pandemic and who are constantly updating us on the seriousness of this virus. Life in the time of Covid-19 is feeling more and more like the beginning of a dystopian novel. I think I said this before but it can't be said enough. I have never lived in such a strange time and I think all my dear departed relatives, including my late husband, would never believe this could happen. Although, I think he would have not been fazed by it. I'm getting by and each day feel a little better about dealing with this crisis. As a TV doctor says: We will get through this and we are now probably at the end of the beginning. So there's lots more to follow. I will be writing as much as I can, because this helps a lot.

Until the next time everyone please stay healthy and safe. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

This is how we should all feel and I don't. 

This is my second blog post during this time of being inside due to the corona virus Covid -19. I have been anxious and not able to sleep very much. Every little body problem concerns me and causes worry. But I am telling myself not to panic and to try to realize I am still okay.

Yesterday we had food delivered and it was a lot and on a cart. The person rang the doorbell and then stood in the hall with the cart. I answered the door thinking all I would see would be groceries and saw the delivery person. I immediately closed the door and talked to her from behind it. I felt insane but I didn't want to chance that she could have it. Then my daughters took in all the bags and I was worried because this virus can last on paper. So I stayed away and didn't help with putting them away. 

But this fear has caused me to change everything. As suggested I am washing my hands whenever I am touching food or anything that could hold the virus. So I am washing my hands at least 10 times a day. At night I am slathering cream on them to keep them from getting rough, red and peeling. This amount of hand washing rubs off your outer skin. It is truly insane that we are having to do this. But this caution is necessary. 

Today I am working on setting up my radio show for this month. I am looking forward to talking with everyone. It should be lots of fun and hopefully we will have a good audience. Lots of people are at home and looking for something to do. I will put the link here tomorrow but also it will be on Facebook. I just have to do it.

My mother had a term for how I feel: discombobulated. It's when you are not sure what to do next. You start something and stop it and then start something again and then go back to the first thing. It's exhausting to be this way and I want to get back to my normal way of living. However, I have a feeling that normal is not going to happen for a long time.

I was talking on text today to a friend and said now I see why there were all those zombie books and she also brought up the dystopian Cassandra Claire books as well. I hope that it doesn't turn into that kind of world but it is getting closer and closer as I worry about human contact being dangerous. 

Anyway, enough of this madness. Please be kind to the people who are with you and be safe and we will all see each other on the other side. Until the next time...

Monday, March 23, 2020

                      LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIRUS COVID-19

It is now an entire week when the country has pretty much shut down. I don't think as many took it seriously until the middle of last week. Each day I learn of someone new who has contracted the virus and I am in panic mode. I have been in the house almost the entire time except for driving around with my daughters. The world has gotten different for sure. My life is pretty much the same except my daughters have now been home from their offices every day. They used to work at home on Mondays and then one worked from home on Wednesday and the other on Friday. Now they are both home and this is going to be the new normal for us I guess. 

We no longer shop at supermarkets. We are getting our food delivered. Living in a large apartment complex a lot of things have changed for us. Our complex had many amenities such as a full time gym of two levels, a community room with free coffee and free wifi with several computers available. We also have a Conference Room and a theater where you can screen your own movies or watch the broadcast they have there. It is equipped with the latest reclining chairs and a wide screen. There is also a basketball court and a squash court. 

We also have a concierge who lets in people and who takes packages. Our building has a gated parking area and that is still working. So they closed all the amenities. I have been inside my apartment since Saturday and will probably be here for the entire week. My car was started on Saturday to make sure it is still okay. But I am afraid to go out at all. I am over 70 and have diabetes. So I am in the danger zone for contracting this virus.

I have changed my daily habits. Now I wash my hands very frequently for 20 seconds whenever I do anything. I have been baking a bit so that entails washing your hands even more. I am not having any physical contact with my daughters for fear they might be carrying the germ unknowingly. They are taking precautions. I also did that. When I went out on Saturday I had a glove to touch the elevator button and the door handle and then threw it away. We bought masks before the whole thing actually escalated and we are very prepared with lots of toilet paper and other essentials. We are waiting for our food order and my daughter just said that some things are out of stock. They are not ordering as much food because people are not buying it. 

