Dec 2016 / Jan 2017

Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo Bernie LaFramboise

Much like any other starving artist, the career of a writer is associated with struggle and the luck of catching a big break. While there is no denying that becoming an established author takes hard work and commitment, Metro Detroit writers now have a little more than just luck on their side with Mad Hatter Publishing Inc. (MHPI).

“Our plan is to be a prominent boutique publisher catering mainly to women writers of genre fiction as well as non-fiction work,” Publisher Gia Cilento says. “We plan to grow our authors and projects over the next several years, creating a healthy portfolio of work.”

Started by Cilento in 2015, MHPI is Ferndale’s very own book and website publishing house. They will release their first works in 2017 and one of the authors you can expect to see is A.M. Paoletti. An Army veteran and the first LGBT author published by Mad Hatter will release her thriller Dark of Night in July of next year.

Cilento has worked in publishing for nearly 30 years and has a strong understanding of the struggles that come with the industry. In fact, her own writing led to the inspiration for the name Mad Hatter.

“In 2010, I was working on another online enterprise (Get Out And Live) and started a writing group based at Affirmations.” she says. “As a group we came up with the name – Mad Hatter Writing Group – established a Facebook group and met twice a month to discuss our writing endeavors, challenges, struggles, dreams, and other silliness that struck our fancy. The name felt like a natural when I decided it was time to pull the trigger on creating a publishing company.”

On top of MHPI, Cilento has been a life coach for 12 years, runs the website Greenify Nation, aimed at offering tips for living a environmentally-conscious life in memory of her stepfather and Minerva Press — a company guiding women interested in self-publishing.

“Minerva Press is the home for our publishing services for self-publishing Women Who Write. We provide coaching, editorial, creative and marketing services for those who wish to publish their work independent of a formal Author-Publisher relationship.” Cilento says.

For those looking for the help of a publisher, Mad Hatter is accepting new submissions but Cilento says preparation is key. This includes building an online presence and fan base, finding an agent and, most importantly, proving they are committed to the long process ahead.

“If a writer wants to have a career and be picked up by a publisher, the publisher will be looking for longevity,” she says. “In other words, we want to know that the author is committed to being around for a series of books and that their work is solid and deep enough to gather an audience.”
And for aspiring writers, she offers five pieces of advice:

First, Bravo! It’s not easy to pour yourself out onto a blank page.

Next, make sure your writing and story are done well. It’s okay for your first draft to be rough but be sure to polish it up before you present it professionally.

Network – online with other writers, writing groups, in-person if possible.

Research – find out which publishers and/or agents specialize in your particular type of writing, what’s working in the realm of author marketing, what kind
of cover would look best for your genre/type of book.

Market – everywhere you go, everyone you meet, there is a potential reader. Let them know what you do and what you’re working on in a personable,
engaging manner,”

And, most importantly, once you get started just keep going. “Keep going even when you feel like giving up,” Cilento says. “Keep going even if it feels like you’re slodging through knee-deep mud.”

By Maggie Boleyn

The holidays are just around the corner. Everyone has someone who is a little, well, challenging, to shop for. What if you could combine shopping while enjoying craft brews, sweet treats, music and giving back to the community? Check out the “Good Karma Christmas – Holiday Market and Party.”

Good Karma Club founder Muszall says, “The holiday season seems to bring out the best in people.  Everyone is feeling festive and looking for a way to give back to those less fortunate. The Good Karma Christmas -Holiday Market and Party is a way to celebrate and embrace that.  You can get together with friends, have a drink, and do some holiday shopping in a way that supports some of our amazing local non-profit organizations.”

This years’ event is Wednesday, December 7, so by the time you see this it may already be over. This year they are expanding to include a holiday market and unwrapped toys will be collected for the Judson Center. Bringing an unwrapped toy could boost your “good Karma.”

Karma, of course, is a Sanskrit word which, loosely translated, refers to a belief that whatever good (or bad) ff16666_gkc_teamyou do comes back to you, whether in this lifetime, or another. So, by doing something good, something good will happen to you, and vice versa. Whether or not you strictly subscribe to this belief, Good Karma Club certainly strives to do good for others through many local volunteer opportunities.

