Class, aplomb, style and panache are hard to find these days. Especially all of them together. But when those words are used in the same sentence, one man comes vividly to mind: Mr. Patrick Macnee, aka, Mr. John Steed.mrsteed

From my childhood, I vaguely recall The Avengers television series. I cannot recall what night of the week it came on, I only know it came on after my bedtime (I would swear it followed the Doris Day show but can find no evidence of that schedule). And, it being the sixties, my mother thought the series was too violent for me to watch at that age.

Compared to the violence currently dispatched on the evening news, The Avengers were no more threatening than Tribbles (from Star Trek notoriety) or a goose-down pillow.

I recently invested in The Avengers DVDs; the ones with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel, if you please.

After watching the series I must confess: there is something appealing about the quintessential English gentleman. Not in a sexual sense, at least not from my perspective. But there is something in the way Mr. Steed carries himself; the way his suit, Bowler hat and umbrella all match, as well as fit perfectly; his succinct British enunciation. All of that combined make me want to stand up, straighten my spine and salute something. English or American, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s worthy of the respect.

Mr. Macnee was quite capable of being the quintessential English gentleman. From what I understand he was as dapper and unflappable in his personal life as he was on screen. Or was he as dapper and unflappable on screen as he was in his personal life?

Either way, I’m certain women – English and American alike – swooned over Mr. Macnee. No, he didn’t have the rugged, chiseled handsomeness of Rock Hudson. He couldn’t sing a note, nor was he young and idealistic like any member of The Beatles.

But he had his appeal, all right.

I am also certain that young Englishmen at the time learned a great deal about being a gentleman from the inimitable Mr. Macnee.

The time period of Patrick Mcnee was a simpler time. A man was as good as his word; a handshake could seal a deal; manners, respect, trust and truth: all of these values were valued during that time.

In these times, it seems those values have gone the way of the dodo bird. Yet these are the times those values are most needed.

Most of The Avengers episodes with Diana Rigg began with an announcement from Mr. Steed: “Mrs. Peel – We’re Needed” was found, at times, in the oddest of places.

On June 25, 2015, it was decided by a power of higher convention that Mr. Daniel Patrick Macnee should receive the announcement: “Mr. Macnee – You’re Needed.”

I am certain he was greeted with the same class, aplomb, style and panache that he carried with him.

Sir, you will be remembered.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1rsEQFX Follow her on Twitter @penspen or follow her blog www.mytuppence.weebly.com Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

Like most Moms, A.R. Shaw worries about her kids. She never dreamed the worrying would lead her to write a post-apocalyptic series.
“I began thinking along the lines of survival,” says Shaw. “If he needed to get home, how would he do that? What route would he take?”

This line of thought sparked her imagination. From that she createdGraham’s Resolution series featuring Graham Morgan.

Many post-apocalyptic books contain protagonists aware of forthcoming disaster. Shaw wanted something a little different.

“I wanted someone who was much more realistic,” she says of character Graham. “A clueless guy who wasn’t prepared and scoffed at the mere mention of preparedness.” She created Graham and then threw him to the wolves.

Shaw creates her characters from scratch, deciding on features as she goes. Not one to write bios or sketch out her characters, she “thinks about them until I can stand next to them and breathe the same air they’re pulling into their own lungs. Then I know I’ve got them.”

As a former Radio Operator in the United States Air Force Reserves, then a wife and mother of four children, Shaw doesn’t hesitate to throw herself into a task. She wrote The China Pandemic, Book 1 of Graham’s Resolution series in three months. As the kids had all left home, she had only her dog Oakley and the tick-tocking of the clock for companionship.

Solitude is a necessity for writing, but in Shaw’s opinion, the storytelling is equally important. “A story that’s unique and intriguing, [that’s] the most important aspect of writing a story.”

Shaw’s father was in the oil business. This afforded her opportunities to experience life in different countries. She remembers monkeys swinging from tree to tree while living in Venezuela. “It makes for an interesting upbringing and coping mechanisms.” As a result, Shaw read a lot as a child and draws from her personal experiences in her writing. “Growing up that way also makes for a heightened sense of humor.”

One of her childhood experiences helped set the tone for Graham’s Resolution series. During hurricane season in Texas, people were expected to prepare for the worst. “We prepared so that we didn’t starve waiting for someone to help us. We kept drinking water available and extra canned food before we needed it.”

During a panel discussion at the Long Beach Comic Expo, part of the discussion revolved around post-apocalyptic scenarios. Shaw’s comment, “I think if society falls you will see the worst of humanity and the best of humanity,” was well-received as well as poignant.

Like many writers, Shaw has a long list of writers she admires: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Stephen King and Ann Quindlen just to name a few.  Two authors she would most like to have a conversation with are Ray Bradbury and Ayn Rand. Bradbury had a “wicked way of foretelling the future. [Rand] was a master at description and I’d love to ask her many questions.”

Shaw has written and published two books thus far in Graham’s Resolution series: The China Pandemic and The CascadePreppers. The Last Infidels, the third installment, is due out soon. She is currently working on the fourth installment, as yet untitled. She also recently completed a novella for Stephen Konkoly’s Kindle World – Perseid Collapse series, Deception on Durham Road. Its release is slated for February 3rd.

To learn more about A.R. Shaw and her books visit

A.R. Shaw’s Amazon Page


Follow her on Social Media:

Twitter: @arshawauthor


Review of The China Pandemic 

Review of The Cascade Preppers

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website, follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

CHINA2Book II: The Cascade Preppers 

Paperback: 252 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 8, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1500157244

Kindle: ASIN: B00KV27ZZA

The life of Graham and his newfound family (from The China Pandemic) continues. But life is anything but ordinary and mundane.

It is now winter in Graham’s camp, bringing bitter cold and snowy conditions. Without daily weather reports, snow falls unexpectedly. New skills have been acquired – such as ice fishing and tanning hides – along with new neighbors.

The Cascade Preppers just across the Skagit River escaped the onslaught of the pandemic by reaching their encampment before being exposed to the virus.

They are cautious neighbors. Just because they escaped the pandemic does not mean they are immune to it. Survivors of the pandemic are carriers of the virus.

Which means face-to-face contact with any of Graham’s camp is off-limits.

This does not preclude communication between the two camps. On the contrary, all are congenial when contact is restricted across the river or via radio.

When pandemonium breaks out with missing members of Graham’s camp – including Graham himself – as well as a fire at the Prepper camp, they realize they may need each other for survival.

Again, Shaw doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the nasty side of survival in a world where even an old lady has gone mad. The kids in Graham’s camp are growing up more quickly than usual because they have to for their own survival.

Even the possibility of a pregnancy is a threat. Will the baby carry the virus? Will it survive full term? Would it reach adulthood? Should any pregnancy after the pandemic be aborted?

These questions were not issues before the pandemic but now must be posed in order to consider the survival of everyone.

It is especially gripping when everything begins happening at once: Disappearances, fires, potential threat of the virus entering the Prepper camp and a new arrival make for page-turning excitement.

The story itself could be a primer for survival: things necessary to stock up on, skills lost in this technological society that may come in handy should disaster strike, how to hunt wild game, all skills that may one day be re-established to ensure survival of man (and woman) kind.

Invest in this series. You may learn something that will one day keep you alive.

Another good read by A.R. Shaw.

Visit A.R. Shaw’s website 

Or purchase The Cascade Preppers here

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

CHINABook I: The China Pandemic

Author: A.R. Shaw

Paperback: 278 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 4, 2013)

ISBN-10: 1494368552

Kindle: ASIN: B00H06NGFS

Apocalyptic scenarios come in all shapes and sizes and a variety of dynamics.

The story of The China Pandemic opens with Hyun-Ok searching for a guardian for her five-year-old son, Bang. Hyun-Ok has already lost the rest of her family to a strain of the H5N1 virus accidentally unleashed by the Chinese. She herself is dying from the virus and must find someone to care for her son.

She chooses Graham who seems the most stable of those left in town.

But Graham has also lost his family, most notably his wife Nelly and their unborn child. When Hyun-Ok approaches him, he has just lost the final member of his family; his father. But he reluctantly agrees to care for the young boy.

Only about two percent of the world’s population survives. Those survivors are now carriers of the deadly virus. As survivors, Graham and Bang are carriers of the virus.

As the dangers in the town where he lives continue to grow, Graham feels it would be safest to reach his family cabin on the Skagit River.

He and the boy – named Bang – are off to a rocky start. They pick up twins Macy and Marcy, and a German Shepherd police dog names Sheriff, along the way. When they reach the cabin they find it already inhabited by Tala, a Native American woman suffering a miscarriage, and an old black man named Ennis.

I will leave the premise there so as not to divulge too much.

If you think this is like Stephen King’s The Stand, think again. The Stand has a degree of mysticism: people compelled to meet an old black woman in the middle of nowhere for no reason any of them could fathom.

There is no mysticism here. But there is plenty of stark reality.

On the upside (if there is one) of a pandemic is all the electricity, water and cars still work. Until a human is required to flip any switches to keep the electricity and water running.

Shaw depicts reality with compassion while still gripping the reader with fear. In any post-apocalyptic situation, crazies run amuck and Shaw doesn’t pull any punches with the dangers lying in wait for those unprepared.

Her characters are vivid; most people could relate to them as they each recover from their losses and go about building a new family. Achieving a degree of normalcy after such an event is a day-by-day trial and error experience. They work and learn together how to survive.

If you read closely, you could learn what is needed to survive just about any apocalypse.

There are errors, but the story is compelling and well-written. This book is a good read and well worth it.

Visit A.R. Shaw’s website 

Purchase The China Pandemic here 

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

Unexpected Inspiration

Scandinavia with its lush green pastures, picturesque mountains, rich blue lakes and European architecture is bound to inspire the creativity of any artist. SIPOWORK

As artist Sipo Liimatainen says, “Inspiration may come unexpectedly out of virtually anywhere.”

Liimatainen was born in Helsinki, Finland, one of three countries which comprise the Scandinavian Peninsula. Sweden and Norway are the remaining countries considered part of Scandinavia.

Even though he spent his childhood in the downtown area of Helsinki, Liimatainen now lives in the natural beauty of the countryside.

“I love nature and the way in which the colors vibrate to me,” Liimatainen says. “That’s why nature’s colors frequently play a role in all my creations.”

Liimatainen began his artistic career in the early 1980s by doing custom work on automobiles, portraits, walls and other surfaces. His first official pieces was a jungle-themed mural for a fashion shop.

“I started to work when the store closed,” Liimatainen says. The wall was 15 feet wide by 4 feet high.” When the store opened the next morning, Liimatainen had completed the work.

Liimatainen appreciates artists whose work differs from the mainstream such as Dali, Picasso, Monet and others. Indeed, Liimatainen’s own work can be considered non-traditional. Colorful, bright, eye-catching abstracts dominate his digital art and his passion for art shines through.

Passion is an integral part of creating art. “Ambience of working and a passion for that,” says Liimatainen. “And fearlessness to express familiar things by fresh and creative ways is crucial.”

Raised by a single mother, Liimatainen learned to use his imagination at a young age. “Daydreaming and imagination, as well as taking responsibility, are still strong in me,” he says.

Transitioning from traditional painting to computer art came naturally to Liimatainen. As the decade of the nineties came to a close, he sought new forms of expression. Through digital creations he “found my very own method of working.” He creates works using fractal, 3D and painting softwares side by side, putting each piece together like a puzzle.

Liimatainen has good advice for beginning artists: “Be open-minded to those who can help you. Don’t attempt to conquer the whole world by doing this and that. Think twice about who you are and who you want to become. Align all your efforts in that direction and hold steady, even when your faith is shaken and it seems that your work won’t lead anywhere. Remember that overnight success usually means ten to fifteen years of hard work.”

That advice is actually good for everyone.

Visit Liimatainen’s website, follow him on Twitter @SipoArt or visit his page at Fine Art America.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

Science Beyond Cloning

A.W. Daniels may not have set out to be one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, but it’s a goal he may just accomplish. awdanielsbooks

“Apparently, I’ve been able to strike a nerve with a certain type of reader,” says Daniels. “I can only hope it’s for the good.”

Apparently, it was for the good as Daniels is a finalist in The Authors Show (www.theauthorsshow.com) annual competition.

The author of The Bethlehem Project series – Genetically Privileged, Genetically Conflicted and the forthcoming Genetically Rejected – has always been interested in the natural sciences. An article about designer babies he read while on a business trip to Canada sparked his imagination.

“I began speculating about the possibilities, ethics and the product of such an endeavor,” Daniels says.

What would those individuals created from such technology think of the world that spawned them? Would they see their creators as inferiors? were only a few of the questions he contemplated regarding the subject of genetic engineering.

The idea for the series developed for almost a year before Daniels began putting words to paper. Once started, it took only a month to complete the first draft.

“It literally spewed onto the pages after I began writing,” Daniels says. “This means there was quite a bit of editing involved.”

Growing up in conventional middle-class America, Daniels feels technology has changed almost every facet of daily life, for better and otherwise. On that, Daniels states, “I’ve always felt that change must occur and it is up to the individual to use the new tools available to improve our personal and societal environment.”

The author’s reading tastes run the gamut from medical and science journals to Cervantes, Machiavelli and Stephen Colbert to a dash of science fiction from Kurt Vonnegut.

His eclectic reading choices reflect his desire to encourage non-conventional thought. “I strive for my children to explore any topic, be it religion, politics or any facet of society and question the status quo,” Daniels explains. “I want them to ask themselves ‘what can I do to make it better?’ I’ve seen conventional thought quell the inquiring mind in school and everyday life.”

In an interview on The Authors Show, Daniels was asked about the Biblical references of his book Genetically Privileged.

While not attempting to create a religious book, Daniels says, “Religion and science have always struggled.” By using names and situations, “I wanted that thread running through the series. It’s indicative of the struggle between science and religion, how they grow apart then come back together in certain situations. I believe in the end we’re going to find that religion and science are more closely related than we think currently.”

The science of the book goes beyond cloning. Most of the science in the book may sound realistic but Daniels assures he was making up a good deal of it. “There is legislation against some of the aspects of this book in most of the industrialized nations,” he states in the same interview.

Given the opportunity, Daniels would love to speak with Dostoyevsky on nihilism, Dante on theology, Twain on politics and life (which would make a very interesting conversation) and Steinbeck on society. “Each would have such insight into the segment of life for which they are known.”

It would also make fascinating dinner conversation.

For more information, including purchasing Genetically Privileged and Genetically Conflicted, visit www.awdaniels.net

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info 

Author: A.W. Daniels

Paperback: 246 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing (July 30, 2013)

ISBN-10: 1491231084

Kindle: ASIN: B00EGDWB86

If you could choose your child’s eye color, hair color, physical, mental and intellectual disposition, would you?

What if someone else chose all that for you?

This is exactly what happens in A.W. Daniels’ Genetically Privileged.

Joe and Mary Christiansen tried to have their own child. Due to complications during the pregnancy that would endanger the lives of both mother and child, that child had to be aborted. The remains of that abortion are confiscated by Dr. Gabriel.

A little later down the road, Joe and Mary visit the fertility clinic where Dr. Gabriel works. It turns out that Dr. Gabriel is a good friend of Joe Christiansen. With invitro fertilization Dr. Gabriel succeeds in helping his friends have a healthy baby boy.

The questions begin when their son, Justice Christiansen begins showing remarkable aptitude at a very young age. Like saying his first word at five months old.

Genetic engineering is a much-debated topic, as it should be. DNA is a frightening and heavily responsible technology that should not be taken lightly.

But Dr. Gabriel is not a madman. He seems to be sincere in his desire and effort to end suffering in the human race through genetic engineering. It’s the other people involved who wish to take it to another level the reader needs to worry about. privileged

That’s where I will leave the synopsis, not wanting to give away too much of the fascinating story line.

Daniels deftly explains the scientific aspect of genetic engineering without getting the reader too bogged down in technical terminology. The author weaves a tapestry among the characters whose lives are entwined long before Joe and Mary move to the little town of Bethlehem.

It is a fresh approach to the subject of genetic engineering where the engineering is already occurring with plans for expansion. The changes are noticeable and, at times, a little dangerous.

It’s one of those books that leaves you thinking about the ramifications of the process. And what might happen should someone take it upon themselves to implement the engineering without it being public knowledge.

Genetically Privileged is a good read, especially for those with particular interest in the process of genetic engineering.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.


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