As a writer I have been writing poetry and wrote two poems about the disease. I also wrote a chapter on my WIP although now I don't feel much like writing. This is the first writing I have done in a few days. Everything seems to have changed in priority. I find that although I enjoy being in the house it is starting to get to me. I mean, what is great about this time is that creative people in the arts are stepping up. Since Broadway was closed several celebrities have started shows that feature the talents of these people. My daughters and I have been watching #Stars on Broadway and last night we spent over three hours watching Rosie O'Donell stream live so many celebrities I couldn't count. It's fun to see that the talent of these people doesn't need costumes and scenery. Also a performer is doing live performances every day at 7pm. It's just him, his guitar and his piano. All of this just soothes my soul and gives me hope that soon life will come back to normal. 

Several of my meetings have been either canceled or moved to Zoom. I, myself, will be on Facebook and I have my radio show: Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages on Thursday, March 26, 2020. I am hoping all of my guests will be available.

Thank goodness for technology so we can get food. I guess we could live on what we have now. We have plenty in the freezer and pantry. But day to day essentials are what we are running out of and so happy we can restock. I am hoping that other people are able to navigate this situation without things getting out of hand. I am not looking past this week and hope that the country will come back to normal soon. 

Passover is April 8 and I fear we will have to cancel our seder with my niece. She lives in Manhattan and it's pretty much going to be a given that I won't be traveling and that we will not be gathering. Though we are family and my brother lives close to me I haven't seen him. He stopped traveling two weeks ago and we were supposed to get together all of us for Passover. Now I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope this will all be over but I fear that we have at least a month more to go before we can feel comfortable about going out in public. 

I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep. I woke up two hours after I fell asleep and had no idea why. I am trying to keep my mind off of this as much as possible but my body isn't getting the message. I don't usually have trouble sleeping. This is something new for me and I don't like it. Let me know how you are coping in the comments. And hope you will join me for my events. One is on Poetry of the Dark Angel on Wednesday and the other is my radio show: BE Tales from the Pages on Thursday. 

Here is one of the poems I wrote:

A scourge has overtaken our world
one more deadly than nations fighting nations
It has plunged its claws into our country
when we thought we were safe and nothing
could stop our freedom

Now we all sit isolated from each other
in our boxes — some boxes smaller than others
yet we must stay in them to escape this
deadly force that is rushing across our nation
forcing us to restrict our freedom

Over two hundred years we have fought for this
freedom to be where we want to be and do what
we want to do
now we must stay inside to keep away from
this invisible menace

No school, no work outside your home, no restaurants, no bars,
no lying on the beach with your friends, no fun get togethers
no talking with your neighbors or shaking hands or hugging
no movies, no concerts, no festivals, no book events or poetry readings
We must do all this virtually now

Too many have been affected by this invisible monster that seeps
into your body without your knowing and for some it is a death sentence
The bodies piling up so high in places the cemeteries have closed
And still it keeps destroying without care for anything
As the brave medical profession struggles to contain it

Stuck inside my home to avoid its deadly consequences
I pray every day for an end to this awful mess that started
with a tiny insect and now has caused the entire world to
come to a stop — creating a time to reflect and wonder
and then appreciate all the freedoms we so took for granted

Like walking outside and greeting passersby, shopping without care,
or hugging a loved one after a long time apart
or cheering at a concert for a performer in the midst of cheering others
or watching basketball players bump up against each other
not concerned that one of them may be deadly

It will be a sad and painful time for all of us
as we watch the procession of bodies
and the researchers search constantly for a cure
to stop this invisible pestilence that has stumped
the world and decimated the ease of life.
Copyright 2020 by Barbara Ehrentreu

Until the next time I hope everyone is staying safe and observing the rules so we can get rid of this pestilence that has invaded our lives.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A New Year - A New Beginning: My Review of Zeeka Chronicles by Brenda Mohammed

Hi everyone. I realize it is almost a year since I posted and I apologize for that. My life has become extremely busy with poetry and Greenwich Pen Women and Motivational Strips. In the meantime a lot of stuff has happened and it's mostly all good. One of my poems was chosen to be in The Walt Whitman Bicentennial Anthology, Poets To Come. Another was chosen to be hung on the wall of an art exhibition at the Canton, CT Library and one was chosen to be in a brochure for an art and poetry exhibition at The Norwalk Public Library called "Art&Text". 

