Purple (Motorcycle Side) Car of the Weekend

Purple vehicles know no time limit as seen by this old fashioned motorcycle sidecare!

Purple Motorcycle SideCar

Photo credit: Elyse Vahjen

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A Weekly Drawing – No Art Talent Necessary!

My teen dance book, No One’s Watching, is Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine‘s Weekly Draw! Enter between October 1 – 7 for a chance to win an autographed copy and matching bookmark!

Follow directions here and enter every day to win!

This book perfectly relates to the crazy life of a dancer. – Irish Dancing and Culture magazine recommends No One’s Watching as a “great read.”

Read their review here! Or below:

Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine

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No Oil Apple Cake Recipe

Originally posted on The Sandy Side of Life:
This sweet and moist apple cake recipe requires zero oil or butter. APPLE HARVEST CAKE 4 cups apples 4 cups sugar 2 eggs 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. vanilla…

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Someone’s Watching – Updates on Teen Dance Book “No One’s Watching”

Who doesn’t like a good review? Or interview? I’m happy to have had great feedback from major magazines and websites pertaining to the focus of my teen dance novel – No One’s Watching –  and even happier to share them here!

Celtic Life International

Celtic Life International asked to interview me for their website about how a nice Jewish, ballet dancer like me integrated Irish dance in my teen novel. Read the interview here!


 I was thrilled when Irish Dancing and Culture magazine accepted a Irish Dancing and Culture Magazinecopy of my book for review and even more excited to see it in their August 2014 issue. Reviewer Maeve Gillette wrote, “This book perfectly relates to the crazy life of a dancer.” But you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy it! Or take my word for it. Read the review in its entirety below!


Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine


Compass Book Ratings website offers a service to target reading material by age, level, and content with No One’s Watching receiving a respectable four out of five stars as the reviewer called it “a cute, entertaining read for tweens and teens!”

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.54.24 PM


The September issue of Dance Spirit magazine hailed No One’s Watching as their Pick-of-the-Dance Spirit magazineMonth. How cool is that? Love the glossy cover! I also appreciate the opportunity to participate in a giveaway as well!

So far, so good! Thanks for reading. I hope to have more updates soon!

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Interview with Civil War Historian, Larry Stephens – Part 2

Civil War historian Larry Stephens continues his interview from yesterday discussing his new historical fiction film, For Home and Country, available at larrystephens25@gmail.com.

For his movie, For Home and Country, Larry extensively researched  the theme of Southerner pitted against Southerner in the context of the Civil War. He reveals how he became interested in this topic below:

For Home and Country

For Home and Country written by and starring Larry Stephens

“Much of the South has always been overshadowed by the legacy of the Civil War. Whether we are talking about strained race relations, economic stagnation (due to local people blocking progress, or making newcomers feel unwelcome), or families simply wanting to honor their Confederate heritage by dressing up in hoop skirts and Rebel uniforms on certain holidays of the year, much of the South is still affected by the war… You don’t see this in progressive cities like Atlanta, Nashville, or Charlotte, but take a drive into the more rural sections of the Deep South and you will see another side. 

I’m not maligning the Old South because there is something endearing about a slower pace of life and maintaining certain traditions. However, as an outsider who actually lived for five years in a particular town in Alabama, I can truthfully say that the people there were “stuck in the past.” As recently as last year, a prominent city official from this same town stated that he knew he had raised his kids right because he didn’t have to worry about them marrying outside their race. The minority groups in this same town still live in destitute poverty, and local officials want to do everything in their power to keep new businesses from moving in because it will “change our community forever.” All of this is a carryover from the Civil War, and more importantly, it reflects an “Old South” mentality. I’m not picking on this one town because this is actually a pervasive attitude that still governs much of the rural South.

More to the point, I became interested in the Civil War in the Southern Appalachians because you had large numbers of mountain folk who never wanted to fight for the Confederacy, or anybody else for that matter. They just wanted to be left alone. They did not own slaves and had no vested interest in the larger Southern economy which revolved around slavery and cotton. 

It may surprise folks, but there were over 40,000 Southern men from East Tennessee and western North Carolina who actually put on the blue uniform and fought for the Union, and some historians have estimated that as many as 200,000 men from the Appalachian South hid out in the woods to escape the Confederate draft. This is an astonishing number when you consider that the total number of men who served in the Confederate Army approximated 800,000. My film, which is entitled For Home and Country, is about Southerners fighting and killing each other… This is a relatively new theme in Civil War scholarship, and only a handful of books and films have ever addressed this subject. So I became intrigued with this topic, and decided to develop it into a film. Incidentally, my Gatewood book (John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker) actually delves into this same area, though the focus is on East Tennessee

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

and North Georgia.

For Home and Country is about a middle-aged farmer living in Randolph County, Alabama, who just wants to sit out the war. He is drafted against his will, but decides to do his duty anyway and serve in the hope that the war will be over soon. However, a letter from his wife in late 1864 informs him that there are outlaws terrorizing their homestead and burning the homes of their neighbors. Our protagonist makes the fateful decision to desert the colors and go home to take care of his wife. In the course of making his way back, he encounters many difficulties, but the real problems begin when he arrives back in Randolph County and realizes that he is on a “hit list,” drawn up by the local authorities. The film is actually based on a true story, though most of the characters in the film are purely fictitious. However, the villain in the film was actually a real person who went around doing horrible things in the name of the Confederacy. I won’t tell you how the story ends, but I think folks will really get their money’s worth when they view the film, which is just under an hour in length.

It was very easy to assemble the cast because there are many native Southerners who are very good actors and who are interested in their own family history. People wanted to help me almost from the beginning because they were intrigued by the story… so most of the actors simply did it for free. When you stop and think about it, almost everyone born and reared in the South within the last 50 years or more, had a family member who was either in the war as a Confederate soldier, a Union sympathizer, or a slave. And there were a few thousand free blacks living in the South at the time of the war, but they were treated almost as inhumanely as the slaves, and many of them had to flee the region just for the sake of their own safety.”

Copies of the film are available from Larry for $8 ($4 shipping) at larrystephens25@gmail.com

Larry Stephens as John Taylor in "For Home and Country"

Larry Stephens as John Taylor in “For Home and Country”

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Interview with Civil War Historian, Larry Stephens – Part 1

Larry Stephens as John Taylor in "For Home and Country"

Larry Stephens stars as John Taylor in For Home and Country

Larry D. Stephens is an author, screen writer, film maker, and actor. Currently, he’s a graduate student at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia seeking to further his education so that he can teach history at the collegiate level. Born and raised in Marietta, Georgia, he grew up within a stone’s throw of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park and became interested in the American Civil War as a boy. He holds a BA in History and a MEd in Social Studies Education. He taught high school history before returning to college to earn an MS in Library and Information Studies. Stephens is a frequent speaker and has written several other books on the Civil War.

Do you have a favorite place to write?
I generally like to write in the privacy of a special room that I call “the Study.”

What do you love most about writing?
The thing I love most about writing is that you are “creating something new” that you hope will be good enough to share with others.  It’s like painting a picture, or composing a song, or making a film… You are doing something creative, original, new, and exciting. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What is the hardest and easiest part of the writing process for you?
Since I write non-fiction “with a popular twist,” in terms of my prose style, the hardest part for me is doing all of the research.  It’s very time-consuming and can be exhausting at the same time. But once the research is done, I’m ready to write and that process usually goes pretty quickly. Sometimes I may get bogged down in the writing because I am struggling with which word to use in a passage, but that’s usually a temporary obstacle that can be easily overcome after a few attempts.

What five words best sum up your personality?
The five words that best sum up my personality can actually be condensed into three… “introverted, passionate, and free-thinking.”

Other than writing, what else do you love to do?
Make films.

Describe your perfect day.
A perfect day for me would be getting up early to write, being really productive for about 2-3 hours, and then taking a nice long break in the form of a mid-day siesta or walk in the forest. Then I might try to do a bit more writing in the late afternoon, or I might decide to do something completely different like listening to good music with a glass of wine or watching an old classic movie.

Do you have a writing schedule?
Mornings are the best time for me to write, and preferably early.  I feel that I’ve really accomplished a lot if I can get 2-3 hours of good writing in.

What are your past, current, and/or next projects and a link to them?
Actually, I’m returning to grad school in about a week to do something that I should have done 30 years ago… getting an M.A. in History so I can teach as a part-time adjunct instructor on the collegiate level. So until that degree is completed, I doubt that I will have any time to write or do anything else creative for quite some time. But once it’s done, I know I’ll be back in the saddle again with a new project.

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker was published in 2012 by Pelican Publishing. From Amazon.com:

John Pemberton Gatewood of Fentress County, Tennessee, evolved into one of the

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

deadliest guerrilla leaders of the Confederacy. Exploits attributed to Gatewood have painted him as both a vicious, unprincipled killer and a soldier fiercely loyal to his family and to those who shared his commitment to the Confederacy. His descent into what many considered barbaric behavior began after family tragedy drove him to join Champ Ferguson as a bushwhacker. Personally murdering more than sixty people, he and his men cut a swath of destruction through east Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and northeast Alabama. Gatewood even garnered the attention of Gen. William T. Sherman, who put a bounty on his head. Now, for the first time, Gatewood’s riveting, full-length biography has been told by Civil War author Larry D. Stephens.

Where can we reach you?


Amazon:  John P. Gatewood: Confederate Bushwhacker

Thank you, Larry, for this interesting glimpse into your writing and research strategy.

Watch for Part 2 in tomorrow’s post as Larry discusses his new film For Home and Country.


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Purple Car of the Weekend

After a long drought of purple vehicles, a purple car was spotted at a restaurant in Brooklyn! How do you like this fine Dodge Challenger?

Purple Car

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