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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Non-Profit Dyslexic Advantage Welcomes Aboard “Arrgh!” Author Stacey R. Campbell for “Pirate Invasion” Online Fundraiser (7/21)

 On Tues., July 21 (10:30 a.m. PST / 1:30 p.m. EST), prolific dyslexic children’s book author, Stacey R. Campbell, will board the “good ship” Dyslexic Advantage for an online Pirate Invasion Celebration based on her pirate adventure book, “Arrgh!” (selected for a Mom’s Choice Gold Award). Attendees are encouraged to pre-register on the Dyslexic Advantage blog with a $15 donation.

All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Dyslexic Advantage whose mission is to “promote positive identity, community, and achievement among dyslexic people by focusing on their strengths.”

Campbell will regale listeners with pirate tales and pirate lore. Attendees who apply early may participate in Pirate Contests for:

1. Best Pirate Joke
2. Best Pirate Drawing
3. Best Costume
4. Best “Arrgh!”

Deadline for contest applications is Mon., July 20.

Campbell conducts citywide workshops in Seattle area schools that encourage every child to read and write. “Dyslexia is not a disability,” Campbell tells students during power point presentations. “It’s a creative asset.”
Studies do show that those diagnosed with dyslexia are often creative.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey and found her enthusiasm for writing and discovering absolutely contagious,” said Dr. Fernette Eide who co-wrote the book, “Dyslexic Advantage” with her husband, Dr. Brock Eide before founding the organization in 2012.

Dyslexia Advantage serves the international “dyslexia community” via its website and blog, organizing conferences and offering online interviews with dyslexic luminaries, such as Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” TV fame, who has co-authored 17 “Hank Zipzer” novels.

The Seattle Children’s Museum has invited Campbell to participate in their National Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), and the Children’s Museum of Skagit County will host her Pirate Invasion activities in October.

“I believe there’s no such thing as a bad reader,” said Campbell, who at an early age was warned by her teachers that she could never be a writer because of her reading challenges. Proving them all wrong, Campbell is also the author of the Lakeview Novel Series:

- “Hush”
- “Whisper”
- “Silence”
- “Scream” (due out July 20 on Amazon)

She has one more Lakeview novel on the way (“Bliss”), as well as the children’s picture book, “Sock Monster” to be released in October.

All Campbell’s books are published by Green Darner Press in Seattle, Wash.

Author Stacey R. Campbell’s Website

“Arrgh!” Press Kit

Mailing Address:
Dyslexic Advantage
6701 139th Pl SW
Edmonds, WA 98026-3223

Marlan Warren
Book Publicity by Marlan

#dsylexicadvantage  #dyslexiacommunity #staceyrcampbell #dyslexiafundraiser #piratefun

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Green Darner Press Launches Teen "Scream" Novel 7/20: Author Campbell Talks Scary School Lunches

Title: Scream (Book 3, Lakeview Novel Series)
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: July 20, 2015
ISBN: 978-0986439001
Paperback and E-Book Formats              Pages: 202
Available on Amazon
“Oh yeah and there’s a reason the food sucks...
I’ll bet the garbage they’re serving us isn’t even prison grade.”

Seattle, WA, June 16Coinciding with recent California news reports about alleged corruption behind the poor quality of school lunches, on July 20, Green Darner Press will release Stacey R. Campbell's Scream—a teen thriller with evil school cafeteria staff at its core

The third novel in Campbell’s Young Adult "Lakeview Series" finds its heroine, Halle Henry, kicking off her senior year with the perfect boyfriend, perfect roommate (his twin sister) and the prospect of getting into the perfect college—all of which become endangered when her boyfriend Alex witnesses a murder and ends up expelled for drugs planted in his backpack. Faced with uncooperative adults, Halle devises her own plan to corner the culprits using all the high-tech electronic equipment and methods at her disposal from full-on Internet, social media and digital tools to ordering spy stuff off Amazon. Halle joins forces with an unlikely ally—Alex’s edgy roommate Wyatt—as they set out to bring the real criminals to justice and bring back Alex in time for graduation. But can they keep from getting killed in the process? And almost as important: 

Can they find out why the school cafeteria food sucks?

The Lakeview novels follow the high school adventures of two adopted sisters, Blakely and Halle, at the fictional Canadian Lakeview Academy. Despite the fact that in Book 1 (Hush), the graduating Blakely discovered her birthright entitled her to rule a small country, Halle modestly continues her studies at Lakeview where she enjoys her friends and solving the occasional ghost mystery (Book 2, Whisper). Hush has been optioned for a film.

The main idea for Scream came out of Stacey R. Campbell's own boarding school experience.

"After a year of complaining about the school’s food, they found out the school cook had been skimming from the school’s food budget to supplement his cocaine addiction," said Campbell. 