I have had many different people on my radio show and our network has changed its name to Books and Entertainment network. So if you're looking for my shows they will be under Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. Now I can shorten it to BE Tales from the Pages. How cool those are my initials too. I swear we didn't choose it for that reason, though. 

I am working steadily on my third novel, "The Mill Valley High Five". Also, ta, da, I finally sent my second novel, the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, called: Who Is Jennifer Taylor? to my publisher. She has still not done anything about it but at least it is there. I am excited about this last book in the series, because it is written in third person. This is the first time I am writing in this POV so it's a challenge. I did it because I felt that some of the characters in the second novel needed a chance to be heard. Actually, some of them asked me to please give them more of a story. You know that authors are always having their characters talk to them. Mine did all summer and that is why when that happened I started the third book. I am now on Chapter 27 so it should be finished soon. As you might know if you have been reading this blog for awhile, I don't outline and never know what my ending will be. It is still a mystery even now. My characters will figure it out I'm sure. LOL

So as the new year begins I thought I would start with a review of a very unusual and interesting book by Brenda Mohammed, a woman who has twenty-four books published and has won many awards, including: Readers Favorite International Book Awards 2018 for her book, I Am Cancer Free.  Zeeka Chronicles: Revenge of Zeeka won a gold award from Readers Favorite in Magazine Readers Choice Awards 2018, placed in the top ten for the Author Academy Global Awards 2018 and won an award in the category of young adult thriller in readers Favorite International Book Awards 2018. So it was with great delight that I began to read this book. Here is my review and afterward I will put the interview I had with Brenda here for you to hear.

Review for Zeeka Chronicles: Revenge of Zeeka Books 1-5 by Brenda Mohammed

 Zeeka Chronicles will grab you in the beginning and compel you to keep reading

The story begins with a dream that a renowned doctor has and then finds out what he has dreamed is about to come true. Imagine you are thirty years in the future on a small island that is very developed and was once a haven for tourists. However, due to a freak outbreak of the Zika virus and the rise of zombies created by a rogue doctor, the tourists have abandoned this idyllic island. Now the nightmare that Dr. Raynor Sharpe had experienced is about to come true. A man with a false head has arrived and claims that he is Number Nine, a zombie created by Master Zeeka. He tells the doctor he knows of others who have false heads and mechanical bodies who are being trained by this Master Zeeka to kill. But attempts to find out more are thwarted by the disappearance of this strange man. All that is left is the false head and the recording made of his admission. Although this is a small thing it sets off a whole series of episodes where there is a search for this mysterious Number Nine. As the search continues we are introduced to a series of characters that could have come out of the movies of the 40’s and 50’s including several police detectives and one called Hammer. Hammer could have been played by any of the stars who were hard on the outside and good at strong arming the bad guys with warm hearts. In fact, the entire book feels like a rerun of a good mystery story with its cinematic scenes. The bad guy creates a big disturbance during a public event and the whole thing escalates. There are scenes everywhere including the forest where the police detectives go to try to find the missing zombies and the evil Dr. Zeeka. Dr. Zeeka was believed to be dead but he is very alive as he manipulates his zombies to cause trouble and kill innocent people. In the middle of all this is the love story of Raynor and Janet and how it is related to the story unfolding around them. During the entire time reading this book the reader keeps wondering what will come next. There is almost never a time when the reader feels that things are settled in the first book. By the second book when the reader feels everything has calmed down things escalate again and the whole story continues at a breakneck pace until the end of Book 5. During the reading of this story there are many scientific advances in it. Since the story starts out in 2034 and continues to 2036 there are things in there that are probably in the beginning stages now. However, it is clear that the author has done extensive research on certain of these advances. As someone who likes a little romance with my science fiction I really enjoyed the relationships here. I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. Let’s hope that some of the things she has in here will come to fruition. 

Here is the radio show on which Brenda and Shiju H. Pallithazheth were guests:

Until the next time I hope everyone had a good New Year's Eve and you are starting the new year well. Please comment here and tell me about what some of your plans are for the new year. 

