Bobbing Around

Volume Three, Number Two
August, 2003

Bob Rich's rave
email me

*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions
*A thank you
*The RESULTS of my second free edit contest.
The most important skill.
A call for contributors.
*Last Stand
A short story by Steve Lazarowitz.
'Wattle Blossom' by John Williams.
Two little poems by Larry Pontius.
*Press releases
Donard Publishing's new contests.
'R.A.C.E.: A Practical Guide to help those who are Hurting' by Susan Kaye Behm.
Interview with John Blumenthal
An Australian Writers' Conference
'Land of Strange Rivers' by Morgaine O'Herne
*The coffee cup
An example of ergonomics.

   Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.


   According to the final listing, my story Cruelty and Compassion received an unbelievable 1587 votes in Donard Publishing's July short story contest. The next highest was an equally incredible 1116. Every one of the 290 entries received over 400 votes, a hugely successful publicity venture for Donard. I hope their sales reflect this exposure.

   My story can still be read there.

   I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.

I am a member of bookstore and author pages.
Books We Love network

A little plug

   Sending Bobbing Around off used to be a big job. Now, it's a matter of visiting an online form, then sending a single email, thanks to Atlantic Bridge Publishers. The least I can do is to offer this forum to Linda Eberharter, the publisher, for publicising her publishing business. Please visit her and look around.

   This issue's choice from Linda is The Psychic by Bob Wiltz and Bob Rustico. Even their names fit in 'Bobbing Around'.

   The Psychic is about a special person with unique gifts. Unlike the huckstering and self-promoting tarot card readers, Dom Gabriel is a psychic of honesty, insight and sensitivity. The publicity that he receives, after assisting the NYPD in the rescue of a missing child, brings him an unwanted notoriety that will change his life forever. In spite of her own beliefs, FBI Special Agent Melissa Todd recruits a reluctant Gabriel to help locate Palestinian terrorists who are planning an act of unprecedented magnitude in New York City on Christmas Day.

   With only four days remaining until Christmas, Gabriel's psychic abilities allow him to inform Agent Todd that the terrorists are all dead. Their bodies can be found in an apartment in Brooklyn. Apparently it was a group suicide. However, knowing who the terrorists are, and approximately when the act of terrorism will take place will not enable the FBI to prevent the deaths of thousands. Can the solitary Gabriel, while fighting unseen and evil spirits, uncover the terrorists' secrets and provide Agent Todd with the how and what the terrorists have set in motion?

Bob's Second Free Edit Contest:

   I had received 43 entries. One person withdrew, another decided to pay for immediate editing instead of waiting for the deadline. A third entrant and I are bartering: I have edited her book, and she is improving my web site design.

   I selected ten finalists. Eight of the ten impressed me as excellent writing, books I could recommend to anyone. The remaining two had major faults I felt could be fixed, but I resonated with their message and wanted to help the authors to achieve a publishable book.

   So, being on my shortlist is a recommendation these writers can put on their CV.

   Bob Brown, the author of Master Your Moments: The Complete Guide to a Life of No Regrets decided to pay for editing, this being less painful than campaigning for votes (but read my little essay in this issue on why he needs to do campaigning anyway). To my surprise, only four of the remaining nine finalists made an attempt at winning. It seems strange to me that a person will enter a contest, and then not do everything possible to win it. Perhaps they had personal crises, or an offer from Random House so they lost interest...

   But I have a little surprise for ALL the entrants, so read on beyond the table.

   Anyway, here is the table of results:

Name Title Votes
Karen Favo Walsh Alzheimer's Stories 127
Anne Maxwell High An Aussie in America: laughter and lessons across the cultural divide 105
Mike Cole Grand Vision 29
Trudy Schuett Heart Man 24
Shirley Dicks A Mother's Torment 4
Sandra Shirah How to Start & Run a Profitable Home-Based Transcription Business! 4
Elspeth Geronimos The Perfumed Oil Seller 4
Stan Thomas Human Wrongs 2
Isabel Theunissen Battle for the Bush 0

   I was so impressed by the energy and verve Karen and Anne both put into their effort to win that I have decided: I WILL DO A FREE EDIT FOR BOTH OF THEM. Congratulations, ladies.

   And for the other entrants, whether shorlisted or not, I am happy to give a 25% discount from what I would normally charge for that manuscript.

