Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sending Out an Update and Article


No, it's not the Eastr Bunny! Just the authors of Tall Tales and Short Stories form South Jersey stopping by to say hello.


Hello dear followers of the South Jersey Writers Group and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Wishing you all a Happy Easter and Passover.


Just a reminder that there will be a book signing at the Gloucester City Library on Wednesday, April 3rd, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The address is 50 North Railroad Ave., 08030 but if you're using GPS type in 809 Monmouth Street.

There will be a panel discussion called "From Blank Page to Published." One of the topics will be why you should always have an editor look over your work before sending it out.

I've included an interesting article from a site that I follow, "Catherine Caffinated" Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Interview with the Astounding Shelley Szajner

ShelleySzajner is a member of the South Jersey Writers Group and also and one of the authors featured in our short story anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Her story, The Feathered Messenger is very good and you should buy the book just to read this story. But there is another reason that you should consider buying the anthology and that is for the book cover. It's featured right above.
Take a good long look...doesn't it fit perfect with the title of the anthology? As the Marketing person for the writers' group, I've noticed over the past few months what is really drawing the crowd to our table whenever we're doing a book signing, it's the cover. The people all love the cover...go ahead...take another peek. It's good, right? Yes indeed, everyone loves the cover and of course the stories inside. It was time to shine the spotlight on Shelley, who I have hounded until she agreed to this interview. 
Shelley, you're the best and thank you for taking time to answer my interview questions. We'll be concentrating on the artistic side of you, so...let's start...
Tell us more about your background as a graphic designer and Illustrator


I love engineering a composition using light, shadow, color and perspective to create an enigmatic story similar to Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World. I was born with a paintbrush in my hand, and at the age of five I was drawing houses in perspective. My favorite subject matter is fantasy, wildlife and nature but I also like to draw people. After high school I got my B.A. in Illustration with aspirations of becoming a wildlife illustrator, but put that ambition aside after I got married and had a child. But I wasn’t idle. I kept right on painting and after I had a body of work, I entered juried art contests that interested me, winning awards for some of my artwork. I also began pursuing children’s picture book illustration, but then put all of it on a back burner so that I could to go back to school to take coursework in graphic design. After a year and a half of training I landed my first job and have been working in as a graphic designer for almost twenty years. I’ve designed book covers, catalogs, newsletters, brochures, direct mail pieces, logos and business cards. Above all, book covers are my favorite.

Currently, I am illustrating my own novel, Oghalon.
I can't wait to see the cover for Oghalon and to read the novel. How did you come up with the cover for Tall Tales and Short Stories?


When I received the title, Tall Tales and Short Stories, I went right to work. Amazon is the first place that I go to get ideas and also look for covers that are similar in genre. From there I went hunting for an image that would reflect the anthology, as well as the flavor of South Jersey. The title also gave me a framework. When I saw the retro image of the tall man and short woman standing together I knew that I had found my image. From there I selected warm colors (burgundy and gold) and a unique typeface that would allow all of the design elements to work harmoniously. Lastly, I created the spine and back cover.


Which do you enjoy doing more, covers for novels or anthologies?


I enjoy anything that allows me to channel my creative energy. What I truly love is the creative process, whether it is designing a cover for a humorous novel about life in the Pine Barrens, or a non-fiction cover for an astrologer, or a cover for local anthology. I like creating them all.


What advice can you give to young people who are interested in becoming an Illustrator and or Graphic Designer.


Firstly, I want to say that you can become an illustrator or graphic designer at any age. I don't believe in 'age' or in 'aging' the way that most people do. In other words, I don't believe that age should be the determining or limiting factor for pursuing anything, since age is just a number (mindset) if you take good care of your body, mind and Spirit.

But I digress ...

If you want to become an illustrator, the most important tool in your arsenal is your portfolio. Get some training, or a mentor if at all possible, and build your illustration muscles. Enter contests to get a name for yourself and join organizations to network. There are very few in-house jobs for illustrators these days, so most jobs will come from freelance work. If you are serious about pursuing a career as a full time illustrator, you will need an agent. A lot of illustration has gone digital and there are lucrative markets for that type of work, but further training will be necessary.


