Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interviews, Book Launches & Zombies! Oh My!


I’ve interviewed and have been sharing the interviews I’ve done on the authors featured in Reading Glasses from Hypothetical Press. Most of the authors included in the anthology are from our group, South Jersey Writers’ Group and some were from outside our group.

Today’s interview is with Gregg Feistman, a member of our group. After the interview, read about the book launch that was held at Victorian Savories Bakery in the Voorhees Township’s Town Center, next to the Echelon Mall

Steampunk Granny's Interview with Gregg Feistman

I’m very happy to introduce this writer to our Reading Glasses Fans. Gregg is a part of our writers’ group and he’s a published author.  Gregg Feistman’s first political thriller, The War Merchants, was published in 2009 by Strategic Book Publishing. He has since completed his second novel in the series, Unholy Alliance, currently under consideration. A former freelance journalist and New York City-produced playwright, he is currently an Associate Professor of Public Relations at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA

Marie Gilbert: Let’s start with you telling the readers a little bit about yourself and what you do when not writing.

Greg Feistman: I’ve been a writer for as far back as I can remember, from short stories to poetry (I actually had a poetry reading when I was in college).  I’m also a former NYC-produced playwright, having had two plays produced Off-Off-Broadway.  When I’m not writing, I have two other lives.  First, I’m a professor of Public Relations at Temple University, teaching undergraduate and graduate students.  That pays the mortgage.  I’m also a professional sports photographer, covering motorsports.

Marie Gilbert: Your last book, The War Merchants and the upcoming sequel Unholy Alliance are political thrillers. Can you tell us a bit about the two books?

Greg Feistman: The War Merchants takes a look at the ultimate business model: corporations manipulating governments and world events to cause regional wars, all in the name of profit.  It’s based on real life incidents.  In Unholy Alliance, my main characters from The War Merchants return to investigate the possibility the Vatican sanctioned the Holocaust.  Like my previous book, a lot of it is based on historical facts.

Marie Gilbert: With your new story, Starstruck, which is one of the stories in Reading Glasses, you’ve chosen to go with science fiction. Can you tell us what the inspiration was for this story?

Greg Feistman: To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure!  The idea just popped into my head.  I’ll credit the muses for that one, as I do for all my creative work.

Marie Gilbert: What was the inspiration for Dr. Ava Green?

Greg Feistman: Well, there’s a French actress named Eva Green, so maybe it was her!  Seriously, I needed a catalyst for the main character and as I wrote the story, her character started to take on a more defined shape.  I wanted a woman who was bold but also mysterious and intriguing.  She had to intrigue the character, so I knew she also had to intrigue the reader.  Hopefully I’ve accomplished both.

Marie Gilbert: Would you consider writing more science fiction stories?

Greg Feistman: Yes, definitely.

Marie Gilbert: You are a fellow member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group and you are an Associate Professor of Public Relations at Temple University in Pa. How does the knowledge gained from your day job help with your writing career and promoting your book and what advice do you have for new writers to help promote themselves?

Greg Feistman: One of the fundamental skills any communicator must develop is strong writing.  Before I began teaching I had a long career in PR, so I honed my writing ability there.  Even though that wasn’t fiction writing, it sharpened my skills enough so when I sat down to write fiction, I had “upped my game.”  It also gave me a default career for the two main characters in my books, so I knew their backstory very well. 

In terms of self-promotion, writers (especially new ones) need to learn that writing the book and having it published is only step one.  You must make people aware of your work and give them a reason to want to read it.  And it needs to be a combination of old school PR techniques such as news releases, media interviews, etc., and social media efforts.  I do both, from traditional media interviews to having my own author’s Facebook page that links to my website, to being on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Author Marketing Club, etc.

Marie Gilbert: Thank you Greg for taking this time to do the interview and I know our fans will want to read not only this story, but also The War Merchants and Unholy Alliance when that’s released.

