Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thank God for Technicians and Authors

Today I have as my guest a delightfully charming woman I met recently at a “Celebration of Local Writers” event held in Raleigh.  As soon as I heard the title of her book, I knew I had to get to know this author better.  Well, wouldn’t you if you saw that the title was “Thank God I Only Have Two of These!”  

Here’s a chance for us to get to know Susan Ghiassi better. Welcome Susan!  Please tell me a little about yourself.

Hi, Linda.  I’ve lived in Raleigh, NC since ’96. My husband’s job transferred us from University City, Missouri, my hometown, a couple of weeks before Hurricane Fran!  So that’s how Rasool and I and our two boys, Ali and Hassan, began our adventure in our new home state. Our family has since expanded to include lovely Karina, Ali’s wife. A few of my favorite things include going for walks, spending time with family and friends, trying out new recipes, traveling, and dancing.

What do you do for a living, Susan?
 I am certified & registered in radiography, mammography,  & computed tomography. 
What prompted you to write, “Thank God I Only Have Two of These!” a book about a serious topic but with a very catchy title?
During my 30 plus years in radiology, I primarily worked in mammography.  I enjoyed the interaction and challenges of taking mammograms.  But waiting for results can be excruciating for my patients.  My discovery of a humorous poem concerning mammograms helped ease the wait time for my mammogram patients.  It didn’t take long for patients to share their feelings on paper while I would tease them with my plan to publish.

How long did it take you to compile your notes and write the book?

I saved and collected my patients’ writings for years.  Finally I organized the writings and consulted with a real editor.  The most difficult task was choosing whose poem or tale would be included. After proof readings by countless friends and family, my book was ready to present for publication.

Do you have a favorite line or vignette from the book?
This is a tough question to answer because there are so many wonderful writings from patients within these pages, but I’ll try to choose a few:

           “I’m fine.  I’m fine.  I know that I am fine.  But if not, please take them both off, so I can get the set I have always dreamed of!"

          “A”cup, “B”cup, “C”cup, “D”
          whatever cup you happen to be.
          Mammograms are a must
          even with a big bust,
          unless you are a tree.”

          “I’m glad to have boobs to squeeze.”

When was your book published and by whom?
 I self published “Thank God I Only Have Two of These!” illustrated by my mother June Miller, in 2009 with  In fact, my first proof copy came to me on my mom’s birthday after she had passed away.  It was a very special day to me.

Where can my readers get a copy?

My print book is available on Amazon and  My eBook is sold on the Apple iBookstore and the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store. Locally, my book is sold at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC.

What’s next for you?
I plan to do a better job of marketing “Thank God I Only Have Two of These!”  The more sales, the more I can donate funds to worthy cancer charities. I would like to participate in businesses’ wellness and educational programs.  I have the unique experience of mammography to educate and lessen fears concerning the mammogram procedure.  Mammograms save lives, so it is very gratifying to be a part of this cause!

If I may quote from your book, “Get a mammogram yearly beginning between the ages of 35-40.  If possible, get a digital mammogram.  If not, get what is available!”  You also differentiate between the two types of mammograms—screening and diagnostic, and say people need to know the difference. And yes, I said people, not just women, because you mention that men can also get breast cancer.
Folks, I would urge each of you to get this book.  It’s a quick read, but most enjoyable, informative, and timely.  Thank you, Susan,.  I wish you much success.

     Thank you, Linda, you’ve sure got me off to a great start!

Quote of the Day: Hopefully a little pain today will save a lot of pain tomorrow. From, ”Thank God I Only Have Two of These!”


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dog Bone Soup - Doggone Good Book

Dear Readers, before I get into today's interview, let me just say, SPRING HAS COME AT LAST!  Halleluiah!
Having said that, now let me introduce you to my guest author, Bette A. Stevens, author of DOG BONE SOUP: A BOOMER'S JOURNEY. 


Bette, I read your book and was deeply moved by your portrayal of poverty and one child's attempt to rise above it. This is definitely a must read for everyone.

Tell me a little about yourself--where you live, your family, your likes and dislikes.
These days I’m retired and, contrary to popular belief, busier than ever. I enjoy writing and am definitely having lots of fun with my husband Dan renovating our 37-acre farmstead in Central Maine. We have two grown daughters, five grandkids (ages 5 through 27) and two darling great-grand toddlers.  I love reading, walking, gardening, and occasional day trips to the coast, summer theatre and visits with family and friends. Dislikes? Too busy enjoying the ‘likes’ to worry about any of those.

How long have you been writing?
I became an author in 1997, when a regional press published my first children’s book. Prior to that, I wrote regularly for the business world for the first two and a half decades in a work-a-day world, where I was also an editor and desktop publisher. I left my first profession to pursue a B.S. in education at University of Maine and set out on a new career—teaching in grades four through eight until retirement. While studying at UM, I took courses in journalism and creative writing. I was invited to become a mentor at the university’s Writing Center and was also fortunate to have two of my human interest stories published in ECHOES Magazine during that time. Through the years, I’ve never stopped writing. You can follow my blog at

Give us a brief synopsis of DOG BONE SOUP.
DOG BONE SOUP is a coming of age story that follows the life of a poor boy growing up in a New England college town. Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning,  splitting and stacking firewood…but when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream. 

What prompted you to write this book?
As a writer and a teacher, I have a deep concern for kids living in poverty—these children are often bullied and looked down upon by other kids and even by some adults, all because of the social status of their families. Poverty and prejudice seem to be linked through the generations. The bullying I’ve seen isn’t simply relegated to ‘kid stuff’.  In my opinion, adults can and should be making a difference for the better in the lives of these children—of all children. Many of these kids continue to suffer throughout their lives because they’ve been bullied or intimidated simply because they’re poor. DOG BONE SOUP is a story of the survival and the triumph of a boy who overcomes the odds.

How long did it take you to write it?
I wrote the first complete draft during NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2013, although I had been working on a bare bones outline for several months before that. During the self-editing process I re-read and revised at least ten times before placing the manuscript into the ‘hands’ of two capable editor friends. Then more revisions. By early 2015, I was ready and confident that I would not be totally embarrassed. Writing and publishing is a humbling process. The writing process for DOG BONE SOUP took one year, two months and 13 days.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?
Here’s a snippet out of a scene from one of the boys’ adventures:

“What on God’s green earth do you two want?”
“Saw your trees out there with branches tippin’ to the ground. Wondered if we could pick some apples. If you like, we’ll pick some for you too.”

“Hell, no! Those apples are mine and they ain’t goin’ to some white trash that lives down the road. I’ll have ’em rot before the likes of you gets a one. Now, get the hell out of here and don’t come back. My shotgun’s standin’ in the corner and I’m not afraid to use it. Now, git!”
Is it published and, if so, when and by whom?
On January 13, 2015, I finally hit the publish button on CreateSpace, an independent publishing platform affiliated with Amazon, and DOG BONE SOUP was ready to ‘dish up.’

How can my readers get a copy of the book?
All of my books—AMAZING MATILDA, THE TANGRAM ZOO AND WORD PUZZLES TOO!, PURE TRASH and DOG BONE SOUP—are available on Amazon. Here is a universal link for readers around the globe:   They’re also available through all major book sellers in both paperback and eBook versions.

What do you like to do besides write?
I enjoy reading, drawing and painting, gardening, walking, photography, desktop design (publishing my own marketing materials), taking day trips to the coast and spending time with family.

What's next for you?
I’m always working on several projects bit-by-bit as the muse lights—poetry, sketching, outlining or gathering facts and ideas for future stories, poems and books.

Do you have any advice for would-be writers?  
Keep writing and do make friends with other writers. Join reader and writer groups online and in your local area and become an active participant. Lend your support and encouragement to other authors, for you’ll learn a lot from them and reap the gracious benefits of their friendship.

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?
Everything! Like a child learning to ride a bike, there are times when you fall. Remember those days? Those days when you didn’t give up because it was something you really wanted to do? You brushed yourself off, stood tall, got back on and kept pedaling. Writing is a life-long journey and I’m enjoying it one learning-adventure at a time.

Thank you, Bette, it's been a real pleasure having you here today.  Folks, I would suggest you order this book either in paperback or on Kindle. You won't regret it. 

 Quote of the Day:  The other America, the America of poverty, is hidden today in a way that it never was before.  Its millions are socially invisible to the rest of us. Michael Harrington