I forgot to mention that I am on Twitter as @barbehr. I have joined a wonderful group called #WritingCommunity. If you are a writer on Twitter this is a great place to be. It is very supportive and will get you more quality followers who are writers. 

My next radio show: BE Tales from the Pages, will be on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 4pm Eastern time with Cynthia Sharp, Michael Amidei and Susan Strecker. This should be an amazing show! Cynthia is a poet laureate, Michael is an incredible musician and poet and Susan is a multi-published author with a new book.

Don't forget to leave a comment here. Or you can comment under the Facebook link or send me a word on Twitter. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

So it's March and I haven't posted for six months. Sorry, but life got in the way. I got involved with another poetry group, Motivational Strips and this has taken a big chunk of my time. Also had a lot of events going on so I neglected this blog.

I originally started a blog because I didn't think anyone was listening to me and so I decided to write out what I was thinking. Now with Facebook it seems like everyone writes everything anyone is thinking and sometimes a little too much. I usually try to post the happy things and stay away from anything that might be too sad. I don't post cute puppies and kittens but there are enough of those around to make me happy. I do post happy photos of me and my family and achievements that I have had. Sometimes, rarely, I still post poetry and announcements of things.

This is a post to let you know that I got another 5 star review for If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor!! it's very exciting to get a review for a book that was published six years ago!! I am putting it here, though I had it on Facebook and Twitter and Google Groups+. But there are still some people who don't read any of that and just do blogs. If you have seen this before I apologize for repetition but for me I can't show you this review enough!! LOL

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. How many times do we hear this in a lifetime? Jennifer Taylor seems to have it all...More 

My guest author today is Joshua Grant or Joshua the Gamer from his outstanding and innovative website: I met Josh because I got an email from him, went to the website and immediately wanted to know more about this person who was an author and who gave back to charity from his website. So I invited him to be on my radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. He was my guest for October and he also is my guest today here on the blog. Let's meet him:

Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in the District of Columbia after my family got stationed there.  I've lived most of my life in lovely sunny Colorado where I still reside (because it's lovely, and sunny, and mountains).
Besides writing what is your occupation?
I used to act and teach.  Nowadays I substitute teach just to be involved, work with kiddos at church, and run Diabolic Shrimp.
What do you do besides writing? Do you have any hobbies?
I do a LOT of writing! :)  But on the rare occasions that I come up for air, I love to play video games and watch movies with friends.  I think food is a hobby maybe?  I love to just get together with people, joke and laugh and share a meal together.
Who or what influenced you to begin writing?
My middle school teacher Mrs. Munos definitely made me believe I could write something decent.  From there, it was largely a smattering of good movies, books, and video games that drove my creativity.
In what kind of genre is your writing? Do you want to explore other genres?
I mostly write Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, with the occasional Horror/Thriller novel.  Not sure I can branch out much more than that! :)
Please tell our audience what a typical day of writing would be for you.
I either write first thing when I get up or last thing just before going to sleep.  I usually just spend an hour or two a day writing and that's it.
How many books do you have published? Please let us know the path to publication for your first book.
Currently I have three books published: Pandora (Horror/Thriller), Jericho (Horror/Thriller), and The Fifth Ascendant (Young Adult Fantasy).  For Pandora, my first book, I originally went the path of trying to woo traditional publishers.  Eventually, I began to look at self publishing and found that to be a wonderful path as long as you're willing to work very hard.  I ended up publishing physical and ebooks through Amazon.
Would you please tell our listeners about each of the books you have published?

Pandora is a horror/thriller book set aboard a cruise ship.  After the Emerald Rose disappeared and returned a week later, business tycoon Patrick Carver sends out a special forces team to investigate.  Pandora is filled with clever twists, creepy monsters, and hapless heroes.

Jericho is the second book in my horror/thriller series The Organization.  A father takes is son to live in the mountain town of Shadow Pines with his exwife for the summer.  A police officer searches for her missing brother in the same town.  They will all quickly discover that Shadow Pines isn't as empty as it appears.

