Writing is ‘Play’ For These Two Collaborators

Death of a Used Car SalesmanTwo authors you wish you knew: Dawn DeBraal and Lauretta Kaplan. Here’s what they have to say about co-authoring a dinner theater play, written in 2018 and performed in 2019 to a full house.

Dawn: I have been blessed to co-write with two people I admire, in the past year. Lauretta Kaplan is a playwright. In my opinion, a very good one. After the last dinner theater play she wrote, I sat down, and using her format, wrote the rough draft for a murder mystery I called “Death of a Used Car Salesman” or “Wedding Bell Blues.” I sent the skit to her for critique.

A few months later she surprised me by asking me to put on the play! I needed her expertise to get it up to performance standards. We sat down and knocked it out after a collaboration day. Lauretta is a very funny woman. I like to think of myself as also being funny. With her help, we polished the script. She chipped away what didn’t work and added what could work. When we finished, we were laughing so hard, we knew we had something.

I think you have to trust the person you co-write with. Allow them to change your work, and for them to allow you to change theirs without the ego, it is important. You can fight for the things you want to keep but you must be willing to allow both contributors to add creatively. Amazingly sometimes that person may have a better idea than you!

The other collaboration I am working on is with Copper Rose, a writer I have admired for many years. She is the reason I started to write, because of her encouragement. We have spent months collaborating on a novelette we started nine years ago. She had to wait for my skills to catch up to hers. Where I have my weaknesses, Copper has her strengths, and I hope vise-versa. It has been a wonderful experience to work with both these talented writers.

Lauretta: “I’m working on a mystery dinner script called ‘Death of a Used Car Salesman.’ Would you read it and tell me what you think?” Dawn asked.

Dawn DeBraal has been in our improv group and acted in several of our mystery dinner presentations, and we were in the process of planning a new show. The timing was fortuitous, and the title of her show was catchy. Best of all, when I read her first draft, my reaction was, “Let’s do this!”

Dawn asked me to help rewrite the show, this being her first mystery dinner script. I was happy to step in as script doctor — a first for me as well.

Writing a mystery dinner is a tricky business. Plot, characters, methods and motives have to be considered, as in any regular script; but, since the show relies heavily on improvisation, typical dramatic dialogue has to be carefully written and is best kept to a minimum. It is also important to include audience participation and to make sure your actors interact with the patrons while staying in character the whole evening — this includes the victims. Since Dawn had the brilliant premise and most of the characters down, we just needed to add a couple of characters, work on character back-stories, change the setting to offer more comedic and decor options.

Working together proved much easier than I anticipated. From our first meeting, we worked together well, bouncing ideas around. Knowing our actors and our audience, we reined each other in when the ideas got a little too preposterous or tasteless. We were both open to compromise and not so in love with our ideas that we got huffy if they had to be changed. I was pleasantly surprised at how well we worked together.

The script pulled together; and the production, as with any show that relies on improvisation, went off with enough hitches to accommodate something as big as the Budweiser Clydesdales, just as we anticipated. A good time was had by all. Writing is usually a solitary pursuit; but, on occasion, collaboration can be rewarding and fun.

Photo Credit of “Death of a Used Car Salesman” cast: Gena Pontow

(Lauretta in orange vest. Dawn in the wedding gown.) Other members pictured – from left to right: Guy Kaplan, Jack Eyers, Jennifer Peterson, William Crawford, and Melanie Rendon Stake. The play had members from the audience; Tim and Linda Freudenthal, Julie Eger, Diane Thrasher Staats, and Tom Pawlacyk participate impromptu in the play.

You can follow Dawn DeBraal at https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-DeBraal/e/B07STL8DLX%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

A Good Fit

Kerri JesmerAnother author you wish you knew – Kerri Jesmer – talks about “Avoiding Mrs. Crabtree,” a story of hers that appears in Portal: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Children’s Anthology 2019, page 11.

Kerri, how did the story “Avoiding Mrs. Crabtree” come about?

My inspiration for the story happened when I was simply reminiscing about growing up in a small town and how people, especially kids, sometimes have misconceptions about others. You know, the scary house kids say is haunted but it’s just a house where an old couple lives and the yard has gotten out of hand, the house needs repairs they can no longer manage. Getting to know someone can sometimes bring you a lifelong friendship you would never have experienced otherwise. Sometimes people are shy and we think they are mean or unkind. Mrs. Crabtree was the lonely old lady Jimmy found out was a wonderful companion to a little boy in a small town. She was also based on a neighbor couple we had for many years when my daughter was growing up who became like grandparents to her. My parents had moved to another state when she was three and she needed that special companionship only grandparents can give. Our neighbors, Sheila and Rudy, became that for her. Though Rudy has since passed away, Sheila adores our daughter to this day and the relationship with both of them has brought joy to both our families. So that was where the story popped into my head in the first place.

