Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arlene Miller's The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!

Hi Arlene: Welcome to my blog. You are the first non-fiction author I have had on my blog.
Please tell us why you wrote this book when there are plenty of grammar books.

Most grammar books are long and b-o-r-i-n-g! My book is short and friendly. It has a complete review of grammar, but most of the book talks about common problems and confusions. For example, the book includes all those confusing things like principle/principal, affect/effect, imply/infer, I/me, etc. There is also a great index, which I did myself, by hand. Everything in the book is in the index.

I found the chapter on capitalization most handy. I can't believe all the rules on what words to capitalize and NOT capitalize when preparing a table of contents! 
What is your back round that has enabled you to write such a difficult but comprehensive book?

 I spent many years as a technical writer and editor. I also have experience in newspaper writing and editing, as well as textbook editing. I have a degree in journalism -- and a teaching credential in English. I have been teaching English to 7th graders for seven years. I also teach workshops based on my book at Santa Rosa Junior College and College of Marin. It all really started when I began teaching school. I noticed that the writers I had edited and the students I was teaching all tended to make the same mistakes. I thought it would be a good idea to put them all together in a book. And that is what I did!

Who do you recommend this book to?

 EVERYONE, of course! It is intended for approximately ages 12 to 112. I can see the book being particularly useful to students, parents who want to be able to help their students, homeschool instructors and students, teachers who want to brush up on grammar, writers of both fiction and nonfiction, business people who need to speak and write in their jobs, job hunters, college applicants, and those whose native language is not English.

Your Utube is a very cute, funny and  imaginative story! Everyone look at it here:

I got the germ of the idea from a friend and expanded on it! My son did the animation portion, music, photography, and then he put it all together.

I see that The Best Little Grammar Book Ever is actually your second book. Please tell us about your first one. 

My first book is called Beyond Worksheets: Creative Lessons for Teaching Grammar in Middle School and High School. It is available as a download only from my website and from a website called Teachers Pay Teachers. It is a group of grammar lessons that I developed. I love teaching grammar, but often the students' eyes start rolling around in their heads! It can be boring, and the concepts are often difficult for students. Therefore, I try to make it interesting by thinking up different ways to use the grammar book.   A few years back I had a student teacher who thought I should put these lessons together in a book, so I did!

As an active member of the Redwood Writers Club, please tell us your future goals as a writer. 

Well, I don't know if I have any more books in me!
Actually, besides my grammar book, and the grammar lesson book I just talked about, I wrote part of a diet book several years ago. I think about maybe finishing it and putting it up on Scribd.
Many years ago, I wrote poems and song lyrics, but now I stick to the nonfiction stuff!
 I admire those of you who write fiction, and I would love to try it; perhaps I will do the next NaNoWriMo.
However, for now, my goal is to take my writing/grammar course from the junior colleges into corporations. I am beginning a business conducting half-day and daylong workshops for corporations and other groups. If anyone is interested, please contact me! The workshops will cover both grammar and business writing. They are either 3 hours long (the Blitz Course) or a full day (6 hours). My website is and my e-mail is
Well, Arlene, you certainly are ambitious to teach all those classes! Where is this adorable, little yellow book available? 

The Best Little Grammar Book Ever! 101 Ways to Impress With Your Writing and Speaking is available on my website, on and most other online booksellers, at Copperfields in Petaluma, Borders in Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa Junior College bookstore, College of Marin bookstore, and at the Sonoma County Library. My book is available as a download in Iphone and Ipad. It is also for sale at Redwood Writers meetings and out of the trunk of my car, wherever I am!

Please post a comment by pressing the blue comments. Go to the end of everyone's comments, under post a comment, write a comment, under comments as select Name/URL, type your name and email address on ONE LINE(no url necessary), then press POST comment. Thank You! 

The four winners of Linda Loveland Reid's Touch of Magenta were: Kathy, Drmimi, Osha and Dan. Congratulations! Thank you, Linda for being so very generous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Touch of Magenta by Linda Loveland Reid

Hi Linda: I am very thrilled to have you on my blog!  I’ve had several questions to ask you since reading your great book, Touch of Magenta.
I also wanted to thank you for being so generous to give away four free copies!
I found the story very original and really wanted to know how you thought of blending two periods of time in one novel, 1971 and 1895?

I don’t usually like a story that is split, so it was interesting to me that I went with this structure, back and forth between main characters. I didn’t want the book to have a lot of flashback. As I got farther into the plot and into Pegeen’s character, I realized this was a story in itself and needed to be given that time. Thus, I devised a structure to carry both stories. My biggest fear was that folks would get so caught up in one woman that they might resent being pulled away.  I’ve been told that both stories kept moving and the reader always wanted to know what was happening next regardless of where they were.

Were any of the characters based on relatives or people you know?

Not directly, but the whole time I was writing about Pegeen, my grandmother was in my mind. She was a strong, honest, hard-working woman.  Even though, she was nothing like Pegeen, the core of Pegeen’s integrity, I got from my grandmother.
I did have an experience when I was two years old. My mother took me somewhere and didn’t come back. It is sort of “Rashamon” in nature, in that everyone has a different story about what happened. Consequently, I don’t know what happened to this day. I never saw my birth mother again, but was lucky to have a wonderful stepmother that raised and loved me. I believe that even though we don’t remember dramatic events in our lives, ( which I certainly did not at age two), I’m sure this worked its way into my novel and had an effect on my life.
We are a composite of all the good and bad that happens to us. I believe that if we like ourselves, we must embrace our history.
 I had two sayings I used to lay on my kids: Be sure you know where you’re going because you’re going to get there. And: Don’t ever get mixed up between your backbone and your wishbone. Some how these two ideas have guided me and I think are part of what is going on with my characters in Touch of Magenta.

Have you been to all the places that you describe so well in you novel: California Gold Country, San Francisco Chinatown, Singapore, Italy, and England?

England is one of my favorite places and I have been lucky enough to have been there many times, as well as to Italy.
I was close to an older women who lived in San Francisco during the earthquake. She was just sixteen and remembered watching the fires burn for days.
I did not go to Singapore but brought home about twenty books which I devoured for the information.
I have a BA in History and loved the research. It was especially fun to learn more about the Chinese coming to California and San Francisco.

Would you consider this book to be for young adult as well as adult?

Humm? Well, there are a few sexually explicit scenes but beyond that, I think the subject is one that a young adult could enjoy and understand.

What have men said about your book?

It is more of a woman’s book, which I hate to admit.  Being my first novel, I needed to stick close to what I could readily understand and be in touch with. Though the men who have read it, have given me very good reviews. They found the story and mystery compelling.

I see at the end of the novel that you have a book club reading guide. Why did you add this and how did you think of the questions?

 Since I planned to go and visit book clubs who read my book, it seemed like a helpful thing to do.
The questions came from things people said to me and asked me when they’d finished reading my book. Actually, I was surprised at some of the discussion the book created but then you never know what emotions a subject might create in someone else.
 The book is about morality, making tough decisions and living with them. It is looking back over the years and seeing those decisions as marks of integrity. It’s easy to be moral and do things right when all is going well, but under stress or fear, people react with their gut. This can be good or bad.

Have you presented to many book clubs and what was that like?

I love going to book clubs. What could be more fun than discussing your book with people who take the time to give you a “read.” I’m always so appreciative. I love the questions about why the character did this or that, or didn’t do something!

Your book is 464 pages long! Some people might find that daunting, but when I read a great book, I don’t like it to end! Do you think your next book will be as long?

I certainly hope not!
I too, don’t mind a long book if it keeps me going.
Maybe I’m long winded, but I want this next book to be 300 pages; long enough to be serious but short so it doesn’t cost as much to produce.

I know you are working on your second novel in between being the President of the Redwood Writer’s club, painting and directing plays for 6th Street Playhouse and the Novato Theater Company.  Could you tell us the name of your new novel and a little of hint of what it is about?  How is it different from Touch of Magenta?

It is completely different from Touch of Magenta in structure and style.
The novel takes place in Dillon Beach. There are five main characters, which they say not to do, so I'm taking a chance! When they were in high school together, a friend committed suicide. Each woman believes she was the cause. Year's later, at age 48 that have inherit a beach house from the dead girl’s mother. These are the interesting questions that will be answered in my new novel:
Why did Annette kill herself on Prom Night?
Why have they inherited the Beach House?
How are their lives today settled out, as old and new issues boil over?

This book sounds very intriguing and I  am looking forward to reading it!
What is the best advice you could give to a new writer who wants to publish a book?