The Fifth Ascendant is my fun and actiony Young Adult Fantasy novel.  Kal is an Ascendant, a warrior with ultimate powers.  But is he fighting for the right side?
How did you get the idea to make a website called Diabolic Shrimp?
When I was a brand new author, I quickly discovered how hard it was to find a place that was truly supportive and didn't have a million rules or cost money.  Thus, I set out to make one.  I created a place that's free and no hassle to authors and readers where I buy and review books and give books away to readers.  The 'Diabolic' is for my diabolic plan to get every author on there one day and take over the world.  The 'Shrimp' is because authors are just the little guys, but together we're pretty impressive.  Plus, it's just a fun quirky title that brings a smile to peoples' faces and I love that.   

  About how many books do you buy from visitors to your website a year? What benefit do you find from buying and reviewing your visitors’ books?
I currently am up to buying a book a day from authors!  It's really grown in the couple of years Diabolic Shrimp has been around!  There are many benefits to this.  First off, I get to support other authors which is why I set out to create Diabolic Shrimp in the first place.  But the cool part is, people really respond when you show them kindness.  I gain money through advertising on the site which makes it sustainable, and I get to put some of that money towards meaningful causes like ocean exploration or breaking the world's poverty cycle.
What gave you the idea of sending a shrimp into outer space? Do you think this will ever happen?
Haha!  That mission was just my way of sprucing up the site!  Diabolic Shrimp used to be a lot more rigid back in the day.  I wanted to make it a little more fun (and I totally love space exploration and would be over the moon if I got to send shrimp to the moon).  It hasn't happened, yet, but as they say, if the sky's the limit, why are there footprints on the moon?
Do you have any in person or online events scheduled for your books in the near future? Please tell our listeners where they can find these.
I'm really focused right now on bringing two new projects to market, Nexus my young adult sci fi thriller and Silly Tales from Albanon my quirky short fantasy.  That's taking most of my time outside of Diabolic Shrimp, so I don't really have much else planned on the horizon at the moment.
Where can our listeners find your books? 
Readers can find my books on Amazon or Diabolic Shrimp.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read any of them for free.  Links are below if you want to check them out!

Diabolic Shrimp:
Finally, one last question I always ask my guests. Are you a plotter or a pantser? That is do you need to outline or do you just write?
I think both?  Haha!  Maybe like a Plotantser or something.  I have each chapter generally plotted out in my head and then I just start writing from there.

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Josh, and I hope that readers will go and listen to the excellent radio show where you talk more about everything. It took a few months but you got here. I also hope that my readers will check out your website. It has the two f's: free and fun!!!

Until the next time, I apologize for the delay and in that time you may notice that there is no longer a side panel here. Many of the features have been discontinued on this so I will be moving to another place very soon. Watch this space as Rachel Madow always says.

Also, my radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages will be on this Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 4pm EDT. Check my Author page or my Facebook page for the link. 

Happy almost Spring!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Meet Guest Author A. M. Wilson

Is it really August 23 already? It seems that summer has sped by and true to my word I am trying to post at least once a month. So much has happened in the short time between my last post and now.

Okay, I just realized that in my haste to post the new video for After I posted instead my documentary "Remembering Hal". Anyone who was confused I apologize. I am going to put that video on here now.     

Also will edit that post to include this video now. There will be a new version of "Remembering Hal" with better sound balance on my channel on YouTube soon.

Okay, so hope you all have been having a great summer. I will discuss the things I've been doing after I introduce you to my Guest Author, A. M Wilson. He is also going to be a guest on my show on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 4pm EDT on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. 

If you miss the interview I am posting it here for you. Any listeners who remember the technical difficulties we had when A. M. was first on the show will also know that he was rescheduled to come back in August alsong with my other delightful guest author and poet, Cynthia Sharp. I will have Cynthia on the blog at a later time. Until then, please enjoy my guest today, A. M. Wilson:


Hi A. M. so happy you are on my blog. I am very glad you have come back on the show.

         Would it be okay to ask why you are called A M? What is your first name?
     A M came from a practical desire to have a name that       was unique and stood out -- especially in today's search field. Alex Wilson is a Detroit Tigers pitcher, an LA-based weather person, and a 19th-Century Scottish Ornithologist. My college freshman year roommate suggested A M as a way to separate myself from the pack -- drawing F. Scott Fitzgerald and David Foster Wallace as other noms de plume from notable authors. 

  So your name is Alex Wilson. I actually like initials for authors.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Flint, Michigan, which has seen some hard times. Any fan of Michael Moore knows well the economic contraction that Flint has gone through. We moved when I was an early teen to a small farming community where my mom grew up -- Carson City, Michigan. The journey since then has taken me all over the U.S. from Owensboro, Kentucky, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to St. Louis, to Silicon Valley, California where I live now. A lot of that went into Populace, which I think is about not only the main character's coming of age, but also what it means to be an American.

     Besides writing, what is your occupation? Do you have any hobbies and/or interests? 
     I have a lot of hobbies -- I love to hike and cook. I play        guitar and try to solve complex math problems. My ambitions often outstrip my capacity, though, which is most often tied up with my year old son. 

     Who or what influenced you to begin writing? 
I began writing as a reaction to my parents' divorce. I was five or six and having a rough time. My mother, an English professor, offered me a big spiral notepad and told me to write, anything and everything that came to mind, about the experience. I was so young I think a lot of the early stuff were badly drawn pictures but over time I fell in love with telling stories, by using allegory and with trying to affect the world around me. I was hooked, and I've been trying to create stories ever since.

When did you begin to write seriously and what did you write? Have you published anything before Populace?

Populace is my first novel. I began to write seriously in college. I had a great friend and roommate who encouraged my work. His dad was the head of the English department, coincidentally, and while my grammar was sometimes lacking, he could tell there was a deep passion in what I created. I had my first fan, which spurred me to push myself to get better. He also offered up a lot of new literature that was so different from what I had read from my parents, that it blew my mind. I began to understand writing as a continuum, with James Joyce, and later Thomas Pynchon on one end, and Ernest Hemmingway and later Cormac McCarthy on the other. I had the privilege to fall anywhere on the spectrum I wanted. 

What is your writing process? Please tell our listeners about a typical day of writing for you.
In a word: chaotic. I don't really experience writer's block, but I do experience a lot of non-sequiturs and pieces that try to connect. Sometimes it works well. A lot of time there's at least twice as much on the cutting room floor as what makes it in the final. The only way I've figured out where I can keep the good (lots of ideas, creative and interesting!) is to embrace the bad, which is having to read then re-read then read again the work for continuity and clarity. 

What inspired you to write Populace?
When I lived in St. Louis, I would have to drive through Northern St. Louis. It had broken roofs, collapsed buildings and no people on the streets. It reminded me of the images I'd seen of a war zone. I had grown up with this experience in Flint, and seen it in so many places -- from Owensboro to Chicago, but not in the same way in foreign countries. To have such poverty alongside such wealth was one thing, but to be so aggressively ignorant of it was another. This was a uniquely American ailment. And I've always wanted to write a uniquely American book.

What went into the writing of this book? Did you have to do a lot of research and what was it? 
I did a fair amount of research, but I really relied on stuff that I had around me. My dad has a sailboat, and there's a long passage in the piece on a sailboat. I've lived in many of the cities listed (Owensboro, for example). I spent a lot of time looking at the distances and had a friend engineer check the math. I spent a lot of time, kind of oddly, looking at maps. It was important to me that the journey was as seamless as possible. I didn't want it to raise any eyebrows for the reader, and the best way to do that is to make sure that everything makes total sense. I've driven out west a couple of times from middle America. Those trips also influenced the book. 

Would you please describe the path to publication for Populace
Starts and stops. I drafted it, sent to agents, and had one interested. She requested that I "clean it up" a bit and resubmit, which was the month before my son was born. I ended up taking six months to clean it up, and then the agent asked for me to go back through the whole process. I said "this is good enough to publish," so I did. Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing have awesome tools. I had a friend design the cover. It all came together really quickly after I made up my mind to do it.

Please tell our listeners a little bit about your book, Populace
It's a novel set after America has torn itself apart. All that remains of the New United States is Omaha, which is run by one company. The main character, Thomas Ignatius Stout, survived a terrorist attack and then was sent to find and destroy the man who committed the crime. 

