Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grace and Giselle--Artist's of the Month.......Joyce Oroz

 A special pre-Christmas celebration

Grace Laurin and Giselle Rocha are sharing Dragonfly Gallery’s “Artist of the Month” title for December. Grace is ten-years-old, loves to draw horses and make earrings and necklaces. Giselle is twelve-years-old, loves to draw, paint and write. Grace has created lovely pieces of jewelry and Giselle has created an 85,000-word novel and designed and created the book cover. These two sweet girls, bubbling over with talent, will be meeting and greeting folks at the Dragonfly Gallery, 380 Blohm, Aromas, Saturday, December 14th from 2:00 to 4:00pm. Dark Sky, a novel by author Giselle Rocha will be for sale.
Grace’s necklaces and earrings will make wonderful Christmas gifts.
Giselle Rocha wrote A Dark Sky in response to a challenge from her seventh-grade English teacher. It was a fun, silly adventure riddled with errors and corny jokes until the project turned into something more serious—her first novel. Giselle lives with her parents, sister, and kitty in Salinas, CA.

Dark Sky
A LEGEND—once thought of as nothing but an old fairy tale—is about to come true. On the 500th anniversary of King Taizkehwa’s fall, the tyrant shall break out of his stony prison to take back his kingdom—and his queen—once and for all. Desperate to escape the clutches of her former husband, Queen Genevieve seeks out the kingdom’s only hope: six young people who hold the power of the purest magic in their hands. Kristen, the only one of the six to be found, suddenly finds herself thrown into a fantastical dream and nightmare of war, magic, pegasi, dragons, betrayals, secrets, and newfound love.

Grace Laurin loves nature, and has saved many a lizard, beetle, bug, from death. She draws horses and dragons and works in her “fairy garden.” When Grace turned one-year-old she made it clear to her parents that she loved horses. She happily takes riding lessons, mucks out the stalls, and mentors younger riders.

Don’t forget to come and meet the girls Saturday, December 14th and see all the new and wonderful items at the Dragonfly Gallery, 380 Blohm Ave., Aromas. 2:00 to 4:00 pm with refreshments. See you there!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do You Know This Man? Joyce Oroz

Does anyone know who wrote this snippet of life after 40? Please give me your best guess.     

I turned sixty-nine-years-old today. I’m waiting in my car at Monterey Bay Junior College to take the CBEST test which starts at 9 am. The test should take four hours. Sitting in my car at eight-thirty looking at young students/prospective teachers walking to the test location. I feel slightly foolish sitting here, retired with grey beard, taking a test so I can teach at a Community Adult School. Need to have my head examined—how can I pass a test when I haven’t taken one in over thirty-five years and I’m getting senile. It’s hard to remember my daughter’s names so I call them one, two, three and four in order of birth. Well, at least I can remember numbers. It’s time for the test.

      It’s cold walking to the test site. There must be hundreds of students out here. I saw several old geezers, but none as old as I. More waiting. The tan colored desk/chair combo is too small for my large stomach which is bulging slightly over the desk. Unfortunately, I’m in the front row. We were assigned seats by number and all these slim young people must be enjoying my stationary position: I can’t turn my body; it’s hard to breath with the desk cutting into my belly; and I feel out of place and old. The tall girl next to me turned her entire body in the chair, probably to make me feel bad.
      Christ, if we wait any longer, I’m going to have to go pee again—it’s hell being an old veteran with an enlarged prostate in a classroom with teenyboppers. Papers were distributed for completion. I was bored and anxious so I did it wrong. The instructions were to complete some lines, then pull the stick-um paper apart and paste to another form. I stuck the paper to the wrong form, then tore it trying to unstick it. It was humiliating! I felt like I did when I was ten-years-old in class and peed in my pants because the teacher said we couldn't go to the bathroom until we finished our paper.
      Finally, we took the three-part test and when I finished, I went home to sulk and berate myself for trying to compete with young people.
      Five weeks later I got my score. I passed all three sections. I guess I hadn’t lost all my brain cells due to age and my misspent youth drinking alcohol and wenching in the service. Oh well, we must serve bravely when called.

 Maybe Gina knows his name......

