Book Review

Reviewed by Beverly C. Tyler

“Between Stony Brook Harbor Tides: The Natural History of a Long Island Pocket Bay” by R. Lawrence Swanson and Malcolm J. Bowman is a recently published book (Nov. 2016) that should be in every school library on Long Island. In addition, for those interested in the history, current conditions and future of our wetlands and waterways, this book is an essential read.

Specifically a book about the Stony Brook Harbor area, it takes a much wider view when considering the factors that have had and continue to have an influence on the harbor. Admirably this is a book that takes a very even-handed approach to the environmental and societal pressures that have contributed to the present state of the harbor and its future.

From left, Malcom J. Bowman and R. Lawrence Swanson. Photo by Heidi Sutton


In Chapter 1, “Shaping the Harbor,” the description of the formation of the hills and valleys of our Three Village area with “unsorted debris” left by the glacier is complemented by poetic and descriptive quotes from Setauket resident Benjamin Franklin Thompson who published the first history of Long Island and William Sidney Mount who wrote in his diary about the search for pigments in the banks and steep hills along the shore with his brother, Alonzo Shepard.

Chapter 2, “Physical Oceanography,” is the most technical chapter in the book, filled with tables and charts that detail the events and changes that have occurred in Stony Brook Harbor, as well as projections on the future of the harbor. Looking at the table on page 19, it is evident that the mean low water at the Stony Brook Yacht Club occurs approximately one hour after low water at the entrance buoy in Smithtown Bay. This is also the case for mean high water, an important consideration for boaters entering the channel to go to either the Stony Brook Yacht Club or the Smithtown Boat Basin.

These details are wonderfully enriched by interesting comments, “Boaters are perhaps frustrated by the seemingly excessive period of low stages of tide, while recreational clammers can relish the extensive period over which they can gather their harvest.” The rest of the chapter details currents, storm surges and more, all of it highlighted with salient comments including that sea levels, having risen one foot since 1886, will rise even faster this century and, “the wetlands will very likely shrink considerably.”

Chapter 3, “The Living Harbor,” begins “The splendor of the harbor is largely identified with its living marine plants and animals.” It goes on to describe the huge variety of plants and animals that inhabit the area. In many cases the same is true for all the pocket bays in our area including Mount Sinai and Setauket.

Chapter 4, “Human Impacts on the Harbor,” factually describes the effect that humans and large numbers of water fowl have had on the harbor, especially in relation to pollution and contamination.

The even-handed approach is evident in Chapter 5, titled “Scars upon the Landscape,” which details that “the physical process of dredging destroys shellfish beds…,” but goes on to say that, “dredged material, if toxicant-free and managed properly, can be a valuable resource when used for such purposes as beach nourishment.”

Chapters 6 and 7, “Governance” and “The Harbor’s Future,” tells the story of how the harbor was used and controlled and then paints a picture of what its future can and should be.

With their life’s works, Larry Swanson and Malcolm Bowman have made significant and substantial contributions to our knowledge and understanding of the natural environment. Their research and instruction at Stony Brook University provides students and residents alike with a more concrete knowledge of the effect that we have on our environment as individuals and as a society. Their contributions to our environmental knowledge are also crucial to Long Island’s future.

The book is available online at and

Author Beverly C. Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian and pens a biweekly History Close at Hand column in the Village Times Herald.

Above, the cover of the author’s latest book
A rescue dog resembling a fox and a beloved lake in Babylon become inspiration for Letourneau’s latest book.

Reviewed by Melissa Arnold

Marie Letourneau

Marie Letourneau of Farmingdale has always been a creative spirit, illustrating and writing a number of picture books for children. Her latest release, “Argyle Fox,” follows a day in the life of an adorable young fox looking for something fun to quell his boredom. It’s a windy day, however, and Argyle learns plenty about perseverance, trial and error as he searches for the perfect game to play.

Best suited for ages 3 to 7, the story teaches that failure is often a path to success and celebrates perseverance, creative thinking and an old-fashioned springtime activity. Letourneau took time out in preparing for a book launch party at Book Revue in Huntington on March 26 to chat about her latest venture.

Tell me a bit about your childhood. Have you always lived on Long Island?

I was born in Queens Village, but my family moved out to Lindenhurst on Long Island when I was 5. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Babylon village — that’s where I grew up, that’s my hometown.

Were you creative as a child? What were you involved in growing up?

I’ve been interested in art as far back as I can remember. I loved writing stories and drawing pictures. I would make little books out of paper and staples for family members. I was very interested in puppets (thanks, Jim Henson) and just about anything that had to do with art. I was, and I still am, a very visual person. I didn’t always do well in school because I was always too busy doodling in my notebooks.

Did you always want to become an author/illustrator? Who encouraged you to pursue it?

My parents and family were always encouraging of my art pursuits. When we were young, my mom would read to my sister and me at night. I remember looking at “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Winnie the Pooh” and thinking, “WOW! I want to do that! How do these people draw so well? How are books made? How do they get the drawing and words onto paper?” I think I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time. So, yes, I have definitely always wanted to write and illustrate. As an adult, my husband encouraged me to follow my passion to do artwork and create picture books. I couldn’t have done it without his patience.

Above, the cover of the author’s latest book

Did you go to school for this?

I attended Hofstra University’s New College Program where I majored in fine art, but I never studied illustration per se. I didn’t go to art school. I learned how to create picture books pretty much on my own.

Is this your first book?

No, the first book I wrote and illustrated is called “The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres.” The very first book I ever illustrated is called “Is a Worry Worrying You?”

What was the publishing process like? Did you go the traditional route, using a publisher, or did you self-publish?

I have never self-published. All of my books are through Tanglewood. Self-publishing has its own merits and value, but I prefer working with a publisher/art director. I enjoy collaborating and bouncing ideas off of another person. A professional “eye” is invaluable. Working with Peggy Tierney (publisher at Tanglewood) has upped my illustration game significantly. She’s amazing. She’s taught me so much. I am forever grateful to her.

What inspired you to write this book?

This is a long, disjointed story that happened over several years. Several years ago, I started writing a story about a child who wants to play outside on a windy day. I worked on it on and off for about a year or two.

Around that same time, we adopted a rescue dog, and we decided she looked very much like a fox. Because of this, my family and I considered naming her “Reynard,” which is French for fox. We ended up naming her Reynie, and, subsequently, I somehow became slightly obsessed with foxes. One night I was sketching foxes, and it dawned on me to change the character from a child to a fox. I named him Argyle after a beautiful little lake in my hometown of Babylon.

Why is Argyle Lake Park so special to you?

I spent a lot of time at Argyle Lake Park with my friends growing up. It’s very picturesque, full of ducks and swans, a waterfall bridge, flowering trees and small park. When I was very young, I would look for turtles there (never caught one) or walk my dog. In the winter, everyone gathered to ice skate. But I think one of my fondest memories of Argyle Lake was through my high school, Babylon Junior-Senior High School. The yearbook club always took the annual “senior year” group photo on the steps of the Argyle Lake waterfall. It was a privilege we always looked forward to as underclassmen.

How would you describe Argyle Fox?

Argyle is strong-willed, a little precocious, and a tad cheeky — but he has a very kind and creative heart.

Do you think kids can relate to Argyle?

I think kids will definitely relate to Argyle. Who hasn’t attempted something, only to find they don’t succeed the first time (or second, or third)? Failure, or “delayed success” as I like to call it, is such a wonderful teacher — it pushes us to look at things differently. It nudges us to reexamine our path to success. Most of all, I think it teaches us to find our patience.

What message do you hope kids take away from your book?

If at first you don’t succeed, creativity and persistence will get you there! But don’t forget to have fun along the way!

Tell me about your book launch party.

It will be at the Book Revue, which is at 313 New York Avenue in Huntington on Sunday, March 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. I will be doing both a reading and signing books (which are for sale at the event). We will have forest-themed cupcakes and everyone is invited to attend!

Where can the book be purchased?

“Argyle Fox” is available at Barnes and Noble stores and online, Amazon, and through many independent bookstores and online sellers.

What’s up next for you?

I’d love to continue publishing books for young readers. Right now, I am just stirring the creative pot in my mind and seeing what floats to the surface. You can learn more about me by visiting my website, There you will find my books, illustrations, an events page and more!

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By Rita J. Egan

Dog Ear Publishing recently released John P. Cardone’s fourth book, “Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature.” In his new book, the Ronkonkoma resident shares the wealth of knowledge he has gained from his kayak and nature photography adventures, more than 30 years of experience in health care education and his bout with cancer.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is a valuable resource for those who are looking to improve their health and well-being. The writer and photographer has written an easy-to-read, comprehensive guide where readers can learn about the health benefits of nature, the importance of calming one’s mind, how to foster the spirit of nature in children and more.

In addition to the author sharing his experiences and research, Cardone also includes photographs he has taken in various locations including Long Island sites such as Heckscher State Park, Cedar Beach, Carmans River and Little Neck Run, which are perfect examples of nature’s calming elements. Recently, Cardone took time to answer a few questions about himself and his latest venture.

Author John Cardone


Tell me a bit about yourself.

For starters, I’m a lover of the outdoors, so I spend a good chunk of time kayaking the waters around Long Island, hiking and biking the paths around our parks and taking photographs of nature. For over 30 years, I have been an educator writing and producing health education videos working mostly for hospitals. I have always liked teaching and helping people learn more about good health. Over the last 10 years or so, I have been a teacher in a different way — teaching people about the health benefits of spending time in nature.

How did you get involved with writing?

My interest in writing started when I studied literature in college. I found I love to read — I still do. But professionally, I was writing videos and some print pieces on health topics. Then one day, while commuting home on the Long Island Rail Road, I closed the covers of a mystery book and it hit me … could I write a book? I accepted my own challenge and started to write on paper every day on the train home from work. Some years later, I self-published that story — “Without Consent.” The book got great reviews and is still sold on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

You are also a noted photographer. Where has your work been exhibited?

I have been very fortunate to have my photos on exhibit around Long Island. And, I like to point out that most of the photographs have been taken while kayaking Long Island waters — a challenge, of course. They have been exhibited at art shows with the Northport Arts Coalition, the Good Ground Artists out of Hampton Bays, the Islip Arts Council, the Art League of Long Island, Levittown Library, Sachem Library and Connetquot Library among others.

How did you become interested in how nature plays a part in a person’s well-being?

My very first introduction to how nature can help people took place years ago when I was working on creating teaching videos with stress reduction and relaxation experts for a couple of hospital clients. These experts were teaching people how to use the images of nature and the outdoors to relax them during stressful times.

Then, there was my own firsthand experience while I was fighting my own battle with cancer. During the later stages of chemotherapy, when I was too weak to paddle my kayak or bike, my wife and I would take slow, gentle walks at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. In my “Waterviews: A Collection of Photographs, Thoughts & Experiecnes” book, I wrote about this in a section in Chapter 4 called, “Can a River Be a Friend.” During those walks I always felt better, and frequently forgot that I was ill, forgot that I was a cancer patient.

The cover of John Cardone’s latest book

How has nature helped in improving your life in other ways?