“The Good Karma Club is all about helping the local community and supporting great local non-profit organizations,” Muszall said. “It’s a great way to meet some like-minded people.”

Averaging more than 100 volunteer events per year, held at a variety of local venues means you should be able to find something to suit your abilities and schedule. “Since the Good Karma Club started in January of 2013, we have had over 300 volunteer events,” Muszall said. “Some of our regular volunteer activities include Forgotten Harvest, Motown Soup, and Everyone’s Garden among others,” she continued.

Like many community minded professionals, Muszall said she wanted to become more involved and volunteer, but had a difficult time finding and fitting in opportunities around a busy work schedule. “It was a frustrating and discouraging process,” she said.  “I figured that I wasn’t the only person in this situation. So, I wanted to create an outlet to make volunteering easier and more fun.”

Convenient volunteering hours are the hallmark of Good Karma.  “We do our best to make it convenient for our volunteers,” said Muszall.  “All of our Good Karma Club volunteer activities are in the evenings or weekends, and they don’t require a big commitment,” Muszall said.  “You just show up and work for a few hours with a nice group of people.”

Currently, 40 different Metro Detroit non-profit organizations participate with Good Karma Club. The current membership has grown to nearly 2,000 members.

The Good Karma Club Christmas and Holiday Market will be held at Loving Touch located at 22634 Woodward Ave in Ferndale on Wednesday December 7th.

In case you missed this year’s Holiday party, don’t wait until your next life to check out Good Karma Club’s other activities. Visit their online calendar for upcoming events at:

Muszall noted that, typically, Good Karma Club has several events each month. Find Good Karma Club on Facebook, or sign up to volunteer at

Story by Jill Lorie Hurst

Sneakers. Some of your might remember it as Stan’s or Delta Lady. I know it as Sneakers Pub, a small, cozy-looking place I’ve always wanted to step into, or answer the “help wanted” signs that appear occasionally in the window. Finally, this assignment gave me an excuse to stop in. Debbie Griffin and her longtime manager KT Buckner sat down with me to talk about Sneakers and about some projects that are very dear to their heart.

Sneakers has been a part of Debbie’s life for a long time. Her parents bought the place 27 years ago. Debbie remembers the grassy medians on Woodward used to be parking space back then. “How we could use that parking space now!”

Sneakers was strictly a sports bar, sponsoring many teams. Their early customer base was made up of the loyal factory workers from the Woodward Heights area and guys in local construction. Their customers become family, they mention Charlie, who’s been coming since the ‘60s. “Two names ago!” the friends laugh.

Their family has expanded over the years to include hipsters, businessmen, moms looking for a place to gather. “You get everybody here” agreed Griffin and Buckner. They have a “very diverse clientele” and a close-knit staff. Owner and manager are both mothers of three. Debbie’s co-owner is her older brother Dave Cantrall. Dave, Debbie and KT are all Ferndale residents and have witnessed the explosion of change and growth over the years. I asked how they feel about the changes, and Debbie was quick to reply that the influx of new business is a help, not a hardship. KT admits that she got a little nervous when clubs started springing up around them, but Debbie reassured her that the new businesses would just bring more people to the area and to Sneakers.

Debbie credits her staff with a lot of the bar’s success. She says they’re busy “because of my girls” and firmly states that she couldn’t do it without them. The staff not only keeps Sneakers going, they participate in the bar’s fundraising benefits, cooking for a pot luck dinner that was held last Summer, a “Christmas in July” to gather supplies for the folks down at Cass Park.

How did they get involved with Cass Park? Debbie’s face lit up as she talked about her neighbor and friend Noel Briggs. She and Noel sit outside drinking tea and talking and the talk often turned to Cass Park. Debbie told me that Noel “makes about a hundred sandwiches” and heads down to Cass Park every other week to help out the area residents in need. Noel’s brother is involved too. He fixes up bicycles and donates them to neighborhood residents. A bike can be a lifesaver if it helps you get to work.

Debbie and the Sneakers family were anxious to get involved. There was the Christmas in July. And they are holding a coat drive, collecting men’s women’s and children’s coats during September and October. They do other giving as well. Last Fall, they learned about a struggling family in the area, and quietly decided to adopt them for Christmas. The mom didn’t want anything for herself, but gave them a list of needs and wants for her children. Debbie, KT and company provided gifts, a tree and decorations. This holiday season they’ve partnered with Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The Snowpile program allows parents of sick kids to choose gifts for their child without having to leave their bedside. Stop by Sneakers and pick an ornament with a gift idea, then bring the new, unwrapped gift to Sneakers before December 14th and they will deliver the donated gifts. They do their work quietly, but always welcome help.

Debbie insists “We’re a tiny puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things”. To me, they are representative of all that’s great about Ferndale. When you’re in the neighborhood, stop in at Sneakers Pub. Donate a coat if you can, or find out about the Christmas adopt a family project. Have a burger or some chili. Watch football on Sunday and enjoy some free half time food at Ferndale’s neighborhood bar.

Sneakers Pub is located at 22628 Woodward, just south of 9 Mile. You can find them on Facebook and you can also find more information about events at Cass Park on Facebook at “MCHR Sundays in the Park.”

By: Rudy Serra

Q: MY SISTER IS IN A LOCAL HOSPITAL and will probably go to Hospice. The senior apartment building where she lives won’t allow me to get into her apartment to get a few things she requested, such as her purse and keys. What should I do?

A : First, I’m sorry to hear you’re running into these difficulties. Often families are faced with a sudden emergency before a family member does much planning about pet care, prescriptions, mail and other details. The answers may vary depending on many factors. For example, in this case, you reported that the doctors claim your sister is “competent.” If so, then she can still sign documents that would allow you to enter her residence. If she has not signed a Health Care Power of Attorney, and is still competent, many hospitals have the forms. You might consider asking her to sign some of those important basic documents before it is too late to do so.

If a basic “permission slip” won’t suffice for the landlord, you could get limited power of attorney that allows you to enter the residence while your sister is hospitalized. A competent adult has the right to sign contracts, and even has the right to refuse medical care. The key is competence.

If a competent adult tells their landlord to allow a family member to enter their apartment, one can usually expect compliance. Sometimes a written authorization is desirable to help create a “paper trail” and spell out liability. And photographs may be a good way to help safeguard against pilfering.

If a person resides in a federally-subsidized or regulated building, they may change locks and prevent entry if a resident dies without instructions. Such facilities usually have the residents provide a list of family members to allow entry in case of emergency. They encourage residents to have wills and other documents ready in the event of an unexpected occurrence. Emergencies are often easier when the building manager and the tenant’s family already know one another.

If your sister is no longer competent, you need to get a doctor or psychologist to put it in writing. Once a treating doctor, or psychologist, concludes that a person is not competent to make their own decisions, then you could ask the Probate Court to appoint you guardian. Guardianship involves responsibility for the day-to-day care, medical decisions and so on. Sometimes a power-of-attorney includes a clause that nominates the person holding it to become guardian if guardianship is necessary.

By Ferndale Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt

The 2016-2017 school year is off to a great start! We’ve had so many exciting things happening around the district, it is hard to pick just a few to highlight! We look forward to more positive and impactful things and events happening throughout next semester as well!

Our Ferndale High School Golden Eagles Marching Band headed to Ford Field in early November to defend their state championship title. With a score of 91.65, the Golden Eagles clenched their second straight state championship title, bringing their total number of state championship wins up to nine over the last 13 years.

In addition to an overall win the Golden Eagles won all three caption awards; Out-standing Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, and Outstanding General Effect. While it is wonderful for the band to have earned their 9th State Championship in the last 13 years, “I am particularly proud of this year’s band because over a third are first-year marchers, and yet the group as a whole ‘showed up for work’ every rehearsal and got incrementally better each time. That’s hard for any group to do, even far more experienced bands,” said Marching Band Director Elon Jamison

The Ferndale Eagle Football team also had an impressive season, finishing out 7-2 and making it to the State Playoffs! The Eagles went head-to-head with Detroit King at the end of October and, although they lost the game, the journey getting to that point is one worth noting. When Coach Royal started with Ferndale, there was waning interest in the program and as a result he had to move all interested junior varsity players up to the varsity team. Those 10th graders who moved up two years ago are the biggest reason for the team’s turnaround this year. “This 2017 class have set the bar high; they set the expectation for success. The three years they spent as varsity players taught them a lot. Through their hard work and preparation, they have shown the underclassmen what it takes to be successful,” said Coach Royal.

Coach Royal was also recognized for his work by being named “Coach of the Year” for Region 16 by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

By Jeannie Davis

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GO into the Holiday Season without reflecting on things past. Happy times with our families around us. Children’s faces, unwrapping gifts, the faces of old friends and relatives, kitchen smells, and of course, the happy chatter of a full house. Of course, not all memories are happy. Some are dramatic and life-changing, as the birth of a child, marriage proposal, men home from the war. Some are incidental, as your husband struggling with an oversize tree, the flushed face of your mom coming in from the cold air, a secret glance across a room. Some are sad: the first Christmas without a loved one, the pain of Christmas in an unhappy home, being alone during this happy time.

This is all well and good as memories go. But, we know that as human beings, we have many many more memories, which do not fit into any of the above categories, and it could possibly be that we enjoy these even more than traditional ones. Casual outings and trivial chats which don’t seem memorable, yet, we find ourselves looking back with fondness. These are the memories we should indeed treasure, not the obvious staged Norman Rockwell images.

We need more of these. We need to create and store more of these unintentional happenings. After all, they say that our memories form a large part of who we are. They provide the coloring and flavor of our personalities, and strongly influence our outlooks.

But, what if our memories are unhappy? What if our childhoods were more Grinch than Norman Rockwell?What then? Simply make more! Create new happy times. Focus on positive friends, and even make new ones, interact eagerly with others, try new ventures.

That is not to suggest that we feverishly run about at-tending every event, talk to each person who crosses our path, or open our doors to the world. We need to be in the middle. Be open without being frantic. Let’s face it, some of us can get out and do things more than oth-ers. This limits our chances of having new experiences, or making new friends. What to do about this? Then we focus on what we can do and not what we can’t do.

Focus! That may be the key to those small, unplanned memories. I have discovered that by paying close attention to what is happening in the moment, observing everything around me at the time, listening, hearing, and even smelling. I stay in the moment. I don’t let my mind stray to what I have to do later, what happened that morning, or any other distraction. Stay in the conversation, not planning on what you are going to say, listen. Focus on the sights around you, decorations, how people are dressed, soak it in. Think about it, you will never be here in this moment again.

I find that by completely absorbing everything in front of me, my memories are fuller, and more frequent. Recently, Joyce, Virginia, and myself attended a gallery showing and lecture at the DIA, no big deal, just a pleasurable afternoon. In the gift store, I watched Joyce happily examine each article as she marveled at it. From a distance in the gallery, I noticed Virginia studying the costly tea and coffee services, and shake her head. At lunch, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on what we had just seen.  All the way home, we chatted happily about the afternoon. I know that this will be a warm memory. And I am so happy I focused on every detail. So, let’s go out and make new memories. Pay attention to all the lovely things around you, all the people, and engage. Merry Christmas.

By: Kim Hart, Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce

IT WAS A TERRIFIC TIME to move our offices! The Ferndale Area Chamber (FAC) is now tucked inside of the Credit Union One (CUO) building at 400 E. 9 Mile Road, Fern-dale. Positioned almost directly across the street from our previous facility, we can be found on the main floor, to the immediate right of the front lobby. The FAC occupies space within the CUO building. On most days, the Chamber hours of operation align with the financial institution’s daily operations and observation of holidays. With thanks to all our Sponsors—especially our Presenting Sponsor, Gage Products Company—the 2016 “Our Local Flavor” Gala was remarkable. With over ninety donated silent auction items, eighteen restaurants, and hundreds of people in attendance, the evening was a night to remember. Among many deserving people who helped make the Gala happen this year, we extend our warmest gratitude to Carol Jackson, owner of Bits N Pieces Business Solutions for reaching out to so many businesses for participation.

