Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number Two
September 2006

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Responses to the review of 'Sleeper, Awake'
*Vale Don Chipp
*Look at the refugee from Steve Cox
*Trek for peace update from Brandon Wilson
  'Clay Balls' from Elaine
  'Guarding our traditions' by John Gorman
  Action at last in Victoria
  Western Australia to hit waste
  Peak oil action in Ohio
  Assessing research
  'Wealth or Consumption?' by Barry Brooks
  A call from Aboriginal men
*For writers
  George Orwell's advice
  Shirley Martin on Point of View
  'Clarifying POD' by Elizabeth Burton
  'What is a good publisher?' by Rob Preece
  Is depression an illness?
  About anxiety disorders
  The curse of shyness
*Beyond Nuclear Symposium
  Writers, contribute to Global Warming Project
  New Voices writing contest for kids
  Darrell Bain has a new book and his newsletter out
  Reader Views literary contest
  Carolyn Howard-Johnson at conference
  New ezine for writers
  Community Gardens Network annual conference
  EPPIEs is open for entries
  Carolyn has a column in Writers' Journal
*Ergonomics: Can we have a safe nuclear reactor?
  'A Murder Mystery: The Outcome Could Kill Any One or All of Us' a film review by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
  'Vassal of El' by Gloria Oliver
*The Legend of the Mary Gloster by James Choron
  'Blackfella's Daily Survival Prayer'
  by Alec Donald Wilson
  'The good fight' by Miriam English
*Bookswelove reader apprecitation contest

24 hour peace vigil

21st September, 2006

Dear friends of peace,

   September 21 is the official United Nations -International Day Of Peace.

   We wish to encourage our community and our nation to celebrate this day in a spiritual manner, thus making it a day of national importance to all.

   Peace is an imperative if we want a healthy nation and a healthy world, and indeed, a healthy body and mind.

   As peace is not the prerogative of any one group, we invite all religious and humanitarian organisations to join us in co-organising this 24 hour peace vigil.

   We acknowledge the fact that there is one race on earth: the human race. Thus, this invitation is extended to humanity and we ask that you contribute what you can to this day. You may wish to organise prayer and meditation groups, you may wish to celebrate it with poetry or choirs. That is up to you to organise and create in your town or state.

   In Sydney, the Dept of Peace is organising the vigil with most attending religious groups being given an hour's time in which they can make their unique contribution. We intend to begin at midnight on 20 September and continue until midnight of 21 September.

   The venue which will be Victoria Park Broadway, which has been kindly allocated to us by Sydney Council.

   At this point in time, the following religious groups have made a commitment to give an hour to peace:

  • Aboriginal elders
  • Bahai community
  • Brahma Kumaris
  • Buddhist organisations (3 in all)
  • Catholic Archdiocese
  • Pitt St Uniting Church
  • Quakers
  • Hindus
  • Zoroastrians
  • Sufis
  • Muslims
  • Jews

       We will be distributing brochures and flyers in August, and should you wish to volunteer and to help us in any way or need any further information, please contact us on :

       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.

       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.

  • Responses to the review of 'Sleeper, Awake'

       In the last issue, I reprinted a review of 'Sleeper, Awake' and invited reader responses. Here are two:

    Hi Bob, from Angelina Ramirez.

       Bob, I do not understand why this reviewer is worried about the name Souda Ramirendo. Is there something I don't know?

       Is there something wrong with my name too, because it is Ramirez? I do know that a ram is a male sheep, but so what? Why does she feel the need to comment on it?

       I enjoyed your book, and your mother's biography also.


    Dear Bob,

       I read your "Sleeper, Awake" a couple of years ago, but found the file and enjoyed it all over again. It was well worth a re-read, and I thank your reviewer Joan Malpass for getting me to do it.

       However, I simply don't know where she gets the idea that you have any sort of gender bias against females. The whole idea is ridiculous. Being a woman, I would much rather live in the world of "Sleeper, Awake" where women whistle and men dance to their tune. I think the essence of the relationship between genders in their world is expressed by the young man who was having his birthday party. One of his recordings was of a male lyrebird, dancing and singing to impress his female.