 Now to the Book Launch

While our group partied inside Victorian Savories, the town center was offering a family night of movies, zombie face painting, music and as the big finale; everyone could dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller. So here are a few shots of editors Amy Holiday and Jessica A. Walsh and our South Jersey Writers' Group and a few of the featured authors in Reading Glasses. I'm guessing you're wondering if Steampunk Granny participated in the Thriller dance. Hell, yeah!

                         Editor Amy Holiday with a fan of the book launch

                            Jessica A. Walsh in front of an impressive banner

                      Dawn Byrne and Mieke Samora-Mackay handling the sale table

                                                 Book Launch Party


Believe it or not, my friend Rita and I actually knew most of the steps. All in all, it was the perfect night for a Book Launch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Story is in Chicken Soup For The Soul: Touched by an Angel


Have you ever encountered an angel? You probably do almost every day, but maybe you don’t recognize them. They look just like everyone else, but they are out there. I submitted a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul almost a year ago. It was a true story that happened around twenty years ago.  My life was at stake. I was in an isolated area with two assailants closing in on me. If you want to find out who saved me, you’ll have to buy Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel.  My story is called Angel on the Footbridge. You can buy the book on

If you get the book, tell me if you liked my true story. Thank you.

Life with Fred & Lucy, Episode 34: Is That You?


My father and mother are partying together. Fred and Lucy may have been mortal enemies while alive, but dead they apparently (according to several respected mediums) have decided to join forces. Fred has forgiven my mother; too long a story to tell here, but the details will be in the upcoming book.

                                                            Mom and me in California                                   

Fred and Lucy spend time visiting my house, my sister Lucy’s house and my daughter’s house. They make sure we know they are there. Whenever I'm writing an episode on “Life with Fred and Lucy”, I feel that they are there and they are watching me. Did they mind my telling stories of our family? Was mom upset with my revealing her bad driving record? I didn't know.

Recently, my daughter confirmed that Fred and Lucy were indeed aware of my stories about them. About six months ago, she was invited to a group reading by a famous California Medium. It was last minute. One of the girls scheduled to attend had fallen ill ,and  since there had to be an accurate head count before the Medium would agree to come out, ReRe's friend asked her to fill in.

Before that poor woman could even introduce herself, my father was there. He would not let any spirits through unless he spoke first. Yep, that’s the Fred I know. The medium had no choice but to let Fred speak.

He told my daughter that he’s not only with my mother, but also with wife #2 and wife#3 who we called Grandmom Mary. We loved her as if she were our own mother. Nuts, right? He's partying with all three wives. But, according to Fred, they are happy and enjoying the fact that they can spy on us whenever they want; this must be some kind of afterlife benefit for parents. ReRe is afraid I might do this to her.

He told my daughter that he loves my Fred & Lucy Stories; keep them coming. After telling ReRe some stuff that only she would know, he told her to make sure Nathan wears a helmet when he does Parkour. Yep, came right out and mentioned the sport. Just like that. Finally the Medium told Fred he would have to leave; the other spirits were getting ready to rebel. Fred left peacefully, which was a first for him.

I can hear Fred walking around the attic at night. I’ll yell up to the attic, “Hey Fred. Is that you?” My grandsons have heard him, too. My mother hangs around the first floor and sometimes I can smell her perfume. I know for sure, she’s around especially when I’m feeling sick. She pats my back while I’m trying to fall asleep.

My sister has reported incidents that happen around her house and, she’ll call out, “Is that you?”

My daughter not only has my parents dropping by, but also my deceased mother-in-law.  Eleanor has saved my youngest grandson from many a broken bone by calling out to my daughter whenever Nathan thought he could fly like Superman.

My family is very comfortable with the paranormal. We are all blessed with psychic abilities and don’t mind the extra protection from the other side. Whenever I’m at a ghost investigation, I make sure to do the binding procedures so I don’t unintentionally take someone home, but even if I did; Fred and Lucy would kick the wayward spirit out.