   I ran this contest because my editing jobs were drying up. It has been hugely successful for me, and the work is pouring in. And as my reputation for competent yet kind work spreads, I may have to raise my fees.

   However, for the moment, I am sticking to the charges outlined on my editing page.

Marketing: the Most Important Skill

   In an ideal world, once your book was finished your most important tasks would be to write the next one, and to enjoy the royalties as they come in.

   We don't live in an ideal world.

   There is an author in a million who can do just that. For most of us, however, the problem is that no-one knows the book is there.

   Big publishers have 'midlist authors'. This is a euphemism for providers of temporary window dressings in book shops. If you don't believe me, read what Rita Toews has to say about it. She backs this sad claim with figures. The books of midlist authors go out to bookshops, fill the shelves for a while, and are often returned for 'remaindering' or pulping without a single sale.

   Authors published by small, independent publishing houses often do a little better, because their contacts are on a human scale. My book Woodworking for Idiots Like Me kept ticking along for five years, making a little bit of money both for the publisher, who was a one-man show, and for me. But Michael the publisher had perhaps a hundred books to push at any one time. Inevitably, mine only got about a hundredth of his attention.

   Then there are people who do it themselves, and are responsible for all aspects of producing and selling the book.

   So, the most important skill for ANY published author is to ensure that potential buyers know that the book exists: MARKETING.

   This is why I set up my 'Free Edit' contest the way I have. When I edit a book for a fellow writer, I want the result to be successful. This is partly because I have formed a bond with another person, we have become partners in producing a book of quality. Second, that satisfied customer will now hopefully acknowledge my work in the book, and send me future work. So, I have a vested interest in having that book succeed.

   To get on my shortlist, entrants needed to have a manuscript with promise, something that got me excited. To win, the writer needed to be a good marketer. Hopefully, this combination will lead to success.

OK, what is marketing?

   All my life, I have hated it. I know the theory of what to do, but I can't make a living from my counselling practice partly because I don't spend enough effort on networking and promotion.

   Good marketing is not 'in your face' hard sell. It is becoming known in a wide network as someone to be respected and liked, someone whose opinion is worth consulting, someone who provides quality in whatever the service is.

   For example, if you are 'selling' entertainment, you need to become known as entertaining.

   This takes time and effort and imagination and integrity.

   I am amazed and, believe it or not, humbled by the fact that 1587 people voted for my story in the recently completed short story contest at Donard Publishing. I believe I managed this without treading too heavily on the toes of other contestants, many of whom are email friends. At least, I hope they have forgiven me. :)

   How did I achieve this marketing coup?

   First, the story I submitted had quality. I knew it was good, and therefore was confident that anyone reading it would be caught by the plot, the character and the language. Then, I activated a network of contacts that has taken years to build:

1. 'Bobbing Around'. I started this e-zine two years ago, and it now has about 500 subscribers. I know it is circulated beyond that, and the archives have a fair hit rate. Unlike e-zines by many other writers, this is not just a vehicle for talking about myself and my books, but

2. Email lists. I have many interests, and belong to email lists relevant to each. I try to be helpful and constructive on my lists, and apart from the occasional lapse, avoid 'flaming' wars. As a result, I have few email contacts, but many email friends.

3. Past clients. I have provided various services to many people, and keep in occasional contact with quite a few.

   As soon as I submitted my story to Donard, I got busy and circulated all these people as well as my friends and relations about it.

   This was not enough however. I also asked everyone a favour: 'If you know of anyone else who would enjoy this story, please send them along to read it and vote for it.'

   They did.

   My next advantage was that my 'Free Edit' contest happened at the same time. Votes were pouring in, sent by my finalists. I asked each voter to look at my story at Donard as well. I don't know how many did, but the results indicate that this appeal must have been successful. THIS resource is not normally available to me, and rarely if ever to other people, but there often is something. The world is full of opportunities. You need an eye to spot them.

   Finally, my story had a special theme. It presented the world of a young man with a very severe physical handicap, but feelings and emotions just like the rest of us. So, I contacted people with an interest in cerebral palsy: web sites and lists run by sufferers, and by people who love them. I respectfully invited them to read my story. Many have emailed me to give their feedback. To me, their vote is worth a hundred times more than any other.

   You can't apply this exact model to marketing anything else. I need to do it differently for my next venture, which will be the re-issue of Sleeper, Awake by Zumaya Publications.

   But I hope the model, the general approach, is of use to you.

Cancer: A Call for Contributors

   Cancer is one of the scourges of our times. I am old enough to remember an era when it was a rarity, something old people died of if they'd survived everything else. Now, no one is safe. In 1994, the incidence of cancer in Australia was increasing by 3%. That rate itself has been increasing, and the prediction now is that ONE PERSON IN THREE can expect to suffer from cancer at some time.

   Such figures hide misery and torture, tragedy, fear and loss. This is not a medical problem, but a human one.

   Last week, my beloved nephew Pieter John Oosterhoff died of cancer. He was only 38 years old, and leaves behind a loving wife and two young children. He was a fine person, and it seems unfair.

   He died from a melanoma: just an annoying little spot on his skin that got away and eventually killed him.

   Why? WHY? In his case, it was the hole in the ozone layer. We are being complacently told that this problem has been fixed, CFCs are now banned. But they have a half life of thirty years, and are still there. And are we sure nothing else interferes with the Ozone Layer? What about those thousands of jet planes thundering around in the stratosphere? What newly released chemical has the potential? Are all new chemicals being tested? Do we need them?

   For some months now, I have been thinking about writing a book on cancer. I am calling for other interested people to cooperate with me. Already I have one volunteer: wonderful writer Ariana Overton. She had cancer 24 years ago, was given a short time to live -- and is still with us, vigorous and productive.

   I want this book to be an inspiration, a guide and a call for social action. I want it to mobilise people to change the world we live in, so that the causes of this scourge are lessened and even eliminated.

   I am looking for other survivors to tell their story.

   I am looking for professionals who work with cancer sufferers.

   I am looking for people with expertise in the causative factors.

   I want environmental activists who are working on making our world safer from cancer.

   Join me.

Last Stand

A short story by Steve Lazarowitz

   In the darkness, he heard them. He didn’t move. He barely breathed. He well knew the price of failure. It was not the worst position he’d ever been in. He’d been in literally dozens of life and death situations and had escaped unharmed every time. He knew only one thing. He couldn’t allow himself to be taken alive.

   He knew the house intimately. Extensive study of the blueprints left him well prepared. He clutched the grip of the Luger in his right hand. He’d kill if he had to, as he’d done many times before.

   He crawled on his belly. Though it was dark, he’d long ago come to depend on his acute sense of hearing. A single voice raised in alarm told him they’d found the dead guard. He’d have to be even more careful now.

   He pulled himself silently through the grass, closer and closer to the rear of the house. This is what he’d been trained for. He would not fail. He could not. Voices crying out. Movement. They were coming toward him. There was nowhere left to hide.

   A searchlight cut a swathe through the night. Again movement, closer this time. He wanted to stand and run, but couldn’t. He didn’t dare risk exposure. He tried to slow his breathing and move more quickly, less concerned about stealth now and more about escape. Then they were on him and he whirled, swinging his arm around, ready to take aim and fire in a single motion.

   She was beautiful and no doubt deadly. She had a look of urgency on her face and he knew he had time. He raised his weapon and pulled the trigger.

   Nothing happened. Jammed! Someone had tampered with his piece. She knelt by him.

   "What do you think you’re doing?"

   His could only hope she didn’t know his gun was jammed.

   "You won’t take me alive. Don’t come any closer."

   "Don’t be silly."

   She leaned down and took it from his hand. Then she called out.

   "He’s over here."

   More footsteps. He reached for his ever-present knife, but it wasn’t there. Had he dropped it?

   "Come on. We have to get you inside, before someone sees you."

   "You’ll never take me."

   She slapped his face hard and he looked at her. Then the sound of approaching footfalls and he knew he was done for.

   "Jesus, dad, what are you doing? It’s over. The war is over."

   "You’ll never take me alive."

   The newcomer took the gun and pointed it at him.

   "They TOOK you alive. Don’t you remember? It’s the cause of your injuries. Can you make it inside on your own or should I get your wheelchair?"

   He looked again at the object in the newcomer’s hand, but it was no longer a gun. It was a cane.

   Then, he remembered all too clearly why he couldn’t be taken alive. He’d been rescued, but not in time.

   "I didn’t talk. I didn’t tell them anything. They couldn’t break me."

   "I know, dad. I know. Come on, let's get you home."

   A single tear slid down his stubbled cheek, as he remembered all too well the price of silence.