       She is wrong in several other of her assertions. Artif the computer strongly emphasizes that humans make the rules. She merely implements them. If humans decided that kids shouldn't have sex, then it's reasonable that their agent should prevent it. I saw no implication there of the computer forbidding anything to anyone.

       The reviewer writes, "the author has focused on women's looks without dwelling to the same extent on men as sex objects." This is simply untrue. Flora's reactions to Nat, Abel and Kiril are fully sexual. There are many references to other women reacting with sexual attention to men, for example the red-haired Russian girl to Kiril. I guess this reviewer put on a distorted lens, and found what she wanted.

       Toward the end of the review, she asks a number of questions. To my mind, they are all answered. This is a designed society, in which Tony had set out social guidelines that then shaped society. Since Artif is in constant communication with every child from well before the development of speech, there is absolutely no question in my mind that the culture you described is achievable.

       And she said nothing about the surprise ending, which turns the story on its head...

       In summary, Bob, I agree with you. Never mind, you can't win them all.

    Dominica Martin

    Vale Don Chipp

       Members of the Australian Democrats across the country are mourning the loss of their founder, Don Chipp.

       Don sadly passed away Monday evening the 28th of August 2006 from pneumonia.

       Don was a caring human being, a master politician who, through his passion, commitment and charisma inspired hundreds of thousands of Australians to take a keen interest in the future of their country.

       Don's Party, his beloved Australian Democrats, founded on the principles of Honesty, Tolerance and Compassion, burst onto the political scene in 1977 and for the greater part of the next quarter of a century held the balance of power in the Australian Parliament.

       In 1977 Don got the Party up and running by speaking at public meetings in town halls across the nation, and thousands of people came to hear from this honest, straight-talking, well respected politician. He set the audiences on fire with his passionate views. Indeed, in a letter to members in July 1977 he said: "we are going like a rocket". He was not wrong. By the end of the year the first two Democrats were elected to the Senate.

       Don was also a charmer, a very kind person genuinely interested in the welfare of everyone around him, with a deep interest in what it means to be a human being, as evidenced by his statement to members: ". one of the most exhilarating and satisfactory experiences a human being can have is showing tolerance to a different view and being big enough to agree to disagree with another person and still maintain a close relationship".

       The Party extends its deepest sympathy to his wife, Idun, his children, family and friends.

    Look at the refugee

    I took this photo of a kid in a Detention Centre in Port Headland . He ran away from the Taliban and, after a horrifying journey, he arrived in Australia looking for help and protection. He didn't get either! Why is 'being a refugee' a crime????? If you're interested...
    Steve Cox

    Trek for peace update

    from Brandon Wilson

       The trek for peace continues. The people of Serbia and Bulgaria were very welcoming and my friend Andi received newspaper or television coverage in Belgrade, Sombor, Sophia, Nis and Plovdiv reaching millions of people with our message of peace.

       Now we are in Turkey and the weather is hotter than ever. My friend Georges hung up his boots in Istanbul and is heading back to France. The temperatures and exhaustion were just too much after 3000 ks. (2,000 miles) and 100 days walking through seven countries.

       I am continuing alone to the southern coast of Turkey. Given the equally hot temperatures in the Middle East right now, I have regrettably decided to avoid Syria. So, after another 700ks, I'll be catching a ferry to northern Cyprus, walk across this island steeped in Knights of St. John history and then catch a ferry to Israel where I will continue the trek.

       A recent outbreak of a serious virus in Anatolia also made me think twice about tempting fate.

       So, I estimate that 1000 more ks (650 miles) and my journey will be complete. However, something tells me though that it will only just begin once I reach Jerusalem...

       More later. Thanks for your letters. They help to ease the way.

    From Brandon's email, I learned something about Turkish: it has no letter i, but instead uses ý. At least, that's how it was on the keyboard he used. :)

       Brandon Wilson is the author of the new DEAD MEN DON'T LEAVE TIPS: Adventures X Africa and the IPPY award-winning YAK BUTTER BLUES: A Tibetan Trek of Faith.


