Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Super G Interviews the Very Talented Robin Renee


Hello to all our followers of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. I was asked to do a blog tour for the very talented singer, Robin Renee on my blog site, and of course I said, yes! She's a very talented performer and I want to help spread the good news about her music. Now I'm posting an interview that I did with Robin and I know you'll enjoy this, but first....


...the person who is orchestrating Robin's blog tour is no other than our very own Glenn Walker, and I would like to brag about him, before I begin Robin's interview. Glenn is an extremely talented, published, writer and has earned the nickname 'Patron Saint of Bloggers' but what makes him a Super Hero, is his way of supporting and encouraging all writers. You can read some of his work on Welcome to Hell:  and on Biff Bam Pop!:

And now, let me introduce you to a beautiful and talented singer. Hi, Robin. I'm so glad that you could join us on the South Jersey Writers Group blog. I'll start with my first question.
It’s usually a family member or a teacher that introduces us to music at an early age. Who was the person responsible for encouraging your love of singing?

Both of my parents were encouraging once they realized I liked music.  There was a piano in the house as far back as I can remember, and as soon as I showed interest, I got lessons.  I think I was seven when I started to play.

How did they encourage you?

There was always great music in my house.  My mom liked a lot of mellower folk, great lyricists, and some R&B; I also learned of my dad’s love of jazz and other more novel sounds.  So Mom and Dad, respectively, turned me on to Bob Dylan and Kraftwerk.  I’d say that explains a lot about who I am today.  They also took me to concerts from when I was really quite young, and once I started playing in bands, they would go out of their way to show up and be supportive.  I’m really glad for that experience.

I remember one bit of encouragement very distinctly.  I was listening to music and singing along when I was about ten.  My mom came in and got all excited, shouting “Robin can sing!  Come listen!  She can really sing!!”  It was very funny to me because I always sang – didn’t think anything of it and hadn’t realized people thought it was extraordinary in any way.  The song, by the way, was The Bee Gees’ “Nights on Broadway.” Whenever I hear it now, I always laugh and remember that day.  I really love that they used it as the template for the “Barry Gibb Talk Show” skit on SNL.  Too funny. 
Did you sing at school or church functions as a young girl?

I sang in the school chorus in elementary and junior high school.  One of the most fun early musical experiences happened when I convinced the head of the school chorus in junior high to let my band (The Half Mann Band) sing in between sets of the choral music.  We got to perform in a few area schools - it was our first and only “tour.”

In high school I sang in the folk group.  I went to a Catholic college prep school and wasn’t really enthused about singing the religious songs, but singing at Mass was really the only musical outlet at the school at the time, so I went with it.

Is there any type of music that you just don’t like to sing?

I guess I’m not so fond of singing in styles that are out of my natural cadence or interest.  So, I don’t think I’d ever attempt to learn opera – As cultured as I’d like to be, I don’t really grok it.  I love punk rock, but don’t have that kind of voice, so I’ll sing it offstage, but I wouldn’t make a good front person for a punk band.  I also would really not like to sing anything with seriously corny lyrics – unless it’s karaoke night and everyone knows it’s all for laughs. 


Robin, tell us about your writing, and how you began.

The first song I remember writing was basically a fan song about Billie Jean King.  Then when I was ten I started a band called Solar Explosion which turned into the aforementioned Half Mann Band.  I started writing songs in earnest then.  When I think about those tunes now, I think they sound very much like the pop radio hits at the time, so I guess I was learning by imitation.  My love of poetry grew around the same time.  It’s pretty hard to say more about how I began writing, because it’s like I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been conscious.


What inspires your work?

Inspiration is endless.  Let’s see what inspires me today… The hazy sky, emotional complexity, travelling, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, the desire to speak to social struggle without being overbearing, sexy people. 


What do you write and where can we find your work?

I have five full-length recordings – In Progress, All Six Senses, Live Devotion, (compilation), and This.  They are downloadable just about everywhere, and you can find out more at   The music ranges from singer/songwriter, sometimes edgy, often melodic pop.  Live Devotion and This. are centered on a kirtan, or call-and-response chant.  I blog about music, art, love and sexuality, transformation, and whatever else at The Dream Between: and you can find other writings of mine around the web, anthologized, or otherwise published from time to time.  Ostensibly, the “Truth” section of my website keeps track of that: I take on collaborative works and ghostwriting projects from time to time.  My latest release is a song called “All I Am,” and I’ve been encouraging everyone to download it to help out a good cause:

“All I Am” -

"All I Am" Is a bright pop anthem-sexy, spiritual, and bold-for all those who color outside the lines, determined to be all they are without apology. Your download helps support the anti-bullying You Will Rise Project.

Tell us a little bit about the non-fiction book that you’re co-writing.

Last year, I co-wrote Inspired to Live-The Story of an Unlikely Rebel the life story of the amazing Lauralynn Jansen:  It is great working with LauraLynn- she is a 25+ year cancer survivor, an adventurer, health advocate, one of the most optimistic and determined people I've met, and a great friend. A first edition of the book came out, though we've decided to make some editions to the story and bring it out again in earnest. It's been in a holding pattern for most of this year, but I trust it will come out and be just what we wanted when the time is right.


