Monday, February 28, 2011

Muraling Part One - For Fun and Profit


From crude cave depictions, to twenty-first century can-art, murals decorate our lives and expound our culture. Because practically everyone on earth is familiar with pictures painted on walls, what could be a more natural decoration? Have you thought about painting a wall someday? Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And if the painting doesn’t reach your expectations, you try again because it’s only paint!

I encourage you to envision, research and eventually paint a mural. Let go of any “must be perfect” hang-ups you might be harboring, and enjoy your own artistic creativity. If the project goes well and you enjoy the process, I will show you how to turn muraling into a profitable business.

I want to share with you some information about myself. I grew up drawing and painting and eventually turned that love of art into a career. During the last thirty years I have completed hundreds of murals, dozens of paintings, many illustrations, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, plus insignias on the side of a small airplane, a VW bug and a tow truck. If it holds still, I paint it.

Hopefully, you too, will discover the joy of painting on a grand scale, turning walls into wonderful room enhancements. A house is a house is a house, unless it has a mural in it. When a house or business has a mural, it becomes distinctive, novel, memorable and personal. People will think you were brave to attempt such a project, when in reality, you were having fun. If your first attempt didn’t work, you knew that all you needed to do was paint over it and start again.

Why decorate with a mural instead of a framed painting? Why paint a wall celery green or plum purple instead of white? Why eat a brownie when you can have a cracker? Life is what we make it, so give it the highest octane you have. Personalize your rooms. Let them speak about you and the extravagance of your imagination. Give the walls flavor and attitude and let them shine with the special creativity only you have at your disposal.
Author Joyce Oroz
Secure the Ranch is available in both Paperback and Kindle Format

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Poem "Weather" Written By Joyce Riley

Photo Taken by Avery Laurin

Though my eyes are closed and shades are drawn,

My inner clock tells me it is dawn.

But, I hear no sounds of birds a calling,

Only silence of snowflakes falling.

The shades fly up. My eyes grow wide.

There is a world of white outside.

Where heavy laden pine trees stand

As guardians of winterland

Photo Taken by Avery Laurin
Poem Writen by Joyce Riley (cousin of Joyce Oroz) and Photography is by Avery laurin (Joyce Oroz's grandson)
Available in both Kindle and Paperback

Friday, February 25, 2011

Small Town, Big Heart

Aromas residents treasure their miniature community park, petite post office, cozy library, dinky gas station and big mural (compared to everything else.) The whole town is small, but it’s jumping with energy, creativity, and kind folks who know how to look after each other.

As a long-time muralist, I became involved in the local mural project known as; how to make a down town rustic eye-sore look good. The ancient paint-peeling eye-sore was called Marshall’s Service. ( next door to Marshall’s Grocery) All that remained was a small, two-story wood building in the center of town.

When I was first approached to design a mural for the Marshall building, I didn’t know any of its history, not even the fact that it was once a gas station. (dah) I produced eight different designs and asked the Aromas Hills Artisans to vote on the one best suited. Most of the votes went to the picture of a 1936 International delivery truck and an old-style gas pump.

Being fairly new in Aromas, I still didn’t have a clue. I thought they liked the truck picture because it included chickens and striped canopies. But as the painting progressed, people stopped by to tell me how much they appreciated the mural. It seemed many of them had known, or knew about, Mr. Marshall and his family. After talking to the folks for two days, I realized how deep the roots of Aromas were, how much my neighbors loved their tiny town—and now I’m on of them.

I shall be interviewing members of the Aromas Hills Artisans, one at a time, beginning with author, Jennifer Chase. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Unraveling the Dietary Mysteries of Labrador Retrievers

Rumors are flying that a golden lab named Sandy eats artichokes. “No way,” they all say. But she has been seen scraping the good stuff off the leaves with clenched teeth. You go, girl! Just don’t get caught between Sandy and fresh cabbage leaves. Trampling is never pretty.

The rumors get more ridiculous. Sandy has been spotted pulling weeds with her teeth and eating them. As she works hard to manicure the backyard, her boyfriend, Rocky, on the other side of the cyclone fence mimics her. Now his yard is looking good too.

Sandy is never allowed to have candy, but she can be rather persuasive as she holds an Easter bucket in her mouth, hoping for donations. She finally gives up the bucket and takes a stroll wearing her fake fur bunny ears. Try that, Rocky!

You know it’s a bad day when:

Your dog brings home a bone. You say, “good boy.” Six cop cars surround your neighbor’s house. They discover a body buried in the backyard (minus one femur) and your property value drops by half because you live in a dangerous neighborhood.

From "Secure the Ranch"

“Oh, my God, Solow,” I gasped. I hadn’t a clue how he took the crash. I jumped up and raced out the front door. Herbert had the light on in the garage that looked like Hurricane Josephine had hit it. I rounded the truck and opened the passenger door. Solow practically fell out. I helped him to the ground, noticing his whole backside was crimson. I stifled a cry with my hand. Tears welled up as I embraced the best dog-friend a person could have. Down close, hugging him, he smelled like strawberries.