    Clay Balls from Elaine
    Guarding our traditions by John Gorman

    Clay Balls

    This was forwarded through by my friend Elaine, a frequent contributor to 'bobbing around'.

       A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.

       They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

       He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

       Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

       It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

       There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

       May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

       I am so blessed by the gems of friendship I have with each of you. Thank you for looking beyond my clay vessel.

    Guarding our traditions
    by John Gorman

    John has sent many essays, stories and reviews to 'bobbing around'. His opinion is always worth considering. He is a journalist in Florida, and a perceptive person with a conscience. He is the author of King of the Romans.

       Some years ago, the dietary supplements industry and the supporters of homeopathy, naturopathy, herbalism and other alternative methods of healing were alarmed at the attempts of "traditional" medicine to abrogate to itself all authority in this area and place the dispensing of such substances under the sole authority of M.Ds. whom they view as dangerously ignorant in these matters.

       On another front, politicians and preachers are rushing to rescue the "traditional" family from the pernicious influences of modern life in a crusade to bring back our lost Golden Age.

       On a third battleground, funeral directors are urging the bereft to opt for a "traditional" funeral, rather than the economies offered by cremation, memorial societies and other threats to their revenue stream.

       In all three of these cases, however, the use of the word "traditional" is misleading at best.

       What we hear described as "traditional" medicine is barely a century old and did not come to enjoy any special credibility until the discover of antibiotics and their widespread use in the 1940s, a blessing to be sure, but hardly an unmixed one. The true tradition in medicine was treatment with diet and herbs, practices that were old in the days of Hippocrates. Those who would stamp out these ancient modalities can hardly be described as proponents of "traditional" medicine in any historical sense.

       The saviors of the "traditional" family suffer from a similar myopia. The family they describe as "traditional" is barely half a century old, largely a product of the economic and social dislocations of the Second World War and the subsequent flight to the suburbs of the 1950s. For millennia, the traditional family was not the nuclear assemblage of father, mother and 2.3 children, but extended family of aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins as well as grandparents living nearby or even in the same household. The nuclear family may represent a step forward on the path of civilization, but it can make no claim to be "traditional" at all.

       A similar quick backward glance will show us that the funeral director is a Johnny-come-lately on the scene. From time immemorial, the dead were waked at home in the parlor reserved for important guests, weddings and funerals, taken from there to the church for final farewells and then buried in the churchyard along with their ancestors, generally within a short time of death. Funeral directors were called undertakers and were chiefly concerned with interring the dead. The current mortuary establishment may be a boon to humanity, but it is far from "traditional."

       Today's practices may indeed be an improvement over the ways of centuries. But anyone who imagines they are "traditional" needs to be reminded that history did not begin the day he was born.


    Action at last in Victoria
    Western Australia to hit at waste
    Peak oil action in Ohio

    Vic approves most powerful wind farm to date and greenest office opens

       Australia's most powerful wind farm, a $380 million 232 MW project at Mt Gellibrand, Victoria, has been given the green light by Victorian Planning Minister Rob Hulls. Germany's Pro Ventum International would build the 116 turbine farm across 2,550 hectares of predominantly cleared grazing land. "Before lodging their planning permit application, the proponent visited neighbouring landowners, held information days, distributed newsletters and received community feedback on a preliminary layout," said Hulls. "This level of effort is encouraging to see, regardless of the nature of a significant development."

     Also in Victoria, Melbourne Council has opened Australia's greenest office building, Council House 2 (CH2). Features of the $51 million, 6-star building include a water mining plant that will recycle 100 kL of water per day, automatic windows that open at night to cool the building, and a facade of louvres that will track the sun to shade the western side.

    Western Australia to hit at waste

       WA took a step towards container deposit legislation and extended producer responsibility (EPR) measures with the release of the draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (WARR) Bill.

       In the 2005 election the ALP promised to tackle waste and increase recycling rates. The bill would create a new statutory waste authority and open the door for new measures to be introduced.

       "For example, the legislation would allow the implementation of a container deposit scheme in WA, similar to those schemes operating successfully in South Australia and across Europe," said Environment Minister Mark McGowan.

       A list of priority targets for EPR schemes will also be released shortly, which McGowan says may include beverage containers, computers, car tyres and batteries.

       The DEC would administer the regulation, compliance and enforcement aspects of the new legislation. The draft is open for public comment until November 27, with a final draft to be introduced to parliament early 2007.

    Peak Oil and Relocalization in Ohio
    by Ryan Hottle

       A new peak oil organization, called Ohio Peak Oil Action (OPOA), is working to prepare the Ohio area for the coming times by promoting relocalization, sustainability, permaculture, and bioregionalism.

       What would you think if someone told you that we could simultaneously create strong, safe, sustainable, and vibrant communities while also solving the most urgent problems of our times? This is exactly what a growing number of people are talking about. Many call it the “Relocalization” movement.

       As we confront some of the gravest challenges that has ever faced humankind—global climate change, overpopulation, economic instability, and environmental destruction—there are many indicators suggesting that our current materialistic and unsustainable modern way of life (particularly in wealthy countries like the U.S.) will not go on for much longer. The most immediate and pressing issue (and one that isn’t widely discussed in the media) is known as “peak oil.”

       Peak oil, a theory first developed by petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert in the 1950’s, refers to the fact that there is a limited amount of oil in the earth that can be pumped and produced. When half of the oil has been pumped out of the earth we will reach “peak.” At this point, we will no longer be able to increase annual world oil production, as we have since oil was discovered in the late 1800’s. This will happen at the same time that demand is still rising exponentially. Many predict massive energy and food shortages, economic decline, and social instability as a result of peak oil. I don’t have the space to write about the theory in full—but I strongly urge readers to Google “peak oil.”

       We are already seeing the effects of a tightening oil supply with rising prices at the pumps. But fuel costs are not the only thing that peak oil will affect. Industrial agriculture, medicine, tourism, manufacturing, road repair, home heating, and a host of other things could also be drastically affected.

       Historically, societies that face serious resource shortages undergo either significant contractions or collapse. Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” published “Collapse,” which chronicles the connection between resource depletion and collapsing civilizations throughout history. Diamond concludes by warning that, “One of the main lessons to be learned from the collapse of the Maya, Anasazi, Easter Islanders, and those other past societies (as well as from the recent collapse of the Soviet Union) is that a society’s steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth, and power.” Despite the belief that we are somehow special and invincible, history shows that all societies are subject and vulnerable to the same forces which have caused past societies to collapse.

       Fortunately, there is growing consciousness and activity around the issue of peak oil and how we are going to solve it. The “Relocalization Movement” is promoting the idea that the best way to prepare for the coming crises is by creating sustainable, self-reliant communities that are beautiful and worth caring about.

       Two particularly inspiring groups working on these issues is located right in Ohio. Community Solution, a small non-profit organization in Yellow Springs, has been holding annual conferences for a couple years now and has recently begun to hold peak oil leadership training workshops. The other organization, Ohio Peak Oil Action (or OPOA), are organizing leaders and concerned citizens to prepare the Ohio area for peak oil by supporting sustainability, renewable energy, and strong local politics and economies.

       When people ask us about what they can personally do about peak oil, we recommend fourteen things. Not only will they help you prepare, they are also fun and exciting!

       1) grow a garden, 2) weatherize your house, 3) join or start a relocalization group in your community, 4) store food, 5) make and eat meals with your neighbors regularly, 6) get healthy, 7) learn some wild edible plants, 8) volunteer in your community, 9) learn self-reliant skills, 10) read James Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency,” 11) find out what “permaculture” means, 12) promote local renewable energy, 13) support local farmers, and 14) join Ohio Peak Oil Action!

    Ryan Hottle and Theresa Bratton are the founders and co-directors of Ohio Peak Oil Action! (OPOA!). To find more information about OPOA, visit their websites at and

    Ryan Hottle and Theresa Bratton are both recent graduates from Naropa University (Boulder) and Denison University (Granville, Ohio) respectively. Ryan is currently working on finishing a book entitled The Relocalization Manual. They are both interested in yoga, permaculture, and small scale sustainable agriculture. One day they hope to help set up the first "Bioregional College."


