Saturday, December 9, 2017

Happy Holidays: Tie a Knot and Hang On. Help Has Arrived!

             Tis the season to be jolly…or is it? For some of us who have lost a loved one or are struggling with challenges which seem insurmountable, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. Well, here’s a piece of GOOD NEWS. There is a special book, full of life strategies, life-embracing, fascinating anecdotes, funny jokes, and yummy recipes that can help to pull you out of your funk.  It’s called At the End of Your Rope?  Tie a Knot and Hang on. Help Has Arrived! Buy a copy as a gift to yourself and grab a few more to give away to people you love. It was penned by my good friend Camille Sanzone. Here is a segment from a recent interview:
Liz: Can you tell my readers a little about your background, and your nationality?
Camille: My full name is Camille Adelina Sanzone…that should tell you something right off the bat.  I come from a very strict Sicilian family, but there was always lots of music, lots of food, lots of laughter, lots of food…  Did I say that already? (Laughs.) I was raised with food to the left of me and food to the right of me.  My luck – it settled in front of me and behind me. 

Liz:  I love how you include your mom’s recipes in the book. But tell us a little about your career.
Camille:  I won’t recite my entire résumé…as my background has been diverse. I’ve been a caseworker in children’s protective services and I’ve been a bank training officer; I’ve worked with people challenged with AIDS, seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s disease; I’ve been an instructor with Women In Distress, teaching a program in middle and high schools called “It’s not OK,” about abusive relationships; I’ve been executive producer at an all news/talk radio station, and an activities coordinator at a senior citizen day center…among other things.
Liz:   Sounds like you’ve lived a life of service, Camille. Tell me, what prompted you to write your book, At the End of your Rope? Tie a Knot & Hang On! Help has Arrived!

Camille:  I started writing it in 1986, after writing an 8-page suicide letter. 
Liz:  A suicide letter?
Camille:  Yes, and the operative word in that sentence, Liz, is letter; had I written the traditional suicide note, I might have gone through with it, but 8 long, hand-written pages later, I had managed to talk myself out of it.  For once in my life, being prolific saved it! 
Liz:  That was 1986. You’re not saying it took you twenty-eight years to write your book, are you?
Camille:  Perhaps, in a way, because it took me 28 years to be ready to write it.  After I wrote that letter, I wrote a few chapters of what was going to be a Suicide-Prevention Manual because I wanted to share what I’d learned.
Liz:  And what was that?
Camille:  That most people who attempt suicide don’t really want to die; they just don’t want to go on living the way they’ve been living.  I know all I wanted was for the emotional pain to stop.  But somehow I didn’t think people would buy a Suicide-Prevention Manual – too much stigma attached to the title; so, I put the chapters away and didn’t go back to them until a few years ago.  When I did, I came at it from a whole new perspective.  At the End of your Rope is decidedly not a Suicide-prevention manual; it is a Life-embracing Manual.
Liz:  How so?
Camille: Well, I realized I had to make an about-face, make better choices and take responsibility for my own happiness. You’ve probably heard of NDE’s, Liz; an NDE being a Near Death Experience.  Well, if I had committed suicide, I would have had an NLE, a Near Life Experience.  You see, I was so close to living a full life, but because of the monumental, albeit temporal pain, I almost summarily ended it.
Liz:  I never thought of suicide that way.
Camille:  As an aside, once when I was in counseling, my therapist asked me if I had considered suicide.  My immediate response was, “No, but thanks for the suggestion.” My sense of humor is, apparently, always intact.  Anyway, actually contemplating suicide gave me the jolt I needed to choose to live life consciously, intentionally, and with joy. And my book is intended to show others how to do that, to encourage them to take a deep breath of life and assure them that things are going to get better, that they’re going to be OK.  But my book is not just for people on the verge…it is truly for anyone who wants to find better and more life-enhancing ways of being in the world.
Liz:  Are you working on any other books?
Camille:  I’m reformatting my one-woman play into a book: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic: I still make the sign of the cross when I pass a PIZZA HUT!  While it makes some serious observations, it is, essentially, filled with material from my stand up routines.
Liz:  Please tell us a little about your stand up comedy?  How long have you been doing that?
Camille:  I’ve done it on and off since the eighties.  Through my work in radio, I met the great, late Phyllis Diller when I was 35.  She heard me do my act and was very encouraging, telling me she was 35 when she began her career, but I wasn’t cut out for the life of a stand-up comic – traveling across the country, doing one-night stands. 
 Liz: And what do you do when you aren’t writing?
Camille:   I play at the piano, and I have sing-alongs with friends and family.  I also host a weekly Internet radio show, “Tie a Knot & Hang On! Help has Arrived!”  It airs LIVE Wednesdays at 1 pm Eastern Time on:
Liz: Where can readers go to find your book?
Camille:  They can go to, enter my name: Camille Sanzone and they’ll find the perfect-bound 8 X 10 paperback of At the End of your Rope? Tie a Knot & Hang On! Help has arrived!, along with a short kindle-edition book I’ve written called Drop the Wait: Someday is Now. I’m currently writing A Conversation with Some Angels, which is the backstory of how I came to write, or veritably channel from the angels themselves, the 82-line poem of the same title.
Liz: Thank you, Camille. It’s a pleasure having you join my blog. I wish you the very best with your book, anything else you publish in the future, and with your radio show.
Camille:  Thank you, Liz.  I appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers.  Whatever path they take, I hope they keep choosing ever better ways of being in the world.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Driving through Stockbridge

