Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beryl's Interview with NightWriters

This month’s spotlight is on Beryl Reichenberg, Beryl has been with Nightwriters for quite a while, but I for one, do not know her as well as I should. I’m sure this is true for our newer members. So with great pleasure, let’s get acquainted with, or re-acquainted with Beryl.

NW: “Who are you?”
      Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. Many of you probably know that I write and illustrate children’s books. You may not know that I am also a fiber artist. I have lived in San Luis Obispo for nearly 50 years, spending most of my life in California.

NW: Who is your greatest inspiration?
      My greatest inspiration is my grandfather. As a young child, I remember listening to his stories about the adventures of the three jolly fleas as we sat in an old rocking chair by the fireplace. Sadly, none of these stories were preserved. They only survive as warm memories from my childhood.

NW: Do you have a blog or website?
      My author website is My other website is devoted to my paper craft and art pieces at My blog site is

NW: What genre do you like to write?
      I write and illustrate children’s picture books both fiction and non-fiction. Recently I began writing a chapter book for older children, ages seven to ten. Although I usually illustrate my books, I do collaborate with other artists, including a talented, eleven-year-old girl. Her delightful dragons in my picture book, A Real Dragon, are exceptional and well liked by my readers.
      A small publisher, Oak Tree Press, published six of my books, and I self-published the rest of my stories.

NW: Tell us about your favorite story that you have written.
      My favorite picture book is Ants on a Log, partly because it is a retelling of my son’s childhood and his dislike for vegetables.  In my rendition, a young rabbit named Jack also hates vegetables until he eats a school snack, called ants on a log. (For those who don’t know, ants on a log is a celery stick, with peanut butter inside and raisins on top.) Eventually, Jack learns to like salads, vegetable pizza and even cooked carrots.

NW: Tell us about your latest project.
     I usually have several projects going at once. I am reworking a picture book to self-publish with CreateSpace. Dancing Critter in the Trees is written in rhyme for young children three to six years old.  In writing this story, I was inspired by watching a squirrel swinging through the trees attempting to grab peanuts from a bird feeder.
     I am also s co-author on another picture book, Slideville Critters Become Champs. This story is about a unique baseball team, featuring a kangaroo, a cheetah and an elephant. These animals use their special skills to help their team win a championship.  Our manuscript is finished, and we are currently collaborating with an illustrator.
     My third project is a chapter book for children, ages six to ten.  My Secret Kid Sister is a ghost story. It is a retelling of my nine-year-old granddaughter’s recent visit to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. Like several other hotels around the country, this hotel is said to be haunted.

NW: Do you have a day job?
     Fortunately, I am retired and can create to my heart’s content, although writing, publishing and marketing can seem like a full-time job.

    NW: How does your family support you in your writing?      
Charlie, my husband, is my in-house editor. He once worked for McGraw-Hill as an editor. His editing experience is of tremendous help, especially with proof reading my manuscripts and discussing story ideas.
     My four grandchildren, ranging in age from six to eleven, represent the biggest inspirations for stories. Sometimes I ask them to read my manuscripts and offer suggestions from a child’s perspective. They are my biggest fans.

    NW: How does NW help you?
     NightWriters is invaluable. Early on, I joined a NW critique group and met several talented children book authors. They provided both useful advice and support. The general meetings are important learning experiences, especially the pre-program critique group. I also find the Cuesta Writer’s Conferences and the Society of Children Book Authors and Illustrators helpful.

     NW: How do you handle rejection letters?
           At first, I dreaded rejection letters. But over time, I realized that I had         
     a number of options.  I could send the manuscript to another agent/publisher,
     let the story ferment, revise my manuscript or publish it myself.

NW: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
           I have a twin sister, but we are not identical.

NW: Besides writing, what are your other hobbies?

I am a fiber artist working mostly with paper and mixed media. I usually create three-dimensional, sculptural and book-art pieces. I belong to both the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art and the Gallery at the Network participating in many of their exhibits and juried shows and also exhibiting in other galleries and museums. On a regular basis, I teach local children paper craft and bookmaking. I enjoy traveling to foreign countries and have been all over the world. Charlie and I usually take two or more trips a year. For relaxation, I like to read, usually mystery stories or non-fiction history, archaeology and science.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Way I Was by Ronald C. Wendling

     Robert Frost famously defined “home” as the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.  Buffalo, New York is no longer my home in that sense because no one has been there for a long time now who in any way required to take me in. My father and mother remain there in Mt. Olivet cemetery (see the photo below) but I am no longer in touch in a deep sense with any of those who were in other ways once family to me.

    The November appearance of an essay of mine in a new book called The Buffalo Anthology will help me fill this void.  The essay, entitled "The Way We Were," is about my boyhood in the North Park section of Buffalo, which was a true neighborhood in that perhaps two or three other homes there would surely have taken me in if that had been necessary.
The photo below is of my mother and sister standing in front of our North Park home in the snow so typical of Buffalo.

    My North Park neighbors and friends (even the occasional bus driver with whom I chatted from North Park all the way downtown) filled in for my parents almost as much as my blood relatives, and my essay honors them for doing that. 

    Its story is the other side of the one about family dysfunction emphasized in my memoir, Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past Buffalo Anthology will be published by Belt Books, which also publishes on other so-called “Rust Belt" cities that are now generally thriving. It may be ordered (or pre-ordered) directly from Belt Publishing, 1667 E. 40th Street, Suite 101, Cleveland, Ohio 441103 or online at

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Weekly Roundup: October 21, 2016

Welcome again to the Oak Tree Press Weekly Roundup!

OTP publishes award-winning stories as well: compelling stand-alone mysteries and mystery series, thrillers, romances, police procedurals, westerns, memoirs, and children's bookseven some paranormal stories. You don't have to wait to read them! Browse our bookstore for these and all of our great titles to read, review, and share with friends! 

Free samples of our book are also available at Manic Readers.

Thank you for stopping by for the roundup this week. Here's the week's news, book signings, events, reviews, blogs, and more from our authors to share for your reading pleasure.

"Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system."
~Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose



We're excited to announce our latest release: The Hand of Lou Diamond by Dac Crossley.

Young Nicolette Devereux, an orphan raised in a San Francisco brothel, is sent to a Nashville finishing school for young ladies. Dismissed, she must make her way back, relying on her wits and her skill at card games. Handsome riverboat gambler Ethan Diamond takes Nicolette in hand, but then sells her to a New Orleans brothel. She avoids prostitution with her skills at poker under the name Lou Diamond. She accompanies Ethan when he returns for her. Does he love her? Nicolette is unsure about her feelings for him. Can she break free of him and return to San Francisco? Texas gets in her way.

About the author: Born in Kingsville, Texas.  U. S. Navy, 19451946.  Ph.D. (Entomology), University of Kansas.  Ecologist, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 19561967. Professor (Ecology),  University of Georgia, 19671998. Now retired.

Growing up in South Texas, I roamed the brush country and enjoyed the seasonal changes in scrub and animals, horned toads and red ants. Learned to hunt and fish with friends from the King Ranch, where I enjoyed Hispanic culture. Steeped in Texas history and traditions by my old pioneer family.

My genre is historic fiction set in South Texas, where the old west persisted into the 1920s with undeclared border wars and Mexican bandits.  My grandfather fought bandits, his father fought Indians.  I grew up with sons of Texas Rangers and spent hours listening to their fathers.  I am well versed in South Texas history and culture.  I enjoy bringing that history and background to life in my fiction.  My settings are real and my characters drawn from experience.

Beryl Reichenberg, children’s book author and artist, will be doing her usual round of kid’s paper craft classes in cities along California's Central Coast to promote her children’s books this month

On Wednesday, October 26, Beryl will be teaching classes for the Paso Robles Department of Recreation at Centennial Park in Paso Robles. Halloween is the theme at these classes as well, and the children will be completing a spooky bat family projects. The classes run from 3:30 to 5 PM. She writes, “Most of my classes are free, but at the Recreation Department, there is a $15 fee for supplies and both sessions." 

Beryl also has two art pieces in the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art’s CraftMaker’s exhibit, titled “Falling," which opens on Friday, October 7. The show runs until mid-November. The Museum is at the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo and is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Beryl has published six children's books with OTP.


John Wills will join 19 authors at at book-signing event at the Culpeper Library in Culpeper, Virginia, on Saturday, October 29, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

John's most recent novel is the award-winning Healer. Sixteen-year-old Billy Anderson’s short life has been full of daunting challenges. A birth defect and the death of his parents force him to live with his Aunt Staci.

That situation becomes untenable for Billy and he chooses to live on the street. One day things change dramatically when Billy receives the “Gift of Healing.” Not only does Billy’s own life take a dramatic turn, but his new gift also affects those around him. Is this gift a blessing or a curse?

John is also the author of Dancer, The Year without Christmas, and the forthcoming The Storm.

Nicholas Checker is working again this year with the national animal welfare organization Alley Cat Allies and is giving a theatrical presentation of his Oak Tree Press novel Scratch to promote the kind treatment of animals to mark National Feral Cat Day. An event wil take place at October 29th, Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut.

Scratch is a chilling tale of loyalty, friendship, and courage – set in the mysterious world of feral cats. It also contains reflections of how cultures too often misread and mistrust one another, leading to ends that might have been avoided.

White Saja, a renowned tomcat of the wild woodlands, returns to his old haunts to rescue his onetime clan from a gruesome fate. It leads him on a fearful quest into the brooding Dark Woods where he and a reluctant rival must seek the aid of a dread creature whose very name has long invoked terror in them all. Enter the pages of Scratch and discover unrelenting adventure! 


Lynn Hesse has a speaking engagement titled "Never Give Up" scheduled for November 1, 2016, at 7 p.m., with the Village Writers Group at the Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, Georgia.

Lynn's latest novel is Well of Rage. Carly Redmund, a Mobile, Alabama, police recruit is about to mess up her first major crime scene. Her training officer, J.C. Grey, orders her to give up the evidence found in the bottom of a well, a high school class ring. She does.

Grey tucks the ring in his pocket. What happened to the bag-it-and-tag-it evidence procedure? Carly is left guarding the crime scene tape as a news van pulls in and the crew sets up. She overhears the female reporter tell the cameraman that the bones in the well might be Terence, a missing African American kid from the ‘70s, and that heads need to roll at PD, the racist SOBs.

Why hasn’t Carly read about this case?

As she remembers the initials TWW inscribed on the inside of the ring, Grey walks back and tells the rookie to keep her mouth shut, and he’ll handle everything, including the report. That doesn’t make any sense. Rookies handle the grunt work. Grey is hiding more than the ring.

If he doesn’t put the ring in the property room, Carly will be blamed. She could lose her job. Worse, she could be charged with withholding evidence. Carly is in big trouble.

What Carly doesn’t know is that a white supremacist group is involved -- and also mayoral candidate Derrick Grey, Officer Grey’s brother. While dealing with her own personal demons, Carly must learn to survive in a hostile environment, develop friends fast in a new city, and solve a cold-case murder to bring justice to a grieving mother. 


At a recent event at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, OTP western author Dac Crossley met with Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist and director of the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dac recommends The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum to all authors of mysteries and crime fiction. He is president of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Natural History. His newest OTP novel is The Hand of Lou Diamond.

Dac's other books include Code of the Texas Ranger, Guns of the Texas Ranger, and Revenge of the Texas Ranger.


Ilene Schneider has a new website,, that answers questions about Chanukah. She explains, "Off and on (mostly off) for several years, I've been compiling questions and answers about Chanukah. I decided not to self-publish my results, "Why Nine Candles for Chanukah? Questions You Never Thought to Ask," as an e-book and or physical book. Instead, I am releasing it on a dedicated website a few chapters at a time between now and mid-December.

"Please visit the site and click "follow" at the bottom of the landing page to receive email notices when the site is updated. You can also comment there or in the "contact" form (click on link on top right). 

"The chapters are also reached by clicking on the top right on the one you want to read. I also give permission to print out the material for educational purposes, but please give me full attribution. Enjoy!"

Ilene is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mystery series, which includes Chanukah Guilt, Unleavened Dead, and the forthcoming Yom Killer.


That wraps up the Roundup for this week! We hope you enjoyed our news.
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