Sunday, April 13, 2014

Missing Joyce Oroz

Today I want to tell you some things I know—that I am certain of. A longer article would be the things I don’t know, but you would tire after the first three miles of the list. I hope my list of semi-useful and strange-looking at first stuff might help someone.

1.     I know that when I smile at a stranger, I usually get a smile back. However, I do not smile at old men wearing raincoats. One needs to use caution. I put the smiles in my memory cells and reuse them for warmth as needed.
2.     I know that writing a journal for the last 13 years has helped me to look like I have a better memory than I actually have. I can find things in it like when the warranty on my vacuum has expired because I wrote down the date I bought it. I keep track of medicines, events, emotions and a million other things—one paragraph every night.
3.     I know that my dog is smarter than I am in many ways. Just because she doesn't speak English doesn’t mean she can’t tell time, like breakfast time and dinner time.
4.     I know that there are good things for my skin in the fridge like mayonnaise and yogurt. Sometimes I eat them, but religiously I use them on my skin. Whole-fat Greek yogurt and plain old mayo. My dog thinks my face smells great.
5.     I know that cherries, cherry pills, dried cherries, frozen cherries, pickled cherries—all kinds of cherries counter my over-active uric acid condition—better known as gouty arthritis. If you suffer from arthritis, try eating cherries. What have you got to lose? Your arthritis of course. I take a cherry pill twice a day everyday and feel wonderful!
6.     I know that writing is just like painting, but without the mess.

7.      I know that the internet and Facebook are good things despite what the critics say. I have reconnected with old friends and found new ones. One new friend was Lyla Fox, a mystery writer whose books were published by my publisher, Cozy Cat Press. She friended me on Facebook and I always looked forward to her comments and writings. I think we would have been great friends if we had ever met off-line. Lyla recently passed away and so many people will miss her. I think she would love people to donate to Breast Cancer Research. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Portrait by Kati........Joyce Oroz

Yesterday and today I found myself where I never ever expected to be--at the other end of a paint brush. My friend, Kati, whom you all met last week on my blog, has been painting my portrait. I have painted a few portraits myself, but never as wonderful as Kati's paintings. She had me sit twenty minutes at a time, break for ten minutes, and then back to the chair. After a total of eight twenty-minute sessions in two days, the picture was finished. There I was staring back at myself--yes, she really captured me. Amazing! 

To see the potrait painting you must drop in at the meet and greet this coming Saturday at the Dragonfly Gallery 380 Blohm Ave., Aromas from 2:00 to 4:00. There will be refreshments and good conversation. I know you will want to support Kati's love of painting. See you there!

Kati and I operate on different planets. Her studio is well thought out and supplied with everything she needs, easel, open windows, good lighting, cushioned floor pads to stand on, extra large palette, fine assortment of brushes, everything in it's place. 
You might remember the bat cave? My crude excuse for a studio--although it did serve the purpose when AHA painters created their murals. 
My writing studio has heat, light, a computer and sticky notes posted on anything that doesn't move. Even the sticky notes have sticky notes on them. I am knee-deep in notes, wondering which ones came first, which ones are important. I bounce from my unfinished latest novel to my blog to email to whatever distraction comes along. But that's what being retired is all about. The ability to choose to do everything or nothing with no major consequences.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sally Goes Paramount..........Joyce Oroz

My Cozy Cat Press--friend, Sally Carpenter is a mystery writer who has worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper. Learn more about Sally and her books at her blog. Today Sally joins us to give a virtual tour of Paramount Studios.

Behind the Scenes of a Movie Studio

Tourists who travel to Hollywood, Calif., to find some “movie magic” will have to look hard to find it. Celebrities don’t actually live in Hollywood, and Sunset Boulevard, the main attraction, is mostly full of tacky souvenir shops. Two places that are worth a visit are the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Paramount Pictures.

These two places adjoin each other, sharing a common wall. Legend says ghosts from the cemetery have walked through the studio back lot at night.

Many of the classic movie stars and noted directors are buried here, often with ornate and ostentatious grave markers. One actor even has a reflecting pool in front of his huge grave marker. Others, like Rudolf Valentino, have their urns tucked away in regular niches. My personal favorite is Mel Blanc’s simple headstone that reads, “That’s All, Folks!”
Non-celebrities are buried here as well and anyone can purchase a plot. Tourists can walk in and look around for free during business hours. Docent tours are available as well.