Stockbridge in winter (the way I visualize it at Thanksgiving)

            One of my favorite pastimes in the summer is to drive the road from Lee, Massachusetts (where we live) through the town of Stockbridge to Great Barrington in the early hours.  As the sun comes up, there’s a still mist in the air. Clouds nestle in and curl up in the Berkshire hills as if Native Americans from the 1600’s have built fires to send smoke signals. The pine forests surround me with a collage of lush, green.

  My imagination is like a radio with a wide variety of channels to turn to. When I arrive in Stockbridge, one of the prettiest towns in America, I tune into my nostalgia channel. James Taylor is there in my mind singing “Sweet Baby James.” I can picture Norman Rockwell seated, with his pipe in his mouth, painting the image of his Thanksgiving. (Can you just about smell the aroma of the turkey in the scene?) Sometimes the cinnamon of apple pie wafts through the air as well.  It all takes me back to the many Thanksgiving celebrations I have had with family and friends through the years and gives me a cozy, loving feeling.

            This year, I hope you will tune into your nostalgia channel for a while and celebrate all the get-togethers you’ve enjoyed this time of year. We have so much to be grateful for.
            Thank you, Norman Rockwell for your phenomenal paintings which truly capture our spirit. And thank you to the people of Stockbridge for keeping the town the same as it was during the Rockwell era. (On the first Sunday in December, you can stroll the streets there and relive Norman Rockwell’s vision as residents dress in Rockwell clothing for the occasion.)

            Happy Holidays everyone.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thank You, My Family and Friends

Thank You, My Family and Friends!   

As The Purple Bowtie launches, I want to give a HUGE thank you to my wife Jeanne McConnell. You are an unyielding supporter and adviser and you challenge my thoughts daily.  You have taught me about the street smarts of life and what it really means to love someone.

            A ‘shout out’ of appreciation to our family for their love and support:  my sister, Lynn Reynolds Makrin, brother-in-law Keith Makrin, niece Katherine and nephew Ryan. My stepson Brian McConnell, his wife Betty Kang, granddaughter Melody and grandson Sandor.

            Special thanks to my mentors:  Syd Beiner, you started me on this journey; Madeleine Bar Sadeh, you motivated me to write, Dr. Deborah Grayson and Kathleen Adams, you guided me into new realms of self-exploration. Marcia Cherniachovsky, you are my sounding board of self-understanding. Achim Nowak, your excellent advice helped me navigate the world of publishing.  Artist Lisa DiPetto, you reached into my brain and grabbed the images there. Donna Ratajczak, your ability to clarify complicated subjects and expert editing inspired me.  To Dan Grubb, Gabi Grubb, Penny Grubb, Anne-Marie Strand and Stuart Aken of Fantastic Books Publishing, your invaluable advice and guidance have wrapped up The Purple Bowtie into a treasured gift and tied it with a bow.
            To Camille Sanzone, Betty Armstrong, Mariette Van Rij, Ellen Shames, Ilana Plain, Neil Plain, Toni Armstrong Jr, Suzanne Munshower, Gayle Keiser, Andrea Presberg, Jackie Miller and Amy Cherry, thank you for sharing your input and encouragement.

            Finally, thank you to all the people who read The Purple Bowtie. May you pursue your dreams, discover your past lives, and stand up for who you truly are.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Happy Halloween!

The best part about Halloween is that you can be anybody you want to be. Whether you bring out your angels or demons, you get to be someone else and express your personality in an unusual way. And when you put on a costume and makeup, you discover what a fluid personality you have.  It’s great to bring out a part of yourself that has been dormant or to live in the shoes of someone you’ve admired or… possibly even been haunted by.
Liz as the Wicked Witch

            Makeup to me is the key to bringing out my sub-personalities. As a face painter, I’ve seen how it makes kids light up when they see themselves decked out as princesses and comic book heroes. For me, each character I create for Halloween brings out feelings and leaves an indelible memory in my heart.

Liz as Emmett Kelly

            For Emmett Kelly, the famous circus hobo with the sad face, I
 remember the time all the clowns at Priscilla Mooseberger Camp in Minnesota sat around a campfire dressed as hobos and shared caring clown stories. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of sobs that reflected caring clowns' work with kids and adults who are challenged with disabilities and incurable diseases.

            Makeup can be very exciting especially if you take yourself to the International Face Painting and Body Art Convention in Orlando, Florida (scheduled for May 23 to 27, 2018). The best face painting, airbrush, henna and body art professionals from around the world are brought together to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about creative make-up.  The convention was started by Marcela Murad in 2002. Marcela, also known as Mama Clown, actually gave me my Lizzie Love the Clown face! Her conventions sell out quickly because they are full of brilliant professionals and deliriously amazing face and body art designs. 
          Have fun this Halloween and try a little makeup.  You may discover a budding artist inside you. November marks the beginning of the launch of my novel The Purple Bowtie.  Be sure to keep an eye out for promotions for the book on my blog and Facebook coming very soon.

 Buy the book at

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Miami's Eight Day Literary Party

Miami’s Eight Day Literary Party

            The schedule for Miami Book Fair International 2017 is out and you can find it at The fair, which runs from November 12 through November 19, offers eight days of author and children’s author presentations, amazing entertainment, cooking demonstrations, parties and an author/publisher street fair.

           Here is just a taste of the amazing talent. The kick-off begins with former CBS anchor and managing editor, Dan Rather, who will speak on Sunday, November 12 at 6 pm.  MSNBC’s host of The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell will speak on Monday, November 13 at 7 pm. O’Donnell was also an award-winning producer and writer for The West Wing television series and is the author of the novel Deadly Force.

            Well-known Chilean author Isabel Allende (The House of Spirits, Eva Luna) will give a presentation on her new book In In The Midst of Winter on Wednesday, November 15 at 6pm. Elliot Ackerman, a White House Fellow and Marine who served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and who received The Silver Star, The Bronze Star of Valor and The Purple Heart, will talk about his books Green on Blue and Dark At The Crossing. He is a National Book Award Finalist. (All of the above are ticketed events. Be sure to go online to The Miami Book Fair to reserve seats.)

            Get a sneak peak of Miami Light Project’s “The Bearded Ladies” in collaboration with Miami Theatre Center at The Porch (corner of NW 2nd Avenue and NW 3rd Street) on Monday, November 13 at 7:00pm.  The project features cabaret artists who tackle the politics of gender, identity and artistic intention. There will be plenty of other music and poetry events as well.

            And best of all, I will be launching my break-out, adult novel The Purple Bowtie on Saturday, November 18 from 10am to 6pm on Writer’s Row. Buy the book at

 You can also pick up a copy of my children’s book Sakiwinki the Monkey Saves the Animals. Learn more about it on Facebook at SakiwinkitheMonkey or on the website This makes a great gift for the grand kids.  Don’t miss the fun! Come and visit me at my booth.

Miami Book Fair Location:  300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL  33132. Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College with entrances on NE 2nd Avenue, NE 4th Street, and NE 3rd Street.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

"Walk A Mile In Her Shoes"

            Macho construction workers in stiletto high heels! What’s going on?  It’s the “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” fundraiser where men are making valuable contributions to stop the epidemic in sexualized violence.

            In the Berkshires, participants raised over $20,000 to help the Elizabeth Freeman Center stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Elizabeth Freeman was the first African-American woman to sue and be set free from slavery in Massachusetts. ”Bet” fought to protect her daughter, Betsy, who was abused by the wife of a slave owner in Sheffield, MA.
Every two minutes, someone is raped in this country.  One in six women are victims of sexual assault.  The media will continue to work to expose the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world who abuse women on the job. And books like The Purple Bowtie will continue to remind people of the emotional stories of the survivors, their partners, family and friends who are all affected in different ways. Women who have experienced extreme sexual experiences must speak out sooner rather than later. The Elizabeth Freeman Center provides 24/7 hotlines to address domestic, sexual and gender violence; free, confidential counseling services and shelter; court advocates and even pet foster care.
Elizabeth Freeman

There are plenty of organizations, agencies; good men and women who pitch in every year all over the world to raise money to address domestic abuse; sexual and gender assault.  The energy and momentum for this movement is huge and building.  A hearty ‘thank you’ goes out to all the men who hold a higher standard and choose not to abuse or harass women in the workplace or at home; or hide the secret of those who do. Only we can stop this epidemic.

Wherever you are in the world, you can begin a “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event in your community. Check out the website:  To contribute to the Elizabeth Freeman Center, call 413-499-2425.

 Purchase a copy of The Purple Bowtie at  Post me on Facebook or send me a tweet @purplebowtie1.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dolphin Time!

Dolphin Time!

            Dolphins are some of the friendliest, most affectionate and playful beings on Earth. They allow you to follow them when they swim, they will return pieces of seaweed to you if you throw it to them and, even if you don’t see them, they may be swimming underneath you watching your every move. They are open to interacting with humans and appear to be speaking to us from their hearts.         

            Here is a fun, ten-minute dolphin visualization to feel good about yourself and open yourself to connecting more effectively with others, even dolphins:

With your eyes open or closed, begin by imagining that you are seated next to the side of a pool with a dolphin circling, diving and occasionally resting on his back in front of you. 

Take a deep breath and let it out. Repeat. On the third breath, take in as much affection and love as you can from the dolphin and allow it to fill you completely. Feel the texture of the affection inside you. Let it saturate you inside and outside. Then send the dolphin an image of you hugging him with all your love.

Now imagine that the dolphin is approaching you with playful affection. He connects with your image of hugging him and sends out a sonar signal that surrounds you with love. Slowly, all your energies of love become joined with his. Feel the love that both of you emit. Stay there for as long as you like and, when you are ready, thank the dolphin for spending time with you and gently return to the space around you.

Try this in the morning when you wake up, during the day and at night, when you go to sleep. It is relaxing, fun and loving.  You may find yourself opening more to others. It may also help you to remember your dreams. Post me your results or dreams on Facebook or tweet me @purplebowtie1.

Learn more about communicating with dolphins in The Purple Bowtie. Here is an Amazon universal link to The Purple Bowtie: you would like to swim with a real dolphin, try Dolphins Plus or The Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys.