Bobbing Around

Volume 2, Number 1. July, 2002.

Archived at

Bob Rich's rave


About Bobbing Around with Submission Guidelines.
   Conquering Agoraphobia
   Depression: you can fight back
   'The Bare Bones Synopsis' by Beth Anderson
   'How Not to Continue a Series' by Bob Rich
   'What is Literary Fiction?' by Savannah Lawless
   'The Changing Life of Piza Circle' by May Lenzer.
   'Information Economy Boom Obscuring Earth's Decline' from World Watch Institute
   'A Christian's Dilemma' by Sally Odgers
   'A Measure of Success' by Marlies Bugman
What My Friends and I Want You to Know
   Me of course
   Liz Burton
   Yvonne Harris
   Zumaya Publications
Letters From My Friends
Internet Resources
   Mailwasher fixes spam
   Check your grammar
Book Reviews:
   CARtoons by Andy Singer
   Strawbale Homebuilding edited by Alan Gray
   Anxiety Disorder Workbook by Mary Ellen Popkin

   Bhutan is a small kingdom rising from the plains of India to the snow-capped Himalayas. The Bhutanese call it Druk Yul, land of the thunder dragon. Bhutan is one of the ten "least developed nations" according to the United Nations. It is surprising therefore that there is little sign of malnutrition, people are well clothed and there are no slums or shanty towns except for the dwellings of temporary road construction workers.

   (I've lost the source)



Conquering Agoraphobia.

   Some people are imprisoned by fear. 'Agoraphobia' means 'fear of the market place', but this is actually misleading. The fear may be associated with various objects or events. It may be accompanied by 'panic attacks'. The true defining characteristic is a great reluctance in leaving a 'safe place' like home. Some agoraphobics are able to travel between home and work, and feel safe in both places, but react with extreme fear to being almost anywhere else.

   Agoraphobia is perhaps more crippling than any other emotional problem. It tends to be very resistant to treatment. Many sufferers become addicted to prescription or illegal drugs in attempts to use medication to fight the restraints of agoraphobia.

   Shame is often a secondary complication, particularly for men who are expected by society's norms to be 'tough'.

What causes agoraphobia?

   Agoraphobia is a continuum rather than a discrete state of being. In early stages, the sufferer will avoid certain situations, but is able to enter them when necessary. Gradually, this becomes more and more difficult, and also the number of feared situations grows until, in an extreme case, the person is completely housebound.

   In many cases, agoraphobia is a development of having suffered a series of panic attacks. In other cases, it is the natural extension of one or more specific phobias.

   The best way to understand agoraphobia is to regard it as a habit of emotion. For whatever reason, a person experiences intense fear. This feels so terrible that it induces avoidance behaviours. The well-understood psychological principle of stimulus generalisation applies, and situations, activities and even thoughts associated with the fear become fear-producing themselves. Once the habit of withdrawal from the feared situation becomes established, it takes over.

How to conquer agoraphobia

   Before a cure can be attempted, it is necessary to deal with secondary issues: alcohol, drug or medication abuse, feelings of shame and guilt, relationship issues caused by the stress an agoraphobic's problem places on relatives and friends. In many cases, the person will have been on prescribed sedatives or tranquillisers for years, and a medically supervised regime of detoxification may be necessary. There is little hope of defeating agoraphobia while the sufferer is chemically dependent, because treatment pivots on learning how to face fear rather than to run away from it (physically, or by taking a pill).

   In my opinion, chemical control of fear is contraindicated in the case of agoraphobia.

   As with all other anxiety disorders, the key to a cure is exposure. Other anxiety disorders respond well to exposure in imagination [see Bobbing Around number 1]. This is not the case for agoraphobia.

   A cure requires training in the acquisition of courage: courage to enter currently terrifying situations. This is least difficult to achieve if the sufferer has a close friend or relative who can be trained to become a 'co-therapist'. The general technique is systematic desensitisation. The sufferer is taught a set of skills for turning off the sympathetic nervous system. S/he devises a ladder of fearful situations, from least threatening to the most threatening s/he wishes to be able to face. The first step may be no more than standing at the front door, looking out at the street. The last step may be to sit at the table of a busy outdoor café, alone but surrounded by strangers, and stay there for half an hour.

   At first, both the therapist and 'co-therapist' accompany the sufferer on journeys into fear. Eventually, the person is to go solo.

   Cognitive therapy needs to accompany the behavioural treatment: an examination of the thought patterns associated with the fear. The therapist helps the sufferer to probe for negative self-beliefs, which are then cast in testable form. The sufferer then performs imaginal or real-life experiments to test these beliefs. This has an extremely powerful effect in improving feelings of self-worth, and to equip the person with the courage to face fear.


   Assuming that the complications of agoraphobia have been dealt with, a thirty-year history of intense anxiety can be conquered in as few as ten sessions, although 'relapses' can be expected during times of stress. Other sufferers may need weekly sessions over three or four months.

   The main facilitator of a swift recovery is the presence in the family of a caring, intelligent person who can continue to act as co-therapist long after treatment has been terminated. This can be spouse, parent or even child of the sufferer, or a close friend who lives within easy walking distance. In a number of cases, a co-therapist was effective though only available over the telephone.

   Relapse prevention needs to be built into therapy: a set of activities to be used when (not if) the fear returns.

   A person who suffered agoraphobia over an extended period will probably never be entirely free of occasional bouts of anxiety. However, the sufferer's life can be released from its prison, and can return to be, and stay, well within normal limits.

A few references

Barlow, D. H. & Waddell, M. T. (1985) Agoraphobia. Ch 1 in Barlow, D. H. (Ed) Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual New York: Guilford.

Rosenthal, T. L. & Rosenthal, R. H. (1985) Clinical stress management. Ch 3 in Barlow, D. H. (Ed) Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual New York: Guilford.

Rich, R. (1999) Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias. Burbank, Canada: Zumaya Publishing. Available in electronic format at

Wilson, G. T. (1995) Behavior therapy. Ch 7 in Corsini, R. J. & Wedding, D. (Eds) Current psychotherapies. 5th ed. Ithaca, Ill.: Peacock.

Depression: You Can fight Back

   I received the following cry of anguish:

Hi Dr. Rich --

   I'm a 28 y/o suffering from depression -- I have a HUGE familial tendency for depression (my brother, maternal aunt and maternal grandmother have all committed suicide). I've been on meds for 13 years (9 years of 150 mgs Zoloft per day).

   Until now, this treatment has done wonderful things for me. However, I recently lost my job and now cannot afford the meds. Are there any resources from which I may be able to receive free medication for a few months?


   My reply to her will be relevant to a great many people. One person in five is subject to depression nowadays, and all too many of them are kept on prescription medication for an indefinite period.

Dear Kate,

   Your letter makes me want to cry, because people like you have been conned by the pharmaceutical/medical industry.

1. Heredity is not a life sentence. Those people in your family may have committed suicide, but that does not mean that there was anything wrong with them. Their personal makeup was the result of a complex, organic interaction of heredity and experience. One of the strongest forces on children is 'modeling' on adults. You might well be depressed more because that was what you learned as a child than because of the genes you inherited.

   This DOES matter: learned habits can be changed. Genes are harder to modify.

2. Drugs will NEVER make your depression go away. They work by deadening the relevant emotions, not by removing their cause.

   I think antidepressants are only useful in one situation: when a person is so depressed that she can't think straight, has zero motivation, is completely unable to cope. The drugs can bring a person up to a level where she can work on the problems underlying the depression.

   But if you don't do the therapy, you are hooked on the drugs for life.

3. Cognitive therapy has an 85% success rate for depression.

   Unfortunately, Zoloft has nasty withdrawal effects. You can't just stop taking them. You need to go to your doctor and start on a medically supervised program of withdrawal. And you need a therapist who can do cognitive therapy with you.

   Then, you can beat this monster that has been torturing your family.

   It is possible to defeat depression. I was as bad as anyone you know for about seven years of my life. I have it well under control now, and so can you.

All the best,

Responses to Past Issues.

   The writer of the following email asked not to be identified:

Dr Rich,

   You don't know me, but a friend of mine passed on your newsletter to me. I was very interested in what you wrote about visualization helping you with your damaged shoulder. I suffer from migraines two, three times a week and then everything has to stop. I can't think, I can't bear lights or noise. This has broken up my marriage, and has lost me several jobs although employers are delighted with my work when my head is not coming apart.

   I can predict when a migraine is about to hit me. I start to see funny colors and get a little nauseous some time before. So, the next time this happened, I lay down on my bed and imagined an angel standing over me, and smoothing my brow with her soft hand. And the migraine didn't come. After about an hour I could get up, and get on with my day.

   Thank you. Please subscribe me to your newsletter.

What My Friends and I Want You to Know

Me First!
Elizabeth Burton
Yvonne Harris
Zumaya Publications

Bob Rich

   First, as usual, a special offer. Buy any one of my books, and I will send you, absolutely free, a copy of any other of my titles that is available in electronic format. This offer won't last forever though!

   If you are interested, go to where all the books are listed.

   Second, I am revising my contacts pages and They may well list your web site already. If so, please check that the information is current, and correct. Get back to me with any necessary changes.

   If you are a writer, psychologist or someone offering a service to one of these professions, your web site SHOULD be on my relevant contacts page. Send me the information -- and, in payment, place a link to my web site.

   Connectivity is what the web is about.

   Third, I feel fortunate, being an Australian. Over three months ago now, I injured myself in a silly accident, and have been receiving 'sickness benefits' from the Government. Not every counrty is so caring. I am slowly getting stronger, exercising under medical supervision, and anyway the injury doesn't affect my typing or my brain cells.

   Fourth, in fact I am offering a new service. As an editor, occasionally I get sent a manuscript that is thoroughly lacking in the basics of English. The content of the book may be great, some have been extremely worhtwhile projects, but it takes me more than twice as long to do the job, and it is a CHORE.

   So, I have decided that I need to double my fee for such books. However, I can offer an alternative: I am willing to give detailed comments on a 3000 word passage, send it back, then do the same for a second 3000 word passage, which has hopefully benefited from my previous comments. The cost? $US50. If you are interested, look at the relevant page at my web site.

   Um, what was the next number? :) Zumaya Publications have now published in paperback three of my books, with three others racing towards release. The available titles are Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias (my highest seller in North America), The Start of Magic and The Mother's Sword.

   Tasmanian artist Marlies has been commissioned by Zumaya to make a new cover for Sleeper, Awake, which is ready for re-issue as soon as she is finished. (The book is still available in electronic format from Anina's Book Company.) I have completed the next volume of the Stories of the Ehvelen. This one is different from the others. It's title is The Making of a Forest Fighter, and I hope to get it ready in time for the EPPIE awards. And I am working my way through the trilogy The Travels of First Horse, formatting it ready for paperback publication.

Elizabeth Burton

   I would much appreciate if you could let folks know in your next issue that my fantasy serial, The Ugly Princess, which began running last October in The Wandering Troll, will be moving to an email newsletter format beginning in June.

   After much dithering (I have resisted starting a newsletter because I hate writing about myself.:)), The Ugly Princess and Other Tales is now officially accepting subscribers at .

   We'll begin June 3 with chapter nine and I'll be sending a chapter a week until we're done. The first seven chapters are currently archived at the group's home site and I'll add #8 at the end of May for those who haven't been following it in The Troll.

   The Ugly Princess is set in a world more like that of the 18th or early 19th centuries than the traditional medieval setting and tells the story of a young woman kept locked in a mountain keep all her life who suddenly becomes a queen. In actual fact, however, it's the story of those around her for whom she has been little more than a rumor, and how they discover what you see isn't always what you get.

Thanks again! Liz
Elizabeth Burton

Yvonne Harris

   My latest book, For Honor, the EPPIE 2002 Thriller winner published by New Concepts, is out and about. The first chapter is up at Its heroine, Maggie Dixon, is an assistant professor of psychology at a small Texas college. While working in Spain for the summer, finishing up research for her doctorate, she becomes an "accidental hostage." The EPPIE blurb reads:

   I write contemporary stories of romance and danger, based on real events in real places. For Honor takes place in Spain and is based on the discovery that the Spanish government was masterminding murders, kidnappings, and bombings of its own citizens. This brought about the collapse of the government in 1995. In the story--as in real life--the catalyst is the revelation of the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberacion--GAL--a secret government team of hired killers, whose purpose was a worldwide hunt to assassinate the leaders of ETA, the violent Basque separatists. (Shades of Al Quaeda.)

   For Honor is my second book and--fingers crossed--under consideration by an independent producer. If you can use the announcement, I'd appreciate it.

Yvonne Harris (Who writes as Y. L. Harris because her print publisher was afraid men wouldn't buy war stories written by a woman).

Zumaya Publications

   Zumaya Publications, a British Columbia-based publisher in paperback and Adobe PDF ebook formats, announces their new releases for July and the addition of several talented people to the editorial staff.