I think nature has helped me with a positive, happy outlook on life. We’re all here on earth only a relatively short time. We can choose how we want to live — I choose to see the beauty and wonder of nature and let it inspire me. Sometimes, when I paddle my kayak deep into Yaphank Creek, a tributary off the Carmans River, I’m in an area untouched by man. What I see could very well be what Native Americans might have seen over 200 years ago. Those quiet moments, with a gentle wind blowing, and an occasional quack or chirp, recharges my batteries and prepares me for the next challenge.

How would you describe your book to someone who hasn’t read it?

I think the book’s subtitle is a good start: “A practical exploration of how nature can influence our health and well-being.” But then I would go on to explain that in our high-tech, hurry up world, spending time in nature can do wonders to help us calm our minds. I present many ideas and facts on how nature can improve our health. There are over 75 color photographs of nature, places to visit and ways nature can help us. There are also details about happiness and how spending time in nature can make a difference. I would tell anyone who has children in their lives that the book points out the importance of fostering the spirit of nature in children … to help them be connected and in learning ways to protect the earth.

You featured many spots on Long Island in your book. What are a few of your favorite places to visit on the island?

If I am walking or hiking, then the Bayard Cutting and Planting Fields arboretums come to mind, along with Avalon Park & Preserve in Stony Brook. If I am bicycling, then you’ll find me in the woods within Heckscher State Park in East Islip and the paths through Massapequa Park Preserve. If I am kayaking, then the lower portion of the Carmans River within the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and the waters near Orient Harbor and the Orient Beach State Park.

Tell me about the PowerPoint presentation you created to promote the book?

I created the presentation to teach people about the importance of being out in nature. It is based on the research I conducted over the last three years. Of course, the presentation is only a small part of what the book covers. I focus on a few of the major points; these include a section on what nature we are referring to and how much time we have to be in it, how nature can calm our minds. I address a few of the real health benefits; things like less sadness and depression, the ability to cope with stress and improved function of the aging brain. On the physical health side, things like lower blood pressure, better cardio-respiratory function and a boost to the immune system.

What are your plans for the near future?

For me, my work is just starting. The book is only one step on the path to help people fully understand how to connect (or re-connect) with nature and how doing that can benefit their health. So, over the next months I have booked a number of presentations on the topic, as well as a number of book signings and photo exhibits. The places, dates and times are listed on the events page of my website,

I’m also expanding my photography classes. I teach at the Art League of Long Island and at the Islip Arts Council. I now offer an introduction and an advanced class on Waterscape & Wildlife Photography. Plus, there is a Photo Printing Workshop to help folks interested in printing high-quality prints. The classes are an important part of my work for they help people appreciate nature, as well as get them outside to study it and to capture the images they see.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is available on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

Patricia Bosworth

Renowned actress and journalist comes to Huntington for a night of film, stories

By Melissa Arnold

Patricia Bosworth has worn many hats throughout her lengthy career, but above all she is a storyteller. She’s written for the most well-known magazines and newspapers in America; she’s penned the biographies of Hollywood greats Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando, among others; and she’s graced stage and screen countless times in fulfillment of her childhood dreams. Now, Bosworth is telling her own story.

On March 15, Bosworth will appear at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington to share her new memoir, “The Men in My Life,” which was released in January.

“At the CAC we often have celebrities come in to talk about their memoirs. Here we have in Patricia Bosworth a true literary talent who is deeply respected,” said Jud Newborn, curator for special programs at the Cinema Arts Centre. “This book has everything juicy in it that you could want surrounding the world of acting, but it’s also a work that can sit proudly on your bookshelf. It’s placed in the context of crisis and transformation during a particular time in our history. It’s intelligent, fiercely honest, and entertaining.”

In a recent phone interview, Patricia Bosworth said she lived a lot of the time in a world of fantasy when she was a little girl.

Patricia Bosworth will be signing copies of her new book, above, at the event.

“I was always imagining, always pretending to be other people,” recalled Bosworth, who grew up in the shadow of her parents’ troubled marriage. Her father, Bartley Crum, saw his law career destroyed after he defended Hollywood’s infamous Big Ten from alleged communist sympathies in the 1950s.

Along with Bosworth’s fantastic imagination came two big dreams — to become a movie star and a writer. Buoyed by the support and love of her family, she set off in search of an acting career. It was not an easy life, however, and Bosworth suffered horrible abuse at the hands of the man she would marry and divorce before her 20th birthday. Shortly afterward, her beloved brother, Bartley Jr., took his own life following a long struggle with his sexuality. Just five years later, Bosworth’s father also committed suicide.

“I named my book ‘The Men in My Life’ after (my brother and father), because they really were the two most important men in the world to me,” Bosworth said. “I’ve spent my life trying to get over these huge losses and feeling guilty about their deaths.”

A self-described workaholic, Bosworth followed the path of many other suicide survivors, throwing herself completely into her career as a means of keeping the trauma at bay. “It was a thrill seeing myself on screen for the first time. It was challenging, and I wanted to change my hairstyle, but I wanted to do more,” Bosworth recalled.

She was eventually invited to join the prestigious Actors Studio in New York City, which allowed her to work with legends including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Marilyn Monroe and others. It was in Bosworth’s words a “hotbed of creativity,” but it was also the most important workshop in America for recruiting new talent — thanks to skill and good timing, she quickly lined up jobs in television, Broadway and film.

While Bosworth’s resume is far too extensive to list, she singles out a few roles as career highlights. At 23, she played opposite Helen Hayes in a Palm Beach production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” where she had the chance to meet Williams and talk about his inspiration for Laura, the character she played. Two years later, she appeared in the 1959 film “The Nun’s Story” alongside Audrey Hepburn, whom Bosworth called “a remarkable actress and beautiful human being.”

Patricia Bosworth

Developing close relationships with famed actors made Bosworth an easy choice for writing their life stories. Her first biography was of Montgomery Clift, whom she met as a teenager through her father. Later, she became the first woman to write a biography of Jane Fonda, a dear friend from the Actors Studio.

Bosworth’s career in journalism began with interviewing actors for New York Magazine, but her first mentor was Mario Puzo, author of “The Godfather.” She spent time at a variety of women’s magazines and freelanced for the New York Times for 15 years before becoming managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar and now serves as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.

In “The Men in My Life,” Bosworth writes candidly about grief, surviving abuse, having a difficult, illegal abortion, and getting to know Hollywood’s finest in a way no one else could. “I wanted to tell my story because while we talk about many of these issues today, they were either considered taboo or rarely discussed (in the 1950s). I’m not the first one to write about this, but these memories have been in my head and my heart for decades,” she explained. “I wasn’t ready before. But now I am, and I’m very glad I did it.”

In addition to sharing the book at the March 15 event, the Cinema Arts Centre will screen the 1951 film “A Place in the Sun,” starring Bosworth’s friend Montgomery Clift and a 17-year-old Elizabeth Taylor.

An evening with Patricia Bosworth will begin at 7 p.m. March 15 at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. A dessert and Prosecco reception will feature local jazz guitarist Mike Soloway and give guests the chance to meet Bosworth. Tickets are $20 for CAC members and $25 for nonmembers. For information, call 631-423-7611 or visit

Reviewed by Heidi Sutton

When Center Moriches resident Lauren Coffey was recovering from surgery eight years ago, she used that time to write her first children’s book “The Adventures of Lola Larissa Lily a little lady bug.” On March 9, she will release a sequel to that book, “The Adventures of Lola Larissa Lily a little lady bug finds a fantastic friend.” Recommended for ages 2 to 9, the 27-page picture book, with adorable illustrations by Charles Berton, uses a fun, whimsical writing style that children can relate to in order to teach an important life lesson. Coffey recently took time out from preparing for a book launch at the Book Revue in Huntington to answer a few questions about her latest venture.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am originally from Center Moriches on the eastern end of Long Island and have always loved working with children. I went to college for early childhood education but then switched to business and psychology. I moved around a lot for work in my 20s and then ultimately moved back to Long Island as I just missed it too much.

For most of the last decade I have been working in the benefits field, primarily with Aflac. My partner and I have a full-service insurance firm called the Coffatello Group. I made that switch after I had a pretty major accident myself. I love what I do because of how I am helping people and currently expanded my passion for helping others into the business community as well. In addition, for the past two years I have been acting in the capacity of business development and events planning for a regional networking organization.

What were your favorite books growing up?

I loved all of the Dr. Seuss books. I still have the originals that my brother and I read together. I also enjoyed anything that involved horses. I actually read the “Encyclopedia of the Horse” as child over and over.

Why did you decide to start writing children’s books?

I don’t think it started as a conscious decision. I always had journals of short stories and poems that I would scribble in. The first book was actually written in 2009 after I had a bad accident and a major surgery that put me out of commission for many months. I was going stir crazy and I was immobile and one can only watch so much TV. I decided to make a storyboard for my first niece. That didn’t take me as long as I had hoped so I wrote a story for all of the creatures I had just made to tell her. Everyone told me for years that I should publish this; so in 2014 I did. “The Adventures of Lola Larissa Lily a little lady bug” was born.  Then people started telling me how much their children loved it and asked for a sequel.

How would you summarize the book?

The book introduces a new character and teaches an important lesson; never judge others by how they look. Similar to the first in that it involves all the characters in the series, the book shows camaraderie and the close relationship they have overlooking the types of creatures they are, i.e., frog friends with a dragonfly and lion with a zebra.

What do you hope children will learn from reading this book?

I hope that they learn in a fun way to be accepting of others by taking the time to learn about one another, diversity and treating people or any living being with respect instead of just assuming and judging someone.

Why did you decide to make the main character a lady bug? 

Who doesn’t like lady bugs? Often people who hate bugs often will like lady bugs. It just sort of happened organically as I started writing the story.

What other types of creatures are found in the book?

Zebra, flamingo, frog, turtle, lion, dragonfly, lady bug, giraffe and elephant and Lola Larissa Lily’s new fantastic friend … who is revealed in the new story … but you have to read it to find out!

All of the characters have funny names like Dee Dee Delilah Danda and Fiona Florence Fatima. Why did you decide to do that?

I love laughing, having fun and being silly. I was imagining the laughter of my niece and now the children as I was thinking of the most ridiculous combinations possible but try to have them be rhythmic as well. Mainly I wanted names that are not commonly used.

How would you describe Lola Larissa Lily? 

I think that she is a very open-minded, optimistic, all inclusive and an empathetic little lady bug who loves living life and having fun with all her friends. Lola Larissa Lily also has grit, determination and loyalty, which we saw in the first book.

Will there be more adventures with Lola Larissa Lily in the future?

Yes! There will definitely be more adventures and I can’t wait to share them!

Tell us more about your book launch at the Book Revue on March 9.

I will be reading an excerpt from the book and doing a signing at 7 p.m. All of my books will be available for purchase at the Book Revue that day, and there will be some fun activities for the kids. Many of my events have a pajama-optional invite and this one is no different. It will be a great time for everyone. Future book signings will all be posted on my Facebook page and at

Why do you think reading to a young child is so important?

