Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another Chadwick Hit......by Joyce Oroz

Little Mermaid the Aqua Terrestrial by Janinne Chadwick An original rock musical at the Little People’s Repertory Theater in Ben Lomond, California.

Sunday Matinee was a hoot. For the fifth year in a row I suffered through sore ribs and sore throat from laughing too much. Never mind the tears running down my pant leg. Janinne writes a new cleverly original play each year for players eight to fourteen years old. Ever try to herd seventy something children into doing a fabulous musical with 26 songs in it? For the people putting together the wonderful plays—it’s child’s play—so to speak. They are professional and so is the production with fabulous sets, costumes and lighting by Avery Laurin. Had to throw that in—did I tell you that six of my family members are heavily involved in the play? Myles plays President Neptune and Grace is an anchovy.

The story includes several Beach Boys songs, takes place at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk—above and below the water. If you are over forty you will catch the jokes and laugh till you hurt. The words to the songs have been changed to fit a story-line that is off-the-charts wild and funny. The story includes landlubbers, surfers, sea creatures such as anchovies, sharks and mermaids. Oh, and the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Men in Black and the Paparazi. If you plan to go—get ready for some good giggles! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Heather's Artifactorie.....Joyce Oroz

Today I want you to meet Heather Shannon, a local artist and member of the Aromas Hills Artisans. She is a person who must create to live and she inspires others to be creative. Actually, she takes expression to a new level, a company called Artifactorie-- imagined, inspired and brought to life by Heather Shannon. She has pulled together a kaleidoscope of local artwork and nature inspired creations. There's always something new at the Artifactorie! 

Here is Heather: Natural Sustainable Magical. Imagine a showplace of sustainable gifts and unique artwork, handmade by local artists, in an enchanting store ... the Artifactorie.

This place is different! There are glistening crystals in every color, geological wonders that will energize you, strengthen and protect you. There are dream pillows that sweeten your dreams, sparkling terrariums and even tiny gardens, planted in heirloom silver and driftwood, beautiful reminders from the natural world.
There are colorfully woven sashes, felted garments that are botanically printed with the natural dyes from tree leaves, and up-cycled bags made from sustainable materials. You'll see mobiles of driftwood and gemstone beads dancing in the breeze, organic cotton tees with beautiful original designs and whimsical stained glass, sparkling in the sun.
Along with all the beautiful, natural gifts, we'll have fun,
educational materials about the local flora, fauna and geology, maps to the best hikes around and tips on how to be mindful in nature.
Through our art we tell a story. Through our story a thread of sustainability is woven. We will share our love and passion for art through talks, demonstrations and workshops. We will share our love for our environment and our ideas for a more sustainable future.
Through my connections with local artists whom I've come to know personally, I have collected an enchanting inventory for the Artifactorie.
Each featured artist will have their artwork on display for two months, will have a presence on the Artifactorie website with links to their personal sites. Artists will be heavily promoted through local print, radio and social media.

A featured artist will be at the Artifactorie to meet and greet the public in person where a larger body of their work will be displayed on the third Saturday of the month. We'll have a Q&A with artists and just maybe they'll reveal a secret to their process.
By cycling through an array of artists and mediums, there will always be something new to discover at the Artifactorie. If you find an artist who's work you admire, you can keep track of them through the Artifactorie website.
There's always a story to be heard, a warm smile and a sense of real community at the Artifactorie. Come and see!
By supporting local artists and businesses, we help keep our local economy strong. Through supporting one another, we are truly blessed.

With my unique background in retail, interior and graphic design, I have developed an idea that is perfect for my career and life skills.
Carmel is one of the most visited, affluent and most charming little cities in the world. It is well known for its galleries featuring world renowned artists, natural beauty and story book cottages. The Artifactorie is much more than a store. It is a wonderful community of creative individuals where art and nature are celebrated and revered.
I have confidence in my abilities and that of Team Artifactorie to overcome any challenges. Thank you Team Artifactorie -- Kazia Pennino, Candice Covello, Edmund Moody, Marilou Moschetti, Linda Bjornson, Bridget Geist, Trudy Harrington Karl, Sarah Moody, Annie MacHale and Rachel Moody! You're the best support a girl could ask for!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meet Author Diane Weiner........Joyce Oroz

Today I am happy to introduce Diane Weiner, author of two cozy mystery novels--and more to come. Murder is Elementary is followed by Murder is Secondary, naturally. Diane is a very capable, wonderful writer and I predict that she has a great future in the mystery business. Here is a typical review of her first book.

"This book was a quick read- not only because the plot moves along at a good pace but because I literally couldn't stop reading! It was suspenseful and well-written. The characters were easy to relate to and the author did a good job of keeping the reader guessing. Awesome ending- not what I expected at all. I definitely recommend this one!"

Now, here is Diane in her own words:

My “writing career” basically started as a mid-life crisis. What was still left to do? In my 20’s I got married and started a family. In my 30’s, I got a Master’s Degree. In my forties, I took up marathon running and got a doctorate. When fifty hit…. I thought I’d try writing a book. I figure that getting older isn’t so bad if you can add accomplishments as you add the years! I will forever be grateful that Patricia Rockwell took me on as a Cozy Cat writer and made my dream of becoming an author come to fruition.

I have always loved reading mysteries. As a child growing up in upstate New York, I spent many snowy winter days and sticky summer days escaping into the pages of Nancy Drew, and later, Mary Higgins Clark. When I was very young, I remember carrying around a notebook and writing poems. In high school, I was recognized by the National Council of English Teachers for an essay I wrote. Now I stick to writing cozies. I have published a few music education articles, and a dissertation. After writing a dissertation, fiction writing is pure joy.

The idea for my first novel, Murder is Elementary, started as an image in my head of a cupcake on top of a principal’s desk. Last summer, I attended Mystery Writers’ University, a one day series of workshops sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, and started writing during one of the sessions. Jess Lowry, a wonderful author/teacher from Minnesota, led one of the workshops and presented a step by step method of getting started on our books. Being a teacher, I had two months of free time ahead of me so I decided to write my cozy. I wrote for five or six hours every day and still do that during the summer and vacations. When I am writing, the time flies by. During the school year, I write most evenings after dinner, stopping in time to watch Jeopardy with my husband.

I live in South Florida because that is where my husband and I were both able to find jobs. We moved here in 1988. Shortly after moving here, my husband was offered a job playing with the Mexico City Philharmonic, so we packed up and lived abroad for five years. I had the best job of my career working as a music teacher at the American School in Mexico City; however, there’s no place like home. It’s the little things you miss – having the paper delivered every day, Lean Cuisines, browsing the aisles of Target…

When I’m not writing or working, I enjoy running, shopping with my sixteen year old daughter on Sunday afternoons and stopping at Dairy Queen afterwards, attending theater productions, and spending time with my husband and four children. I love animals, and have a little white dog as well as two cats. I’m not crazy about birds though. I have an ongoing feud with a mockingbird who has decided to make a nest along my favorite running route. My youngest daughter and I are both vegetarians. My oldest daughter got married last year. Like my sleuth, Susan Wiles, I am really looking forward to being a Grandma someday! My books can be purchased in paperback or from Kindle on amazon.com. They are also available through the Cozy Cat Website, and dianeweinerauthor.com. I’ve just started writing book number three, and have plans for several more in the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery series.

Good luck with your series, Diane. On second thought, I doubt you will need luck with all that talent and drive. Thank you for sharing your work and your life with us. Happy writing!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Birthday Banter......by Joyce Oroz

We all have them until we die.
We complain about having them until we die.
We celebrate them until we die.

Why do we worry over birthdays?
I think it's because we don't know how many are left in the birthday vault of the birthday bank. Especially the ones with a big zero at the end. Ouch!
So far my birthday week has been a hoot, lunch at the Grill with the girls, lunch with husband at a fine restaurant, roses, and looking forward to tomorrow's lunch with the kids, not to mention some wonderful telephone calls. How did the tele-marketers know it was my birthday?

I decided a week full of special lunches is a lot for the waistline to handle so I set up a yoga exercise class for the main munchers. Yes I did fall off the porch, but it did not affect my pose. No I was not tipsy, but when I got up and brushed myself off, I wished I was. But it only hurts when I sit down, which will complicate tomorrow's birthday lunch. Who invented birthdays anyway?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Author Helen Grochmal......Joyce Oroz


   I'm back at my blog for an interview with author Helen Grochmal who writes the Carolina Pennsbury Mystery series. I asked her the usual questions, but her wonderful answers melded into one beautiful piece, so I left the questions out.
   I am so impressed with Helen's writing. She is a "late Bloomer" like many of us. It's never too late to be really good! Here she is in her own words: 

I never liked writing anything for 60 years. I enjoyed doing my yearly taxes more.  However, I churned out the required departmental reports for 25 years in boring “educational speak” and even wrote journal articles for library periodicals.  Then I went through a life altering experience of the most unpleasant kind that was the equivalent of a journey through the underworld.  Unlike Odysseus, who had more fun, I woke up one day after two years with a desire to write.  Yes, it was just like that.  Was it worth it?  I presume you are clamoring to know but are just too polite to ask.  The answer is no, I would prefer to have skipped the experience and stayed in my very nice condo where I watched TV and scrubbed the bathrooms in peace.  I write cozies because I am a little old lady who took that old advice about writing what you know. And I love Agatha Christie.
     I have been writing now for five years since I moved to my first retirement home with my cat.  It came upon me with inspiration, almost like channeling or what I suppose that to be.  Of course it is a craft too that I had to learn, I mean writing fiction.  I am still learning and hope I am a quick study since I don’t have 50 years to perfect my art.  (Why is everyone encouraging only young people to write?  It seems like we senior people who start writing need as much help as quickly as we can get it.)  Cozy Cat was there when I needed encouragement.  I have a new and better mystery novel ready to be published but have to write about another 20,000 words to finish it, difficult in these times of my terseness.  This last year I have been trying to learn new forms and genres.  My eyes are still stuck wide open at what has changed since last I looked, around 1973 I guess.  Steampunk and slipstream and such.  I have been writing flash fiction and horror stories and comic stories and other different short forms to improve my overall writing.  I am shocked at my horror stories, which I think are my best.  How embarrassing.
    I take the Fifth on whether I am like my protagonist.  I am a mixture of several of my characters but want to be like Carolina Pennsbury the most.  I met librarians like her in the old days who would tell me about going about on tramp steamers with other women teachers because teaching didn’t pay for luxury trips and they had the summers off and wanted to travel around the world.  I guess that was between the wars (I and II).
   My style is mainstream.  I try to push boundaries sometimes in my experimental ventures but always end up understanding everything I write no matter how hard I try not to.  I write as the spirit moves me, but writing has deserted me lately and I am frantic about it.  I feel somewhat like the main character in “Flowers for Algernon” or the movie Charly.  Our new gifts might vanish as quickly as they came.   I used to relish how easy inspiration came and now I am paying for it.  I think it is being lost in the short story slush piles that have done me in.  Do you all remember how wonderful it was when the act of transcribing your thoughts couldn’t keep up with the wonderful things you were trying to take down?  When I can’t write, my typical day consists of watching TV and taking out the garbage. I have a balance disorder that keeps me close to home.  My neighbors are kind people and are hoping that I make good.
     I live in an independent living community with assisted care nearby.  I chose it because my place is a little cottage a bit like Miss Marple’s, I like to think.  I would rather be in St. Mary Mead though.  I don’t talk about the most exciting thing that ever happened to me, although I plan to write about it someday under a pseudonym.
    Hobbies:  I watch TV about as much as Peter Sellers did in that famous movie Being There.  Of course, I am surrounded here by all of the characters I have read in literature and have seen in movies.  Don’t worry, I know they are only in my mind.
     So far my work has been published by Cozy Cat Press (fine people there, by the way) and a short piece in With Painted Words.  I have about 22 short stories out but they keep sending them back like bad children, or I never hear from the magazines at all.  Learning how to use computer programs and such is harder for me than writing fiction but I am willing to learn if it is not too hard. My friends here consider me a computer expert, isn’t that nice of them?  Blogging might be fun, although it sounds like it is very improper.  I never do anything improper.   

Thank you, Helen for sharing so much of your life with us. You do it so well that I feel like I just spent the afternoon with you, sipping tea and sharing stories. Here is Helen’s first book, Manners and Murder, available at Amazon.

Retired librarian Carolina Pennsbury is quite content living in a retirement home. She just wishes that her meal time tablemates felt as she did. However, all seem to have their own complaints. But those complaints are put on the back burner when one of the retirement home’s residents is stabbed to death in her apartment and the police arrest one of Carolina’s tablemates, Margie, for the murder. Carolina, knowing her friend cannot possibly have committed such a deed, sets about to prove Margie’s innocence––a difficult feat for an elderly woman with a cane. Knowing the real killer is probably still roaming the halls, Carolina uses her wits and her wit to investigate, and ultimately––after a fake fire alarm and a lengthy blackout––manages to ferret out the killer. But clearing Margie and getting her out of jail is not the end of Carolina’s tasks. She has work to do for all of her tablemates and she won’t quit until they are all happy.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Paola Berthoin.......Joyce Oroz

Today we are celebrating the birth of the greatest nation on earth.
Painter Paola Berthoin came to this country from England in 1965. She has accomplished a great deal since then. 

Painter Paola Berthoin
at Arts in Progress
Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center
5 Customs House Plaza, Monterey
Tuesday, July 22, 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.
$5 Admission Fee
2 hours free parking at Fisherman's
Wharf lot with local ID

Arts Habitat will present
painter Paola Berthoin,
at Arts in Progress (AIP)
 on Tuesday, July 22, for a
presentation entitled
Watershed Arts in Action: 
 What does it mean to 
cultivate a Bioregional 

AIP takes place the
fourth Tuesday of
each month from
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The event takes place at the auditorium of the
Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, 5 Customs House Plaza,
 Monterey. AIP is open to the public, the admission fee is $5 and
 to socializing and community building. The program runs about
an hour, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Paola will share her evolution and work as a Watershed Artist. In addition, John Dotson, Rosemary Luke, 
Pam Krone-Davis and Laura Bayless, authors and participants 
in the Passion for Place book project, will share how their creative 
endeavors connect them to the natural world, and how they carry 
those connections into their daily lives.

Finch Creek
Paola Berthoin was
born in London,
England, and came
to Carmel Valley in
 1965 with her mother
and three sisters.
She is a graduate
of Carmel High School
 and California College
of the Arts where she
specialized in
printmaking, handmade
 paper and animal drawing.

Paola's deep commitment to living in the Carmel Valley over the past forty-nine years and tending the land she has lived on for forty years has infused her 
 visionary ways of interpreting the land through painting, writing, 
and advocacy for all watersheds of the Earth. From being a pastry 
chef and owning and running a restaurant with her mother when 
 Paola was twenty-four years old to establishing the organization, 
RisingLeaf Watershed Arts in 2001, completing Passion for Place: 
Community Reflections on the Carmel River Watershed in 2012 
and organizing community arts events focused on the Carmel River 
Watershed, many seeds of ecological awareness through the 
arts have been and continue to be planted locally and globally.
View from Poison Oak Hill-Hastings Reserve

Arts in Progress is held at:
The Auditorium of Museum of Monterey - Stanton Center
5 Customs House Plaza, Monterey
2 hours free parking at Fisherman's Wharf with ID listing a zip code starting 
with 939. Enter from Washington Street. Additional free parking after 6 p.m. 
in the Calle Principal garage located on Calle Principal between Franklin and 
Jefferson Streets.
You may join us online for a live stream in our Linqto room:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mystery Almost Solved........by Joyce Oroz

    My friends, I dove into my 6th book not knowing anything about it and now it is almost finished. Two more chapters to write. Never mind that it's been two years in the making. It's very exciting to me each time I finish a book and I want to share the excitement with you: 

Disaster struck Wednesday, my second day on the job at Ralph’s Roller Rink located on the east side of Santa Cruz, California. A hit-and-run-driver, most likely over eighty, hit the gas instead of the brake according to police. The Sentinel reported that a car slammed through exterior walls and an inner office. Employee, Mario Portello died at his desk. The car finally came to a stop against a sixty-year-old steel stall in the lady’s restroom. Still in a geriatric daze, the driver found reverse and has not been seen since.
      I was the only witness at the rink, that sunny morning in May. I barely saw the black sedan covered in roller rink residue topped off with a pair of size ten loafers. A well trained chimpanzee could have been driving for all I knew. The windshield acted like a magnet for shredded building materials and powdered wallboard.
      My first thought was, “Is this a movie stunt?” My second thought, “Run!”
      The crashing noises were deafening behind me as I sprinted twenty yards to the back door, still gripping a drippy stir stick in my white-knuckled fist. I looked back in time to see the vehicle disappearing through a massive hole in the wall, back to daylight, sidewalks and unsuspecting pedestrians. I heard the tires squeal and smelled rubber.
   The only standing rooms within the cavernous building were the two restrooms. The office had been flattened.
  My stubborn interrogator, Sergeant Fishburn, had a preconceived idea about how Mr. Portello lost his life. No matter how I described what I had seen, the officer was sure the driver was an out-of-control oldster, a senile senior probably heading for Bonnie’s Bingo Parlor two doors down. Since I did not see the driver I could not describe the driver, consequently I was unable to convince Fishburn that there had been foul play.
  Painting the musical notes and words to the “hokey pokey” across a sixty-foot light blue wall was not my worst-ever mural job, but close to it. My first day, a quiet Tuesday, was spent measuring and calculating on paper. Ralph Rattini, owner of the roller rink, had given me very specific hours. Painting had to end before three o’clock, when school was out and the kids would come charging in. The entire job needed to be finished before the big roller derby event on Memorial Day. That gave us three weeks.
      Just before I slipped out the back door at three o’clock, I glanced across the enormous room, and saw Mr. Portello, short and balding, leave his little office, walk to the main entrance and unlock the doors to let hoards of young skaters in. Two teenage boys were the first to enter. Mario greeted them and pointed to their assigned duties behind the counter.                            

      Wednesday’s work, mixing colors of paint and drawing a pepper tree near the back door, was cut short when the infamous black sedan struck. After that my hands were not steady enough to draw or paint, and thinking was out of the  question.
      Sergeant Fishburn questioned me relentlessly and finally said, “Go home, Ms. Stuart. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” I detected a bit of kindness in his voice. Maybe he felt sorry for me because I shivered every time I recalled details of the shocking ordeal.