Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bells, Bows, Baby Jesus, and Books

Through this next week I'm guaranteeing delivery of my books in time for Christmas. You can even have them signed, personalized and gift-wrapped for FREE! What a great gift for the readers in your life.

Here's a gift-giving guide to help you out:

Under 6 years-old: "I'm Samson," said Sydney
10 to 15 years-old: Voodoo Virus, Marsh Monster, and Playhouse Phantom
16 up: The Amish vs. The Zombies

Plus there's always Big Papa Zee's Cajun and Caribbean Cookbook (for those who love to whip things up in the kitchen), and Lights, Camera, Worship (for any pastor you know).

Order through Amazon for discounts (and FREE shipping on orders over $25), or through your local bookstore, or through me if you wish them signed (I'll also throw in the postage for FREE on orders of $15 or more).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another Five Star Review for Lights, Camera, Worship!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Provides an excellent overview of the basics you need to get started November 23, 2014 By Labeler_2004

"An outstanding book for those involved with media in large and medium-sized churches. Provides an excellent overview of the basics you need to get started, or to upgrade an existing system. Includes plenty of tips and practical advice that will help you avoid common pitfalls. Highly recommended."

Share YOUR thoughts with other customers

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Book and Movie: Everyone Should Read and See

One of the best books ever written in the history of all books written was once upon a time made into one of the best movies ever made. The romantic comedy fantasy adventure film was first released on my birthday (Sept. 25) in 1987 and all lived happily ever after. (The book came out in 1973.)

The screenplay was adapted by the book's author--a seasoned film writer (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being his most famous). I write of none other than William Goldman. The film was directed and co-produced by TV comedy writer/director Rob Reiner.

From Wikipedia we learn that: "This film is number 50 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies", number 88 on The American Film Institute's (AFI) "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" list of the 100 greatest film love stories, and 46 in Channel 4's 50 Greatest Comedy Films list."

The story is presented in the film as a book being read by a grandfather to his sick grandson, thus effectively preserving the novel's narrative style. [Have you guessed the book/movie yet?] The book is a great example of narrative commentary where the author breaks the forth wall to speak to the reader.

If you have not, you simply MUST see this classic, cult film. If you have not read the book, you simply must. It is a wonderfully entertaining masterpiece. And as fantastic as the film is, it pales in comparison to the book. [This would be a delightful study of book to film adaption.]

I, of course, write of "The Princess Bride."

And as a bonus you might read the insightful and amusing new book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes who was the film's leading man.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Talking Turkey on the Upper Left Edge

Photo by Ruth A. Zschomler

You might wish to check out my Thanksgiving tale, called Turkey Lurkey, I've had published on The Upper Left Edge. 

Here's the link.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Early Bird Bazaar a Bit of a Bust, but Books Bought

Gregory E. Zschomler, April M. Bullard and G.S. Coltman at the Astoria Armory for the Early Bird Holiday Bazaar.

Today's bazaar was not one of the better ones for me. Surprisingly we sold zero copies of the new book, "'I'm Samson,' said Sydney." April Bullard sold quite a few copies of "The Sock Thief."

I did sell a few copies of "The Amish vs. The Zombies" and a cookbook. Andy R. Bunch wasn't there, due to illness and G.S. Coltman sold no books at all. I felt bad for him. He knocked off early to go crabbing.

The turnout was low and there was no heat in the building. Advertising was good and I got three great write-ups (Coast Weekend, HipFish and CNNW) which people told us they saw. The new book, along with the older ones, will be in stores next week and is available on Amazon.

Books: Magical Christmas Gifts that Keep on Giving

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." ~ Garrison Keillor

Time to start thinking about the Christmas Season. Black Friday (yuk) is just weeks away, but you can avoid the crush, rush, and fuss by shopping now either online or at a local bazaar. Four authors* have joined together for a book booth at the Early Bird Holiday Bazaar in Astoria, Ore. to make gift-giving as easy-peasy as can be. Books make a great magical gift for the readers on your list.

Four (and more) great books for your holiday gift giving:

  • "I'm Samson, " said Sydney by Gregory E. Zschomler (illustrated by April M. Bullard)
  • The Sock Thief written and illustrated by April M. Bullard
  • Max's Great Sea Adventure by G.S. Coltman
  • Diner Tales by Andy R. Bunch*

All four authors will be selling and signing their books at the bazaar.

Or find them at your local bookstore or at Amazon online.

Also available: Suffering Rancor and On Becoming a Man by Andy R. Bunch*; The Amish vs. The Zombies, Voodoo Virus, Marsh Monster and Playhouse Phantom by Gregory E. Zschomler and even more.

OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH for "I'm Samson," said Sydney at the Early Bird Holiday Bazaar, Nov. 15.

*UPDATE: At the last minute Andy Bunch had to cancel due to illness. His books are available at book stores in the Vancouver-Portland area and online.

Friday, November 7, 2014

An Interview with Author-Illustrator April Bullard

I met author/illustrator April Bullard about eight months ago. By serendipitous circumstances I popped into the right place at the right time and saw her work just as she was concluding a launch party for her new book The Sock Thief. The illustrations fascinated me and I asked if she would be interested in illustrating a book for me. She said yes and now, to make a long story short, we have it: "I'm Samson," said Sydney

I thought you might like to get to know April a bit, so here's an little Q&A:

Q: Where do we start, April? You write poetry, dark short stories, and you’ve written The Sock Thief—which you also illustrated—a book about where socks go in the dryer. You draw and paint and take photographs. Plus you’re a musician. You seem to be quite the well-rounded artist. How’d that happen?

A: My father is an artist, photographer, filmmaker, actor, director, writer and puppeteer. My mother encouraged practical, musical and performance skills. I grew up drawing, singing, acting and playing the ukelele, violin and bass. I was also exposed to and still enjoy old radio shows, early movies, history, science fiction and classic literature. Mix in a little imagination and love of creating something that engages an audience, and you get my work. I even play bass with the other musicians in the marina [she'll explain] for fun.

Q: I stumbled upon you one day just after I was lamenting with a friend that I didn’t have an
illustrator for “I’m Samson,” said Sydney. You were just concluding your launch for The Sock Thiefand I saw your illustrations on an easel. I loved them and I asked if you’d be interested in illustrating for me. You said maybe and we talked. Next thing we know we’re working together. Eight months later we have a book. How did you find the process?

A: Working with another artist is both exciting and exhilarating. Understanding another artists vision and working to bring those ideas to fruition while pushing my abilities to the limit is challenging and absolutely fun. Looking forward to doing this again and again!

Q: I understand how you feel, I, too, enjoy the collaborative process. What inspires you? What keeps you working?

A: I love to take normal, little moments during the day and imagine, what if? What if that simple act was the event that fulfilled a legendary, fairy tale prophecy? What would happen next? What if that cup of spilled milk shattered the entire balance of the universe? What if the ordinary suddenly became the bizarre? What would a hero do now? My mind is full of pictures and stories that want to be shared and enjoyed. I just have to write, paint and share!

Q: Cool. You're a thinker. So, how long have you been writing—at least on a semi-professional level? What kinds of things do you like to write most?

A: I started writing seriously around 1999, when my husband and I bought a small, rundown floating home and began spending weekends on the Columbia River. We moved to the river full time in 2007. I began reading my work at the Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic in 2009 and started submitting to independent small presses. 

My first published poem was "The Guardian of Forgotten Souls" in ParABnormal Digest #2, September 2011 and my first cover art appeared on Cover of Darkness #7 May 2011 both from Sam's Dot Publishing. I actually got paid $3 for the poem, $20 for the art and decided this was what I wanted to do. I like exploring horror and the dark side in much of my writing and art. Consequences and personal, inner terror fascinate me.

Q: Reminds me of Stephen King. (LOL) What other projects have you worked on or have lined up?

A: I have published cover art on small press anthologies and a friend's poetry collection. [I'm] always looking for a new collaboration and I have three books in the works. 

Sometimes I have a scene or idea, not connected with a particular story, that I just have to paint on canvas. Right now, there's a Clearance 1/2 Price Sale on all my paintings at Cover to Cover Books & Espresso in Vancouver, Wash. including a couple originals that have been published as cover art.

Q: That's neat! I've seen them. I encourage anyone in the area to check them out. Okay, April, you see things in photographs and nature that others don’t see. Where does this unique “eye” come from?

A: When it comes to my imagination, I've never grown up. I still look for dragons, monsters and angels in clouds, trees, bushes and water reflections. I can find "eyes" anywhere and everywhere! Whenever I take a walk, it's like I'm seven years old, exploring a fantasy kingdom with new and ancient creatures, great and small. I imagine stumbling into adventures with these new villains and heroes.

Q: I like that. You have been so easy to work with—you’re professional and fast, you listen well and aim to please, and your work is so detailed and beautiful. Does that come easy for you?

A: Thank you! Illustrating someone else's story is a great trust. Keeping it true to another's vision and using all my skills to make it grab and hold the reader's attention, is personally satisfying and fun. I'm so glad you're happy with the results.

