Thursday, October 30, 2014

What You Should Ask Your Doctor When Prescribed Medications

                                                                      


I don't usually talk about medications on my blog, but I was contacted by Judy Cohen, Outreach Coordinator of the American Recall Center located in New York City. I'd rather not take medicine if I can help it, but with a compromised immune system; what you want isn't always what you can get.

I have a primary care doctor, who in my opinion is the best damn doctor in the world. Dr. Joseph Mangel of South Philadelphia. Unable to get a shingle shot because of my compromised immune system, my doctor put me on an anti-viral medication. This medication is protecting me from another horrid shingle attack like I had a few years ago. My hematologist and my primary doctor both talk to me about my medicines and always check to make sure that I'm not having any side effects. I have none.

                                                                    


Not every doctor will ask, but I think all patients must be more aggressive in learning what side effects their medications  might cause. I would make this suggestion. When your doctor prescribes medicine for long term use, ask for a printout of the expected side effects of the drug. If you begin to experience any of the listed side effects, notify your doctor immediately. Always make sure that your medication is not outdated. Throw away old pills.

                                                                       


Remember to take your medicine at the same time each day. Some of my friends will tell me that they take over the counter or mail order homeopathic supplements, but that can be dangerous. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to learn if the supplements can interfere with your prescribed medications effects.

If you have to take medication, do it the right way and tell your doctor of any unusual symptoms.






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steampunk Granny Interviews Co-Editor of Reading Glasses, Jessica A. Walsh

                                                                      


I’m so happy to interview this next guest. Jessica is a friend and a member of our writers’ group, The South Jersey Writers’ Group. She is also the co-editor of Reading Glasses, the Hypothetical Press Anthology. Jessica has a story in this anthology called Unquiet Mind.

When Jessica is not editing, she is an avid reader and writer of creative non-fiction. She is a Communications Manager for a non-profit in Philadelphia, PA. She lives in Southern New Jersey and escapes to the beach with her surfboard whenever possible. She has been a member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group since 2011. This is her first publication.

 

Marie Gilbert: I’m so happy to chat with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jessica A. Walsh: I love learning and growing, in every way possible. I am a very passionate person and need to be working toward a goal at all times, whether it’s finishing a story, losing weight or learning how to surf. I don’t do well being stagnant. Besides reading and writing, I enjoy cooking and keeping active; jogging, practicing yoga, anything that keeps me moving. I love to tell jokes that people say are pretty bad, even though I find them hysterical. I have a child’s sense of humor when it comes to jokes.

                                                               


Marie Gilbert: What inspired you to be a writer?

Jessica A. Walsh: I have loved reading as long as I can remember. I know not everyone who loves to read wants to write, but love of the word just came natural to me. Once I started writing in 3rd or 4th grade, I was praised for my ability and creativity. From then on, all of my teachers throughout the rest of my public education saw that in me and encouraged it, even giving me special writing assignments. I suppose that's what really inspired me to keep doing it. I had wonderful teachers. My oldest brother is also a very talented writer and he inspires and encourages me as well.

Marie Gilbert: What genre do you enjoy writing the most?

Jessica A. Walsh: I enjoy writing creative non-fiction most. After all, I, and the people closest to me, am the character I know best. I am naturally introspective and like to use writing to capture my life experiences and stories, while simultaneously reflecting to better understand and learn from them. It's not until you try to write down and capture all the elements of an event that you can really begin to understand and interpret them, while preserving those memories at the same time.

                                                                    

Marie Gilbert: Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

Jessica A. Walsh: Reading Glasses being a speculative fiction collection, Unquiet Mind was out of my element. I started by creating a character, Reven, whose loneliness, anger and overactive mind was familiar to me and then gave her an unreal characteristic to oblige the spec element. Everything else came from there. That made it easier for me because I was writing about realistic people and scenarios, just with an unreal disorder in an unreal setting.

                                                          
                                                              

Marie Gilbert: What are you working on now?

Jessica A. Walsh: I am very excited to be launching a new blog soon called Cracking the Nut (crackingnut.blogspot.com). I am working on content and design. I'm currently in almost a constant state of introspection while some new and exciting things are happening in my life. I want to capture those revelations and thoughts, successes and failures, and hopefully even inspire some people at the same time - all with a strong dose of humility. The name is a play on words since I am attempting to crack the nut on my suffering, while I can also be a little bit of a self-proclaimed nutcase at times haha.

Marie Gilbert: What was it like to be the co-editor of the Reading Glasses Anthology? Was it harder than you expected? Easier?

Jessica A. Walsh It was certainly an experience, that's for sure. I don't think I knew what to expect so every part of it was a surprise. I think we strongly underestimated the amount of time it would all take - scoring all of the submissions, some stories taking upward of ten hours to edit, not to mention waiting for author responses - but I also realized how much I enjoy editing. Almost every single author was pleased and appreciative with the edits to their story, which was really lovely. I was also working full-time and wrapping up my last year at Saint Joseph's University throughout almost all of this so that didn't help matters. But I am very proud of the work Amy Holiday and I did. I'm ready to work on my own writing and projects now though, with the exception of the occasional editing assignment. (I'm available!)

                                                                             


Marie Gilbert: Thank you so much Jessica for appearing on my blog and I’m sure everyone will want to read Reading Glasses and Unquiet Mind. Also, on October 24th, our writers' group held a book launch for Reading Glasses and it was a big success.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Steampunk Granny Interviews Poet Alex F. Sullivan

                                                                     

Alex F. Sullivan is a young man who is going places. I've had the pleasure of reading Alex's book of poems, "A Printing Madman" and I loved every single poem in the book. I got to know Alex more when he agreed to be part of my fall event, "Steampunk Granny's Bohemian Bazaar" that featured several writers and vendors selling crafts and jewelry.

I had so much fun with Alex during the bazaar that I decided to introduce him to my followers.

Marie Gilbert: Hi Alex. I'm so happy to have you as a guest. So let's start with the first question. Tell us a little bit about yourself—when did you realize that you wanted to write poetry---what was your inspiration for writing?

                                                              
                                                        

Alex F. Sullivan: I'm 23 years old, I live in West Deptford N.J.  

I started seriously writing poetry near the end of my high school career (W.D.H.S.).  Up until then I had focused on short stories and song writing for numerous musical projects that never went anywhere (yet!).  The freaks I surrounded myself with in high school were also very supportive and helpful in helping me hone my craft. 

My inspiration for writing comes mainly from my life. I like to laugh and  I find black humor and irony all around me and that finds its way into my poetry.  I like to tell stories through my poetry and a lot of people in my life will wind up branded with a pseudonym and find themselves (or a version anyway) in my poetry. Whether it be a break up, women, school, work, family, my car, a dog, a bum on the street, etc. if something inspires me, I'll do my best to get some words out of it and hopefully it'll be a great piece.  The 9-5 Working-Joe story is much more exciting then people paint it to be and I like to get that across to people through the pieces I write.  I like honesty and that was something I enjoyed when writing "A Printing Madman", it was my life experiences (some good, some bad)  through my eyes and I figured as long as I was honest then I couldn't lose.

                                                         

Writing is a case of  trial and error as well.  I find that as you grow as a writer you know what works and what doesn't work.  Of the thousands of poems I wrote between 2008-2013 (which would become "A Printing Madman") I only chose the best 100 for the book.  Its hard to critique yourself but its necessary in order to best serve the piece you are writing. You have to be HONEST with yourself and it is not easy to do that all the time.

 I'm a big fan of the beatnik poetry on the 40's and 50's (specifically Kerouac and Burroughs) and reading those cats helped me see that poetry does not always have to rhyme.  Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shakespeare (tragedies) and James Ellroy have all in one way or another influenced my writing style, but I feel that there is only so much you can learn from other writers.  I feel that at the end of the day when you're writing, YOU should be the biggest influence, critic and book snob you can be in order to attain the best from yourself.  

Music is also a gigantic influence as well, especially jazz, blues and punk music.  John Coltrane, Howlin' Wolf and Social Distortion speak the same language to me and the notes they put down help me ease up and get the mind working correctly to get the best out of a piece.

Marie Gilbert: You took up Journalism in school and I’m interested in what type of news you would like to cover?

Alex F. Sullivan: I took up Journalism at Rowan University with my eye on being a feature writer for Rolling Stone magazine.  I figured if I couldn't be a rock star I could hang out with them and write about them at least. If I was going to be a news reporter I would want to be a foreign correspondent, if only to see far and away places outside of New Jersey.  Sadly, the whole "go-to-college-get-a-job-right-out-of-the-gate" dream crumbled and I'm still looking for that writing job.  But i'll never say I wasted my time at college.  I had a lot of fun and the experiences I had there, being a beat reporter, serving an internship at the South Jersey Times and being in on the grind were all very helpful in getting me where I am today.

Marie Gilbert: Where do most of the inspirations for your poems come  from? Are the poems in “A Printing Madman” from your own personal experiences?

                                                          


Alex F. Sullivan: "A Printing Madman" started off as a joke actually.  My friends knew I wrote poetry and one night (after many a spirit had been imbibed) they said I should "do the writer thing and publish already". So I made a list of some of the poems I had written and that became the initial beginnings of the collection.  After that I collected all the notebooks, napkins and store receipts I had written on over the years and sorted them into groups of what I wanted to keep and what I could live without.  Then the actual process of writing them on a laptop and editing them took about 2 years.  When I felt it was finished and polished to the point where I could do no more that is when I looked around online for publishers and found createspace.com through amazon.com and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Marie Gilbert: What are you working on now?

Alex F. Sullivan: Currently I'm working on a companion piece to "Madman" called "Stark Raving Beautiful" another collection featuring poetry, prose and ramblings from yours truly.  While I identify as a poet I'm dipping into writing novels as well, I'm working on one now but it is in the very beginning stages and has been a consistently changing animal since its original conception.  I like words and  the beauty of what you can do and say with those words so pending a zombie apocalypse expect to hear from me in the very near future.  Life is weird but I have faith in myself.

Marie Gilbert: Thank you, Alex and for all my followers, you can fine The Printing Madman on Amazon and Alex on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006678616249&fref=ts






 

Weddings, Babies and Bison Burgers

                                                          
                                                       
 
I had to get my hair colored and cut for a wedding coming up this week. My cousin Anna’s son and his soon to be bride are having the coolest wedding ever. They are getting married in New Hope, Pa. on Halloween. Cool, right? After the wedding ceremony, there will be a reception followed by a Halloween party. You know that I’ll be going Witchy/Steampunk. There will be a blog and pictures coming your way.

So...I had to get rid of those pesky little gray hairs, and I headed over to my nieces house for her to do my hair. Amanda just had a new baby; the third boy, and a real cutie pie. Welcome to the world Marco. While she did my hair, the baby began to fuss. He was tired.
                                                                    

Amanda placed baby Marco in this baby rocker that looked like it came right off the Starship Enterprise. It was amazing. It’s called the Mama Roo Infant seat, but it doesn’t move like anything I’ve ever seen. It was more of a gliding motion and it came with an assortment of sounds: rain, ocean and forest.
                                                               
 
I asked Amanda if it came in adult size. I have the hardest time falling asleep. I was ready to tell little Marco to move over and let Aunt Marie catch a few zzzz’s. We didn’t have stuff like this when my daughter was born in 1968. This was the only rocker we had for babies.
                                                           
 
I also had a swing for my baby back in the days, but nothing as nice as they have today. We had to crank up that old swing and it made such a racket swinging back and forth.
                                                                    

So you have some idea what was around at the time, I was washing my cloth diapers by hand and then in the washing machine until pampers made its debut. Babies have it good today and that’s a wonderful thing. Marco was very content in his Mama Roo .
 
                                                                

Bison

I have not eaten ground beef for at least 21 years. I almost died from eating a hamburger. ECOLI...thank God I was working for the Chief of Pennsylvania Hospital’s Urology Department or I would not be here blogging. Our food is dangerous; our cattle fattened with antibiotics and hormones. I only eat free range chicken, turkey and fish.

Several restaurants have started offering bison meat on the menu. I love Bison Burgers, but I don’t have the money to eat out as often as I’d like, so....I found out that our local Acme was selling ground bison meat. Thank you, God!!
                                                                   

Great Range Bison of Rocky Mountain Natural Meats is fed natural grain, hay and native plants. There is no fat and the taste is out of this world. I want my own bison, but I don’t think the neighbors would approve.
                                                                        
We need to force our government officials to take all the additives out of our food. It’s making us sick, but until they do; eat bison!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Princess Mia & Cinderella Party...South Philly Style


                                                                    


I was born and raised in South Philly and although I’m a South Jersey girl now, having moved to Audubon after my husband retired from the Fire Department; my heart belongs to the City of Brotherly love, Cheese steaks and block parties.

I love Audubon, New Jersey, because we have enough small pockets of wooded area to attract hawks, migrating birds, ducks, fox, possum, raccoon, native honey bees, butterflies, and of course, Turkeys. No, I’m not talking politicians. I’m talking wild turkeys. There are several males and females who stroll up and down our street.
                                                   
Every once in a while, I have to get back to my roots and I do that whenever I visit my family. My sister and brother and their families live in South Philly. Sometimes, I’ll go to Sunday mass at St. Monica’s church with my sister. If you remember from my “Life with Fred & Lucy” Episodes, my siblings and I went to St. Monica’s school. There were no lay teachers back in the day. We had NUNS! The good sisters of the order of the Immaculate Heart had to deal with the entire Maratea family which included all my cousins from the Tempesta and Deluccia Family. I know without a doubt that we kids drove the nuns crazy.
                                   Princess Mia with Mom and Dad
                                                                          

This past week, my brother’s granddaughter, Mia Rose, turned four. Mia is a cutie pie and a diva. I love this kid. My niece, Rita, and her husband, Eric, had a street party celebrating Halloween and Mia’s Birthday.
                                                                          

South Philly knows how to party and when we party, we do it right. There was a DJ playing music, several bounce rides and toss games, and of course, plenty of good food.

My niece hired a costume character to drop by and offer Mia a birthday wish. She had contacted www.tgifparties.com  Mia loves Cinderella and was very happy when the Disney Princess showed up.
                                                                    

I’m guessing that Cinderella had no idea what she was getting into when she dropped by. Most hired characters make an entrance, take pictures with the birthday child, play music and do a few games and then they leave. Not with my family.
                                                                   

Mia Rose, all four years of marvelous, took Cinderella by the hand to show off her bedroom, and then, her playroom in the basement. Cinderella was coerced into playing doll baby and doctor. Mia then declared that Cinderella was in need of a nap and had the princess lie down and go to sleep. It was hilarious watching this whole scene.
                                                                     

Cinderella may have expected this job to last maybe 30 to 45 minutes. I think she and her audio/video assistant were at Mia’s party for way over an hour. Mia was in her glory and I was impressed with Miss Deena, Cinderella’s alter ego.
                                         Mia, Cinderella and Uncle Mike                        
                                                     

One of my jobs at the Academy of Natural Sciences, www.ansp.org  before retiring was the Coordinator of the Birthday Program. I had a staff of delightful, caring people who were well-trained and well-versed in accurate natural history facts. My “Birthday Angels” made the Birthday Party Program one of the most successful programs at the Academy and it was because they made the birthday child, family and guests feel like royalty.
                       Princess Mia with brother, Jason and cousins
                                                                       

Deena did an outstanding job of going with the flow and, happily participated in all requests made by our family’s little princess. If I was still working at the Academy, Deena would have fit in perfectly with my “Birthday Angels.”

If you need a Cinderella for your little princess then please contact www.tgifparties.com  

Ask for Deena and tell them Aunt Marie sent you.

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 Amazon.com
 
                                                                    

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