Pursuing a career as a graphic designer is best done at a university or a local college. Online courses are also a great way for getting certified in the field, which now includes web design. Having some art/design training or background will give you a solid foundation to create great designs, and I highly recommend it. The standard coursework for entering the field includes but is not limited to: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreaweaver; HTML; and CSS.
Shelley, thank you so very much for sharing with our readers and if anyone would like to ask Shelley any questions about becoming an illustrator, just send the question to and I will forward them to Shelley.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Save the Date !!!


Sending out a call to all our facebook friends and family. Spring is almost here and so is April.


The South Jersey Writer's Group is having a book signing and panel discussion for their short story

anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.


The Gloucester City Library on 50 North Railroad Ave. Gloucester City, N.J. 08030

but if you're using a GPS, you might want to type in this address instead. 809 Monmouth Street.

and I've also included further directions below:


                                                 April 3rd, a Wednesday night


                                                           6 p.m. to 8p.m.

Not too cold, not too hot, not too late, not too early, so I'm expecting to see everyone there

You'll be glad that you stopped by.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Signing and Panel Discussion Event

The Members of the South Jersey Writers Group will be at Gloucester City Library at 50 North Railroad Ave, 08030,  on Wednesday, April 3rd from 6 to 8 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.

*****I’ve been told by library staff that people who will be using GPS to type in 809 Monmouth Street for better directions to the event*****

The books sell at the very reasonable price of 10 dollars

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Signing and Good Company



March 1rst was a fun night at Casciano Coffee Bar and Sweetery in Hammonton, N.J.


Several of the authors were there to promote and sell Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.

             Sold and signed several books and even had our mascot there to help.

         Lots of nice people stopped by to visit and buy a book.                                                                     
We’re doing an Open Mic at the Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon on March 18th starting at 7 p.m.
 Come join us as we read some of our new works and some selections from our anthology.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Interview with Marie Gilbert/Steampunk, Zombie Granny

                           Author Marie Gilbert is a member of South Jersey Writers Group

Stories: Where Are You Zeppie? and The Night of the Attack

Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in South Philly, but my husband and I moved to South Jersey after he retired from the Philadelphia Fire Department. I’m retired from the Academy of Natural Sciences where I was the manager of the Changing Exhibit Hall and the Birthday Party Coordinator, along with being a part time staff in Outside-in, Mummy Expert and Diorama carts manager. When you work at a museum, you wear many hats and that’s a load of fun. I have nine grandchildren who pull me into their many adventures and I return the favor by dragging them into many of my wacky trips.  If I’m not with the kids, I’m usually on a ghost hunting escapade or I’m at a Steampunk Event. My husband Dan, tells me that since I’ve retired, he hardly ever sees me. I also advocate for UNICEF and Somaly mam against human trafficking and last year I became a member of the Zombie Squad. Life is never dull.


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

I know exactly when and where I was when the urge to write, hit me. I was around eleven years old and accidently saw a documentary on television showing what would happen if an atomic or hydrogen bomb was dropped on the populace. Now you have to understand I was the type of child that always questioned authority…not the smart thing to do when you’re born into a strict Italian family or when you’re in a Catholic school run by nuns. I not only drove my parents crazy, but had enough detention slips to wall paper the entire house.

At school, we would have monthly bomb drills, and were instructed to hide under the desk in our classroom. With our arms around our heads, we were lulled into thinking we were safe…yeah, right! My parents didn’t know that I was watching this documentary and what I saw that night frightened the hell out of me…and the only way that I was able to cope with this nightmarish truth was to write poems…scary poems.

What type of stories do you enjoy writing?

Well on my blog site, I write about the grandchildren, ghost hunting, Steampunk, and family trips, but mostly the blogs are meant to be funny and entertaining. My stories, however, are dark and consist of horror, Sci-fi, paranormal…seasoned with Zombies, Demons, Angels and Aliens as the main characters.

I’m writing a graphic episode called Lilith’s Escape that you can find on my blog:  along with the interviews I do of people, places and events. This year, thanks to another awesome writer, Glenn Walker, I was asked by Andy Burns, the Editor-In-Chief of Biff Bam Pop! to write a weekly review of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. You can find my reviews of this show on my blog site and on  and click on my name. I’m editing book one of my paranormal, sci-fi, romance trilogy, Beware the Harvesters, which I will submit soon and I have a two part Zombie novel in the hands of a publisher for consideration. Wish me luck.


Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Newspapers and the news stations…it’s a very scary place out there and sometimes, real life can be much more frightening than any vampire or ghoul. “Beware the Harvesters” book one of my trilogy was started in response to a horrible story I had read on human trafficking where very young children in Russia were being used for sex by business men from here in the States.


Why did you pick these particular stories for our anthology?

Well “Where are you Zeppie?” is a very funny story from my blog about what happens when people ask you to join the many Facebook online games. The other is an off shoot horror story from the novel that I'm working on and is called “The Night of the Attack and it’s about…well…you’ll just have to buy the book. Can you tell that I’m the marketing person, too?

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

Never give up on your dream. Write what you know…but keep an opened mind. Don’t be afraid to submit your work and even a rejection can be a learning tool.


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

Oh my goodness, yes! You learn so much by allowing your work to be seen. I would have never started a blog if Amy Hollinger, our illustrious editor, had not urged me to write about the funny stuff that happens in my family. Everyone of the members of our writing group South Jersey Writers Group, are talented and caring people who take their time to guide and help each other through the ups and downs of being a writer. This year Amy Hollinger asked me to assist with the editing and marketing of the short story anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey, and it's been one hell of a fun ride, and such a valuable learning tool.
You can find me at these sites: 
Twitter:  @gilbmarie
Biff Bam Pop!:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interview with the Spectacular and Talented Dawn Byrne

Author Dawn Byrne is a member of the South Jersey Writers' Group and also has a beautiful story included in our anthology. So let me proudly introduce this amazing woman right now!!
 Story: Footprints That Don't Match 

 Tell us a little about yourself.

A married mother of four living in and loving South Jersey, I write full-time and prize babysitting my grandchild. Reading classical literature and letter writing occupy my downtime. I also teach Sunday School. A member of three local writer's groups, I lead monthly critique sessions.

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

Well crafted stories that resonate caught my fancy as a quiet kid. I loved that someone could say something and have others listen without either speaking. It's the ultimate communication. In eighth grade my teacher wanted to submit a story I wrote to a contest, but then my family moved. I still have that story with my teacher's comments written in purple marker.

What type of stories do you enjoy writing?

Slices of life from my childhood are top favorites. My stories usually include children's situations and family relationships. Spiritual non-fiction is also a pleasure to write.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

My grandmother is optimum inspiration because she was a larger that life person. Her poverty and physical disability were small issues to her and did not compromise her voracity for life. Also my brother, who is differently challenged, inspires my writing. He must have inherited Grandma's unique hunger for life as it comes to him.

Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?

My best writing yet has Grandma as the central character. I wanted to add her to this collection because she will enjoy hob-nobbing with the characters in the other stories included in the anthology.

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

Be honest and bold. Have fun and always strive to improve your work's quality to show reverence for the writing craft. Writing may not be lucrative, but like Grandma, you can live well perpetuating life empowering strength to those you touch.

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

Through my experience: a Grandma size yes. The groups I am a member of are vital for me to produce. Being part of a writing community makes being a writer real, especially if you are not published. I need the regular pressure shots of adrenaline, creativity and goal setting I get from serious writers. Just being in their presence assures me I am creative and spiritual; that I am not a bizarre person whose enlarged ego assumes others want to hear what I say.