I feel like it creates such a bond and is a time to connect with your children or any little one in your life. I know I looked forward to it as a child and my future step-son really does too. He looks forward to picking out a book every night before bed.  Today’s world is very disconnected with the introduction of more and more technology.  This simple act of reading to a child is a special time to spend and share with one another and create memories and let your imagination run wild. Kindle is great and my books are also available on there, but I still think having a physical book collection is a great thing.

I’ve noticed you’ve used the same illustrator for all three books. Tell us about him.

Charles Berton ( is a very talented man who can almost read my mind as to what I am picturing in my head. He has an ability to take the written word and capture it with his drawings. My choice was to make the characters very cartoonlike, but he can draw an image that looks like a photograph.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?

I would say just go for it. Don’t put pressure on yourself like a school or work assignment. My first book was written by just putting down my thoughts or a scene in the story fragmented and then put together. My second book, “The Boy Who Did Not Care He Would Not Share” was written in 24 hours. If you want to write, write. If you want to paint, paint. Life is short so do what makes you happy.

Check out the rest of Lauren Coffey’s children’s books, available at

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Tom Sarc

By Rita J. Egan

When Thomas Sarc had enough of telemarketers interrupting his life, he decided to have a little fun with them by playing pranks on the callers. The result of his antics as well as others’ pranks is his latest book, “Tom Sarc Gets Revenge on TELEMARKETERS.”

The Central Islip resident has written a dozen books covering various genres, and “Tom Sarc Gets Revenge on TELEMARKETERS” is a funny one. And, while he can’t guarantee that readers will get less calls, some of his past telephone conversations will garner a chuckle, while others will have the reader laughing aloud.

At the end of the book, Sarc offers a few practical tips to try to eliminate calls from telemarketers, as well as advice on how not to fall for the telephone scams that are happening more frequently nowadays.

Recently, the husband, father and grandfather, took time to answer a few questions about the book via email.

The cover jacket of the author’s latest book.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Half a dozen times a day, seven days a week, during dinner, while watching TV, even before I get up in the morning, these pests call. It does no good to tell them to put you on the “do not call” list because, personally, I don’t believe there is such a list. So, if I can’t stop their calling, I can at least have fun with them—and annoy them too. My book is a compilation of my personal interactions with telemarketers as well as those of others who sent their stories to me. I wrote the book to show others, who are also fed up with telemarketers, some things you can do when they call.

How would you describe the book to someone who hasn’t read it?

I am sure that most people are fed up with receiving telemarketer calls. I bet even telemarketers hate getting calls from their own kind. My book is a weapon against these pests. It is a humorous collection of conversations that actually took place between the telemarketer and the victim that was called. If you are looking for a way to have fun dealing with telemarketers, this book is the one you want.

What has been your funniest exchange with a telemarketer?

Not to give away the entire “exchange,” let me just say that I pretended to be a detective at the home of the person the telemarketer called — in this case the telemarketer asked for me, Tom Sarc. I pretended that I was investigating the murder of Tom Sarc and asked questions indirectly accusing the telemarketer of being involved in the murder. The telemarketer became very upset and nervous. I believe that this is the most hilarious interaction I have had with a telemarketer and will use it again for future calls.

Have the number of calls you receive from telemarketers decreased since you started pulling pranks on them?

No. I didn’t expect them to. I have even gotten calls from the same telemarketers but probably a different person calling.

This isn’t your first book. In addition to the humor genre, what do you like to write about?

I write about what the “moment” or a “situation” puts me in. My first book was a humor book — ”E-Mail Letters From a WACKO!” — that actually started out as a serious book dealing with unethical practices of a former employer. From there I moved on to children’s books, teen horror, general horror and more humor. I even published a family recipe book titled “Dishing Out Delicious.”

How did you start writing?

I first started writing while in college.  I found that I was very good in literature and writing and received a lot of praise from my professors regarding my writing — both short fiction and poetry.  My very first published writing was poetry for various magazines and anthologies.

What books do you have in the works right now?

Currently I am working on a nonfiction “covert operation” type book. I also finished a children’s book about dogs and started a book about how to “beat the system.” I am also working on a book about a murder that took place on Long Island in the 1800s.

Are your books self-published?  

Yes, although I am in contact with some major publishing houses and literary agents who are interested in my work.

Any advice to those who want to publish their own books?

The first thing I would do is buy a copy of “Writer’s Market” and study what various publishers are looking for. The hardest part of writing is sitting down and doing the work. You have to invest everything you have into creating your book and that requires discipline. After you come up with an idea for the book, you write a sentence, then a paragraph and, if you are lucky, an entire chapter. Writing happens in little bits and pieces.  It’s a step-by-step process but it is not complicated.

Here are some steps to follow:

1. Decide what your book will be about.

2. Set a daily word count goal.

3. Have a set time to work on your book every day.

4. Write in the same place every time.

5. Embrace failure (not everyone can be Stephen King or James Patterson).

6. Don’t give up!

“Tom Sarc Gets Revenge on TELEMARKETERS” is available in bookstores, at and through the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

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Above, the author behind the bar at Mario’s in Setauket with a copy of his book

Reviewed by Kevin Redding

In writing his first book “Wednesday Night Meeting,” a large novel of connected short stories tackling a wide range of topics from religion to baseball to surrealism to poetry to minor traffic violations, East Setauket resident Louis L. Lasser IV set out to create something unconventional and personal, wanting to, in his own words, “write a book I always wanted to read.” It’s clear when speaking to the 38-year-old North Shore native that the unconventional route has always been his preferred one, and his book, made possible by a Kickstarter campaign and available now on Amazon and at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, is for those looking for something different.

The tap dancer-turned-math teacher-turned-bartender-turned-author, who grew up in Mount Sinai, got inspired in New York City, and spends his mornings writing and his nights serving drinks at Mario’s Italian Restaurant in East Setauket, recently spoke with me in the darkly lit, cozy restaurant about his upbringing, his complex relationship with religion, how film directors informed his narrative style and the influence Long Island and Manhattan have had on the book.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Mount Sinai going to dance classes, tap and ballet, because my mom was a ballet teacher. I would hide it for a long time and didn’t want to tell my friends. I actually ended up studying a lot, started playing [sports like baseball and football] less and dancing more … I quit football in high school just to tap dance, which my coach didn’t really understand or like very much. He was like “what are you kidding me, Lasser?”

I started at Cheryl Rich Dance Studio in Nesconset and then when I went to Adelphi University, they didn’t have tap programs so I had to take the train into the city to Broadway Dance Center and started taking classes from the world’s greatest tap dancers, Savion Glover, Omar Edwards, and it ultimately led to me dancing on stage with Gregory Hines several years later, so that was a big part of my life and it still is.

What did you study in college?

I was a math major. Then I taught math for 12 years in the private school system. I taught in the city (La Salle Academy), Southampton and then in Sayville at Prince of Peace Regional School.

What got you interested in writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I liked writing poetry and I learned that I could save a lot of money on mom’s presents by writing her a poem, putting it in a frame, and then she’d cry — which I knew was an accomplishment for a gift.

What did you like to write about?

Everything from appreciation for life and the crazy chance that we even exist to seeing the good and bad in things. A lot of it came to question religion and the role it plays and whether people really think about their religion or whether it’s a religion of convenience. A lot of my life has been about religion. My grandfather was a pastor, my mom taught me to question things and be very accepting, and my own readings led me to be very skeptical about a lot of stuff, so a lot of my life has been trying to figure out what religion means and the book tackles that.

When Prince of Peace closed, a lot of teachers got reassigned to other schools or private schools and I liked teaching but I didn’t love it and I always wanted to write and wanted to take on something bigger than poetry. I wanted to actually put a novel together.

What is your writing process?

I treat it like a job. Every morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. is writing time. The pen wasn’t on paper at 6 but I woke up, made the coffee, opened the laptop, started taking notes. For three hours, I had to “show up.” Sometimes it would be really productive, and sometimes you’d regret it. Sometimes I’d wake up and say ‘this week this chapter has to be done or I’m gonna punch myself in the head’ or force myself to take a cold shower for an hour. Set some punishments, which isn’t a bad way to actually motivate yourself. I’ve heard a good way is to take a terrible picture of yourself and give it to someone else and, if you don’t meet that deadline, they post that picture on social media, so you better get it done.

Tell me about ‘Wednesday Night Meeting.’

There are four main characters and they all start out with their own short stories that alternate throughout the beginning and then become a cohesive novel halfway through, and the story arcs of each character are based on math equations where they eventually will start separately and meet in the middle and then their lives are altered from there. That’s kind of the math teacher background playing a part.

One of the main characters is a poet questioning what’s going on with religion and the book takes place about five years from now and it’s after a big breach where everything embarrassing — any sexual history that you’ve had, search history, keystrokes — is out there and no one knows exactly who knows everything but it, in turn, makes most of America become religious to at least publicly atone to say “I’m not that bad, I’m not that terrible, I’m gonna correct my life.”

There’s this Mafia-like group [in the book] going after people that question God because people don’t like when you have questions in this fictional world [2020]. So the secret group DOC (Defenders of Christ) is going after artists, writers, and will do anything it takes to kill or suppress someone who has influence in raising other people to question their superiority. They’re going after the main characters, who are openly questioning it and don’t know they’re being targeted.

A majority of the book takes place in Manhattan. What is your relationship with the Big Apple?

Living out here on Long Island I’d see the city as a big beacon basically, the center of the entire universe. You have all the skyscrapers and all these things. My grandmother, who was an opera singer who sang for a radio station in Chicago, would take me in all the time to see Broadway shows and go shopping.

Every once in awhile she’d wake up and want to go to the city and have no one to go with, and my mom would say “Lou, do you have any tests in school today?” and I’d always say “no, never, of course not, I don’t even think they want me there today.” And she’d say “I was thinking it would be good for your grandmother to go with someone” and I’d say “I can make that happen.”

So I skipped out on several days of school to go out into the city, and had a really great picture of the city and I wanted to just keep going there. I’ve always held it in high regard and I frequently go there, for dance or just to go out to dinner.

Has Long Island influenced the book?

Oh, a lot. I could argue this area is one of the best places to live anywhere — we have beaches five minutes from us to drive down and do some writing, it’s a short train ride to the city if you need further inspiration. Bartending here you meet a lot of locals [and] they’re very encouraging. I think Setauket gives you the space to really think, it’s a great town to live in. I use Setauket as a place to write. Before I started working [at Mario’s], I was writing here at the bar. If I go anywhere, the locals will expect me to have a laptop and a book and a beer just doing my thing.

Who are your influences?

Outside of writers like E.E. Cummings and David Foster Wallace, I like the way Quentin Tarantino puts a story together. He doesn’t stay in the same timeline. Spike Lee also does some really cool things and tells things differently.

The book was self-published thanks to Kickstarter. Tell me about that.

I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route because I have no following … I’m a new author, and no publisher’s gonna say “let’s take on some guy from Setauket and bet on a book that’s really weird in layout with a lot of weird fonts.” I knew I had to do it myself and I figured Kickstarter would be a way to raise some capital for doing everything myself like editing, illustrating the cover, etc. There’s a lot of behind the scenes things that you don’t really think of that require money. I met my goal in about two weeks.

What’s next for you?

I have a really broad outline of what my next book will be about. The main character will probably be a tap dancer. I think I want to call it “Sky Ride Tap,” which is the name of a bar in Chicago under the Skyride, a World’s Fair exhibit. It’s just a dive bar but I want it to take place there so I’m anticipating going to Chicago in a few months and staying for a week, going to that bar everyday, talking to people, and figuring out how I can do it.


St. James author puts heart and soul in her first novel

Reviewed by Rita J. Egan

After 10 years of journaling, St. James resident, Cece Gardenia, recently published her first book, “Bringing the Inside Out: Peeling Away the Emotional Layers to Self Acceptance.” The fictional story based on her life centers around polio survivor Colette Aliamo, who throughout her life carries both physical scars as well as emotional ones from her disease and complicated relationships.

Cece Gardenia

In the book, Gardenia invites readers into the heart and soul of Colette who was diagnosed with spinal polio at 22 months in the 1950s. For a few years, the young child was required to use a brace and crutches and was in and out of the hospital until she was 11 years old.

The author delves honestly into the feelings of insecurities and anxiety that she was left with after beating the disease and the dynamics of relationships with family, romantic partners as well as others. Gardenia, who uses a pen name, hopes that readers will find their own path to wholeness, peace and joyfulness after reading her first literary venture. For anyone who has faced adversity in their life, they will easily relate to Colette’s battles with insecurity and anxiety that plagued her in life.

Recently, Gardenia took time to answer a few questions about her book via email.

What made you write this book based on your life experiences?

To offer the reader the idea that no matter what their struggles are, perseverance and the belief that their life can be altered for the best. I have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback from readers that say the story resonated for them and has put their challenges in perspective. Many can’t even imagine a child having polio nowadays. How do you explain what it was like for you as a child suffering from the disease? I felt frightened, isolated, deserted, lonely and often not physically well.

Describe the main character, Colette Aliamo?

Despite the hardships and feeling broken most of her life, she is a force of strength and defiance and is relentless in her beliefs to be true to herself, regardless of the consequences.

In your book, you discuss loss and fear but you also talk about healing and acceptance. What advice would you give those going through tough times?

Be strong in your beliefs and follow your true north. When you are authentic, you will never harbor regrets or guilt.

Was there anything you discovered about yourself while writing this book?

I realized how resilient I was, and how much more I healed than I initially thought.

You also write in the book how Colette learned from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that she had the “disease to please” syndrome. How did you overcome worrying about what everyone thought?  

It was learning to believe in myself through my experiences of wellness. Once I conducted myself in a positive vein, I noticed a transformation, not only of confidence but I earned the respect of others. I don’t know if I could have done it alone however. Being medicated has allowed me to be the person I always wanted to be. I am still myself but a more whole person.

How did you come to the decision to take medication for depression?

After many efforts and paths taken to find a way to alleviate my depression, I exhausted my options and took the advice of my friend.

However, you don’t rely entirely on medication. What other things do you do to treat your anxiety and depression?

I did find in the end that I did not have coping mechanisms to rise above my condition and knew that medicating myself was the only alternative left. There are times if I am overly stressed I feel a shift in my well-being. Along with the medication, I resort to yoga (deep breathing) and being present and mindful in the moment enough to overcome my anxiety.

I understand that the painting of the little girl on the cover is of you. Tell me the story behind it.

I had a photo of myself that had been taken when I was a little girl which I wanted to use for the cover, but the publisher would not let me use that because they thought the professional photographer might still be alive 66 years later and would have an issue with it. I hunted for other photos but none reflected what this photo did for me. It depicted my strength and defiance, as if I was telling the photographer, “Go ahead, take my picture!”

I was despondent and my husband tried to comfort me, but there was no answer to the dilemma. We went to bed that night, but I was awoken at dawn’s break by my husband. I asked him, ”What are you doing?” He said, “I am looking for your photo.” With a limp hand I pointed to the armoire and went back to sleep. That morning I found the photo of me on the kitchen table and right next to it was a painting of that image that my husband had copied. A gift of love.

Do you have any future plans to write more books?

I’m considering the idea but don’t want to work on something unless it’s something I think is worthy.

Is there a website where people can visit to find out more about you and “Bringing the Inside Out”?  

There is a web page under the name Cece Gardenia but no blog is set up as of yet ( The better access is through my Facebook page, Bringing the Inside Out, Peeling Away the Emotional Layers to Self Respect by Cece Gardenia.

Reviewed by Rita J. Egan

When Richard Specht lost his son Richard Edwin-Ehmer (Rees) in a tragic drowning accident in 2012, he asked his aunt for advice on how to deal with the insurmountable pain. Having lost two children of her own, she told him he could let the pain consume him, or he could transcend it and find something to keep the darkness at bay. When he and his wife Samantha discovered that those who offered help during their time of need wouldn’t allow the couple to do anything in return for them, the Spechts decided to take the aunt’s advice to heart.

The couple began performing small acts of kindness for others and set out on a mission to honor their son by making the world a better place. Their efforts soon turned into the ReesSpecht Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the importance of compassion and respect. The foundation has become known for its ReesSpecht Life cards that are used by those who perform random acts of kindness to pass on to the receiver in hopes that they will turn around and also carry out a kind act.

Rees Specht

The success of the foundation inspired Richard to leave teaching in 2015 and travel to schools with his presentation Cultivate Kindness. His hope is to teach youngsters the importance of compassion and deliver an important anti-bullying message to them as well.

When talking to children in grades K to 2, he uses the first book he has written, “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness.” Specht said he encountered many road blocks when he first approached publishers, but he eventually self-published it in 2014. The result of his determination is the heartwarming story of a little boy who performs one kind act that plants a seed that cultivates a chain reaction of compassion in his community. Complemented with vibrant illustrations by Adam D. Smith, the book is one that will teach children a valuable lesson in a delightful way and even inspire adults to stop and lend a helping hand.

To date the book, which is sold exclusively through the foundation, has sold over 10,000 copies and all proceeds go to fund the nonprofit’s scholarship fund. Recently, Specht answered a few questions about the book via email.

The main character in “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness” is based on your son who died tragically. How do you describe Rees to people?

This is a tough question because we only had 22 months with Rees. What 22-month-old isn’t sweet, loving, mischievous and full of energy? Rees was all of these things with every new day revealing a little more about him to us. When I wrote the book, I took those qualities I saw in him and tried to project what I felt Rees would be when he reached the age of the character in my book. The Rees in the book is the manifestation of the little boy I always envisioned him to be.

The book is an extension of your ReesSpecht Life movement. What does your organization do and how did it start?

The formation of the ReesSpecht Life Foundation is very similar to the concept of the book: It started with a little idea, a seed that kept growing with each kind act my family and I received in the wake of Rees’ death. My wife and I wanted to repay those acts of kindness, and no one would let us. We felt this obligation to do more than simply say “thank you” and grew frustrated that no one would let us pay them back. So, instead of paying people back, we decided to “pay it forward.”

The idea was to do 500 random acts of kindness and give each recipient a “ReesSpecht Life” card that had Rees’ caricature on the front and a little about his story on the back. We didn’t expect that once people received the cards they would want their own. Before we knew it, people were ordering cards from us, and we very quickly went through those 500 cards. That was almost four years ago.

Today, we have distributed 395,000 cards to every continent on Earth. In addition to the cards, the foundation now provides $1,000 scholarships for graduating high school seniors who show a commitment to kindness, grants for teachers to incorporate kindness into their lessons, meals and sundries for families suffering hardship, and we perform school assemblies to grades K to 12 to remind students of the importance of kindness.

What made you decide to write the book, and how would you describe it to those who haven’t read it yet?

Believe it or not, the idea for the story actually came about because of a problem we had with our original logo for the foundation. The first 20,000 cards we printed had a picture of Rees dressed like Superman on the front. We were informed that using the image of Superman, regardless of who was in the costume, was a trademark infringement and could cause legal issues.  We were devastated by this, and I struggled with how I could come up with a new logo that so perfectly fit our mission like the “Superman Rees” picture did. Then, out of the blue, the idea hit me: Rees loved tractors. It was one of the very few words he could use, and every time he saw one he would get excited and yell out “TRAKTA!!!” So, I realized that should be the focus.

The new logo was developed with Rees riding a tractor called Trakta, and the back-story just flowed from there. Rees, driving on Trakta, would cultivate kindness just like a farmer cultivates his crop. People responded so positively to the new logo that I realized there was something more there and I wrote the outline of a story focusing on Rees who discovers that kindness, just like the seeds he plants, can only grow if you do the things necessary to cultivate it. The book takes this idea that every kind act we do helps that “seed of kindness” grow. As the story progresses, we witness each kind act causing that seed to grow.

You use the book in your K to 2 presentations. What kind of feedback have you gotten from the children about the book?

The book is the backbone of our K to 2 presentations. I actually learned how to do 2D animation and developed an animated version of the book with sound effects that I use. When I present it, the children in the audience get to follow along as each kind act helps the seed of kindness to grow. There is nothing like hearing 200 5- to 8-year-olds exclaiming in unison, “grow seed grow!” Children seem to love it as they get to see that seed grow with each kind act.

In the book, Rees encounters other children. Are they based on people that were in his life?

Actually, the children in the book are indeed based off of real children, but they are not children Rees knew in his lifetime — but I hope he knows them now. All of the children in the book are actually based off the real life child-angels from parents who shared our pain and helped us through this difficult journey. Their particular stories in the book are actually based on their real life personalities and interests. For instance, the reason Kaylee is dressed similar to Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” is because that was her favorite movie. The same holds true for each of the children in the book.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to develop? 

Yes, this is the first book I have ever written. I actually wrote the outline for the story over the course of several nights while on a family vacation in Berlin, Germany. When we got home, I started writing the actual book right away. It took me about two months to get the story completed. Since I couldn’t draw, I wrote the book more like a novel, describing every scene as well as the dialogue. Once that was completed, I handed off the book to my illustrator Adam, who took my descriptions and turned them into the pictures you see in the book. All in all, the process took about 10 months from concept to our first printed copy.

Do you plan to write any more books in the future?

Originally, I had no concrete plans for any sequels. That changed when I got a call from a pair of Hollywood producers who got a copy of the book and asked me if I was interested in turning the ideas from the book into an animated series. They asked me if I had ideas for further stories, and I told them, “Of course!” They asked me if I could send them those ideas, and I got right to work developing a series of stories that build on the original premise of the first book.

Before I knew it, I had around 14 stories that would serve as the outline for the TV series, as well as my books. As of now, I have two more books completely written, and I am getting ready to send them to Adam for illustration.  In addition to those two books, I just completed the script for the pilot episode of the TV series, which is its own, stand-alone, story.

For more information about “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness,” the ReesSpecht Life Foundation, and its school programs, visit or

Clinton Kelly

BOOK SIGNING: Port Jefferson Station native Clinton Kelly will appear at the Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington on Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. The Emmy award-winning television co-host of “The Chew” will be signing copies of his new book, “I Hate Everyone, Except You,” a hilariously candid, deliciously snarky collection of essays about his journey from awkward kid to slightly-less-awkward adult. For further information, call 631-271-1442 or visit