Monday, January 8, 2018

Interview With Boyd Taylor - Author of Hero, The Antelope Play, The Monkey House and Necessities

Please share a bit about your journey to become a published author. Was it a dream you've always had, or did the drive come at a later age?

Hello, Marilyn. Thanks for having me for this interview. It’s been a long journey. I always wanted to write: school paper, creative writing classes at college, things like that. But it wasn’t until I retired that I tried my hand at writing a novel, which was quite a different experience from short story and non-fiction writing.

How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?

I find that for me, setting aside a time to write is essential. Otherwise, I just don’t get it done. So, I have my morning coffee, ride the bike a little, glance at the paper and then write for a couple of hours. If I stick to that schedule, I’ll get the job done.

Review HERE!
What did you find most difficult about the writing and publishing process? What was the easiest?

Taking the easiest first, it’s the ideas and the next scene or chapter. I can visualize those and they sound so good in my head. Putting them down on paper so that they’re remotely what I had in my mind is the hard part. And the characters take on their own lives as I write, so what I start out to do and what I end up with are often quite different.

Where did the idea for your Donnie Ray Cuinn book series come from? Was it conceived as a series or did that idea come after writing the first book?

The story of a young grad student who gets embroiled in Texas politics came from a real incident. A couple of students made the news by attacking an important Texas politician and were called on the carpet for their effrontery. I spent several years on the first book and never thought it would be a series. But when I got to the end of Hero, I already knew the beginning of the second book and the rest flowed from there.

Review 1-17 
How about the inspiration for the main character of Donnie? Do any of your characters reflect a bit of you?

Oddly enough, I had a friend, a girl, in high school, whose family background was similar in many ways to Donnie’s. I used it shamelessly and she didn’t seem to mind.

Ridley Pearson said that every fiction writer is somewhat of a schizophrenic and able to have two or three or five voices in his head. In writing we try to get those voices down on paper, so to that extent, every character has a bit of me in there somewhere. They’re usually amalgams of people I imagine, people I’ve known and people I’ve read about.

I am curious why you skipped setting your second book in Mexico where Donnie was headed at the end of book one - instead just referring that time in flashbacks - and why you decided to totally change his career from scholar to lawyer?

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I don’t know Mexico and I do know Austin and the Texas Panhandle. The change in Donnie’s career reflects his own change from a happy-go-lucky slacker to an embittered, guilty, sardonic person. He knows he cannot go back to Austin because of memories of Cecilia, and by chance he stumbles across the worst law school in Texas; he sees an advertisement in the Houston airport. Law school occupies his mind and gives him a career completely removed from his dead wife, as does moving to Velda in the Panhandle. Of course, the fact that I’m a lawyer and spent time up in the Panhandle probably had something to do with it.

Do you have any new books in the planning or writing stages? Will there be more books in this series?

Review 2-8
I have one more Donnie Ray book in mind, where he will meet his other family, the son of the man who abandoned his mother in Hero. I’m also working on a fictional account of my mother and her six sisters and their lives coming of age in Texas during World War II.

What would you most like reader to know about you?

I play the cello, I love University of Texas football and I bake very good bread.

HERO (Book #1 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series) by Boyd Taylor

Check out my review of other books in this series!
  • The Antelope Play - Review coming Jan. 17th
  • The Monkey House - Review coming Jan. 26th
  • Necessities - Review coming Feb. 8th
Synopsis - 

When budding historian Donnie Ray Cuinn stumbles upon an old letter in the musty bowels of the Texas State Archives, he believes he has uncovered the true story of Sam Payne's valiant, or perhaps not so valiant, capture of Mexican leader Santa Anna during the Battle of San Jacinto. Cuinn's findings are published in a local magazine. But the article eventually becomes fodder in the gubernatorial race between Democratic upstart Bob Braeswood and Republican favorite Sam Eben Payne V, the great-great-grandson of the Texas hero. Braeswood is intent on exploiting the past, while Payne will do anything to suppress it. In the ensuing battle, Donnie finds his beliefs, not to mention his relationships, stretched to the limit in the first novel of the Donnie Ray Cuinn series.

Review - 

If you enjoy an underdog story, then let me introduce you to Donnie Ray Cuinn. Donnie is a recent history grad who was left by his mother with another couple - Lena and Papa - to raise as their own. While their circumstances were humble, they offered the loving, stable, supportive environment he needed. He has just graduated from university and is waiting to hear if he is hired for a teaching fellowship.

