Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Please Welcome Spunky Army Brat and Author, Marilyn Celeste Morris

Marilyn Celeste Morris says:
Marilyn Celeste Morris

  I was born in Alpine, Texas in my grandfather's Southern Pacific Railroad section house.  The railroad company soon abandoned this part of the operations, so I was left without a "permanent" home. 
  At the age of eight, I received my very own orders from The War Department to journey to Seoul, Korea, to join my father in the US Occupation Forces. We were isolated in a military compound with little to do, so I turned my attention to writing.  
  My next overseas assignment was for three years in Linz, Austria. Out of these experiences sprang my first novel, The Women of Camp Sobingo and  my autobiography,of sorts, Once a Brat, Always a Brat, described as part memoir, part therapy session. 
Other books quickly followed, as I retired from Corporate America, and at last I could do what I always felt I was born to do: Write. 

 I am single, live in Fort Worth TX and have three grown children and five grands and am now 74. Been through a lot in my long life.

And, now Marilyn shares some fascinating information about her books:
Once A Brat, Always A Brat
Brat:  Def:  (1) An unruly child Def:  (2) A child of the military  BRAT:  British Regiment Attached Traveler. We wear the “Brat” name with pride. Those who argue that the term is demeaning simply don’t understand. Once a Brat, Always a Brat is not intended to be a serious study of children of the military. It is neither an apology nor a rallying cry for our unique experiences. While some of my fellow Military Brats, missionary kids, children of the diplomatic corps, oil company employees’ offspring and others raised outside their home country may find similarities in my narrative, I must emphasize that the first part of this book is based solely on events transpiring between 1938 and 1958, with comments on how the Military Brat experience affected my life. Other Military Brats have contributed to this book, writing about their experiences in their own words. A Resources section is included for those who are seeking information about the various organizations who can offer advice and counsel to our current Military Brats and their families.

The Cards We’re Dealt: Living with Lupus Erythematosis This book of experiences comes from 'Lupies' who have been 'there... this is not intended as any form of medical advice, but rather as Lupus to Lupus survivor support, and includes many entries and posts from sufferers and their friends and families intended to give comfort and support. 
The web address with information about Regional Chapters and how you may donate to the search for a cure can be found at


                                 The Unexplored Heart
      Impoverished but proud Vanessa Danforth is forced from her mother’s home by her new stepfather’s treachery in 1860s England.
After graduating from stenographer’s school, she accepts a position at the estate of famed world explorer, Harrison Courtland.
Made a widower by his wife’s tragic death in the Himalayas, Courtland has retreated into his work while Vanni forges friendships with his daughter Katrin and the handsome physician from the neighboring estate.
As Vanni encourages Courtland to unearth the ancient ruins at the edge of his property she discovers not only a stunning secret and a hidden treasure, but also her own heart’s desire.
    Impoverished but proud Vanessa Danforth is forced from her mother’s home by her new stepfather’s treachery in 1860s England.
After graduating from stenographer’s school, she accepts a position at the estate of famed world explorer, Harrison Courtland.
Made a widower by his wife’s tragic death in the Himalayas, Courtland has retreated into his work while Vanni forges friendships with his daughter Katrin and the handsome physician from the neighboring estate.
As Vanni encourages Courtland to unearth the ancient ruins at the edge of his property she discovers not only a stunning secret and a hidden treasure, but also her own heart’s desire. 

Sabbath’s Gift: Book One in the Sabbath Trilogy
When New York writer, Joanna Elliott, flees her abusive husband to the Texas Hill Country,  she and her six-year old son, Jason, unwittingly become a killer's prey. Despite Realtor Tommy Joe Greenleaf's warning that Wanda and Ralph Spencer had mysteriously disappeared from the remote farmhouse ten years earlier, Joanna moves in, and makes the sunroom into her office. Joanna adopts a cat from the local veterinarian, Sam Kelly, who tells her that Sabbath "had belonged to a witch." Unexplained events unfold: Joanna is locked overnight inside the storage shed, footprints appear under the sun room windows, and Jason's dog, Mournful, is found poisoned.

