Guest posts

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest post by Rosalind Smith-Nazilli a British Expat writer living & writing in Turkey

Rosalind Smith-Nazilli author of Author of -  FOURTEEN flashes of fiction


My Photo
 I write short stories and flash fiction, all day and every day. Currently I have two anthologies in the pipeline and also something much more challenging. I am lucky enough to live by the sea in Turkey with my husband Mehmet, and a crazy puppy, Ayda, who only recently joined our family. I shall be taking the plunge into self puplishing very soon and will be looking for a lot of guidance..

Check her out at:

Rosalind writes:  For a good many years I lived a wonderfully full life, worked in a profession I loved (nursing), and raised an incredibly intelligent son.

Then one day he vanished from my life and started building his own. University, and as a single mother I was suddenly part of the empty nest crowd.

Something was happening to me and I didn't know what. During a very important promotion interview I suddenly lost the power of speech and within two weeks of that day got the call to tell me that someone I loved with all my heart had passed away.

Several other things occurred around this time which led me to plummet into a deep depression.

And then my best friend saved my life. She arrived at my home with tickets for a one week holiday in Turkey.

I refused point blank to go saying I had heard it was a horrid and dirty country and that it was the last thing I needed. But she persisted and four days before my fortieth birthday I found myself on a plane headed for Alanya.

We arrived in the middle of the night in September, and as we walked out of the airport the stifling heat knocked me for six.

Well that was the start of the rest of my life. I fell in love and made as many trips over as I could afford. I travelled everywhere, stayed in big cities and mountain villages. I had come home.

When my son eventually married I made the decision to up sticks, sell everything I owned and move out properly.

It took a while to establish myself in a new life and I moved around considerably until I discovered the idyllic little fishing town of Eski Foça. Just over an hour outside of the city of Izmir, two small harbours form a back to front S shape on the Aegean coast.

Life is quiet here. It is not a pulsating tourist resort although we do have many very nice hotels. The majority of visitors are Turks from the cities and the holiday season here is really only four months long where as along the Mediterranean coast it is upwards of seven.

Since moving here I have met and married my husband and carved out a near perfect existence.

Winter is cold, beyond belief and Eski Foça becomes a ghost town with many houses and apartments shuttered up as the owners return to their city homes. But it is a small price to pay for the dazzling scenery and the magnificent places on hand to visit.

I have always been a writer but since settling here I have been able to dedicate the time and effort to it that I have always dreamed of and to be honest, it is only thanks to the internet and social networking that I am able to make a living this way.

Far removed from the days when I used to bang away on an old typewriter and send stuff out via snail mail. I have managed to produce my first ebook via kindle and start to build a name for myself. A long way still to go but it would never have happened had I not moved to Turkey.

There are one or two other English people living her but I am not great at interaction and prefer to give my time to my craft. My husband works long hours so I am free to write, walk the dog and in the summer spend long hours gardening or at the beach.

My Turkish is far from fluent but I know enough to function on a daily basis and can even manage to haggle at the pazar (the huge weekly fruit and veg market).

I cook a lot of Turkish food now and greatly prefer the healthy options that are available. A whole lot better than a frozen lasagne for one.

All in all despite the reservations of family and close friends it was the best decision I have ever made. There have been difficulties along the way of course, and some nightmare situations but on the whole I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Guest post with Sheana Ochoa

Welcome to Sheana Ochoa, author of Stella Adler Life in Art
Check out Sheena's fascinating blog at

Sheana writes: I always wanted to be a famous actress. Every year I would watch the Oscars with a special notebook and record who won what for which category.  I thought I was doing something important for posterity (not realizing there were archivist paid to accurately collect this data).  It made me feel that I was a part of that world, that world of magic: the movies.  Growing up I would create skits to perform for whatever older sibling happened to be home.  At sleepovers with girlfriends I would create an entire world based on the television detective series “Moonlighting,” in which we had to investigate and solve the mystery of whodunit.  In 6th grade as my teacher was passing out the play we were going to perform, I was counting which character had the most lines and raised my hand for that role when she called out the name.  In junior high I enrolled in drama class, but by then I had discovered a new love, poetry. I began identifying myself as a writer.

Stella Adler wanted to be a famous actress too.  Only she was born into a family of actors and put on the stage as soon as she could walk and it was her destiny to perform.  Like me, she also thought acting was magic: it gave her the self-esteem and approval she didn’t receive at home.  School did that for me and I effectively earned straight A’s and scholarships to college.

When I entered graduate school, I needed a job to supplement my expenses.  I answered an ad to manage the office at a vocational school.  I knew school.  This was my territory and I wanted the job badly. I didn’t know who Stella Adler was when I went into the interview, nor that the school was for acting. 

Walking into the theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, I was transported into film’s golden age.  The building itself had been a nightclub for movie stars in its heyday where Charlie Chaplin drank in the speakeasy and Greta Garbo danced on the outdoor patio.  Poster sized pictures of Stella’s family performing in the Yiddish Theatre lined the walls along with publicity photos of Stella when she was working on Broadway and glamour shots from the one film she starred in, “Love on Toast.” 

I was in New York, where Stella was born and where she considered home, when I got the call that I got the job.

At first my fascination, like Stella’s, was for her father, Jacob Adler.  I read his memoir that his granddaughter had written.  I identified with the family, a pack of gypsies, as one member of the family referred to them.  I felt the same in my family: we were all so closely bound by my father and even if we argued, the bond could never be severed.  I identified with the patriarchal hold Jacob had over his children, the same as my father.  I was fascinated with the immigrant story and how Jacob could not act in Odessa where he was from because the Yiddish Theatre was banned.  My father was never an actor (not professionally at least), but he came from a family of immigrants and that legacy somehow carries over in the DNA.  After I’d learned all there was to know about Jacob, I wanted to know more about Stella. 

Every day while managing the school, I’d learn a lot about her.  All the teachers and the director, Irene Gilbert, had studied with Stella.  Everyone had stories and they would imitate her and there’d always be a delicious punch line.  Who was this woman, I thought, that so many people adored her?  I could still feel her presence even though she had died six years prior to my arrival.   The most interesting part was that Irene, to whom Stella had bequeathed her west coast school, had dedicated her life to Stella.  I kept the books.  Every month I had to juggle Irene’s personal credit cards in order to pay the rent and the teachers’ salaries.  I speculated whether Irene and Stella had been lovers.  I mean who mortgages their house for someone in order to sustain their legacy?  At 28, my understanding of relationships was nascent.  Truth was, Stella was the mother Irene never had.  Irene’s own parents had been run over by a New York taxicab when she was four.  I admired that loyalty.  I understood Irene’s loss because I too felt I had lost my parents at a young age and I knew the hole it created in the heart.  Much of what propelled me to keep writing Stella’s biography was an unconscious pact I had with Irene to keep Stella’s legacy alive, to give Stella due credit for her contribution to modern day acting.  

So I began researching Stella, which took me back to New York.  I loved the feeling of achievement as I uncovered more and more information about Stella throughout the city whether I was walking through the Lower East Side or combing the archives at the Oral History collection at Columbia or trekking out to Mount Carmel cemetery where the pack of gypsies are interred and where a tall statue of an eagle over Jacob’s grave still resides over them all. 

The more I uncovered, the more I understood how important Stella’s life story is.  I didn’t understand why her biography hadn’t already been written . . . until I met the family.  At first her nieces and grandchildren welcomed me, but there was an air of reticence in these interviews.  When I first met her daughter I was welcomed as well, but she offered me nothing personal except for what she did not say. Like Stella, and for that matter, like me, Ellen Adler had been neglected by parents who were too busy working to raise and nurture their children.  I met Ellen two more times throughout the years.  The last time she told me she could not share letters her mother had written to her because she intended on using them in her own memoir.  Afterward, I visited her daughter who told me that Ellen had been told to say that to me by Stella’s stepdaughter who may have her own designs on writing Stella’s biography. The family politics and personalities would keep most biographers away.

And so my research continued. Stella was born in 1901 and died in 1991 so I had the entire 20th century to investigate.  I waited two years for Stella’s FBI file to arrive after I applied through the Freedom of Information Act. Once Ellen finally donated Stella’s papers to the University of Texas at Austin (after she had promised to first let me go through them and then reneged), I had to wait another two years for them to be inventoried and opened to the public. Even today, with the book written, I feel I could study Stella’s life for another 10 years and still not be finished.
At Austin among numerous boxes and recordings of Stella’s classes, there are two oversized albums. Each page has several letters and cards from students thanking Stella for changing their life.  Ellen had put these albums together, and I knew there were many more letters.  I even had some of my own that people I had interviewed let me photocopy. 