Q: I am. What is your process like? When and where do you like to write? What about painting?

A: My houseboat is the perfect place to write. From my chair on the front deck I watch the changing skies reflected in river currents in the channel and the woods off the banks of Caterpillar Island. My glider rocker inside the houseboat has nearly the same view, just safe and dry behind glass. Being away from the hustle and bustle of city and suburbs helps quite a bit. 

I have notebooks with snatches of poems, scenes from different stories, ramblings inspired by movies or TV shows, and pieces of daydreams. I also have sketchbooks with the same array of flotsam and clothing, craft or set designs. I play with prompts, or storyboard scenes. Sometimes a story just insists on being written, immediately. The same goes for some paintings. Many times a deadline makes me push through and take the inspiration to completion.

Q: That sounds enchanting. that's one of the things I am blessed with, too: a serene and inspiring writing environment. It really makes a difference. Your bio says that you’re a Navy vet and that you live on a houseboat. You must like the water? How’d that happen? And how do you paint on a houseboat?

A: When my children hit high school, my husband and I began looking for what kind of life we wanted sans kids. The first floating home was so much fun, we knew we wanted to live on the river. We decided on our houseboat for the ability to cruise around the river and the cabin-like comfort of the house. In my genealogy research I discovered my great-great-grandfather had a small riverboat in Iowa, on the Cedar River to the Mississippi River near Rock Island, Illinois. He and his wife had six children while living on the boat. Guess it's in the blood for me. As for painting on the gently rocking water, what could be more fun?

Q: Fascinating! What else do you want to tell us about? Your forest foraging? The Daughters of the American Revolution?

A: I am a member of Beaver Chapter Daughters of American Revolution and my application is pending for Colonial Dames of the 17th Century. Both lineage societies are based on tracing your bloodline back to a certain time period and place. Finding records of these ancestors and fleshing out their lives, struggles, failures and successes becomes a marvelous source of plot twists and story fodder. 

Walking the river islands, imagining I'm stranded there forever, helps me learn about all the wildlife, plants and weeds, adding more textures and layers into my work. Having the time to exchange stories with others adds more possibilities and details for future work.

Q: What are you working on next? And where can we find your books?

A: [I have] three books in the works: first, a collection of short stories geared more to an adult/YA audience; second, Goody Hepzibah's Harvest Tales, a selection of fun to read aloud original poems, stories and reworked nursery rhymes and tales that put the consequences of behavior back in focus, aimed at middle readers ages 7-11; and Goody Hepzibah's Journals, a companion book of craft projects, skills, household chores and etiquette from earlier times. For access to all my work you can check my website:

The Sock Thief is available at Cover To Cover Books & Espresso and Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, Wash., also Jacobsen's Books in Hillsboro, St. Johns Booksellers, and Another Read Through in Portland, Ore., and

When do we start working on the next in the Sydney Said book?

Q: You mean "I'm Solomon," Said Sydney? We'll see how this one does (LOL). Thank you, April.

April and I launch our new book this coming weekend (Nov. 15) at the Early Bird Holiday Bazaar in Astoria, Ore. Come on out and have your book signed by both of us. It will make a great Christmas gift for a 3 to 6 year-old you know.

Thereafter it will be available in bookstores along the north coast of Oregon (and SW Washington), and in the Vancouver-Portland metro area. You can ask for it to be ordered in for you at any bookstore or purchase it here at

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reader Response for "The Amish vs. The Zombies"

"Finished your book 'The Amish vs The Zombies' last night. I think teens will like the goryness and the edginess of youth finding their way. The definition of true LOVE can ring true for those who think they have strayed too far for redemption."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SHELFIE: "The Amish vs. The Zombies" at Jupiter Books in Cannon Beach, Ore.

Whoops, there it is. Right in the front window of Jupiter Books in Cannon Beach, Oregon. 

Owner Watt Childress finished reading the The Amish vs. The Zombies this week and seems to have liked it enough to put it where it will get noticed: in the front window right next to the door.

Thanks Watt!

Over the course of last week, when I stopped in, he would tell me where he was at in the book and what he liked about the story. I'm looking forward to hearing his final comments this weekend.

He's also got Playhouse Phantom in his hands, maybe that will be next?

Anyone visiting Cannon Beach should stop in a see the collection of used and new books at Jupiter Books. Watt is great to talk with and he'll be happy to help you find what you're looking for.