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Rose Named Joyce Oroz

Like many people I have a garden full of plants, many given to me by friends and relatives. Some of the givers have passed on, but the plants remain. The flowers remind me of people I will forever remember and miss. It’s a happy remembrance, as I look into radiant new petals, pistons, thorns and such, remembering how close we were.

Almost fifty years ago my favorite great aunt, a VERY special lady named Violet, gave me a rose bush. It was a “Sutter’s Gold” tree rose. Its buds were yellow, but as they opened the color turned gold, then orange and then redder as it matured, ending with pink just before the petals fell. The extreme beauty of Sutter’s Gold is second only to its fragrance—one of the best smelling roses I have ever run across.
From the beginning I had a fear of losing this special rose. What if I didn’t water it enough or feed it correctly? To ease my fear, I planted cuttings from the bush and raised the baby bushes with care. Over the years I moved from one town to another to another, but everywhere I went I replanted my Sutter’s Gold and started new little baby golds. That is, until my last move eight years ago when the grand old lady did not survive the move. She had been dug up too many times.

My Aunt Violet had passed away and then, sadly, my link to her was gone.
One day my friend, Marlene, and I were Christmas shopping in Morgan Hill. She asked me where I used to live, so I drove her over to the house we had lived in. Two six-foot Sutter’s Gold rose bushes stood proudly near the front door. Even though it was late fall, end of rose season, one rose remained on a bush I had raised from a cutting many years ago. My first thought was, Violet. The second was, how can I get a clipping?
This story probably has a happy ending. The owner of the house happened to be in the front yard. I told him I used to live there and painted all the murals in the house—five out of the seven murals are still there. I asked for two clippings. He gladly brought out the clippers and I went home with my two clippings wrapped in wet paper towels, and from there they went into water for the night. The next day I dipped them in Tomi’s enzyme powder and pushed them into wet earth.

Stay tuned to see if these little babies grow into beautiful Sutter’s Gold rose bushes named Violet.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Barbara Jean Joyce Oroz

Today I am happy to introduce a spunky couple of writers, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, who share the pen name, Barbara Jean Coast. They have co-authored  STRANGLED BY SILK, a retro-cozy mystery published by Cozy Cat Press. It is the first novel in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series, set in fictional Santa Lucia, Ca (eerily similar to Santa Barbara) circa 1950's/60's. Now I will share the visit I had with these interesting authors. They have kindly taken turns answering my questions.

 Was there someone, something or an event in your life that set you on the road to being an author?

HS:  I've always been a reader and love pretty much every genre.  Cozies have a special appeal to me with their sense of place, rich characters and details.  I have always sewn, from the age of seven (first garment was a yellow tube top for Barbie) and carried on to become a professional seamstress with my own design shop.  My part in the Poppy Cove series came to me from the idea of telling the story about a dress shop and its people.

AT:  I remember always making up stories, usually as plays and mysteries.  As soon as I could pick up a pencil, I wrote stories, poems, dialogues.  I read the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and played at being a sleuth myself.  It was only natural to want to develop characters and stories I could return to time and again.  That's where I find that writing a Cozy is really ideal for me.

What do you like about writing and what bugs you about it?

HS:  I love telling the stories, painting the pictures of words and characters through descriptions and being able to create a visual presence with words.  What I don' like is when the words don't come, or when the mundane elements of real life take over the time that I would like to spend writing!

AT:  I love the research, character development, plotting and then getting into a flow with story.  What I don't like is when I feel I've lost the plot and the ideas aren't coming.  Also when I am on a roll and other parts of my life have to be seen to.

How long have you been writing books and what other writing do you do?

HS:  We've been writing this series, shaping the ideas, developing and plotting the stories out for ten years!  We came across a piece of paper on June 14th of this year at the bottom of this wooden crate that we had been using that was dated June 16th, 2003.  It was all about the main series plots and ideas.  It was amazing to see it come to fruition.  During that time, in the beginning, we had set it aside for a year or two, just casually talking about it & then we decided to see it through.  Then we stuck in, finished writing, re-writing, put it aside a bit, then went back to it and went through the process of submissions to get published, with the usual hopes upped, dashed, persevering and then happily published. 