    Assessing research
    Wealth or Consumption? by Barry Brooks
    A call from Aboriginal men

    Assessing research

       Science is not a body of findings, but a way of thinking, a method of enquiry. It has been the single most powerful force humanity has ever seen.

       Unfortunately, the method can be applied by anyone, for any purpose good or bad. It is ethically neutral. It has led to lots of wonderful outcomes, and has been responsible for more misery and suffering than all the deliberate evils of the world combined.

       It is the main tool used by the wealthy and powerful to increase the gap between themselves and the rest of humanity.

       Specifically, my discipline of psychology has been prostituted to create and expand the consumer society, which is destroying the life-support system of the planet, and which has induced millions of people in the technologically developed countries to chase mirages that make them unhappy.

       Psychology has also been used in manipulating opinion. This applies both to the general public, and to key populations of decision makers. This is why there is no such thing as democracy, only voting charades that are determined by what people see on the News. And this is why you can no longer trust research findings, or any information supposedly based on research.

       If you read The Secrets of Medical Decision Making: How to avoid becoming a victim of the Health Care Machine by Oleg Reznik (Loving Healing Press), you will find a well-documented account of how the pharmaceutical industry has bought medical education. Your doctor makes judgments on the basis of biased research information. If you listen to a speaker at a conference who advocates the uses of certain drugs and procedures, if you read a research paper in perfectly reputable, peer-reviewed journals, the first question you need to ask is, "Who is funding this?" Unfortunately, research shows that this has a great deal to do with the outcome and its implications.

       The prescription drug pushers are not alone. Agribusiness has an equally well documented history of buying research. And more recently, the oil giants, car industry and others with a stake in minimizing the effects of human activities on climate change have done an admirably efficient job of obfuscation. For some years, they happily proved with research that climate change was not occurring. Now that this is no longer possible, they can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the gullible that yes, of course the climate is changing, but it's not due to human activities.

       Believe this if that makes you more comfortable. But isn't it wiser to assume that 250 years of fossil fuel burning has caused the unprecedented 250-year surge in global temperature rise?

       Business as usual will take us to extinction. We must act by 30 years ago. The unbiased scientific evidence is there. If you don't believe me, determine the funding sources for the opposing viewpoint.

    Wealth or Consumption?
    by Barry Brooks

       Economical use of wealth means to conserve it, to make it last, to not use it up. "Consume" can mean to either to "use" or to "use-up". If consumers merely "use" wealth, the consumer economy seems harmless, but the consumer economy really works because it tries to use-up wealth. If consumption means "use-up", then we could say that our wealth is approximately all that we ever acquired minus all that we ever consumed.

       Wealth can be classified as durable or perishable. Some durable items may last a life-time, but even the pyramids are starting to fall apart. A razor is good for more than one shave and it is durable because it has a non-zero life span. Perishable items, like food and fuel, perish upon first use.

       Durable items are best conserved by making them last longer. The life span, or durability, of every non-perishable item is a multiplier of its use-value. Durable items can be provided with less expense, less consumption, less pollution, and less work by making them more durable. Even a small increase in life-span cuts the costs of production a little, and in many cases the life span of items can be vastly increased.

       Consider that cars produced at 100 per year that last 5 years would finally create and maintain a fleet of 500 cars. That same fleet could be supported by only producing 10 cars per year if they lasted for 50 years. As the life span of the cars approaches zero years, the cars on the road would also approach zero.

       The combination of extended durability with population stability will finally be seen as key elements in an economy that can provide both sustainability and luxury.

       Surplus labor combined with wage dependence means that we must increase consumption, beyond just filling real needs, to make jobs. The consumer economy is not designed to make people wealthy; it is designed to make people consume more. Because labor productivity has been increased by automation, it is necessary to consume more as full-employment can produce more. Automation hasn't created more unemployment because we have been able to consume most of what automation could produce.

       We should match the labor we use to the needed jobs instead of matching the jobs to the maximum available labor, as we do now. Making the most wealth requires making the least consumption, and that will cut the need for labor.