Sabbath’s HouseBook Two of the Sabbath Trilogy
Best selling author Joanna Elliott and her growing family are looking for another house because, quite frankly, finding bodies in the cellar and a psychotic old woman kidnapping her son were not events conducive to bringing her new child into the world. She discovers a charming old Victorian mansion owned only by women of the Emily Harris family, but the remaining heiress has no descendants to inherit. Once the family moves in, however, psychic black cat Sabbath encounters spirits determined to continue the legend, once again putting the family in peril.

Marilyn Celeste Morris at a book signing
Forces of Nature:
What will happen when a fully-loaded KC130 tanker taking off from the nearby Air Force Base is flung into a crowded shopping mall by a giant tornado. Who lives and who dies? 
Mother Nature against Human Nature. 
  "An edgy, well-written suspense by the same author as the wonderful The Women of Camp Sobingo, Forces of Nature has everything from thriller and horror to romance and human foibles... Each of the characters resonates with the reader with depth and clarity, all while making an entertaining evening's reading..." -Carl Benson, fan

The Women of Camp Sobingo—A novel set in the Post WWII era
The Women of Camp Sobingo shares the story of four women; friends who share the life of army wives in a strange land, with husbands who serve … Their experiences in a far-flung military compound strengthen three of the women, but a fourth chooses to end her life there. A reunion twenty-five years later reveals long-held dark secrets and sorrows …

My Ashes of Dead Lovers Garage Sale
and other stories from a single woman of a certain age.
A collection of humor/human interest articles written for a suburban newspaper over 10 years. 
 Vol. II coming soon!

Marilyn Celeste Morris, Author, Editor and Speaker
Five novels, two non fiction books. All available on Amazon.com See Marilyn's Author Page at Amazon:

Vanilla Heart Publishing:: 
And now, free reads first four chapters of all her books: 

Please Welcome Marilyn Celeste Morris to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents by Leaving a Comment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meet Spunky Fargo Mystery Author and Environmental Engineer, Karen E. Hall

Karen E. Hall
Karen Hall, environmental engineer and writer, lives with her husband Jeff Nelsen (and their orange tabby, Junior, who really owns the house) in the Black Hills outside Rapid CitySD.  Her first Hannah Morrison mystery, Unreasonable Risk, a thriller about sabotage in an oil refinery, was published in 2006 and the second in the series, Through Dark Spaces, set in South Dakota’s mining industry, followed in 2012.  Karen is currently finishing a novel about infertility and working on the third Hannah Morrison mystery.  She is also a member of the Pennington County Planning Commission and is currently president of the Black Hills Writers Group. Website:   
And now, here's Karen to share her unusual occupation, as well as her books:

Karen E. Hall
Hi, everybody, 
I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota (pronounced “Nortdakota” if you’re looking for authenticity), and spent almost every Saturday of my youth at the public library.  Fargo was, in those days, a pretty big city, especially by North Dakota standards, but it still felt like the middle of nowhere.  Fargo’s old Carnegie library helped me to compensate for that isolation, and contributed greatly to my lifelong love of books.  I’ve since lived on both coasts and in Texas, but my heart really belongs to those “ota” states:  North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota.  I graduated from both the University of Minnesota (English lit) and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (chemistry and chemical engineering), and worked for many years in Minnesota’s oil industry as an environmental engineer, trying to make sure that the refinery met its environmental obligations under the law. 

Through all of that experience, I learned a lot about working as a woman in a male-dominated field – both in engineering school and, of course, in the refinery, where women were outnumbered by 20 to 1.  I learned to dish it out, suck it up, and swear like a…well, like a refinery worker.  I wore smurf-blue fire-retardant overalls, steel-toed boots and a hardhat, and carried a clipboard much more often than a purse. 