Monday, November 3, 2014

An Interview with Author Andy R. Bunch

The following is mostly a "reprint" from an interview I did with author Andy R. Bunch in August of 2013. Since I've known Andy for more than a year now, we've become good friends. Thus, I've updated and embellished the material to bring it up-to-date. Andy will be joining me, April Bullard and G.S. Coltman at the Early Bird Holiday Bazaar in Astoria on November 15.

Q: So, Andy, your blog lists a wild ride of crazy experiences. I think it goes something like this: "In the footsteps of Hemingway, Conan Doyle and London, Andy Bunch is an adventure writer. He has traveled extensively along the West Coast, built a church in Mexico, sung for his supper in Canada, and taught Archery in Alaska. He’s trained in CPR/First Aid, Shao Lin Kung Fu, Kajakenbo, and Vin Tsun martial arts. He’s sky dived, rafted class 4 rapids, drank moonshine with felons, dined with royalty, spent a week in the woods with only a knife, flint, black-plastic and some TP, and studied British history in Great Britain."

Author Garrison Keillor says that “Nothing bad ever happens to a writer; everything is material.” Tell us about your adventures.

A: Yep, I’d agree with Keillor. I think it morphs into something other than the original incident though. Kipling said, “A good writer should be able to watch an alley cat slink across a park and be able to write what it feels like to be stalked by a bangle tiger.”

That’s the goal in my mind. Experience reality from a number of angles and then stir enough of that into your writing to reach people with a deeper truth. I believe that in order to entertain others you must be entertained yourself so I try to find the humor in most situations, but life isn’t all about fun and laughing. Still, in order to inspire life in others you must first come alive yourself. So whatever is happening in your life, learn to put it in perspective and find a way to profit from it.

As far as specific adventures in my past ending up in my books, the truth is always stranger than fiction but seldom as entertaining. I’ve fallen in the ocean in Alaska, capsized a canoe. I ended up fighting for my life from pneumonia. That joined with some of my childhood bouts of strep throat in my description of the disease my hero and his friends face early on in my Fantasy novel, Suffering Rancor.

I try to let life invade my stories, but you’d almost never be able to draw a connection between the real life event and the ones in the book. One exception would be when my father died in 2003. I went back through my novel and rewrote the impact a father’s death has on a character. It hurt to write that, but if that was going to be in my book then it had to be accurate.

Q: Wow! Interesting. But your writing experiences are equally so. You have College coursework in technical, essay, short story, and novel writing which led to a Penguin Award for student leadership, and later a degree in business management. You've worked as a technical writer and a document control specialist, been a contributing editor on the “Salmon Creek Journal,” and the fiction editor of “The Phoenix” Magazine. Your fiction and nonfiction appear all over the web.You have some independent publishing experiences as well. You’re a contributor to the Northwest Independent Writers Association anthology as well as having published two books on your own. And you've co-written a couple of books as well as written two of your own, not to mention the contributions to anthologies. What are the joys and pitfalls you’ve experienced in these ventures?

A: I struggled a lot with short fiction, but I felt it was important to grasp that before moving onto longer works. Short stories really are a different animal, but there are some obvious cross-over skills.

I hadn’t written much short fiction since I switched to novels, so I confess to dusting off a story I’d begun already for the first NIWA anthology. I thought I could tack a fast conclusion on it and be done, but I was actually only halfway through it. That’s become a favorite story of mine. I wanted to turn things upside down a bit and create a sympathetic monster, inept bad guys and a heroine who’s willing to do anything for power including screw over a simple creature that tries to help her. Unfortunately the characters had other ideas so it went where it wanted to and became a great story despite me.

The story in this year’s NIWA Anthology came from a NIWA writing challenge. One of the skill building exercises we took on was to come up with a difficult challenge and post it to our forum. Then we all wrote a short story to fit the challenge. We used a picture of a sink hole that formed in someone’s bedroom overnight—under their bed. It was a very evocative picture. I’m really proud of that story. From a publishing standpoint, the anthologies sell real well. So I’m hoping to garner some fans out of those.

Q: Your book Suffering Rancor has been described as “like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Conan the Barbarian.” I really enjoyed the work. Tell us about why you wrote it and what the experience has taught you.

A: Rancor was the book I learned to write on. I had a few abortive attempts at other novels early on, but Rancor was the one I had to write because I couldn’t get it out of my head any other way. I struggled with dyslexia growing up and reading was an enormous challenge, but I loved words. I loved how the felt when you said them and I loved reading the dictionary to finding new words. My favorite two things about words is the way they represent entire concepts so that you can make a sentence that conveys pages of information, and secondly how words can be pieces to a puzzle and you need the exact right one for the job.

I was a horrible speller, K to 12th grade, and everyone actively discouraged me from writing. In fact, my dad pretty much paid for me to go to community college and my car insurance, so long as I pursued a degree other than writing. I took writing classes on the side and wrote in the library or coffee shops where I wouldn’t get caught.

My last year at Clark (of 6), I went on a study abroad trip to the UK and I remember standing in Rudyard Kipling’s house and thinking, “Maybe not everyone makes it as a writer but some people do. Why not me?” I came home and told my parents that I didn’t care if it made me homeless, I’d pan-handle for money to buy chalk and I’d write my novel on the sidewalk even though the next rainfall washed it away. After that they stopped opposing it so much.

So Suffering Rancor and I journeyed quite far together. No one in college really taught me how to write a book, but they did teach me how to peer edit, so I joined a writers group and started working the fundamentals. 16 years and 7 rewrites later I had a bouncing baby novel on my hands. My illustrator, Corey Pennington, came into some money and paid the initial publishing costs so we could get the project out there. That’s back when you had to pay a lot to companies for each little thing, it’s practically free now. Anyway, Corey is a good friend and we got the book out with only a few dozen typos and some embarrassing homophone issues. I’ve since revised it one more time and freshened up the cover.

Q: You are a founder of NIWA. How’d it get started and would you like people to know about it?

A: I’m one of six original founding members of Northwest Independent Writers Association. Initially we wanted to band together for support and sharing ideas about the industry, but we quickly realized that the biggest challenge facing Indie Authors is the public’s belief that traditionally published books are better quality. In reality, the entire market has shifted due to technology changes. The only thing you can be sure of in a traditionally published book is that someone in New York thought it would have a wide market appeal.

I don’t really care if a million people like the book I’m reading, I feel comfortable judging a book for myself. Between ebooks and Indies, the traditional market is hurting for cash and less likely than ever to spend money on an unknown writer. Not to mention that they’ve stopped spending money on editors and promotions, so the writer is pretty much on their own anyway. I’ll get off my soap box. Ultimately, NIWA realized that its primary function was to promote professionalism and quality among Indie authors and to increase consumer confidence in their work. So that’s what we do.

Q: What words would you share with new writers hoping to venture into independent publishing?

A: Oh, boy! There’s a lot of things they need to know. I encourage everyone who feels that they have a book inside them to write it. It’s hard work but good therapy. Actually publishing that work with the technology we have now is relatively easy. Promoting and selling that book is a ton of work, and being commercially successful is exponentially more so.

If I could offer only one piece of advice it would be “don’t think that Indie publishing your work is a way to mitigate the heartache of rejection. Nothing about writing, revising, editing, publishing, or selling your book will be free from rejection.”

Vonnegut once said, “Don’t write because you want to: write because you have to.” I’m not that cynical, but I see his point. Being a writer is like being that naked cowboy singer in time square. You don’t have anything to hide behind but the instrument of your talent, so you’d better not suck, and it doesn’t matter if the crowd gathered to gawk at you as long as they throw you a buck and leave thinking, “that guy’s actually pretty good.” 

Q: You've got a new book out now called Diner Tales. I've read it and I liked it very much. Lay that subtitle on us and tell us what it means. And what led you to write this?

A: The subtitle is: A Contemporary Canterbury Anthology. I have always loved the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. I love the idea of writing very different stories that would be told by very different people who represent typical people you'd run into in life.

I used to hang out at a coffee shop all night when I was in college--it's the only place that life would slow down enough to let me focus on my homework. I'm glad I had that experience and I'm glad to be beyond it now, with a wife and baby. Now I'm in bed by 8 p.m. most nights so I can get up at 4 a.m. to write.

Q: Four in the morning, Andy! You're insane!

What I like about the book is that it's a collection of short stories all tied together. Some of the stories are funny, some are dramatic, some are touching and some are contemplative. In your book we meet people we see everyday and judge, but through your book we get to know them as human beings.

I also like the fact that it can be used as serial reading--something you can carry with you throughout the day and read quick chapters and have a whole story to think about before going on to another. It's just a fun book.

Anyway, where can readers pick up your books?

A: My books can be found by searching Amazon or Barnes and My fantasy YA novel, Suffering Rancor, is also on Smashwords, kobo, the iStore etc. and the audiobook is available through Amazon or Audible. This smart link is supposed to get you to the right book no matter what country you’re in and this one’s for the ebook My second book, On Becoming a Man, is a Christian inspirational I co-authored with Janice Seeney. Amazon is probably the best place to find that, here’s a link And here's the link to Diner Tales.

Thank you, Andy. Excellent stuff. You can find out more about Andy at: