Category: Interview

A Conversation with Theresa Carcioppolo: Author of Can I Call 9-1-1 Now?

Theresa Carcioppolo  is a mom of three grown kids with an expanding family who works for Cobb 911 in Cobb County, Georgia.  She has been with the department for 6 years.  She also run a non-profit called Scaley Addictions where she shares her love of reptiles.

Join Turbo the tortoise as he learns when and when NOT to call 911.
Published: April 9, 2022

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

My 5 star review is here.

JRR: Tell us a little about yourself.

Growing up in Germany I always had a love for animals, furry, scaly and even the bugs had a place in my heart.   Fast forward I am married and mother to 3 boys all grown and in their 20s with 2 amazing grandchildren and one on the way.  My boys and grandkids all share a love for animals of all sorts.   I work for 911 in Cobb County, Ga and own Scaley Addictions which is a non-profit reptile rescue.  I joke how I save human lives by day and reptile lives  by night.  Outside of working and saving reptiles, bring them back to health, and adopting them out, we also get hired for parties and events which is how the majority of our funding comes in to help pay for supplies and vet bills.

JRR: You sound like a very busy lady, with the job AND non profit which I am sure is a full time job all on its own! Now, what made you want to write Can I Call 911 Now? 

Working at 911 I am on their CORE Team (Community Outreach Recuitment Education).  My focus is on kids.  But unfortunately we don’t have cool things to share with the kids such as K9, weapons, cool utility belts, cop cars, robots, etc.  I was already packing out libraries with our reptile shows, so why not bring 911 in somehow.  I realized quickly we have a ton of kids who call 911 (lets face it adults too) with non-emergency topics.  Lets bring to light these calls in a book and use my reptiles as the characters.  We talk about 911, read the book, and end with a reptile show.

JRR: That all makes sense! Bring your love of reptiles into the mix! And I’m sure the kids love your shows! How long have you been a dispatcher?  What made you want to become a dispatcher? 

It will be 6 years in November.  I was a girl scout leader for a huge troop in Dallas and one of the dads happened to be on the recruitment team for Cobb 911.  He said, “Ya know with a mouth like yours you’d make a good dispatcher”.  Of course at first I had to think, was this a compliment?  From there the rest is history, I applied and long story short here I am, now on the Tactical Dispatch Team, CORE Team, and a trainer.

JRR: He knew what he was doing when he mentioned that to you! And look where you are now! So, how tough is it to be a dispatcher? What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a dispatcher?

You MUST be resilient.   Folks are not calling us because they are having a good day.  We get yelled at and cursed at daily and hear some horrific things at times.  But as crazy as it sounds, I love that I get to help folks in their time of need no matter how great or small that need may be.  Being the calm voice that reassures them help is coming, walking someone through CPR, birthing babies, reassuring callers when they see their loved on having a seizure and now knowing what to do.  It is a job many forget exists.  They have to talk to us while they wait for the responders to show up.  We are the true first first responder giving aid before help arrives in person.

JRR: I’ve sat in Gwinnett County’s 911 center a few times and I know I couldn’t do it! Bravo for you and all your coworkers who do what most of us couldn’t! Keeping calm during an emergency, and calming someone else down so they can help and let you know what you need, that is something! I’m wondering, What’s your best memory working as a dispatcher? 

Walking a 9 year old through his grandfather having a heart attack and hearing him be so brave through it all.  He was the perfect caller and followed all of my instructions.  Then when responders arrived hearing him finally release his emotions because he knew his grandpa was getting help.  As far as other best memories, the great ones are always when I can take a frantic caller into a calmer mode to focus and know help is coming.  When adrenaline hits us, even the easiest things are hard to remember and its our job to help them understand the simple things again.

JRR:You are either made for the job or not. And you definitely are made for it! If you are able to tell us, what’s the craziest call you have taken? 

Unfortunately, most of those stories are probably inappropriate for the eyes of most readers.  We are so used to memory dumping that most of them we don’t remember.  We have calls that stick with us due to the horrible situation or what we hear.  Hearing someone take their last breathe on the other end of the phone, hearing shots fired, screams, the sobs of loved ones who just had a family member pass…. those are all things we have to be able to not get stuck on as PTSD is a real thing amongst all first responders including dispatchers.

JRR: Again, I have so much respect for you! Now, What can you tell us about the real tortoise named Turbo who is the main character in the book? 

Turbo is a female Sulcata tortoise about 5 years old.  She came to us with another sulcata half her size named SloMo.  Other than being awesome, we used a tortoise as there are not many people out there with a view of tortoises.

JRR: Turbo and SloMo… I love their names! 

Theresa and the real Turbo!

JRR: What would you say to someone about calling 911?

Location, location, location…… people think we can just ping there phone and that is not the case.  While we do have great resources, we can not track all phones by tower, so people need to be aware of their surroundings.  Also, listen to our questions.  There is a reason we ask what we ask.  Many folks don’t realize we can walk you through handling a seizure, helping someone having a heart attack, stop the bleed to tourniquet application, delivering babies and so much more.

JRR: Location… It’s so true! Often we get on autopilot and forget where we are. I was a victim of a hit and run about 1 1/2 years ago and couldn’t remember exactly where I was. I ran to the nearby neighborhood to get the street signs to tell the operator where I was . You believe I do my best to know and remember where I am!

You have a non-profit called Scaley Addictions. Tell us a little about that and what made you start it?

Having 3 boys it was natural they would be interested in some sort of fuzzy or not critter.  Being a scout leader for boys and girls for over 15 years I self taught a lot of  things through books, online resources, breeders, pet store owners, etc.  We got a bearded dragon and he didn’t look like what we had seen before and that’s when I first found out about MBD, metabolic bone disease.  This spiraled into learning all I could about a ton of different reptiles native and non.  Then folks would reach out to me about questions about anything reptile related, or to take in their animal they no longer wanted.  I also had some I personally wanted that I purchased myself.

Finally after having a bunch of animals, doing shows, etc I realized breeders were not the way to go but to help those animals that are not properly cared for, dumped outside, dumped at stores, left in abandoned homes and apartments when the owners move or they are just surrendered for many reasons as to why they can’t take care of it. Most the time they come in with issues needing to go to the vet and that person didn’t want to come out of pocket.

JRR: I’m sure a lot of people don’t think of reptiles as pets and/ or needing help! Do you have any events coming up in regards to the book and/or Scaley Addictions?

Yes, just go to our Facebook Page Scaley Addictions and look under Events. All of our events that are for the public are listed there.

JRR: You have events coming up very soon, as in next week! Please check out the events tab to see what Scaley Addictions has coming up!

Now…Do you have a favorite reptile? 

That’s like asking who is my favorite child…… Titan my rhino iguana, Bowser my Leopart tortoise, Sheldon my 3 legged red foot tortoise….. Yeah, I cant pick….

JRR: Oops! Sorry about that! Is there anything else you want to tell us? 

I’d love for folks to go and follow and like our pages on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube.  Also, anyone interested in volunteering there is a volunteer form on our website  or contact us if they are interested in donating towards our rescue for future patients that come in.

JRR: Thank you so much Theresa! Please check out her website and more!

Contact Theresa:
Instagram @scaleyaddictions
TikTok @scaleyaddictions
YouTube @scaleyaddictions


A Conversation with J. Brandon Lowry

J. Brandon Lowry is a former research scientist with a PhD in Molecular Biology. In 2017, he chose to leave the life of a scientist behind and pursue his dream career, that of fiction writer. Now he travels the world with his wife, and the two of them detail their adventures at the travel blog The Places We Live. He is also a Contributing Editor for Literary Tourism over at Open: Journal of Arts & Letters. Currently available work includes the flash fiction collection Finding My Voice and the serial novel The Exanthropist Chronicles.

Finding My Voice:

Publication Date: November 29, 2018
Genre: Flash Fiction Collection (literary fiction, horror, and science fiction)  
42,894 words/ 127 Pages  

A detective caught in the web of a seductive murderess. A young man discovering his roots through music. A world that is falling apart, literally. Finding My Voice, the debut flash fiction collection from J. Brandon Lowry, features 24 stories that explore life in all its complex and messy glory. An experiment in craft and style, this collection also features original artwork and personal reflections by the author. Each tale can be read in ten minutes or less, perfect for today’s fast paced world. Love, loss, joy, sorrow, the highest highs, the lowest lows, all brought vividly to life by an emerging voice in the world of short fiction.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room):Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a former research scientist with a PhD in Molecular Biology. In October of 2017, my wife and I quit our jobs, sold all of our possessions, and took on new careers as digital nomads. While traveling the world, I began writing and publishing flash fiction while working on my debut novel. The two of us launched a community for writers who want to strengthen their social media marketing skills, and I’m also an assistant editor over at Midnight Mosaic Fiction. You can find out more about our adventures over at our travel blog The Places We Live. 

JRR: What made you decide to quit your job and become a ‘digital nomad’? You have been in several countries, which has been the country that you most enjoyed? Which country was so different that you really had to adjust? What country are you most looking forward to traveling to?

It was an incredibly difficult decision. I found myself on a treadmill of sorts, where each step was meant to take me somewhere, only to find that I hadn’t really progressed. Neither one of us were living our ideal lives. With no house and no kids, there was no reason not to make a change and dedicate ourselves fully to chasing our dreams. 

We’ve met great people everywhere we went, but I think our favorite destination was Hua Hin, Thailand. It’s a tourist city on the Thai coast, but because we house sit on our travels, we lived in a small expat community outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown. It gave us the chance to really see what life was like, both for the locals and for the expats. Strangely enough, China required the most adjustment, even though we had lived in Shenzhen for a year in 2006-2007. That’s probably because it was our first destination, though, and we were still figuring out our new lifestyle. This next year takes us to Europe, where I’m most looking forward to exploring Spain. 

JRR:  What inspires you to write? 

I’d say it’s my love of stories. Books, music, movies, TV, video games, whatever the medium, if there’s a good story, I’m there. That ability to be transported to other worlds and experience other lives vicariously is absolutely entrancing, and the opportunity to provide that experience to others is just too good to pass up. 

JRR:  Who is your favorite author as an adult?

My favorite is and always has been Stephen King. At the age of thirteen, I found a first edition of Christine at a garage sale and bought it for a buck. That story of teenage life and having a love interest disrupt a friendship really connected with me and began my quest to read all of his works. 

JRR: Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up?  Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author? 

While I fell in love with Stephen King’s fiction, it was his nonfiction books Danse Macabre and On Writing that made me want to do it myself. That peek behind the curtain made me realize that he was just a person instead of this mythical, monolithic figure. It showed me that talent isn’t the sole ingredient to success, that it takes passion and diligence to work at the craft, a dedicated effort to improve and understand what you’re doing with your words. 

JRR:  What made you choose short stories for your first book?

Well, my wife actually gets credit for the idea. These stories have all been previously published, but taken together they represent my growth as a writer (hence the title). I attempted a bit of everything in an attempt to figure out which genres I’m best suited to, whether I fit more in the literary or speculative fiction world, and in just understanding the basics of storytelling. From there I organized them into three parts based on tone and theme, and enlisted the help of some artist friends to do the cover and section illustrations, and Finding My Voice was born. 

JRR:  What can you tell us about The Exanthropist Chronicles: Nightstalkers?

Nightstalkers is the first entry in a planned series of serial novels starring Vlad, the world’s only true vampire. The anhedonia of immortality has begun to set in, leaving him in pursuit of the last thrill left to him: murder. An assassin for hire, Vlad gets more than he bargained for when his last contract sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to end his existence once and for all. 

The concept for the serial is to release a new chapter every two weeks. The story has not been written in advance, so I’m more or less publishing the first draft in as close to real time as possible. Nightstalkers can be found on Medium at this link. 

JRR:  If you could have dinner with three people(living or dead) who would they be and why?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. As a fan of Roman history, I think I’d have to invite Julius Caesar, if for no other reason than to get his take on modernity and how the world has changed. I’d also invite Sam Harris, as I’m a big fan of his work on free will and the nature of consciousness. And just to throw a curveball, I’ll represent the literary world with Chuck Palahniuk. 

JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

There are actually quite a few classics that make this list. Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird... pretty much all the books that are supposed to be required reading in high school that I ignored. I mean, there’s gotta be a reason they get assigned, right?  

JRR:  Is there anything else you would like to share?

Finding My Voice is available from Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats. Interested readers can find more of my work over on Medium. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter

**Thank you for your time with this interview!**

Contact J. Brandon:
Twitter @jbrandonlowry


Blog Blitz: The Christmas Spirit

Today I am part of the blog blitz for The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan: I interviewed her! There is also an INTERNATIONAL giveaway going on for some ebooks. Be sure to check that out!

Book Description:

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

Buy The Christmas Spirit now:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Jessica. Well, I’ve written four books and am actually in the middle of two more. I live near Glasgow with my husband and two cherubs, one of each. I juggle the monkeys and my proofreading and editing business, although I now have a dedicated writing day, which should mean more books in the future.

I love the theatre, quiz shows, fine dining (well, food, generally!) and movies. Did I forget books?!

JRR: Did you always want to become an author?

Yes and no. I have written stories from an early age, but life has a habit of getting in the way. I actually wanted to be a linguist when I left school and went to uni and did a Masters in French and Hispanic Studies, then worked in European and International Sales for many years. When I was made redundant a few years ago, my then boyfriend (now husband) suggested I try to publish the book I’d been writing on holiday for about six years!

JRR: And now you have written four books with more to come! What inspires you to write?

Everything and anything. It can be a chance remark I overhear in a café or in a conversation with a friend. It can be a person. I have some clients who work so hard that they put me to shame and I think ‘right, no more procrastinating, I will write today’ or it can be the germ of an idea.

JRR: So be careful where you are in public, you never know who may overhear you and use what you say for a book! 😉 Now, what does your writing process consist of? Do you research, do you handwrite or type, do you have music playing or need silence?

I handwrite only when I am without my laptop. Yes, writing by hand is nice, but a) my writing is awful – like a doctor’s and b) it just means I need to type it into the laptop later. When I am out and about, I do use my notebook, but more for planning out scenes and capturing ideas. I research a lot. I hate inconsistencies and now as an editor of other people’s books that has become even more important for me!

I don’t usually have music on but if I do it’s classical.

JRR: What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Too long a list, but basically, write; write whenever you can; don’t give up; write what you love; write something you’d want to read. Don’t be afraid of not being good enough. There are ways to help you improve. No one gets it right first time.

JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult?

Hmm. I don’t really have a favourite as I can’t choose between my top four or five. I will buy any new release by Jill Mansell, Carole Matthews and latterly by Holly Martin and Cathy Bramley, but I keep finding all these new authors that I love.

JRR: Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up? Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author?

My favourite author was the late Maeve Binchy. Her books and the way she wrote lovely, warm characters inspired me to write. And Enid Blyton’s stories made me want to always keep my imagination and believe in the magical.

JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?

Rupert Penry-Jones (he’s lovely!), Queen Victoria (I reckon she was a lot softer than they made out) and Maeve Binchy (reasons above).

JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

Anything by Jane Austen and Dickens. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol.

JRR: What is it like to write Christmas stories vs stories that take place at other times of the year? Do Christmas stories seem ‘magical’ to you?

I love writing Christmas stories. It is funny though writing about snow and decorations and mulled wine in July. I do feel that Christmas sparkle and smile to myself as I write (I know I do, I can’t help it!). Christmas is about spreading goodwill and my characters tend to need a bit of help around Christmas, so it warms my heart to be able to make that happen for them. And I love writing about all the Christmas traditions around the world.

JRR: Where did you get the idea for The Christmas Spirit? Which character was your ‘favorite’ to write?

I think I had a dream that inspired it. Natalie, the protagonist, was my favourite, although I did love writing Stanley, the old man, and Meredith was such a horror! Loved writing her too.

JRR: What’s the best advice you have ever received?

You’ve only got one life so live it.

JRR: Is there anything else you would like to share?

There’s a second book out, related to The Christmas Spirit, aptly named Return of the Christmas Spirit. And I hope to release The Proposal and Just One Day in the first half of 2019, with perhaps a Christmas-themed book for this time next year.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope Santa’s good to you!

JRR: A second book! How exciting! And more from you in 2019! I look forward to it! Thank you for your time with this interview.

About the Author:

Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Contact Susan:
Website: Sooz’s Journal
Twitter @susan_buchanan

**International Giveaway!**

Win e-copies of Sign of the Times and The Dating Game:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.