What are your thoughts of writer’s groups and would you join one?  If so, why?

I honestly haven’t done a whole lot with writer’s groups, but I am definitely interested.  I have paired up with close friends of mine who are also writers and we’ve prompted each other with writing exercises or various topics, critiqued each others’ work, and kept each other moving.  That has been very beneficial and I imagine with the right synergy, a writer’s group could really magnify that experience.  I’ve sat in on two South Jersey Writers evenings so far and have enjoyed it.  I am looking forward to learning more and getting to know people. 

What are some of the pitfalls that you’ve encountered and survived in building up your career?

The greatest obstacles I’ve encountered have to do with overcoming the idea that I’m supposed to be something other that what I am.  It’s easy to start believing people who tear you down or your own head noise – not pop enough, not indie enough, not black enough, not white enough, not thin enough, not young enough, not spiritual enough, not definable enough… whatever.  Enough!  It creeps back once in a while, but for the most part I’m over it and living to do the writing and performing that feels most authentic to me.  When I am able to feel that kind of focus without reservation, I am most able to move forward.

What advice can you give a young person today who loves to sing and hopes to make it big some day?

 I don’t know.  Maybe the best thing I could say is “Pay attention.” Listen to yourself and create what you truly want to create.  Then pay attention and look and listen for opportunities.  The music business is in such a wild flux right now that I’m not sure if anyone knows what “making it big” is these days.  Some would tell you the business is dead, but I don’t believe that.  It has most definitely changed and is changing.  I think the key is to be open to recognizing what you have to offer and ways to make connections and be heard.  In the midst of all that, don’t forget to make art that you love.
Thank you, Robin, for being a guest on our blog. I wish you the best with your music and I know everyone reading this blog will now be listening to your music. Now my little zombie snacks, I'm asking you a little favor. Please check out all the links included to learn more about Robin Renee and spread the good word.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Signing at the Book Asylum


I love book stores, especially book stores that make great coffee and have good pastries.

                              Dawn and I having coffee and pastries at the Book Asylum. yummy!
                  On July 13th, Super D and Super G headed down the Black Horse Pike to sell copies of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey at The Book Asylum Used Books and CafĂ© Shop. Dawn and I were greeted with open arms by the owners Rosemary and Jeff Moore.

                                        Super G with Rosemary Moore and her son, Jason.

                                           Jeff Moore, owner of Book Asylum and member of SJWG

                               We were soon joined by fellow authors: Bob Cook, here with Super D

                  Shelley Szajner, along with Shelley’s friend and editor, Jeanne M. Claypoole

 The ever perky, Kitty Bergeron in a photo from an earlier book signing, I didn't take a picture of Kitty at the book store, but she's just as cute in this photo. She's the sweetie pie in the middle.
                                       SJWG member and supporter Denise McGlinchey.
Several people stopped by including Amii Shalab who not only bought a book, but wants to join our group. She wants beautiful poetry and I was happy to read one of her proses. She's very good.
Bernadette also bought a book from us and even though she’s not from South Philly; she could fit right in with my old neighborhood and friends. Bernadette also bought a book.

I was excited to see my friend Uriah Young and his beautiful bride stop by to visit and buy a book. I posted a blog about this extremely talented young man. Keep an eye on Uriah; he’s going to be famous.
Jeff and Rosemary also bought books and will be selling our books in their store. We sold six books! This is a big deal for a  hot summer weekend.
I told Rosemary that I good a good feeling as soon as I walked into her shop. For my ghost hunting followers, you all know what this means. There are good spirits watching over that little book shop. Please stop by the Book Asylum, purchase a book, have some coffee and chat with the owners. You’ll be happy that  you did.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

An Interview with the Fabulous Author Nanci Rainey


We have some very talented people in the South Jersey Writers Group. I'm trying to do interviews on all of them. I love this job! Why? Well, not only are our members talented, they are nice people. One of the talented people in our group is Author Nanci Rainey.

Let me introduce you without further delay to Nanci.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been blessed with four loving children, the center of my universe. There is nothing more treasured than the bonding of a mother and child. I enjoyed watching them grow, through the terrible two's and the rebellious teens, they always knew they were loved. Even now as adults, they all know where home is. And then there are the grandchildren, there is nothing in the world better than a grandchild. This is my chance to have fun with the children, enjoy every moment I am with them until they go home. But I worry, and I worry and I worry, for my children, for my grandchildren, for their health, for their jobs, for their safety. I never really had a good night's sleep once I crossed the threshold of motherhood. And suddenly in a flash my earth was shattered, my world shut down, I was slapped in the face with the most terrible fate. One of my cherished angels was taken from me, and my life as I knew it was forever gone. I was essentially a shell of a person going through robotic motions. It took me several years of grief groups and constant persuasion from my children to “get out of my black” and start living. Trouble erupted in the household and I realized my children not only lost a brother, but they were losing their mother as well. I had to shake this and stop living like a monk. Billy was so full of life and he would not want me to be acting this way. I picked myself up, shook off the dust, took off the black (gradually, as Italians do wear black for five years), eased into navy blue and went back to work. I was the breadwinner in the house at that time, so I had to return to corporate America.