Once I realized Solow was wearing strawberries and a few other food groups, I relaxed considerably. He had polished off a pound of ground round, a pint of cookies and cream ice cream and a dozen raw eggs. He had been literally rolling in groceries under the dash. Every dog’s dream!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review for Secure the Ranch

**** Stars

By Robert "Dimndbangr" Hicks (Honolulu, HI)
This review is from: Secure the Ranch (Paperback)

Secure the Ranch is the first book by debut author Joyce Oroz.

Secure the Ranch follows a mystery surrounding Josephine Stuart, an artist who is hired to paint some murals for a wealthy client high in the mountains of California. After strange accidents, occurrences, and the death of a wildlife ranger, Josephine finds she is unable to set aside her curiosity and delves deep into a mystery best left alone. Some subplots involve her friendship with one of her neighbors, visits with her mom and dad, and others that would lead to spoilers.

I will have to admit that the writing in this book is well done. Even though I may have found myself hesitant at times to pick the book back up from other things I was doing, once I did, I was engrossed and read chapter after chapter. The characters were also better than I imagined they would be at the beginning. I had a vision of the wealthy clients to be the snobbish type and they turned out to be much better than that and I was thankful. There was some nice depth to the characters and they were easy to connect with.

Some criticisms:

1. The dialogue, though done well enough throughout the majority of the book had some abrupt endings to it. It just felt like there was more to be said, but the next thing I know, the story moves on to something else. Mostly this happens while Josephine is searching for answers of what is going on.

2. There were a couple of inconsistencies in this book. The main one is at the beginning when Josephine is getting ready for bed; she sets the alarm for 7:30. In the next chapter, she is woken to music coming from the clock radio at 7.

Some Positives

1. I really did enjoy the characters in this novel. Everyone had their own voice and was easy to distinguish from the other characters. The reader can easily connect with the characters.

2. In just about every chapter, something happens to keep the reader engaged in the story. Ms. Oroz really knows how to keep a mystery going and giving just enough tidbits for the reader to try to figure out what is going on and who is involved.

3. The imagery is nicely detailed without overbearing the reader with all the details. It is a nice mix of giving the author's vision while at the same time leaving out enough so the reader can fill in the rest.

There are reviewers who compare this with Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Aside from having a pet, bill collectors calling constantly, and an overactive sense of curiosity, that is about where the comparison ends. I will say I did enjoy this book and if there are to be more books from this author, I will definitely buy them. I know most of Janet Evanovich's fans are getting tired of the stale trail the plum books have been following, so I would recommend this one to them for a refreshing view away from the every day.

Happy reading

Get your copy of Secure the Ranch

Available in Paperback and Kindle

Wally Finds a Home

He’s bigger than a bread box, better looking than a leaf blower and sweeter than all the rocks in my garden. I have an emergency solar-powered generator named, Wally, sitting quietly on my deck, waiting for a power outage. Or he could keep a few lights and such running all year round!

You might ask how Wally ended up on my doorstep and why did I adopt him. If you had a fourteen-year-old grandson who could invent and create a machine like Wally, you would be as proud as I am. The design and work are all his! Thank you, Avery.

My boy, Wally is the prototype for future generations of solar machines. State your needs and specs—Avery will put it together for you. If you are interested in adopting a Wally (or you can name her Geraldine) send me a comment at the end of this article.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Take a Peek Into Josephine's World...

Excerpt from Secure the Ranch:

Then I heard it, coming up fast from behind, the roar of an engine propelling a truck with major muffler problems. It backfired. I jumped a couple inches in my seat and my heart skipped several beats. Headlights flashed in my rearview mirror. Solow howled again, his head stretched out the window as far as it could go. I made a right turn onto Central Avenue, stifling the urge to stomp on the gas pedal. The truck behind us followed at the same speed until we left the streetlights behind.

Highway nine was a windy two-lane road that followed the San Lorenzo River through the redwood forest from Boulder Creek, all the way south to Felton. There were no street lights, just sharp turns, narrow bridges and steep drops down to the river.

“Brace yourself, big guy.” I put my foot down hard, the engine coughed, and we sped up only to slow down for a sharp turn.

And so it went, turn after turn with the Dodge bearing down on our tailgate like an eight-cylinder cat playing with a four-cylinder mouse. I had a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, sweat running down my back and my jaw was tighter than a double-knotted shoelace. I had driven through the valley many times and knew my way around, but the McFee's had the “home advantage”.

I felt a hard jolt from the right rear of my truck. Solow yipped.

In slow motion, we spun to the left on two wheels, across the other lane and instantly turned a closed garage door into a million toothpicks. The one-car garage, perched high above the river beside a rustic cabin, stood about five yards from the highway. The little house was typical of many in the area, probably built in the thirties or forties when building codes were lenient or nonexistent.

Thankfully, we stopped before my pickup could break through the back wall of the garage and drop eighty feet down to the river. I heard Solow whine and didn't blame him. I felt like a good cry myself.

Shaking like crazy, I cautiously opened the door and climbed out. Once I had my balance, I stumbled down a dark path to the cabin. The porch light blinked on and the front door opened. A very distraught elderly couple dressed in pajamas looked at me as if the Martians had landed.