In 2000 I was hired as a page at Paramount. The pages gave studio tours during the day and ushered the sitcom audiences in the evening. The tour is different today, but I’d like to talk about what you might have seen on one of my tours.

I led groups of 15 to 21 people on a two-hour walking tour, rain or shine (yep, I was in the rain a few times with some hardy and determined guests.)

The Universal Studio tour is entertainment-focused, but the Paramount tour is educational in nature. As I led my tour group around the lot, I talked about the history of the studio.

A studio lot is rather bland in appearance. The lot is mostly comprised of enormous and nondescript soundstages where shooting takes place. Some of the sitcoms that shot on the lot would let the groups come inside and look at the sets when they were not rehearsing. Some of my best tours were during the winter hiatus (vacation) when the guests could see the sets for both Frasier and Becker.

A couple of shows, such as Bob Saget’s Raising Dad, let the groups inside during rehearsals as long as the guests didn’t talk or take pictures. We’d watch from the bleachers where the audiences would sit during the taping.

The Entertainment Tonight people let the guests stand on the actual set that was used for the broadcasts. Up close, a set is made of word and canvas and isn’t a bit glamorous. Once the ET people let my group go back into the control room.

Paramount has a huge back lot, several streets lined with facades (fake fronts) to resemble various sections of New York City (Castle is a modern show that uses this back lot). The “buildings” have nothing inside them except scaffolding to hold them up. The streets can be decorated with potted trees, fake street lamps and mailboxes. The windows of the storefronts can be repainted and decorated to suit the need. The streets are rigged for rain and snow effects.

The back lot was often used to make commercials, music videos and outdoor scenes for the sitcoms. During a shoot, the ends of the street were blocked off with sawhorses. Tour groups could stand behind the barricades and watch.

At the far end of the lot stood the mill where sets were constructed. A large garage-style door was usually open, and the groups could see the workers painting, molding plastic, or making a set.

The Paramount Theater, usually our last stop, was a state-of-the-art film theater used for movie premieres as well as screenings for directors, producers, and studio employees (the lot also had two smaller theaters for viewing dailies).

A full-time projectionist worked for the studio, and he often let my groups inside the projection room. He’d demonstrate how the 35mm film projectors work. Now that more shooting is done digitally, the projection room might be quite different today.

The tour ended by the gift shop so the guests could purchase souvenirs and videos/DVDs of Paramount shows.

Sally Carpenter was born in and grew up in Southern Indiana, but now lives in Southern California. While she was working on a master's degree in theater at Indiana State University, two of her plays were regional finalists in the American College Theater Festival's one-act play competition. One play, "Star Collector," was eventually produced in NYC and the characters became the basis for her book, "The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper." Her book was recently named a Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel. Sally also has a black belt in tae kwon do and a master's degree in theology.  She is a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and her publisher is Cozy Cat Press.

Sally says her book was inspired by The Beatles, The Monkees and those goofy spy/detective/action-adventure TV shows of the '60s and '70s. You can find her books at

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kati D' Joyce Oroz

Kati D'Amore is a wonderful generous person, and relatively new to painting, although her father was a well-known painter in Germany. Once she decided to paint, the world became a better place with her beautiful landscapes, seascapes and amazing portraits. Her oil paintings are "fresh", never overworked. Kati uses vibrant color and free, painterly strokes for an amazing look at nature. 
She will be demonstrating her painting techniques at the Dragonfly Gallery, 380 Blohm Ave., Aromas, Saturday, April 12th from 2:00 to 4:00. The public is invited for refreshments and conversation.

I recently interviewed Kati:

Kati, was there a place or a person that influenced your decision to paint?

As my daughter so eloquently described on my shop page on easy I was influenced by my father who was a painter well known for his portraits and landscapes in Germany. So I grew up with paintings all around me and visiting many art galleries in Munich Germany. My actual kick off to paint was after having moved to Florida for my husbands job and being in Sarasota at the Ringling Museum of Art. They had a show on Grandma Moses and her paintings. They showed an interview with her on a screen and I heard her answer the interviewers question why she started painting at 70: "well I could have cleaned the house more or fed the chicken more often….." That made me realize that it is never too late to follow a passion, and so I started with one watercolor class.

What mediums do you like best?

 I now prefer oil over any other medium, watercolor requires a lot of pre-planning and that is not how I paint. Oil lets me develop the painting and correct my mistakes, so I feel much freer as I work on the canvas.

Please tell us what your favorite subjects are. And most difficult.

The most fun to paint are landscapes en plain air. I belong to the Monterey Bay Plein Air Artist Association and we have monthly paint outs at all these wonderful spots in this area. You get to experience the smells and sounds of your landscape because you are right in it.
The most difficult are portraits of babies because they don't have very developed features yet. But in general I love doing portraits the most.

Kati, where do you live?

I live in Royal Oaks on five acres. My studio is a newly converted two car garage with skylights and windows and I love the privacy and rural feel of our home.

 When you are not painting, what do you like to do?

My husband and I love to hike and bicycle, I like gardening and reading  and occasionally cooking.

Where can we find your lovely paintings?

You can find my work at and by contacting me at to arrange a visit to my studio.and of course at the Dragonfly Gallery in Aromas :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Free Beetles.........Joyce Oroz

There are three kinds of people in the world, people who use kindle machines, people who have but don't use kindle machines and people who wish they had a kindle machine. Wishing won't get it done. It's time to join the 21st century. I don't sell the machines, but I know this guy on 41st Ave. ... anyway, I know how nicely they work. Wonderful when you travel.

My job is to sell books--but today, March 27th through March 31st I am giving my latest book, Beetles in the Boxcar, (Kindle version) away, free, no strings! Is this March madness or what? I do feel a bit feverish. 
I have written four other books, so of course I want you to become interested and read all of them. Today I am giving you a section of the first chapter of Beetles in the Boxcar:

After driving all day, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open, but out of habit, I stayed up for the ten o’clock news. It seemed like KPUT TV ran the same old news stories night-after-night, year-after-year. Only the names changed. They were people I didn’t know so I didn’t feel their pain except in a distant sort of way. But when the reporter talked about a man who was found dead on the railroad tracks, I quickly turned my head away. That one made me shudder.
I turned back just as a photo of the man’s face filled the TV screen. According to a reporter the elderly man wasn’t carrying identification. The public was being asked to call the local sheriff’s office if they recognized him.
A heavy sigh came from the loft followed by a loud thud and an angry yowl from Felix. I looked up at the little three-sided bedroom. Clara’s arm dangled in midair between the railing spindles that substituted for a fourth wall.
“Auntie, are you all right?” I shouted as I leaped from the sofa and took the stairs two at a time. All kinds of things ran through my head—heart attack, stroke, spider, fear of heights?
“Josephine … it was like seeing a ghost.” She lifted her head and tried to pull herself up. “Joey’s dead, but there he was on the TV, run over by a train. I can’t believe my eyes,” she gasped.
I helped her to her feet and held her arm as she stepped back a few steps to the bed. She sat down, hugging her shoulders, blinking back tears as she stared at redwood ceiling beams.
Felix watched us cautiously from the other side of the bed.
Finally Aunt Clara turned her head, looked up at me with wet eyes and apologized for the meltdown.
Felix crept closer as her voice softened.
I sat down beside my aunt, causing the bed to creak and the mattress to sag more. I had never known Aunt Clara to be emotional or even close to it. She was just as calm, sound-minded and logical as I. In fact people always remarked about how similar we were and how strangely alike Candy and my mother were. More than once I entertained the idea that Candy and I were mistakenly given to the wrong mothers at birth.
“Can I get you anything, Auntie?”
“I’m OK, dear. I must be mistaken. Joey died a long time ago … and I’m over it. I know, you want to know what Joey was to me.”
“Sure, if you want to tell me.” I wondered why she wanted to unload her story on me but I was willing to listen.
Clara took a deep jerky breath and let the air out noisily. She told me that Joey Gianelli had lived next door to Mom and Clara when they were growing up in Santa Cruz about seventy years ago. The Gianelli sisters were grown up and starting their own families when Joey was born. He was a clever little boy who loved to take apart clocks, radios, and toasters. Sometimes he needed help putting them back together. Clara said she used to help him reassemble appliances before they were missed.
“Were you two the same age?”
      “I was six months older.”
“Sounds like you were good friends.”
“Oh yes. In fact, I grew up thinking I would marry him someday.” She said Joey joined the Air Force and she went off to Fresno State but before the first year of college was up she became engaged to Roger Ramsey. They were married about fifty years, until six years ago when Roger passed away. A few months after her husband died, Clara made a visit to Santa Cruz to see Mom and Dad and to see what Joey was up to.
“So you two hadn’t kept in touch over the years?”
“Not really. Joey came back from the Air Force and married Darla, a new girl in town. I never met her.” Clara wiped a tear from her cheek and continued telling me about her visit to Santa Cruz. Mom and her neighbor, Myrtle, told Clara what they had read about Joey’s flight over the bay in his little Piper Cub. Apparently it was something he did quite often, but that last trip didn’t end well.
 “I’m so sorry, Auntie.” I put my arm around her shoulder and felt her shiver. “Were his remains found?”
She shook her head. “Apparently the plane went down off the coast … according to the authorities.”
“So you don’t think the face on TV is Joey?” I asked, getting a creepy feeling in my stomach like bugs in the basement.
“It’s been so many years, how would I know what Joey looks like? I don’t know why I reacted like that. It was obviously some bum. I mean, who else walks along the tracks at night … in the winter?”
I shuddered at the thought of sudden death from a terrible accident. I remembered back sixteen years ago when my husband was run over by an eighteen-wheeler. The painful memory faded slightly as the years went by, but it would always hurt and I would always be a widow.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Joyce's Blog Hop.........Joyce Oroz

Hop! Hop! Hop!

March 23, 2014
My friend Bart Gilbertson, author of DEATHBED AND BREAKFAST, a Pookotz Sisters Bed and Breakfast Mystery, asked me to participate in a Blog Hop. You can read his Blog Hop entry HERE. The rules of the Blog Hop are that I need to answer four questions and then bounce the blog and the questions on to 3 or more of my author friends. In a week’s time, they post their own blog answering the same 4 questions and then bounce the blog on to 3 or more of their author friends…and so on. Sounded like fun to me! And it's all right with Josephine and Solow.

I am currently struggling—I mean working on my sixth novel in the Josephine Stuart Mystery Series. I am seventy percent finished. It’s that pesky thirty percent I still have to invent. I finally know who the killer is and the book title will most likely be “Roller Rubout.”Yes, the story takes place at the roller rink where Josephine is painting a mural. Painting giant letters spelling words to the Hokey Pokey song is the most boring work she has ever been hired to do. Her hired painters end up doing most of the work while Josephine snoops around for the killer of the former owner of the roller rink. 

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My protagonist is a fifty-year-old widow who paints murals for a living. Like Jessica Fletcher, every new mural environment has a dead body. Unlike Jessica, Josephine drives a red Mazda pickup and wears colorful, paint-smeared clothing. She is a down-to-earth gal, quick to judge and even quicker to seek justice for her friends. Her side-kick is a basset named Solow who can sniff out the bad guys in a crunch. Unlike “Cabot Cove” type small town cozies, Josephine is all over central California—-sometimes by choice, but not always.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
I spent my life painting, murals mostly, until arthritis forced me to quit. But the urge to create was still strong. I took creative writing courses and nine years ago I started my first novel, “Secure the Ranch.” When the book was finished I immediately started another. Writing can be frustrating, but like painting, it is an outlet for my creative juices such as they are. I am working on my sixth book in the Josephine Stuart Mystery Series and I’ll keep writing until I run out of juice. I have more fun writing than old ladies should be allowed to have, and I try to write some of that “fun” into my books. Beetles in the Boxcar is a lot of fun and it's free from Kindle March 27 to March 31.

 Question 4: How does my writing process work?
My teachers recommended outlines, but that never happened for me. I start with one sentence and elaborate on it until I have a full story. I set up an unusual murder situation and then I figure out who did it and why. From start to finish, I imagine my readers trying to figure out which of the many suspects is the real killer. Sometimes I can’t decide who done it until the book is nearly ended. I picture in my mind the characters as if I were watching a movie or TV show. I try to write everyday, even if it’s only a paragraph. I like to work hard in my garden, and when I am physically exhausted, I settle into my chair and write. Sometimes it flows, other times I just correct parts already written. So far I have five books on the market, Secure the Ranch, Read My Lipstick, Shaking in Her Flip Flops, Cuckoo Clock Caper, and Beetles in the Boxcar. Now let me introduce some of my wonderful writer friends.

Lyla Fox is the author of MURDER ON CINNAMON STREET, a Shaky Detective Mystery, and SNOOP, a Small Town Gossip Mystery—both published by Cozy Cat Press.
When Lyla was very young she read the Nancy Drew series.  She fell in love with Nancy and her “boon companions” and actually wrote to Carolyn Keene. She got a letter back and treasured it, carrying it around and showing it off for six months.  In the letter the author said something to the extent that Lyla was a good writer and should keep it up.  Over a decade later, when she learned that there was no actual Carolyn Keene, the damage was already done.  She’d been convinced that a writer was within her.

Cozy Cat Press Author, Christian Belz has been a practicing architect in Metro Detroit for 28 years, with experience in retail, educational, and industrial projects. He is Vice President of Detroit Working Writers. He won the Grand Prize in Aquarius Press's 2011 Bright Harvest Prize for his short story "Chambers". Christian's fiction has appeared in Writers' JournalThe Story Teller Magazine, and Wicked East Press's anthology: Short Sips, Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2. His poetry has been published in WestWard Quarterly and Yes, Poetry. His latest accomplishment is a cozy mystery, THE ACCUSED ARCHITECT, a Ken Knoll Architectural Mystery.

Author Elissa Grodin has written a mystery published by Cozy Cat Press CCP, called PHYSICS CAN BE FATAL. Her second book in this series is nearly finished, in which the movie director, Alfred Hitchcock, figures into the plot. Elissa has a strong background in film studies, and has published on the subject. In her second Edwina Goodman mystery, the plot revolves around the Film Studies Department at the college where Edwina teaches. Ms. Grodin lived in England in her 20s, and wrote for the Times Literary Supplement as a freelance journalist. She later moved on to children's books, and has had six children's books published, the most recent being C Is For Ciao, a picture book about the history and culture of Italy.

Author Jacob Appel has written many books, but his latest is a cozy mystery called WEDDING WIPEOUT, a Rabbi Kappelmacher Mystery. Jacob remembers being a young child in a commuter suburb watching the men and women – but mostly men – disembarking from the evening train after long days at their offices in New York City. They looked so miserable, so Cheeveresque in their suffering. He determined at that moment that he would never live in a bedroom community and spend his days pushing papers in circles. The only occupations he knew of as a child that didn’t involve the rat race were medicine and writing. Jacob is relieved to say that he is both a physician and a novelist—and he hasn’t travelled by commuter train in over fifteen years.
Well, there you have it, my first attempt at a Blog Hop. I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit more, and I hope you’ll follow along on the blog hop with my friends as well. It’s time to bounce out for now…
 Thank you, Bart for a hoppy hoppy good time!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Spring in Your Step........Joyce

Today I'm thinking about spring because it's almost here. Already the days are sunny and warm and I wish I could share our left coast weather with east coast people looking for a break in the cold and wet. 

 another winter so mild
 another tax form filed
 another Saint Patties fling
 another lovely spring
 another hill to climb
 another clock to chime
another clock on the wall
doesn't work atall
the tick tock's stuck
yet time runs a muck
soon it will be summer
followed by fall 

I never said I was a poet. I leave that to my cousin, Joyce Riley.

Here is a special poem for spring.

When Sowing

Every thought which comes to mind,
takes root and sprouts,
each thought in it's own kind.
If your garden of experience
seems pale or choked with weeds,
choose thoughts and words more carefully,
and plant some loving seeds.

Joyce Riley's wonderful book of poems, "Color This Day Beautiful" is on sale from Amazon.

Happy spring dear friends.
May the spring in your step never rust!