Bobbing Around

Volume Three, Number Five
December, 2003

Bob Rich's rave
email me

*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions
*A thank you
The Benefits of Civilisation?
*Christmas from HELL
*Check these out
*Guantanamo by Peter Burbrook.
*Bush in Australia: a postscript.
*Fear and Loathing in Miami
by John Gorman.
Why have, a comma here?
'How do you start a writing career at 60?' by Ron Peters.
'Building a Character' by Cheryl O'Brien.
The watch band.
*Authors for Charity by Shirley Dicks
*Book review from Nina Osier:
Jack Prather's He Never Said He Wouldn't

   I am a member of the Books We Love Network, a collection of writers and publishers who have a commitment to quality. Do have a look around at their web site.

   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.


   Hugging is healthy. It helps the body's immune system, it keeps you healthier, it cures depression, it reduces stress, it induces sleep, it's invigorating, it's rejuvenating, it has no unpleasant side effects, and hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug.

   Hugging is all-natural. It is organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, and 100 percent wholesome.

   Hugging is practically perfect. There are no moveable parts, no batteries to wear out, no periodic check-ups, low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation proof, nonfattening, no monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof, nontaxable, nonpolluting and of course, fully returnable.
Stolen from Brian Keating's email signature (with his permission).

   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.

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.

The Benefits of Civilisation?

   A person is a member of society. This expression tells us all we need to know about the ideal relationship between people and communities.

   The top knuckle of my left little finger is a member of my body. Cut off this member, and it dies. I can live without it, but its loss is a painful event. I have suffered an injury.

   There have been many cultures we contemptuously call 'primitive' where this is the precise relationship between the group and its members. My favourite film is The Gods Must Be Crazy. When the little Bushman is put in jail, he pines, and slides towards inevitable death until rescued by our heroes. And this is not just fiction: it accurately represents the effect of separation on people from certain cultures.

   Nor do we need to go to Africa to witness the deadly effects of incarceration. One of the scandals of Australian society is the high prevalence of Aboriginal deaths in custody. These unfortunate children of the soil are deprived of freedom, and they commit suicide, or their immune system plummets so they succumb to diseases, or they die from the complications of deep depression. Many of the victims are only part Aboriginal, many are city people, but culture runs deep.

   Our European-based civilisation fosters several pathological attitudes. Our woes, the ills besetting the world, can be traced to these beliefs.

   Perhaps the worst is the concept of ego. I have a consciousness of myself as an independent entity who can survive in isolation. Indeed, in our alienated society, the major epidemic is aloneness, disconnection, what Viktor Frankl called an 'existential neurosis'. Life has no purpose, people suffer from not being able to identify with anything beyond selfish goals, and then fill this vacuum by creating meaning through activities that are harmful to themselves, to others, to society, to the life support system of our planet.

   A recent magazine article featured Geri Halliwell, ex-Ginger Spice. "I wanted to die!" she wailed in print. The poor darling has the looks most women would kill for, she owns 4.5 million Pounds Sterling, but her latest single is ONLY No 2 on the hit charts. Nor is she alone. Why did Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton attempt suicide? Why are alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce and scandal so prevalent among the 'stars' of Hollywood?

   Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. Why then does he need to resort to questionable practices designed to bankrupt his competitors? Generalising this, what's wrong with a steady state? Why must businesses grow?

   The reason is that our sick society is not an organised entity like a human body. A better analogy is a chaotic heap of maggots, all competing for food, and if nothing else offers, for the sustenance of each other's bodies. Competition is king, cooperation is for the credulous, or is at best a tool to be used against a common enemy. Each must be best, each must be first.

   Give me the 'primitive' lifestyle every time!

Christmas from HELL

   For those of you who are Christians, I wish you a wonderful time of worship and celebration. For those who enjoy this time of year as a family day and a time of fun, go for it, be happy.

   But there are many people for whom Christmas is the WORST time of the year.