You can find out why Jimmy and Mr.s Crabtree were a good fit at this purchase link: Scroll down to find the book “Portal.”


The Little Girl on the Stool

Sue Boritzki DietzAnother author you wish you knew – Sue Dietz – talks about “The Little Girl on the Stool,” a surprise story that came through her.

Sue says, “This story surprised me because I had not really remembered this incident. It’s fictionalized truth. As I was thinking this through so many thoughts went through my mind as to how I can expand this to a short story. I have a writing assignment for my son, but when that is done, I’m going to work on expanding this story. 

A little girl is caught between two women, each one feels she can’t care for the child for different reasons. The child does not know where her mother is and is afraid to ask. The grandmothers are from very different cultures and have all the prejudices prevalent in the early 1950s. All the girl knows is she is sitting on a high stool and whatever the grandmothers do, it will not be what she really needs.”

Sue  Dietz has many stories to tell and plans to start publishing them soon.

Under Her Black Wings

anthoebookSome other authors you wish you knew. The women who wrote the 2020 Women of Horror Anthology. You’ll find their stories in “Under Her Black Wings.” Who knows? Maybe this book, written by women only, will win the Bram Stoker award!



Kandisha Press

– A glamorous actress whose very flesh is reanimated by a beloved Hollywood icon

– A Boy Scout Troupe encounters a frightening mythological creature in an American forest

– A lonely woman finds a home among a group of lost-and-found souls, all cared for by a tentacled sea-creature called Mother

– A Faceless Woman attacks like a virus and takes on the identities of her victims

– A post-apocalyptic battle for survival rages between human and insect

– A Shadow Woman leads the spirits of the murdered to take revenge in the desert

These are just some of the stories nineteen women came up with when tasked with creating their own Women Monsters. Step inside and experience tales of bloodsucking entities in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Cuban river goddesses, an Aztec bruja, werewolves, mermaids, soul-stealers, obsessive lovers, furious spurned wives, bloody murder in Gothic manors and on Southern plantations… and so much more…

With Foreword by Brandon Scott (Author of Vodou and Sleight, Devil Dog Press)


Christy Aldridge

Carmen Baca

Somer Canon

Andrea Dawn

Dawn DeBraal

Michelle Garza

Sharon Frame Gay

Alys Hobbs

Tina Isaacs

Stevie Kopas

Marie Lanza

Melissa Lason

Malena Salazar MacÃa

Charlotte Munro

Lydia Prime

Paula R.C. Readman

Copper Rose

Yolanda Sfetsos

With cover art by Corinne Halbert

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/165928418X/

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083RXC1C7/

Apple Books/Itunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495227798

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1136058087

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/under-her-black-wings

Hungry Thing- Gnawing to be Read

Hungry thing photo combination red

Another author (and illustrator) you wish you knew – Author Shawn Klimek and Illustrator Norbert Somosi talk about their collaborative effort when it came to creating a highly unique, dark fantasy told in five poems, “Hungry Thing.”

Shawn, what was it like for you to collaborate with Norbert on this project?

“Working with Norbert has been an honor. First of all, what he cares most about is his art and vision. When I discovered his artwork I asked him whether he had ever illustrated poetry before. He replied by inviting me to show him some of my poetry. His openness to the idea was very welcoming. He did not commit yet because he had no idea who I was, and said he only wanted to do work that inspired him. I sent him three poems, one of which was “the hungry thing“. He said he was drawn to it and could immediately visualize a drawing.

One thing led to another and I wrote five poems, instead. He was flexible, creative, and prioritized the quality of our collaboration. He pressed for what was important to him and accommodated what was important to me. It was an ideal collaboration. We treated each other like artists with a shared vision.”

Norbert, what was it like for you to collaborate with Shawn on this project?

“The collaboration with Shawn was a positive learning experience for me, even though I knew it would take a long time to finish this project. At the beginning I accepted it because one of his first poems reminded me of my childhood, when I was living in a little village and we would go play in a forest nearby. It is very easy to work with Shawn. We discussed every detail several times so that we were both satisfied with the end result.”

All proceeds from “Hungry Thing” go to the Jay Mehta fund until the end of February 2020.

You can learn more about “Hungry Thing”, Shawn Klimek and Norbert Somosi at these links:




Shawn M Klimek Author








Julie/Copper/AJ – Year 2019

human-725651__340Wow, what a year it has been. In 2018 I discovered the online publishing world and in 2019 I hit it like a tornado. From ten-word stories, drabbles (exactly 100-word stories), numerous flash fiction, poems and short stories chosen to appear in a plethora of anthologies, articles about the writing life in the ground-breaking Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine to co-authoring a novella/novel with the talented Garrison McKnight, which, hopefully, will be ready for publication sometime in 2020, putting together a collection of Copper Rose stories to be published by Clarendon House Publications (from when my poem “Free Falling Eagles” won reader’s choice back in November of 2018), meeting even more talented writers online and keeping track of what my pen-name personalities are always up to, my already busy days became even busier.

This year I learned about Tom Swifties, a word game with a clever take on words. I entered a fierce story-writing competition put on by Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine and my first story, “Around the Corner,” advanced me to round two of the competition. My second story, “Grave Circumstances,” moved me up to the final three. My story, “The Bacon Bandit of Banbury Quarter,” (my most favorite story to write—to date) didn’t win against the impressive talent of David Bowmore and the winner Peter Astle, but the story pushed me beyond my comfort zone in ways that are hard to explain.

You can view all my accomplishments on my LANDING PAGE. I’m looking forward to a lot more writing in the year to come! Now go ahead, open a book and turn a page!

Mom Needs a Dinosaur – Launch!


Mom needs a dinosaur Anthony Kent Erin

Mom Needs a Dinosaur!,  (Seabear Press 2019)

Author/Illustrator Team  – The Barnards

Kent and Erin Barnard have published their first book after seven years of work!  Their journey to publishing Mom Needs a Dinosaur! has been long, but rewarding. I’ve heard authors say “It took me 5 years, 6 years, 10 years,” to publish their book, and I thought that’s crazy – how can it take so long? And here Erin and I are, with 7 years behind this book!  Amazing!

Kent is the Library Director of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose and Erin is a professional illustrator, who has been published in over 200 educational books published by Kagan Publishers, a California Educational Products company.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and it usually does!

When Kent first took over as Director of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, WI, at his very first Mr. Kent’s Storytime, a young boy named Anthony was there with his mother. Anthony was the only child at that first Storytime, and he loved dinosaurs. Every week he checked out dinosaur books, reading each one, then bringing it back the next week and checking out more. Wash, rinse, repeat!

One Storytime, Mr. Kent was talking about birthdays and asking who had a birthday coming up.  Anthony said his mom had a birthday coming up. Kent says, “When I asked Anthony what he was going to get her, he said, “A dinosaur!” and I thought: well of course you are, what little boy or girl wouldn’t want their mom to have a dinosaur?

So the seed was planted and the first draft written a few months later. “I just couldn’t stop thinking what a great book it would be – ‘A Dinosaur for Mom!’  I can’t remember how many drafts there were, but since a picture book needs to be short, every word is carefully chosen, edited, another word selected, and on and on.  I think the “final” draft was ready in a few months,”  said Kent. The first draft had 201 words.  When Erin had trouble deciding what to draw for a couple of pages, they were removed so the final version has 164 words.

“I showed it to Erin, who was my girlfriend at the time, and she liked the idea, and started drawing a few pages.  Her her illustrations give my meager words life! She also did the font in the book, which adds so much to the words – she’s amazing!”

Kent’s mother lived with them and suggested self-publishing. “We were very wary of self-publishing, there is a stigma about it – you’re less of an author or illustrator if you can’t find an editor, no matter how good you are. Of course, there are a lot of poor books published, so that doesn’t help the self-publishing image,” related Kent.

After his mother’s death in 2018, the couple decided it was time, and published the book in September, a month before his mother would have been 99 years old.

After overcoming a few trials and tribulations, particularly with Adobe, they at last, borrowed a friend’s computer and uploaded the book to Ingram Spark. Mom Needs a Dinosaur! was published!  “Unfortunately, the first few copies were cut or printed incorrectly, and Erin had to re-do the entire book with more bleed to ensure it wouldn’t happen again!” Kent said, “but now we’ve had no trouble at all!”

The Barnards have been tireless promoters of their book, and have managed to get 4  signings so far, all but one at libraries.  Mom needs a Dinosaur! is available at Amazon.com; Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

For details on signed or personalized copies, please visit seabearpress.com and click on book order info, or send an email to editor@seabearpress.com. The website also has fun games and printable bookmarks – They’re Dino-mite!