As the book opens, Donnie - sporting an enormous hangover after a night of partying - is pulled out of his bed and his home by two burly men, employees of a powerful politician named Sam Payne. Why? Donnie recently uncovered a damning document that paints the politician's well-known ancestor, formerly labeled a hero, in an unflattering light. The article he published on this document in This Texas was affecting the senator's bid to be reelected.  During this forced meeting he was pressured to sign a document recanting his article, something he refused to do.

From this moment on, the story takes us through a tangled web of move and counter move as the underdog tries to avoid the arrows flung by this powerful and formidable politician. On Donnie's side are Lena and Papa, his long time friend, party buddy and former star athlete - Wesley, Payne's opponent in an upcoming election - Bob Braeswood, This Texas publisher Drayton Philby, and attorney Cecelia Medina - a former girlfriend he hopes to win back.  Along the way more of Donnie's past is revealed and his birth mother comes back into the picture.

Hero has a strong set of characters, a well-paced storyline and a surprise ending that I didn't see coming, always a great way to end a book. Donnie's journey of stepping into adulthood is laid bare as he begins to see the world in a different way, including the truth about those he calls "friends" and the dirty side of politics.  

Buy the Books: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet The Author -

Check out a fab behind the scenes interview HERE!

BOYD TAYLOR lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

Boyd's first novel "Hero" was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, "The Antelope Play," dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, "The Monkey House", involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel "Necessities" predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

Friday, January 5, 2018

Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr

Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?

Synopsis - 

Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. 

The guys go away for a fishing weekend only to get caught up in the murder of a journalist investigating fraud at a timber company. Meanwhile, the ladies are spending the weekend in the presidential suite at a posh resort where Jessica Faraday is to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late grandmother at a murder mystery writers conference. But before they have time to get their facials, they get wrapped up in their own real mystery when an up and coming author ends up dead!

Lauren Carr’s Twofer Murder is a 2-for-1—making it a must-read for any mystery fan!

Review - 

I always anxiously await each and every new title from Lauren Carr. Her books have a wonderful mix of murder, mystery and romance all topped off with a lovely dash of humour.

The author has taken a slightly new direction this time by taking all the main characters from her three successful series - Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose - and bringing them together in one book. While this is a stand-alone novel, I do find having read all the books in each series previously helped me to understand from the beginning who the characters were and why they made the choices they did.

In Twofer Murder, the men are off on a fishing weekend, but quickly get drawn into the murder of an investigative journalist. It's a small town with one major industry and people close ranks. Finding out the truth takes a lot of digging and sorting through a lot of misdirection to figure out who is telling the truth. The women are at a mystery writers conference. Egos abound, and no one is really surprised when a murder occurs. The women quickly dive into teasing out clues.

As always, I love reading anything this author writes, but I personally found moving between the two story lines while keeping track of who all the characters were and how each murder investigation was progressing a bit of a challenge. Still a fabulous read, but I think for me this actually would have been an easier read as two separate books.

As always, now I am on pins and needles waiting for Lauren Carr's next book. Somehow I have to learn how not to consume them in one or two nights.
Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author - 

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson - The Final Looks

Runway Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

The first ever EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R. Wilson hit the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia in Perth on Sunday, November 26th, 2017.  It was a hands down success.  The appreciative audience let it be known that this show knocked it out of the park.

I could not be more grateful to the 21 young, talented designers from 12 countries who offered their artistry to make this show what is was.  And thanks to EFWA founder Zuhal Kuvan-Mills for sponsoring this show which allowed me to step away from my front row seat covering events and try my hand at curating a show of my own.

There were many times I felt over my head - such as selecting music and fitting models with garments I hadn't made myself - but it all came together in the end.  True to my passion for interviewing, each garment held the story of the designer who created it and the models were fascinated to learn about the artist they were representing.  It helped them own the looks they wore.

Below please find a short about section on each designer, the school they studied at if applicable and their social media links. With that is a designer photo and one image of their final runway look. Enjoy!

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Alex S. Yu (London, Vancouver Taipei) – Interview HERE!

  • About  ALEX S. YU’s aesthetics rollick the happy emotions of childhood, nostalgia and wanderlust; and ponder the very definition of femininity in a modern, quirky way through garments.d unusual silhouettes while mixing and using different colours and fabric weights in one garment.
  • Studied at – Blanche Macdonald Center (Canada) and London College of Fashion (UK)
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @alex.s.yu
  • Facebook –
Aloke Kumar Singh, Micronesium & ESEDS (Kolkata) – Interview HERE!