   There was a period in my life, now thankfully long in my past, when I was terribly lonely and isolated. I felt unloved and unlovable, felt that, should I die, there would be no-one to miss me. One popular weekly radio program of the time had a theme song with the words 'Everbody loves Saturday night.' Well, during the week I could be busy and so distract myself from my misery. Weekends were the worst times, and this song hurt. I certainly didn't love my lonely Saturday nights!

   The world is full of people like I was: isolated, self-hating, desperate to belong, but for some reason unable to take the actions to bring them in contact with others. For them, Christmas is often my 'Saturday night', multiplied by a thousand.

   Maybe, this Christmas you could find a person like that, and extend a hand of friendship?

   Christmas can also be a time of pain for those who have lost a loved one, perhaps years ago. If that dead person had a very special role to play during Christmas, s/he will be missed with extra poignancy during the supposedly festive season. You may be over the worst of your grief -- most of the time -- but during Christmas it will bite you anew with a special fierceness.

   If you are in this sad situation, prepare for it. Be aware that Christmas will hurt, and instead of doing the usual, devote a significant amount of time and effort into remembering all the good things, celebrating your life with the person you miss, and welcome him or her back into your life.

What my friends want you to know

Celia Ann Leaman
Grant McDuling
A. P. Fuchs
Heide Kaminski
Rosanne Dingli
Mel Foster
Jack Prather
Cindy Davis
Cheryl Jorgensen
Julie D'Arcy

Celia Ann Leaman

   Canadian author Celia Leaman would like to announce the release of her novel, Mary's Child, the first of a trilogy in her Dartmoor Series. Nominated for a Frankfurt eBook Award and a Reviewer's Choice Award in 2000, this book has now been re-released by Twilight Times Publications at

   Jane Bowers, Charter Member of RIO says: "Though the novel depicts the grim reality of a time when life was terribly hard for the common people, especially for women, and though dark tragedy mars its unfolding, Mary's Child is a moving, even hopeful, book. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

   I have been editing a series of books for Twilight Times, and can say with confidence that any book published by them is good value. Look out for this publisher!

Grant McDuling

A Survival Guide For The Self-Employed Journalist
In Store Price: $AU19.95
Online Price: $AU18.95
ISBN: 1 920699 83 X

   Most journalists dream of one day being able to go it alone – of being able to freelance in some exotic location without having a boss to answer to. They know, too, that the only thing that can possibly top that adrenalin rush they get from seeing their work being published is that wonderful feeling of contentment and achievement that can result only from knowing they are in total control of their existence.

   Most know deep down that chances are this will remain a dream. Yet they continue to dream. And every aspiring journalist dreams about landing a job as a cadet on a major metropolitan newspaper or a reporter for a television news team.

   This book is all about making that dream come true. It’s about showing the way to turn your journalistic ambitions into reality – and to earn real money as you do so.

   The book is easy to understand. It aims at taking a subject that can be as academic and stuffy as you like and making it so simple to get to grips with that even the most ordinary of people could put it to good use.

   This book will give you a new perspective on the business of freelance journalism. Some of the concepts you’ll read about will be new to you; they’ll make you think about freelancing in a whole new light. Other concepts may be familiar. But by the time you get to the end of it, you will be in possession of the most powerful, easy-to-understand and implement recipe to kick-start your new career as a freelance journalist.

A. P. Fuchs


   A.P. Fuchs's Poetry Debut, THE HAND I'VE BEEN DEALT: A Collection of Poetry and Song, Streams of Thought and Reflection. On sale now.

   Check out A.P. Fuchs's web site for more on this touching collection. And order today.

   Also available: A STRANGER DEAD by A.P. Fuchs "If you had the chance to kill the Antichrist...would you take it?" Now available.

Heide Kaminski

   Check out our L'il Picasso class. Lots of creative and fun projects which make it fun to learn. The instructor has spent 16 years working in the field of early childhood education and is now a full time preschool art teacher.