John Williams
Larry Pontius

Wattle Blossom
by John Williams

   John will be the first one to agree that he is no longer a spring chicken. He is legally blind, so I don't know how he manages to write, but he does so regrardless. John attended the University of Hard Knocks, that is to say he is self-educated, but that doesn't slow him down either.

Larry Pontius

Mad Money

Press releases from my friends

Donard Publishing's new contests
Help for those who are hurting
Interview with John Blumenthal
'Land of Strange Rivers' by Morgaine O'Herne
An Australian writers' conference

Donard Publishing

   Donard Publishing Short Story Competition

   Free to enter monthly short story competition. The winner is voted for by the public. The closing date for the September short story competition is 20th August 2003.

   Details can be found at:

Susan Kaye Behm

    New author Susan Kaye Behm: R.A.C.E.: A Practical Guide to help those who are Hurting. AUTHOR DRAWS FROM EXPERIENCE "It's a tough world -- People in Pain need Encouragement to know they are not alone in it!"

   R.A.C.E. - Responsibility - Action - Comfort - Empathy.

   R.A.C.E. is a practical guide to help those who are hurting. One thing that tends to make all of us connected in our humanity is that at some point we will experience pain: an emotional pain that anguishes our soul to the point we feel devastated and unable to regain a balance in our lives.

   The support of family and friends is desperately needed when we are hurting. People in pain need support in the small things as well as the large.

   Author Susan Kaye Behm developed practical suggestions of how to help those people you come in contact with who are in pain. Behm takes us beyond the worn out phrase, "If there's anything I can do" and gives the reader practical suggestions to help and encourage. In R.A.C.E., the author helps to remove that sense of helplessness that we all tend to feel when a loved one is in emotional pain.

   Beyond its value in shedding light on an important topic, Behm wrote the book to give a clear demonstration of the power of the individual. "We do not have to be helpless," she says. "We can choose to become involved in a hurting world. While nothing can replace professional help, we can all use the love, encouragement, and practicality that R.A.C.E. brings to us.

   R.A.C.E. is available from A & O Computer Services for $2.50. For information of how your organization can purchase this publication in bulk or to sponsor a publication run, please contact the author via e-mail at

John Blumenthal is pleased to present an interview with John Blumenthal, former Playboy columnist, screenwriter whose credits include "Blue Streak" starring Martin Lawrence, and author of the book "What's Wrong With Dorfman" published by St. Martin's Press. Coming August 15.

Morgaine O'Herne

   "Land of Strange Rivers" is a fantasy adventure epic told in the form of a graphic novel. Story is by Morgaine O'Herne, art is by Morgaine O'Herne and Tawny Simmons, both from the Pacific Northwest, US. Printing and publishing is by Brigid's Hearth Press, Idaho, US. The first 36-page issue is now available and the second one is one the way.

   A free flipcomic of issue 1 is available online. Each printed issue is $2.95 US. Subscriptions for 6 issues are $15.00 US. To find out more, go to or write

Australian Community Writers, Inc.

Annual Weekend workshops and Conference
September 6th and 7th
Rowallan Adventure Park.Kent Road Riddell’s Creek
Victoria (near Sunbury).

Guest Speakers: Anne Gracie on Romance and Lindy Cameron on Crime.

In-House Comp with prizes, Raffles, Readings
Book launch

Cost for weekend $80 for non members $75 members.
Bunk accommodation from Friday night until Sunday Afternoon.
Includes meals and workshops.
Day visitors $30 ( lunch included,)

Details Sue Lincoln P O Box 59 Beveridge Vic 3753
Ph: 03 9745 2366 Mobile: 0414 345 244 Fax: 03 9745 2146
Or Margaret 03 5768 2405

Sponsored by the Victorian Writers Centre
With support from Sisters in Crime and NSW Writers Centre.
Dr Bob Rich, Paperpoint, Staedtlers, Information Victoria

The Coffee Cup

A matter of ergonomics

   I find many objects an annoyance, if only to a minor degree. They are not designed for people, but for the vagaries of looks and fashion. This is one of my long-standing hobbyhorses.

   As a simple example, most cups are woefully mis-designed. What should a cup be like, and why?

   There you go. I bet you didn't know a cup could hold so much.

   I invite similar analyses of the ergonomics of other everyday objects.

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.
   There is another way: send an 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. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article's author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)

   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, another way is to send an 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.