  • About  Miconesium sources scraps and leftover cloth from export houses. Khadi and organic textiles are then combined with scraps of other material. The label is an exercise in waste management. They also work with certified organic and sustainable fabrics which are dyed with different herbs, flowers and left over fruit skins and are working on a project with banana and bamboo fabrics and legitimate nonviolent silk.
  • Studied at – London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and National Institute of Fashion Technology
  • Website – Relaunching in September 2017
  • ESEDS School of Design –
  • Instagram – @alokekumarsingh & @micronesium
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @micronesium1
Amber Nifong (New York City) – Interview HERE!

Anita Heiberg, 13 Dresses (Berlin) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Anita Heiberg has over 10 years experience as a designer and patterng cutter for numerous independent designers as well as her own eponymous label. Most recently, she founded a unique interactive crowdsourced sustainable fashion design platform called 13 Dresses. The designer’s mission, to leverage technology to accelerate sustainable social and environmental change in apparel production.
  • Studied at – Kwantlen Polytechnic Univessity, Central Saint Martins in London and Esmod Berlin.
  • Website – and
  • Instagram – @anitaheiberg and @13dresses
  • Facebook – and
Camila Castillo, Camila X Castillo (Venezuela/U.S.) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Camila Castillo’s work as a designer has always been influenced by the visual arts. She loves to work on a manequin, cutting and folding the material until she finds interesting geometric compositions that she adapts to the curves of a woman. Her innovative work also incoporates the usue of innovative technoloby such as 3D printing and laser cutting.
  • Studied at – Neumann school of graphic design (very material oriented/bauhaus influence), followed by pattern making courses at seamstress schools.
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @camilaxcastillo
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @camilaxcastillo
  • Blog –
Charné Esterhuizen, MAAK Clothing (Canberra) – Interview HERE!

Due to a mix-up backstage, Maak’s garment did not get put on the model properly, so we would like to share this image provided by the designer of her incredible look the way it is meant to be worn.
  • About – MAAK Clothing focuses on creating sustainable fashions for tomorrow by introducing 3d printing into our range of garments and accessories. The benefits are endless. Mass-customisation, local production, 3D printing and fabrics are combined and then detailed with tailored stitching lines, giving a stylish and unique look. All garments are designed and produced locally in Canberra.
  • Website –
  • Studied at – Canberra Institute of Technology
  • Instagram – @maak_clothing
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @MAAKCLOTHING
  • Linked In –
Evan Clayton (Vancouver) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Evan Clayton is a fashion designer highly skilled in both the art of tailoring and the fluidity of drapery who love to puch the boundary of the silhouette. He strives to marry art and fashion in such a way as to create political, personal and artistic expression. Creative influences include psychology, modern pop culture, French history and a variety of performance artists including Marina Abramovic, Lady Gaga and Jonna Lee of iamamaiwhoami.
  • Studied at – Blanche Macdonald
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @evanclayton
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @Evan_Clayton
  • Linked in –
Francesca Phipps (London) -Interview HERE!

  • About – Francesca Phipps is always trying to find new innovative silhouettes with a mixture of tailoring and drape. Drapery is a very strong skill for the designer, something she is always pushing the boundaries of. She constantly explores the experimental use of colour and alternative construction of materials and fabrications
  • Studied at – De Montfort University (Leicester).
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @francescaphippsfashion
  • Facebook –
Jacqueline Zeyi Chen, Zeyi Studio (Guangzhou) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Jacqueline Zeyi gets inspiration from issues in the society or within herself. She uses fashion as an medium to express her point of view, bring awareness, and explore problems in life.
  • Studied at – Parsons School of Design
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @zeyi_studio & @jn.zeyi
  • Facebook –
Jessie Liu (San Francisco) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Jessie Liu designs timeless and innovative styles with flattering silhouettes which enhance the existing beauty and confidence of her clients. Style, function, beauty and freedom collide in her designs. Each season the designer selects luxurious fabrications and creates bold graphic prints that appear almost three dimensional amongst more muted tones adding balance to her eponymous RTW collection.
  • Studied at – Academy of Art University
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @jessieliucollection/
  • Facebook –
Lara Ireland (Sydney) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Lara Ireland is a Sydney based designer, with a focus on a conceptual approach to Sustainable applications and Design. Her collections are intimately hand-made and artisanal at the very heart.Lara markedly sets her philosophy around the basis of ‘Cradle to Cradle’ design – recycling materials and eliminating the impact on wastage and environmental conservation.
  • Instagram –
  • Not Just A Label –
Lauren Kemp, Lo Life Shop (Vancouver) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Designer Lauren Kemp describes the garments she creates as, “Repurposed Vintage Goods as Well-Loved and Worn In as your Soul.” She works to keep used garments from ending up in landfills by hand embroidering & re-purposing clothing remaking them into apparel you wear until it falls apart. Because of the hand detailing, garments aren’t “perfect” – they have character!
  • Website –
  • Studied at – Vancouver Community College
  • Instagram – @lolifeshop
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @lolifebrand
Lesley Hampton (Toronto) – Interview HERE!

