Times They Were A-Changing – Book Review & Giveaway

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a wee bit obsessed with the 70’s…particularly with strong, creative, brave women coming-of-age during the Age of Aquarius. So, when I learned about this new anthology, I practically begged the lovely folks at WOW! to let me host a stop on the blog tour. YAY! They agreed! (Confession: I was chiefly motivated by a selfish desire to get my eyeballs on the review copy. Keep reading for my review.)

AND…I’m very excited to offer another FREE giveaway! All you have to do is comment on this post for a chance to win. I have a print copy or e-book for US mailing addresses (or an e-book for international mailing addresses).
TimesTheyWereChanging_BkCovrFirst, here’s a bit of “official” information about the book.


Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s and ’70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the ’60s and ’70s truly were.

Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.

Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.

Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (Sept. 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1938314042
ISBN-13: 978-1938314049

Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s & ‘70s is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, She Writes Press and Indie Bound.

Find out more about the book online:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TimesTheyWereAChanging

Times They Were A-Changing blog: http://www.timestheywereachanging.com

Twitter: @womensmemoir60s

My Review:

To be honest, I don’t read many anthologies…or non-fiction…or politics…or memoir. I’m a novelist who devours novels. So this was a very unusual literary selection for me. That said, I absolutely LOVED this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it. Times They Were A-Changing is not just a collection of memories and nostalgia by a bunch of women who survived the 60’s and 70’s, it’s an honest exploration of a weird, wondrous, bewildering and, at times, violent chapter of the 20th century. I believe this book would be a brilliant gift for any woman, but especially for younger women who are curious about the two decades that changed, well, just about EVERYTHING about coming-of-age as a female in this country.

While the editors have put together a solid, well-written collection of poetry and prose with no weak links, there were a few selections that really stood out for me:

  • The Magician (Laura Singh) cast a spell that sent shivers over every inch of my skin. Maybe it’s the fact that I was once a single girl in San Francisco, but I dreamed about this surreal encounter after reading the story.
  • While reading The September Wind (Sara Etgen-Baker) I had to jump up off the couch, pump my fist and yell about the awful betrayal of a mother unwilling to invest more than $20 in her daughter’s college education (Micheal promptly asked me to stop reading for a while)
  • I actually cried real tears when the narrator of The Day I Met the Suffragette (Lynn Sunday) thanked the older woman for giving her the right to vote.
  • Fast Forwarding Evolution (Linda J. Nordquist) sent me on a research binge to learn more about Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique.
  • As a fan of Dr. Raymond Moody, I was intrigued by the psychedelic near-death experience depicted in Altamont (by Amber Lea Starfire).
  • Speaking of psychedelic experiences (which I’ve never had, by the way), both Tripping on High (Venus Ann Maher) and The Trip (Lucille Lang Day) use awesome, vivid, poetic descriptions of hallucinogenic drug use. Day’s piece left me feeling uplifted with a strange urge to hug her while Maher’s piece left me itching to slap her mother…a few times.
  • Generally, I prefer listening to poetry (as opposed to reading or writing it), but Collage (Ana Manwaring) had me wishing I could stand on stage and read it as my own.
  • Also, I suspect the wildly clever poem Who Wrote the Book of Love? (Dianalee Velie) could be amazing if it was read aloud by the right person.
  • My favorite quote from the whole book came from Earth’s Children (by Julie Ann Schrader):

“We don’t know where we’re headed, or how long this will take. We thrive inside the Mystery.”

This anthology manages to combine a heady mix of history, politics, education and inspiration while still being a highly entertaining read!

One disclaimer: I would classify one or two of the selections in this book as Rated R and some of the political issues depicted are still burning with controversy today. While I would NEVER advocate censorship, be sure you’ve read the book before sharing it with anyone under the age of 18.

Kate-Amber-LindaJoyjpg-1About the Editors:

Kate Farrell earned a M.A. from UC Berkeley; taught language arts in high schools, colleges, and universities; founded the Word Weaving storytelling project in collaboration with the California Department of Education with a grant from the Zellerbach Family Fund, and published numerous educational materials. She is founder of Wisdom Has a Voice memoir project and edited Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother (2011). Farrell is president of Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, a board member of Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club, member of Story Circle Network and National Association of Memoir Writers.

Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of four books: Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to ForgivenessThe Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, and a workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. Her book Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story was a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. A speaker and award-winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. www.namw.org. Visit her blog at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com.

Amber Lea Starfire, whose passion is helping others tell their stories, is the author of Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations (2012) and Not the Mother I Remember, due for release in late 2013. A writing teacher and editor, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and is a member of the California Writers Club in Napa and Santa Rosa, the Story Circle Network, National Association of Memoir Writers, and International Association for Journal Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors. www.writingthroughlife.com

Reminder:  Comment on this post before midnight 12/16/13 to win your own copy of Times They Were A-Changing.

70’s Flashback – It’s Billy Dee Williams!

It has suddenly occurred to me that I have not yet gushed over the fact that Billy Dee Williams will be at Dragon*Con this weekend. He is the only actor in the original trilogy that I knew before he appeared in a galaxy far, far away.

Back in 1978, two years before Lando Calrissian swept onscreen to “greet” his old friend Han Solo, I was introduced to Billy Dee Williams via The Jeffersons and Billy Dee’s #1 fan, Florence Johnston. It is my absolute favorite episode of The Jeffersons so I’m going to post the last 1/3 here:

Note: You can watch the full episode on TouTube.

If I happen to meet Mr. Williams (a very big IF as I am not talented, clever or daring enough to pull off the whole celebrity stalking thing) and I yell, “It’s the REAL Billy Dee Williams!” do you think he’ll get the joke? Hmmm…probably not.

Rejections and the 1970’s Novel (@ Thoughts In Progress)

Happy Monday. It’s the final week of my WOW! Blog Tour and we are getting started with yet another groovy guest post…not to mention another chance to win a FREE copy of my debut novel. I’ll bet this disco queen wants to win a copy:

C3PO Disco Madness

Please tell me this is not the droid you’re looking for.

Have you ever thought about writing a YA novel set in the 1970’s? Well, think again! In this riveting installment of the blog tour, I’m oversharing with the world about my path to publication…including the rejections and disappointments. Click here to check it out.

photo credit: The Official Star Wars via photopin cc

1977 Pop Culture (@Tiffany Talks Books)

What’s happenin?

Today, I’m getting goofy about the grooviest decade of all. So put on your leisure suit, feather that hair and do The Hustle on over to Tiffany Talks Books. Click here to check out my guest post about 70’s Pop Culture.

And that’s no jive. You dig? Catch ya on the flip side.

1977 Disco Stormtrooperphoto credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

Schoolhouse Rock! America Rock – The Great American Melting Pot

Right on! I hear tell that Lovely Lady Liberty is open for business for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit. Woo hoo!

Here’s a 70’s flashback in her honor:

Happy Independence Day, y’all!!

Coming June 22 to the Midland Theatre in Newark, OH…

What:    My One and Only Book Signing and Celebration in Ohio
Where:  Midland Theatre, Newark, Ohio
When:   June 22, 2013 5 – 8:00 PM
Why:     The Midland Theatre was the inspiration for the Bixby Theater in NSLA, NSFA. It’s an amazing, magical, inspirational place. Come check it out…and enjoy plenty of free 1970’s snacks while you’re at it.
NSLA_June-22_Newark Event Poster

Managing a Movie Theater in 1977

America Theatre MarqueeBack in 2007, when I was struggling through the original draft of NSLA, NSFA, I posted a plea for information about working in a historic theater in 1977 on the Cinema Treasures website. I received lots of assistance in response to my post. (Read my original post and all responses here.)

The hilarious “70’s Flashback” comment by AlAlvarez was an incredible inspiration that sent me running back to my manuscript full of ideas. I laugh out loud every single time I read it. So I’m going to share an abridged version here in case anyone else thinks what Al wrote is as interesting and entertaining as I do.

In the mid seventies, if you were working for a theatre chain, it was all about cutting costs and not reinvesting in theatres. It was mostly about managing an unstable audience and staff in a crumbling building. Here are some memories…as a manager around 1977 that may spark your imagination:

  • No cleaning between shows as there was only one usher budgeted at a time.
  • The cleaners quit every time we showed THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at midnight.
  • An x-rated musical version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND stunned the crowd.
  • A seriously misinformed local cop threatens to close the theatre for letting kids in alone to watch PG films.
  • Due to the way movies were booked, Streisand’s A STAR IS BORN continues to play forever even after holding-over was unwarranted. Staff sings along to the empty seats.
  • The midnight show of THE LOLLIPOP GIRLS IN HARD CANDY in 3D turned out to be hard-core p*rn in 3D! With the little red and blue glasses to boot. The local college students pack the place.
  • At this beautiful theatre that once showed SINGING IN THE RAIN, a double feature of TORSO and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
  • The odor of pot smoke permeates the auditorium so strongly at the midnight show that the senior citizen matinée audience the following day comes out stoned.
  • In spite all the movies above, the locals get upset at the dirty language in SLAP SHOT and the posters for NASTY HABITS.
  • A rat has moved in under the popcorn machine and runs out to fetch whenever popcorn is dropped on the floor behind the stand. The staff have named him BEN.
  • BLACK SUNDAY is coming!
  • BLACK SUNDAY is coming!
  • BLACK SUNDAY is coming!
  • BLACK SUNDAY is coming!
  • Two weeks later – BLACK SUNDAY is gone!
  • The promiscuous stoner girl working behind the stand has been forced to quit by her mother. It turns out she is only 14 years old and working with false I.D.
  • ANNIE HALL opens and the audience watches quietly but buys no popcorn.
  • Our film buyer refuses to book Bob Marley’s reggae film THE HARDER THEY COME as a midnight show because she insists it is gay p*rn.
  • The midnight show of MIDNIGHT COWBOY comes in labeled wrong and the reels play in the wrong order with opening credits in the middle of the film. No one complains.
  • An usher finds a heart, a liver and part of a lung on the auditorium floor after the movie. Police are called and discover they are plastic replicas left behind by a local medical student.
  • A stoned-out midnight crowd falls asleep during Monty Python’s JABBERWOCKY. We have to go around waking them up after the film and sending them home.
  • The drive-in will get THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, A BRIDGE TOO FAR and THE DEEP this summer and we’re stuck with THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT and some kiddie sci-fi flick called STAR WARS.
  • New “Light in the dark footballs” (a flashlight shaped like a football) on sale at the concession stand. You can now play football at night!
  • A new ending for EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC on week two upsets a couple who actually came back to see it again. Tumbleweeds practically roll by during the second week.
  • SENSURROUND installed for ROLLERCOASTER makes STAR WARS unwatchable in the other screen. Head office couldn’t care less.
  • The first five rows are closed in twin one due to a ceiling leak that dates back to the sixties.
  • A midnight showing of a film about VOLUNTEER JAM featuring the Charlie Daniels Band goes wrong when the good ol’ boys find themselves waiting in the lobby with men in high heels and fishnet stockings. Future showings are segregated with ROCKY HORROR people in the lobby and redneck rockers outside until the movie starts.
  • The Jolly Rancher candy bags on display do not have sell by dates but I can trace them on the inventory to 1972 without a new delivery.
  • The thin walls from the bad twinning effort make it possible to relive the light sabre battle during boring parts of NEW YORK, NEW YORK.
  • A man is caught m@sturbating during a showing HERBIE GOES TO MONTE CARLO.
  • Police start monitoring the theatre roof with binoculars looking for drug dealing in the parking lot.
  • Negotiations go badly when the projection union demands a large increase per hour. The resulting contract forces the closing of weekday matinees and the resignation of the chief projectionists who no longer has a full-time job as a result.
  • A three-way fight breaks out in the lobby when three men in drag all insist on playing the main FRANKENFURTER role in front at ROCKY HORROR. I am summoned to make the all-important decision.
  • A seventeen year old usher finds a bag full of “fat naked girls” p*rn magazines in the auditorium. He delays turning them in for hours. A gentleman in a suit comes in to claim them in the evening.
  • The first showing in Twin One has sound problems. Someone stole the speakers from behind the screen.
  • The projectionist puts on reel of soft core midnight movie GUMS instead of Walt Disney’s THE RESCUERS for the first matinée of the day.
  • Six staff members fail to show up Saturday night, some calling in sick. Peter Frampton was live in concert that night.
  • Rattling in the seats of Twin Two during the movie turns out to be a crab from the nearby swamp that somehow got inside.
  • What on earth could a KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE really be about?
  • A man has a tantrum in the lobby when an undercover policeman takes his quaaludes away and flushes them down the toilet. Back-up cops are stunned by the now lacking evidence.
  • An upset woman starts screaming when her toddler comes up from between the rows with a used condom in his hand.
  • STAR WARS is back and people are starting to bring their own light sabres into the screen and we have to start confiscating them until after the movie due to complaints.
  • The midnight show fills up prematurely when someone removes the exit door hinges and lets the crowd in for free.
  • The Jujy Fruits stick to the box and need to be slammed against the counter daily to loosen them up so people refrain from doing so during the film.
  • LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR appears to be a seminal film that will become a classic with a timeless disco soundtrack and a social commentary on unfocused lives and promiscuity. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER appears to be kid stuff that will soon be forgotten.
  • VALENTINO is coming!
  • VALENTINO is coming!
  • VALENTINO is coming!
  • VALENTINO is gone! STAR WARS is back.