   Classes start soon! Sign up today at

Rosanne Dingli

   Western Australian author Rosanne Dingli has had two collections of short stories published by Jacobyte Books in 2003. "The Astronomer's Pig" is food-oriented, with recipes to accompany each story. The most recent, "The Bookbinder's Brother" appeared in December. It brings together this author's best stories; awarded or published in literary magazines Australia-wide and on the Internet. View all Rosanne Dingli's books at

Mel Foster

   SHAKING HANDS WITH LEFKOWITZ by Melvin Foster was recently published by Zumaya.

   How much impact can one thoughtless act have upon your life? Unfortunately for Alan Borman, he doesn't discover the answer to that question until after he's been murdered. That's when he discovers the intricate web that connects our every thought and action to the people we encounter. Fortunately, for Alan, it's still not too late to make amends.

   To sample the first few chapters, visit

Jack Prather


   PART I starts in 1775 telling about the lives and hardships of American Natives living in one small area of Alabama, later to become Coosa County. Black Cloud, a Cherokee lad with visions of the future, grows up to become leader of his mostly Creek tribe but during an extremely cold winter in 1825 loses most of them to illness. He and his family with the help of their dear friends the Henry Pounds, first whites to settle the area, develop a very large cotton plantation, paying black workers they had freed. Black Cloud devotes his life trying to get all blacks freed and runs for US Congress to accomplish this attempt. If the other plantation owners had only followed his example the Civil War might have been prevented.

   PART II tells how the author learned the story about Black Cloud from his grandfather Pounds and that both Black Cloud and the first Henry Pounds were his great-great-grandfathers. With this ancestral knowledge, his love and appreciation increases even more for his beloved Coosa County. He grows through adolescence during the Depression years in Coosa County and then off to World War II. Somehow he manages to get into manhood, marries, raises a daughter and now dotes on his grandchildren and tells unbelievable stories of humor and sadness.

Best Friend, God

   Most people cannot fully experience the presence of God's power within themselves because they feel they are sinners, and not worthy of God's love. Throughout our lives, teachers have taught us we were sinners, and most of the Christian world accepted these teachings. This nonsense has resulted in our feelings of guilt and fear, which are crippling to the mind, body and soul. As a small boy, I learned to reject these teachings and understood that God and I were one in conscious harmony. God and I became best friends. The results were such that I never experienced feelings of guilt and fear. I arrived at my beliefs about God, Jesus, prayer, miracles and sin by learning to talk with God. My beliefs are somewhat revolutionary in places but are needed to completely live without guilt and fear. The Bible confirms my beliefs but most people read right past this. This book tells how to recognize the beliefs spoken of in the Bible, although that is not where I originally obtained them.

   Inspect all Jack's books at

Cindy Davis

   Blend three best friends, a pair of inept bandits, a stolen trunk and 1866 Arizona Territory and you've got a recipe for swashbuckling excitement and danger.

   Collecting the reward seems like such a good idea when Jesse and his friends take off with the bandits' stolen booty. But the boys can't turn a corner without running into the bad guys and it's a race just to stay alive.

   Add more trouble to the brew when they overhear a suspicious conversation between the sheriff and the livery agent. Now, Uncle Isaiah, the only person left who can help, is out of town and the boys are plumb out of ideas.

   Dessert Bandits was named Best Seller by the publisher for the month of November. Excerpts, reviews and contests can be viewed at

Cheryl Jorgensen

   A Quality of Light is a crime thriller set in Brisbane.

   Vera Sculthorpe is a fortune-teller at a city tearoom. When one of her regular customers is stalked by a young man, Vera has the misfortune of 'seeing ' his deeds.

   In another part of Brisbane, police photographer Senior Constable Kerry Harmer attends an incident -- possibly an accident or suicide. But when too many similar incidents occur, Kerry suspects there is a serial killer loose in the steamy river city she loves.

   Rod Norris is a bank clerk with no taste for his work. He loves the little luxuries in life, the feel of silk undies against his skin, high-heeled shoes that would have wowed them at Cloudland and smart young people who share his own impeccable sense of fashion. He collects them all.

   Temperatures rise in River City high summer, tropical blossoms making the air heavy with their perfumes.

   And people go missing.

   A Quality of Light is available in Dymocks in Brisbane for $22.00. Or from Blake Publications, PO Box 1051, Brighton, Qld 4017. You can email or

Julie D'Arcy

   Julie D’Arcy would like to announce that her Fantasy novel, “Legacy of the Black Dragon” has been chosen for publication by Mundania Press in the U.S. Publishing date to be announced.

   Mundania will also be publishing Julie’s "Beyond The Green Door" short story in the Fantasy/Science-Fiction anthology "Beyond the Mundane" Flights of Mind," February 2004.

   Julie D'Arcy's Time of the Wolf by ImaJinn Books
   Home Page--


by Peter Burbrook

   It is inevitable that public interest should wax and wane over any one particular item of news before being distracted by some infinitely more absorbing event. Fair enough, life goes on, regardless.

   November. The year 2003 -- a troubled year -- is now drawing to its end. A new one always heralds hope. But not for Australian citizens David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, who began their long incarceration in the covert US Military concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, in November 2001. For them the advent of the year 2004 may be just another step along the dark, apparently unending tunnel of despair, now two years long.

   Incarcerated for what crime? They have not been charged with one.

   Then for what reason are they held? Presumably for being members of the erstwhile Taliban armed forces.

   That, as it happens, is a crime for which they are liable under the provisions of the Australian Crimes (Foreign Incursions & Recruitment ) Act, 1978 . This is an Act of Parliament brought into law for the specific purpose of preventing Australian citizens from becoming foreign mercenaries (i.e. joining foreign armed forces). This is an Australian Act, and they being Australian citizens, can only be charged under it in Australia and duly tried by an Australian Court.

   They have been dubbed terrorists, but only by hearsay, and appear to have committed no other crime ( other than being mercenaries) under any other known law for which they can be held in custody in a foreign Military prison and face being tried by a foreign Military Court. Yes, the US is a foreign country regardless of all the political hype over the coalition. These men should long ago have been extradited to Australia for trial.

    But what makes their incarceration even less acceptable is the dubious legal status of this US concentration camp, the history surrounding which is pertinent to the current situation.

   In 1898 the United States was at war with Spain, and after 30 years of armed struggle the Cubans were about to sever their ties with the Spanish Crown. At the Treaty of Paris, which ended the US / Spanish war later that year, Cuba was transferred from Spain to the USA, which promptly refused to recognise an independent Cuban Republic.

   However, when the Cuban struggle for independence re-emerged in 1901, now directed against its new masters, the US succumbed to their demands. Under the subsequent 1903 Permanent Treaty the Cuban government granted to the US a lease for 118 square kilometres in south eastern Cuba, viz Guantanamo Bay.

   In 1959 Fidel Castro's communist regime, which then became the de facto legal government of Cuba, required the termination of the lease and declined any further rent. Despite repeated requests, the US has refused hand back the lease. The ongoing paranoiac antagonism by the US towards communist Cuba is common knowledge.

   As the land in question is not part of USA, the US has ruled it is outside its legal jurisdiction and therefore not subject to US law. Nor, they maintain, is it subject to Cuban law; for what reason is unclear. Perhaps the US compares it to leases granted world wide for diplomatic missions which this lease is definitely not. The Bush administration even asserts that international agreements and Geneva conventions do not apply to it. Thus US has carte blanche to do there as it wishes.

   Howard on TV today stated that there is no legal means of extraditing Hicks & Habib from Guantanamo Bay. This is surely nonsense, bearing in mind that the place is a US lawless quagmire lacking any legal recognition whatsoever. This is all the more reason why Howard should face up to his responsibilities to these two Australian citizens and insist that they be returned to Australia forthwith to be dealt with under Australian law .

   What is it that prevents him from doing what he should? Could he perhaps be called upon to explain what his problem is? Tony Blair, we now understand, has managed it, so why does Howard persist in dragging his feet?