       Try a thought experiment. In a robot-run economy the total of all wages would be zero. All income would go to the owners of the robots and the resources they process for us. Robots will force us to reconsider wage dependence.

       Face it, we are all parasites on the planet. We need to consider why, if parasitic dividends are good, how can parasitic welfare be so bad? The biggest payoff of un-earned income is that it can make luxury and sustainability compatible.

       While giving people a "free ride" may be unpopular, un-earned income is the reason that capitalists like capitalism so much. If you don't like un-earned income you don't like the most important part of capitalism.

       Because use-value is the output we want from the economy, it makes sense to define economic efficiency as use-value/required-consumption, but we tend to define economic efficiency as actual-consumption/possible-consumption as if consumption was a desirable goal. The consumer economy is very efficient in its ability to waste wealth and pollute the planet. Where is the adult supervision?

    Barry Brooks is too modest to have supplied me with a bio. He wrote, "I don't have a bio that would impress anyone, and even if I did I wouldn't want anyone to take things on my authority. I only hope to persuade."

    A call from Aboriginal men

       As Aboriginal males we find the violence towards women and children in our communities shameful and unacceptable. We condemn it absolutely. This should not be mistaken as part of our proud culture as indigenous warriors who care for and protect our women and children. Those who hide behind culture as an excuse for child abuse are not practicing within the bounds of our traditional principles and ways as warriors who show leadership to protect our women and children. They have fallen prey to a dysfunctional social problem that has its roots in dispossession, cultural dislocation and often alcohol and other substance misuse.

       We applaud the males in our communities who stay strong and true to their cultural heritage of respect and dignity, often in the face of extreme adversity.

       We strongly applaud the males who demonstrate the will and commitment to address difficult issues, like health and wellbeing, violence and abuse, and try to improve their position within the family and community context as leaders, providers, teachers, protectors in order to provide a safe and secure environment for their women and children.

       It is timely for our brothers, uncles, grandfathers, fathers nephews, cousins to intervene whenever and wherever this occurs and stop this violence and abuse on our women and children.

       We also call on governments to support our men to do this, and support our men's groups and programs to address this as we have been attempting to do for many years.

    Signed Mick Adams, Dr Mark Wenitong, Dr Noel Hayman, Dr Alex Brown, David Wirrpanda, David Patterson, Bradley Baird.

    For writers

    George Orwell's advice
    Shirley Martin on Point of View
    Clarifying POD by Elizabeth Burton
    What is a good publisher? by Rob Preece

    George Orwell's advice

    Shah N. Khan, a member of one of my email groups, sent this along:

    1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.

    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

    7. Pay particular attention to the last of these. It will keep you out of trouble.

    I would add another rule based on Robert Cormier' opinion: "The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon."

    Point of View
    by Shirley Martin

       Point of View, or POV, refers to the viewpoint of the person within a scene who sees, hears, feels, thinks, in other words, experiences, all the emotions and feelings within the scene. An author must put her/himself within that person's mind to see, hear, feel, etc., whatever that person is experiencing. Switching POV within a scene--head hopping--is not a good idea for the beginning writer, and even more experienced writers usually keep POV of one person within a scene. But there may be good reasons for switching POV within a scene, and if you can do it skillfully enough, so that you are getting your point across, go with it.

       What if you have more than one person within a scene--which, most likely, you will? What if you have three or more characters within a scene? Whose POV should you use? Whoever has the most to gain or lose. One example of what not to do is a scene I encountered in a critique group I belonged to. The heroine of the story was giving birth in a hospital, and whose POV did the author use? That of a very good friend in the waiting room. The scene loses its punch and impact in a situation like this. Don't make the same mistake.

    Shirley Martin is a multipublished author who began writing historical romances, then branched out to paranormal and fantasy romances. Besides writing, she enjoys reading and going for long walks. She has three grown sons and lives in Miami Shores, Florida, with her two cats. Check out her romances at her website,

    Clarifying POD
    by Elizabeth Burton

       Print-on-demand, which for reasons that will shortly be obvious I prefer to call short-run laser printing, is a technology. It's a printing method using high-quality laser-based equipment that allows for the printing and binding of small numbers of bound books--1000 is pretty much the upper limit.

       What the media means when it refers to "POD publishing" is and always has been subsidy publishing that has utilized the technology to provide a relatively low-cost way for people to publish their own books. Any writer considering this path needs to understand the difference between that and true self-publishing, which is why I recommend doing some in-depth research before taking the plunge.

       My publishing company uses short-run laser printing rather than offset printing for our books for reasons ecological and economical. The economical ones are the same as for writers who use one of the subsidy publishing companies--although the per-copy costs are higher than with larger offset print runs, the set-up costs are infinitely less. This allows us to publish more books than we would if we'd have to come up with thousands per title. In addition, because there are no unsold books stacked in warehouses collecting dust and costing money for storage, our after-publication inventory costs are all but nil.

       The ecological reason is simply that the books are printed only when they have been purchased. Unlike the traditional industry, where any books that aren't sold through remainder sellers or used books stores go to the dump--and where all unsold mass market paperbacks end up there--the only resources we waste are the ones required to maintain the server farm that holds the books' files. We may not be saving the entire Canadian rain forest but I hope we may, in the course of business, manage to save a tree or two.

       There are many self-published authors who also use short-run laser printing to publish their books, although mostly because of the relatively small set-up costs. The difference between self-publishing and subsidy publishing is simple: if the printer handles all aspects of book development, including editing, cover design and layout and assigns the ISBN, you're subsidy published. You will hear wails of protest to the contrary, but understand that this is how the traditional distribution world sees it. If you plan to play their game, you need to understand their rules--and that's the biggest one.

    Elizabeth Burton is a writer and editor, and the executive editor for Zumaya Publications LLC of Austin, Texas. She has published short stories, three fantasy novels and three novellas, and is currently working on the third book in the Everdark Wars trilogy.

    What is a good publisher?
    by Rob Preece

       I got an e-mail this morning from an author who was interested in submitting, but he asked me a simple question. Why go with a publisher rather than simply publish yourself?

       Twenty years ago, the answer would have been laughably obvious. Publishers had the technology, the distribution, and the reputation that was absolutely essential to success. Without a publisher, you couldn't sell your books without standing on a corner with the back of your trunk open.

       The big publishers still have an edge. They have large staffs of salespeople calling on bookstores. They buy ads in the New York Times and even on television. They buy endcaps in bookstores to make sure their books are displayed. They may even send you on a worldwide tour to promote your book, along with hot and cold running publicists. If you write a best-seller, your best bet is to get a million dollar advance from a major publisher and let them do the work.

       Of course, even the big publishers only go all-out for the books they expect to sell a zillion of. If you got a two thousand dollar advance, or even a twenty-thousand dollar advance, you just can't expect that kind of effort. But you can expect that your books will be in bookstores.

       Smaller publishers can't even offer that. Getting into bookstores is tricky and, increasingly, expensive. Bookstores have started considering their shelf space as a sellable asset. Not just sellable as in, customers buy books, but sellable as in, if you want a book here, you pay me to stock it.

       For ePublishers and super-small publishers, we can't guarantee the shelf space that the big publishers offer even their midlist authors. So, what do we do? Why not self-publish and keep all the money yourself?

       I made a list:

    1. We select. Every year, there are something like a hundred thousand books published. How do you know which ones are any good? One way is to trust that a publisher is putting his reputation on the line with every book he buys. If I sell a book, it's because I believe in it--I think it's a winner. If you've enjoyed some of my books in the past, it's possible you'll like more.

    2. We offer content. Customers come back to publisher websites because they'll see something new. Unless you're a super-fast author, you won't be able to write enough to satisfy your customers. Repeat business is key.

    3. We market across a line. Although we might not have the marketing budgets of the big boys, we do market. Because we have a number of books, we can afford to market more broadly than an author with one or two.

    4. We edit. For me, this is key. Many self-published books have a lot of potential, but without editing, they're not really ready for prime time. Publishers have editors on staff to do this. (Note: some 'publishers' will publish anything with no editing. Those are not what I define as publishers but as printers.

