On the road to diagnosis…still

There’s a place that I know I should start but I cannot seem to place just where that is.  I might as well start with here today.

I’m eating gluten again.  Not because I ‘want’ to but because I have recently learned that just because I tested positive for the genetic markers for Celiac Disease that, in and of itself, does not confirm one has Celiac Disease.  It seems I was supposed to do an upper endoscopy to check the villa in my small intestines prior to going gluten-free.  If my villa are flattened coupled with the positive genetic marker blood test THEN I will have an ‘official’ diagnosis of Celiac Disease.

But let’s back up even more.  How about NO medical doctor even breathed a word about Celiac Disease to me?  I have experienced IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), a distended abdomen, anemia, digestive issues, malnutrition, and general malaise for years.  The major issue I experienced over the last 10 years was extreme nasal congestion and nasal polyps that grew like weeds (sorry for that image!).  But the doctors could not tell me what my body was reacting to; all they could do was tell me what my options were for minimizing my discomfort (surgery to remove the polyps, nasal steroids, experimental drugs with unusual usage methods that cost a small fortune, etc.).

How did I figure out that gluten is an issue for me?  You’re going to love this.  I went to a holistic practitioner who wanted me to detox my body by removing ALL processed foods.  For 21 days I ate foods that came directly from the earth via the ground, from plants, vines, or trees.  This was supplemented with herbs meant to cleanse various organs and I used copious amounts of raw organic honey for its healing (and medicinal) properties.  In those two weeks, the excretions from my nose went from multi-hued to clear but it did not stop.  After a little more than a month, my ENT doctor and I decided to do a run of antibiotics and oral steroids.  This cleared up the sinus infection and completely STOPPED the nasal discharge within a few days.  Why?  Because my body was ‘clean’ now.  The cause seemed to have been found — the cause of my issue was clearly something that I was ingesting.  But, I had removed so much what one thing could it be?


So, I did the work of trying a food and paying attention to my reaction over a few days.  After a few weeks, it became clear that bread, pasta, and other wheat products created a reaction in my nose within 2 hours and within 3 days my sense of smell diminished.  If I continued to ingest gluten (in any form intentional, or unwittingly), within 10 days at the most, I would lose my sense of smell completely and the multi-hued nasal discharges would begin.

I did that original detox in the Spring of 2012.  I decided to fully go gluten-free at the end of June 2013 when I tested, re-tested and knew that gluten was the culprit.  It is now the Fall of 2014.  It has been 17-months since I have committed myself to a gluten-free diet.  I enjoyed waking up with energy, verve and a passion for life.  Gone were the the headaches, the vague phantom aches and twitches that plagued me.  I enjoyed being able to smell without the aid of medications.  Okay, back to today.

I began eating gluten again the evening of November 17th.  I thought I would enjoy Thanksgiving being able to eat all the stuffing, cakes, pies, and gravies.  I did not touch any gravy.  I tried only two desserts — and small pieces.  I stuck to the proteins (turkey, a bit of baked chicken and a slice of ham).  I ate roasted sweet potatoes with a cilantro pistachio pesto and some potato salad.  I was terrified of gluten loading and not being able to breathe correctly the morning after.  But I couldn’t resist the cornbread stuffing!  I ate so much salad to help my body!  I took papaya pills to help my digestion and made sure that I took my Singulair shortly before Thanksgiving dinner.  Totally not the feast day I anticipated.

I eat some gluten every day so that my body can do what it does.  Then, when I go for the endoscopy my doctor will see if my villa is flat, or not.  I have to eat gluten for 3 – 4 weeks and I still have a couple of weeks left.  My sense of smell is wonky.  I’ve gone through two boxes of tissues in the last 5 days and my digestive issues are back.

Don’t you love the progress of modern medical technology?

Before we go, here is a recent video of Dr. David A. Johnson.  He discusses the new guidelines for diagnosis and management of Celiac Disease.

Ta-ta for now,


‘Tis the Season to Decorate with The Christmas Boutique!