I loved the oil industry.  We refined a lot more than just gasoline; we produced butane, home heating oil, kerosene, asphalt and more, even carbon dioxide that, once a year, was blessed by a rabbi so it could be used in the manufacture of kosher Coke!  It was a fascinating business, and I was dismayed at how little people knew about it.  After all, the oil industry touches everybody’s life in many ways every day.  So about a dozen years ago I turned to writing as a way to introduce people to that business.  And in that process, I found the true love of my life:  writing fiction. 

My first mystery, Unreasonable Risk, is set in a mythical Minnesota refinery where a saboteur causes no end of trouble for my able young protagonist, Hannah Morrison.  
More About Unreasonable Risk
First in the series, Unreasonable Risk introduces Hannah Morrison, a young environmental engineer ensnared in a series of violent events which threaten the refinery. She knows it’s sabotage. Who’s behind the spate of near-catastrophes that plague the plant? Who can she trust? And what will the saboteur try next?  Unreasonable Risk tells the story of a resourceful young woman fighting to save the refinery, the city surrounding it and, ultimately, her life.
Amazon: Unreasonable Risk (e-book) --

The second, Through Dark Spaces, is set in the mining industry of western South Dakota, where I live now.  In this book, Hannah, my environmental engineer, must figure out why her only employee, Dooley Arnold, was clubbed over the head and left to die in an old mine tunnel.  And, she wonders, what does it have to do with water?  A lot.  I hope you’ll read it and see.

 More About Through Dark Spaces
When Hannah Morrison takes an environmental consulting job at a South Dakota surface mine, she doesn’t expect to have to confront her darkest, most personal fears. In the course of her work, as she discovers secret after secret, Hannah realizes that somebody is poisoning the water in the beautiful Black Hills. Who—and why? Driven to solve the problem and find the people responsible, Hannah finds herself deep underground, trapped in the darkest of spaces—with a murderer.
Amazon: Through Dark Spaces (e-book) -- 
Amazon: Through Dark Spaces (paperback) --
Createspace: Through Dark Spaces (paperback)--

Water is really important here in western South Dakota because there isn’t very much around.  The Black Hills are like a pine-capped oasis in a high desert.  Part of my life in recent years has been dedicated to keeping our groundwater clean.  I used my environmental background by serving on a county-wide ad hoc committee to draft and implement an ordinance to inspect and repair septic systems. 
Karen E. Hall & Husband, Jeff Nelson
It’s not very glamorous (my husband occasionally calls me “the princess of poop”) but in my opinion is absolutely necessary to protect the integrity of the aquifers that allow us to live in this beautiful place.
So now I’m a member of the county’s planning commission, too.  
Roughlock Burr
I also hike, downhill ski like a crazy woman, and take tons of photographs.
I’ve included a couple from recent hikes in the woods with this post.  

Whitetail buck
Although I used to do a lot of art stuff, including pottery, painting and several crafts, I’ve determined that my media are these:  words, photographs and yarn.  Although I don’t have any photos of my yarn projects, I have five wonderful grandchildren who wear and/or wrap themselves in those projects.  I know I have a lot more books in me, and I’ll never stop doing yarn projects or taking photographs, either.  If I’m still skiing at 80 (I’m nearly 63 now), I’ll be a happy woman. 

Thanks so much, Morgan, for hosting me.  I’d love to hear about your readers’ media of expression – what arts, crafts and activities float your boat?  What keeps all of you other spunky seniors going?

Thanks very much, Morgan, for hosting me!

Warm regards,
Karen Hall
Please welcome Karen Hall to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents by Leaving a Comment.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Spunky Senior Author, Richard Brawer, Shares Silk Mills and Paterson With Us

Richard Brawer writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels. When not writing, he spends his time sailing and growing roses.  He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.

Richard has some fascinating historical details to share about Paterson, the setting for his book, Silk Legacy.

Here's what Richard has to say:

Most of us Spunky Seniors on this list were probably born between the mid 1920s and 1960.  We’ve all heard stories about how our parents and grandparents struggled against the industrial barons to give us a better life.