Peter Burbrook writes:

   Today's ('Bobbing Around' Vol. 3 No.4) has prompted me write to you, in that the article "G .W. Bush in Australia" touches on a subject very close to my heart.

   I have just been awarded first prize in the Queenland FAW's Article Writing competition, which they called SOAPBOX. My entry was entitled 'DEMOCRACY & THE MAKING OF WAR" in which I slate the leaders of the three democratic countries who chose to flaunt the UN and International Law by attacking Iraq without just cause. My principal target was Howard whose actions I compared with those of the late Sir Anthony Eden who led the brief and ill-fated attack by Britain, France and Israel on Egypt, over President Nassar's justifiable seizure of the Suez Canal.

   This followed my earlier attack on Howard with regard to his failure to obtain the release of David Hicks and Habib from the US Concentration Camp in the "no-man's- land " of Guantanamo Bay. He lied when he said on radio that there is no law under which they can be tried in Australia when he conveniently overlooked the Australian Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act, 1978, specifically designed to deal with Australians who may choose to become mercenaries in foreign armed forces: viz Hick and Habib who were members of the then Taliban army. I ask "why?" This was published in the quarterly magazine VOICE.

   The heading of this e-mail ['President Self-Elect?'] refers to the fact that our Governor General is hardly ever seen performing his duties as our Head of State because little Johnny always seems to be strutting along in his stead, spouting about what "The Australian Government" say, decides, thinks when in effect it is only what he and his subservient cabinet ministers decree. Bush's swagger perhaps may be catching!

Bio for Cynthia Clay

   In the last issue, I reported an exchange of email with Cynthia Clay. I offered to include a 'bio' with it, giving her publicity for her books, but her response came well after publication.

   She didn't include a note from her mother, but the explanation was more than satisfactory, just the same:


   A publisher wanted to see a complete manuscript of mine and the manuscript had to be completely converted from one format to another, and I found pages missing in it. Then of course I did yet another proof-read of it, too. So while I was thus engaged in the aspect of writing I like the absolute least, I recieved your email asking for the bio. The publisher's wants were my first priority and I intended to attend to yours next. But by the time I finished with rushing to get the manuscript ready for the publisher, I forgot about you!

   Sorry about that!

   So here's the bio and link if you can still use them. (If I missed the boat, I missed the boat.)

   Cynthia Joyce Clay is the author of Zollocco: A Novel of Another Universe, the collection of fantasy, sf, and myth, New Myths of the Feminine Divine, and "Scylla: A Noh Play." A resident of Florida, Cynthia's vote was not counted in the previous presidential election and she is very angry that her right to vote was effectively cancelled.

Fear and Loathing in Miami

by John Gorman

   As the shouting in the street is replaced by pleadings in the courtrooms, it is safe to say that the City of Miami will be paying some substantial judgments and making more than a few expensive settlements in the months and years of legal proceedings that will follow the police state tactics used to quell the dissent surrounding the Free Trade Area of the Americas Conference held here last November. The ACLU and the AFL-CIO are already rolling out their legal cannons and will undoubtedly be joined in their barrage by other outraged organizations and individuals with the cash and the motivation to sue. While Police Chief John Timoney may be the city’s “man of the hour” now, he is likely to become the regime’s scapegoat as the legal battles wear on, and the officials now “standing behind him” are found huddled in their bunkers far to the rear.

   One culprit will, however, probably escape any reproach, let alone punishment, for these outrages: the media, both corporate and “alternative.” Across the continent, from Toronto to Tampa, newspapers assured the public that “20,000 demonstrators,” as the Boston Globe put it, were “determined to disrupt negotiations on trade among 34 countries.” Suitably scary photos of masked marauders rampaging through the streets were standard illustrations. The thought that the vast majority of those demonstrators had nothing more in mind that the exercise of their Constitutionally protected right to speak their minds and “petition for the redress of grievances,” never occurred to these pundits.

   Local television proved to be even worse, as clips of the disturbances in Seattle were shown over and over again on the evening news, along with sound bites promising destruction from the most outlandish looking among the prospective protestors, who were persistently identified as “anarchists,” although I heard none refer to themselves this way. Professors, clerics, union members, retirees and other respectable participants were hardly ever to be seen. After a few weeks of this conditioning, it was not hard to see how viewers might reach the conclusion that Miami was about to be invaded by hostile aliens from the planet Anarchy “in another galaxy far away,” rather than visited by groups of their fellow Americans wanting only to express their peaceful and public disapproval of a plan they believed would do them and their children serious harm.

   Looking at the program put out by Civil Society, the umbrella-group organizing the protests, made it clear that demonstrations and marches composed only a small portion of the week’s scheduled events. There were far more meetings, forums, teach-ins, workshops and other gatherings, where people could discuss “dangerous” subjects like Corporate Globalization and the Assault on the Environment, Sustainability and Democracy, Labor and Gender, and Defending Water as a Public Good and a Human Right, among others. As far as I could determine, however, the media were notable by their absence from these assemblies, having found street commotions so much more exciting. Covering those stories might have required a consideration of the issues they raised, something obviously beyond the media pale. While the New Times, Miami’s “alternative” newspaper, provided some analysis of the issues the conference might have to deal with, it provided no information about where these alternative gatherings were being held, and what subjects would be considered. Civil Society was reduced to taking out small display ads in the back pages among the escort service blurbs in order to get its message out at all.

   Both mainstream and “alternative” media, however, were tireless in their efforts to turn “The Magic City” into “Baghdad by the Bay,” doing an outstanding job of scaring themselves with their own bogymen. The Miami Herald, Associated Press, CNN and Sun-Sentinel, among others, were happy to provide journalists to be “embedded” within the police, complete with helmets, body armor and gas masks, as if they were covering a war. Those not embedded were left to fend for themselves in this “war” amid hails of “non-lethal” police missiles, showers of pepper spray and clouds of tear gas.

   If there was any consistent message sent out by all these preparations, it was to demonize the protestors and, by implication, protest itself, a rather strange activity for institutions that depend for their very lives on the First Amendment. To hear the media tell it, anyone going downtown during those days was asking for trouble and should not complain if he found some. Sensible people should stay home and keep quiet.

   Yet, without making any excuse for the police riot that occurred when their chief decided to turn downtown Miami into a free fire zone, it is safe to say that police officers read the newspapers and watch television like the rest of us and have no built-in immunity to media fear mongering. It is quite possible that many of them sincerely believed they were being sent into desperate battle against a savage horde bent on the ruin of civilization. When this menace failed to materialize, their built up anxiety and anger, fed by the antics of a few itinerant street skirmishers, as well as Chief Timoney’s harangues, found an outlet in assaults on peaceful demonstrators who had no thought of being violent themselves.

   Now that the media have begun to find their own minions among the arrested, bruised, beaten and, in the case of one cameraman, nearly killed, some have begun to treat the police response to the protests with more skepticism, although they have yet to examine their own provocative role in these disturbances. While the Herald was delighted to run a full page “community announcement” celebrating the “success” of the FTAA conference on Sunday, November 23, the New Times has published several major stories detailing police mistreatment of its reporter and others unwise enough to be downtown during these “days of (police) rage,” and other outlets are beginning to get the message.

   It remains to be seen, however, whether our media have learned anything that might be useful in covering the next mass protest more responsibly and in ways less likely to turn it into street theater destined to give Miami yet another black eye.

   John Gorman is a freelance journalist based in Miami, Florida. He has been a regular contributor to Bobbing Around.


Why have, a comma here?
How do you start a writing career at 60?
Building a Character

Why have, a comma here?

   'I do this' is a sentence. If it's part of a longer, more complex construction, it is a clause. A clause has three essential parts: an object [I], a verb [do], and a subject [this].


   You never separate these three parts of a clause with commas, or anything else.

   'I, a man who is 257 years old, do this' is a main clause, with another one interpolated within it. This is indicated by having a comma before and after the sentence in the middle.

   Many people seem to have a great deal of trouble in keeping these two situations apart. In my editing work, and even during incorporating contributions into 'Bobbing Around', I keep finding commas where they have no business to be, and missing from places where they are invaluable signposts to grammatical structure.

   Some people seem to be under, the misapprehension that if a sentence is, long like this one, it should have commas like I've put in here.

   Of course, if you condense such a complex, long sentence into object, verb and subject, you will see that the first two commas are interlopers who have no business to be there. And here, I should NOT have put a comma after 'interlopers'.

   As I said, a comma is a signpost to grammar. Learn to use it correctly, so you can steer your reader in the direction you want the meaning to go.

How do you start a writing career at 60?

by Ron Peters

   "Slowly," some might say. "Carefully," others may chime in. "Don't look back," could be another facetious comment.

   The answer is: You start a writing career at whatever age the author bug strikes.

   Some of us believe we were born to write. "To write is to breathe" is the motto they exclaim to the world. Or, "I don't write to live; I live to write." Whatever. They are the lucky ones. They've always known what they wanted to do. From the time they could hold a crayon, they knew they were destined to be an author.

   Does that give them a head start over those, like me, that get started much later in life? No. I don't believe so. For while they may have the desire and the direction, they don't have the life experiences to draw upon. The disappointments, the heartaches, they joys of success, the loneliness of failure, the angst of missed love, the sorrow of death, the wisdom of discretion.

   All this comes in time, invited or not.

   The first advice an author hears is to write about something you know. When you are young, you know it all. As you age, you are not quite so sure. When you reach 60, you're damn sure just how little you do know. But, the life experiences are there, nestled in the back of your mind, just waiting to be plucked and molded into a first-rate story, a memorable character, or a plot with more twists than life itself.

   I've always enjoyed writing. In college, it was recommended that I explore that craft. I did-once a year I would write a Christmas letter or poem. I even managed to squeeze in a tongue-in-cheek computer tutorial between family and business activities. But I definitely worked to live, not the other way around.

   Now, as life advances, I'm ready. All I've learned (what little that is), and all I've experienced has been brewing inside, waiting to bubble over the rim and flow like hot lava. At 62, I finished my first manuscript, a detective/romance novel of about 80,000 words, which I plan to turn into a series. I'm already into novel number two, the sequel.

   Will it go anywhere? Will getting started late be an advantage over the BTW (born to write) group? I doubt it. My chances of being published are probably no better-however; their chances of having their photo on the back cover are infinitely greater.

   It all boils down to the ability to mix innate talent with desire, determination, persistence, and experience. Age, for the most part, is not the prime factor. Love of writing is.

   As they say, love conquers all.

Ron Peters
Author of SOS, a tongue-in-cheek Dun Wheeling detective-romance

   Soon to be released:
Night Before August
The second in the Dun Wheeling series.

   While Ron had several articles published in business magazines, journals, and newsletters, he didn't try his hand at fiction (non-business) until the age of 60. After three years of studying the craft and making every mistake in the book, his first published novel, SOS, became reality.

Building a Character
by Cheryl O'Brien

   When I am writing a story or a screenplay I find that if I sit for a while and think on each character one at a time, let my mind wander a little, the character will begin to form in my mind. I note down the things I see including:

Physical appearance:

then I consider for a while this person from a social point of view and note down the things that I know:

Emotional / psychological features:

then I note down any other comments about the character.

   I find I end up knowing much more about the character than what will ever be shown/told in the story. Once I know all of this about each character The characters tend to tell their own story. I sometimes find that the story I write becomes very different to what I intended to write however it is much more alive and believable.

   Letting the characters lead the way may mess up what you planned to write, which is frustrating for a writer who has carefully planned the story, as the characters take the story off in directions you weren't expecting however if you follow them then the story will have that 'something' that readers/viewers are looking for.

   Here are some sites that discuss building your characters.

