Bobbing Around

Volume Three, Number Seven
March, 2004

Bob Rich's rave
email me
bobswriting.com/  anxietyanddepression-help.com/  mudsmith.net/

 
*About Bobbing Around
  subscribe/unsubscribe
  guidelines for contributions
*Anikó has WON!
*Miracle girl
   A true inspirational story by Cheryl O'Brien
*Celia Leaman's recommendations to writers
*On lies in the White House
   by Jessie Lilley.
*Responses to 'Soul Mates'.
*Aunt Lucy
   a short story by John Gorman.
*The Other Woman by Heide Kaminski:
   Living with an addict.
*'I love my therapist'?
*Have a look at this:
   The Dream Realm Awards.
   A remarkable lady's book.
*Writing:
   …Well then, why do they exist? About adverbs and adjectives.
   'How NOT to annoy your editor' by Brenna Lyons.
*Book review:
   'Finding the Right Spot--When kids can't live with their parents.'
*Ergonomics
   A stopwatch for swimmers.
*But it's against the rules...
   a baseball rave by Judy Nicholls.
*Thank You, Atlantic Bridge.
All my electronic books now cost $US7.50 or $Au10, depending on where you live of course. But I want to celebrate the fact that Anikó: The Stranger who loved me won an EPPIE Award. So, until the next issue, readers can buy this book for $US5. Don't click the button on the web page. Instead, go to PayPal, pay $5 to bob@bobswriting.com, and in the message you are allowed to send, say that you are a 'Bobbing Around' reader, and that this payment is for 'Anikó'.
   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.

   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.


My book has been honoured

   I am delighted to let you know that the biography of my mother, Anikó: The stranger who loved me has won its category of the EPPIE2004 Awards. This is my third international award, and the one that has touched me the deepest. It honours my best book so far. People who have read it tell me that the story and its people stay with them for a long time. I know this book is a potential world-beater.

   To celebrate, I am offering subscribers to 'Bobbing Around' a special price. I will send you an html, pdf or hiebook version (your choice) of Anikó for $US5 (regular price is $7.50). And as with all purchases of one of my books, you may choose a free copy of any other of my 9 electronically published titles.

   If you want to find excellent reading, look at my EPPIE2004 winners and finalists page. Whatever your taste, you'll find the best examples there.


Miracle girl

   Cheryl O'Brien is the initiator and inspiration of the writers' email list Australia and the World Wordsmiths. I asked her if I could share her happy rave with you:

   I just gotta skite about my girl, Terri!

   Many long term members know a little about my daughter, Terri who will be 16 next month! For those who don't know I will give a little background so you can understand my pride and need to skite!

   When Terri was 6 months old I was carrying her across a street and we were struck by a speeding driver. Terri's tiny body endured three impacts. The car struck us and then she was thrown from my arms and hit a bus shelter and then hit the ground.

   The Accident was horrific and the prognosis on the day of the accident was: "She wont see daylight!"

   Three operations on her head followed, each one an attempt to prevent her head swelling from the excessive fluid on the brain.

   Three major illnesses followed that. Bacterial meningitis, Viral meningitis and whooping cough.

   Nine assaults on her brain in one form or another. Each time prognoss was 'certain death'.

   And all that happened before her second birthday!

   As you can imagine development and growth have been slow. Terri learnt to sit up unaided at three. She learned to hold a cup at seven. She says an odd word now and then and occassionally a sentence. A couple of years ago she would take a few steps if you held her up.

   Doctors told us that she has to walk by 16, or she will need an operation on her legs and hips. If she has the operation she will never walk.

   We have been working on walking. Taking her a little further all the time. I see her face screwing up as her legs ache, not used to the distances, but she keeps on going.

   Today Terri walked one whole kilometre (just over half a mile).

   Today Terri proved she wont be needing that operation!

   I am sooooooo rapt!

   Thanks for listening!!


Recommending a publisher and an editor

   My dream was, when I found a publisher who liked my work and wanted to publish me, that they would take enough care with my work. From a writer's point of view, writing is such an extension of yourself--your virtual soul on paper--that when you submit a manuscript it's like handing over your little child. Nothing can be more destructive or distressing than to have a publisher who doesn't care a whit about it. Who exposes your creation to the world in tattered clothes--which is how I see a badly presented book.

   Saying all that you can perhaps understand my appreciation and joy of being published by Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books, who has Dr. Bob Rich as one of her editors. Bob is not only an excellent grammar editor, he has the ability to 'pick-up' the atmosphere of a book, and therefore make appropriate suggestions for its improvement.

   He is also extremely tactful and sensitive in his comments; never arrogant or offensive with his suggestions. You may rest assured that he is a professional and sensitive man whom you can trust. Trust between editor and writer equals the best possible combination for a book to flourish.

Celia Ann Leaman.

   The book I edited for Celia via Twilight Times Books was Unraveled. I reviewed it in the last issue of Bobbing Around.


On lies in the White House

by Jessie Lilley

   It’s about 30 years since I got my basic education in American politics. That was the year that my mother and I sat and watched the Watergate hearings. I learned about the Constitution of the United States from Sam Erwin, Lowell Weicker, Fred Thompson and the magnificent Howard Baker who summed it all up with the question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”

   What did he know? I think he knew it all. Even if he didn’t know about the break-in beforehand, he sure as hell knew about it right afterwards and all he had to do was fire a whole flock of subordinates and save himself. But he didn’t. And the coverup that was ordered festered into what Sam Erwin suggested was the greatest tragedy in the history of the country. More so even than the Civil War wherein, Erwin noted, there were great moments of heroism and sacrifice on both sides, but there was no heroism or sacrifice in Watergate.

   This was not quite true, I think. Reflecting on Watergate recently, due to a long-ass political discussion with Linaweaver, I think there was heroism involved in the ultimate scandal. Brad asked me who my favorite Republican president of the 20th century was. I thought a moment and replied, “Nixon.” I think I surprised him and explained, “He taught me so much about politics, and he gave me Watergate and all its players.” Judge John Sirica was astonishing. Sam Erwin himself is a hero of mine and always will be. I charge you all—if you haven’t seen any of the footage or even—God forbid—you don’t know what I’m discussing here, for your own sake and the country’s, find it and see it. Listen to it and see that the general consensus is wrong. The lesson of Watergate is not “Don’t get caught.” That’s not it at all damn it!

   I am extraordinarily ashamed about that “point in time,” but exhilarated by the result. The lesson is that the system in this country can and does work. No man or woman in the United States of America is above the law. Mr. Nixon’s disgrace is all he deserved for trying to win that case in court: all the truly wonderful things he accomplished as President are brought so low by Watergate and in the end, he is reviled.

   With this in mind, I have been considering the now infamous 16 words: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It seems this information is not true. We are told that forged intelligence reports are to blame. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice blamed the British. Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly admitted he was concerned about the information. US Secretary of State Colin Powell didn’t mention any of this in his discussions with the UN after the fact. CIA Director George J. Tenet said he should have told the White House not to use that information. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said we were missing the point. President Bush didn’t say much except that he stands behind what he said and his decision to go to war as well as the fact that he was pleased that Mr. Tenet did what had to be done. Now everyone is accepting responsibility for the error and I guess since that’s been said, they expect us to all go away and forget about it.

   The President of the United States gave the people of this country false information regarding his reasons for going to war. This information was in the State of the Union Address delivered to us on January 28, 2003. And so the United States Military engaged Iraq under what seem to be false pretenses.

   As of this writing [7/31/03] between 6 and 8 thousand Iraqi civilians have died as a result of this action and on 7/18/03, the death toll on American military personnel surpassed that of the first Gulf War of 1991. Granted our losses are small in comparison to Iraq’s. We lost 147 soldiers in 1991, and today the count is over 200. No doubt Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his ilk would consider these losses insignificant, though I doubt the families of the dead would agree.

   William Jefferson Clinton lied about having sex. He was impeached over bullshit. And oh! The calamity. Special Prosecutors, closed door hearings, semen-stained dresses, reputations ruined, yada, yada, yada. Nobody died.

   George Bush lied about Saddam Hussein’s actions. Stack up the corpses.

   The people of the United States of America require the truth. We are not children who can’t handle and/or understand adult matters. We are the people Lincoln mentioned in the Gettysburg Address: “...that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

   We, the people, no longer tolerate secrets and lies in the White House. That is the lesson of Watergate.

Jessie Lilley is the original publisher of Scarlet Street, the magazine of Mystery and Horror. Noting at some point that there was more to life than Sherlock Holmes and monsters, she moved on to publish the much accredited magazine, Worldly Remains, and now writes Entertainment Criticism and Political Commentary. She's much happier now!
   This essay was first published in Worldly Remains number 8.


Responses to 'Soul Mates'

Lois Wickstrom
Kam Ruble

   In the last issue, I reproduced a desperate email from a young man who felt suicidal after being rejected by the girl he'd set his heart on. This provoked me to write an article about the cultural belief that I think is behind such tragedies.

   I strongly believe what I said, but also I enjoy a good debate. Therefore, I invited responses. Three ladies wrote, but one of them preferred not to have her answer reproduced. Here are the other two:

Lois Wickstrom

Dear Bob,

   I don't think Romance books are the problem. The myth that relationships can be all happiness (happily ever after) is a problem.

   A man from India works with my husband. His family chose a bride for him. He went back to India, married her, and moved her to the States. They now have a child. They had no illusions about "true love." Marriage is a social arrangement for sex and having children.

   If love develops that's a bonus.

   I was lucky. I married the first man I wanted to have sex with. 37 years later, I'm still hot for his bod and we've raised two children together. Our relationship is better than ever now that the children have moved out. Learning to live with him, making decisions with him, and living with each other's mistakes has been part of learning to love more fully. I would say that learning to live with our imperfections is a true source of 'happily ever after'.

   Lois has been writing children's stories and fantasy for over thirty years. She also develops children's science activities and has taught Science in the City Summer Camp. For income, she fixes computers. She is married, has two grown daughters, two silly dogs, three granddaughters, and loves to garden. Her children's books include Orange Forest Rabbit, Nessie and the Living Stone, The Lying Day, Wendell the Bully, and other titles available at www.fictionwise.com.


Kam Ruble

   Congratulations, Dr. Bob, on all the writing accomplishments mentioned in your newsletter. Very impressive. I'm not a romance author, but I feel all fiction novels are a form of escape, in one way or another. I believe anyone in the right (or wrong) frame of mind can and will be influenced by any book they read. I'm probably way off base, but I have always believed that there were two reasons for reading novels: to be entertained and to escape into a make-believe world. It doesn't seem to me that 'romance' novels should be singled out. If a person is unhappy with their life, right or wrong, they can be easily influenced by what they read in any genre. As a child I enjoyed reading Huck Finn novels, but I never once skipped school to go fishing.

Kam

   Kam and her husband Bobby have written a series of exciting crime novels with the generic title 'Have No Mercy', though each is a separate story. Look for them at www.havenomercy.com.


Response

Lois and Kam, to answer your very reasonable statements, I was not referring to the surface story line in a book. Of course everyone knows that a book of fiction is, well, fiction. But every piece of communication bears multiple messages. The message from that SF story is not only that some people fly off planet in a space ship. It may also be the battle of good and evil (implying for example that if in my opinion you are evil, I have the right to attack you). It may be a subtle message that it is right to cheat and lie, as long as the other fellow is different enough from you (justifying racial hatreds without perhaps the author even realizing this). Or the underlying message may be that it is wrong to destroy the resources that keep you alive. For example, several of Darrel Bain's madcap science fiction stories have strong environmental messages, although they are not 'in your face' preaching. It is just that his value systems come through in his writing.

   This is what I am referring to: the myths and value systems underlying the surface story. And all romance books I have ever read, edited or seen summarized have myths relating to certain expectations of the relationships between the genders. Well, that's why they are romances, right? I simply picked on one of those myths, that of the existence of a Soul Mate, a perfect partner for me, somewhere, if only I could find her.

   Now, you can't tell me that this is not a prominent theme in Romances.

   And it is severely damaging.

   Romance books are not the only way this myth is communcated to people. But they are a major source of the message.

   And Lois, thank you for pointing out that there are other cultures, with different ways of approaching the issue. Those ways also have good and bad features. I don't think I would have liked an arranged marriage.


Aunt Lucy

A short story by John Gorman

   "Poor white trash," Lucy muttered under her breath, when she saw the photograph in the evening newspaper. She did not often allow herself such expletives, but the very sight of the hooded Klansmen, "those ignoramuses in their silly costumes," standing beneath the stars and bars of the Confederacy at yesterday's convocation seemed an insult to the flag Robert had died for.

    Evenings were Aunt Lucy's best time. She could sit on her front porch in the fading light and invite her memories to come calling. She could let go of Key West and 1900 and dance again with Robert in 1861. She could plan their wedding for the Saturday after she finished at Madame Giraud's Academy.

   "But the War came," she murmured, "and we had to rush everything. So many weddings that spring."

   She lingered over their first days together, intoxicated with each other and the certainty of easy Southern victory. Then there were his leaves, each one more frantic and more hurried than the last, and his uniform, first a lieutenant's, then a captain's and finally a major's, but always more threadbare and more in need of her mending. Then there was the news from Chickamauga.

   She cried alone. There were too many other women in black, half mad with shock and grief, and too much else to do in a land that was losing a war for its very existence.

   No one knew how she cut off the long blonde hair that Robert had loved so much, disguised herself as a teenage corporal from a regiment destroyed at Vicksburg and rode scout for General Hood, battered field glasses slung across her shoulder, a Colt heavy on her hip. Twice, she shot her way through Union patrols, bullets whistling in her ears and the smell of black powder sharp in her nostrils. Those days, she tried not to remember, but the saber cut on her thigh still hurt in damp weather.

   After Appomattox, her hasty diploma from Madame Giraud's made her a schoolteacher, and she taught all eight grades in that one room for thirty years. She would have retired and died in Macon, if an uncle she hardly knew had not left her the tiny cottage she had decided to make her last home.

   The story times were not really her idea. But somehow the children had discovered the Old Southern Lady on Caroline Street who baked cookies on Friday afternoons. It was they who called her "Aunt Lucy" and sometimes spoke to her of things their parents could not hear.

   Lucy was about to go inside, when Freddie Baker came around the corner at a dead run, slipped and fell, picked himself up without even a glance at his skinned knees and didn't stop until he had tumbled onto her porch.

   "Aunt Lucy, Aunt Lucy," the eight-year-old wailed. "The White Hats!" He caught his breath. "The White Hats are hangin' Bobby Lucas down at the salt pond!"

   "Bobby Lucas?" she wondered.

   "He comes on Fridays," Freddie panted. "He lives with his grandmother on Amelia Street."

   The image of the unkempt twelve-year-old sprang to mind.

   "Whatever for?" Lucy asked, rising slowly to her feet.

   "They were gonna string up Rastas, the darky who lives with that Spanish woman on Seminary Street. Bobby heard 'em talkin'. When he had the fever, she prayed over him, and he got better. So Bobby went and warned 'em. They got away in Rastas's boat. Now, the White Hats are so mad, they're stringin' up Bobby instead."

   "Get the sheriff."

   "He's gone up to Islamorada after some wreckers, and nobody will listen to me. They're all afraid."

   "Well, I'm not," Lucy snapped. "Fetch a horse, Freddie. I'll be right out."

   A few steps brought her to the rolltop desk in her bedroom. The catch answered her fingers, the concealed drawer slid open, and the big cap-and-ball revolver was in her hand.

   She turned up the kerosene lamp, sat down on the bed and began to load the pistol. Her hands were swift and skillful, but the stiffness in her fingers made putting the tiny primer caps on the cylinder slow work.

   Only when she had finished did she allow herself to look at the faded photograph of the young man in Confederate uniform. The tide of memories almost carried her away again. She blinked back her tears, blew out the lamp and turned toward the door.

   Freddie had found a horse. Lucy hoisted herself into the saddle and had Freddie mount in front of her. She kept the revolver in her hand beneath her shawl.

   "Take the reins, Freddie," she said. "I don't see too well in this light."

   The aged mare was long past any hope of a gallop, but she did manage a fast trot. When Lucy saw the bonfire and the men gathered around it, she told Freddie to dismount and hide. She let the mare pick her way through the crowd.

   The Klansmen were having much too good a time to notice her at first. They had not bothered to tie Bobby's hands, letting him dangle from the tree limb, clawing at the rope that was choking him, while they passed a jug and took bets on how long he'd last.

   Lucy squinted hard. Her best glasses were not much help now. A hand reached up out of a white robe and took the bridle.

   "What're you doin' here?" a thick voice demanded.

   Even Lucy's weak eyes could see that far. She leveled the revolver and cocked the hammer.

   "You've had your fun," she declared. "Now you let that boy down, or I'll kill you like a cur in the street."

   There was a sudden silence as Lucy's finger tightened on the trigger. Any moment, a stone, a blow or a bullet might come out of the darkness. All the will that remained in her was gathered in that finger.

   "Jeb," someone whispered, "she means it."

   Lucy felt the trigger soften as the sear began to slip.

   "Let him down!" the now shrill voice beneath the hood cried.

   Lucy caught the hammer with her thumb as it started to fall.

   As soon as his feet touched the ground, Bobby threw off the noose and ran to Lucy. She helped him mount, and they rode slowly back to the street. No one made any move to stop them. Lucy took the boy to his grandmother and sat up the night with them, the old revolver in her lap.

   By noon, the story was all over town. The Invisible Empire was angry, and there were dark hints of revenge. But Lucy was the widow of a Confederate officer. Word went out to leave her alone.

   So indeed, she was left alone. Key West was a small place, and the Klan was strong. Hardly anyone spoke to her, save in the course of business. Her cookies went uneaten, and even Bobby did not dare to come often. When Death came calling in the spring of 1906, Lucy had only her memories to keep vigil.

   John Gorman is well known to readers of Bobbing Around. He is a freelance journalist based in Florida and author of King of the Romans, published by Awe-Struck.net.


The Other Woman

by Heide Kaminski

   I thought I was married to T. We tied the knot in 1997 after living together for almost three years. I wanted my tubes tied, he wanted a son. So I said not without a marriage certificate.

   We had our little boy less than a year later.

   All these years I thought I was married to him.

   But now I know better.

   And the truth is painful.

   I am the other woman.

   He is really married to Mary Jane.

   Has been all of the time that I have known him.

   I was so blind that all this time I knew Mary Jane and I thought she was just his casual friend.

   You see; Mary Jane does not care. She is very possessive and her grip on any man (or woman under her spell) is ironclad. But she has no feelings. She cannot love. She cannot care. She can only destroy.

   She is very good at convincing her victims that she is wonderful. She is very good at making them believe that she is worth losing all the people who love you. Or destroy them if they dare to tell you that she is bad. Mary Jane is very vicious and even more so as her vicious ways are so deceiving that you cannot see what she is doing. She makes you feel good. She makes you carefree. She makes you the center of her world. She is also very demanding. If you don’t pay her proper attention she can make you so sick that you beg for her to take you back.

   I cannot do all that. I am a human. I have emotions. So some days I am too tired, too grouchy, too sick, too stressed out to make the man of my life the center of my life. Some days I want someone to take care of me, love me despite bags under my eyes, despite my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to cleaning the house or cooking a first class gourmet dinner.

   Mary Jane is not human. She is a monster. A monster in disguise of a harmless little habit. After all, she is not as bad as crack, cocaine, heroine, LSD, ecstasy or the like. She is just a little bundle of tobacco, she is “just” weed, pot, m.j., grass.

   I used to believe that “occasional” using was acceptable. I used to believe that alcohol is worse than M.J. I used to say I’d take a pot smoker any day over an alcoholic. I was married to a drinker who turned violent under the influence. Then I married an occasional user. I thought his mellowness was refreshing compared to the alcohol-influenced rage I had experienced before.

   I was wrong.

   He is no longer just mellow. He is now incapable of loving and caring.

   Mary Jane is no longer a casual friend.

   He is married to her and I am the other woman…

   Heide AW Kaminski is a single mom of three (no longer the other woman...), a preschool art teacher, newspaper reporter, anthologist, published author, dishwasher, laundromat, constantly depleted and dreaming of becoming a famous and rich writer. You can help her achieve her goal by checking out her latest: "Get Smart Through Art".

   Find a description and order information at http://www.thewriterslife.net/Kaminski.html.


'I love my therapist'?

Transference/countertransference

Hello,

   I read a reply that you had written on the queendom.com site to a depressed woman who expressed, among other things, a fear of being too attached to her therapist.

   I understand that having someone, perhaps the first and only one, who attentively listens, who expresses care and concern, who doesn't judge, etc. -- having such a person to "dump" on could create a sense of deep appreciation, gratefulness, and thankfulness. However, why is it that some clients can develop a fixation and have difficulty in letting go?

   It is understood at the beginning of therapy, isn't it, that the psychologist is NOT your friend? Is NOT your companion or parent? Is NOT your (whatever mold the person seems to be trying to throw the psychologist into)?

   The question she posed and your answer intrigued me and sparked my over abundant curiosity. I am not wishing to be judgmental or critical of this woman or others who seem to be so inclined. Perhaps you can educate me and enlighten me some. Perhaps I can somehow improve in my understanding and compassion for others by gaining understanding.

   (and, yes, I am by nature a professional student even if I am not one by profession!)

Thank you for your time and trouble.


Becky, you may or may not be a professional, but you are a thoughtful thinker.

   I don't follow Freud's ideas, mostly they are of historical interest only. Some of his observations, however, were spot on. One is on 'transference' and 'countertransference'. Transference is what this lady felt for her therapist: a warm emotional attachment. This is not a bad thing, perhaps it is even necessary. It can become bad if it acquires sexual overtones, and part of a therapist's skill is to make sure this doesn't happen.

   Countertransference is when the therapist similarly develops warm feelings for the client. I have this happen all the time. Often, I find myself actually disliking a new client. After all, you can't like everybody. However, some time early in our contact, my feelings change, and I get very fond of this person. This may already be in the first session. Whenever it happens, I know my client is going to make solid gains. On the very rare occasions that it doesn't, I am pretty sure I am the wrong therapist for this person.

All the best,
Bob


Announcments

Dream Realm Awards 2003
'Daring Quests of Mystics' by Shirley Cheng

Announcing 'The Dream Realm Awards 2003'

Fresno, CA -- March 4, 2004 -- It's time for the fourth annual Dream Realm Awards. Created to recognize excellence in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action-Adventure and Horror in electronically published books, the bigger and better than ever Dream Realm Awards 2003 presentation will be held in conjunction with ArmadilloCon26 in Austin, Texas, August13-15, 2004.

   The Dream Realm Awards are dedicated to bringing attention to the quality of electronically published books available to the reading public. Entries are now being accepted for original adult and young adult-oriented ebooks and cover art in the above categories. Authors and artists are cordially invited to become a part of the prestigious Dream Realm Awards 2003.

   Last year's contest was a triumphant success, with books and cover art entries from all over the world. The Dream Realm Awards 2003 will be among the many exciting events planned for ArmadilloCon26 at the world class Hilton North Hotel in Austin. Winners will be announced Saturday evening, August 14, 2004.

   If you want recognition for your electronically published book, enter the Dream Realm Awards 2003. Be a part of electronic publishing history.

   For submission information and complete contest rules, visit the Dream Realm Awards 2003 website at http://www.dream-realm-awards.net.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION
Elizabeth Burton.

   I have had an association of the Dream Realm Awards for several years. The Making of a Forest Fighter won the Action/Adventure category last year. The year before, Through Other Eyes was a finalist in the Anthologies category. I have judged for the contest every year since its inception, and expect to do so again this year.


Shirley Cheng

'Daring Quests' Yield Lessons of Life

   Shirley Cheng brings fiction to life in her new novel, Daring Quests of Mystics. Written in a beautiful, engaging lyrical style, this family-friendly book provokes the readers to discover that fine qualities surpass all powers of magic and sorcery. The exciting world of castles and mystics allows us to experience a magical journey along which lessons of life are taught and cherished.

   Daring Quests of Mystics follows the adventures of beautiful Princess Sophia. Her elegant and tranquil life is upset on her seventeenth birthday when she receives the omen: "Terror and adventure you shall face on your wedding day." Her world is turned upside down as she is forced to conquer daring and dangerous quests along her path to becoming a woman.

   Daring Quests of Mystics is available in softcover (ISBN 1-58939-513-1) and hardcover (ISBN 1-58939-515-8) from Virtualbookworm.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The book can also be ordered from most bookstores around the United States and the United Kingdom. More information about the book and author can be found at http://www.shirleycheng.com Shirley Cheng can be reached at SCDaringQuests@aol.com.

   Shirley Cheng has certainly experienced difficult quests of her own. Born in New York in 1983, Cheng was diagnosed with severe Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at only eleven months old and completely lost her vision at age seventeen. Although blind and confined to a wheelchair, Cheng has not let her severe disabilities hinder her thirst for life. She excels in academics and writes both prose and poems. Cheng is a three-time winner of the National Reflections Program in visual arts. She is a unique survivor with tremendous capabilities. Most remarkably, she started school at age eleven without any prior education and English is her second language. After a successful eye surgery, Cheng hopes to earn a science doctorate from Harvard University.

   Coming soon is her second book, The Revelation of a Star's Endless Shine: A Young Woman's Autobiography of a 20-Year Tale of Trials and Tribulations.


Writing

…Well then, why do they exist?
How NOT to annoy an editor

…Well then, why do they exist?

   I belong to lots of writers' email lists, and have occasional contact with other editors. From this, I am aware that adverbs and adjectives are out of favour with the writing community.

   I don't see why.

   Certainly, a baroque style that qualifies everything is hard to read, and stodgy. But then, is a sparse telegraphic style necessarily better? To my mind, as usual, the answer lies in the middle. Qualifiers exist in language because they have a job to do. Sometimes it is useful and informative to insert them. At other times they slow the pace, or may act as 'instructions' from writer to reader instead of having the text show what is intended.

   All absolute rules are absolutely wrong. 'Cut out adjectives' is good advice to a writer who is overusing them, but is not a general prescription, carved in stone.

   Let us look at a few examples.

   'George suddenly became very serious.' An editor changed this to 'George became serious.' I think this is loss of information. 'Suddenly', 'just', 'very', 'slowly' and the like are not merely padding to be eliminated in all circumstances. If you like, they are stage directions. The writer's task is to pass on enough information to the reader, who needs to use this to construct the scene. 'Jim strode briskly to the fireplace' is a different stage direction from 'Jim strode to the fireplace.' 'Briskly' conveys additional information. It is not 'telling instead of showing,' it isn't padding, but rather a proper part of writing.

   'Stopping for a cup of coffee is very tempting at the moment.' Change this to the sparse, unqualified 'Stopping for a cup of coffee is tempting,' and you have lost information at two levels. If I were to read the second sentence aloud, I could choose to do so in a flat tone of voice. The first one demands emphasis on 'very'. Also, it conveys a sense of urgency, even desperation, which is missing from the truncated version.

   'After the past week, Sunday is most definitely a day of rest.' Compare with 'After the past week, Sunday is a day of rest.' What is the effect of removing the qualifier? Brevity, yes, but at the cost of emphasis. That emphasis is necessary information.

   For a final example, consider 'As the light came on, I saw that the ground was uneven but reasonably level.' The sparse 'The ground was uneven but level' loses a great deal: the sense of time sequence; 'reasonably level' and 'level' actually have different meanings because the former implies that it wasn't exactly level; and there is a music to the longer sentence that is lost. Reading your words aloud may make you want to change word order, add, delete or substitute words, just to make it sound better. All prose is poetry.

   To conclude, it is not always very smart to be surgically brief.


How NOT to annoy an editor

by Brenna Lyons

   Brenna attended the recent EPICon, and is reporting on what she got from attending a panel of publishers' editors:

   This panel was limited in time. I got the feeling that the publishers would have gone all on day if we'd had the time for it. The list toppers of pet peeves were. (And thank goodness NONE of us do these, right?)

* Limit the number of "ing" verbs you use.

* Use em dash, ellipses and semicolons correctly AND sparingly.

* Never use multiple exclamation points, no matter how much you want to stress something.

* Limit adjectives and adverbs where you can. Not just ly adverbs but all adverbs. If you can get rid of words like very or really, ditch them.

* Be specific in e-mail to your publisher about who you are, what book you're discussing and what you need. The pub is likely dealing with several people named Deb with a total of ten books between them. Also, recap anything you've already discussed on the matter with the pub, so she doesn't have to pull out the file to find out for herself.

* Always be patient and respectful. Remember that you are not the only author and book the pub has on her desk that week. They really do answer as quickly as they can and aren't always sitting at their desk waiting for your e-mail. Even if the person you need is at his/her desk, your e-mail may be one of hundreds to be sorted and answered that day.

* On that note, don't send frivolous e-mail to your publisher. Write when you have an honest need of information. Daily updates are counterproductive. Every time the publisher has to take time to answer you, that is 15 min NOT being used for what you want done in the first place.

* Always be courteous. Never forget that publishers talk to each other. Burning your bridges with ONE publisher in a spectacular fashion (while it may feel GREAT to unload your frustration) means that not only will you never publish with that particular house, you are unlikely to publish with any editors/publishers that one talks to on a regular basis, and they DO talk.

* Don't POV jump. MOST publishers don't want to see it.

* Make sure your submissions, even e-submissions, have a proper cover letter attached INCLUDING all your personal contact information AND your legal and pen names. It screws up the system when the publisher doesn't have all this information up front.

* NEVER send zipped files to the publisher. If there is a problem with file length, ask the publisher how he/she wants you to transmit that 1.8 meg file.

* Read every e-mail the publisher or her representatives send out carefully before asking questions. Nothing slows down the list more than people who ask something already covered in the previous message.

* Read edit notes carefully. Make sure you understand what the editor wants. If you have any doubts, ask before you make any changes. Never ignore an edit note. If you disagree, always discuss it with the editor. Sometimes editors misread. Sometimes you will reject an edit, but always remember the editor WANTS to make your book the best he/she can make it. Not discussing an edit note implies to the editor that you agreed and made the required changes before sending it back. Not following these guidelines is frustrating for the editor and slows things down.

* Open your book with some hint of what the problem MIGHT be or at least with action. Don't spend pages of inaction. Hook the reader right away.

* Use words that don't have to be looked up by 90% of readers, unless you're writing literary fiction and want to be artsy. Keep in mind that most readers have a 6-10th grade reading level. If they have to look up more than one word in a book of popular fiction, you are unlikely to sell them another book.

* Use words correctly. Don't just pick up the thesaurus and go to town.

* Keep the flow going. Simple language that doesn't make the reader re-read several times or reach for a dictionary will win you repeat readers.

* Give your characters distinctive voices, so you don't have to use tags every line, but remember to use enough tags that your reader remembers who is talking and doesn't lose track over time. Don't use long, complicated tags when it's supposed to be a quick dialog exchange. If you use them, make sure they fit into a break in conversation, or you kill the quick interaction quality.

* Get rid of passive writing!

* Make sure any foreign language you use is grammatically correct. Have someone who is fluent check your translations. Better yet, don't use it if you don't have to. If you can put everything in English but a few chosen endearments (putting one language in italics and the other not to keep them straight), go for it.

* Make sure your flow within sentences, within paragraphs, paragraph to paragraph and scene to scene is smooth. Topic hopping is as disruptive as head hopping.

* Don't tell the publisher every little thing you do to promo, but let him/her know that you are doing promo once in a while. Either extreme is distressing to the pub. Make sure you DO promote. It's not all the publisher's job. Try to find out which promo you do is effective and continue the things that are.

   Brenna Lyons is a poet and novelist who currently has six series and several stand-alones in the SF/f, paranormal, and horror genres contracted to her five publishers. She enjoys talking to readers and other authors and can be reached through her site at http://www.brennalyons.com


Book Review

Finding the Right Spot:
When kids can't live with their parents
by Janice Levy; illustrated by Whitney Martin

Magination Press (American Psychological Association)
ISBN 1-59147-073-0

   I don't often need to fight off tears when reading a kids' book. I did with this one, but they were good tears, of being deeply touched, of joining another person in her private suffering and then seeing her growing through the pain towards a better future. I can tell at the end that this little girl will be all right.

   Hers is an all too common story. Her mother drinks too much, has no job, cannot care for her. So, she is placed into foster care.

   This book will be an invaluable resource for anyone caring for such unfortunate waifs. It will bring peace and understanding to these children who feel abandoned and betrayed. But even beyond that, it is a good story to read to more fortunate kids -- so they will learn the art of empathy, and be kind to those who need kindness the most.

   The impact of the story is magnified a thousand-fold by the wonderful, evocative drawings. Whitney Martin has done well.

   Helpful and informative notes can be found at the back. They are by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright, two child and family therapists who obviously know what they are talking about.


A Stopwatch for Swimmers

Hey Bob!

   I'd like a stopwatch for swimmers.

   I mean, it's easy for a runner. You clutch the thing in your hot little hand and push buttons when you want to. You do a lap, click the lap timer button, look down as you keep running, then click the lap timer again.

   Try that while you're swimming!

   For that matter, try it while doing downhill skiing, or racing on a bike. There may be other sports like that too. I don't know. I swim.

   So, here is what I want somebody to invent.

   There is this thing strapped to your hand, with two buttons on the palm. When you want to push a button, all it takes is to bend down one finger for a split second. You can do this in the middle of a tumble turn, as your feet touch.

   A second part is attached to the goggles. It's a projector thing that shines the numbers on the inside of the goggle, so that you see them as if a few feet in front of you.

   The two bits are connected somehow. That's a technical issue, but shouldn't be that difficult, surely?

   You'd need codes for start, stop, reset, stop at lap time, restart, and also show display and hide display.

   Is there an electronics whiz kid in the house?

   Good on you, pal,

Frank


But it's against the rules...
by Judy Nicholls

   As a native of Cincinnati, I feel I might as well weigh in on the big local issue. Should Pete Rose's ban from baseball be lifted?

   He's said he's sorry (more or less), he was one of the greatest players ever and the majority of the public supports it. And it's been 14 years.

   Now I've seen Pete Rose play, both at Crosley Field and Riverfront Stadium. I saw the Legendary Big Red Machine in action and there's no doubt that Pete's playing was worthy of the Hall of Fame. He belongs there and the ban should be lifted, right?

   I don't just say no to that. I say hell, no!

   All right, I'm no big fan of Pete Rose the person. I agree with my mother, who always said she just hated to hear him talk, that he murdered the King's English. And my uncle often told a story about Pete Rose showing up at a civic club event in Hillsboro, Ohio with a voluptuous woman on each arm, neither one of whom was Mrs. Rose. Not much of a role model, although you have to admire a guy who can persuade not one but two beautiful women to accompany him all the way out to Hillsboro for a Kiwanis meeting. Or whatever group Uncle Bob was talking about.

   No, what he did was against the rules. There is a story we all know, always told with reverence, as a cautionary tale for all who love the game of baseball. How in 1919 the Chicago White Socks, (one of the greatest teams ever) led by Shoeless Joe Jackson (one of the greatest players ever) threw the World Series for a pay-off from high stakes gamblers. How a little boy, crushed by the news, cried out "Say it ain't so, Joe!" How a judge took over in the chaos afterwards and set up the commission for baseball, regulating the game so this wouldn't happen again. How Shoeless Joe Jackson, the greatest player ever, could never ever play baseball for as long as he lived. How the judge set up that cardinal rule–any player betting on baseball will be banned from the game for life.

   No doubt, Pete Rose has heard this story. The opposing team in the Black Socks scandal was the Cincinnati Reds. It happened right here in Cincinnati. Every player knows that betting on baseball will result in a lifetime ban. Including Pete Rose.

   And he did it anyway.

   Rose says he didn't bet against the Reds. So what? The rule says betting on baseball and makes no distinction as to whether you're betting for or against your own team.

   I'm hoping there will be a new cautionary tale out of all this that we can tell ourselves for years to come. How one of the best players ever, crude and arrogant, thought the rules didn't apply to him. How he broke the rules and lied about it for 14 years. How he hoped he could return because everyone wanted him to. How he was turned down.

   Because what he did was against the rules.

   I must say, I have never heard of Pete Rose, and know less than nothing about American baseball. But Judy's message makes sense to me.

   Judy Nicholls is a former Cincinnatian, now transplanted to sunny Wilmington NC and wondering if the Bengals could learn a thing or two from the Carolina Panthers. She is the author of Caviar Dreams, a novel of sex, greed and murder. Visit her website at http://www.judy5cents.com


A little plug

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