About Me

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Marlan Warren is a journalist, novelist, editor, playwright, screenwriter, blogger, website designer, and publicist. She is the author of the fictionalized memoir, Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War and the AIDS memoir, Rowing on a Corner. She reviews for Midwest Book Review. Marlan is also a filmmaker.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

"Try not to think of corpses..." New Book Review: BUZZ KILL BY KATE THORNTON


“The next time the flowers nod in the summer breezes, and I see honeybees busily going about their business, I’ll try not to think of corpses, betrayals, bludgeoning, and death.” 

—BUZZ KILL, A Toni Carey Mystery 

If Killer Bees didn’t exist, mystery writers would have to invent them. Fortunately for Kate Thornton they do exist, so she grabs their scary potential and runs with it in the first book of her Toni Carey series, BUZZ KILL. 

Blessed with a spunky, horny heroine, this un-cozy mystery unfurls enough red herrings to keep readers guessing, exquisitely detailed moments of horror and revulsion, and plenty of wink-wink humor. Thornton gives us a world so real, it’s hard to believe that it’s fiction. 

Having received an urgent note from her Uncle Horace to visit him in the fictitious California burg of Loma Vista “on a matter of Great Importance,” Toni Carey arrives to find his house trashed; a weird pile of smokey ashes in the closet; and a strapping good-smelling small-town-detective type investigating the fact that her uncle was found alone in a coma.

A semi-retired “bug expert” professor who specializes in butterflies at the local college and tends his own beehives at home, Uncle Horace is an unlikely candidate for leaving himself vulnerable to anaphylactic shock. 

So what happened and who is responsible? 

When a man Toni never heard of turns up dead in her uncle’s shed—undeniably done in by bees—the story officially turns into a Murder Whodunit. Is it only one perp or more than one behind the coma and the death? Who can be trusted? Who should not be believed?

A seasoned magazine article writer, Toni is adept at research. As she cautiously investigates, she encounters enough suspects to remain suspicious of nearly everyone she encounters: Should she take at face value Uncle Horace’s well-preserved lady friend or his “beehive assistant” teenage neighbor boy with the weirdly nonverbal mother? And what about that cheeky, sexy receptionist at the university’s Biology Department? 

Stirred by the electric lust she feels at the touch of a handsome man’s compassionate hand or the sight of a holstered Barretta pressed up against his warm body or the sudden kiss in a biology laboratory from a biologist she just met, the too-long-celibate Toni struggles to sort the truth from illusion when it comes to her feelings vs. her “who’s who?” need for insight. 

Will she end up in bed with the soap-smelling detective or the lightly fragranced bee researcher? Or neither? Or both?  

Thornton’s witty writing keeps all these juggled balls aloft. Her skill with turns of phrases gives jolts of pleasure throughout: 

“After I finished throwing up in the bushes, I ran into the house and started to dial 911, then thought better of that. The guy in the shed wasn’t going anywhere and an ambulance would just be a formality.” 

Oh, and yes, there is a great deal of fascinating information about Africanized bees and bees in general for avid bee-lovers and the bee-curious. 

I recommend BUZZ KILL for anyone looking for a fun getaway from their boring life.


KATE THORNTON has been writing and editing short stories for years, and now has written both the TONI CAREY MYSTERY SERIES and the KITTY AND COCO MYSTERIES. Her first short story, "Just Like In The Movies", was published in David Firks' legendary BLUE MURDER and nominated for a Derringer award. With over 100 short stories in print, she is retired from the US Army, has been a contestant on Jeopardy!, once kissed French film director Francoise Truffaut, and currently lives with her husband, two dogs, and two cats in Tucson, AZ, where she is working on her next book.

Look for BUZZ KILL and MEDIUM DEAD (Books #1 & #2 in the Toni Carey Mysteries) and KITTY TAKES A CHANCE (Book #1 in the Kitty and Coco Mysteries.)

Check her website http://katethornton.net for new releases, upcoming book signings, panels, seminars and writing workshops.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

New Book Review! Poet Drew Weinbrenner reviews "ALL STORMS PASS 2"!


We're excited to share this brilliant, thoughtfully literate analysis of ALL STORMS PASS 2 by author/poet/screenwriter William Drew Weinbrenner:

Inspiring! In the amorphous space between poetry, self-help, aphorism, personal development and mantra lies Luke Benoit’s new masterpiece: ALL STORMS PASS, THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS 2 [Rain and Fire].