Teen writing tips

general sites

naming your characters

Sci Fi Character development

Hypertext With Characters

On Story Writing

Characters' thoughts and how to handle them.

   Cheryl O'Brien is a 38 year old single mother of three active teens. She works full time, is planning to open a business in November 2004. She is a passionate and talented writer turning her hand to and succeeding in poetry, screenplays, short stories, articles and lyrics. In her 'spare time' she capably moderates an International Literary Networking Group at Cheryl's personal website is still under construction but already has a wide array of work within its growing pages.


The watch band

   Watch bands seem specially designed to let go of your wrist and, well, lose time. I live a physically vigorous lifestyle: chopping wood, helping a young friend to build, using tools like spade and mattock. And the delicate little pins that are supposed to hold band to watch are often not up to it.

   Even those people who live a more civilised lifestyle will often hook a watch on something. The result is often a pin bent out of all usefulness, and a watch on the floor.

   Should one of these pins ever pop out, you need to be a reverse Houdini to put it back in. They have a spring inside, and this forces the two ends out. To insert, you need to press both ends in against the pressure, while sliding the gizmo into place. Don't know about you, but this is a guaranteeed half-hour struggle for me.

   Why don't they design watches with a simpler system? The watch could have a little flat flange on each side, with two little threaded holes. The watch band would then be designed to everlap the flange. Plastic or leather watch bands could have the end reinforced with a little metal strip, with matching holes.

   Then, each end of the watch band could be held solidly onto the watch with a couple of tiny screws.

   After all, this kind of arrangement works perfectly for glasses. The hinges that hold the ears of a pair of spectacles are attached in with just the kind of screws I have in mind.

   With my proposed system, the watch band will stay in place with far more security. Should it ever come loose, all you need is a tiny screw driver, and, depending on your eyesight, perhaps a pair of spectacles.

Authors for Charity

by Shirley Dicks

   Authors For Charity is dedicated to authors donating a portion of their proceeds from book signings under the name of Authors For Charity to the charity of their choice. In this way, authors will make more because the place holding book signing will not take a percent, but allow the author to give what percent they want to the charity of choice. While we do some book signings in book stores, we also look for alternative places to hold these events, and at times have up to ten authors at one event. Some of the places that we have held Author For Charity Signings have been in shopping malls, banks, grocery stores, coffee shops, hotels, gift shops, libraries, a hospital, and many other places we are trying out.

   We can get in to many places that will not allow authors to go because we are donating some of our earnings to a charity that we choose. At some events, we have held raffles, gotten donations from merchants in the area in order to raise more money for these charities. We are helping them, and in turn we are helping each other and ourselves , and having a lot of fun while doing it. We are still learning, and trying new venues and as we grow, we also learn. Check us out at

Book Review by Nina Osier

He Never Said He Wouldn't
by Jack Prather

   In Room 505 at the Royal Hotel, a man awakens to find his memory gone. So is every possession that might help identify him -- he has nothing, literally, but the clothes he is wearing. When the hotel's desk clerk informs him that the room in which he woke wasn't rented last night, he makes his way outside and to the nearest police station.

   What follows is, for this reader, a fascinating look into the masculine mind. Author Prather's initially mysterious hero is, I suspect, the man whom most men would like to be. Adventurer, genius, consummate lover, world traveler and man of action, he takes on bureaucracies and gun-toting enemies with equal confidence; and must, thanks to the story's twists and turns, resolve a romantic triangle with two equally lovely and desirable young women.

   Letting the reader get to know the protagonist before he knows who he is himself is an interesting device. Amnesia has been so overused by writers and dramatists that employing it again, in a new book, really does require justification; but it works in this one. For men's adventure fans, HE NEVER SAID HE WOULDN'T should do well.

   Nina M. Osier is the author of 16 books, including speculative fiction, nonfiction, and mainstream fiction. She lives on a country road in Sidney, Maine, USA, where she writes, gardens, and wishes humans didn't have to waste time sleeping. Visit her at

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