Thank you AlAlvarez! You are a gentleman and a cinema treasure in your own right!

Theatre Doorsphoto credit: Heritage Vancouver via photopin cc & Pete Zarria via photopin cc

Nostalgic Candy – A Taste of 1977

In a fit of vicious anxiety, I called up one of my best girlfriends and started hammering her with my out-of-control crazy vibes. It sounded something like this: “I’m freaking out. What if my book events are horrible? What if no one has any fun? What should I do? I haven’t done enough and I don’t know what I should do and what if…blah, blah, blah.”

Her response: “You should check out the Nostalgic Candy website! They have a fantastic box of 1970’s candy.”

This was a brilliant response for two reasons:

  1. It’s an affordable and fun way to bring a taste of 1970 pop culture to my events
  2. She totally derailed my crazy train with thoughts of candy

As a child, I didn’t have a sweet tooth for chocolate or cookies or cake, but I LOVED any fruity candy that had a powerful sour/sweet punch. Just thinking about some of those candies sweeps me into a wild vortex of nostalgia…but in a good way. So I’m going to list the candies that can, with one taste (or even the memory of a taste), magically send me back to my sweetest memories of the 1970’s.

Lemonhead Candy

It plays a supporting role in my novel for a good reason. It is and has always been one of my most favorite sour treats, especially in a movie theater. Give be a Coke, a bag of popcorn, a box of Lemonheads and roll the previews. My jaws are locking up right now just thinking about it.1977 Candy_LemonheadsZots

Do you remember Zots? It’s a hard candy with a sour, fizzy center. Oh how I adored Zots! And I just found out I can still buy them! Happy, happy, joy, joy! 1977 Zots Pop Rocks

If no one shows up at my book events, maybe I’ll just swallow a packet of cherry Pop Rocks and chug a can of Sprite to end it all…or has someone proven that’s a myth yet?1977 Pop RocksSweetarts

To this day, I am absolutely incapable of eating a package of Sweetarts without sorting them into colors and arranging them into cute little patterns before I taste one.1977 SweettartsPixie Stix

A tiny tube of taste explosion. I have not tasted one of these cuties in over thirty years. I wonder if I still love them?

1977 Pixie SticksAnd now you know way too much about my sugar issues. How about you? What candy flavors can zap your sour mood and zing you straight back to childhood?

photo credits: It’s So Sunny! via href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin cc, Mary P. from Pretty Good Things via photopin cc, Kasia/flickr via photopin cc, deovolenti via photopin cc & KindredCoda via photopin cc

Desperately Seeking Stormtroopers

I’m planning my very first book launch event and there is one very crucial ingredient that I am convinced I must have…Stormtrooper Girl

Yep, I need Stormtroopers! Short ones, tall ones, male ones, female ones…I’m not too picky about those particulars. I just really want a Stormtrooper (or two) to make an appearance at my book launch event in the Atlanta Metro Area. I want my trooper to pose for pictures (lots of pictures) and to lure any curious, Star Wars-loving readers into my orbit.

In case you don’t know, this is not an impossible thing to ask. Why? Because there is an entire garrison of Stormtroopers living here in Georgia (122 active members to be exact). They have a website with a roster of member costumes posted online. Check it out!

Aren’t they wonderful?!?!

Unfortunately, the Vader’s Fist 501st Legion website says I’m supposed to to submit a request for an appearance 2-3 months before my event. As of today, my event is a little less than 8 weeks away. But I’m still requesting!

I’m not allowed to pay, which is a very good thing for me because I don’t have a big Stormtrooper budget. I am allowed to make a charitable donation. That’s easy enough. But what else can I do to sweeten the deal? Give them a signed copy of the book? Buy them a drink after the event? Give them some droids to look for? Seriously, if you own or have access to an excellent Stormtrooper costume, tell me what I need to do to get your iconic white, glossy personage to my event.

Note: Of course I would also love, love, love to welcome a room full of Jedi, Sith, Rebel pilots, driods, bounty hunters and other characters to any of my book events, but seriously…


photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Ralph McQuarrie (June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012)

Damn. Even though he lived a long, creative and prosperous life, the news of Ralph McQuarrie’s passing makes me feel SO sad. This man painted the backdrop to all my most precious and lasting childhood fantasies.  Guess this means he won’t be available to create my book cover.  (Sorry, lame joke.)

Even if you aren’t familiar with the name, you know his work.  He was the conceptual artist who inspired many of the characters and scenes from Star Wars (as well as a few other movies you may recognize).  The man was a visionary and a genius.  Sigh.