   Lady of the Knife, an alternate history-style fantasy by Janet Miller, tells the story of a woman who turned her back on love only to discover it where she least expects to find it-in the middle of a kidnapping and rescue.

   Dreams of Darkness: Book 1 of The Everdark Wars, by Elizabeth Burton, is a bend-the-rules fantasy novel Nancy Shibuya at Inscriptions Magazine said "...shows tremendous promise as a series..." and author Annette Gisby called "...the sort of book you get lost in and forget there is actually a real world outside of it." Two reluctant young people discover they have a destiny that will force them to confront a being powerful beyond comprehension. But how do you stop a god?

   As timely as tomorrow's headlines, Tom Baldwin's new thriller Firestorms pits a vengeful LA cop against a South American terrorist in a chase across most of the Western Hemisphere.

   All three titles and the rest of the Zumaya catalog are available through Booksurge. For more information about the above, other published titles and upcoming titles, visit:

   Author/editor Elizabeth Burton of Austin, TX, has been named to the newly created post of editor-in-chief and acquisitions editor, supervising a staff of six and assuming the responsibilities of selecting the titles that will join the Zumaya catalog of quality reading. A native of Pennsylvania, Burton has worked as a book and copy editor for a number of electronic and small press publishers since beginning her freelance career in 1998. Coming from a background of nine years of journalism and several years in public relations for a Pennsylvania health care system, she eagerly adopted the new industry of electronic publishing.

   "I'm excited-Zumaya is a publisher that has in a short time acquired a 'stable' of extremely talented and creative writers," she says. "I foresee a great future both for them and for the company and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of it."

   Burton will also join the six members of her editorial staff in working with authors to polish their work for publication. Three of those members are recent "acquisitions."

   Australian journalist and fiction writer Dave Field has a long-term background in science and technology and has been employed in medicine, civil engineering, marine pollution research, marine and aquatic science areas with several government departments. He's is published regularly nationally and internationally, mainly in subscription magazines dealing with science and technology. He has a permanently packed travel bag.

   EJ Gilmer has been writing and editing for nearly two decades. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts cum laude, she has practical experience as the editor of two corporate and one national newsletter; a reporter/editor for a community newspaper; editor-in-chief of a regional women's magazine; instructor in oral and written communications at the local college; and creative director at a radio station. EJ has also been editing e-books for nearly five years and has enjoyed a stint as a managing editor developing individual books and multi-book projects. She loves working to polish a manuscript to its best and has had the honor of watching books she has edited win major e-prizes.

   Stefany Sekellick taught herself to read when she was four. Given that early start, it's no surprise she developed an eye for what makes a good book good. She has done copyeding for RFI West, Inc., and Wings ePress as well as freelancing. A native of Pennsylvania, she now resides in Montague, MA, where she is earning certification in computer networking.

   Zumaya is proud to have Marlies Buggman aboard to assist Martine in the creation of covers. Marlies, a talented painter using traditional medium, creates wonderful acrylic paintings and drawings. She is currently working on a number of Zumaya projects, some of them illustrations for children's books Zumaya has acquired. Marlies, originally from Switzerland, now lives on a farm in Tasmania with her husband and pets. Marlies draws a lot of inspiration from her surroundings and Tasmania's native animals, but is equally as good at painting other projects. "I am very happy to not only have a great writing partner, but now an artist partner as well," says Martine. "Marlies and I create our independent projects, but we also work well as a team when we have to blend traditional with digital." "I think this is so exciting," Marlies told the publishing staff. "Even more so because I get to paint and draw what I love most."

   Zumaya founders Tina Haveman and Diana Kemp-Jones continue their quest to make the company a forerunner in today's changing publishing world. Their efforts are echoed in the Zumaya motto-"Opening doors to the creative mind."


May Lenzer
World Watch Institute

The Changing Life of Piza Circle

by May Lenzer

   The Florida Redbelly came up from the creek to lay her eggs on the sandy berm of the roadside last Saturday. Got her picture. One big momma. I placed her gently in the soft sand, but she was gone when we returned. The grader has been working for the past two days, and if she laid her eggs, they have been smothered or crushed, never to hatch.

   For years, the history of Piza Circle, Bayou George, was written in its sand. Bird tracks, like those of the "one-footed bird" I found embossed there one afternoon, the staccato scurries of lizard feet, complete with the tail drag, occasional deer prints and the small cleft print of young 'piney woods rooters', as our wild hogs are called. Cats, dogs, opossum, raccoon, squirrels, armadillos and rodents, even the meandering tunnels of fire ants, moving to new quarters were left behind. The "S" motion of snakes on the move, sometimes really big ones, told the observer which way they went. The footprints of neighbors and families recalled visits to the mailbox, an evening stroll, food and plants shared and exchanged just because we were neighbors, or to take care of the ailing; conversations; old Grace's small feet going back and forth to her daughter's so she could burn her leaves and twigs to keep the yards clear of reptiles.

   After the rain, leaves shaken from trees and shrubs were left on the damp sand of the circle, raindrops still glistening on their faces. Fodder for a camera lens.

   The native Americans who lived here centuries ago left behind an assortment of broken pottery, arrowheads and game pieces, and after our torrential northwest Florida rains, traces of the ancient culture are uncovered, moved along by rapidly disappearing freshets and left for the sharp-eyed to collect and appreciate. I suspect there was an encampment here. I am told that these ancient people forsook the creek banks and moved slightly inland so that they could survive the onslaught of hungry mosquitoes at dawn and dusk and live in relative peace.

   The pavement will cover the vein of gray clay that runs in front of my property down one side of the road. It's a wide vein. Last year I collected some and made a small , crude bowl, firing it in an oak fire in the yard. It is not beautiful. In fact, it's very plain and you would find it ugly. But it is functional. The clay is coveted by local potters and one, Rosemary Lane, a Creek, fashions beautiful pieces from it with graceful lines and incised native American motifs.

   One prized artifact in my collection caught my eye after a rain. It looked like a mushroom. The rain had washed it clean and it seemed to grow on a small stalk of sand, which the curved dome of the shard had protected. This "mushroom" grew in a patch of cladonia and cladina, members of the reindeer moss family on the roadside next-door. The potter who created it so long ago decorated its smooth surface with a crosshatch design. A few weeks ago in a soft rain, we walked the circle with friends who found several pieces of a small vessel nestled together where it had been dropped.

   In a week or two, Piza Circle will have a new look. A state grant made it possible to pave six miles of Bay County. And what the residents sought here originally - life in the country, life less frenetic - will be taken away. Our street never flooded; never got muddy; never became impassable. It's high enough to drain its rainwater into the ditches or percolate as nature intended to eventually find its way into Deerpoint Lake, its final destination. Since there's been a Florida, this small pinpoint of land, now of an elevation just less than 20 feet at the center of the circle, has been draining off rain into the creeks or allowing it to trickle down to replenish the aquifer. Now with a fresh coat of asphalt that will absorb and reflect the intense Florida heat in a way the sand never did, the circle's formerly innocuous rain runoff will leach its carcinogens into the Econfina and Bear Creeks through the network of culverts and deepened ditches and right into Panama City's drinking water - the water of Deerpoint Lake; its fish already so contaminated with mercury that limiting their ingestion is recommended by the state.

   Makes no sense to me. This is not progress.

   With the new ribbon of pavement, our Piza Circle will lose its character, its community and its soul. A small dirt circle in rural Florida has been lost and with it, its living history, written daily on its sandy page.

   But this is an election year. And I guess that's all there is to say.


   May Lenzer is a freelancer/author/naturalist. Her first book came out in May: Waltz on the Wild Side: An Animal Lover's Journal published by HAWK Publishing Group

   She is currently very pissed off at the paving of her lovely country circle, on which she has lived since 1989 with donkeys, a horse, many more dogs than most people have in a lifetime, cats, exotic birds and occasional wild beasties that she rehabilitates..

Information Economy Boom Obscuring Earth's Decline

from the World Watch Institute

I urge you to read, and think about, this report. Your life could depend on it.

   The fast-evolving information economy is affecting every facet of our lives, but it is environmental trends that will ultimately shape the new century, says the Worldwatch Institute in State of the World 2000, its first report in the new millennium.

   In the United States, the rapidly growing information economy has created millions of jobs and helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average of stocks from less than 3,000 in early 1990 to over 11,000 in 1999. "Caught up in the growth of the Internet," said senior author Lester Brown, "we seem to have lost sight of the Earth's deteriorating health. It would be a mistake to confuse the vibrancy of the virtual world with the increasingly troubled state of the real world."

   "When we launched this series of annual assessments in 1984, we hoped that we could begin the next century with an upbeat report, one that would show the Earth's health improving," said Brown. "But unfortunately the list of trends we were concerned with then-shrinking forests, eroding soils, falling water tables, collapsing fisheries, and disappearing species-has since lengthened to include rising temperatures, more destructive storms, dying coral reefs, and melting glaciers. As the Dow Jones goes up, the Earth's health goes down."

   The biological impoverishment of the Earth is accelerating as human population grows. The share of bird, mammal, and fish species that are now in danger of extinction is in double digits-11 percent of all bird species, 25 percent of mammals, and 34 percent of fish.

   Local ecosystems start to collapse when rising human demands on them become excessive. Soil erosion has forced Kazakhstan to abandon half its cropland since 1980. The Philippines and Côte d'Ivoire have lost their once luxuriant stands of tropical hardwoods-and the thriving forest product export industries that were based on them. In the United States, the rich oyster beds of the Chesapeake Bay that yielded over 70 million kilograms per year a century ago produced less than 2 million kilograms in 1998.

   And still the pressures build. The projected growth of world population from 6 billion at present to nearly 9 billion by 2050 will exacerbate nearly all environmental problems, especially since almost all this growth will come in the developing world where countries are already struggling to manage the effects of their rapidly growing populations.

   Another trend affecting the entire world is rising temperature. Record-setting temperatures in the 1990s are part of a twentieth-century warming trend. Just over the last three decades (between 1969-71 and 1996-98), global average temperature has risen by 0.44 degrees Celsius (0.8 degrees Fahrenheit). In the 21st century, temperature is projected to rise even faster.

   Rising temperatures are melting glaciers from the Peruvian Andes to the Swiss Alps. The two ice shelves on either side of the Antarctic peninsula are retreating. Over roughly a half-century through 1997, they lost 7,000 square kilometers of ice. But then within a year they lost another 3,000 square kilometers. Scientists attribute the accelerated ice melting to a regional temperature rise of some 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1940.

   Signs of melting are everywhere. In late 1991, hikers in the southwestern Alps discovered an intact human body, a male, protruding from a glacier. Apparently trapped in a storm some 5,000 years ago and quickly covered with snow and ice, his body was remarkably well preserved. In 1999, another body was found in a melting glacier in the Yukon Territory of western Canada. "Our ancestors are emerging from the ice with a message for us: The Earth is getting warmer," said Brown.

   One of the less visible trends shaping our future is falling water tables. Although irrigation problems such as waterlogging, salting, and silting go back several thousand years, aquifer depletion is new, confined largely to the last half-century, when powerful diesel and electric pumps made it possible to extract underground water far faster than the natural recharge from rain and snow. Report co-author Sandra Postel estimates that the worldwide overpumping of aquifers, which is concentrated in China, India, North Africa, the Middle East, and the United States, exceeds 160 billion tons of water per year.

   Since it takes roughly 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this overpumping is the equivalent of 160 million tons of grain, or half the U.S. grain harvest. In consumption terms, the food supply of 480 million of the world's 6 billion people is being produced with the unsustainable use of water. If all countries stabilized water tables this year by eliminating overpumping, the world grain harvest would fall by roughly 160 million tons, driving grain prices off the top of the chart.

   "Environmental decline is often seen as gradual and predictable, but if we assume this, we are sleepwalking through history," said report co-author Chris Bright. "As pressures on the Earth's natural systems build, there may be some disconcerting surprises as trends interact, reinforcing each other and triggering abrupt changes."

   For example, in October 1998, Hurricane Mitch slammed into Central America and stalled for more than a week. Nightmarish mudslides obliterated entire villages; 10,000 people died; half the population of Honduras was displaced and the country lost 95 percent of its crops.

   Global warming and the more destructive storms associated with it may explain why Mitch was the fourth strongest hurricane to enter the Caribbean this century, but much of the damage was caused by deforestation. If forests had been gripping the soil on those hills, fewer villages would have been buried in mudslides.

   Another large-scale example of trends reinforcing each other can be seen in the Amazon, where the forest is being weakened by logging and by clearing for agriculture. As the Amazonian forest dwindles, it dries out. As it becomes drier, it becomes more vulnerable to fire.

   The fire feedback loop is also affected by forces outside the region, such as higher temperatures. By burning large amounts of coal and oil, the United States, China, and other countries may, in effect, be burning the Amazon.

   "Economic euphoria may lead us to ignore trends that have the potential to reverse progress," said Brown, "from HIV/AIDS in Africa to falling water tables in India. While the world economy is booming, the HIV epidemic is devastating sub-Saharan Africa, a region of 800 million people. Life expectancy-a sentinel indicator of progress-is falling precipitously as the virus spreads. Before the onslaught of AIDS, life expectancy in Zimbabwe was 65 years. In 1998, it was 44 years. By 2010, it is projected to fall to 39 years. Other countries, such as Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia, are experiencing similarly graphic declines."

   Other trends also have the potential to reverse progress. In India, one of many countries where population is outrunning water supply, water pumped from underground far exceeds aquifer recharge. The resulting fall in water tables will eventually reduce irrigation water supplies, threatening India's food security. Unless New Delhi can quickly devise an effective strategy to deal with spreading water scarcity, India-like Africa-may soon face a decline in life expectancy.

   In a surprise finding, the study reports that the number of people who are overnourished and overweight now rivals the number who are undernourished and underweight, each group containing roughly 1.2 billion people. Other chapters assess the issue of persistent organic pollutants, the future of paper, the information economy, micropower technologies, and environmental job creation.

   "The two big challenges in this new century are to stabilize climate and population," said Brown. "If we cannot stabilize both, there is not an ecosystem on Earth that we can save. Everything will change. If we can stabilize population and climate, other environmental problems will be much more manageable."

   Stabilizing population quickly depends on couples holding the line at two surviving children-an achievable goal. Some 34 industrial countries have already reached population stability, and several developing countries are approaching it, including Barbados, China, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

   The challenge is to move from the U.N. medium level projection of nearly 9 billion in 2050 to the low projection of 7 billion. We know the keys to stabilizing population-providing universal access to family planning services and educating girls and women.

   Stabilizing climate means replacing fossil fuels with wind, solar cells, and other renewables. Today the world gets a fifth of its electricity from hydropower, but this source is dwarfed by the potential of wind. Three U.S. states-North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas-have enough harnessable wind energy to supply national electricity needs. China could double its current generation of electricity using only wind.

   Previews of the new energy economy can be seen in the solar electric roofs of homes in Japan and Germany, the wind turbines dotting the Danish countryside, and the new wind farms in Spain and in the U.S. states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Texas.

   Restructuring economic policymaking to incorporate environmental issues will not be easy. But some progress was made at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle in early December 1999, when some 50,000 demonstrators challenged the WTO's preoccupation with economics at the expense of environmental, labor, and human rights issues. By the end of the five-day collision between the ecological principles of sustainability and the economic theory of comparative advantage that drove a half-century of trade negotiations, the WTO was in full retreat. "It remains to be seen what the long-term effect of the demonstrations and the strong public opinion that they represented will be," said co-author Hilary French. "But one thing is certain: the environment is now on the international trade agenda."

   "The scale and urgency of the challenges facing us in this century are unprecedented," said Brown. "We cannot overestimate the urgency of stabilizing the relationship between ourselves, now 6 billion in number, and the natural systems on which we depend. If we continue the irreversible destruction of these systems, our grandchildren will never forgive us. As the report notes, 'Nature has no reset button.' "


Beth Anderson
Bob Rich
Savannah Lawless

The Bare Bones Synopsis

by Beth Anderson

   Beth has written the best exposition of the nature and purposes of a synopsis that I have ever read. The full text is over 3000 words. You can read it at With Beth's permission, I have extracted the barest essence of her advice.


   A synopsis is a selling tool for your book. The part you're trying to sell at this point is your plot, not your writing style.

   Your grammar has to be good, and it has to be tight. No editor is going to wade through page after page of beautiful prose searching for your plot, and almost nobody who is writing one for the first time really understands this.

   The first thing you need to know before you even begin writing your synopsis is your lead characters. These people are your story, and whatever motivates them to do what they do is integral to it.

   All of your protagonists should want something different, because this creates conflict. There should be roadblocks which the lead characters create themselves because of their own emotional baggage. This is inner conflict, and all that goes back to knowing who they really are and what they really want. External conflict is any conflict caused by other people or events. But internal conflict, which your protagonists always create for themselves without being aware of it, is what drives your plot, especially when you're writing a romance. Mainstream characters also have goals, what they want, which in a mainstream novel, is called "stake". You always need to know what's at stake.

When should you write the synopsis?

   You should write it before you begin your book. I know that's a pretty sweeping statement, and I realize there are authors who don't plot their books, but there are too many pitfalls for the new writer associated with starting out blind.

Who uses a synopsis?

   First, you use it to plot your book. Then, the acquisition editor uses it to decide whether or not she wants to buy the book--if she can get it past marketing. Finally, once the book is bought, the marketing and promotional staff at the publishing house use it to write your book cover blurb. So it's your job to keep this synopsis as tight and uncluttered as you possibly can.

What is the real purpose of the synopsis?

   Simply put, the purpose of the synopsis, to the acquisition editor, is to determine whether or not you have a solid plot, and whether or not it's something they might want to take a look at. That's it.

What should not go into the synopsis?

   The purpose of the synopsis is simply to let the editor know exactly what your book is about. The action. What your lead characters do that causes something to happen, what happens as a result of that, how they resolve their initial problem as well as all the other problems that crop up during the book. Nothing more, nothing less. The bare bones. That's really all they want to see at this point in time.

SO--what does go into a synopsis?

1. What happens at the beginning.
2. What your lead characters want. What problem they're each trying to solve.
3. What escalating roadblocks, both external and internal, you've set up to prevent them from getting what they want.
4. What happens at the end. How they solve their problems.

   First-- determine, in one sentence, exactly what your book is about. You'll be asked this same question many times by people who don't have all day to sit there and listen while you waffle around over what it's really about.

   Second--Write one sentence describing your beginning. If you leave out all the fluff and just describe the action, you can do this in one sentence. It's crucial that you do this, and in only one sentence, because on a one page synopsis, double spaced, you won't have that many sentences to spare. And, as an aside, many publishers ask for one page on purpose, to eliminate the clutter I've been telling you about.

   Third--Write one sentence describing your ending. Most of your dramatic action will come at the ending, but leave out the drama for now and just write what happens at the ending, the very climax of your book. And none of that "they both lived happily ever after" stuff. You want some real action here.

   Now, in between your beginning and your ending, write your major points of action. What happens, action by action. Roadblock by roadblock. And only hit on the major points of action between your lead characters for now.

   So having done that, you'll have only the high spots of what happens between your lead characters to get them from A to Z. Save your one page bare-bones synopsis as, for instance, onepage. Then, with the document still open, save another copy of it and call it threepage.

   Start adding in more detail to fill in those three pages, just a little more about the action you already have, if you have room, and more action points. More roadblock points. Only things that are really necessary, given this three page limit. Leave out all descriptive phrases.

   Stop at three pages, and save it as threepages. Keep that one open and save it as sixpages. You're doing this completely backwards from any way you've ever thought about before, and it's working. That's because you're doing it logically, from the inside out.

   You can do this any number of times, always remembering to save at one, three, six, eight, ten, twelve pages, however many you want, never changing the initial details that were on each page, because every time you embellish these pages into a larger synopsis, you want all of the prior details to remain the same on all copies. That way, your synopses will all say the same thing and be the same story, except that there will be more in the longer synopses.

   A couple of notes: I'm not saying write the actual beginning here; remember, this is a synopsis. You need one sentence that will describe the action in the very beginning, i.e., whatever the most important aspect is of your beginning. This is going to give you an added benefit. Too many times we start books with pages and pages (and more often than not, chapters) that don't need to be there, when we should be starting with action. Just doing this part of this exercise will tell you exactly where your book should begin, once you have to consider what your beginning really is.

   For instance, in a synopsis you don't want to say something like, "Jack drives down the highway and notices the beautiful red and gold sunset off to the west." That's not action. That's not your beginning. Now, if Jack happens to hit someone with his car while he's gazing at that sunset, and the results of that action are what your book is about, then you have a different situation. There's a reason for the sunset in this case. But in this case your first sentence should be something like, "While driving on Highway 101 toward Los Angeles, Jack, while watching the sun set, hits and kills the new wife of a top west coast mobster." See the difference? You're off and running. You started with real action.

   The same thing goes for your ending. "John and Marsha sit on the swing on her grandmother's back porch discussing their wonderful future together," is not an ending. It may be the way you wind up a short epilogue if you need one, but it's not the ending of what John and Marsha went through to get to that point. No matter what happened during the book, may it be murder and mayhem, or sloughing through the Everglades to find out who Marsha's real father was, there is a definite point where all their problems are solved. And it should be some action. That is your ending, not what happens afterward.

   Okay. Time to try it out. And let me know how you make out, okay?

How NOT to Continue a Series

   The author shall remain nameless. The cover screamed 'HIS NEW BESTSELLER'. I was short of both time and reading matter, and the genre is one I enjoy from time to time: naval fiction from the Napoleonic era. So, I grabbed it off the library shelf.

   Inside, I found out that this was the twenty-fifth book in the series. Must be good.

   First I was treated to an editorial from the author, sketching the naval situation immediately after Napoleon's defeat. Oh well, it was only a little over a page long.

   Then the hero started musing about events from his past, obviously the author giving me necessary background. Not very exciting, but fair enough -- except that it went on, page after page. And then we switched to a second character, who also mused about the past, his own and the hero's.

   I am overly persistent, and read on. We switched to a third character, and guess what he was doing? Yawn.

   It occurred to me that this was an opportunity for some research: how much longer can a best-seller book go without any excitement?

   Thirty-five pages. That was the end of chapter 1 (way too long), and during all those pages, nothing much had happened. A ship set sail.

   Then at last, at the start of chapter 2, we were in a storm. Only, by now I had been thoroughly conditioned to be bored, so my reaction was 'so what'. I never got through chapter 2.

   Maybe a best-seller author can get away with it. Maybe his fans know to go straight to chapter 2, skipping the rehash. Just the same, to my mind, this is a self-defeating technique. Readers who know the story don't need to be endlessly oriented. New readers will react like I did, and probably never get to the fun bits (I am assuming there are fun bits, or else how did he get his books published in the first place?).

   Well, what else could he have done?

   How did he do it in the first book? Presumably, that was not about our hero as a newborn babe, or even a Midshipman. He was most likely a dashing young Lieutenant, gaining advancement. And anyway, even a newborn baby has background.

   I haven't read the first book to have been published in the series. I imagine it was gripping, and quickly captured the reader. Otherwise, how did the author ever get it accepted by a publisher? I imagine he gave background as needed, through dialogue and action, and occasionally through reporting the thoughts of various characters. I am sure he did not spend page after page on just this last device.

   That is a good way of introducing the first book into a series, or a stand-alone book. It is an equally good way of introducing the twenty-fifth.

What is Literary Fiction?

by Savannah Lawless

   The idea that "good writing" belongs only to "literary" works is, I believe, a misconception. "Good writing" alone is not what makes a story "literary." Rather, the literary story contains multiple layers of meaning. A mystery novel, for example, generally contains a surface story (the whodunit), and that's it. The essence of the story resides in the surface plot.

   A literary story, on the other hand, generally contains a surface plot, a larger (often "universal") theme represented metaphorically through characterization and action, and smaller "themes" involving extended metaphors that help the reader decipher the universal theme. In a literary story, the surface plot is not the "be all, end all" of the story. In fact, the surface plot often cannot be taken at face value at all. The reader must attempt to figure out how the surface plot and extended metaphors serve the larger theme of the story.

   Let's take Vladimir Nabokov as an example, because he's my favorite literary author. Nabokov writes "reflexive" stories, which means that certain points or "markers" throughout the story correspond directly with other points that came before and still others yet to come. So, when Humbert Humbert appears in a climactic scene near the end of "Lolita" dressed in white shorts, the reader must thumb back through the pages to find other instances where Humbert was wearing white shorts. What was he doing? What was going on, metaphorically? How do all of these scenes relate to each other? In asking these questions, the reader can try decipher what Nabokov was trying to say with this work. (Incidentally, Nabokov said "Lolita" was a novel about his "love affair with the English language." Interesting....)

   And this is precisely why I enjoy reading (and to a lesser extent, writing) literary fiction. Because the stories are, as Nabokov himself put it, "Elegant puzzles waiting to be solved." They work on a surface plot level, but they reward the reader who takes the time to contemplate and unravel the other layers of meaning within them.

   So, while "good writing" certainly is a part of what makes a story "literary," it's not the main defining characteristic.


Elizabeth Hanes writes as Savannah Lawless. She is a professional copywriter and award-winning humorist with a passion for literary fiction. You can find her work at and

Sally Odgers
Marlies Bugman

A Christian's Dilemma

by Sally Odgers

   Look after one another. Do not take things that don't belong to you. Do not harm other people, nor wilfully let them come to harm. Love and respect the one who suggests these rules.

   Most reasonable people would have no quarrel with the rules-for-living above. It's some of the other rules that cause the problems.

   We moderns reject some of the rules because they conflict with our own desires. The attitude is roughly this; If my neighbour's wife likes me better than him, but the dog won't give her a divorce, where's the harm in having a fling?

   In other cases, we reject rules because they fly in the face of human nature, or seem suicidal. As someone trenchantly observed, the meek do indeed inherit the Earth - a whole six feet of it. And how often can you go on turning your cheek once your violent companion has broken your cheekbone? Give him or her a chance at the other side? Encourage him or her to think it's OK to act that way?

   Then there's the evangelical side of Christianity. Spread the Word! Tell others what we have learned! That's what Christians are *supposed* to do, and yet most reasonable people (yes, the same ones from Para.1 above) agree that some other folk would have been happier and healthier if the 18th and 19th C missionaries had left them alone.

   We are told we should respect all cultures and mind our own business. Yet doesn't that conflict with that rule that says; "do no harm to others, nor wilfully let them come to harm"? Could we stand by and watch while an Aztec (adhering to his culture) sacrificed a dozen teenagers? Or while one group of people oppresses another just because their culture says that's the right thing to do?

   Some Christians try to respect the beliefs and cultures of others while still adhering to such Christian tenets as we can while not impinging on the rights of others to adhere to their own tenets. And the awkward and complicated structure of that sentence is a metaphor for the difficulties of this stance. "Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk"? But we mustn't Talk the Talk. That doesn't show respect for the beliefs of others. Let's Walk the Walk then. Let's hope others see the walk and Want what We're Having.

   Alas, the effect is just as likely to be that others will see the Walk and pity us for not wanting what they're having.

   There's a Christian's dilemma, but Heaven help us if it ever ceases to trouble us. Then we'll be blind indeed.

   Saly Odgers has become a wonderful friend, though I've never met her. If you want to fill some time with enjoyment, visit Her book Candle Iron has recently won a major prize. She has written more books than any other author I know.

A Measure Of Success

by Marlies Bugman

   What is your idea of success? A job with a pay cheque that will buy you all the things you want in life: latest car, stereos, trip overseas once a year, eating out at least twice a week, a house in the glitziest neighbourhood?

   Or perhaps just to survive from day to day, winning the argument with your spouse every now and then, having the poker machine spit out a beaker full of coins for the weekly pension allowance you already fed it?

   There are many more ways of measuring success. The word itself would have several billion different interpretations, depending on how many people agree with one another. A big game hunter in Africa would have a different explanation to the rice farmer in Thailand.

   How about - being the best possible at what you really want to do?

   Success then becomes not a tool to create a pedestal for oneself, but a tool for inner strength; a confirmation of the chosen path as being the correct one for the person - to carry on with renewed strength and focus.

   This 'measuring' of your own personal success can be applied in any and all facets of life. Instead of measuring your personal success by how many people applaud you and look up to you for something you did or didn't do - measure it by how it makes you feel when the applause has died down.

   Can you go to sleep with a smile on your face knowing that your inner Self, the essence of you - your Soul - was allowed to shine through and guide you to accomplish a goal which you had until then only dreamt of? Or do you lie awake at night, dreading the next day because you don't know whether you can repeat the performance?

   Fear is not a measure of success - it is a measure of failure. If you fear losing your audience, your admiring peers or your position in the society, then you have failed in succeeding. Success is being content, happy, secure in the knowledge of your own ability and strength - as well as your shortcomings. There is no point in ignoring your shortcomings, if you do, they will ultimately become failure's tools.

   But first you must learn to listen to your inner Self, your true identity. For most people that is the biggest hurdle to success. Peer pressure, role play in society, ancient teachings turned into corrupt dogmas and other outside influences all scream so loud that your own inner voice is incapable of getting its soft words heard.

   People who go to sleep at night with a smile on their face have succeeded in hearing their inner voice; they can sleep soundly in the knowledge that they are well and truly on their way to becoming the best they can possibly be - at what they love doing.

It's a great feeling - take my word for it!

   Marlies Bugmann is a Swiss born artist and live on a small farm in Tasmania. Forty years of honing her skills as an artist have led to the development a unique style. She feels lucky to be able to do what she loves most, and devotes all her time to her family, the farm AND painting, drawing and writing.

Internet Resources



   Do you get deluged by emails inviting you to enlarge your penis or your breasts, take HGH, win $11,000,000 absolutely free, renegotiate your mortgage, make $6000 a week from home... The stupendous offers keep pouring in.

   Now you can do something about them. Nick Bolton, a young New Zealander, has devised a program that is sweeping the internet. It's sweeping my inbox too, before I download my mail. I have been using Mailwasher for only a week, and already the incoming spam has been cut down by about a third. This is because Mailwasher allows you to bounce offending emails, so that the senders will sooner or later remove you from their wretched list.

   The program is 'giftware': it is free, but Nick would appreciate a gift, whatever you feel you can send him.

   Interested? Visit and download your copy.

An Invaluable Reference

   You don't need to be stupid to have trouble with grammar. And even the most competent wordsmiths may require occasional help.

   Professor Charles Darling of Capital Community College has provided it. His site is an enormous but well-organised storhouse of information about English and how it is constructed. Keep the site in mind as a handy reference. I thoroughly recommend that beginning writers spend a few hours there. The URL is

Book Reviews

Just to be different, this time all the reviews were done by me.

Strawbale Homebuilding
Anxiety Disorder Workbook


by Andy Singer

Publisher: Car Busters (
Format(s): Paperback, CD-ROM available
ISBN(s) 80-238-7020-3
Price: AU$18/ US$10/ CN$15/ and UK 6.50 pounds. Available in other countries, see author's web site

   This book is the third recipient of the LiFE Award: Literature ForEnvironment.


   Every conservationist needs ammunition. Therefore, every conservationist needs a copy of CARtoons, written and drawn by Andy Singer, designed by Randy Ghent.

   This little book is actually three things. On the surface, it is a comic book, with drawings on almost every page. Also, you will find hundreds of little quotes from a great variety of sources. Some are humorous, others poignant, still others hard-hitting. But both of these aspects are actually window-dressing for Andy's well-researched, even scholarly essays on the car, the damage it is doing to us, and how to cure society's addiction to it.

   I have been a 'greenie' since 1972, and thought I knew it all. Just the same, I have found many gems in CARtoons, and next time someone extols the virtues of the automobile, or tells me how great car racing is, I'll be able to use facts from this book to support my case that the car is a killer in many ways.

   It is perhaps a little unfortunate that Andy gets too carried away by his passion and conviction. The book is great, but would be improved if it had more humour and less anger in the cartoons and their captions. As it is, it will be well received by those already convinced of its message, but induce defensiveness and rejection in those addicted to the automobile.

   On balance, however, I can thoroughly recommend this mini-textbook on the damage the car is causing to humanity. Well done, Andy and helpers.


   The author, Andy Singer, is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Discover, and dozens of other magazines and newspapers in the US, Canada and Europe. The cartoons and illustrations in the book have appeared in such publications as Z magazine, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, Amicus Journal (now "On Earth"), The Funny Times and Adbusters.

Strawbale Homebuilding

Edited by Alan Gray

Published by Earth Garden Magazine
RRP $Au19.95 including GST
ISBN 0 9586397-4-4

   Having never built with straw bales, I was keen to see what I would get out of this little, attractively presented book. The short answer is: mountains of inspiration. I am now ready to build a house at the drop of a straw hat… a straw house at the drop of a hat, whatever.

   The book starts with a punch: John Glassford and Susan Wingate-Pearse tell us on page 2: "Forty-five percent of all the energy consumed in the world is used in the manufacturing and transportation of building and construction materials." I didn't know that the brick was nastier than the car.

   Straw is a major waste product of agriculture, and millions of tonnes are burnt each year. You can turn bad into good and do yourself a favour at the same time by making some or all of your walls of straw.

   The book is a collection of stories from many contributors: owner-builders who did everything themselves, happy owners who might have helped the builder, professional builders, architects and engineers who have branched into strawbale, and Alan himself. There is a genuineness and immediacy about the many first-person reports by Australians who had DONE IT: built their own straw house. Almost every page shows a photo. Like the houses, the stories are unique, and yet with common features. The houses are all built with straw bales (surprise!), with all the strengths and limitations imposed by the medium, but everything else about them reflects the creative touch of individuality that blesses the pioneer. The stories vary greatly in length, lucidity and informativeness, but all are full of charm, enthusiasm and inspiration. These people take the reader with them on their journey of exploration, growth and achievement. Many of them were complete novice builders, proving the ease and practicability of strawbale building.

   I loved the dozens of little snippets like Josephine James telling us how her render passed the 'kick test' by the engineer, who told her that a brick veneer wall would be broken by the same insult.

   The opening section by John Glassford and Susan Wingate-Pearse is a gem, a miniature masterpiece. In just three pages, they informed me of facts I didn't know after thirty years in the environmental movement, inspired me and reassured me concerning reservations I might have had about straw bales as a building material. A few of the advantages are worth repeating, again and again: the aesthetic look, feel and sound of a strawbale house with its subtle curves; ease of construction, allowing the crassest beginner to construct at least the walls of a house; the immense thermal insulation provided by the thick straw walls; sustainability (straw is grown in less than a year compared to a minimum of thirty years for a pine tree); and the locking up of a source of air pollution because the straw in the house didn't have to be burnt or left to rot on the ground.

   I happen to know that the making of one house brick generates 1 Kg of carbon dioxide. Burning one tonne of straw generates the same amount of CO-2 as burning one tonne of wood. Imagine the environmental benefits of a strawbale city!

   I had a number of reservations about strawbale, but most of them were dispelled by this book. I learnt that termites are not a serious danger. Research shows that strawbales are not easy to set on fire, so that a bushfire should do no more than singe the outside. Stability can be a problem, but several standard solutions were described. The bales must be kept dry to eliminate the risk of rot, and I am still to be convinced that a mud render will provide sufficient protection over time.

   Although there is a short collection of 'how to' articles at the back, this book is not a systematic instruction manual on strawbale building. An already competent builder could extract enough information from it to get started and build a few small structures to learn on, but I had hoped for more.

   Apart from this, Strawbale Homebuilding is everything an environmental book should be. Given its low cost, it should be read by every Australian in the building trades and professions, and everyone considering a new house. The book shows that strawbale is a suitable material for huge factories and halls, tiny chook sheds, mountain mansions and suburban homes. There is nowhere in Australia where straw would not fit in.

   So what are you waiting for? Get the book and start building!

Anxiety Disorder Workbook

by Mary Ellen Popkin

Published by Awe-Struck Books
Direct link to the book
Price: PDF: $4.50
ISBN: most ebook editions: 1-58749-285-7
Gemstar ebook: 1-58749-286-5
print (to be released in January 2003) 1-58749-287-3

   As a psychologist, I have worked with thousands of people suffering from severe anxiety. I have never ceased to be amazed and humbled by their courage.

   Let me explain. For me, driving along the highway is an ordinary act, needing no bravery. For Mary Ellen Popkin, it used to be an act of mind-numbing terror--and yet, she did it when she needed to. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the act of overcoming it.

   People suffering from anxiety disorders experience fear in the absence of an objective danger, but the fear is real. Facing it, overcoming it, needs courage.

   Mary Ellen is a hero, for not only has she defeated the monster Anxiety, but also she has written a guide for fellow sufferers.

   Often, personal accounts of recovery are just that: perhaps touching, emotionally powerful, but, well, not much use to anyone else. The Anxiety Disorder Workbook is not like that. As the title suggests, it is a tool for defeating anxiety. I was pleased to find a list of techniques very close to those I use with my clients, each clearly explained, each leading to explicitly set out exercises.

   I was delighted to read a book with no typos, correct grammar and punctuation, and clear language. Such virtues are not to be taken for granted, even in books put out by big name publishers. The author's language shows that she is not a professional writer, but all the more credit to her for having produced an inspiring, technically correct and very useful book.

   I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is pestered by anxiety in any of its forms, and for friends or relations of sufferers.


   Mary Ellen has a BA from Marymount College. She also did some graduate course work at MCP Hahnemann University in Art & Dance Therapy. For over 10 years she was an ice skating coach. Later she became a District Manager for a Fortune 50 Company. She accomplished these things despite being diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder. When she graduated from Marymount College, Mary Ellen's father had terminal cancer and she chose to help her family care for him at home. He died approximately ten months later but the experience left her with a diagnosis of Separation Anxiety. Her attacks increased and she had GAD, Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia which left her housebound for nearly 7 months.

About Bobbing Around

   If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don't want a repeat, it's simple. Drop me a line and I'll drop you from my list.
   And now there is a new way: send a blank email to, Subject: Unsubscribe

   You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at, or you can forward a copy to your friend.

   If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be 'subscribe Bobbing Around' (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.
   Again, the new way is to send a blank email to, Subject: Subscribe.

Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

* Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
* Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
* Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
* Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

Submission Guidelines

   It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

   Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

   Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

   Thanks to the new distribution method provided by Linda Eberharter of Atlantic Bridge, I can now also include graphics. They should be small file size gif or jpg.

   Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.