This is the thing: I did not spend the last twelve years researching Stella’s life because we both wanted to be famous movie stars or because we both felt neglected by our parents or because we were both teachers or because we both had been raised with an immigrant mentality.  I was and still am drawn to Stella because as any of her students would say, she didn’t just teach acting.  Stella wanted her students to go out into the world as independent actors, not dependent upon her or any teacher or director (or parent).  In order to do this, she taught them to know themselves. She taught her students how to dissect a character and uncover the root of the human condition.  Students had to understand themselves if they wanted to truthfully interpret a character. Stella taught them to observe their behavior and thoughts as well as the actions of others.  The common person does not go around examining the very visceral and ethereal nature of man.  That is the job of the philosopher.  And so, what students and what I get from Stella is a spiritual training, how to be in the moment, how to be truthful through art, how to overcome adversity and still keep your soul intact, or at least how to strive for those things, which was what Stella seemed to do naturally and what made her so fascinating.

In the end, I wrote the biography as diligently as I used to record all of the Oscar winners when I was a little girl.  I understood then that these “performances” were not just interpretations of stories. They were art, something to be respected and written down.  Likewise, Stella’s story is an indispensible chapter in the annals of an ancient and life-affirming profession: to interpret story on stage or on the screen.  By writing Stella’s story, I have become the chronicler of the evolution of modern day acting, the most influential and beloved art form.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Post by Romance Author Shilpa Mudiganti

Book Title: Always You
Author: Shilpa Mudiganti
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: InkSpell Publishing
Publication Date: March 6th 2012
Format: eBook, Paperback, Kindle

Life without a romance novel!

Have you thought about a world without books? Especially without romance books? I shudder when I think about it! Can anything be more horrible?

I can imagine myself dragging through the days and nights wishing for that unreal, impractical and totally impossibly handsome man waiting for me in a beautiful, again impossible places but to what avail? I know I can do nothing but just imagine it.
But with books? Well, with books, I can see them happening!

 In my favorite romance books, someone (read the blessed writer!) has wrapped my favorite dream over a delicious candy and sprinkled it with some hotter, sweet nothings that I craved for but never knew and gifted it to me. That is pretty much what romance novels mean to me.

They are those dreams that are silly yet essential for our spirits to move on in life. We don’t realize their importance till they are missing from our lives. Let’s be honest and think about how many times we have turned to a romance novel when we were going through a rough patch? I remember guzzling down piles of romance novels when I was away from my then boyfriend and now husband. It gave me solace and hope that all things romantic would come to me too. Pretty soon. And you know what? It did!

So, when life is in dumps, a romance novel might just be the happy drink one is looking for! Therefore, when I wrote the story of Lyla and Alex, I poured in everything that makes the book a happy reading journey worth taking.

Lyla and Alex have issues too. But they have their happy moments too. And in those moments, they find the strength to love, forgive, heal and move on. And to my credit, I also sprinkled with heavy doses of hot romance that satisfies some of our secret cravings too! Wink

I loved my journey with my debut romance novella “Always You”. And I couldn’t have written it without the constant presence of romance novels to cheer me, love me and most of all, to give me the dreams that I never dared to dream!

I hope if you ever pick up “Always You” to read, you would enjoy it as much as I did writing it!

Thank you Brenda for having me on your blog today and let me share my love for romance novels. Much appreciated.

Author Bio

Shilpa Mudiganti Mirza grew up making up stories in her head. Starting with innocent babbling, genre of her stories changed with lessons growing up teaches us all. She thought life would be all about her stories until she completed her technical degree. Security of an IT job lured her leaving her stories to continue brew up in her head. Yet soon she had to fall in step with what fate had planned for her and she penned her first romance novella, Always You to be published by Inkspell Publishing. There has been no looking back since then. Juggling her day job as an IT geek, she has penned down her pet project, an exciting fantasy story of lions and wolves which, to her utter delight, is going to see the light of the day early next year. She says you would fall in love with her wonderful hero and heroine.
When she has time to breathe, she spends time blogging, connecting with her readers and spending time with her loving husband. She lives at Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. You can connect with her at:
Website | Twitter | Facebook
And if you have time to spare, she would be delighted to have you on her blog.