Because more than one thing is going on in this work, ALL STORMS PASS cannot be relegated to the Personal Development shelf of Oprah’s Book Club. It is a brutally personal and specific literary work that documents the battles our collective egos fight daily.

Is it poetry? A life-coaching workbook? Affirmations for those in tough times? A memoir proudly cataloguing hard-won wisdom? The artist’s numerous motives rise from his experience as an educator, counselor, and coach. The reader can feel the visceral practicality of truisms like:


If you keep      

doing what 

you’re doing, 

you’re gonna   

keep getting 

what you’re 



ALL STORMS PASS is not new age, feel-good, escapism. The book is relentlessly pragmatic and unpretentious, boiling down the inner voices of a wide array of personal narratives that prompt the reader to recognize themselves in each profile.


Most personal development books originate from a philosophy or belief system. Without fail, the first step in enlightenment is an obligatory consensus on those values. The premise being that if we can’t agree on what enlightened detachment is, the reader has little hope of finding their way to it on their own from wherever they are.


ALL STORMS PASS takes the markedly different approach: you do NOT need to be a different person, in different circumstances, with a clear vision of nirvana. It gives you permission to be exactly the hot mess you are, owning the circumstances in which you find yourself, and saying right here, right now, just as I am and you are, some semblance of inner peace in available to us - if we’d just have the self-esteem to take it. The meditations do not aspire to perfectionism, and instead embrace what’s real and actual in each scenario.


Unlike the work of artist Barbara Kruger, whose charged slogans are steeped with ironic social commentary in the form of 20th century marketing campaigns, Benoit’s words externalize and objectify the most intimate and corrosive declarations we say to OURSELVES, and then respond - with pragmatic love and humor.


Text layout, in an E.E. Cummings freeform typography, requires the reader to digest each word or phrase in sequence. The text deliberately slows down the desperate eye, and the manic mind, to demand consideration of each idea. Benoit bravely holds up these confessions until the reader sees their own motives, impulses, self-indulgence, mania, self-sabotage and sublimation in self-context.


The reader cannot be ambivalent about the profiles. Immediately, the ear assesses the self in relation to each scenario, triggering judgement, nostalgia, regret, sympathy, titillation, and a detached reflection on all we’ve survived.


In the end ALL STORMS PASS is for anyone who ever needed to manifest the inner voice crazy-making in their head. It seems infinitely easier to be objective when it is fixed on the printed page, and captured tangibly in the hand. In some mystic and strange way, ALL STORMS PASS raises our stream of consciousness to the level of art. Wonderful. 


About this Reviewer:


William Drew Weinbrenner was named "One of Florida’s most promising contemporary writers" by Orange Slice Journal. His book, East of Pouring: Collected Poems 1980-2009 won the Florida Publishers Association 2009 President’s Book Award for Poetry.      


Monday, June 28, 2021


Congrats, Author/Life Coach Luke Benoit for garnering this awesome Midwest Book Review! 

If anyone ever told you that you were anything less than wonderful—they lied. 
                         —ALL STORMS PASS: RAIN AND FIRE 
Life Coach Luke Benoit has followed up his book, ALL STORMS PASS: THE ANTI-MEDITATIONS with a second book in the series: RAIN AND FIRE. Warning: This is not a book for the faint of heart in need of recovery from trauma. It’s a two-fisted, take-no-prisoners approach to coping with mental, emotional, and psychosomatic traumatic challenges.

This book offers ways to soothe the suffering and liberate them, if they are willing to face their demons.

As with the first book, Benoit presents verses he calls “anti-meditations” (which are the same as meditations, only different). RAIN AND FIRE continues to riff on therapeutic themes of recovery, addiction, self-help, and personal spirituality. A former psychotherapist with extensive 12-Step Recovery knowhow, Benoit proposes that these anti-meditations may occasionally serve as puzzles—jumping off places for discussion, self-assessment, or prayer.

As a philosopher and poet, Benoit strikes a balance between his own truths and universal truths. Yes, he went through the Valley of the Shadow, but he points out that his experiences are not unique. The question ultimately is not necessarily how can we avoid trauma, but how can we flourish in spite of it?

RAIN AND FIRE’S hybrid of searing poetry, confessional naked rage and heartfelt love is tempered with popup humor that keeps the reader smiling through tears while turning pages. Instead of titles, the meditations have subject-oriented headlines such as:

“When will it be success and how will I know it when it gets here?”

