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Monday, June 27, 2011

Sherri's Jewel Box cometh

My new on-line magazine Sherri's Jewel Box will be released to the public on July 4th!!! I figured that would be the best way to celebrate my patriotism...just kidding. I really just felt that a holiday weekend is great time to do all the work to make sure my first issue will be outstanding. I am so proud of it and I have been working so hard on it. I hope you all enjoy it.

It will feature the history and stories of classic, vintage and historical jewels. I am hoping that the stories and articles will inspire my readers to collect their own pieces. The sentiment for each piece and the history are what draws me to vintage jewels. The beauty, history and sentiment of the family pieces make them special, its the beauty of it that strikes me. Please come and enjoy my new magazine!

Here I am at the Paws for Troops event, from my little face it looks like I am having a good time, huh? I did, I sold books for charity, ate pizza, bought a nice purse, and met some pretty dogs. The most important thing is that they met their goal for the event. Yeah!!!! And I helped in my own little way, so I feel very good about that. So I would say that this event was a win-win, wouldn't you?

Photograph by Chuck Cason

Please welcome my newest author that has agreed to join us for a short chat about writing; Pamela Sisman Bitterman.

What was the first book you remember loving? Do you still own it?

The first book that I remember falling in love with, and probably the one that I have most often given as a gift in the 50-plus years since it was first read to me, is the quintessential children's book of my generation, The Velveteen Rabbit. I still have my ancient copy, the one my Mom read to me and the same one that I subsequently read to my own children. (I also still have my own "real" stuffed rabbit that I slept with through out my entire childhood.) Both are being saved for future generations... I'm convinced that my compulsion to ultimately pen children's books is due in large part to my own dreamy childhood memories associated with this story.

What kind of books do you like to read? Do those books have an affect on your own writing?

As I have revealed in earlier interviews, books I read absolutely have an affect on my writing.

So much so that my tendency to become completely absorbed in whichever good book I happen to be reading at any given time, precludes
my being able to both write and indulge my voracious reading habit, simultaneously.I love to read. Always have. Books offer a unique opportunity to learn, to think, to explore, to disappear, to re-invent,
to live a thousand different lives. Most writers who dare to spill their guts on paper will likely never know the extent to which they have affected change, or the many lives that they have touched. I like that. Ripples in a pond.

I do believe that we can learn a great deal about how to write well by reading well written books. However, I will also admit that reading badly written books that somehow miraculously made it to publication is what eventually prompted me to try my hand at the craft, arrogantly avowing that "I can definitely do better than that!"

Do you remember what is the first book that touched you deeply?

I so remember the first book that touched me deeply. At the risk of cliche' I have to join the ranks of millions by admitting that it was Catcher In The Rye. That book was the motivation behind my initially embarking upon a career path to help troubled children. Discovering A Separate Piece represented another profound reading event in my life. Hmmm, I am just now realizing something. See what happens when we write? The protagonists, in fact pretty much all the principal characters of both of these books, were young boys. As a tomboy growing up as the antithesis of the debutante/ Betty Crocker crazed peers of my youth, I was desperate for literary role models that were brave, empowered, heroic, introspective, and soulfully embattled. I apparently found precious few young female characters that fit that prototype. But authors? Now that's another story. One had to look no further then Atalass Shrugged's Ayn Rand, or the stunningly talented fifteen year old S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders. Both these books were also among my favorites and both have left an indelible mark. When the characters from a book stick with you, haunt you, become friends whose companionship you yearn for long after the story ends, then the author has done her job masterfully. That is always a goal of my writing.

Is there an era of writing that affects you? 1920,'s, 800's so forth?

The era of writers that most affected me should be fairly self evident by this point in the interview. They were the writers of my youth, the illustrators of my personal experience. Of course, works by Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway, Melville and the like were devoured and beloved. But Ken Kesy, Thomas Wolf, Jack Kerouac and J. D. Salinger became my surrogate best friends. Today, veteran authors like Barbara Kingsolver, and John Le Carre never let me down. And I'm always open to being swept away by new up-and-comers the likes of an Anne Lamont or a Dave Eggers, for instance. We need to believe that there's still great hope for their (our) ilk, right? I just read an interview with the renowned author Ann Patchett. Of the five books that she read in the last year and "wished she was still reading," was one by a (then) virtually unknown author whom she met when they shared a cab to the airport after a writers conference. We're all out there metaphorically waiting for that cab.

Where do you like to write? Is there a favorite nook or corner?

My most disciplined writing takes place in my office, mostly during the early dawn hours. But I write everywhere, on whatever is handy, whenever an idea presents itself. My moleskin is often anything with enough room to scratch out a notion on-a grocery list, gas receipt, stupid flyer stuck under the windshield wiper of my car.

Do you prefer one genre' to another?

Although I primarily write nonfiction, when I read I love losing myself in really good adult fiction. I have the adventures that become the stuff of my nonfiction, and that then becomes the perfect package deal for me. I get to do it, survive it, and then re-live it on paper. However, I am now dabbling in my first adult fiction project (see question #8), and am finding it ridiculously liberating, and so much fun! I have had two non-fictions, one homily and one children's book published so far. Although writing children's books has always appealed to me, as they are an invaluable vehicle by which one can profoundly touch the hearts and minds of impressionable future generations, it is harder then it looks. There is a science to it, with very precise format requirements for age and target audience appropriateness. But once you learn the parameters and integrate these guidelines into the creative process, you have in effect found the keys to the kingdom. I'm afraid I'm not a big fan of science fiction or fantasy. Although the writing for those genres can be beautifully creative and artfully composed, I personally have difficulty suspending logic for the duration of the read. Probably a failing on my part, and ultimately my loss.

Do you like the feel of a book in your hands or do you prefer an electronic device?

I do like the feel of a book. I like to hang onto them, smell them, share them, scribble in their margins, and yes, dog-ear a page. I would hate to see cloth books disappear from tomorrows artistic landscape. But much of my stubborn devotion to hard copies is as sentimentally driven as it is financially and environmentally counter-indicated. Although I admit to being a bit of a neanderthal with the new technology, I suppose I have to also admit that electronic reading devises are probably the way of the future. Two of my most recent manuscripts have been published digitally, so in that respect, I suppose I even hope that to be true. In fact, most new books that I read today, I download to my own kindle.

Nonetheless, the learning curve of my reluctant though "strongly advised" delve into the new computer generated publishing business has as often led me to an awed sense of proud accomplishment, as it has to having to be physically restrained from furiously flinging any one of a number of fancy hand held devices out of my second story window.

Can you tell us about what your working on now?

At present, I am actively working on marketing my published books. Hence this Author Highlight, for which I am very grateful! That being said, the Self-Promoter hat is not the most comfortable fit for me, just as it probably isn't for most writers. It is a necessary evil, all the same. And although I actually enjoy doing these online interviews, there is undeniably that marketing method to my madness.

My works-in-progress are presently an adult fiction, and a second children's book. But my primary work-in-progress is always myself. Consequently, if the next great adventure opportunity suddenly presents itself, I will be off and running! In all likely-hood it will then become the subject of a subsequent nonfiction and quite possibly my next published work as well. I love writing but living big and full for as long and as well as I can still wins out, hands down, as my diversion of choice.

Thank you so much for that wonderful interview, I think we learned a lot about your inner thought process:) If you would like to check out these book trailers for more information, please follow these links; , , .

If you would like to ask questions, offer suggestions or just chat please contact me on twitter at; @rithebard or at my email .

Friday, June 17, 2011

Exciting Events Approaching

So many things are happening right now, I feel like a beautiful rainbow has opened up for me. I have a great event coming up it is a charity called Paws for Troops. The event is called Paws-atively Purr-fect Fund Raiser. It is to help both our veterans and animals heal from the trauma they had been through together. Its a great cause! I am very proud to help out. I donated my books and I will be signing at the event and my Mom donated one of her beautiful needlepoints. So exciting! For more information please check out

My new magazine is coming along very well. It is called The Jewel Box and here is the new logo. What do you think of it? My on-line magazine that celebrates the beauty and sentiment of family jewels. Pieces that you collected from your mother or grandmother. I am also going to focus on hot new pieces of all different types as well as historical pieces. It is a special, personal project of pure love. It will be premiering at the end of the month and I can't wait!!!

I have a new article in Working Writers it is about inspiration. One of my favorite subjects that I feel is deep and mysterious. Here is the link; . Let me know what you think?

I would like you all to welcome my new guest for my interview series author Cindy Jones. She wrote a wonderful book called My Jane Austen Summer; A Season in Mansfield Park. Welcome Cindy!

What was the first book you remember loving? Do you still own it?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was the first book to have special meaning for me. I read a copy from the school library in fourth grade and remember having to renew it at least once in order to finish it. Although I had been reading novels since second grade, especially Nancy Drew mysteries. The Secret Garden was different. The walled garden, the locked door, and the secret relationship provided my first experience with Gothic elements in literature and started my love affair with books.

What kind of books do you like to read? Do those books affect your writing?

I like to read books that have literary sensibilities and commercial tendencies. I crave complex characters and beautiful prose but need a tension-filled plot to go with them. And since I write the books I would like to read, my craving dictate my writing. My favorite contemporary book is The City of Your Final Destination by Peter Cameron. I also love Jane Austen, Henry James, Edith Wharton and Daphne Dumaurier.

Of all your work what is your personal favorite?

My personal favorite is whatever I happen t be working on at the moment. Writing a novel is an intense experience and I lose myself with the characters and the story of each project while I'm working on it, starting with the novel I wrote in the fifth grade, followed much later by the first novel I wrote as an adult (now buried in a drawer), to My Jane Austen Summer and my current work-in progress. I love them equally, especially during the time they need the most attention from me.

Do you have a favorite character that you created?

My favorite character of my creation is also the protagonist of my current work. Working closely over a period of years tends to make them come alive in my imagination so that sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of them in the real world, or I refer to them in conversation before realizing what I've said. A man drove a golf cart past a window where I was sitting one day. I remarked to myself, "There goes Henry," (the male lead in my current project), but I immediately realized my lapse. Another time I suggested we stay with my character while traveling in England, before realizing my mistake.

What is your favorite character from another writer?

I love Fanny Price, a bookish woman who becomes the heroine of her own story, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I identify with a person who creates an interior world through reading, and I admire her courage in taking such a strong stand against the villains in her story.

Do you prefer on genre to another?

I have a preference for complex and compelling fiction.

Do you like the feel of a book in your hands or do you prefer an electronic devise?

I was surprised to discover that I could lose myself in an electronic novel just as completely as I could in print. I enjoy the convenience of an e-reader and the rich feeling of an abundance of titles waiting for my attention. However, if I am reading carefully for research or discussion purposes. I like to have the printed version in my hands for ease of flipping back and forth through pages, highlighting and note taking. I'm sure the electronic reader will evolve to address this issue or I will adjust by necessity, but until such time, I mainly use my e-reader for pleasure and stick to print for work related reading.

Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?

I'm working on a novel about contemporary women who trade places. The story involves travel, India, Romantic Poets, and the power of imagination.


Thank you so much for joining us and giving your take on reading and writing. I really appreciate it:)

If you have any questions or suggestions please email at or on twitter @rithebard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Big News

I have wonderful news that I am announcing for the first time. In a couple of weeks I am launching an on-line magazine called The Jewel Box. I am very excited about this new venture. I have been working on it for months and I am very close to completion. It will be a magazine devoted to collectors of Vintage Jewelry. It is also about Heritage Jewelry which is very near and dear to my heart. It will come out every other month. I will give everyone more information as I get closer to the launch but I am sooooo excited about it.

My new ad is up from Valley Scene it is kind of cool to have an ad both on the west coast in this paper and on the east coast in The Boston Review. It gives people who do not have a computer or time to look at one, a chance to see that my book is available and buy it. Please check it out at; .

I will be having a new article coming out in the Working Writer later this month. I will give you the link when it is available for everyone to see. I am also working on a couple of other projects that when it gets firmer I will tell you all about it. It is exciting that things are finally popping for me. May they keep popping:)

My new interview is with Ellen Brazer she is an award winning writer for her new book Clouds Across The Sun. She has graciously agreed to join us for a interview;

What was the first book you remember loving? Do you still own it?

The first book I ever loved reading was Leon Uris' Exodus. Actually it was the first book I ever willingly read that some teacher had not assigned to me. Uris opened my eyes to Israel and to the courage of a people struggling to survive after the Holocaust. Later in my life, Leon Uris came to Miami as a speaker, and I hosted him for the entire day. I can still picture him, black leather jacket, jeans and boots. He was one really cool guy and yes, I still own the book.

What kind of books do you like to read? Do those books have an affect on your writing?

The first requirement I have from a book is that it is going to take me to a place I have not been before and that I am going to learn something from reading that book. The subject has to be intriguing and the writing excellent and the reason is simple; it does affect my writing. When I am reading a great book my own words just seem to surface in a gentler manner.

Of all your work what is your personal favorite?

Clouds Across The Sun is a work that I am very proud of. I love that all the reviewers say the same thing, they couldn't put it down. Yet, how can i not also love Hearts of Fire? That is my baby!

Do you have a favorite character that you created?

I don't mean to be evasive but I really don't. I love all my characters. I had a great challenge when I had to tap into the evil side of humanity. So while I hate who the bad people in my novels represent, I had an interesting time birthing them. Most of my characters are based on the real life stories of people that I have known. Perhaps that is why I find it impossible to tell you my favorite.

What is your favorite character and book from another writer?

I loved the psychic and good witch Ellen from Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth.

Do you prefer one genre' to another?

I love good historical fiction. Although my new most favorite book in the entire world is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

What inspired you to write? Who was your biggest inspiration?

I was waiting for some medical test results to come back. I was extremely successful in business when I was very young and while waiting for that phone call I asked myself what mountain had I yet to climb. The answer for me was writing a book. I have a dear friend who is a Pulitzer Prize winner. When I wrote my first draft of Hearts Of Fire I pressed the caps lock key on the computer and wrote the entire first draft in capital letters with almost no punctuation. It was my writing friend who said, there is something here and you must keep going. That first book took me 10 years to write. The manuscript went from under the bed, to the closet and then back under the bed again. A doctor friend took it on a ski vacation and he was the one that finally got me to become serious about getting the book published.

Can you tell us about what your working on now?

I am writing a historical novel that takes place in the year 135 of the common era. It was a time period when the Jews believed that Shimon Bar Kockba was the Messiah. Following him, they managed to defeat Rome and for a three year period Israel was under the control of the Jews. And So It Was Written is the story of two brothers, one who becomes a famous physician in Rome and the other becomes a commander in the Jewish Army. There are some very unique and controversial elements to this book that I am keeping close to the vest so stay tuned. I am in the process of rewriting and I hope to be finished within the year.

Thank you for joining us, Ellen and telling us about your wonderful writing. If you would like to look into her work her website is; .

If you would like to ask a question or just say hello:) please tweet me at @rithebard or if you would like to speak to me about anything please email me at .

Breaking news: I will be signing books on June 25th at the Paws For Troops event in Sherman Oaks! Every cent is for chaity please go to web site for charity for details;