Sunday, February 24, 2013

Meet Us On Friday!!!


Book Signing Event

The Members of the South Jersey Writers Group will be at Casciano Coffee Bar and Sweetery on Friday, March 1rst from 7 to 10 p.m. to discuss their anthology of short stories called Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.                                                                        

This book offers delightful tales such as the Western comedy called “Destiny in Dusty Springfield by Joseph Arechavala to a Ghost story called “Apparitions of Murder” by Krista Magrowski to John Farquhar’s tale about an encounter with the not so jolly man in red called “Bad Day for Santa. Why we even have a great zombie story for you too.

Come spend some time with the authors of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey and find out what inspired us to put such an imaginative collection together. Several of the authors will do a reading from the book.

The books sell at the very reasonable price of 10 dollars J

Interview with the Debonair Robert Cook


Author Robert Cook is a member of the South Jersey Writers' Group and a very talented writer. Learn about him and the two stories in our anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. The Book can be found on So with great pleasure, let me introduce you to Robert Cook.

Stories: A Christmas Story and Beach Morning

    Tell us a little about yourself.
    I’m not sure how to define myself. I suppose the best generalization is “war-baby”, that’s the Second World War. I was born in Long Beach, California in January of 1944. When the War ended my mother and father returned to their hometown, Haddonfield, New Jersey where they had grew up, went to school, and married. I too, am a product of the Haddonfield school system, including Elizabeth Haddon grammar school, then the old Brown Stone Middle School, and finally HMHS (Haddonfield Memorial High School, class of ’61.)
    Since then I have given my life to the United States Navy, then a job at a chemical company making embalming fluid, and finally to the telephone company. At the phone company, I worked my way through several positions including: switching office technician (electro-mechanical and electronic), instructor in the Plant Training Center, a manager in the Engineering Department, and finally into the world of computers as a Systems Analyst. All in all, I spent 35 years at Bell, retiring in December of 2001.
    What got you interested in writing and when did you start?
    I started writing when I was in grade school, but my work was poorly received. To say the least, I was not encouraged to continue with my writing. My writing for corporate America was strictly non-fiction business writing. During most of my life I have kept diaries that came and went as my interest wavered, and life sort of took over.
    The in 2001, shortly before I retired, I discovered that one of my fellow workers was a writer of poetry and the occasional prose. Somehow, she ignited the spark that had lain dormant for all those years. We began meeting every few week to read each other’s stuff and offering constructive criticism, encouraging each other to do better. It wasn’t until I took two creative writing courses at the Gloucester County Community College’s Adult Education series conducted by Mr. David Lloyd, an established artist, poet, and playwright, that I became serious. He remained my mentor for several years after the courses were over. I lost contact with David in 2005 when he was forced to follow a teaching position to a distant place.
    3. What type of stories do you enjoy writing?
    I’m not sure “enjoy” is the proper word. I suppose it all depends on how you define hard-work. Invariably, my stories tend to be of the short story length; mainly because I don’t seem to have the stamina for longer works. Though, I have several stories that are of novella length. There are also a smattering of poems that have found their way into my notebooks. I never start out to write poetry. Though, if pushed to explain what I’ve written I must admit that there are several series of Haiku that were purposely written, mainly in response to David Lloyd’s tutelage.
    Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
    The original inspiration for my stories comes from three sources: my own life experiences (especially the things that make me angry), books of writing prompts, and Bonnie Neubauer’s Story Spinner. The prompts gets me started with an image which I riff on to create the initial story lines. Then I am able to access my own memories and my own fabrications to develop a story. What that means is that the majority of my stores have some small part of an auto-biographical aspect. After all, what do we have to draw on except our life experiences?
    Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?
    To be honest, I had chosen five stories to offer to the anthology. Why did I choose them? Because those were the ones I considered the closest to being publishable, I was surprised when Beach Morning, was selected. It was simply a memoir of my life as a child, with much of it being fictionalized. I cannot call it a memoir, since it is made up of so many snippets from my life over the years, and the rest is made up. Second, and I am honored to have two of my stories selected, the second being, What of Dreams?, originally titled A Christmas Story. It was, like so much of my work, part biographical and part pure musings upon life. The only real disappointment was the failure of Etude to find a place. I have to admit that it is a difficult piece to place for publishing, despite the fact that Etude won the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference first prize for Literary Short Fiction in 2009.
    What advice can you give to our readers who are interested in writing and getting their book published?
    It’s simple. There are two parts to my advice: First, learn as much as you can absorb of the craft of writing and never stop learning. Second, forget the craft books and write, write, write some more. Write from your heart for the first draft, your head for the revisions that will invariably follow.
    Is it important for new writers to join a writer’s group and why?
    It all depends on how you define a writer’s group. It is generally a group of writers who have a common interest in writing, the art, and the craft. It can be a trusted friendly writer, or it can be a larger group.
    Writing groups are not for everybody. I would recommend that a new writer, who is interested in joining a writing group, search out the ones in their area. Don’t settle for just any group. Attend several meetings before you decide if the dynamic of a certain group fits your needs. A good writer’s group can be a tremendous benefit in the knowledge that is available and the contacts that can be made. A poor writer’s group can destroy you, and you would be better off running away as fast as you can.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another excerpt from Tall Tales and Short Stories From South Jersey

Hello dear readers! As promised, I'm sharing another paragraph or two from our anthology.


