Colleen Rae – Artist, Author, World Traveler

Colleen Rae – Artist, Author, World Traveler

colleen rae artist author

Suzanne’s Note: I met Colleen Rae at an Author’s Panel we participated in at the Fennville Library last fall. I’d known of Colleen before, having read her book, Mohave Mambo. A fascinating woman having lived a fascinating life, Colleen’s writing mirrors the intrigue and adventure with which she’s filled every minute. Artist, author, animal lover, Colleen is just interesting! Meet Colleen.

About Colleen Rae from her website: Colleen Rae began writing in her twenties when she started traveling around the world, keeping journals and travel diaries of all the exotic places she experienced.

She studied Creative Writing, Novel Writing and the Art of the Short Story with Guy Biederman, of Sebastopol, California, an extraordinary teacher and human being. The Fourth Street Writers, a group of eight women who read their writings around the San Francisco Bay Area, were her support group for many years.

Colleen and the Fourth Street Writers published an anthology of short stories, in 2004, entitled, Nearly Naked, by Wordrunner Press of Petaluma, California, Jo Anne Rosen, editor.

Colleen has written five novels; Mohave Mambo is her debut novel, also published by Wordrunner Press.

She has published several articles for dance magazines under her stage name, Kalifa. Recently she published an article in Bellydance Magazine, a tribute to her long-time dance instructor, Bert Balladine who passed away this year.

For the past four years she has worked as a Staff Correspondent for the Local Observer newspaper of Saugatuck, Michigan.

She lives in Western Michigan with her life partner, Larry, and her three cats,
Bubba Bear, Samantha, and Kali.


Colleen’s Books

I’m going to start with the Lola Raines’ books. I pray Colleen continues this mystery series! Who doesn’t love a belly dancer from Las Vegas running from the mob?

colleens-mohave mambo

Mohave Mambo is a fast-paced, adventure novel about an exotic dancer, Lola Raines, who must flee the mob in Las Vegas because she witnessed a murder and there is a hit out on her.  She hides out in a small rural town in Arizona, meets a cowboy, falls in love, starts a new life, all the while unaware that a killer is on her trail.

chihuahua colleen

Lola and Sherry leave the States and head for Mexico to throw off any possible hit-man that might still be after Lola. They visit Lola’s old flame, Lenny, and a new man, Clint, enters Sherry’s life. While dodging another assassin, Lola and her sidekick Sherry take a homeless woman and her five children under their wings. They open a soup kitchen in downtown Chihuahua and feed the women and children of the barrio. They are befriended by a police lieutenant, a university professor and two extraordinary men who are smitten with the girls. These new friends work hard to save Lola’s life.

colleen waterhole

Against a backdrop of Las Vegas in the 1970s, when the Mob was still in power, Looking For a Waterhole portrays four women, following their destinies in a town that was infamous for losers and addictions. From Native American stripper, Wanda Moon, to her Mob-connected boyfriend, Sol Wolfe, the adventures and suspense revolve around them as well as the other women in the novel: showgirl, Suzanne Cane, waitress, Violet Kandinsky and Ruby Songer, a topless dancer.

colleen shiloh speaksShiloh Speaks is the story of a captivating dog and the special relationship with his master. Shiloh tells of his human relationships with other dogs, cats, people with drama, intrigue, and fun.  He always returns to his life experiences in volunteerism as a Therapy Dog. If you love dogs, this book will tug at your heartstrings as you read about Shiloh, friend and confidant to humans of all ages. This is an inspiration to all who read it.

colleen love like a river

In Colleen’s Words

When I write I go to a place in my mind and heart where time does not exist. I believe that I write about journeys in life to which all human beings can relate. I hope that my stories strike a chord of recognition.

For eight years I was part of a writers’ group, the Fourth Street Writers, which brought me great support and connection with my peers. I am also a member of the Marin Branch of the California Writers Club.

An excerpt from my novel Mohave Mambo appears in Nearly Naked, a collection of stories about women who expose themselves both emotionally and spiritually. This book was published in December 2004 by Wordrunner Press of Petaluma and is for sale for $10.00. Contact me to purchase a copy by mail.

In 2005 I moved to the small town of Fennville, Michigan, where I write for a newspaper, The Local Observer. I also exhibit my paintings in the Timmel Collection in Saugatuck, the art mecca of western Michigan.

I’ve also written several articles for an online magazine, The Gilded Serpent, under my stage name, Kalifa. They are vignettes of my years as a professional belly dancer. colleen belly dancer

I have been a painter for thirty years. My paintings hang in collections from Paris to Tahiti. One of my paintings is shown here, below and a few of my other works can be seen on the “photos” page. Although painting is still important to me, these days I release most of my passion through writing.


tahiti colleen

An Interview with Colleen Rae


  1. How long did it take you to start writing in earnest once you knew that was what you wanted to do? I’ve been keeping a journal since I was ten. Started writing short stories in high school.
  2. Did you launch into self-publishing immediately or did you try the traditional route first?I tried for years the traditional route.  Had a film agent in L.A. interested in my first novel, Mohave Mambo. She tried to interest Indie film producers but to no avail.
  1. What was the most difficult part of the journey?Continuing to submit to publishing houses
  1. You have several books, including a series. Do you want to do a stand alone? Or are you compelled to continue your series? Or both?I wrote two books that were a series. I prefer doing stand alone books.
  1. Do you jump right in to write once you get an idea, or do you plan and outline?I jump right in – I never outline but the story has been percolating in my head for some time.
  1. 6. Where do you write? Do you have any rituals or necessities when you write? Is noise a hindrance?I write in my office/study at my computer. I put aside time every morning to write something. Sometimes I work on a current novel or write an article for the newspaper I contribute to every week. Noise is not a hindrance
  1. Do you write more than one piece at a time? What’s in the works now?Sometimes I work on more than one project at a time. I have a new novel almost ready to release. One Sausalito Summer, It takes place in 1963 in Sausalito, CA on a dry-docked ferry boat, The Charles Van Damne. A coffee house called The Ark was formed on the boat and musicians from all over the S.F. Bay Area came to play long into the night. Its based on a true story. I was there.  But I added a lot of fiction so it isn’t a memoir.
  1. What encourages you to write? Discourages? What do you do to motive yourself through the rough times? I have a need to write. It’s like the need to eat.  I have to do it almost every day. Nothing discourages me. I just sit down at the computer and write even if I end up deleting it. It’s important for me to get something written. I always feel good about sitting down to write.  It’s like a meditation for me.

Find Colleen Here





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