I stepped into the light and apologized profusely. Feeling wobbly, I wrapped my arm around a porch pillar. I always hated it when females fainted in the old movies, and I never wanted to be a fainter. But there I was, feeling numb and shaking like a maple leaf. Next thing I knew, I was laying on a couch too short for my body. My feet were up on the armrest. Pieces of peanut butter sandwich clung to the toe of my right sandal. “So that's where Theda's sandwich went,” I mumbled.

The plump little old lady patted the goose egg on my forehead with a wet cloth. “I'm so sorry I ruined your garage door. I'm sure my insurance will pay for a new one.” I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. A huge caribou head hung on the wall behind the couch. Its yellow marble eyes glared down at me accusingly.

“Relax, dear,” the frizzy-haired woman said. “You've had a terrible shock.”

The elderly man stomped into the house with his pajamas in a twist and announced that his collection of stuffed animals was a complete loss. It seemed odd to me that he wasn't nearly as concerned about his garage door as he was about some silly stuffed animals.

“I'd be happy to buy you some new ones,” I said, feeling horribly guilty. The little lady looked like she was ready to split a gut. “Honey, you can't buy them. You have to kill the mangy animals and then they're stuffed and ready to spend thirty years in the garage, or until a nice accident takes them out.” She couldn't hold back any longer and let loose with uncontrollable laughter, slapping her knees and wiping her eyes. Her husband stomped out of the house.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Author Joyce Oroz Interview

Jennifer Chase: Welcome Joyce. Please tell us a little bit about your background.

Joyce Oroz: At the tender age of twelve, I was painting in oils and writing poems while normal children socialized with each other. I was a female nerd full of pre-teen feelings of inferiority. A bazillion years later, after raising a family, working at my commercial art/mural business and taking creative writing classes on the side, I finally wrote and illustrated my first children’s book. And then I wrote twenty-six more stories, but my dream was to write a novel. After watching my husband write a book, I decided to give it my best shot. Now that I’m practically ready for the rocking chair, I am busier than ever, writing “mystery novels”, but also enjoying country life in Aromas with my husband and golden lab.

Jennifer Chase: What inspired you to write a mystery?

Joyce Oroz: Going back to twelve years old, I loved reading Nancy Drew Mysteries and read every one the library had. The Nancy Drew seed was planted, but the seed didn’t sprout until I read my first Janet Evanovich mystery five years ago. I tried to write like Janet, but only she can pull it off. Only she can blow up Stephanie’s vehicles every other day and make it seem normal. But she had set me to writing, and because I love to read mysteries, I decided to write one of my own.

Jennifer Chase: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Joyce Oroz: For me, the middle of the book is always the most difficult to write. I generally know how the story begins and how it ends, but there are a couple hundred pages in the middle I know nothing about. I try to let the story pull me along and take me to surprising places. If I relax and shake-off my writer’s block, the story will usually go where it needs to go.

Jennifer Chase: How long did it take you to write and what’s your writing schedule?

Joyce Oroz: One day I had an epiphany. If I could write one page a day, in one year I would have a complete novel. "Secure the Ranch" was born nine months after that idea was conceived. But the rewrites lasted two years! I average two hours of writing, six days a week, forever and ever. I look forward to it, even though it’s sometimes frustrating. But when a workable idea makes it way into my brain, it’s all worth it.

Jennifer Chase: Who are some of your favorite writers and why?

Joyce Oroz: Colleen McCullough was a favorite author (The Thorn Birds). I loved “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Nowadays, I read a mix of material by J.A. Jance, Jennifer Chase, Janet Evonavich, John Grisham and many others. The hard part is finding time to read, write and live a busy lifestyle, which is why my red pickup truck (still wearing an American flag on the rear window) speeds down the road for twenty minutes to Jasmine’s yoga class where I am able to relax and then speed home.

Jennifer Chase: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Joyce Oroz: I hope you enjoy my first effort. The effort was to make you laugh and maybe raise some hairs on the back of your neck. It was to entertain you and take you away from ordinary life. If those things didn’t happen, try my next book coming out at the end of 2010, and enjoy the ride.

Jennifer Chase: Last but not least, I love asking this question. If you were stranded on a deserted island, and were allowed to bring only 3 things, what would they be?

Joyce Oroz: Since I don’t have time to be stranded on a deserted island, I would take a map, a bicycle pump and an inflatable yacht.

Jennifer Chase: Thank you so much Joyce. I look forward to your next book.

To view orginal author interview, go to:

Available in Paperback and Kindle

Secure the Ranch - A Josephine Stuart Mystery

Josephine Stuart, a fifty-year-old widow, is blessed and cursed with an overactive curiosity, a strong sense of right and wrong and a willingness to put herself on the line for her friends. Josephine has been hired to paint murals in the secluded Munger mansion, located at the top of a wooded mountain. Certain local reprobates have their reasons for wanting the Mungers to leave. Accidents, fires and the death of a forest ranger have everyone on edge. Josephine's curiosity drives her down the mountain, into the world of illegal activities and nefarious characters. Her situation becomes dire - no way to escape. One captor has a knife, the other has a rifle. Can she save herself and her friends?