                                This one is from author Barbara Godshalk's story Yard Sale


     I do not have memories of being a mall rat. I was a flea market rat. More than likely this was a discovery my parents make early in their married life. They were very young and my father was not good with money. From a buyer's perspective, especially a kid, this was great. I didn't need permission to buy most things since the risk of me spending all I had was low.

    When my parents had their first flea market, it was the beginning of their addiction. People were coming to them and giving them cash for their stuff. Common sense cannot compete in the face of that kind of magic.

This humorous story can be found in the anthology and you can find Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey on Amazon.

If you would like to meet with the authors, we'll be at Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery on March 1rst from 7 to 10 p.m. Casciano is located on 212 Bellevue Ave. in Hammonton, N.J. 08037 phone# 609-561-2600

There will be a panel discussion and select readings from the book. So come out and join us for a fun night.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet the Talented and Creative James. Knipp

Author James Knipp is a member of the South Jersey Writers Group and also one of the authors for the Tall Tales and Short Stories Anthology. So please join me in my interview of the talented and creative James Knipp.

Story: No Fun Joe 

Tell us a little about yourself?

“I’m just this guy, y’know?” Not a whole lot. Forty three years old…Married almost 20 years and somehow we still like each other. Three wonderful daughters. I started writing in earnest again after turning forty, and am still in full mid-life crisis mode, complete with long bouts of self-reflection about where I am and where I was supposed to be. I like to joke that it’s kind of a pathetic midlife crisis, because I’m too fat to get the 20 year old girlfriend and too brook to get the Porsche (or perhaps it’s the other way around)…my wife doesn’t really like that joke though.


What got you interested in writing and when did you start?

I wrote my first story that received praise when I was in 5th grade (the epic classic “James Knipp’s Pencil”) and I was hooked. I don’t know if I even like writing considering all the things I do to keep myself from getting started, but I love being in the zone, that feeling when you’re transported into this new world you’ve created and that feeling that you’ve created something unique and special when you’re done. And frankly, I like the reactions when people read my work…I’m a bit of an attention whore, really the same kid who used to sit in Mrs. Greenberg’s lap and read to the other kindergartners, and I love that feeling that I opened the doorway to this other world, and now can share it with someone else.


What type of stories do you enjoy writing?

This is the part where I say I prefer to write Horror, but the truth is, I love writing almost anything, as long as the idea grips me and transports me. I’ve probably written as many ‘real life’ stories like (“No Fun Joe”) as Horror type stories. Really anything with at least one strong interesting character in an interesting place or situation. My brain tends to dwell in dark places, so those situations often seen to involve demons or zombies or old secrets.


Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Really, everything around me, I have this “What if” machine that runs constantly in my head. I’ll see something that strikes me (an interesting guy on the bus, angry people in a diner) and an idea pops full blown out of this machine and runs around my head and drives me crazy until it dies or I write it out…that and this monocle wearing purple emu that occasionally shows up in my dreams to tell me to get off my butt and get writing.


Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?

Just seemed like a good fit…It was based in South Jersey. I wanted to submit something short and frankly had just finished it when Am and Marie came looking. I thought it was serendipity calling, so I went with it.


What advice can you give to our readers who are interested in writing and getting their book published?

Learn how to take rejection. Writing ain’t for sissies. I know that’ easier said than done, but with few exceptions, every established writer has been rejected multiple times.


Is it important for new writers to join a writer’s group and why?

At a minimum, writers groups provide a level of therapy. It’s always good to know that you’re not alone with those feelings of inadequacy. A good writers group will also provide a sounding board for your work, and hopefully will add a level of polish before you move to get it published.
It has been a pleasure having you join us today and dear readers, you can find James on the sites below.

You can find James Knipp on:


Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Hello to all our followers. As an added Valentine treat, I will share a paragraph from one of the tales

included in the short story anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.


Oh, that smile. I first saw it in the summer of 1950, as he stood at the bottom of the steps of City Hall with my cousin, Henry. They were about to board the warship bound for Korea and wanted to enjoy their last night in the city by going out dancing. James was short and stocky then, with a strong sharp chin thta jutted over the collar of his white uniform. He wore his jet-black hair slicked back, and liked to smooth it with his hands and a fine-toothed comb. He impressed me with his jolly sense of humor and fancy dancing feet.
This excerpt is from the story The Walk by Mieke Zamora-Mackay

This beautiful story will tug at your heartstrings and you will not be able to put the book down until you savor every bit of this little gem, even with its shocking ending.

You can order your copy of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey today from Amazon.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

An Interview with the Dashing and Talented Mr. Harden


Author William Harden is a member of the South Jersey Writers Group and one of our writers featured in Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Join us today as we learn more about this dashing and talented writer

            Story: The Junkyard

Tell us a little about yourself?


I’m fifty-nine years old, married and living in Haddon Twp. NJ with my wife Jean and four cats. Jean and I have lived in South Jersey our whole lives. I’m self-employed, doing home repair.



What got you interested in writing and when did you start?


I think I’ve been interested in writing since high school, but never really explored it, except for business purposes, until the last couple of years. I think my interest in writing stems mostly from my love of reading, (or is it the other way around?)


What type of stories do you enjoy writing?


I like to write fiction, generally with a mystery or intrigue flavor, but it’s the development of interesting characters that I find most compelling, composites of people I’ve met, or people I’d like to meet.


Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?


The Junkyard came about from an unexpected visit to a junkyard, my first ever. There was something slightly eerie and mystical about the place. I felt like I was visiting a place where thousands of personal stories all call together. Since then, I try to be attuned to the places I visit and people I encounter, looking below the surface for stories that might not necessarily be instantly apparent.


Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?


Although I wrote it a few years ago, I still dug it out occasionally to tweak it now and then. I think I probably chose it because it was the first thing I ever wrote that I took the time to really develop. I’ve written many short stories, but this one seemed to take on a life of its own, and grew into something I didn’t really anticipate.


What advice can you give to our readers who are interested in writing and getting their book published?


First and foremost (and I confess to not taking my own advice in this matter) is that you have to write all the time. Even if nothing is bursting to get out, sit down and write and you never know what will develop. Also, recognize that writing isn’t simply about imagination, but that there is a real craft to it and you should take every opportunity to learn and polish your writing skills.


Is it important for new writers to join a writer’s group and why?


It’s been hugely important for me, that’s for sure. I’ve been a member of South Jersey Writers for 3 or 4 years now and it’s been great. You get an opportunity to meet and share with kindred souls whose passion for writing is always contagious and our group has developed into a collection of writers with diverse backgrounds and skills, but always a generosity when it comes to encouragement, constructive criticism and shared knowledge.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The magnificent Mieke Zamora-Mackay


The magnificent Author Mieke Zamora-Mackay is a member of the South Jersey Writers Group and we are honored to have her with us today. Join me and give a big welcome to Mieke.
Story: The Walk


Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a mom to two kids who are growing up faster than I can imagine. A wife to a golf pro, and I work full-time as a paralegal. I write, I knit, and I cook. Sometimes, I do laundry and clean the house, which my husband wishes I did with more regularity.


What got you interested in writing and when did you start?

I’ve always felt more comfortable writing, rather than speaking, but didn’t consider myself a writer. I’ve always kept a journal, and actually wrote a knitting and foodie blog beginning in 2004. It wasn’t until 2008 that I allowed myself to play with a little story in my head, and actually write it down. I haven’t put my pen down since.


What type of stories do you enjoy writing?

I enjoy writing love stories for my adult and young adult work and paranormal/fantasy adventures for my middle grade projects. I tend to drift toward stories that explore that power of love that knows no boundaries, whether it’s time, place, or mortal life.


Where did you get your inspiration for your stories?

I find inspiration in almost everything. A picture or a piece of music will often conjure ideas. My most reliable source of inspiration is people themselves. How they move, touch, speak. People watching is one of my favorite past times.


Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?
The call for submissions mentioned something about looking for stories that portrayed a “slice of life.” I can’t really put my finger on it, but I felt this, of all the short stories I had written was most appropriate for the anthology. I believe it embodies the kind of work I do.


What advice can you give to our readers who are interested in writing and getting their book published?

I have two pieces of advice, which I am sure you’ve all heard already.

Write, write, write. Concentrate on your writing first. You can’t publish what isn’t written. Focus your energy on developing a daily writing practice, with the goal of finishing a first draft of a story. Write several stories in whatever genre, form, and/or theme that attracts you. This is the best way to find your voice as a writer and build the muscle memory required to chum out words regularly.

After completing your first draft, set it aside long enough to almost forget that you’d even written it. Then read and then revise. After that, find a trusted critique partner, and revise again. The revision process is hard and may take longer than you expect, but at some point, you must know when you are done.

Then set it free.

Read, read, read.

Read everything, and anything. If you write in a certain genre, identify what are considered the best, most important books in the genre and read them. Read not only to be entertained, but to learn from the author. Read with a critical eye, not for mistakes, but for how the author utilized certain techniques, devices and language to propel the story forward.

Aside from your genre, read books outside it as well. Try to include at least two books on your reading list that aren’t in your preferred realm. You might be surprised at what you might find in these books.

Is it important for new writers to join a writer’s group and why?

I think it is important for a writer to find her/her own community where he/she is free to discuss their woes and have a safe place where they can just be who they are. Only a writer will understand the lament of another writer over an uncooperative main character, or a plot hole as large as a mini-van.

However, I want to warn new writers, not to lean of a writer’s group as a crutch to help finish writing a story. Sometimes, new writers may rely on the cheering squad the writers’ group dynamic may bring. Writing the story, and finishing it, is your responsibility. A writer’s group can lend an ear to your plight, or offer critique or advice, not push you to finish that book. That is on you.