Join me in welcoming Ronnie Dauber to Highlighted Author.
Ronnie is a published author of both young adult and adult books. She lives in Ontario with her husband and children. She enjoys cooking and gardening, but her greatest passion is writing books and short stories.
Welcome, Ronnie. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Ronnie Dauber and I’m a Canadian author. I’ve been writing short stories and poems since I was a child, and in fact, I won my first poetry award when I was twelve years old for a dedication that I wrote to President John F Kennedy shortly after his assassination. Since then I’ve written hundreds of poems but I’ve never been compelled to do anything more with them than to write for pleasure.
I do, however, have a passion to write books, especially for teens. I believe that we as a community need to encourage children and teens to read more, and I’m aware that reading has a great influence on the development of character. So, I have made it my quest to write fast paced adventure books for teens that are loaded with action and excitement but that are void of profanity, insolence and sexual content. I believe that a good book should build character and not tear it down.
I’m currently writing a y/a series called, The Misadventures of Sarah Davies, and to date Mudslide and Firestormhave been published, and the third, Whiteout, should be released by early spring. I’ll start writing the fourth in the series, Power Down, in March and I hope to have it out by fall. I think this book is going to be the best so far because it hits close to home for me. It’s about a little boy with autism who gets lost during a power out at an amusement park, and I’m naming him Joey after my own little grandson who suffers with this disability.
I’ve also written one adult suspense/thriller which I really enjoyed writing. I love the character, Maddie, and it’s interesting to see how she matures through the book as her life becomes turned upside down. This book is also free of profanity and sexual content.
I have just finished writing an inspirational book called, Let Faith Arise, and it is likely one of my greatest accomplishments so far. It’s a book filled with faith messages and is really my own journal in my walk of faith that I endured last year as I fought a battle with terminal cancer – and won! This book will be published by summer and I hope it will be an encouragement to others who are fighting for their lives.
I’ve had a lot of struggles and hardships in my life but I have to say that today, life is good.
Tell us about your featured book, Firestorm.
Firestorm takes place in British Columbia at the end of the summer, just months after their great adventure with the mudslide. Sarah and Meagan have spent two weeks with their grandparents every summer since they were young children, but this would be their last visti. Their grandparents were moving back to Bearsfield and right across the street from the girls. This visit was taken up with helping Grandma pack while Grandpa did his usual puttering around until Saturday when he and his friend, Don, went out on their weekly fishing trip.
The guys were going to join the girls on the last Saturday where they would all have a big campfire as a final farewell to the home. But when Grandpa is out on his fishing trip, he sends a distress call that tells the others he is in danger and needs help.
The four teens set out into the unfamiliar forest to find Grandpa’s secret fishing cul de sac and after some time, they move in to the area where the men are hiding. Grandpa is badly injured and Don has wandered off as Alzheimer’s takes him back to WW2.
The teens must get the men to safety and if the basic issues on hand weren’t enough to cope with, they realize that they are trapped in the forest that is now on fire.
Just then, we could hear Ali’s distant voice echoing from the other side of the bridge as he yelled to us and then waved. We all looked over at him and I was so relieved just knowing that Grandpa was out of the direct path of the fire.
“Meg, they made it. Okay, let’s stop this nonsense and get ready to cross.”
We watched as Brad came running across the bridge by himself with his hands just gliding along the railings. The bridge was swaying back and forth and I knew that if we didn’t have this dilemma that he could actually have enjoyed his little jaunt. He jumped off and came up to us and took the rope from Meagan.
“Okay, let’s go. Meg, you and Sarah get going and we’ll follow you.”
But Don had no intensions of moving. He stood with his back to the tree and his arms wrapped around the trunk behind him. His face was white and without expression.
“We’re dead if we go and we’re dead if we stay. I hate fires. I don’t want to die in a fire.”
Brad tried to loosen Don’s arms.
“Well, neither do we, so that’s why I’m going to carry you across to where there is no fire. You can keep your eyes closed and we’ll be across in no time.”
Brad pulled Don’s arms off the tree and picked him up around his legs and then flung him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Meagan jumped onto the bridge first but when she turned to say something, she stopped and turned a million shades of white. She didn’t say a word. I was standing beside Brad and I asked her what was wrong but she didn’t answer. She just stared behind us as she slowly lifted her hand and pointed.
Brad and I both turned and stared into the woods. I had no idea what Meagan was referring to.
“Do you see anything, Brad? I don’t. The fire’s still way over there.”
Brad stared straight ahead into the woods and then down to the ground. His eyes followed the path that we had just come from and then spoke in a somber voice.
“They smell the blood.”
Brad was now wearing his own shade of white, and I quickly searched the woods with my eyes to see what they were looking at. He grabbed my arm and whispered as he pushed me.
“Move slow and get on the bridge. Now!”
I glanced back at the tall, dry grass that was spread out between the trees and I saw them staring at me, wolves with eyes that pierced my soul.
Join me in welcoming Marcia Fine to Highlighted Author.
Marcia Fine is an award-winning author who has been on the Valley scene for many years. She has achieved success as an English teacher, model/talent agency owner, and a corporate trainer. Selected as “A Woman of Action” by Metropolitan Business and Professional Women, she also supports Rosie’s House, aMusicalAcademyfor Children.
Marcia continues to do what she does best – watch and interact with people.
Welcome, Marcia. Tell us about your books.
My satirical series that includes, Gossip.com, Boomerang – When Life Comes Back to Bite You, and recently, Stressed in Scottsdale, about a multitasking mama, has won four major prizes in Humor/Satire, Women’s Fiction and eLit.
In the historical vein,Paper Children, a story based on family history and personal letters, tells of a Polish immigrant who forges a life in post-HolocaustNew York City. It has been a finalist for three national prizes.
The Blind Eyecreates a narrative about a family expelled from Spain during the Inquisition and a contemporary Cuban-American woman searching for her Sephardic identity. It won a First Prize award.
Your featured book, Stressed In Scottsdale, is set in familiar surroundings. Being a satire, have you gotten any strange responses from those you know?
When I tell people about my latest release, Stressed in Scottsdale, I wait a beat and say, “Not that there’s anything to make fun of!”
I have people who don’t speak to me because they think they’re in the book and others who are angry because they’re not in the books.
Tell us a little more about it.
Multitasking Jean Rubin has too much to do. She races to accomplish endless errands, care for an elderly mother forced to move to assisted living, help with her kid’s fertility problems and assist husband, Maury, with a Green Party campaign that includes a snarky opponent, political corruption and environmental issues. With an influx of technology, a roof rat invasion in her yard and a robbery by the Rock Burglar, Jean finds herself STRESSED in SCOTTSDALE. Even her two upscale friends, April and Glee, can’t distract her from all the anxiety with a spa intervention.
What they’re saying:
“Stressed in Scottsdale was a non-stop fun book to read! Marcia Fine’s witty, fast pace really let you experience her lovable character’s out-of-control lifestyle…” Melanie Tighe, Dog-Eared Pages Used Books
“With the absurdities of desert living set in her literary cross hairs, Fine once again skewers some of Scottsdale’s finest while her protagonist, Jean, tries to find sanity in a world where it rains dirt and blind sheep fall off mountains. Modern living isn’t for sissies and Fine addresses the deeper issues of the environment and political corruption as she couches them in laugh-out-loud lines. It is wickedly funny. A laugh-out-loud read by Marcia Fine. Her hilarious observations will resonate with all women.” – Barb Davis, The Serenity Room
Stress Relief Tip: Watsu water massage takes the weight off your body. With gentle twists and pulls the pressures of a stressful life disappear. -Water for Healthy Living
April and Glee engineer an intervention. They hijack me for a day at the spa. They claim it’s to relieve terminal crabbiness, but I know it’s their way of telling me I’m not making enough time for them.
April’s horn toots early. She waits in the car while Glee comes in juggling an armload of books.
“Jean, you have to read more about your condition.”
“What condition?” I race around looking for my tote, fill my politically-incorrect water bottle, let out Amber for a last pee and tie a gauzy scarf around my neck. I leave my planner behind. I’m flying solo with the trēo.
“Anxiety is a scourge. Look, I’ve brought you these books. I’ve read all of them.”
“Now I’ve got a scourge too?”
Glee places a stack on the table. She shows me the titles while I stand near the door waiting for Amber. I pray Maury’s poisons and cages have done the job on the roof rats. I don’t want Amber to gobble down a killer tablet.
“Full Catastrophe Living is about luxuriating in the moment. It reinforces giving up fat, sugar and caffeine to detox your body.”
“What would I eat?” She doesn’t respond and Amber’s taking forever.
“This one’s Wherever you Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Real Life. It has a chapter on cleaning the oven while listening to Bobby McFerrin. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World. This one’s great because the author blends personal experience and science. With meditation you have to let go. When you get to the zone it’ll lower your blood lactate levels. The exercises want you to listen to classical music, smell spices and flowers . . .”
“You have to be kidding. I don’t have time to sit and inhale oregano.”
I check on Amber, tapping my foot hoping she’ll stop sniffing and pick a spot. Any spot. At least before Glee brings in more tomes on “my condition.”
“And, this one is my favorite. Releasing Burdens through Breathing. Stress causes changes at the chromosomal level. High levels can invoke ten years of aging. I want you to pay attention.”
Glee wanders over to my refrigerator. “What’s this?” she asks, pointing to Maury’s rat chart.
“Maury’s tracking his roof rat progress,” I say. Waiting for Amber to poop is giving me anxiety.
I call Amber.
“Two dead rats and one bird?” asks Glee.
I thank her for the books, pile them on my kitchen desk, pat Amber’s head as she ambles in, fill her dishes with water and kibble, then make a hasty exit before Glee starts to read me the back covers with endorsements from Deepok Chopra.
April’s examining her lipstick in the flip-down mirror with the motor running. I get in the back, leaning over to give her an air kiss. She backs out of my driveway and steers her gleaming black Mercedes in a leisurely fashion, creeping along in luxury, a German tank invading the Champs Elyseé.
We catch up on the Pet Luncheon as I settle into the back seat. They raised $50,000 for the no-kill shelter. We discuss the Heart Ball, where some of the women, paranoid about the Rock Burglar, arrived sans jewels, their bare necks and lobes exposed for all to see. And finally, we talk about the deviant burglar who has disappeared without a trace.
When we arrive at the spa they give us keys to our lockers with a plastic card holder containing lists of our treatments. I get excited when I see I’m scheduled for a massage after lunch.
Glee announces, “First we have Ratango. Jean, you’ll love it. I took a workshop when I was in Marin a few months ago. Change into your workout clothes.”
I have no idea what Ratango is but I’m sure it will be beneficial. As I stuff my tote into the locker I read signs reminding us to turn off our cell phones. I put the trēo on vibrate.
In a few minutes I’ve slipped into a large “Go Green” T-shirt that swims around my neck and donned faded black tights with scuffed sneakers. I think there’s a small hole under my right bun.
I grab a fistful of hair and make two unruly, fuzzy bunches, one over each ear. Glee and April are decked out in gold-patterned leotards, colored tights, black ballet slippers with metallic scrunchies pulling their hair off their faces. They look hot. I look like a refugee from an eastern bloc country.
We enter a room with a mirrored wall and polished light wood floors. Rubber yoga mats, giant elastic bands, stair-steps, giant red, blue and yellow balls and barbells are stacked at the end of the room. There’s a water cooler, paper cups and small white towels at the other.
The space fills up with women, some professional looking with no-nonsense haircuts, a few who have been tightened and lifted and a group of young African-American women in stylish work-out clothes. No one looks like me. We all get mats and place them near our spot. Glee and April head for the front row. I secure a place in the back.
A tall, buffed blond with bare feet wearing grey pants and a tight pink shirt, crosses the floor with wide strides. Namaste is scrawled across her chest in script. She speaks with a well-modulated low voice at a slow pace.
“Ladies, we have a real treat today. If you have any conditions, remember to take it easy. This is heart-fluttering, death-defying awesome. Straight fromCaliforniawe have the creator of Ratango, Billy Tuesday Munkee!”
A tanned six-foot man, his mustache and goatee trimmed to perfection, hair scooped back into a pony-tail, bounds into the room with a gold hoop earring and a sleeveless black T-shirt. It shows off his cantaloupe biceps and hairy untrimmed armpits. The blond hits the music on a stand in the corner. He’s off, jumping and clapping his hands over his head to the music.
“This is your warm-up, ladies. Let’s see what you’ve got.” He starts suggestive hip thrusts.
I look around. The babe next to me is jiving away; April and Glee in the front row swivel their hips; and I’m stunned. What have they gotten me into now? I try to move the lower half of my body in a circular fashion but it’s more like a square. And my back hurts.
“Move it,” Billy Tuesday says as the music slows down and the circular hip swivel becomes racy. “Cure that pelvic paralysis and tune into the primordial rhythms of our ancestors.”
My ancestors? Bubbe Rose with a come hither look on her face? Shifting her hips under a flowered dress with suntan-colored stockings rolled to her knee? Horrifying.
I look at the mirror in the front to see everyone’s reflection. We look like a smutty band of aging strippers.
“You, in the back row, put some grind into it.” Of the few women near me, one has her eyes closed in ecstatic energy and another gyrates with enthusiasm. He’s talking to me. Oh God. This is humiliating. I’m going to kill Glee. I close my eyes, stroke my mid-section with snaky hands and torture myself into wild circular motions.
“Do you want to be a better lover? I can’t hear you.”
“Yes,” yell a few women.
“I said do you want to be a better lover?” He cups his hand around his ear for our response. The room erupts in screams. One women’s enthusiasm turns into a coughing fit. I yell too. I don’t want him to single me out again.
It goes on like this, one song blending into another, until the room is writhing in prurient agitation. A silver-haired woman with a spiky crew cut swings her body around emitting slight moans. Glee is, of course, a show, using provocative motions toward our instructor while he encourages us.
“Turn me on. Turn me on,” he says over a drum beat.
April looks like aLas Vegasshow girl, strutting in a circle with pooched lips, one hand on her hip.
Turn him on? If anyone saw this display they’d call an ambulance with strait jackets.
We continue like this through so many songs I think I’m going to fall on the floor in a heap.
“And now for the finale and my favorite exercise, the one that will enhance sensuality, increase passion and improve intimacy. Here comes the Bad Kitty! Let’s go, girls.” The Joe Cocker song, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” begins to play.
If I thought I had seen it all, this beats everything. Women get down on their mats, roll around, hips thrust into the air, simulating sex. Anything goes. Many of the women reach out their arms and hands like claws, uttering guttural meowing sounds. It is a display of ribald activity and agitation that could compete with the best pornography.
Since I’m the only one left standing and don’t want to draw any more attention to myself, I get down and crawl in a circle. I give a weak meow once or twice. I can’t wait to demonstrate this for Maury. If I can get down on the floor again. Hell, if I can get up! Wait ’til I get my hands on Glee and April.
Afterward, when we’re all out of breath clumped together in the front of the room, Glee says to me, “Wasn’t that terrific? It’s just what you needed. Billy’s philosophy imparts such wisdom. We don’t have to age or get old. Look at me. I feel thirty-five.” She thrusts her arms into the air and shouts, “Ratango’s a fountain of youth that teaches you to live in the moment. Don’t let your mind run you, take control of your destiny.” Then she leans in with confidentiality. “I’m thinking of financing a school for Billy inScottsdale. Won’t women just love this?”
Maybe. If she can get the Babes away from their guns.
Glee expounds as I try to catch my breath and rub a few sore places. April looks in the mirror admiring her perfect body. Billy Tuesday Munkee does too. He has a towel around his neck as he approaches her.
“Hey, gorgeous, you did a terrific job today. Can I interest you in teaching a few Ratango classes? I could use instructors inArizona. I’ll show you my curriculum during our training sessions.”
April, who’s used to male attention, says, “I don’t think so. I’m way too busy. Thank you for the opportunity.” She sidles over to us with a smile that acknowledges she’s flattered.
Billy Tuesday, eyeing April up and down, goes to the other end of the room to pack up his CDs and gear. The blond appears to check on how the class went and to flirt.
“Glee, who is that guy?” I ask in a whisper. “He could be a charlatan. Have you given him any money yet?”
“He’s perfectly reputable. Amanda checked him out for me. He trained as a boxer in Guambefore he became a Chippendale dancer. He knows what men want from women. Besides, everyone can use a little training in becoming a better lover.” She raises an eyebrow at me.
“Who says I need instruction in that arena?” I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror with the silhouette of my two fuzzy bunches sticking out of my head.
Glee gives me a know-it-all look. “Didn’t you mention you were worried Maury might be interested in a young woman working on the campaign?”
April leans in with interest.
“Well, yes, but . . .”
“But, nothing. Sensual movement heightens romance.”
“Glee, this was obscene. I can’t believe you dragged me here. Besides, you’re sharing personal information.”
“Since when did you become so prudish?”
“I’m not prudish. Just reserved. And private.”
“We thought it would help loosen you up,” says Glee adjusting her straps, a bit annoyed.
“You always have these crazy ideas and drag me into strange situations like that afternoon in the nudist camp.”
The two of them glance at each other remembering that trickery. “And you,” I say turning and pointing at April who opens her eyes wide and pushes out her bottom lip in an innocent baby pose, “go along with it.”
“We thought it would be good for your soul,” says April.
“My soul? I’m going to need my back adjusted.”
April and Glee glance at one another and give a slight shrug as if to say, We tried. She didn’t appreciate it but we tried.
This annoys me. I decide not to make an issue of it. Besides, all this activity has made me hungry. We never love everything about our friends even if we remain loyal and steadfast.
“I’m sorry I was crabby. How ‘bout lunch?” I ask, looping their arms through mine. After all, my friends want the best for me. And I am a bit cranky.
We walk down a long hallway that opens into a contemporary restaurant. Men and women in various stages of undress sit at wood tables decorated with small cactus centerpieces. Copper lighting fixtures and sculptures decorate the walls. One side is a glass with a view ofCamelbackMountain, its famous humps enlarged because we’re so close. I can even spot the praying monk rock formation, a small shrouded figure that tops the camel’s head.
We order a spa feast. Two butter lettuce leaves with fresh basil and an organic cherry tomato the size of a pebble arrive. Everything’s drizzled with balsamic vinegar and imported Mediterranean olive oil. All for $18.95 a person. We refuse dessert.
“It’s time for our treatments,” says Glee.
In the locker room Glee emits a throaty few bars of music as we mock strip out of our Ratango outfits. I show off the best moves I’ve learned. I thrust out a final hip before donning a beige terry robe. They laugh.
We move to a soothing room with leather recliners. A breakfront displays pitchers with water. One contains lemon slices, another cucumber. There’s one with something I cannot identify. It’s small and brown and could possibly be rabbit turds. Glee tells me they’re baby organic red grapes. Clean glasses are stacked in the back. A tray of freshly polished apples sits next to the pitchers in case two leaves of lettuce didn’t fill you up. No one touches the apples but a few women help themselves to the various waters.
About fifteen women wait in the lounge area stretched out in fluffy robes and plastic slippers. Some have their wet heads wrapped in towels. We look like classic “before” pictures.
At first I think no one except April is wearing any make-up, that we’re all equal save for my friend who has on waterproof mascara. She’s an exotic princess with her towel swirled around her head.
The rest of us are stripped to the essentials—-wrinkles, lines, no eyebrows except for . . . the tattooed ladies, which, when I glance around, realize is almost all of them. Their eyebrows are arched, plucked and permanent.
When I examine Glee, I realize her eyebrows are medium-brown and uniform unlike my sparse, faded ones. I squint and peer closer. She also has charcoal eyeliner, pink blush and berry-stained lips executed with perfection even though we’ve showered and washed our faces. Glee has spent some time in a tattoo parlor.
My eyes browse around the room at the lounging women. I am the only one with a naked face including flaws and original eyebrows.
“Ms. Rubin? Ms. Barstow? Ms. Lefkowitz?” Therapists in light blue scrub tops and white pants are ready to take us to our rooms. April’s having an herbal wrap with ingredients from the forests ofRomania, Glee’s signed up for the organic strawberry soak with a Watsu water treatment and I’m having a Swedish massage. Since I don’t have a weekly masseuse visit, this will be a treat.
“Hi, I’m Ingrid and I’m going to pound you today,” is what I think I hear her say with her Scandinavian accent. No matter. It’s my turn to melt into the table listening to New Age music and breathing citrus scents from a lemony candle.
After an hour of Ingrid’s man-sized hands pummeling my Ratango-ed achy body, I mush out of the room to meet the girls.
“It’s time for our hand treatments,” says Glee. I make my hand into a fist. My nails are terrible. I didn’t want another Asian assault so I haven’t had a manicure in ages.
We shuffle behind Glee in our plastic slip-ons down a hallway to another part of the facility. She guides us into an organic nail spa. There’s no list of charges on the wall like the places I go to so I pick up a standing card. A manicure is one hundred dollars.
Glee grabs it out of my hands. “Never mind. It’s our treat. This is very special. Haven’t you asked yourself why they’re wearing surgical masks in those other places? Toxins can kill.”
“Glee, April, it’s very generous of you but I can pay for my own manicure.” Even if it is five times as much.
April stands in front of a display to pick out a color from the selection of polishes. She turns around with a few in her hand. “None of these have formaldehyde.”
Glee adds, “It’s your influence that has enticed us to go green. They don’t use acrylics or perfumes either.” She takes a deep breath. “See? You can breathe. The air’s clear enough to do yoga.”
Manicurists lead us to their stations. I might as well give up. They’re determined to give me the full spa experience. My mother taught me to accept gifts graciously.
“My name’s Heather.” I nod and smile. I hope she’s not a talker who says “like” in every sentence. I have a sudden longing for the snide Asian ladies who make no effort to communicate, deriding my needy nails in another language.
“I’m going to be soaking your hands in pure distilled water and organic oils and wrapping them in a one-hundred percent organic towel. We use only sterilized surgical instruments,” she says reaching for something to push back my overgrown cuticles. If she says organic one more time I’m going to scream. “The purpose of a natural manicure is to rehydrate and seal in moisture.” I lean my head back and let her organically adjust my hands.
“Have you picked a color?” asks Heather massaging each finger with studiousness.
Color? I’m in a bathrobe covered with fragrant oil, paralyzed with relaxation. I can’t get up. I look at the young woman’s hands sitting next to me. She’s having them painted a pale pink with an iridescent flash.
“I’ll have what she’s having,” I tell Heather nodding to my next door neighbor. She hears me.
“This is a great color. It doesn’t show so much if I chip it. I work on the computer all day.”
“Oh. That’ll work for me.” I won’t mention that I unpack boxes for my mother, clean up dog doody, cook and change the grandkids diapers besides working on the computer.
“What do you do?” I ask, assuming she has a job in technology.
“I answer two hundred emails a day plus Twitter and Facebook.”
“You get two hundred emails a day?”
“Yes, and I have at least nine hundred saved for reference.” She seems very self-satisfied splaying her fingers for examination.
I repeat my original question wanting to know what occupation keeps her so entrenched in her computer all day.
I’m flummoxed as I trade hands for Heather. She wraps the one that’s been soaking in distilled water in a one-hundred percent organic cotton towel. “But can’t you call people and talk?”
“Oh no. That interrupts. Besides, I’ve never actually met most of them. We’re just cyber friends. Hey, are you on any social sites? You can join my network.”
“No thanks. But I appreciate the offer. I’m pretty busy.”
She says, “I understand. I’ve got to get home. There will be at least a hundred emails waiting for me. Whoops! Someone’s twittering me right now.” She motions her manicurist to reach into the red Kate Spade purse next to her for money, credit card and keys.
The manicurist warns her, “Remember. No BlackBerry, IMs, texting or Game Boys for at least thirty minutes. Your nails need to dry solid.”
Ms. Hi Tech whines, “I can’t drive unless I’m texting.” She slips her purse over her arm, fingers spread apart, and sashays out in rhinestone flip-flops.
I finish my manicure in silence contemplating what will happen to society when we no longer speak. Will my multi-tasking evolve into mobile perpetual-tasking? Will we all be in a constant state of communication?
I’m already annoyed when my kids text when I’m speaking to them. As if I don’t notice their hands under the table. Do we all need blow-by-blow descriptions of every activity dissected? I feel myself getting agitated so I concentrate on the top of Heather’s head. She’s a brunette with blond streaks.
All Marcia’s books can be purchased from her website at www.marciafine.com or online at Amazon, B&N or downloaded.