So is fiction stranger than truth? Or vice versa?

You be the judge.


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Trailer YouTube Scream


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

You have to be THIS smart to read this book: "The Frugal Editor" by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Summary: What sets THE FRUGAL EDITOR apart from the pack of standard grammar/style reference books already available is the ease and simplicity with which it presents a ton of well-organized information. With humor and high intelligence, Howard-Johnson covers an impressive variety of topics vital to every author's survival in 18 chapters, seven appendices and one very accessible index that can help a harried do-it-yourself editor quickly find an answer to a pressing editorial question.
I received a complimentary e-book of THE FRUGAL EDITOR from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. A version might be posted on Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog The New Book Review.
The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. 

·  Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

·  Series: HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers

·  Paperback: 288 pages

·  Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2d Edition) (4/3/15)

·  ISBN-13: 978-1505712117

·Available on Amazon     

Book Review by Marlan Warren

THE FRUGAL EDITOR fell into my lap like the proverbial manna from heaven. I received the e-book from author Carolyn Howard-Johnson, in exchange for an honest review.

Like most writers and editors, I worry a lot about punctuation, grammar, style and elusive typos. Author and seasoned publicist/journalist, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, offers a Table of Contents that is in itself a work of art with such promising and funny titles such as:
  • "Getting Cute with Caps"
  • "Effusive Italics"
  • "Quotationl Marks for the Two-Dumb Reader"
  • "Ellipsis Dots Gone Wild"
  • "What About Those Double Adjectives?"
What I found inside this comprehensive handbook is a well organized wealth of information that covers the most common editing questions that may still niggle even the most seasoned of editors.

Howard-Johnson also makes the valid point that even if you were an English teacher or scholar, those "credits" don't perfectly transfer to the knowledge required for acceptable book editing. Likewise, although she provides many handy tips, she still urges authors to seek professional editing assistance. Four eyes are better than two, right?

In addition to its 18 chapters, THE FRUGAL EDITOR offers seven appendices that include "My Generous Agents" (Howard-Johnson has gathered responses from agents about what turns them on and off...Priceless!); as well as sample letters for queries,  including those for media kits and film consideration book submissions.

This book fills a very special niche between the dry, technical style manuals and the more user-friendly, kinder-gentler teacher approach. Howard-Johnson's presentation gives us the feeling that we are seated in her classroom (she is, in fact, a UCLA Writers Program Extension instructor) with the benefit that she will not disappear at the end of the semester.

THE FRUGAL EDITOR is not just one more book of rules and regulations regarding grammar and style for professional or amateur book editors. The ease and simplicity with which this book is presented (deftly organized) belies what I'm sure was a mammoth task:  compiling all this detailed info, leaving no author's manuscript need unturned.

There's probably a manual called "Book Editing for Dummies," but this handbook, like all Carolyn Howard-Johnson's books (e.g., THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER), falls into the "Not for Dummies" category.

After reading THE FRUGAL EDITOR, I wrote author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and suggested the book's motto could be "You have to be THIS smart to read this book." She promptly asked me for permission to use that as a slogan.

Permission granted!



  • Best known as The Frugal Book Promoter.
  • Youngest person ever hired as staff writer for the Salt Lake Tribune--"A Great Pulitzer Prize Winning Newspaper."
  • Editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine (NYC).
  • Handled PR accounts (press releases) for fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert.
  • Columnist for The Pasadena Star News, Home Decor Buyer and the Glendale News-Press.
  • Currently columnist for My Shelf: "Back to Literature" (giving out annual "Noble Prize").
  • Graduate of University of Southern California.
  • Instructor for UCLA Extension Program
  • Award-Winning Novelist: "This Is the Place"
  • Award-Winning Non-Fiction: "Harkening"
  • Chapbook of Poetry named "Ten Best Reads" by the Compulsive Reader
  • Won Irwin Award (Book Publicists of Southern California
  • Named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award by California Legislature.

You can hook up with Carolyn and enjoy her communications at:
Sharing with Writers and Readers blog (A Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick!)
You can subscribe to Carolyn's newsletter by sending an e-mail with "subscribe" in the subject line to

Some full disclosure about this ReviewReviewer:

I am a professional editor. My last assignment was for Green Darner Press.

Despite the fact that I can adequately edit another author's book, my own novel "final" manuscripts end up with not a few errors that only another set of eyes can spot.

I read a lot of newly released books from small presses and indie authors that have noticeable errors (sometimes that even a literate child could spot).

No matter how many times I try to explain to a newbie author the importance of hiring an editor (at least to proofread their manuscript), I get the same response: "I'm afraid the editor will change my style, what I want to say, etc."


Friday, June 26, 2015


Title: Wrestling with the Devil
Authors: Antonio Russo and Tonya Russo Hamilton
Publisher: Gemelli Press
Date of Pub.: April 15, 2012
Genre: Memoir / Italian American / Italian Immigrant
ISBN 978-0982-102398 (Hard Cover)
ASIN: B008EWZ0TW (Kindle)

I had an outlet for my demons.
--Antonio Russo

Be not fooled by the staring young boy on the cover or the word "wrestling" in the title of Wrestling with the Devil (A Story of Sacrifice, Survival and Triumph from the Hills of Naples to the Hall of Fame) by Antonio Russo as told to his daughter, Tonya Russo Hamilton. This is a memoir with something for everyone, Italian Wrestler or not.

Wrestling with the Devil takes us along the simple-but-not-easy path that Russo took to Honor and the fulfillment of his Destiny. If filmmaker Martin Scorcese had not made a film about a raging bull of a boxer who cannot love, and made this story instead, it would have given American audiences a rare "insider" view of one determined man's journey from Italian boyhood to an Italian "American Graffiti-meets-Rebel Without a Cause" immigrant adolescence in Portland, Oregon to a miraculous college wrestling scholarship and finally, to a successful coaching career and induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

We are treated to a slice-of-Italian-American-Life in the 50s and 60s with all the warmth and family confusion, goodwill, great food and "immigrant drive for success" that such a cultural experience often entails.

What adds to this memoir's tenderness and heart is the equally touching fact that although it is told in the First Person, it is actually written by Russo's daughter, Tonya Russo Hamilton, who has spun a compelling, seamless narrative in her father's voice from what must have been hours and hours of taped anecdotes.

Before I cracked open Wrestling with the Devil, I feared it might be full of simplistic whining about how tough it is to be an immigrant, complete with heavy-handed scenesthat would  focus on beating the crap out of a wrestling opponent. Would there be veiled or unveiled bragging?  Or would his dauther sugarcoat the truth in an attempt to give her father a sweet memoir? No. No. No. And no. 

What I got was an honestly told story of a 10-year old Neopolitan boy who gets the shock of his life when his parents suddenly put him on a boat to New York for a "better life," ripping him away from their idyllic but poor world. The post-traumatic stress of "abandonment" eats away at Antonio for the rest of his life, and bedevils him. His parents and siblings eventually do join him, but by then he has had to deal with being shuttled from one relative's home to another after enduring a horrific voyage and arriving as a foreigner in a foreign land with no knowledge of English whatsoever.

Russo's demons stay with him for a lifetime, and might have led to self-destruction rather than self-construction had it not been for his strong will to succeed and exorcise the "devil" within through pursuit of his chosen passion: wrestling. After dabbling in some teenage pranks that verge on juvenile delinquency, he finally comes to a crossroads that forces him to find his moral compass.

Antonio Russo: First coaching position.

I enjoyed the humor, especially in his loving portrait of his mother, an awesome cook who would tell her children to "go play in the street" and who wished for her son what all mothers wish--that he get a good job, get married and give her grandkids.

Antonio as a toddler with his family in Naples, Italy.

Russo is fair in his portrayal of his siblings who also faced challenges similar to his own. His sister fared the worst and here the writing offers this poetic gem:

Catching a glimpse of her smiling was like finding an agate among river rocks.

For me, reading Wrestling with the Devil was like finding an agate among river rocks. An unexpected jewel amid a literary landscape that has brought us so many exaggerated or negative views of Italian life in America.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is that a Confederate Flag Scarf or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: United Daughters of the Confederacy Tried to "Mend Fences" with Slavery History (2006 Picnic)

March 2006: Unpublished Feature for Newspaper in Marshall, Missouri by Marlan Warren
United Daugthers of the Confederacy visit first black settlement site in Missouri:
"Our mother told us if there was ever a fire, grab a box of records and run..."

   There isn’t much left of Pennytown anymore. But when Virginia Huston looks at its vacant landscape, she sees more than just meadows, a church and a house. She sees memories that must be preserved.

   Huston was the last person born in Pennytown, a black settlement located eight miles southeast of Marshall that was started by Joe Penny in 19871 when he managed to purchase eight acres for $160.

   “What is unique about Pennytown is that it was started by a freed-slave,” Huston said.

   As times changed, people began to move elsewhere and by 1943, the town had all but died. Huston’s mother Josephine Jackson Lawrence devoted herself to building public awareness of Pennytown. It was finally listed as a national historical site and in the Marshall register. The University of Missouri-Columbia and Marshall Public Library now house the town’s records.

   “Our mother told us kids that if there was a fire, we each had to grab a box (of records) and run out,” says Huston. In fact, one day there was a fire, and she ran out with a box and left her glasses. “My brother had to go back and get them.”

   Huston took her mother’s place as tour guide after her passing 14 years ago. Many organizations ask for tours, but until this month, the United Daughters of the Confederacy® had not been one of them.

   On March 11, Huston welcomed the UDC, Marshall Chapter, to the Pennytown site. Members unloaded food, children and cameras. Some had brought friends. All looked ready to live up to their motto: “LOVE, LIVE, PRAY, THINK, DARE.”

   Their presence stemmed from a phone call UDC member Judy Frerking made to Huston, asking her to speak at their March meeting. Frerking had read about Pennytown and thought the group might like to learn more about it.

   “She said some of the members had never been to Pennytown,” recalls Huston. “So I suggested they have the meeting there.”

   After lunching in the unseasonably warm sunshine, the group gathered around the table next to the Pennytown Freewill Church and grew attentive as Huston began her oral history presentation. She passed out documents (“Here’s Aunt Penny’s slave record…”), showed scrapbook photos and award certificates. The attendees pored over them.

   Pennytown was once the largest Saline County black hamlet. It boasted farms, stores, two churches and a close-knit community. Now only the (recently restored) red-brick church remains, and only open for special occasions. Huston can still recall the baptisms that went on in the pond behind it.

   UDC members began to interject their own stories. Raylene Cornine recalled that when she was a little girl, she was very sick and Huston’s father brought a folk medicine that cured her. The medicine turned out to be skunk oil.
   Was he a doctor? “No, he just heard I was sick,” Cornine said.

   Huston’s revelation that Joe Penny is buried in an unmarked grave on private property garnered the biggest reaction. Members expressed concern and said someone should look into getting a marker.

   The lone Pennytown house is falling apart. It used to belong to Huston’s uncle. One UDC member’s grown daughter offered to help look into grants for a renovation project.

  Huston smiled. She said Friends of Pennytown Historical Site is open to suggestions.

   In closing, Huston read her mother’s favorite hymn “We’ve Come a Long Way, Lord.” Then she read her own handwritten thoughts, scribbled the night before:

   “It has been a struggle to get where we are but we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Huston read. “And there’s still more work to be done. We can sit and be a spectator…or learn from our fears and walk together.”

   Everyone said, “Amen.”

   President Bonnie Keyserling presented Huston with a donation from UDC, Marshall to the Friends of Pennytown. Then they started their meeting.

   Frerking said the event was a success because “you don’t learn unless you’re educated,” and this was an opportunity to “mend fences.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

CMC's Veteran Hair Etcetra and Hip Twist Salon to Combine Beauty Forces

CMC's Veteran Hair Etcetra and Hip Twist Salon to Combine Beauty Forces

For the past 50 years, visitors entering the Fashion District's California Market Center (CMC) may not have realized that a beauty salon is on the second floor, quietly servicing industry celebrities who slip in and out, and anyone else in need of beautifying. Expert stylist Connie Moran was there two years after it opened, and took it over from the second owner 38 years ago, renaming it Hair Shop Etcetra. This month Moran announced the sad news that the high-end salon will close its doors forever on June 31. And the glad news that it will reopen July 1 in the Twist by Oliver salon located downstairs in the outer lobby of the CMC.

“I'm looking forward to the fresh energy that comes with joining forces,” said Moran. “Twist is a cutting edge salon that complements our classic style. The blend of Twist's young forward-thinking and our years of fashion industry experience will make us a dynamic duo.”

Life in L.A. blogger Yvonne Acosta praised Twist as “a salon where the precision and talent is only matched by the feel-good energy, relaxing ambiance and a 100% friendly staff.”

Owner Oliver Ifergan welcomed Moran into the close-knit Twist family, stating that “We are honored and humbled to have Connie’s experience of more than 40 years in the industry on board with our team.”

Moran specializes in custom designed cuts, color and extensions. “I consult with all clients the day before so I can sleep on it,” she said, adding that each session is tailored to the person's lifestyle, type of hair and original base color.

Change is never easy, but Moran said, “I'm telling clients they'll walk less steps now. The Etcetra name won’t change. Just the location.”

What won't change are the hours. Early Birds can still make 7 a.m. appointments Tuesday through Friday. “The confidential ambiance will continue for those who need their privacy,” said Moran.

"We feel very lucky that Connie will be joining us," said Marisol Murad at Twist by Oliver.
"We're looking forward to learning from her. We will make a strong team and a stronger family."

Twist by Oliver and New Hair Shop Etcetra Location:
110 E 9th Street, Ste. A, Lobby 11, Los Angeles, CA 90079. 
Twist by Oliver: (310) 801-0792
Facebook: Twist by Oliver

Hair Etcetra: (213) 622-8138

Facebook: The Hair Shop Etcetra

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