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."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Steampunk Granny Interviews Reading Glasses Author, K.A. Magrowski

Krista is the vice-president of the South Jersey Writers’ Group and according to her bio, she’s been mangling the English language since 1985 and hopes to secure a book deal before the zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion. She’s a wonderful writer so I think she’ll beat the apocalypse deadline. Krista’s work can be found in “Apparitions of Murder,” Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. 2012, Dreams of Decadence magazine and We Walk Invisible: A Short Story Anthology (Chupa Cabra House).

Krista’s story “The Highborn,” is featured in Reading Glasses. 2014.
Marie Gilbert: I’m so very happy for you, my friend, and I know everyone would like to know more about you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
K.A. Magrowski: I guess I’ve always been making up stories, as I think many kids do. I didn’t really start writing anything down formally until I was about 14 when I starting writing some bad teenage poetry and then a sci-fi novel that, thankfully, never saw the light of day. After high school I had a love/hate relationship with writing – I still made up stories in my head but rarely wrote anything down until I was in my late 20s when I joined a writing group in Philadelphia run by Alison Hicks ( where I learned so much about writing through our weekly meetings. It’s been a crazy ride since then as I’ve continued to learn, to improve, and “perfect” my craft.
Marie Gilbert: Tell us a little bit about your main character and where did you get the inspiration for this story?
K.A. Magrowski: The story was inspired as I lay on my bed by an image I received of a priestess with snake arm bands in a candle-lit temple. After a few false endings, the completed story came to me while writing up against the anthology deadline. Amazing how that works.
Marie Gilbert: Why do people seem to fear a powerful woman or Goddess?
K. A. Magrowski: I don’t know exactly. I think there’s a deep-seated fear, especially in America, of powerful women because so much of our language is male-oriented. The Founding Fathers. The Men Who Built America. The constant qualifiers – woman coach, woman pastor, female lead, woman writer. Rarely do you see the converse. Male is understood as a default and everything else almost seems to come as a surprise. That kind of thing we see everyday in media. Strong, intelligent women, even today, are viewed so many times as bitches, or conniving temptresses, or whining hags that don’t know their place.
Religions especially can be infuriating in this regard. The Catholic Church would be a different place if more women held positions of power and decision making. We’re still going through growing pains when it comes to gender equality in many spheres.

Marie Gilbert: What type of stories are you more comfortable writing?
K. A. Magrowski: I can’t say I write to any theme but most of my writing has an element of the supernatural or the strange or the unusual. It’s the way I see the world I guess. If the mundane world were all there was to the universe, and there were no mysteries or unexplained phenomena, then I would probably just fall over from boredom.

Marie Gilbert: I know you’re working on a ghost story and I can’t wait until it’s published. With that thought in mind, when do you expect to get it published and will Hypothetical Press be the publisher you’ll go with?

K.A. Magrowski: Magic 8-ball says, ask again later .

Marie Gilbert: As Vice-President of the South Jersey Writers’ Group, tell us what makes a writing group successful?

K.A. Magrowski: Obviously, first and foremost, it’s the people. You need a group of people willing to work together, to listen, to learn, and to share. I think that’s what makes the South Jersey Writers’ Group so much fun to work with – there are so many people who are willing to share their time and expertise without ego getting in the way.

Also, I think having people willing to commit their time. We couldn’t do what we do, or offer the variety and scope we can, with our volunteers. There’s a lot of hard work and planning that go into making the group run smoothly.

Marie Gilbert. It was pleasure talking about your story featured in Reading Glasses and I’m sure everyone reading this interview will want to read all your works. Thank you, Krista.
You can find Reading Glasses here:
And, my apocalyptic tale with a twist, Roof Oasis, the first in a series is on and on Kindle.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Steampunk Granny Interviews John Farquhar, Contributing Author to Reading Glasses

John Farquhar is a fellow member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group and he’s a published author with a story in Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey called “Bad Day for Santa”. This past year, John published his book “What to Expect When You’re Dead” on Hypothetical Press. It is a humorous look at death and blending in with the afterlife crowd. John’s newest story called “The Icarus Option” is in the new anthology, Reading Glasses. John is a good friend of mine and I’m happy to introduce him to everyone


Marie Gilbert: It’s so nice to chat with you John and as you know, I’m a big fan of your writing. What type of stories do you enjoy writing the most?
John Farquhar: I enjoy writing comedy. Often, I like my stories to have a satirical edge, but if I can create scenes of farce and celebrations of how deeply and unashamedly stupid we all are (myself included), that gives me the feeling of a job well done. 'The Icarus Option' is slightly darker than my usual style, but the same attitude to life is there, I think.

Marie Gilbert: What was the inspiration for this particular story?

John Farquhar: Like the main character, I saw Brueghel's painting 'The Fall of Icarus' when I was young, and loved it. It was also one of the few paintings that has ever made me laugh. Brueghel updates Icarus' fall (the landscape in his picture is Flemish, and the people are of his own time, not Greek), and I just wanted to continue this trend. Ovid's poem about Icarus was also one of the first Latin poems that I read in the original.

Marie Gilbert: Would you pick this type of death if you were very sick?

John Farquhar: I'd have to be an idiot....

Marie Gilbert: Tell us about your recently published book.


John Farquhar: 'What to Expect When You're Dead' has been selling pretty well among college students in particular. I haven't marketed it as forcefully as I should have, but I'm working on this and, when I re-read it, it still makes me laugh, which is a good sign.


Marie Gilbert: What other stories are you working on?


John Farquhar: The summer has been very productive and I am about to finish a book of twelve short stories, all connected to Ireland, called 'Taking Cathleen Home'. The original title was 'The Turd Man', but I wasn't sure if this was literary enough. 'The Turd Man' is the opening story and there is another story called 'Brave Fart' which I'm very proud of. Sad news, though: when I finished writing  'Brave Fart', my Muse came to me in a dream that very night, and shot herself. So, if anyone is involved with a Muse, and it isn't working out for the two of you, do send her to me. (I prefer my Muse to be female, but, what the Hell, if you have a guy who isn't doing it for you on the imaginative level, send the schmuck along. I'm Irish). This, indeed, is the point about the book: having been born in England, and currently living in America, I'm finally beginning to feel that Ireland is my home.


Marie Gilbert: Has belonging to a writer’s group helped you and why you would recommend it to others.

John Farquhar: I never thought I would find people more eccentric than I am, but I have found two so far in the SJWG. No praise could be higher. If you are not yet a member, join us, you hesitant weirdo, as soon you read this!


John, it’s been a true pleasure interviewing you again and I wish you best of luck on your new adventures. You can find Reading Glasses on Smashwords, for Kindle, Nook, iBook downloads and more.

and of course the first book in my apocalyptic tale with a twist, Roof Oasis. Stop by and say hello. My pet zombies will be there to greet you.