From my earliest remembrances Christmas was the one holiday that I loved and treasured.  My grandmother was an awesome cook and made meals that my family still remembers to this day.  (Her Easter buns were legendary!)  Grandma loved the holidays too.  We began pulling out decorations in mid-November and cleaning them off and deciding what would go where.  Then, the day after Thanksgiving (now Black Friday) we would spend the day decorating the inside and outside of her beautiful house including the front yard.

Every window had lights, tinsel and “snow”.  Each doorway had fresh pine and pine cones.  There were holiday ornaments from years gone past as well as new ‘modern’ decorative elements that dotted the walls, the credenza, the china cabinet, the side table in the dining room.  And forget the dining room table!  It had a brand new (or, newly designed) holiday centerpiece each and every year.

While I can never hope to rival my Grandmother’s prowess with the copious holiday decorations I have begun to look around for different and unusual decorations that exemplify the holiday season for me and my family.  To that end, I came across The Christmas Boutique a lovely little gem of an online store based in the UK.

If you are seeking a more rustic and authentic look for your home for the holidays you can’t do better than The Christmas Boutique!  From holiday-colored stag heads to decorate your walls, Gingerbread hanging ornaments, an Advent Calendar complete with good-sized pockets for sweet holiday gifts and treats for each day, to eclectic cupcake tree decorations for a touch of holiday whimsy The Christmas Boutique has it all!

Ornaments on the Wall_Urban 33_Xmas 2014

I used the Gingerbread Christmas decorations for this sweet holiday mural for my wall between our bedrooms. I also used the Gold Multi-Layered Wooden tree decorations (the star & the tree ornaments). Finally, at the top is the Green Frosted Berry Heart Christmas Decoration.



Santa Sack_Urban 33_Xmas 2014

For a very rustic look, I tacked up the large Father Christmas Hessian Sack Jute Draw String Gift Bag. I love his kindly face and the peacefulness in his countenance!



24 Days_Urban 33_Xmas 2014

On the other side from the Father Christmas gift sack, I have the above Felt Advent Calendar hanging. My 15-month old daughter loves playing hide-n-seek/peek-a-book with it! Not exactly the right purpose but hey — she’s happy!  There are other Advent Calendars too that are more whimsical such as the Santa one!

I’m also looking at picking up the following items for additional holiday touches in my home…

Bavaria Bear Draught Excluder

Two-Tier White Christmas Display Stand

Gold Glitter Hanging Decoration

Snowman on Swing Decorations

Large Felt Christmas Gift Bag Sacks

Hanging Glitter Star Decorations (set of 3)

And then, of course there’s the tree itself that I have to decide upon.  Will I get a fresh one again this year?  Or, should I buy a big gorgeous permanent fir tree?  But I LOVE the smell of fresh pine in my home for the holidays! (And don’t you hate the fake smell of the pine spray they sell during the holidays?!?!@!)  I suppose there are candles that can use for the pine smell.

As a total aside, Bath and Body Works has a delicious candle that smells like fresh baked holiday cookies!  The candle is by White Barn and it’s called Butterscotch Toffee plus there are tons of other scrumptious scents for the holidays.  I’ve been burning the Butterscotch Toffee one for the last two weeks! LOL.

Either way, do yourself a favor and check out The Christmas Boutique!  There are tons of great items to make this the best most personalized Christmas holiday ever.

Ta-ta for now,


10 Random Things About PIG PARK by Claudia Martinez

Hi Folks!

Today we have Claudia Guadalupe Martinez visiting with us today.  She recently published her second book entitled “Pig Park.”  And this is a doozie of a coming of age story.  When I read the synopsis (below), I knew I wanted to host Claudia and find out some more fun things about this hilarious novel.


It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga’s neighborhood is becoming more and more of a ghost town since the lard company moved away. Her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls to haul bricks to help build a giant pyramid in the park in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. Then there’s the new boy who came to help, the one with the softest of lips.

