Sunday, January 25, 2015


Hey, guys, we don't slow down here at MJ's Blog! We speed up. One of the kindest people in show business, as well as being talented and entertaining is ... well, let's let mystery author EM Kaplan tell us about her. See the end of the blog to meet Emily herself, and don't forget -- this is blog entry #3, and you're sure to like entries #1 and #2... Excelsior! -- MJ

Take your mind back to the very first TV commercial that featured Ellen Degeneres. Remember it? I do. The spot was an ad for small business services that aired in 1992. And by the grace of the internet gods, you can still see it ( My point in bringing this up isn’t the ad, of course, it’s to re-introduce you to the fresh-faced young comic with the impeccable timing that cracked me up even then. It’s her everyday, normal person outlook, her I’m-just-like-you character caught in this crazy world we all share, that I admired then and still do. Just look at how she talks to the animals in that clip. I challenge you not to smile.

After that commercial, Ellen went on to create her own sitcom, host the Emmy’s, and then get her own talk show. True, she’s not that same coed-looking, pageboy-wearing girl. She weathered an enormous media storm when she came out and still more scrutiny for her marriage. On the other side of that upheaval, she’s now the current face of daytime television. She might have been relegated to a small corner of TV history. Instead, she’s the post-Oprah Oprah. Ellen’s the one who broke the internet with her star-packed selfie. Why? How did this happen?

Character. Integrity. Like Spider-Man, wielding her substantial powers responsibly, for good.

Ellen has said, “Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”

And again,  We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.”

Frankly, I don’t care if people condemn her for her sexuality, for her snarky jokes, or for the blatant use of shirtless hunks on her show. No one can criticize her for a lack of kindness and compassion. You can see it in how she treats her guests, children, and animals, whether she’s interviewing a baby from a viral video or introducing the next Emmy nominees.

And that’s the only type of role model anyone needs. 


EM Kaplan writes snarky mysteries and also fantasy books. Currently, the first Josie Tucker mystery, The Bride Wore Dead, is 99 cents on Kindle or free with Kindle Unlimited.

Inline image 2EM grew up in Tucson, Arizona where there were no sidewalks but plenty of tumbleweeds. She attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts where she majored in English Lit with a minor in Philosophy. She later earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. She's also been a Girl Scout, trombonist, toilet-cleaner, beginner ninja, and subversive marketeer. You can visit her at

Other links:
Twitter: @meilaan

Thursday, January 22, 2015


 MJ:  Women writers are great role models for anyone who aspires to tell stories with words! Here, Jean Joachim will tell us about some who inspired her.  (For me, it's Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, but who's checking?) Remember, ladies, if you want to write about a woman who inspires you, just email me at and we'll make it happen together!! Okay, Jean, take it away!!

Jean writes:

Did I always want to be a writer? As long back as I can remember, and I was always a big reader. The first author who made a big impression on me was Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was one of the first books I owned. And I read it over and over and over again. The writing was so real, or at least that’s what I thought life was like back then. The girls became book-friends to me. I laughed at the funny parts and wept from my heart at the sad parts.
Louisa May Alcott

I was outraged when the rich aunt refused to take Jo to Europe. I stomped my foot and grumped around the house, hating Amy all the more when she ended up with, not only the fabulous trip, but also the Laurie’s heart. 

The book taught so much about life while it entertained me. Louisa May Alcott became my gold standard – and she wrote at a time when it was frowned on for a woman to write. I aspired to write a book with as much heart, soul and morality as hers. After 27 books, I’m still striving to write one as good as Little Women. 

The next big female writing influence in my life was Carolyn Keene. I read every Nancy Drew I could put my hands on. I devoured each page, nonstop, I could not put her books down. Yes I admired Carolyn Keene, but I would have preferred to be Nancy Drew. She’s responsible for my love of mysteries, and the strains of suspense that run through some of my romance novels. Her influence may also be responsible for the two romantic suspense books I wrote with Ben Tanner. 

There are so many excellent women writers today, it’s hard to single out any without slighting many. In the mystery field, Sue Grafton, P.D. James and Agatha Christie stand out. In romance? I’d have to say there are a dozen of my fellow authors at Secret Cravings whose work I gobble up, as soon as it’s published, like a starving dog.  

Writing, editing, rewriting and reading are my life. I strive to make my reader feel emotion, and to suck my reader in on the first paragraph, the first sentence. There are so many hurdles, so many milestones, weaknesses to conquer in writing. I love the challenge. 
Here's Jean!

I live in Manhattan with my husband and pug, Homer. I have two sons who are grown and on their own. I write series books. My first sports romance series, First & Ten, is debuting in February. The kickoff book is Griff Montgomery, quarterback.   

You can find me here:

Or chat with me by email here:

Sunday, January 18, 2015


 MJ:  WOW, this blog is really going to start rocking now! Remember, ladies, if you want to write about a woman who inspires you, just email me at and we'll make it happen together!! Now without further delay, here's new author Katie Labovitz on an inspirational woman in the entertainment industry.

Mindy Kaling is best known for her work on The Office and The Mindy Project, but people might not realize she has more to do with both shows than her roles on camera. Kaling started her work with The Office as the lone female writer on a staff of eight. She then earned a supporting role on the show as Kelly Kapoor, Dunder-Mifflin’s talkative customer service representative. While on the show, Kaling continued to write and produce, becoming one of the show’s Executive Producers and directing two episodes.

From The Office, Kaling created her own series, The Mindy Project. She not only stars as Mindy Lahiri, a smart but sometimes selfish NYC OB/GYN, but is one of the writers and Executive Producers of the show. 

Kaling is one of few women of color headlining a primetime television show. She also wrote a best-selling book of comedic essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and has another book, Why Not Me?, coming out in 2015. Her candid interviews and contribution to popular culture over the past decade have brought awareness to topics like gender and ethnic stereotypes, body image and how she and comedy are a perfect match.

 In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Kaling said, “I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists. I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I’m able to compete in?” She’s funny because she’s herself, and she’s herself because that’s how she was raised.

 Reading her book of personal essays, I felt like I was reading the diary of a close friend. I laughed so hard I was in tears, but I wasn’t laughing at Kaling, I was laughing at myself because her stories are so relatable. It’s comforting to read that Kaling is so grounded when the image we are presented from a lot of celebrities is how glamorous and untouchable they are.

 I am continually inspired by Kaling because of both the quality of her work (The Mindy Project is among my favorite television shows of all time) and her work ethic. I follow her social media accounts and am constantly amazed by the hard work she and her crew puts in, as well as the real sense of community they have created. 

 In her interview with Lena Dunham for Rookie: Yearbook Two, Kaling said, “I’m tactile and affectionate, and that is part of how I am on set with the actors, the crew, and the writers… And I'm a feminist who wants to work with other feminists. I would wager that only a masochist sexist would want to work at a show with an opinionated female lead and showrunner. So I work with people who love women. That's a nice thing.” I love that being kind is something Kaling is determined to maintain in a cutthroat industry like television production. 

I might not aspire to star on my own television show like Kaling, but I do hope to follow in her footsteps as a successful author and champion of feminists everywhere. 

MJ says:  Katie, thanks for providing the inaugural entry for Women Who Inspire Us! Come back any time for a visit! Excelsior!!

Here's Katie!

Katie Labovitz has lived all over the Midwest but presently resides in NYC because she always wanted to live there. (As cliche as it sounds, she literally packed up her car and moved there in 2012... mostly because she wanted to be closer to Broadway/Off-Broadway theater.) She earned a BSC in Telecommunications ('06) and a MS in Journalism ('11), both from Ohio University and has written articles for various print and online entities over the past several years. In December 2014, her debut YA novel (Out at Home) was published as an ebook. In addition to working on more YA books and some unfinished screenplays, Labovitz is a guest theater blogger for IN New York. Follow her on Twitter (@klabovitz), read her blog (Two Degrees and Separation), or check out her author page on Goodreads.

Out at Home is a young adult novel that combines gay themes with sports and high school relationships. 

Caleb Hanson and his newly single mom pack up their car and drive from the only home he’s ever known in New York City to his uncle’s house in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. In NYC, Caleb was the star pitcher of his high school’s baseball team and openly fooled around with his best friend, Jackson. 

In Kentucky, Caleb opts to stay in the closet, but is forced to sit the bench because the Bullfrogs’ roster is already full. When Caleb is paired up with Danny Thompson, the team’s distractingly attractive catcher, to throw batting practice, Caleb realizes that being stuck in small-town America might have some perks after all. 

Something clicks between the boys, though their newfound friendship is soon challenged when signs are misread and accusations are made. Caleb and Danny rely on each other to work through their insecurities and find themselves growing closer on and off the field. But will small-minded teammates and the pressures of being someone other people expect you to be be enough to break Caleb and Danny's burgeoning relationship, or can their love of the game take them and the Bullfrogs to another State Championship?

Out at Home is available on Amazon. Click here for more information!