Markéta Martišková of STOP is START (Antwerp) –

  • About – Marketa Martiskova is currently working on setting up her own fashion and accessories label ‘STOP’ based in Antwerp.  She looks to the world and identifies social distraction, day-to-day topics and global issues through designs. She is communicates through symbols, typography, prints and employed techniques.The designer creates eco-friendly and recycling based designs by using leftovers from production or even raw materials which could be regarded as waste.Her designs could be described like painting with textile.
  • Studied at – Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp
  • Website –
  • Facebook –
  • Instagram – @stopisstart
  • Tumblr –
  • LinkedIn –
Ras Kasozi, Kas Wear (Kampala) – Interview HERE!

  • About –Raz Kasozi is a self-taught fashion designer who began his passion at a very young age. Lack of money led him to explore upcycling and the use of different textiles and materials to create the unique, one-of-a-kind looks that have become his trademark. His collections have been shown on the international stage, he collaborates with established designers around the world and is partnered with the U.S. Mission Kampala on Skilled Expressive Entrepreneurial Designers Show (SEED), a project that promotes fashion and entrepreneurship.
  • Website –
  • Studied at – Self-taught
  • Instagram – kaswear_official
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @KASWEAR
  • Linked In –
Sacha Cooper, Cooper Hotcooture (Luxembourg) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Cooper Hotcooture is a ready-to-wear fashion label located in Luxembourg that offers subtle sexiness, affordable wearable couture and more importantly, unique designs that are handmade in Luxembourg. The label stands for fine fashion and exclusive garments,
  • Studied at – ESMOD and AMD (‘Akademie für Mode & Design)
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @cooperhotcooture/
  • Facebook –
Sam Stringer (Vancouver) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Sam Stringer is known for red carpet ready, one of a kind, elaborate and luxurious evening gowns that combine traditional mastery with modern aesthetic to create. Her silhouettes offer a wonderful fusion that celebrate both art and fashion.
  • Studied at – Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @sammyjay666
  • Facebook –
Sara Armstrong (Vancouver) –

  • About – Armstrong creates ready to wear pieces for Men and Women, with an androgynous blur, at once loyal to the functionality of heritage craftsmanship and subversive in their welcoming of innovative details. The designer’s formal training in sculpture is immediately apparent in pieces that balance complex geometries with pared-down simplicity.
  • Studied at – Blanche Macdonald
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @sararmstrong
  • Facebook –
  • Twitter – @sararmstrong_
Stevie Crowne (Toronto) – Interview HERE

  • About – Canadian fashion designer Stevie Crowne, 22, designs his collections recycling top quality vintage and thrift styles. Deemed an Eco-Friendly label creating 2+ collections per year since 2011, he upcycles his findings into newer and more edgy-contemporary fashion garments. In this process, he breathes new air into vintage clothing by refurbishing the original idea into a new piece.
  • Studied at – Self-taught.
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @steviecrowne
  • Facebook –
Tieler James (New Orleans) – Interview HERE!

  • About – Tieler James was a finalist on Project Runway Junior and is the youngest designer participating. His vision is to design clothing for all women that will let them feel powerful and beautiful as soon as they are.
  • Studied at – Self taught. James is still in high school.
  • Website –
  • Instagram – @tielerjamesdesigns
  • Facebook –
Yasuhiro Tomita of Rukus by Yasuhiro Tomita (Tokyo) – Interview HERE!

An article I wrote titled The Move From Media Seat to Backstage covering my journey to develop this show can be found at