Makes you very curious doesn’t it?  So, based on this I wanted to find out more about this book before diving into it.  So here are some cool random things about Claudia’s “Pig Park”.


Pig Park cover10 Random Things About Pig Park


1.       I first set out to write a play about a mom and pop bakery fighting for survival, needless to say it went a different direction.

2.       The protagonist’s name was Tomasina until–much like an old fashioned skirt–I shortened it.

3.       Pig Park’s working title was MasaAmerica–a play on the Spanish word for dough (masa) and Meso-America.

4.       I imagined the delicious marranitos (ginger pigs) from Bowie Bakery in my hometown of  El Paso every time I sat and wrote about the  marranitos at Burciaga’s.

5.       The marranito on the book’s cover is not from Bowie Bakery, rather from Gussie’s across town.

6.       Skinny pigs, sugar-free ginger pigs, are a made up delicacy

7.       There was no pyramid in the initial draft of the novel.

8.       The pyramid was inspired by a man who walked into the community organization I worked at looking for sponsors to build exactly that.

9.       The real life pyramid was going to be a wood frame topped by thousands of candles.

10.    Although I might not want to admit this, I’m most like the mom character in the novel.   (Yep, I’m a totally a mom.)

Claudia GM Author Photo





Claudia is the author of The Smell of Old Lady Perfume (Cinco Puntos, 2008) and Pig Park (Cinco Puntos, 2014). She grew up in sunny El Paso, Texas where she learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns with her father. She now lives and writes in Chicago.

Author Links

Website: http://www.claudiaguadalupemartinez.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Claudia-Guadalupe-Martinez/107095645999600

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maquilagorilla

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1010472.Claudia_Guadalupe_Martinez

Book Thoughts: Gotta Find A Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff


Gotta Find A Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff is one of those books that you pick up on a lark. I picked it up because the second part of the title intrigued me. Conversations with street people? What the heck?!

So, I added this book to my to-be-read bookshelf and went on my merry way. Why did my mind keep wandering back to the question that Cardiff’s title implies? What kind of conversations are we talking about? Real conversations? Fictionalized conversations? More importantly, my brain had this question. What could street people have to say?

I’m not (too) ashamed to say that prior to reading this book I, among the masses, averted my eyes when passing a panhandler on the street. I assumed that they were there because they wanted to be there; they missed/lost opportunities and now had to fight and claw their way to get back to ‘normalcy’.

Gotta Find A Home did not disabuse me of this notions. For the most part, those beliefs of mine remain largely intact. The conversations that Cardiff shares with his readers are actual factual retellings of his many conversations with people he met on the streets who identified themselves as “Street People.”

According to Cardiff, Street People are people who panhandle for a living and have done it for a long time (like a decade or more). But I digress.

Gotta Find A Home is a book that pulls no punches. It is a straight forward daily account of the day-to-day lives of this close-knit group of panhandlers in Toronto. There is no plot. There is no structure other than the loose timeline of these conversations. There is no true end. This book is a fly-on-the-wall view of what life is like for various members of this group of people who in one week have more crises than the UN, the Pentagon and the Middle East put together. Members of this group have fatal illnesses, severe health issues, psychological issues, financial woes, and of course, issues with finding stable clean housing.

Add on top of these major issues the normal squabbling among a large group of close-knit friends (which many times devolves into fist fights…) and you have what Cardiff calls a ‘soap opera’.

Gotta Find A Home: Conversations with Street People will leave you feeling haunted, questioning and, I believe, sympathetic. While many of the people in this book did not change one iota their stories and back-stories are compellingly sad. It makes one realize that with just a different decision (or two) any one of us could have chosen the path that some of the people in Cardiff’s book have chosen.

This is an excellent and very thoughtful read. I give it 5 stars for content.


Dennis Cardiff, Author


The Writer’s Bare Necessities

Remember good ‘ole Baloo from Disney’s “The Jungle Book”?  He taught Mowgli about the bare necessities of how to live and survive in the jungle.  Many of us live in the urban jungle and have our own home-grown survival skills pretty much in place.

However, I began thinking about that little horrible word that we writers like to pretend doesn’t exist — writer’s block.  Some of the causes of writer’s block can be stress, concern over where your story/characters are headed, plotting quandaries, or any number of writerly concerns.

But, writer’s block could also be caused by trepidation over non-writerly pursuits such as livelihood, career — or your credit report.  Yeah, your credit report which feeds into your ability to finance a car (which you’ll need to use to get to your contract signing with your agent/publisher), or a house, or get into that fab condo complex you’ve always wanted to be a part of.

So, maybe you’re not writing because your credit score is not where you want it to be (or, need it to be).  What now?  Fix it!

If you’re not signed up with Credit Karma (CK) do it yesterday!  This handy FREE website will help you to get the upper hand on your financial life.  Once you enroll, you will need to put your personal information in so that they can find your specific credit profile.  (No need for inputting your credit card information! This site does not charge at all.)

Once that’s done, you can update your credit score every two weeks.  They will even send you an email to let you know it’s time to log in and update your credit score.

Now comes the good part.  CK even breaks down your credit report to make it easier for you to get a handle on each aspect of your credit picture that impacts your credit score.  For example, there are six categories that factor into your score:

  1. Credit Card Utilization
    Very simply your total credit card balances need to be below 50% of your total credit limit, or else you will get dinged in this category and your score goes down.  It’s best if your total credit card balances is no more than 20% of your total credit limit.  Specifically, let’s say your total credit limit over 2 cards is $1,000 (keeping it simple folks!).  That means that for each of your two cards your balance should not be more than $100 on each card.  Yeah, so why bother having a credit card? That’s besides the point.  This is how your credit score is calculated.  To get the “A”ranking, your credit card utilization should be between 1 – 20%.
  2. Payment History
    This is also a very simple one — pay your credit cards and all items listed on your credit report early, at the very latest on the day it is due.  Some of your creditors may give you between 1 – 4 days of grace but this is not standard.  You must communicate with EACH of your creditors to know if this is the case and which ones will grant you a grace period.  The best practice is to assume there is no grace period and pay your bill a couple of days early to ensure that no computer glitches/foul-ups affect the date your payment posts.  (Yeah, you’re dinged if they make a mistake and post later than you paid.  It would then be your responsibility to follow-up with them and correct the error and have it removed from your credit report.)  If you miss a payment, it goes down on your credit report in the next billing cycle (usually 30/31 days later) and will remain on your credit report for up to 7 years.  Yes, one missed payment can stain your report and lower your score tremendously!  Needless to say, to get the “A” ranking you need to pay every single bill on time — 100% on time.
  3. Derogatory Marks
    This is the not so fun one.  This is the area that messes up a lot of people simply because you are not informed when derogatory/negative information is added to your credit report.  At least, not in an official manner.  Derogatory marks are items that you did not pay through collection agencies, doctor/hospital bills that then go to a lawyer’s office (read collection agency) for payment.  This category will also include defaulted student loans, or any outstanding debt that a creditor wants to report.  Of course, a bankruptcy goes in this section.  Negative information can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years.  The credit reporting agency can take it off after 7 years but don’t hold your breath.  The “A” ranking is for have ZERO derogatory marks.  [Please note: You will have a very difficult time getting a mortgage if you have derogatory marks.  If you do have any, you will pay through most of your bodily orifices to get that house loan.]
  4. Age of Credit History
    There’s not much you can do about this category.  The longer you’ve had credit the better your score.  Only time will help you in this category.  The “A “ranking is reserved for those accounts which you have held for 8 years, or longer.
  5. Total Accounts
    This category infuriates me.  Why?  To receive an “A” ranking in this category you must have at least 22 credit accounts during the history of your credit file.  So, here again, only time will help you on this factor.  But here’s the thing, if you wanted to try and get into the higher rankings for this factor you would have to open a number of accounts around the same time and then pay them on time each and every month for the life of that account (Yes, you can pay the minimum but you know the story with that!  That needs an entire post unto itself to discuss that!)
  6. Credit Inquiries
    This category details how many times a creditor has publicly reviewed (looked) at your credit report in order to see if they want to offer you credit.  This can be done at your request, or if there are third-party creditors out seeking business they can pull your credit without your consent.  Whether you have given consent, or not, your credit score goes down with EACH credit inquiry listed on your report.  Hard credit inquiries remain on your credit report for 2 years.  That begs the question as to what a soft credit inquiry is, right?  From my understanding, a soft credit inquiry is when an existing creditor checks your report on an existing line credit in order to decide if they want to give you an increase in credit limit.A soft inquiry can also be you requesting to look at your own credit report (when you ask one of the three reporting agencies for it.  This usually is something offered to you after you have been denied credit.  Funny.  That’s usually when you find out you have a problem!).  To get the “A” ranking in this category you must have ZERO credit inquiries.  For the “B” ranking the number of credit inquiries is 1 – 2.  [Now you see why category number 5 irritates me!  In order to increase the number of total accounts, you will incur credit inquiries therefore your score will decrease with each credit pull to (ha ha) increase your credit score.]

Okay, I’ll stop my ranting here.

However, can you see how concerns over your financial life can impact your daily word count?  With so many “hidden” factors in this one area of our financial life imagine if you have other concerns that you are ‘pushing to the side’ in order to write?  It would be no surprise to anyone if you are not wholly successful in getting that book done, or finish that anthology of short stories, or enter those writing contests you’ve been eyeing.

Now, if this is not your issue with your writing — COOL!  Write on!  If this is a part of your issue, even a miniscule part — begin taking care of it today.  Your writing muse will thank you.

Ta-ta for now,



Secret Santa’s Indie Book Giveaway 2014!

You know the holidays are coming and everyone’s beginning the scramble to get ‘just-the-right-gift’ for every person on their numerous lists (work friends, friend friends, family, associates, the doorman, mailman, UPS/FedEx persons, the pool boy, etc.).  Isn’t it time you stop the rat race and find the perfect gift for yourself? 

I know that you know that we all know that you LOVE to read so why not join our Secret Santa Indie Book Giveaway and pluck out a great Indie book to read for the holidays?!

SecretSanta_Nov 24 2014

There are well over 70 books that are up for grabs in this fab bookish Secret Santa Blitz!  (Including mine! Fury From Hell.)


Current contributing authors and titles supporting this #IndieBooksBeSeen Secret Santa giveaway and the book’s category are, as follows:


The Golden Merra by Kevin Moore (Witches of the Water – Book 1)

Children’s Book

Journey to Jazzland by Gia de Saulnier


The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain

After Us: Apocalypse Anthology by Melissa Holden


A Chronicle of Chaos by D.M. Cain (The Light and Shadow Chronicles – Book 1)

Cloak of Shadows by CK Dawn (The Netherwalker Series – Book 1)

The Keeper of the Wind by Mark Shaw

Seed by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 1)

Scroll by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 2) (2015 release)

Relyk by Robert Palmer

Historical Fiction

The Golden Merra by Kevin Moore (Witches of the Water – Book 1)

Waves and War by Kevin Moore

Seven Out: A Wil Driscoll Adventure by Kevin Moore

A Fine Line: The Beginning by JC Brennan

The Keeper of the Wind by Mark Shaw

Relyk by Robert Palmer

Literary Fiction

Just Hold On by Valerie Kinney

Once Were Friends by Mark Victor Young


The Light Who Shines by Lilo Abernathy (Bluebell Kildare – Book 1)

A Fine Line: The Beginning by JC Brennan

Risk by Mark Victor Young

Neuri Shape-Shifter (Stone Quest Book 3) by Leigh Podgorsk

The Women Debrowska by Leigh Podgorsk

Gallows Ascending (Stone Quest Book 2) By Leigh Podgorski

Desert Chimera (Stone Quest Book 1) By Leigh Podgorski


Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff

52 Writing Prompts by Melissa Holden

Shifting Faces by Suman Saxena

But what if we’re wrong?: One Evangelical’s take on the LGBTQ Issue

 by Jacci Turner

Paranormal Romance

The Light Who Shines by Lilo Abernathy (Bluebell Kildare – Book 1)