As the ‘Biggest Event of the Year’, this event helps maintain the Chamber as a vital organization; serving our Members and their businesses. Be-cause the Ferndale Area Chamber is member-funded, we’re pleased that the event’s outcome was well-received by the community. With delicious food vendors and fantastic volunteers who contributed to the event’s success, members and non-members alike en-joyed the evening’s sights and sounds. Delightful and delicious, the 2016 Gala was certainly flavorful. The event was hosted at The Rust Belt Market, and featured live entertainment by Sean Blackman. “I am pleased that so many wonderful people came together.” Said Kim Hart, Executive Director of The Ferndale Area Chamber. “It was a special time of year for us.”

A GUIDE TO THE FERNDALE area is now in production! This directory is an exclusive resource that includes member contact information, city maps, profiles and photographs of our business community.  Night Cry Graphics, located in Ferndale, has been designing and assembling this publication. Night Cry’s dedicated work and commitment is much appreciated. Slated to be a handsome page turner, be sure to look for the 2016-2017 Guide Directory to hit the stands soon. Aligned with continuous updates to our website and database, we are also opening up Marquee reservations for 2017 on 9 Mile Road/Woodward Avenue this month. Together with discussions of membership packages and Social channel promotion, we aim to serve our members by providing a chance to get their voice heard by the community.

WITH SEVERAL QUALIFIED APPLICANTS who submitted their name for consideration, the FAC is in the middle of our Board of Director elections this year. Excited by so many great and interested parties, we look forward to announcing the results of the vote at our December meeting.

By: Jeff Milo, Circulation Specialist

Winter reading challenge for kids of all ages: Expanding and developing youth literacy is a round-the-year-job, so the Ferndale Library is starting sign-ups for its first winter-time reading program, on Monday, November 21. Ferndale’s Youth Services Librarians received a record number of participants during their Summer Reading 2016 program, so now they’re encouraging kids of all ages up to Grade 12 to take advantage of their time away from school work during upcoming winter breaks to have some fun with recreational reading. The Ferndale Library invites kids to take their Winter Reading Challenge. Running Dec ember 1–December 30, the FADL Winter Reading Challenge requires 15 minutes worth of reading for at least 15 days of the month. Librarians will provide each young reader with a fun, interactive log to color in for each reading session. When fully completed logs are turned in during the last week of December, kids/teens can receive a free Chipotle gift-card or a free book (their choice). Three days of programing wraps up Winter Reading starting December 28 with a theater workshop presented by 4th Wall Theatre Group. On the 29th, it’s “Full Steam Ahead,” with hands-on exploration stations and then a matinee mock-New Year’s Eve for kids on Dec 30th. Call the Kids Corner for more info: 248-546-2504.

Looking to revive your holiday decorations and zazz up your present wrapping? Do you have rolls and rolls of wrapping paper at home that still works, but you’re longing for a fresh patterns after so many years? On Saturday, December 17, the Ferndale Library is hosting a holiday/wintertime swap of varying decorations, where people can drop off and trade their paper, bows, bags and other decorations with other patrons. This event coincides with our ongoing Crafternoons program (always on the third Saturday of the month). Come for the swap from 2-3 PM and stay for other crafty events, including a bow making station where you can learn how to make new and fancy types of bows. There will also be a hot chocolate bar and other crafternoon activities like sewing and knitting. Come make some new craft-loving friends and find new wintertime trimmings.

The Library’s Art & Exhibition Committee unveiled it’s latest exhibit, “Urvakan,” a collection of drawings and paintings by Berkley-based artist Mark Benglian. The art will be on exhibit at the library until January 14. Benglian’s work focuses primarily on intuitive mark-making and storytelling. The images he conjures can be whimsical and haunting at the same time, while working in almost a trance-like state with a captivating milieu of muted tones, curious/unique entities and transfixing collages.