AT:  In addition to working with Heather on our Poppy Cove Mystery Series, I have been writing my own blog about creativity and a poetry blog for just over a year.  I have also written many articles about fashion, childcare and current events.  I am working on a project that is set in the 1800's that is not a mystery set in Chicago and Istanbul.  I have many more ideas and time periods I'd like to write stories about.  I love creating worlds.

Tell us about your protagonist. Is she a lot like you? What are her assets and weaknesses?

HS:  Our two protagonists -- Margot Williams and Daphne Huntington-Smythe, maybe reflect the qualities we'd like to possess.  Margot's more introspective and contemplative with a secretive, private and slightly mysterious side to her background, whereas Daphne is more flirtatious, free-spirited and an open book.  We'll develop more about them as the series moves on about their pasts and futures -- we have details about those girls!  I guess I'm more like Margot and Andrea's more like Daphne.

AT:  I really enjoy our characters and feel that my own sense of fun has come out more since we've been playing with these two girls and our Barbara Jean alter ego as well.  My carefree nature takes over at times and when that happens, I write better.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? 

HS:  When I'm not writing, I'm reading, studying art courses (worked through history, modern and now on contemporary), love sewing and working on my sketching skills.  I also love to cook and eat (!), traveling, walking, yoga and meditation to balance out my busy days.

AT:  When I'm not writing, I enjoy reading poetry, fiction, non-fiction, anything I can get my hands on.  I am actively involved in the Goodreads community and Pinterest. I love baking, cooking and traveling.  I also study courses of interest such as history and English literature.  To fill my well of inspiration in life walking, running, yoga and meditation help.  I also enjoy listening to music such as opera, pop, jazz and classical.  The cello is my favorite instrument to listen to.  Two of my favorite cellists are Yo-yo Ma and Zoe Keating.

Where can we find your book---and anything else you would like to tell us about--such as a website or blog.

HS and AT:  You can find STRANGLED BY SILK on Amazon and Kindle: , as well as Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Chapters, and Indiebound to name few, in both paper and e-book formats.  We have a blog: , tweet: , and Pinterest: .  A website is in the works, but finishing the second book in the series is more of a priority at the moment.  You're all welcome to drop by Facebook anytime and "friend" Barbara Jean Coast and "like" Poppy Cove Mysteries.

Toodles, from Barbara Jean aka Andrea & Heather

Thank you, Andrea and Heather for giving us a look into your busy lives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Free Beetles Joyce Oroz

Writers write books so that they can sell books, at least that’s the obvious conclusion most people draw. Actually, I write books to entertain people, make them laugh and lift them up out of the daily routine. Murder is up-lifting? Depends on how you look at it. I like to concentrate on good verses evil as Josephine puts miles on her truck and
annoys her suspects until they cry “uncle” and fess-up.

Tomorrow I am trying something different, not dangerous or dopey, just different. Amazon Kindle will be giving away my newest book, Beetles in the Boxcar. I had fun writing this one. Four different love stories blossom as murder and chaos are happening all around Josephine and her Aunt Clara.

Solow hopes you will take advantage of this special “free book”offer between Wednesday, November 13th and Sunday, November 17th, read the book and get hooked on the Josephine Stuart Mystery series. Nothing bad will happen to you if you start with the last book first and the first book last. But if you really are a "first to last" kind of person--you need to start with Secure the Ranch and work your way up to Beetles in the Boxcar

Chapter Three
I slept soundly for a couple hours Sunday morning after a night of tossing and turning. Feeling a lick on my cheek and whiskers tickling my chin, my eyes reluctantly opened. I looked into Solow’s droopy and permanently bloodshot peepers.
He whined impatiently.
“Need to go out?” I pulled on my robe, stepped into slippers and trudged down the hall to the kitchen. As I let Solow out the back door, I heard the rustle of paper.
Clara sat at the kitchen table flipping through the phone book, her reading glasses perched on the lower half of her nose. She looked up and smiled.
“Morning, Auntie. What are you doing?”
“I’m working on a bus schedule and I just finished looking up the Gianelli boys and their addresses. I pondered Joey’s death all night and came up with one idea … murder. It’s the only explanation. I sort of finished off your ice cream while I pondered.”
We were a lot alike, my aunt and I, including the extra fifteen pounds we each carried around. Thankfully my pounds were twenty-five years younger and firmer than hers.

“I understand, Aunt Clara. I came to the same conclusion. Very unsettling, but ice cream always helps to sooth my nerves. What flavor of ice cream would you like me to buy?”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Author Stephen Joyce Oroz

STEPHEN KAMINSKI is my subject for today. He is the author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press. The first two cozy mysteries in the series are "It Takes Two to Strangle" (2012) and "Don't Cry Over Killed Milk" (2013). Stephen is the winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region. He's a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, has practiced law for over a decade, and currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. Stephen is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.
Stephen, you are obviously well-educated and prepared to write. Was there someone, something or an event in your life that set you on the road to being an author?

The most significant impetus for me becoming an author was lazy summer days in Michigan during my youth. I grew up in a rural area and spent countless hours reading – everything from the British spy novels of Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer to mysteries by Agatha Christie and Lawrence Block. I’ve always read between twenty to fifty books a year.  The love of reading set me on a path to becoming an author.

What do you like about writing and what bugs you about it?

I love the escape -- as an author, my characters can live lives filled with excitement and intrigue and they can say things that I’d never have the nerve to say in public.  For two hours a night, I can bring my imagination to life.  What bugs me? Marketing – it takes a lot of work and isn’t my favorite thing to do.

How long have you been writing books and what other writing do you do?

I’ve been writing books for two and a half years.  The only other writing I do is legal in nature (for my position as General Counsel to a national nonprofit organization).

Please tell us about your protagonist. Is he a lot like you? What are his assets and weaknesses?

Damon Lassard is a thirty-one year old ex-Japanese league baseball player who has moved back to the States to be near his widowed mother in the cozy community of Hollydale, Virginia just west of Washington, D.C. Due in large part to a lucrative advertising campaign for a Japanese chewing gum company, Damon spends his days as a volunteer – at the local branch library, as the Hollydale citizens association president, and in the most recent book, with a community crime solvers group. He’s single and involved in a bit of a love snarl with his best friend Rebecca and the breathtaking local weather girl Bethany. His greatest asset is also his greatest weakness – he can’t help getting involved with murder suspects. Of course, this trait helps him solve crimes as an amateur, but it also gets him in trouble with the authorities.

Stephen, what do you like to do when you are not writing?

I enjoy traveling, playing soccer and tennis, and spending time with my wife and seven year-old daughter.

Where can we find your books---and anything else you would like to say--such as a website.

Here are the best links to find my books and a link to my “Damon Lassard” website:

 Here is a typical review of Stephen's "Don't Cry Over Killed Milk"

".... intelligent, powerful, gritty mystery with brilliant prose and an eye for vivid detail. Stephen Kaminski is a murder mystery extraordinaire."

Thank you, Stephen for giving us an inside view of your world. Happy writing!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beetles in the Joyce Oroz

Yippee-yahoo!! My newest mystery novel, 
Beetles in the Boxcar, is available on Kindle.

Beetles is more than a murder mystery, it’s an adventure and a love story. Unfortunately, Cozy Cat Press was unable to publish this book in paperback form because it is over 96,000 words--my fault for having too much to say. This newest bombastic exercise in creative writing is as much about Josephine's Aunt Clara as it is about my favorite sleuth and her dog, Solow. Together, they manage to get into twice as much trouble. 

I am currently working on a new book in the Josephine Stuart Mystery Series and hope to finish it in a few months. I’m 104 pages into it and having a ball. Like Beetles, it has a lot of action.

The Beetles in the Boxcar project was extra fun for me because I painted the picture for the cover. 

Tomi Edmiston not only edited my book, but she finished the cover with the appropriate lettering.

I hope you will enjoy Beetles in the Boxcar, get hooked on the series and go on to read my first four books, Secure the Ranch, Read My Lipstick, Shaking In Her Flip Flops and Cuckoo Clock Caper. Happy reading everyone!!

The handsome fellow on the left is Solow, an important nose--I mean character in every Josephine Stuart mystery.