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was in grade school and we were encouraged to keep daily journals. These journals were to record our daily activities by poems or short paragraphs.

What inspires you to write?

Watching children playing on the beach can stimulate memories, I write down what I see and remember and start writing from there. Or there are other landscapes that can inspire a story, a dream of traveling or being in an exotic place. I try to use my imagination. I try to people watch. I get the most fun and inspiration from watching the actions and reactions from others to get a feel for reality in stories.

What type of stories do you enjoy writing about?

Currently I am enjoying fictional writing. I enjoy writing about people in a different place in life.  My imagination can run wild and I can share a new life with another character or two.  With the proper research tools, I am able to travel to a city I’ve always wanted to visit without ever leaving home. It’s a wonderful way for me to see the world.

Tell us about your book.

JUST ONE MORE DAY IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT is a personal memoir of my son’s twenty-three month courageous journey as he battled a most rare form of cancer, DSRCT, which stands for Desmoplastic  Small Round Cell Tumor. At the time, there were only less than 100 published cases in the New England Journal  of Medicine of DSRCT. We were so very fortunate to have met the doctor who wrote the protocol for treatment of this disease, Dr. Kushner, from Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. He worked closely together with our doctors at Jefferson on amounts of chemo, radiation and stem-cell transplant directives.


My story developed from a daily journal kept from my son’s treatment and hospital stay. There was so much information to absorb, that I started taking notes from day one and from that day forward, my notebook never left my side. If I had to leave the hospital for some reason, I left whoever was there with my Billy, in charge of taking notes should a doctor or someone enter the room and perform any diagnostic test or have any information to relate whatsoever; even as so minute as a blood pressure or a temperature. I kept note of all of them as well. I kept notes on m son’s moods, his wants, likes, dislikes and worst pains, etc. We had some very deep conversations, some of which were included, some so personal were only alluded to.

What inspired you to write this book?

My son originally wanted this book written to show how far he had progressed from the worst possible disease for a young teenager. He then whispered to his aunt when he was very sick that he wanted her to make sure I wrote the book for others to see how horrible this disease was. It took me so very long to do, as it broke my heart each time I began writing from my notes and reliving a portion of his life in the hospital.

Did you go traditional or self-publish?

I chose to go traditional publish. It was just a personal choice.

Are you planning on writing another book, soon?

Yes, I am working on a fictional piece at present.

A little birdie told me that you were a guest on a radio show. Please share the experience with us.

Yes, it is true. I was invited to be a guest speaker on the radio show, Cancer Corner Live, out of Pittsburgh, PA, on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. The radio show was a wonderful experience.  The host, Bob Grayson, is a motivational speaker and also a cancer survivor. He read my book and was very inspired by my words, as his cancer was similar, he shared most of the same types of chemotherapy drugs, had undergone the same stem cell replacement and was a year older than my son would have been. He said he remembered back to when he was 18 and the things he was doing and couldn’t believe how my son could do things he wanted to do while sick. He said he read my book five times and his wife read it a few times herself. His wife liked my book as well, as she related to it more, as a caregiver, like myself.
If anyone missed the interview, it can be heard from the link on my website:

What advice would you like to share with newcomers interested in writing.

I would tell any newcomers to enjoy their writing. It does not matter what you write. You don’t have to stay with one genre. I happened to publish my memoir first because it was something I felt had to be completed before I would even consider doing anything else because of my circumstances. But if you want to work on a book of poetry, then go for it. If you would rather start out writing articles for magazines or smaller news circulars then begin there. Wherever you are comfortable, there are no real rules for where you begin. I do believe joining a writers group for support and encouragement and information.  But again, I must emphasize, you have to enjoy what you are doing. Writing should be a joy not a chore!  Enjoy and good luck!

It was a pleasure having Nanci Rainey as a guest on the SJWG Blog and I'm hoping to interview her again when her next book is published.  Please go on her site and learn more about the always fabulous Nanci Rainey!!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Signing for Tall Tales and Short Stories on July 13th.

Upcoming Book Signing

The South Jersey Writers Group will be at the Book Asylum on 26 N. Black Horse Pike in Blackwood N.J. 08012, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. Join the authors of Tall Tales and Short Stories and learn about our journey to self publication.                                                             
This book offers many delightful tales: a western comedy called “Destiny in Dusty Springfield” by Joseph Arechavala, a ghost story called “Apparitions of Murder” by Krista Magrowski, an encounter with the not so jolly man in red called “Bad Day for Santa” by John Farquhar, a frightful Zombie story called “The Night of the Attack” by Marie Gilbert, plus much more.

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