Enchanted by K.K. Allen (The Summer Solstice – Book 1)

The Equinox by K.K. Allen (The Summer Solstice – Book 2)

Taken by the Huntsman by Mistral Dawn

Seed by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 1)

Scroll by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 2) (2015 release)


From Me with Love by Melissa Holden

The Little Things: A Book of Haikus by Melissa Holden

Drowsy in Dreams by Melissa Holden


Taken by the Huntsman by Mistral Dawn

Just Hold On by Valerie Kinney

Once Were Friends by Mark Victor Young

Ouray’s Peak  By Leigh Podgorsk

 Short Stories

Waves and War by Kevin Moore

Seven Out: A Wil Driscoll Adventure by Kevin Moore

After Us: Apocalypse Anthology by Melissa Holden


A Fine Line: The Beginning by JC Brennan

A Chronicle of Chaos by D.M. Cain (The Light and Shadow Chronicles – Book 1)

The Shadow Rises by K.S. Marsden (Witch-Hunter – Book 1)

The Shadow Reigns by K.S. Marsden (Witch-Hunter – Book 2)

The Shadow Falls by K.S. Marsden (Witch-Hunter – Book 3)

The Elemental By Lisa


The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain

Fury From Hell by Rochelle Campbell

The Snow Killer by Melissa Holden

Searching for Katherine by Melissa Holden

Risk by Mark Victor Young

I Plagiarized this Book from Myself by Boyd Jamison

Urban Fantasy

The Light Who Shines by Lilo Abernathy (Bluebell Kildare – Book 1)

Enchanted by K.K. Allen (The Summer Solstice – Book 1)

Cloak of Shadows by CK Dawn (The Netherwalker Series – Book 1)

The Equinox by K.K. Allen (The Summer Solstice – Book 2)


The Keeper of the Wind by Mark Shaw

Seed by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 1)

Scroll by DB Nielsen (Keepers of Genesis – Book 2) (2015 release)

The Treemakers by Christina L. Rozelle

The Cage by Jacci Turner (The Birthright Series -Book 1)

The Bar by Jacci Turner (The Birthright Series – Book 2)

The Lamb by Jacci Turner (The Birthright Series- Book 3)

MG (middle grade fiction are grades 3 and up)

Bending Willow by Jacci Turner (The Finding Home Series- Book1)

Stretching Willow by Jacci Turner (The Finding Home Series- Book2)

Finding Willow by Jacci Turner (The Finding Home Series- Book 3)

Shipwrecked by Jacci Turner
Excited yet??!?  You should be! 🙂

How it works is we will pick a winner for each of the 60+ books that are part of this awesome giveaway and send them to you if you’re a winner!  We’re still adding books so the chances are great for you to walk away with a great new book to curl up by the fireside and read while sipping on hot apple cider.

The winners will be chosen on December 15th, 2o14 at midday (Pacific time).

For your chance to enter click on the link below for your chance to win! Tell your friends about it too!

A Very Secret Santa-ish Rafflecopter giveaway


In the meantime…

Ta-ta for now,


Author Drop-In with Margie Miklas and Her Love Affair with Sicily

Hello Dear Reader,

Today we have a special treat. One of my very good writer buddies, Margie Miklas, has dropped by to share some words with us about her travel writing journey that is now evolving into a fiction writer’s journey.  I am so excited to hear more from this dynamic woman who does not seem to require sleep, food or anything the rest of us mortal need to stay invigorated! 🙂

I have known Margie for over a year and she’s a perfectionist, a workaholic and an incredible networker who finds friends and relationships online via social media.  I admire her grace, her patience and her resilience.  Without further ado, I’d like you to say a warm welcome to my friend and a great traveler — Margie Miklas!


MargieMiklas_author pic

Author Margie Miklas

Margie, tell us about yourself.

Thank you for this opportunity, Rochelle. It is an honor. I am a recently retired critical-care nurse who loves to travel. I have a passion for Italy and can never seem to get enough of it. I enjoy writing about my favorite travel destination and sharing my experiences. My two published books are non-fiction memoirs detailing my experiences in Italy. Readers feel that they are traveling with me since they are written in a journal format.

I am so excited about your travel memoirs I want everyone to know where they can find you right up front!  Where can readers find you and your books?

I am on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +. The links are:

Amazon Links: http://www.amazon.com/Margie-Miklas/e/B0094YY3LA
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/margie-miklas

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for the past 4 years. Originally I started writing for an online Italian-American newspaper and for some sites online. Then, I started my blog when I went to Italy for 3 months, and after that I wrote my first book.

MM_My Love Affair with Italy_cover

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I write in conversational style, as if I am talking to someone sitting next to me, at least in my first two books, which are in first person, present tense. I am currently working on my first novel, and I am writing in third person with multiple points of view, so this is quite a different experience for me as a writer.

Tell us about your latest work. Can you share a little of it with us (blurb)?

My WIP is a novel, a psychological thriller set in a hospital. After only a year, critical-care nurse Allison Jamison becomes disillusioned by hospital politics and corrupt practices. Does she expose the wrongdoers and risk losing her job? An element of evil lurks just beneath the surface and around corners in a place typically known to save lives.

What do you love about independent publishing?

I like the control I have and the ability to make changes when needed.

What genre of books do you read, or do you stick with the genre you write in?

I enjoy intrigue, courtroom drama, biography, and humor. Recently I have read Christian fiction and paranormal sci-fi, and surprisingly enjoyed both. Opening one’s mind to reading other genres is a good thing I have found.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I am writing a novel set in a hospital because I wanted to write about things that would surprise and even shock most non-medical readers. By writing fiction, I can make the story fun as opposed to writing a documentary-style book.

What are your goals as a writer?

My goals are to write interesting and compelling stories that make the readers feel as if they are immersed in the story, and waiting for more.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope as an author with a number of published books. I hope I am still traveling and writing travel books as well as fiction.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I have learned that writing is only part of the process and that revising, rewriting, and editing take longer than writing the first draft. It is important to have a writing schedule with a goal in mind, but rushing just to finish is never a good idea.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

That’s an easy one. I always feel the most relaxed at the beach, listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves.

MM_My Love Affair with Sicily_cover

Was there one particular travel moment that changed you, or affected your writing?

I think it may have been when I found the house of my Sicilian grandfather. The feeling of being there was overwhelming and I was aware of that feeling in a way that I wanted to remember forever. As a result, I try to write about my feelings when I am writing memoir.

What are your ‘must-have’ items that you carry with you on every trip you take?

I have to travel with a smartphone, my iPad, camera, chargers and an extra battery. I have come to rely on these electronic necessities to communicate while traveling.

Are there any travel tips that you would like to share?

I think the main thing to remember is that traveling to another place is not only fun but a chance to learn something. Don’t expect things to be like they are at home. Embrace the differences of another culture, another place, another people. Only then will you truly enjoy the experience.

Thank you again Rochelle, for this honor. I have enjoyed it immensely.

Margie — thank you for stopping by! I appreciate it and I’m sure my readers do as well!

Book Thoughts: The Keeper of the Wind by Mark Shaw

The Keeper of the Wind is a wonderful magical realism story centering on the amazing adventure shared by three high school seniors.  After finding ancient artefacts while on their senior trip, Marcus, Olivia and Tim’s lives change irrevocably.  They must contend with disembodied voices, mysterious menacing fog, people who should not be taken at face value and re-thinking their entire worldview to incorporate a reality far different from anything they had ever imagined.


These three teens come from different ethnic and economic backgrounds making it even more difficult for some of them to revamp their ideology of how the world should operate.  Tim is Caucasian.  Marcus is African-American and Olivia is a Latina.  Their backgrounds  play heavily into the story’s plotting and structure which adds believability to the overall story which contains fantastical elements that will dazzle your mind’s eye.

The artefacts that each teen finds assists each of them to help one another on their journey while deepening their bonds of trust and connection.  Their adventures bring them two new friends — Professor Waters and Peter, a fledgling shaman.  While the teens are not sure of either man initially it becomes clear as the story unfolds that all five of their fates are intertwined.

The Keeper of the Wind weaves a compelling story.  Each of the main five characters face dangers that put each of their lives in jeopardy more than once!  The author, Mark Shaw, does an excellent job of providing great focal characters that readers can fall in love with.  I know I did!

4.5 Blogairy NoteBooks


Gluten Free Not-So Baking Beauties: GF Buttermilk Biscuits

For the longest time I’ve wanted light fluffy biscuits.  Well, at least flaky biscuits. I had given up that dream when I went gluten free.  But yesterday I had a fierce hankering for a comfort-food biscuit.  I searched and found Jeanine’s Baking Beauties blog and a recipe for biscuits that looked pretty good.  You can check out Jeanine’s recipe here.  Jeanine’s recipe promised big, fluffy, gluten free biscuits.  My brain also added in flaky.

I luckily had all of the ingredients in the house but I did some substitutions based on my particular food sensitivities.  So this is the recipe I made:

  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cold Smart Balance Purely Better Buttery Spread, cut into chunks
  • 3 large eggs, egg whites only
  • 1/3 cup almond milk with 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar stirred in and let sit for 5 minutes

I followed all of the rest of Jeanine’s directions as these directions are identical to when I used to make biscuits using traditional flours.  You can find the recipe here.

You can see the pictures of each step of my biscuit journey below.  I also found that a 12-minute bake time was sufficient for these biscuits.

1st GF Biscuit flour and margarine 11 9 2014

1st Dough GF Biscuits 11 9 2014

1st Unbaked GF Biscuits 11 9 2014

1st Baked GF Biscuits on cookie sheet 11 9 2014


1st Baked GF Biscuits 11 9 2014

When the biscuits came out they were delicious! As they cooled, they weren’t as good and moist as they were shortly after they came out of the oven.  Clearly these are same day eating biscuits!

This is a fabulous base recipe and I am very happy to have found it.  I can now play around with different flours to get a better mouth-feel and taste.  I think I will exclude the garlic powder next time! 🙂

Ta-ta for now,




Book Thoughts: A Fine Line By J.C. Brennan

A Fine Line: The Beginning by J.C. Brennan is a story that follows one very special family for several generations.  The family in question is affectionately named “the Crew”.  When the reader meets them, the members of the Crew do not know anything about their supernatural skills and abilities that defy even the most outrageous of imaginations.  The reader and the Crew find out together through page-turning nail-biting experiences.

Fine Line_Brennan_cov

As the book progress, the Crew, a hodge-podge group of people from different economic and ethnic backgrounds become a close knit family held together by one man, William Thomas Healthaway II.  Who’s William?  He’s a normal guy from a well-to-do Southern family.  We meet him during the Civil War and he’s on not on the Confederate side! This is our first nice shock when introduced to this book and its characters.

William learned early on from his father that one’s plantation should be run as an extended family no matter one’s color, or creed.  This is just one of the many positive sub-themes of A Fine Line.  In addition, this book touches on the wholesomeness and strength that a strong family shares with each other.  Another well-developed sub-theme is that if one accepts the stunning beauty of the Unknown, you must trust yourself and those around you.

To go into more depth about the story itself would be a definite spoiler.  Yet, I can say that if you enjoy American historical fiction coupled with magical realism this is the story for you!  It is a feel-good story with an uplifting story theme sure to please as we head towards the end of year holiday season.

Lastly, as mentioned in a previous review on Amazon, I give this story 4 stars due to punctuation and grammar.

4 Blogairy Notebooks