“Today, I will admit that sometimes BEING STUCK IS A CHOICE”

“Today, I will accept that LIFE is not an ALFRED HITCHCOCK MOVIE”

“There comes a time when no matter where you've been and no matter what you've been through, you have to MOVE FORWARD anyway”

And my personal favorite:

I will WALK MY DOG -
no matter what else is
going on.

Even Benoit’s Dedication starts out with a smile:

For my Auntie Cia,
my Mom and Dad
and the Tall Dark Stranger
I thought might bury me
in the basement.
In a poignant, highly personal passage, the author reveals that after writing the first book, he suffered a physical and mental breakdown that was eventually diagnosed as severe vertigo—a health crisis that ended his progress for a time, except in the arena of healing, which eventually did happen. 

Benoit does not attempt to offer readers magical solutions received from On High, but supplies aid as a fellow traveler who has come many times to a crossroads that asks him to choose between Light and Darkness, and he continues to choose Light.

I highly recommend this book to advocates of 12-Step Recovery and those who wish to learn more about it; seekers of recovery from trauma or life itself; spiritual seekers; and poetry lovers.

Author: Luke Benoit
Publisher: Luke Benoit
Publication Date: May 27, 2021
Language: English
Paperback: 346 pages $17.95
Available on Amazon

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Katherine Norland is the author of the Christian poetry books, Poetic Prescriptions for Pesky ProblemsPoetic Prescriptions for Eternal Youth [Examining Earthly Beauty from a Heavenly Perspective], and the just-launched Poetic Prescriptions for Plaguing Problems [Biblical Remedies for When Life Bites].

In addition to the various hats she wears as a wife, mother of two boys, filmmaker, and actress, Katherine specializes in writing poetry and self-help books that make use of "applied spirituality," making spiritual concepts accessible and biblical scriptures applicable to daily life.

Poetic Prescriptions for Plaguing Problems was just released on Amazon, and already has garnered stellar reviews.

Midwest Book Review stated that the book "shines with Katherine Norland’s warts-and-all honesty regarding her own struggles, and her pure desire to lead others out of the dark spiritual vacuums of their own making and into the Light of God’s Grace."

Mel Ayers, Pastor with In His Presence Church, had this praise:

"Just when you thought everyone sounded like everyone else, God drops FRESH right in your lap! Katherine Norland not only gives us a new perspective on 'everything,' but also a bold, risky, enjoyable read."

Readers' Favorite raved with a 5-star review:

"A truly fantastic look at the Christian approach to self-help...Poetic Prescriptions For Plaguing Problems will certainly reward those who have faith and seek the solace of God’s teachings in their overcoming of fear, addiction, depression, and other issues, but there is also much hope and comfort for the less religious in this very effective volume."

We caught up with Katherine for a brief interview while she's in the midst of preparing for a multimedia book talk/launch at the Pasadena Public Library on Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.) It is free.

Katherine Norland [Photo by Jim Jordan]

Q and A with Katherine Norland

1.  How did you come up with the notion of the “10 Plagues” from the Old Testament as the basis for a book of poetry? When did you first start writing it?
I was being plagued by so many things: doubt, money issues, relationship problems, fear, work related issues. It felt like I was riddled with at least 10 plagues coming at me at once. I combed through my poems as if I was combing through a child’s hair looking for lice -- and compiled them into a first draft of all the modern-day plagues that I felt are now an epidemic, plaguing our society. And I combined the Biblical 10 plagues with plagues that we’ve faced throughout history like typhus, the bubonic plague, the Moscow plague of 1771, etc.

2.  Has writing this book helped you heal yourself?
There’s a tendency in the church to pretend like everything is okay. When someone asks how you are, you say, “I’m fine, God is good, I’m blessed” because sometimes there is this fear of being ostracized if you’re in a battle, or you feel like you should have it handled and this thing shouldn’t be plaguing you, and you feel like “Maybe I’m not a good Christian if I’m still struggling with this thing.”
There’s just something freeing about writing poetry. I’m able to say things I wouldn’t dare share with someone in a conversation. This book exposed me to God, my friends, and my family in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible and that are hard to think about. People who’ve known me for years have said, “I know you so much better now after reading your poems.”
3. Your book is divided into four parts with humorous titles:

I. The Plague: It’s Like a Locust Infestation

II. Aware: Place Roach Motels in Every Room

III. Combat: Armed with Pesticide, Wearing a Flypaper Dress

IV. Eradicate: Time to Tent the House

What does “Place Roach Motels in Every Room” mean exactly? Can you give us an example of a “Roach Motel” remedy as it appears in one of the poems?
“Place Roach Motels in Every Room” is in the poem “They Just Wanna Fight.” It’s a metaphor for what you have to do to take matters into your own hands and protect yourself if you’ve got people in your life crawling all over you and consuming all that you have, pointing out your flaws. If you’re around people who never bring any good into your life, you must debug and get rid of them or they will multiply. Those frenemies have nothing on Egyptian desert roaches. Here’s an excerpt from that poem:
These dark deeds they deduce I do,
So odious they think I am,
Are sewage that they dine upon.
When I flip on the light, they scram!
They crawl all over picnic plans
Swimming in my lemonade.
Bug bombs I pitch with fervent clip
Anti-parasite grenades.

It’s time to stop being the victim in your own story. When you finally recognize what the problem is in your life and where it’s coming from, it’s your duty to do something about it for your health and well-being. We must use the brains God gave us to get out of those situations.

4.  As the mother of an autistic child, what life lessons have you learned and have they found their way into this book and/or your previous books?
Patience. And pack clean underwear. My son has taught me a lot. He’s helped me to not take everything so seriously. The lessons from him are in this book indirectly, but they taught me to embrace humor in the midst of my mess and let that shine through.
I’m now writing about my son in two different memoirs: one about his premature birth, four months early, and a second on what it was like for us when he was diagnosed as being a special needs child.

Book Info:

Available on Amazon.
Paperback: 110 pages
Publisher: Poetic Prescriptions Publishing (September 26, 2019)
ISBN: 978-0998395210

Author Websites:

Press Kit: 

Follow Katherine on:
Twitter: @katnorland
Facebook: @KatNorland
Instagram: KatherineNorland

#KatherineNorland #PoeticPrescriptions #PoeticPrescriptionsforPlaguingProblems #ChristianLit #ChristianPoetry #Poetry #Christian #SpiritualGrowth

Thursday, September 26, 2019



Poetic Prescriptions for Plaguing Problems: Biblical Remedies for When Life Bites
Author: Katherine Norland
Publisher: Poetic Prescriptions Publishing
Genre: Christian Poetry/Spiritual Growth
ISBN: 978-0998395210   Paperback (110 pages)  $9.97
Date of Publication: September 26, 2019
Available on Amazon
Kindle E-Book  (ASIN: TBA)
“Buzz off, Beezlebub!”—Katherine Norland
Poetic Prescriptions for Plaguing Problems: Biblical Remedies for When Life Bites shines with author Katherine Norland’s warts-and-all honesty regarding her own struggles, and her pure desire to lead others out of the dark spiritual vacuums of their own making and into the Light of God’s Grace. The book’s stated purpose is to answer two questions that the author would ask whenever the chips were down:
Where is God in all this? How can I get Him to answer my prayers?

Norland cleverly and meticulously structures the book to reflect her own hard-won journey to Salvation by dividing it into four sections with humorous titles:

I. The Plague: It’s Like a Locust Infestation
II. Aware: Place Roach Motels in Every Room
III. Combat: Armed with Pesticide, Wearing a Flypaper Dress
IV. Eradicate: Time to Tent the House

Norland’s talent for crafting original imagery comes through in such poems as “Chasing Scraps,” which depicts the dead-end nature of getting caught up in the rat race of life, and offers this remedy:
It seems that only God can change my ways;
With Him I’d get my cheese and leave the maze.
My body tires out and I collapse.
Look up to see I was just chasing scraps.
This book will appeal to anyone who is hungry for spiritual growth and willing to accompany this bruised, but triumphant, poet on a pilgrimage through the plagues, pestilence, and heart-wrenching struggles of life, where trials must be faced and devilish temptations eradicated until each battle is won with the one-two punch of telling Beezlebub to “Buzz off!” and believing that God does indeed hear our prayers, if we have the courage to pray.


Monday, August 26, 2019

MY MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: Travel Journalist Judith Fein's Taboo-Busting Book of the Dead

"Communicating with the dead has been a secret part of my life for many years." –Judith Fein

Judith Fein’s fourth deep travel memoir, HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE DEAD AND HOW CULTURES DO IT AROUND THE WORLD, invites us along on her decades of investigations and explorations of the final frontier: Death.
For most of her life, Judith Fein has seen and heard dead people. Not all the time, thank goodness, or it would not leave much time for this prolific journalist to write about her soul-searching globetrotting with her ever-skeptical photojournalist husband, Paul Ross. "Judie and Paul" are the "Nick and Nora" of the travel adventure-supernatural set. She can see a ghostly figure in the middle of nowhere and believe it to be a specter. He can be right next to her, eyes huge, and afterward admit “maybe” it was real. Their yin-yang bonding and love adds to the delightful humor of this Odyssey.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE DEAD signals a coming out of the woo-woo closet for Fein. The Oxford dictionary defines "woo-woo" as "unconventional beliefs regarded as having little or no scientific basis, especially those relating to spirituality, mysticism, or alternative medicine…" Throughout her illustrious career as a journalist, Fein has occasionally penned articles about seeking healers and rituals in “exotic” locales; although mostly she has flown under the radar as a gifted intuitive herself. This book puts the spotlight on Fein’s spiritual truths as she has lived them, revealing how she has embraced and been embraced by others around the world who perceive those truths without shame.
There is no navel-gazing in these stories that take us from her father’s untimely death (and her first stunned awareness that she could hear him beyond the grave) to her late mother’s skepticism that she and her daughter could communicate after her transition (and how wrong that turned out to be) to various vortexes of cultures and religions that accept death as a fact of life that does not end the soul.
Fein’s passion to communicate with her living readers shines as an honest desire to help others move through their grief and fears to an understanding that death itself is not the final word on existence.
A discussion guide ends the book with such thought-provoking gems as:
"Would you like someone to contact you after you die? Why or why not?"

Friday, August 23, 2019

Los Angeles, CA, August 16, 2019 --(PR.com)-- Marlan Warren will read from her fictionalized memoir, “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War]” as a featured speaker in a workshop entitled “Writing a Best-Selling Memoir” on the first day of the Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference (AGLAW), Friday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.

“It’s an honor to be included,” said Warren. “This will be my first public reading of this book.”

The e-book debuted as a "novel" on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in 2015. "Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged" is set in Los Angeles in the mid-90s with the O.J. trial in the background and plenty of steamy sex. The story follows the hot romance of a divorcing Jewish American woman with a Japanese American man who still bears the scars suffered by his family during World War II. As both are on the rebound, the woman's girlfriends cheer from the sidelines, while issuing small craft warnings.

“A paperback second edition will be coming out this Fall,” said Warren, noting that the story has its roots in diary entries, which qualifies it as a fictionalized memoir. "I altered reality here and there, including scenes that let me say what I wish I had said.”

Warren is also a documentary filmmaker and playwright whose topics often involve couples of mixed races or cultures: “As a film writer/producer, I tried for years to bring racially mixed couples to the screen, and hit the wall every time in Hollywood."

Her “Japanese American Internment” documentary “What did you do in the War, Mama?: Kochiyama’s Crusaders” is in post-production. Two years ago, her play, “Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama’s Crusaders” debuted at Rogue Machine Theatre in Hollywood.

The panel will be moderated by writer/editor Robin Quinn, and also feature readings by authors Madeline Sharples and Herbie J. Pilato.

AGLAWC runs Friday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug. 18, featuring best-selling authors, editors, publishers, literary agents, publicists, and film industry experts.



Venue | DoubleTree by Hilton | 6161 West Centinela Avenue, Culver City, California, 90230

Registration Details: http://www.wcwriters.com/aglawc/index.html
Program Details: http://www.wcwriters.com/aglawc/program.html
Contact: E-Mail: info@wcwriters.com | Phone: 310.379.2650

Book / Author Info:

Title: Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All's Not Fair in Love or War]
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TYKV5ZG
Author Website: http://roadmapsforthesexuallychallenged.blogspot.com

Video Author Interview: "How a Memoir Evolves into a Work of Fiction"

Marlan Warren’s Film IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9545796/
Contact Information
Roadmap Girl Publications
Marlan Warren
Contact       memoircity@gmail.com

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Excited to be speaking at this L.A. Writers Conference 8/17 - 8/18 - Doubletree Hotel, Culver City!

This has been an exciting year for me. Last spring, I was invited to join the faculty of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, and right out of the gate, they put me on panels for their free meetings, and scheduled me to speak on the plethora of topics that I've gained extensive experience in professionally.

My next opportunities will be Friday, Aug. 16th at 6 p.m., at the Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference (#AGLAWC) when I will speak on memoir writing, and Aug. 18th at 10 a.m. when I will have fun hearing "First Lines" of writers' manuscripts to give feedback. On Saturday, Aug. 17th, I'll be on hand to hear your manuscript draft pitches for editorial feedback. (Yes! I am a book editor!) You have to sign up in advance to participate.

In 1979, I arrived in San Diego from Chicago with the goal of writing professionally. At a journalism workshop, the teacher urged me to attend writers conferences as a way to improve my skills, and even more importantly, connect with fellow writers. I attended my first conference a month later. It was a refreshingly supportive experience that made me feel that I was on the right track!


Friday, 8/16 @6-7pm

Writing a Best-Selling Memoir - Biographies That More Than Just Your Family Will Read:
What makes “Eat, Pray, Love,” “The Liar’s Club” or “Angela’s Ashes” garner dazzling reviews or make readers weep or howl with laughter? How do you impose order on a thousand memories? Why is it important to resist the temptation to summarize your life?

In this workshop, we’ll identify what makes great memoirs unforgettable, as well as identify moments from your own life: the lowest ebb, the most unusual, shattering, funny or triumphant incidents that reveal your character and move readers. We will also discuss how to write a memoir/autobiography for a friend or client/celebrity.

MarlanWarren, Madeline Sharples, Herbie J. Pilato, Robin Quinn

I'll be available Saturday, 8/17. After lunch! For this:

ProCritiques™ with Editors and Literary Agents
1 on-1 Pitch Sessions w/Agents and Publishers

Meet editors, agents and/or publishers for a personal consultation to pitch, discuss and improve pre-submitted pages of your manuscript. Schedule an appointment at the Registration Desk. Some editors may take new submissions on site. A separate fee applies to ProCritque and Masters ProCritique consultations. Some agents do not read or edit material in advance. Consult the wcwriters.com website for details. We recommend you attend the "How to Pitch" session in order to help identify the best professional for your individual genre and material.

SIGN UP at 1-on-1 Desk starts after agent panel.

Sunday, AUG. 18 @10 A.M.
Great Beginnings for Nonfiction Books –
Your First Line, First Pages

You've heard that if the first paragraph of your novel isn't strong enough, agents and publishers won't read the first page, let alone the first fifty. Now you can learn how to separate fact from fiction and remain true to your story. Learn to draft a first line that will grab an acquisition editor and announce your authority as an author. This will cover first pages, first chapters, and first characters. This is a unique opportunity for you to learn how pros consider the merits of the material and the intent of the author, then offer improvements covering everything from glaring grammar errors to story-structure flaws to the overall storytelling and more.

Bring six (6) copies of your first 2 pages. Selected works will be read aloud, so the audience can follow along and learn how an agent or publisher reviews a manuscript. Time permitting, they may suggest improving the samples.

Claire Gerus, Helga Schier, Marlan Warren, plus panel

Conferences tend to be a bit on the pricey side, so this Annual Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference is a godsend because they have broken it down into bite-size affordable $ chunks for anyone who wishes to attend. Here's the scoop (with details at wcwriters.com):

Friday, June 28, 2019


This just in from Book Publicity By Marlan:

Our press release submission went live TODAY on the Distribution Service PR.com!

Still early here in L.A. but we're excited that it's already been picked up by:

Broadway World Books News

Thomas Allbaugh's hilariously scary Apocalypse TV can be found at Barnes & Noble in Rancho Cucamonga, Vromans Bookstore (Pasadena) , The Philosophical Research Society (Los Angeles), and Amazon.

Dahlia Schweitzer's brilliantly amusing Going Viral can be found at the Philosophical Research Society and Amazon.

The End is near! Just three more days to catch this dynamic duo! And last chance to hear Dahlia present in L.A. before she heads off to NYC.

It's been a fun ride and I'm honored to be a part of it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


My Roadmap Girl's Book Buzz is a "Stop" on Lola's Blog Tours today!


This Young Adult Fantasy/New Age/Revisionist History novel cuts a unique niche for itself in YA literature by inventing a Hero's Journey with "Al" Einstein as the hero and his compass, a jeweled magical time traveling marvel.

Authors Grace "Christian Mystic" Blair (aka Grace Allison) and Laren Bright have melded some daring elements of Germany on the brink of Hitler coming into power with a young genius coming to terms with his brilliance, being Jewish among Nazis, and all the expected elements of a Hero's Journey (one shapeshifting dragon...an older wise Mentor...supernatural talisman...).

It is doubtful that kids of the 21st Century place as much weight on Albert Einstein in their thoughts as those of the 20th Century did, thanks to his atom-splitting discovery that led to the invention of the atom bomb. And even more likely that few these days ponder Einstein's roots and development into the genius that he became. I had no idea that he grew up a non-practicing Jewish boy in Germany and was in school just before Hitler came to power (Wikipedia provides further details on his fleeing to Switzerland and later ending up in the U.S., as well as his reluctance for his research to end up as a horrible bomb). 

One of the wonderful themes of Einstein's Compass is its own brilliant running theme of "The Split." In the tradition of contemporary fantasy YA novels, there is Good vs. Evil; Light vs. Dark, and the authors make creative use of these concepts as they affect all of us personally as well as politically...and in the world of physics.

Another running theme is Energy itself. The heating up of hands when energy is channeled...the Light it can produce...whether it is being channeled for the good of humanity or its destruction.

Meticulously crafted and beautifully told, Einstein's Compass is garnering awards left and right, and rightly so. Fun for adults as well as teens!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Apocalypse TV: Midwest Book Review (Appearing in May 2019 Issue)

“His whole life has been a sham because he can’t accept responsibility for his failure to live by his own convictions.”—APOCALYPSE TV

What do reality TV game show contestants, religious fanatics, true believers, atheists, zombies, quarreling siblings, an FBI agent, Elvis impersonator, and an almost-fired English professor at a Christian college have in common? They all come together to interlock as essential players in Thomas Allbaugh’s tightly wound, often hilarious, debut novel, APOCALYPSE TV.

Shakespeare today might muse that “All the world’s a reality TV game show, and all the men and women merely players in their quest for prizes amid layers of illusions and media hype.” It is upon this slippery platform that Allbaugh has built a metaphor for our contentious world as viewed through the lenses of good vs. evil, secular religion vs. spirituality, and love vs. indifference.

The story kicks off when Christian intellectual, Walter Terry, takes a leave of absence from his conservative college in California to visit his dying father in Michigan. Walter has just been put on notice for allowing students to express non-conservative viewpoints, and fears his job is on thin ice.

Walter and his sister are approached in a Midwestern diner by a talent scout for a new reality TV show that claims to be “an investigation into American religious ideas.” He describes himself to the pretty interviewer as an “outsider in terms of religion,” but sees her write down “soft and vulnerable.” This pigeon-holing is exactly what makes these shows maddening, but also makes them fun for the fans.

Seduced by the promise of money and his own rationalization that perhaps a show like this could use an educated analytical thinker, Walter embarks on what will turn out to be a character-building odyssey. After he is entrenched in “Race for the Apocalypse,” Walter hears the producer refer to him as the show’s “sacrificial lamb.” And after that…all bets are off.

APOCALYPSE TV gradually amps up its madness, expanding reality until it pops with an outrageousness that is not quite Marx Brothers, but a fun romp nonetheless.

Allbaugh treads a fine line between crafting a thoughtful, moving plot with three-dimensional characters and satire. He keeps the humor subtle and deadpan, in the vein of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” while never straying far from the book’s serious themes which examine secular religion vs. spirituality, truth vs. fiction, loyalty vs. betrayal.

Nothing turns out to be what it seems, the innocent must suffer, guilty baggage must be unloaded, and once a gun is introduced, it must eventually be used in the finale (with a nod to Chekhov). It is Allbaugh’s incredible juggling act that keeps the comedy, drama, and religious debates lightly airborne until they come back down to Earth, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the hard truths of Life and what it means to slog willingly through it.

APOCALYPSE TV will appeal to open-minded faith-based readers, as well as those who have no affiliation with a religion or belief. It argues against the extreme notion that only members of a certain faith are favored by God, while making a case for spiritual salvation through love, faith, hope, service…and the willingness to persevere.

Even when the chips are down.

Marlan Warren, Reviewer

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