I’m not sure what Fred is looking for up in the attic, but I’m guessing it’s his deck of pinochle cards. I would give them to him, but I kind of feel safe with him and mom around. Do you have dead relatives visiting your home? Most people, if honest with themselves, will say they do and that they don’t mind.
See you next week with a new Fred & Lucy Episode called Shoes.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Steampunk Granny's Interview with Ray Rebmann from Reading Glasses

       Ray with his dog, Leah near Jake's Landing in Cape May County.

I’m really excited about interviewing Ray because I enjoyed reading his story, Sifkin, which is featured in Reading Glasses. When Ray Rebmann isn’t training guide dogs for the sight impaired, he’s writing. His first book of nonfiction, How Can You Give Up That Adorable Puppy (Unlimited Publishing) describes a family’s years of service as dog trainers. His fiction work includes Chalk Town and the World’s Bottle Cap Championship of the Universe, an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing, and Jersey Devil, The Cursed Unfortunate published by MuseItUp Publishing. He is also the curator of the Dennis Township Historical Museum. Rebmann lives in the wilds of New Jersey, with his wife of 27 years.


Marie Gilbert: I’m so happy to interview you. Why don’t you tell the readers of this post a bit about yourself and why you wanted to become a writer.
Ray Rebmann: Because my father said I couldn't. Just kidding. I've always wanted to write and after many detours along the way, I'm finally getting to do it. I'm 60 years old, retired after 30+ years in a government management position. Since retiring, I've published three books and have three more in the pipeline. I think what first sparked my interest in writing was reading the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Marie Gilbert: What was the inspiration for Sifkin? Is it based on your own personal relationship to your father?

Ray Rebmann: It's not based on my relationship with my father. He died at a young age (49). We did have our tumultuous times growing up in "the 60's" and all. But he tried to be supportive. That said, his influence nudged me into a more "traditional" career. His idea was always for me to work at the regular job to make a living and then once that part was covered, write for the enjoyment of it. That's what I'm doing.

 Sifkin's Fence came to me in a dream.


Marie Gilbert: What genre do you prefer to write?

Ray Rebmann: Fiction.  I lean toward the fantasy but I like to make it "realistic".

Marie Gilbert: I’ve read your bio and see that you’ve been published before and one of the stories is about the Jersey Devil (which I can’t wait to read, especially after reading Sifkin). Is George from Sifkin based somewhat on what we know of the Jersey Devil? Your take of the myth?

Ray Rebmann: I wasn't thinking about JD when I wrote it. I guess there's a connection with southern New Jersey history and all. I live in the Pine Barrens. There are nights out there when it is very easy to believe in the Jersey Devil.

I think the JD story is vastly underappreciated. I'm also fascinated by the Blue Hole story (up around Ancora I believe) and how it connects with the JD. I used it in my story about the devil.

Marie Gilbert: What are you working on now?

Ray Rebmann: A book based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee". I'm the curator of a museum in Dennisville NJ and there's an old house in the area that Poe was said to have visited. The house was owned by the Townsend family and one of the daughters was named Annabelle. She later married a man named Lee, hence the connection. Saying the poem is based on her due to the similarity of names is a stretch since she didn't become Mrs. Lee until after Poe died. But in fiction, all is possible isn't it? For instance, there are scenes in the book that are set in the future. The narrative actually works along three separate plot lines. I'm having fun with it.

I'm also working on a sequel to my nonfiction book "How Can You Give up That Adorable Puppy?" The first book was about a family's adventures raising nine puppies to become guide dogs for the sight impaired. (Our family volunteers for the Seeing Eye in Morristown). The sequel centers on Leah, one of the nine, who returns to live with her family after "retiring" from SE.

Marie Gilbert: What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking of becoming a writer?

Ray Rebmann: Real simple. Read widely and write about whatever interests you. As an exercise in self-discipline, read and write about stuff that doesn't interest you too. For years, I did newspaper work covering tourist events in Wildwood...I hated it. But it paid well and I got to practice my craft, art exorcise my demons...whatever.

Thank you so much, Ray for sharing with us and I know our readers will be looking to reading your story in Reading Glasses. You can find the book, here.
READING GLASSES is available now!
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You can find my book, Roof Oasis on and Kindle. Roof Oasis is the first in a series and the apocalypse is not what you expected.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Signings, Bazaars and a Soul Walk


This was a busy and exciting weekend for me, starting on Friday when I was invited to a book signing event at the Atria Living Center in Center City Philadelphia by my friend and fellow writer Harry Kyriakodis. It was a great learning experience for me and the residents of Atria who wanted to know what Steampunk was all about. Did I make any converts to the world of Steampunk? You never know J 


Saturday, I had the wonderful opportunity of hosting my first “Steampunk Granny’s Bohemian Bazaar” at The Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon, New Jersey.  I invited a handful of very talented artists, writers and crafters, all of which are the most amazingly talented and creative people to have at any event. Thank you to all the vendors of the Bohemian Bazaar; you all Rock! And, thank you to the owners and staff of the Treehouse for allowing us to use your fine establishment for our bazaar.


Dawn Byrne (close friend & fellow member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group) was there selling our group’s anthologies, Tall Tales & Short Stories from South Jersey and Reading Glasses. John Farquhar stopped by to help sell his “What to Expect When You’re Dead".  Dawn has entered into the world of Steampunk with flying colors by creating her own hat and brooch design. 


Marie Reid was there selling her beautiful jewelry, Alex Sullivan was there selling his book of poems, “A Printing Madman.


Allie Gilbert (oldest of my nine grandchildren, talented Fashion Designer, her work was featured at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and the person who introduced me to Steampunk) was there with her collection of jewelry and pop culture items.


Kahlil Weston (Publisher/Writer/Promoter of Independent Artists) was there to sell his books, “The Wes Daddy Mack Hour”, The Young & the Westless” and the Kahlil Weston Hour”. With Kahlil was a beautiful young new talent, Zhariya Amani. This young lady is going places so keep your eye on her rising star and her book “Words in My Head.” 



Nanci Rainey was there with her book, “Another Day in the Driver’s Seat” and Patti O’Brien (Editor, Journalist, Writer, Blogger and not only my adopted sister but one of the reasons my book “Roof Oasis” is doing so well, was there selling her “LitBits: Messages in a bottle--A little perspective when you need it.”

                             Nanci, Patti, Janet, Kahlil and Zhariya                                                  Magical Faery ArtMagical Faery Art

Cinsearae Santiago Reiniger (Publisher/ Writer/Fashion Designer/Crafter from the Dark Side) was there with her husband, Dan to showcase her stunning dolls, jewelry, etc. Everyone just loved her dolls.


Loretta Lombardi /Health Coach in healthy eating, was there to sell her book for lovers “I’m Hot, You’re Hot.” Loretta offers classes on macrobiotic meals that keep you healthy and sexy. Shelley Szajner is a spiritual healer and guide and besides selling her Magical Fairy Art, Shelley did a few Tarot readings.

Rosanna Martella/ Health Coach/ Artist/Sculptor, was there to see her book “Healing Epilepsy Naturally” and a large selection of her beautiful sculptures. The fine people of “Steampunk Works” kept their shop open for the Bazaar.

Ralph& Lee Cobert are collectors of anything Victorian and they design beautiful clothing for people interested in dressing Steampunk and the Victorian Era. Their clothing is featured is several films.

One of our vendors, Janet Lima, who was there selling her jewelry and crafts, bought a beautiful hat from the Steampunk Works shop. Here she is modeling it. Janet, her husband and their team run the Keystone Spirit Seekers. I was part of an investigation with them. Check it out here.
I was there promoting the Bazaar, selling my book, Roof Oasis, the first in a series; an apocalyptic tale with a twist. I’m not shy and was out in the street encouraging people to stop in and shop.  We are planning a Spring Event “Steampunk Granny’s Bohemian Bazaar Part Two” in April.  I’ll keep you all updated.
                                Kahlil, Janet, Dick and Cinsearae

After the bazaar, I headed to the Laurel Hill Cemetery for their Soul Crawl through the cemetery’s history with friend and fellow writer and blogger, Loretta Swearingen Sisco and her husband, Ted.

It was a fun night walking through this beautiful and historic cemetery and learning the history of the people buried there.  Cinsearae and her husband Dan were there, too. I bet you never knew that cemeteries could be so much fun!

The Cemetery is selling my book in their gift shop, and I helped to sell one of the books at last night’s event. What can I say? Steampunk Granny never stops ticking.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Steampunk Granny Interviews Jack Flacco, Author of the Ranger Martin Series


I had the honor of reading Jack Flacco's newest book in the Ranger Martin series, "Ranger Martin and The Alien Invasion". I loved it as much as the first book. You'll love the fast moving, edge of your seat action, and you'll love Ranger Martin and his team of misfits. I had the chance to interview Jack, recently and here is what we talked about.

Tell me how your first book is doing and what were the reviews for this book.

My first book in the Ranger Martin series, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, became an Amazon best seller for months after its initial release. Tracking on multiple lists worldwide (i.e. Young Adult, Horror, Dystopian, etc.), it hit #5 on the Canadian Horror Best Sellers list with Stephen King as #1. The book also hit #1 on the Hot New Releases list in Children’s Horror. In the U.S., Spain and Australia it placed in the Top 50 on a consistent basis, leaving me bewildered in the process. I can’t say how grateful I am for all the folks that had supported the title.

The majority of reviews were positive with readers liking Ranger Martin as the shotgun-toting hero out to rid the world of the undead.


What did people like the best about Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse?

I kept hearing the same two things coming from people who had read the book. First, they enjoyed the relationships between Ranger and the kids, each had personalities and each had different backstories. Second, they enjoyed the action that starts from page one and doesn’t let up until the final page.

Gosh, that sounds so much like I’m bragging, but that’s the audience’s overall reaction toward the book. Smack me a few times if I get too high on myself, okay?

What is the name of book 2 and what happens to our hero and his friends in this book? (Just a short synopsis without giving anything away)

The name of the second book is Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion. Soon after the events of the first book, Ranger and his tagalongs have another enemy to face—aliens bent on reducing humanity to a pile of liquid waste. On their journey home, they encounter zombies, the military, and things not of this world in a race to escape Utah for the calm of the Mojave Desert in Arizona.

Did you find the writing of a sequel harder than the first book? (I ask because I felt my first was much easier to write)

Well, I write every day, and because it’s now a habit I find whatever I write flows to paper without much effort. Editing the sequel was harder to do because I had to keep the same tone as the first (i.e. style, setting, pacing, etc.) all the while trying to explore deeper levels of the characters.

Will the readers be meeting new characters?


When can we expect the book to be out?

It’ll release on October 21.

Is there a book three in the works?

Can’t say.

What other projects are you working on as far as writing?

Again, can’t say.

Can you at least give me something to work with?


I’m kidding. Actually, if you follow me on, I tend to drop many hints of what I’m working on and where I’m going. I’m predictable, really. I enjoy autumn settings where the colors change and the leaves fall. I love inspiring stories where there’s a moral dilemma and a resolution no one thought of before. And I find comfort in reading about those who overcome great trials to become a light to the world.

I noticed (unlike other authors) you don’t talk about writing on your site. Why?

I suppose because I’m too busy writing. If I were on a writing panel, I wouldn’t have a choice other than to talk about it. What else would I otherwise do? Sit and stare? In that context, sure, I’ll talk about writing.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Put blinders on. Keep moving forward. Never give up. How’s that for cliché? Forget about everything that goes on around you and stick with your goals. Forget about what others are doing and keep working hard. Your success is your own. It’s what you make of it. Most of all, time is your most precious commodity. Don’t waste it.

Where can we reach you?


Thank you, Jack for being my guest today and for all my little zombie snacks, "Get out there and buy both books."