Would you call it a dystopian novel? Why or why not?
Yes. Likely more dystopic than what I meant. Brave New World was a major influence on the book. I read it, and I remember thinking how incredible the logic of the whole thing was. It was inescapable. And to create a world like that was amazing. But, I think the heart of your question is do I consider the world dystopian, and in a way I most definitely do, but more specifically I just chronicled the world I saw around me. So I feel that if we say the book is dystopic, then we're saying that the world is dystopic. I think that it is in some ways, but that's the burden of a writer. We're tasked with the duty to lift men's hearts, as William Faulkner said. I think that it's like AA says about alcoholism, the first step is admitting you have a problem. People occasionally don't like my book -- they view books as a way to escape from their modern lives. But we in modern culture have so much escapism, I wanted to create a story that could entertain, sure, but also acted as a mirror -- as a cry in the woods for a better tomorrow. 

Are you doing any in person or online events? If so what are they and where can we find them?
Nothing scheduled. 

Well, that isn't true, because you are now on my blog and on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages. LOL

Finally this is the last question I always ask every guest. Are you a plotter or a pantser? In other words, do you write an outline or do you just sit down and write?
Ha, I like the term "pantser." I definitely just sat down and wrote when I started. I think now, I still do sometimes. It yields some really incredible perspectives and insights. Every once and a while I'll plan out things, but even when I get to the details themselves, I'll sit down and just come up with something. Then I have to make it all coherent, which is painstaking, but I think yields a much a stronger story, a much more emotional story, in the end. 

A. M. Wilson Bio:
A M Wilson has loved telling stories since he couldn't see over a kitchen counter. His first breakthrough novel Populace, an Orwellian thriller, is set for release in spring 2018. In his own words, Wilson has always loved humor, "humor that challenges our worldview, humor that gets us through hard times, humor that makes us realize our own humanity." As a novelist, has the burden to believe in everything as possible.

A M is from Flint, Mich., and has moved around a lot, entering a lot of brave new worlds -- to Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Spain and Argentina. A M has been a farmer, a groundskeeper, a librarian, a fast-food worker, a bagboy, a political organizer and a shill. 

A M Wilson lives in the Bay Area with his wife and son. You can reach him at

Synopsis of POPULACE

America 2151. New York. Washington. Chicago. Los Angeles. All wiped out from nuclear blasts. The New United States of America is centered in Omaha, where the Leviathan Corporation provides a muted, controlled existence for its populace. Synthetic drugs keep them sane. The people are safe — for now — from the threats on the outside. 

Summoned to the president’s office, unlikely hero Thomas Ignatius Stout receives an extraordinary mission: Hunt down and return, dead or alive, the vicious killer responsible for destroying the lives of millions and millions of Americans, Joe Ikowski, who remains a thorn in the government's side. Tom accepts his burden and leads an expedition past Omaha's protective barrier and into the great unknown. That’s when Tom’s journey really begins.

Taking him from Kentucky to Arizona to Mexicali and the Rocky Mountains, Tom finds far more than he is searching for — and starts to learn the deeply complicated, disturbing truths of his own identity and a world in which he had only before scratched the surface. In this poignant page-turner, a novel that blends elements of science fiction, political thrillers and an Orwellian-style future, rising novelist AM Wilson takes readers on a wild ride inside what could become the future of the United States, if we ruin ourselves from the inside. It’s a novel that will make you think, no matter what you think of America.

Seriously, if you like dystopian or urban dystopian books check this one out and hope you get to hear the interview on Red River Radio Tales from the Pages.

Now for my summer. We went to the Taylor Swift concert and it was held even in the rain. It drizzled all the time but there were times when you needed an umbrella. We had ponchos but we got soaking wet. It was warm so it wasn't too bad and the music and special effects were outstanding. Then the following weekend we went to see "Mean Girls" on Broadway. That was so good we had to go home and see the movie. But you know what, the show is better than the movie so if you get a chance go see it. 

Hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and tune in to the show today. If you can't get there don't worry. You can hear it in archives. Just click on the link either on Facebook or Twitter. 

Until the next time, I might surprise you and post another time in August. Stay cool and dry.

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