Bobbing Around

Number Five, May, 2002

Archived at

Bob Rich's rave
email me

About Bobbing Around with Submission Guidelines.
Psychology The Magic of Guided Imagery.
Letters From My Friends
E-books New E-book Reader On the Way.
What My Friends and I Want You to Know.
1. I'm Talking About One Person!
2. Writing Historical Fiction, by John Gorman.
Book Reviews A new feature.
Building: Rammed Earth
Humour Or is it philosophy?
How to Write a Good book Review. Advice to a friend.
Helium Balloons of the Near Future
Reality is catching up with Sleeper, Awake
Poetry Commitment by NDK.

The Magic of Guided Imagery

   I didn't mean to do it. All I was trying to do was to ease the pain, but in the process I sabotaged the power of medical diagnostics.

   Here is how it happened.

   Imagine the darkest of nights. The grass is wet, slippery, but I've walked along here hundreds of times, and I take pride in my excellent night vision. I'm running late, left home still carrying a half-full cup. I am concentrating more on not spilling the delicious liquid than on my footing.


   At least, the cup didn't break.

   I felt no pain at first, but by the time I got to the meeting, my left arm, shoulder and chest were a deep, agonising throb. My upper arm had swollen to nearly twice its usual size. I sat through it all, a couple of hours, even made a contribution, but my main feeling was of getting old. My age usually ranges from 25 to 95, and after the fall it was definitely in the upper reaches.

   This was on Saturday night. Sunday was a workday, and I put myself on light duties, helping in the kitchen. I could peel and slice, and wash dishes while holding my left arm VERY still.

   Monday, I made it to the doctor's, who booked an ultrasound for the Tuesday.

   Have you ever had an ultrasound? There is this black and white screen, and as the sonographer rubs a sensor device along your skin, the screen shows a heaving sea, with prehistoric monsters coming up to breathe. Well, that's what it looked like to me, but the sonographer lady had a different interpretation. "You've got a frozen shoulder," she told me. "Sometimes the shock of an impact can do that if things are already damaged, and there is the sign of a pretty severe tear. Only, it's an old one."

   "How do you know?"

   "There is very little swelling. If that was a new tear, your arm would be twice the size."

   "It was," I answered. "I got rid of the swelling to reduce the pain."

   You see, I couldn't sleep Saturday night. After a quarter of an hour I clambered out of bed, and made myself a nest in our reclining chair. The arm was throbbing with pain.

   First I went into a well-practised routine and completely relaxed my body… well, most of it. The left upper quadrant was an entity to itself. Then I concentrated on breathing, in… out… Now, each breath in was a golden cloud that went to my left shoulder and arm. It enveloped the damage, soaked up mucky red stuff, then returned to my lungs. Eyes closed, I exhaled a dirty red cloud.

   Time and again I did this, then introduced some fun too, anything to distract me from pain. I formed an army of tiny little men. They wore white uniforms, and each carried a syringe about his own size. As the golden cloud of my breath arrived at the injury, a platoon of blokes came with it, filled their syringes with fluid and left.

   I don't know how long this went on, because the next thing was dawn. I'd slept the night through after all, and in the morning my arm was down to almost normal size.


Postscript: The ultrasound showed a tear in the supraspinatus tendon, whatever that may be :). The ends are separated 1.5 cm, three quarters of an inch, so the medical view is that it'll never heal. I need an operation. Only, I am carrying on a campaign of guided imagery. Maybe I can baffle the surgical trade as well. And there is nothing lost if I don't manage it.

Responses to Past Issues.

Liz Burton
Kate Saundby
Sally Odgers
Martine from Holland
Darrell Bain

Another Letter from Liz Burton

   A letter from Liz was published in Bobbing Around 3. She has added this to it:

Dear Bob,

   Well, you certainly got an earful from us Yanks.[lol] Your friend Don makes a point I didn't because of the rapidity of my response--and it's one I'm dealing with first-hand.

   Austin being a high-tech city, home of Dell and a myriad of other such companies, we have been hit hard by the dot-com crashes and the decline that followed. Then came 9-11.

   My husband is a cab driver. Up until December of last year he could make a fairly decent living at it. A major portion of that came from driving people to the airport. As the business climate worsened, people stopped making business trips on the same scale as they had previously.

   The week of September 11, he barely earned enough to meet his cab lease obligation. Now, nearly three months later, he is still struggling. The day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, should have been a busy, busy day taking folks to the airport. He made one trip. The tourism industry, on which many, many people depend for work, is in chaos. And these aren't highly paid execs. These are the kids at Mickey D's and Burger King and the chambermaids at the hotels and the parking valets. The vast majority of tourism industry workers are minimum-wage service workers--and guess who gets laid off first.

   I concur that the image the media gives of Americans is skewed. How could it not be when those reporting it have no idea how the majority of people in their own country live. The cynicism in any given newsroom in the US is deep enough to drown in--they are SO convinced they know more than everybody about everything. The irony, of course, being that they know very little about anything. And their avid pursuit of "the news" has one basic purpose--to feed their corporate entities' bottom lines.

   Need proof? Watch the TV news coverage of the WTC the week of the attack, then compare it to what went on barely a week later. In the space of seven days, they went from reporting the news back to "newsinfotainment." (Actually, it started much sooner than a week.)

   I just have one more thing: my website is I must have used the signature advertising my new fantasy serial at The Wandering Troll, which is the URL you listed as my website. No problem, I aim to confuse. :)

Elizabeth Burton

Kate Saundby

   I agree with Liz that rationalizing Arab hatred of the US by putting it down to envy of our lifestyle is a bit simplistic.

   In truth, Islam has a history of attacking the West going back to when they came over the Pyranees into France and were sent packing by Charles Martel. Nothing loath, they tried it again in the 1500's and got the boot from the Venetian fleet. Still not having learned their lesson, they ran smack into Don Juan of Austria at the gates of Vienna and inspired the croissant. What happened on September 11 was yet another unprovoked Islamic attack and the West will do as they've done before.

   My viewpoint is a bit different because I deal with the poorest of the poor in one of the most economically depressed rural counties in the entire USA. Were it not for Food Stamps, most of my clients would be on the streets with a begging bowl and many, especially the children, would be starving to death.

   However, even though their idea of conspicuous consumption is three meals a day and shelter for the next month, my clients' reaction to the events of September 11 has been the same as mine. On the evening of September 11, I cried all the way home and must have watched the attack on the Towers at least fifty times. I wear a red white and blue ribbon every day, have a bumper sticker on my car reading "These Colors Will Not Run," and display a flag in my office. The people of this country, from the richest and to the poorest, have come together as one and even the homeless have flags on their backpacks and shopping carts.

   None of us see the war in Afghanistan as revenge nor do we want to hurt the Afghan people but this terrorism has got to be stopped. i.e. When a mad dog's going for your throat, you don't preach animal rights. You reach for a gun to defend yourself. That doesn't mean you hate the dog or even desire its death, if you happen to kill it in the process, so be it.

   Both my sons fly on business and could easily have been on one of those planes. For three hours that day I didn't know where they were and it was noon before I learned they were safe. Like the folks who died, they're innocents who've harmed no one. One is the father of three little girls with a fourth on the way. When Nick's not working, he's doing volunteer work for his church and he happens to be the artist who does my covers.

   Osama Bin Laden is a corrupter of the young who sat safely in his luxurious mansion in Kandahar while sending others out to do his evil work, then die. Like the young kamakazi pilots of World War II, his unwitting emissaries were deliberately brainwashed from childhood and hatred and the desire to murder were all they knew. Given more of this world's riches than most of us will see in ten lifetimes, Bin Laden squandered his incredible bounty on what? Now he cowers in a cave surrounded by his remaining loyalists, waiting for the inevitable.

   The way I see it, we're doing what we must in Afghanistan and have no other choice.

Freddie aka Kate Saundby

   One of Kate's books is a recipient of my LiFE Award: Literature For Environment. I have reviewed some of her books, and can recommend them as great reading. We have an enormous mutual regard and respect for each other, and have the kind of friendship that is not dislodged by differences of opinion. Here is my answer to her:

Dear Kate,

   Thank you for your response, I am delighted at the amount of thoughtful discussion that has come out of my original essay. I presume you sent this for public consumption? I would like to print it in the next issue of Bobbing Around.

   Certainly you are right: Muhammad himself was a warrior, and he looked on the sword as a proselytizing tool. However, interestingly, he excluded 'People of the Book', that is Hebrews and Nazarenes (Jews and Christians in modern terms) from this.

   Nor has the aggression been one way. The Crusades were among the blackest periods in world history: unprovoked attacks on a peaceful Arab world on the basis of an idea, in fact exactly the same kind of outrage as the recent attack on America. And when the Moors ruled Spain, they were the most cultured and enlightened culture then on earth (they had slavery, but so did everyone else). The Inquisition replacing them was truly barbaric.

   Either way, what happened hundreds of years ago does not excuse action now.

   Also, I am in full agreement with you about the inequities in our wealthy countries. There is an epidemic of homelessness in Australia too, at a time when some large companies (notably banks) pay record dividends to their shareholders.

   And, like your clients, I want nothing less than death for the masterminds behind mass murder, and among the victims of mass murder I count the deluded suicide attackers too.

   Where we may differ is that in my opinion the bombing of civilians is also a war crime. It was during World War II, for example the firebombing of Dresden, and it is now, in Afghanistan. And my worry is that while we have won the war there, that is only a battle in a larger war, and will push more Muslim youths towards extremism.

All the best,

Sally Odgers

   I just read "Will Your Writing be Remembered" and you know what? You're right! It is to do with philosophy; if the philosophy in a book strikes a chord (even if it isn't one I use myself) I remember the book. There's something else; characters. I prefer to read about people I find interesting and/or like. If a character is someone I'd avoid in real life, I'll usually want to avoid him/her in a book too. I like books about characters who, even if the odds are against them, become the best version of themselves they can manage. I always remember the heroine of your "Sleeper" because she grew in spirit until the end.

   Thanks for another great issue - and hey, I enjoyed the Lost Viagra Pill as well!

Sally O.

   Look up Sally's WONDERFUL web site

Martine from Holland

   Martine is a wonderful lady. We have occasional email contact that ranges over a million issues. Here is a little snippet from her that should interest many people:

   I wonder, Bob: do you think that, apart from healthy food and adequate exercise, the way we're thinking will influence the process of aging? In other words: do you think that a mind that will continue to explore and learn somehow could affect physical processes? I know women over ten years younger who already entered menopause, while I'm still regular as clockwork. And quite often, people ask me what I do to prevent wrinkles. Should I answer: introspection? : )

   Could be great for the therapy business, wouldn't it? "Don't waste your money on facelifts and expensive cremes. go see your local therapist!" And even if they wouldn't end up looking young and vital, they wouldn't mind, since they would feel happier.

   How is your therapy practice ding? Still getting new clients?

   Don't forget to ask at least some of them to pay for your valuable services... : )

Darrell Bain

Hi Bob--

   Enjoyed Bobbing Around, especially hearing from Susan. What a gem of a person she is--and how unfair for someone so good to suffer so much. [Publisher Susan Bodendorfer had announced her retirement due to ill health.]

   Where do ethics and morals come from? Simple enough. They developed as we evolved in order to keep us from bashing each other with our stone axes every time we met. Now they are all mixed up with religion, culture, ethnicity, etc. but still universal. All religions and ethical systems have one precept, and not even worded very differently: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Unfortunately, as you said, morals and ethics aren't taught by parents as much as they used to be. However....I read a LOT of history, and seems as if cruelty, dishonor, thievery and general no-goodness have been prevalent as far back as we can find--as well as goodness, kindness, consideration, sacrifice for family, etc.

   Humans are a strange breed, aren't they?


   Darrel Bain is one of the funniest writers I've read. His newsletter is Laughing All the Way Subscribe at or mail with Subscribe in subject.

   The book The Sex Gates by Darrell Bain and Jeanine Berry is the number one best seller across the board at fictionwise. And The Pet Plague will soon be up there, too.

A New E-book Reader is On the Way

   New Samsung e-book reader SEOUL (Reuters) - A new paperback-sized computer screen that folds like a book will be ideal for Internet users reading online novels, its South Korean inventor said on Tuesday.

   The 6.7 inch by 5 inch flat LCD screen folds along a central hinge and is much clearer than existing devices, display maker Samsung SDI said.

   It spent $1.54 million developing the screen and plans to start producing it in the second-half of 2002. It expects its sister company Samsung Electronics to build it into an "e-book" computer.

   Samsung SDI says the new screen also consumes less power than existing screens.

   "This product will enable us to expand our market share in the e-book computer display market whose growth potential is explosive," said Yang Hong-keun, who heads up the development.

   Samsung sees potential sales of flat panels for electronic books at 24,973 units this year.

   "It may become profitable in the long run, but I wonder how it could help Samsung increase its revenue in the short term," said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.

What My Friends and I Want You to Know

Me First!
Ariana and Max Overton
Kate Anthony
Nina Osier
Joan Bramsch
Wendy Maree Peterson
Savannah Michaels
Rita Toews
Yvonne Harris

Bob Rich

1.   Zumaya Publications have just published The Mother's Sword, the second book of the Stories of the Ehvelen, in paperback.

   If you live in Canada, you can buy any Zumaya title from Instabook. In the USA, Zumaya titles are available in paperback from Booksurge. Their page for me is A click on this link will allow you to buy my three Zumaya books.

   Electronic copies of all my books are still available from Anina's Book Company. I sell them directly from my web sites.

   Here is this issue's Special Offer. If you buy any of my paperback books and request a book plate (so then your book is uniquely autographed), I will also give you, free of charge, any one of my eight electronic books. The book plate will cost you $US2 if you are outside Australia. Just click on this link. In the email you will be able to send with the payment, give me your name, email address and country, something about the intended recipient (yourself or the person who is to receive it as a gift), the title of the book you bought and the title you want as the free e-book.

2.   My short story collection Through Other Eyes was one of three finalists in the Anthologies category of the Dream Realm Awards. It has been released in Australia as a trade paperback by Anina's Book Company. The price is $20. Email me to order a copy, stating your postal address as well as email address. I'll sign the copy for you as well, so include the details I specified in the previous paragraph. The cost of postage will be added too, and this depends on where you live. And the same special offer applies: buy a paperback copy of this book and I'll sign it for you, and also give you an electronic copy of the book of your choice.

3.   Sadly, I have withdrawn my award-winning novel Sleeper, Awake from Clock Tower Books, though we parted as friends. Zumaya will re-issue this book in the USA and Canada, as soon as possible.

Ariana and Max Overton

   These two delightful people have been winning accodales for their books, which are now available as both electronic and trade paperback books from Atlantic Bridge.

   Max and I share an interest in historical fiction. I am currently half through editing his next volume, and it's a beauty. Read the previous one so you'll be ready for the sequel. As for Ari, her writing is wonderful, in several genres.

Kate Anthony

   A new book covering all aspects of the exciting realm of Counselling and Psychotherapy at a distance will be available in early 2003. Edited by Kate Anthony and Dr. Stephen Goss, and published by International publishers Palgrave/Macmillan, Technology in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice: A Practitioners' Guide will be one of the first books to take a really serious, in depth look at this burgeoning field.

   The book will be resolutely directed towards the needs and interests of practitioners. It will contain all the up to the minute research and be as close to a definitive statement of the art and science of distance therapy as anything published so far. But it is intended for the people who will be working at the sharp end of these innovations. It is practical and contains tips and advice as well as accounts of each of the technologies in practice.

   Contributions will cover the use - and the dangers and limitations - of Counselling and Psychotherapy delivered by email, through Internet chat rooms and through more well established technologies such as the telephone and videoconferencing. The delivery of therapy to clients (individual and groups) and the Supervision of practitioners through these means will all be covered in separate chapters. A further section of the book will also deal with recent developments in fully computerised therapies, where the client works with a piece of software with either greatly reduced input from a therapist or none at all. The editors conclude with a look towards technology in the future of Counselling and Psychotherapy, including Avatar Therapy.

   Ethical considerations run throughout the book and ensuring safely and quality of provision are integral aspects of each chapter. As much as a third of the book will be devoted to case studies to bring the discussion of each of the methods presented to life. Moreover, given the global reach of therapists working with such technologies, the book is deliberately targeted at a global audience and will address the needs of practitioners the world over. To ensure this, contributions are being written by leading experts from Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK as well as accounting for variations in the working contexts encountered elsewhere.

   Kate is one of my oldest email friends. Her book is going to be great -- it has a chapter in it from me :).
   Visit Kate's web sites and

Nina Osier

The Way to Freedom: The Rest of the Story Begun in Regs, by Nina M. Osier.
ISBN 0-595-22549-7
Released by Writers Club Press - April 2002.

   Ten years ago Nora Falconi, Marcus Cranshaw, and Rudolf Tasker barely got off Planet 8055 alive after the alien Ast took it over. What can draw the long disbanded cultural survey team back together, and back to the most brutally misogynistic world any of them ever visited, after all this time?

   A dying little girl, that's what. Nora's daughter, conceived on 8055, who for reasons not yet known can't survive into adulthood anywhere else. The secret behind that is just one of the perils awaiting the reunited comrades -- but the worst danger of all is the one they're bringing with them.

   Without realizing it, of course.

   "The inhabitants of 8055 are a fascinating race and I'm curious as to what happens next, perhaps the next offering from Nina M Osier will tell us more." - Alastair Rosie for eBook-Reviews.NET, reviewing REGS (the novel whose story THE WAY TO FREEDOM completes).

   You can buy Nina's books at Amazon

Joan Bramsch

   FREE! 8-Lesson Sampler Course for Children, Age 2˝ years to 7 years. Created for Parents by Joan Bramsch, educator, author, mother of five, founder of Get weekly lessons selected from her newly revised book - TEACH ME, I'M YOURS: If You Want Your Child To Be Smart, You Be The First Teacher! She'll give you everything you need to help your child - from Gifted to Special - learn the skills for success in school and in Life. Let her help you do your best. More FREE! info:

Wendy Maree Peterson


   Over a decade ago, I heard a little girl's voice in my head say exuberantly: "I once knew a sea witch. Honest! She's gone away to sea, now, as she always said she would."

    'Golly, gee', I thought, flabbergasted, as I don't usually hear interior monologues of children voices. But I knew I had to find out her story.

   And now, ten years later, everyone can.

   Twilight Times Books will publish this YA fantasy in September. It will be available online in e-book format, POD and also on CD.

   THE TAIL OF THE SEA WITCH portrays the rich relationship between a fay, enigmatic lady and the little girl who loves her. The novel will be accompanied by orchestrated nature music on multimedia CD. For a preview peak of the story, visit or

   To hear LIVE IN ME (I Am The Sea) - one of the songs from the CD - go to

   I enjoyed every moment that I spend discovering this story. I only hope the reading public will enjoy their journey of discovery as much.

Savannah Michaels

   Heirs to Love by Savannah Michaels will be released by Zumaya Publications in May. "Who are you, Roberto San Miguel? How dare you jump into my world and act as if you belong here?"

   "I dare easily. Our world has just begun. Again." Are Elizabeth and Roberto the reincarnations of Rafael San Miguel and Lupita? If they are, will they live to solve the puzzle regarding stolen jewels and become the "Heirs to Love?"

Rita Toews

   The Price of Freedom by Alex Domokos and Rita Toews has been re-released by Hard Shell Word Factory in March. It also won an Eppie in the Non-fiction philosophy category.

   And -- it received a four star rating in Inscriptions.

   You can read a little about Alex and Rita under the cover of their LiFE Award winning book Prometheus. The Price of Freedom may be bought at Hard Shell

Yvonne Harris

   For Honor, 2002 EPPIE Best Thriller Winner by Yvonne Harris, takes place in Spain and is based on events that caused the collapse of the Spanish government in 1995.

   Excerpt at

   Guerrilla Commander Marko Garcia and Professor Maggie Dixon, his beautiful American hostage, run for their lives. What he's doing with her will change the course of Spanish history--if he lives. To protect her from government assassins, Garcia hides her inside the walls of a monastery. There, Maggie finds refuge in the arms of her defiant kidnapper--and both of them discover a destiny neither expected.


Bob Rich
John Gorman

I'm Talking About One Person!

   Once upon a time, English had the quaint rule that a person of unknown gender should be referred to as 'he'. English teachers managed to get a predictable giggle with 'The masculine embraces the feminine'.

   Not any more. Read a book from the 1960s or earlier, and passages like 'Somebody inched around the corner. He…' will seem odd, somehow incorrect, leading to the thought, 'but how do you know it's a male?' And indeed, the paragraph might have continued '…was obviously trying to be quiet. John watched, then from the figure's way of moving, recognised Sara.'

   The first replacement was the pedantic and awkward 'he or she' which rightly withered on the vine of disuse. Personally, I'd be quite comfortable with using 'she' for unknown gender. After all, whatever the book of Genesis says, genetically females are the prototype: males are basically females with one missing X chromosome. Besides, there were compensations in those olden days when grammatically the masculine embraced the feminine. It was also a custom for ladies to be first into the life boats, through doors and into carriages.

   Unfortunately, using 'she' is not the path of current custom. Instead, even otherwise competent writers choose to fracture grammar by using a plural form: 'The child threw a tantrum. They lay on the ground, kicking their heels and screaming.'

   Not only is this ugly, it is also guaranteed to lead to frequent ambiguity. 'Two of the three children threw tantrums. The little blonde grew blue in the face and I worried they might suffer an injury.' Who might? The blonde, or both of them?

   The object of language is to communicate, therefore anything that leads to fuzzy messages is wrong. 'They' instead of 'he or she' is wrong.

   Another argument is to look at the processing complexity facing the reader or listener. As you are reading my words, your brain is carrying out complex and multi-level computing tasks. If I have done my job of writing correctly, the meaning you construct is the meaning I intended. But what happens if, from my words, you get the message that I am referring to two or more individuals, when actually I meant one person? Later, when this fact is revealed, you are forced to recompute: extra work that interferes with the job of interpretation.

   This is the difference between good writing and bad. Good writing is a pleasure to read because the author has used every possible device to make the task of reading simple. Bad writing is where the reader must work hard to make sense of the words.

   So, avoiding the plural when singular is meant is not a question of taste, but of strategy. I want my writing to be enjoyable. I want it to be unambiguous, vivid, sharp. If I use 'they' to refer to one person, I am getting in my own way.

   How else can we do it?

   There is ALWAYS a means for conveying 'he or she' in an elegant manner, without resorting to 'they'. Here are a few examples:

'A child who has been bullied in school is quite likely to keep this a secret from you.'
'A victim of bullying in school is likely to be secretive about it.'
'Your child may have been bullied in school and never tell you about it.'
'Has your child been bullied? You may never find out.'

'One of the dancers left the floor, had a long drink, then walked out of the hall.'
One of the dancing young women left the floor. She had a long drink…'
'Dancers were leaving the floor. One of them had a long drink…'

   So, here is the challenge. Improve the quality of your writing by saying what you mean. If there was only one person, don't write as if there were several.

Writing Historical Fiction

John Gorman

   In writing historical fiction, the most important element can be summed up in one word: authenticity.

   Obviously, the history in your novel must accord with the known facts of the time, especially when real persons and events play a prominent role. Straying from this base turns the work into fantasy, not an inferior genre, but something quite different. Not letting your readers know at the start which genre they are dealing with can severely impede that "suspension of disbelief" needed to keep them reading. e.g. A current e-novel deals with Hitler's efforts to do away with President Roosevelt, because the dictator feared his interference with the "final solution" for the Jews. Actually, Franklin Roosevelt did nothing to hinder the Holocaust, although its horrors were well known to the American government. A reader aware of these facts would find this book tough going, no matter how well it was written.

   The second area in which authenticity is crucial is in details. Get a few important ones badly wrong, and you've lost your readers forever. To help ward off these errors, there is a series of books from Writer's Digest, entitled Daily Life in... From these, it is possible to find out when various inventions came on the scene, and how long it took them to become part of people's routine. You can learn how dangerous it actually was to go from one side of London to another in 1686. What kinds of crime and punishment were the order of the day? Where were pirates operating, and what were their tactics and goals? How did someone become a pirate anyway?

   Obviously, there is no need to make yourself an expert in the period or to master much more that an few convincing and accurate details within a well researched historical context.

   Sometimes, however, you may have to deal with a time for which there are few sources, and even they are doubtful.

   For Part One of my own King of the Romans, the sole original sources were a paragraph in Gregory of Tours, the official historian of the Franks, writing a century after the events of my novel had taken place, and some letters from Bishop Sidonius to a man who may have been the hero of my novel. For the second half, I relied upon contemporary historians to give me an idea of the laws, customs and usages of the time. Individual characters and events, however, were my own invention.

   Many cultures have left us no written records, and what we know of them comes mostly from ancient ruins and burial sites. Here, you try to learn enough from archaeology to avoid obvious "howlers," like having a Mayan princess ride off in a carriage or letting a tribe of Neanderthals be chased by dinosaurs.

   Emotional authenticity is by far the the most difficult,. as we try to project ourselves backward into the minds and hearts of our characters. Historical accounts tell us how people acted, but they rarely give us much insight into how they felt. For that information, it is best to turn to the fiction of the time. e.g. Virgil's Aeneid is hardly reliable as a historical account of the founding of Rome, but it is an excellent source for how Romans believed they should feel about these events in the past, and how they should conduct themselves in the present. Jane Austen's novels are far more the emotional history of her characters than they are of the great events of the time, which are barely mentioned. Anyone writing about that period would be hard pressed to find a better guide to how people in the early 19th Century British upper middle class felt about themselves and each other. For the middle of that century, Charles Dickens is enormously helpful, as are Henry James and Edith Wharton for the turn of the Twentieth, etc. Even bad literature can tell us much about people's emotional lives.

   As we come nearer to our own time, magazines and newspapers open a window onto the day-to-day backdrop of people's lives and, by inference at least, their attitude toward those lives. e.g. What magazines were "ladies" supposed to read? What lessons were they expected to learn from them? What stories were regarded as suitable for growing boys? Who were the characters to be imitated or shunned?

   No matter how much we study, however, we are always looking backward though our own eyes from our own lives, the only ones we can really know. But this knowledge can protect us from allowing wishful thinking to make our characters think and act in ways that were not just unusual, but literally inconceivable, in their day.

   No amount of research, however, is a substitute for good writing, for interesting, plausible stories of people we care about. Writers owe it to their readers not to put obstacles in their path, not to trip them up with historical blunders that shatter the pleasant illusion of living through dramatic events in another time and another place, far away.

   John Gorman is a freelance journalist based in Miami, Florida and a 2000 Eppie finalist with his historical novel, King of the Romans, e-published by

Book Reviews

   For the first time, I have accepted short reviews for inclusion.

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing
Only a Mother Could Love Him
Nowhere to Hide

   Carolyn Howard- Johnson is a columnist for the Pasadena Star-News, author of award-winning This is the Place, and contributor to anthologies like Pass/Fail and Calliope's Mousepad. For a free first chapter of her book, email her at

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing
By Tom and Marilyn Ross
Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio
ISBN: 1-58297-091-2

Review by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This is the Place.

   Writers alert! A book we all need is here. Anyone tempted to pooh, pooh that may be dissing a chance at success.

   The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing is a book for writers who are new to publishing and those who aren't. It is a book for writers who are already published by big houses or little. It is a book for writers who are scared and trying to decide how to publish and where. It is a book for writers who want to have their books read.

   Written by Tom and Marilyn Ross, the gurus of SPAN (Small Publishers of North America), this book is chock-full of 521 pages of up-to-the-times information on the publishing scene, on selling books, and on publicizing books. It has all the how-to nitty gritty necessary if you decide to do it yourself.

   If you don't decide to self publish, you'll still be glad you have this one under your belt; these days everyone knows that even if you land a big publisher you can't expect very much support from their marketing office.

   This tome includes recommended reading, point-of-purchase suppliers, printers, catalogs, review sources, bookstore chains, and on and on. It also includes the dope on e-publishing. As a reviewer, I should be finding some flaw in this book, so you can believe the praise. Sorry, I just can't. I can only visualize what this might do for any writer's career.

   Heide Kaminski, born and raised in Germany, has been living in the USA since 1984. She is now living with her husband, three teen daughters and one preschool son in Michigan. She makes a living as a daycare provider/preschool teacher, Sunday School facilitator and freelance writer. She regularly writes for The Good News and The Interfaith Inspirer, has many articles published on the net and one children's book in Germany.

Only A Mother Could Love Him
by Benjamin Polis
Published by Seaview Press ISBN 1 7 4008 169 2

   Polis is a 19 year old Australian, who surprised most of his teachers. Having changed schools frequently due to behavior problems, Polis has encountered quite a few teachers in his school years. How did he surprise them? He succeeded! From early on the ADHD blessed man gave educators the impression that he was not going to get far in life. But he proved them wrong!

   The title caught my attention, because I have a son with ADHD and that title expresses exactly how I often feel about my son. He is very bright, witty, charming and caring. He can, however, in an instant and very unpredictably turn into a raging volcano -- a term Polis uses, I generally refer to my son as a tornado. Then his behavior is far beyond a "normal" preschooler's temper tantrum. Just like Polis my son is well-liked by peers, because he is a class clown and comes up with "cool" ideas, that everyone wants to copy. Unfortunately his "cool" ideas are generally a teacher's nightmare...

   I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 35 and have experienced firsthand many of the situations and emotions Polis describes in his book. When I first picked up the book, it immediately struck me as attractive to my hyper and inattentive senses. It is not too big as a huge volume can be a big turn-off to an ADHDer. The paper is really bright white and the contrast and size of the font of the writing stimulate my senses in a very positive way. The chapters are short and simple and funny cartoon drawing allow breaks from reading.

   The book had me in tears after reading only a few pages. Tears of laughter -- I saw myself and my son being described. Tears of fear -- what strugglesome future my son has ahead of him! Tears of sorrow -- about all those years I lost due to undiagnosed and non-treated ADHD.

   Polis describes his school tears from the Australian school system point of view, but his experiences, suggestions and recipes for success or failure are universal.

   Whether you have ADHD yourself or know someone who does; whether you are a parent or an educator who needs to know more about how to deal with an ADHD child or whether you just plain want to know more about the dynamics of this disorder, the author of this book has something important to say to you.

   Cindy Penn is a long term reviewer for, and has reviewed some of my books too.

   Wow! NOWHERE TO HIDE by Joan Hall Hovey held this reviewer riveted from the prologue to the hair-raising conclusion. A mesmerizing walk with evil, NOWHERE TO HIDE moves with grace, introducing motive, characters, and background information in a smooth fluid narrative seldom matched.

   Willing to break all the rules, Ellen is ruthlessly determined to find her sister's murderer. Bonded by their survival of alcoholic and abusive parents, Ellen was remarkably close to her kid sister Gail. When their parents died in a car crash, Ellen had become like a mother to Gail. So when Gail's body is found, raped, beaten and strangled, Ellen will sacrifice her career and very life to find her sister's killer. Evil is watching, even as it watched many years ago from its hidden place. Power courses in his veins when he takes a life, and he's thrilled to have an opponent as interesting as Ellen. Using her position as a psychologist, Ellen persuades a news station to give her a live interview. Breaking all the rules, Ellen challenges the murder to come after her, 'Why don't you come after me? I'll be waiting for you.'

   Unable to resist, the evil serial killer takes the bait, leaving the following note on her windshield: 'YOU'RE IT.'

   Hovey writes with a crispness that quickly becomes addictive, sweeping the reader into an engrossing narrative. With the subtle voice of a master, she reveals the weaknesses and strengths of her characters, making the reader a part of the suspense, and also making the reader care very much about the outcome. This reviewer heartily recommends NOWHERE TO HIDE.

   As well as penning suspense novels like NOWHERE TO HIDE and LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS, Joan Hall Hovey's short stories and articles have appeared in such diverse publications as the Toronto Star, The Reader, Fredericton Gleaner, Atlantic Advocate, Seek, True Confessions and New Freeman. Her short story DARK REUNION (posted on her website) was anthologized in Investigating Women, published by Simon & Pierre.

Be Inspired

   Rammed Earth is an ancient building technque that I have enjoyed. It has many advantages, provided your local subsoil is suitable.

   Want to find out more? NSW (Australia) builder Roger Garlick has had wonderful photos and good instrutions on his web site. Roger has written:

   I am writing to inform you that my web-site on Rammed Earth has been updated with new photos and more informative text on a NEW SERVER.

Kipling, Slightly Modified

   Linda Campbell and her writing partner Bobbye Terry were my first cash editing clients. Linda sent me the following little gem:

If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,


   (Scroll down please)



Hi-tech Mission For Airships

   Steve Mazey and his wife Lesley run the popular and interesting Science Fiction/Fantasy web site Eternal Night. You'll find great reading there (including contributions from me). And writers, it's a paying market. Steve sent me the following:

By BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida

   The new airshipAirships could provide a cheap and quick way of bringing mobile phone networks and fast internet connections to remote parts of the world. Engineers at Britain's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) are working on developing airships that could provide the telecoms networks of the future. Their StratSat programme applies modern technology advances to the old principles of airships to offer what they believe is a cheap and flexible alternative to unsightly mobile phone masts across the countryside.

   "It's bringing airships out of the thing that you see over sports stadium just doing a bit of camera work or advertising and making them part of the 21th century and data communication," Mike Durham, senior technical consultant at ATG.

State of the art balloons

   hangarsATG is based at giant purpose-built hangars at Cardington, Bedford, a site historically associated with British airship production.

   The company is due to launch its airship prototype in 2003. The balloon is designed to rise into the stratosphere to a height of 12 kilometres (60,000 feet), out of the way of passenger planes. On board, the airship will carry state of the art technology such as transponders for mobile telephone, television, digital radio, internet and surveillance services.

   Powered by solar cells and a back-up diesel engine, the balloon is designed to stay in position for five years. "The vehicle is designed to be autonomous," Mr Durham told the BBC programme Go Digital.

   "It flies itself to a geostationary position for the whole of its life, but it is downlinking data about whether it's got any problems to a ground control station and the people on the ground can take remedial action."

Safe technology

   ATG believes its airship programme provides a low-cost alternative to the conventional telecoms satellites.

StratSat facts

Length: 200m (656ft) Payload: Up to 1,000kg Maximum altitude: 20km (65,000ft) Endurance: 5 years on station

   But for many, talk of airships will bring images of the Hindenburg disaster more than 60 years ago. ATG insists its helium-filled balloons are not only cost-effective, but also safe. "The way airships have moved forward over the past 30 years has been quite dramatic," said Mr Durham. "We came out of the 60s with wicker basket-type technology. We started to get into modern technology and that where this company came from."

   If you have read Sleeper, Awake, you'll know that in the future I visited in my time machine :), balloons form an essential part of humanity's life support system.

How to Write a Good book Review

   My email friend Bonnie Mercure asked for advice on writing a review. Here is what I wrote to her:

Dear Bonnie,

   A review is first of all a sample of your writing, so treat it like a short story about a book. Make it interesting reading in its own right. This means a gripping hook and an end with punch, and connected discourse in between.

   It should not be a synopsis of the book, but contain enough material to show that you have read and understood it. Certainly, it should not 'steal the author's thunder', as many reviews do. If you are commenting on language, or on unique aspects of plot or characters, a few short quotes are appropriate.

   Above all, it should be an honest opinion. There should be no false praise. On my part, however, I refuse to write a destructive review. If I don't think a book is a good read, I won't write a review. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, and I try to find one or two suggestions for improvement, which I sandwich between the complimentary parts.


A Poem by NDK

Why were you made into such a big word?
Was it so you could frighten or intimidate me?
Too bad. I'm not scared of you;
I know what you mean
and I like it too.
Only one who can't, or won't do,
Will not make friends with you.

If I can break you into components will you fall apart?
I like those who know you as I know you.
You never meant to be a wedge to drive between two hearts
Though it is true, it's how you've been abused.
Seems strange to me 'cause you're the glue
that keeps it all together;
The one that holds us up in all kinds of weather

I do agree:
When things are easy you are not bested.
It is when things are hard that you are tested
And difficult to keep as a friend.
You're sometimes a beginning, sometimes an end
But I have seen that when I know me
I know you, and then I am set free.
Do you agree?

   'NDK' is a very verstile person, but for some reason he WON'T tell his name to anyone. So far, he has contributed something to every issue of Bobbing Aound. Look him up at

About Bobbing Around

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

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

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

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

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

Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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