The auto workers, steel workers and mine workers battles against their boss’ tyranny is prominently written about in the history books, but the battle between Paterson, NJ’s silk mill workers and the silk bosses is relegated to the back pages of history books, if it is mentioned at all.  However, that struggle in 1913 in the “Silk City” led to the formation of the only labor museum in the United States which is still in operation today in Haledon, NJ. 

A brief history of Paterson:

In 1791 Alexander Hamilton stood on the bluffs that overlooked the Passaic River’s great waterfall, and envisioned a mighty industrial city.  He prophesied that the only way his new country could be truly independent from England and Europe was to develop its own resources and industry.
Wary that democracy by the masses was not powerful enough to bring about the quick development of a strong industrial economy, Hamilton lobbied Congress to appropriate one million dollars to build a government-owned and operated industrial center.  Congress balked.  However, through the influence of his politically connected friends, Hamilton convinced the New Jersey Legislature to charter a corporation for the sole purpose of creating an industrial city.

The corporation was named “Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers.”  Its charter gave it extraordinary financial and governmental powers.  S.U.M. had exclusive control over the Passaic River and its great waterfall.  Its property and the corporation were tax exempt.  It had the right to create its own government within the bounds of its territory, and to condemn property bordering its lands for its own use, as well as hold lotteries to raise funds.  Among the original sixty-five stockholders were two Supreme Court justices, four senators, nine congressmen, a former governor of New Jersey, and the present governor, William Paterson—the namesake of the city S.U.M. built.  This obvious conflict of interest set the tone for the operation of Paterson for the next one hundred and twenty-five years.

S.U.M. set out immediately to build its own factories as well as to lease and sell land to other entrepreneurs.  Word spread rapidly.  The city became a Mecca for men with grandiose ideas such as Samuel Colt, whose six-shooter helped tame the west; Thomas Rogers whose Rogers Locomotive factory built not only one of the first locomotives in America, but Union Pacific’s Engine number 119 that bumped cow catchers with its counterpart from the west at Promontory, Utah to unite the country by rail; John Holland, developer of the first practical submarine which he tested in the Passaic River; and John Ryle, who in the eighteen-forties, built a silk mill and started an industry that would dwarf all others.  By 1900 there were three hundred mills in Paterson that were turning raw silk into a fabric of shimmering beauty to luxuriously adorn the bodies and homes of America’s rich.

Enticed by pictures of gold lying in the streets waiting to be scooped up, immigrants flocked to Paterson, carrying with them little more than their dreams for freedom, equality and riches.  A few realized those dreams and joined the ranks of the industrialists, but most soon found out they had traded their past oppression under the aristocrats of Europe for a new form of oppression, fostered on them by the powerful mill owners.  The industrialists ruled Paterson as a private kingdom.  They had no concern for the city or the people that inhabited it, treating Paterson and its immigrant laborers as expendable commodities needed only to create the one product that meant anything to them—money.

Nothing was built for the public without a bitter fight from the directors of S.U.M. and the other industrialists.  A cholera epidemic established an obvious need for sewers, but it took a special act of the state legislature to force S.U.M. to build them.  S.U.M., because of its tax exempt status, refused to pay its fair share for sidewalks, and it was not until 1907, despite numerous typhoid outbreaks, that S.U.M finally was forced to put proper filters on its system that supplied drinking water to the city.

Government became an industry of its own, earning its revenues from the industrialists who owned the politicians, the courts, the press and the ballot box.  The working class was disenfranchised from both politics and the social order of the city.  They became outcasts, treated no better than the products they produced with their labor.  However, there was one factor the autocratic industrialists could not control—the flow of ideas.

During the nineteenth century, the population of Paterson increased by fifty percent every decade.  The immigrants who crowded into the tenements were of the same stock as America’s founding fathers and the industrialists who tried to control them.  Their tongues were equally as sharp, their organizing abilities as keen, and their demands for “certain unalienable rights” as insistent.  With every avenue of legal protest shut to them, they hit out at their oppressors the only way left open to them: they withheld their labor from the mills.

Their first strike came in 1794, the only demand being schooling for their children.  Over the next one hundred and nineteen years, as the dictatorship of the industrialists grew stronger and their refusal to do anything for the welfare of the city became more adamant, Paterson’s laborers struck their bosses an additional one hundred and thirty-six times.

Through their ownership of the politicians and the police, the bosses easily put down every strike, but each defeat taught valuable lessons to the laborers.  The day was fast approaching when the masses would be heard and the power structure would shift.  That day arrived on February 25, 1913.  Twenty-four thousand workers walked out of Paterson’s three hundred silk mills, throwing the city into chaos for five months.

My family had been in the textile business since my grandfather started a silk company in Paterson in 1904, branching out into synthetic yarns by the mid 1930s.  My grandfather had six sons.  As the sons became of working age he set them up in various facets of the textile businessweaving mill, dye house, jobbers, converters, etc. My father’s business was a dye and print factory.

I was born in Paterson but my branch of the family moved to the Jersey Shore when I was twelve. After graduating the University of Florida I joined my father in his business.  The company dyed and printed fabric mostly for the women’s trades―inexpensive dresses and lingerie. I was sent out to solicit the curtain, drapery and linen trades.

Unfortunately my father died of a heart attack in 1968 and the executors sold the business to other family members. (It’s a long drawn out story as to why I didn’t get a chance to take over the business, but that’s for another time.)  I continued to work there for two more years then my uncles and their partners said point blank, “Richard, there’s no future for you here.”  I guess they didn’t like the fact that in the six years I worked there, I had built up my trade to the point where I was doing one third of the company’s business and they would have to keep paying me commission on those sales. (If there is a moral here it’s, don’t ever work for family.)

Since I knew the curtain, drapery and linen trade my wife and I started a retail store.  I was able to get credit for merchandise because I was now buying from the same people I had sold to and they knew me and trusted me. We ran the store successfully for thirty years.  

After I retired, I began writing mystery novels, my favorite genre to read. But I also read a lot of historical fiction.  When I read about an historian giving a lecture on the “Silk City” and a tour of the historic district, since I knew little about Paterson, I thought it would be nice to check out my roots.

As I listened to the lecturer a plot developed in my mindtwo brothers, one a silk industrialist the other a union leader, and their wives battling their husbands for voting rights and reproductive freedom. I took a lot of notes, but not enough to truly understand the era.  So I did research by going back to Paterson and reading old newspaper stories.  With that research and my knowledge of the textile industry, I wrote Silk Legacy.

About Silk Legacy:
In early twentieth century Paterson, New Jersey, dashing twenty-nine year old Abraham Bressler charms na├»ve nineteen year old Sarah Singer into marriage by making her believe he feels the same way she does about the new calling of a modern woman.  He then turns around and gives her little more respect than he would a servant, demanding she stay home to care for “his” house and “his” children.

Feeling betrayed Sarah defies him and joins women's groups, actively participating in rallies for woman suffrage, child welfare and reproductive freedom.  For a while she succeeds in treading delicately between the demands of her husband and her desire to be an independent woman.  Her balancing act falters when a strike shuts down Paterson’s 300 silk mills.  With many friends working in the mills, Sarah is forced to choose sides in the battle between her Capitalist husband and his Socialist brother, a union leader who happens to be her best friend’s husband.

Jealousy, infidelity, arrogance, greed—the characters’ titanic struggles will catapult you into the heights of their euphoria and the depths of their despair.  Who will triumph and who will be humbled is not certain until the last page.

Unfortunately the publisher of Silk Legacy has gone out of business.  But the book is available on Kindle and any e-reader that can access books. The link which will take you directly to the Silk Legacy page in is:

Read more about Silk Legacy and Richard’s latest novel, Keiretsu, due out the end of November, and his mystery novels at: