indieBRAG Blog

Susan Weintrob
Susan Weintrob, our Foodie Lit writer, is a food blogger and reviewer on her website, Susan grew up around food and its prep. Her father owned a deli and catering business, which taught her the key components of the industry. "Writing food blogs is an amazing opportunity. Cooking and talking about food is simply fun and takes me back to memories of my Dad."


  Though the origin of the word Halloween is Christian, the holiday is commonly thought to have pagan roots. October 31 – Nov 1 was seen as the end of harvest and the beginning of the dark days of winter. This was a time when the 'door' to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. However, harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to be active. People took steps to allay or ward-off these harmful spirits/fairies. Wearing costumes may have originated as a means of disguising oneself from these harmful spirits/fairies. In the Christian tradition, it was believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities. In Halloween: From Pagan…

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Daughters- florence Osmund

Author interview:  Florence Osmund Stephanie: Florence Osmund grew up in an old Victorian home in Illinois, complete with a coach house, the same house she used as inspiration for her first two books. She earned her master's degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and has obtained more than three decades of experience in corporate America. Her notable website is dedicated primarily to helping new authors—offering advice she wishes she had received before starting her first novel. Osmund currently resides in Chicago where she is working on her next novel. Florence, thank you for chatting with me again and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your story, Daughters. Please tell me about your book. Florence: The year is 1949, and twenty-four-year-old Marie Marchetti has just discovered the identity of her father, Jonathan Brooks, the father she never knew. She hopes the invitation from him to spend two weeks with her newfound family over Thanksgiving will help uncover vital truths about herself. Discovering who her father is also means discovering her own ethnicity, and her strong need to understand who she really is and where she belongs drives her to seek peace and truth in her life. A lot…

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Teens Are Not Reading!

    "There's been an enormous investment in teaching kids to read in elementary school-Kids are doing better at 9, and at 11. At 13, they're doing no worse, but then there is a catastrophic fall-off. ... If kids are put into this electronic culture without any counterbalancing efforts, they will stop reading."NEA chairman Dana Gioia Let's face it, parents have to take a lot of the blame. No one wants to hear this but far too few parents turn off the TV or computer and pick up a book themselves. It is our job to set the example. Take some time to talk to your kids about a great book and not the latest Lindsey Lohan gossip! Here's a plan- next time your kids say they are bored, and who doesn't here that a hundred times a week?, hand them a book. Next time you are working around the house, give them 2 choices, help or read. Want to bet they will read! I bought my 9 year old granddaughter a Kindle with a pretty pink cover. A lot of our relationship revolves around books- picking books, sitting together on the porch reading, reading interesting or funny passages to…

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Top Ten Things A Self-Published Author Hears At A Cocktail Party

    10. "You're an author? ... Really!?" 9. "What have you written? ...Never heard of it!" 8. "Who's your publisher? ... Oh. I see." 7. "So what's your book about? ... I never read that stuff." 6. "What else have you written? ...I don't like that either." 5. "How come I haven't seen your books in Barnes and Noble? ... What's an eBook?" 4. "Is there any money in this? ... That much? Wait...that's what you've spent!" 3. "Then how much have you made? ... "You're kidding, right?" 2. "Why're you still doing this? ... Have you ever tried root canals?" 1. "Well, good luck. ... Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while."

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Shocked By Rejection?

    As you might imagine, some of the self-published authors whose books were rejected by indieBRAG readers are not happy. Fortunately, I am pleased to report that only a few of them have taken the time to berate us! The brutal fact is that many indie books have no chance at all of getting through our initial screening process, let alone being read by our reading team - they have poorly conceived stories and/or are badly written. These books are invariably rejected by most, if not all, of the readers who review them. However, occasionally we must reject a book with regret. These are books with really good stories but are in desperate need of professional editing- either content or copy editing or both. To have a book that is worth a reader's time and money, an indie author needs to do everything they can to fine tune and perfect their work. A great story poorly edited is a real shame. We recently rejected a book that the author said was going to be made into a film. This is wonderful news for the author but having a book made into a screenplay doesn't change the basic facts about…

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The Little Gnome-Sheri Fink

Author Interview:  Sheri Fink Sheri Fink is a #1 best-selling, award-winning children's author, creator of "The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink" children's brand, and an international speaker. Sheri writes books that inspire and delight children while planting seeds of self-esteem. Her first children's book, The Little Rose, was a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 60 weeks, became the #1 top-rated e-book on Amazon, and received a gold medal in the 2012 Readers Favorite International Book Awards. Her subsequent books have all been #1 best-sellers. Her children's book series recently received the Gold Mom's Choice Award for excellence in family friendly entertainment. Sheri was recently selected by CBS Los Angeles as one of the top 3 authors in her local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Stephanie: Hello, Sheri. Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, The Little Gnome. Sheri: The Little Gnome is a charming story about a garden gnome experiencing the wonder of the four seasons for the first time. At first he doesn't understand and resists the changes in his environment. That just makes him grumpy. Once he begins to understand the seasons, he finds something good in every change.…

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Island of Fog- Keith Robinson

Author Interview: Keith Robinson   Stephanie: Keith Robinson is a writer of fantasy fiction for middle-grade readers and young adults. His ISLAND OF FOG series has received extremely positive feedback from readers of all ages including Piers Anthony (best-selling author of the Magic of Xanth series) and Writer's Digest. Keith is a self-employed website designer with a wife and daughter. Originally from England, he moved to the United States in 2001 where he now resides in the sticks of Chickamauga, Georgia. Apart from writing, he collects young adult and children's books. He has a bookshelf crammed full of secondhand hardbacks of varying authors from the 1940s-1960s, in particular those he grew up with in the UK. He owns and is webmaster of, both dedicated to the great author. Visit for more. Hello Keith, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion! Please tell me about your book, Island of Fog.Keith: Thank you! A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined…

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A Rendezvous To Die for- Betty McMahon

Author Interview: Betty McMahon Stephanie: Hello Betty! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion. I see that your book (A Rendezvous to Die For) falls under the mystery genre and I do love a good mystery. Please tell me about your story. Betty: Photographer Cassandra Cassidy does weddings – but only to pay the rent. She'd prefer more interesting subjects. Which gets our reckless heroine in a lot of trouble. During a newspaper assignment to cover a 1830s Rendezvous reenactment, she points her camera inside a sweat lodge, clicks the shutter, and finds the body of her nemesis with a tomahawk in his loathsome head. She can't help but think "good riddance," but the local constabulary thinks our meddling photog is the main suspect. Soon she's up to her f-stops searching for the real killer – with her only investigative skills camera-related. Stephanie: What was your inspiration for your story and how long did it take you to write it? Betty: I'd been a working journalist for many years and decided to take a Writer's Digest course in fiction writing. My mystery book was generated out of the exercises for that class. It took me a long time to write it,…

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Reno splits- Phillip Winberry

Author Interview:  Phillip winberry Stephanie: Phillip, it is a pleasure to be interviewing you! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your novel, "Reno Splits." What an interesting title! Please tell me a little about your story. Phillip: Thanks for having me as your guest, Stephanie. Winning the BRAG Medallion for Reno Splits is a great honor, a surprise to say the least. I'm glad you like the title. It's meant to convey the essence of the divorce ranch era that prevailed in the mid twentieth century in a place that styled itself as the 'Biggest Little City in the World.' During a period of about 35 years (from 1931 to the mid 1960s) Reno was a mecca for divorce seeking women, particularly eastern socialites and Hollywood starlets wanting a quick and easy way to split the sheets of an unhappy marriage. While establishing the six weeks residency required by the state of Nevada before being granted their independence, many of the split-seekers lived a luxurious and pampered lifestyle sampling Reno's dazzling nightlife, high-stakes gambling, and majestic scenery. When New York lawyer Sam Carr's twin sister, Sally, disappeared on the day she was scheduled to receive her divorce and later…

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Searching for Lincholn’s ghost- Barbara Dzikowski

Author Interview:  Barbara Dzikowski   Stephanie: I would like to introduce Barbara Dzikowski. Winner of the BRAG Medallion. Searching for Lincoln's Ghost is Barbara J. Dzikowski's debut novel. She earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy and a graduate degree in counseling from Indiana University. These areas of study fueled her desire to create fiction that closely examines the human heart and its complex search for love and meaning. Fascinated by the passion, idealism, and lost hope of the 1960s, she is putting the finishing touches on her second novel, Losing Is Still Ours, about two families struggling with the changes and uncertainties of that decade, with a particular focus on the cataclysmic year of 1968. She is also hard at work on her third novel, which depicts a family's personal struggle while caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. I have been so intrigued about your story, "Searching for Lincoln's Ghost." Please tell me a little about it. Barbara D. Barbara: Searching for Lincoln's Ghost is a story about coming of age during the tumultuous 1960s. Although it begins as a "look back" from an adult's perspective, at its heart, it's a story about Andi Powell, a young, lonely,…

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