Write it! That might sound trite but really, if you just keep writing it will happen.
Along the way you should go to classes and join a critique group.  Mix with other writers at a non-threatening place like Redwood Writers.
But mostly you need to write. When you let yourself go, fill the page without judging yourself, magic things will begin to happen. When first considering if I wanted to write, I was worried that it might be too solitary.
Here’s what I discover when I write:  there’s a whole bunch of folks with me, in my mind, and often when I’m just typing away, minding my own business. They do things I never expected! That’s when it gets really interesting!

Thank you, Linda Loveland Reid, President of Redwood Writer’s Club.

Please post a comment for a chance to win this novel. Post by December 30.

If you don't win, please buy Linda's book at Copperfield's or

Linda has generously given four copies of her novel, Touch of Magenta for people to win.
Congratulations, Charles Marquee for winning a copy of Plane Jane, last months author interview!

How to Post a Comment: At the bottom of the interview,  press blue comments. Go to end of everyone's comments. Under Post a Comment: write a comment, scroll under select, select Name/Url, type in your name and email address on ONE line, no url necessary! Don't forget to press Post Comment! Thank you!
Know a author for an interview? Contact

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Adventure/Romance: Plane Jane by Robert Fischer

Hello Bob, I’ve wanted to interview you ever since I saw your novel on the bill board coming off the downtown exit in Santa Rosa, Ca.
Please tell us about your adventure, romance novel.

 Do you know what a burqua is? Well this adventure starts with the burqua…(or the lack of one)…and United States Air Force regulations. 
     Major Mary Jane is a career officer—(a fighter pilot) who was discharged for refusing to wear a burqua off base in Saudi Arabia. With no experience and not knowing any better, she contracts to repossess a luxury Boeing 747 jet liner from a power Saudi Prince.
     Her challenge is not only learning( on-the-job) how to repossess a jetliner from a Saudi prince, but dealing with  colorful and often dangerous people and turning it into a business. Her efforts result in a great adventure-romance set in today’s Islamic world.
     In non-fiction one might interview a woman in a burqua talking about her faith, but a novel permits the reader to walk in that woman’s shoes. The reader will know what it is really like to suffocate in the heat, to eat with a veil, to go to a public restroom where people wonder if you are a man or woman, to walk behind a man in servitude, to never be allowed to be alone in public, never to drive your own car. Peering through a tiny grill in the veil that only permits forward vision, the vision of a man’s back, or swaying from side to side to avoid bumping into things. Ironically, Plane Jane’s, heroine, Mary Jane must wear the burqua as a disguise in Saudi Arabia to repossess the airplane, and experience first-hand what it is actually like to wear such a thing… and she doesn’t like it.

Are all Americans in the Air Force forced to wear the burqua when on active duty in Saudi Arabia?

No longer, but for a time women in the Air Force were required to wear the burqua, not allowed to drive vehicles off-base, and were required to walk several paces behind their fellow airmen both off-base and on the military reservation.

Is it still Air Force policy to require females to wear the burqua in Muslim countries?

That came to an end in 2002 when USA Air Force female fighter pilot, Col. Martha McSally sued the Air Force for discrimination and won. Her story was widely publicized but I wrote Plane Jane before she won her lawsuit.

Does the Koran mandate the burqua?

No, it does not. Nor does the Koran mandate many of the Islamic traditions that—in my opinion—are designed to subjugate women; take away their power; make them into nothing more than slaves. In Plane Jane, Mary uses the burqua as a disguise. Slavery still exists in many Muslim countries

Why do women wear the burqua then?

For men to dominate or subjugate women they must first take away their power. The burqua covers 98% of the body and it does just that.
Arab men often say the burqua covers their women from covetous and envious eyes and that it protects their modesty. If that were remotely true these men would also cover their Mercedes in a burqua
The actual meaning of the word burqua is to cover the shameful parts.

What is the status of the burqua in the West?

In 2010 France banned the burqua entirely, not just at schools, but everywhere in public. Spain has begun talking about doing the same. Italy has just introduced legislation to ban the burqua, Syria bans it in Universities, and Australia has just begun debating the subject in Parliament. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science has just banned it.

What kind of woman is Major Mary Jane—the heroine of your novel?

Mary Jane is the ideal of many modern American females: Strong-willed, independent, a redhead raised in Paris. Learned to fly airplanes by the time she was 12 She is a beautiful young woman who lives hard and loves hard. She constantly fascinated me—a competition swordsman, widely traveled, a career officer. A fighter pilot who flew A-10 tank-buster-gunships affectionately called “Warthogs.” In combat over Iraq.

Is your heroine, Major Mary Jane, based on Colonel McSally’s character or her experiences?

When the news story broke in 2002 about female Air Force personnel being forced to wear burquas, I was stunned and it stuck in my mind. But at the time I did not even know McSally’s name, only the story.

You call your novel, Plane Jane, an adventure/romance. What is her love interest in your story?

Mary has designs on her co-pilot with whom she had an affair some years before in Turkey. She and Jesus Martinez, an American officer of Mexican heritage, they were an item then but were separated by a fluke. In Plane Jane Mary and Jesus fly to exotic Paris, Jeddah and San Francisco, giving her plenty of time for mischief.

Is repossessing of a jetliner a figment of your imagination or has it happened before?

Airline companies start up and fail every year in every country in the world. When failure happens their planes could be anywhere in any condition. Most all jetliners are financed and those companies want their airplanes back and are willing to pay a high price for someone to do it, often under dangerous circumstances. Mary and Jesus learning as they go, with her dressed in a burqua and walking behind her man.

In real life are their companies that specialize in this field?

In Plane Jane, Mary and Jesus form their own airplane repossession company. However, an American company, Sage-Popovich alone has repossessed 1,200 airliners and there are others like ‘the Grim Reaper’ Ken Hill of Aeronautical Systems. He averages about 30 per year. Ken Gage in Orlando, Florida.

Are some jet aircraft stolen?

Yes, most by criminal organizations, but some by dictators or generals in small countries like the Congo, Venezuela, Haiti and many former Soviet Republics like Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria or Tajikistan. Repossessing these aircraft is always dangerous. Often stolen aircraft have yoke or thruster locks; they can be booby-trapped or stripped of engines and electronics. Finding these aircraft is also an art form.

Why are so many luxury aircraft bought by Arab royal families and rich businessmen?

In my opinion, during the early 70’s there were many scandals involving American companies giving kickbacks to Arab middlemen. It is a common practice in most of the world, but not in the USA. Holding meetings in luxury airplanes became a convenient and exciting way of doing business anonymously. New found Arab wealth, of course, can afford $100 – 200 million dollar airplanes.

Tell us about your background that influenced you to write Plane Jane.

I was a Marine during the Korean War. After the war, I flew my own helicopter and was invited to fly for the Rhodesian Army. I also flew for a Senator in the Philippines during the President Marcos period.
As a helicopter pilot, I’ve have spent considerable time in Saudi Arabia and know something about their culture and I’ve been to places where stolen aircraft are often destined.

 Have you ever been in danger?

In Arabia, I narrowly missed being arrested and sent to the square. I was at the Jeddah airport to receive a shipment of desalination equipment. Unfortunately, an Egyptian customs agent wrote 'distillation' equipment at a time when two British subjects were arrested for distilling and making
whiskey, which wasn't true, but an infidel's word is worth half of the Muslim accuser. They were sentenced to 15 lashes on the square, which, with an 8 foot ebony pole is considered a death sentence. I hid for three weeks before the Governor of Mecca reversed the findings. Without high-up help I
would have been dead.
I witnessed brutality toward women and the crushing punishment meted out for the smallest real or imagined moral digressions. I have witnessed the sale of illicit diamonds, the trafficking of women for prostitution, and the massive theft of autos, machinery and aircraft from Europe and America.

Are you currently writing another book?

Yes, The Return of Private Fischer comes out in Spring/Summer 2011 and the sequel to Plane Jane, The Flight of the Falcon, comes out in 2012

Where is Plane Jane available?

It is available on my or many bookstores.

Congratulations Christine H. who won a free autographed copy of Linda Weaver Clarke’s book, Mayan Intrigue.

Post a comment about Robert Fischer’s Plane Jane and be eligible in a drawing to win a free copy. Comment by December 15.

How to post a comment: Go to bottom of interview, press blue comments. Go to end of everyone’s comments, under Post a comment, write a comments, under select , select Name/url, type in your name and email address on ONE line, no url necessary. Then don’t forget to press Post Comment! Thank you!

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