    5. We have access to distribution. We might not be able to get into all of the stores, but we have more access than an individual (non-Stephen King/non-Nora Roberts) author is likely to achieve.

    6. Our name is a lever for author marketing activities. An author who approaches a reviewer with a self-published book has a tough time. Saying your book was published by, say, gives you a much higher likelyhood of getting reviews and consideration.

    7. We publish. I'm almost embarassed to mention this one, but it's worth thinking about. Pricing, formatting, cover design, layout and media choices are all non-trivial.

    8. We offer access to professional organizations. EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection requires its members to have a contract with a publisher for membership.

    Rob Preece is the founder and publisher of and author of more than twenty eBooks, published in the romance, mystery, science fiction and thriller genres. Founded with the idea of providing great eBooks at great prices, specializes in affordable genre fiction. When he's not writing or publishing, Rob is a martial artist, a fencer and a bridge teacher. He can be found at and is accepting submissions at


    Is depression an illness?
    Anxiety disorders
    The curse of shyness

    Is depression an illness?

       From time to time, I encounter the opinion that depression is an illness, a chemical imbalance you just have to live with. Since it's a chemical imbalance, all you can do about it is to correct it with drugs. Bipolar disorder, what used to be called manic-depressive disorder, similarly makes people feel helpless.

       Bipolar disorder does have an organic origin. People with a certain genetic makeup have mood swings, which are very distressing to them. However, that is only the base. Over the years, a huge superstructure of distress is often built on it. This is the way the sufferer feels, thinks, acts: the set of self-beliefs and reactions that become habitual.

       There are people with very severe bipolar who live happy and productive lives. They suffer the symptoms from time to time, but have learned to organize their lives to cope. Same is true of other problems, for example rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Type I diabetes, schizophrenia, severe sensory losses... For example, I have had schizophrenic clients who have weaned themselves off the drugs (under medical supervision), and have lived good lives for many years. They do have the hallucinations, but have built coping mechanisms that allow them to distinguish these from 'reality'.

       The basic problem of bipolar can be helped with a suitable drug regime in about 75 to 80% of people who have it. There are those who are not helped by the standard drugs, or have terrible reactions to them. Many such people have developed or learned coping mechanisms that work, and allow them to live good lives. These same strategies will also help those who can take the drugs.

       As for unipolar depression, however, it is NOT an illness. Even calling it a 'disorder' is wrong. "Depression is a chemical imbalance" is a myth perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry.

       There have been some very interesting recent studies. MRI scans and other brain-monitoring tools have shown that cognitive-behavioural therapy causes EXACTLY THE SAME brain changes as antidepressant medication. (The studies used cognitive-behavioural therapy. I am sure that any counselling process, including the kind words of Aunt Fanny, would produce the same brain changes, provided they have affected the behaviour of 'feeling depressed'.) The only difference, of course, is that if you stop taking the drugs, your brain and your feelings return to what they were. If you use therapy to change the way you think, the changes are permanent, and the only way you lose them is if you choose to return to old patterns of thinking. And once you have the tools, you know you can choose to use them again at any time.

       If you think about this, it is entirely logical and reasonable. Electro-chemical activity in the brain is not the cause of anything, any more than muscle contractions in the leg are. It is perfectly possible to describe walking in terms of muscle contractions, and it is possible to interfere with the walking process, either positively or negatively, by doing things to the muscles of the leg. But those muscles are the MECHANISM, not the CAUSE. The cause of walking is within the person's intentions. I want a glass of water, so I walk to the kitchen. I use the muscles of the legs.

       In exactly the same way, my patterns of interaction with my environment, including the internal environment of thoughts and memories, affect my mood for the better or worse. These changes are observable in the electrochemical activity of the brain, which is the muscle for this kind of walking. My mood can be altered by interfering with the machinery, but surely, it's better to address the cause?

    Anxiety disorders

       I have been interviewed by a student for her project on anxiety disorders, and thought that my answers might be of more general interest:

    Question 1 What is an anxiety disorder? What is the difference between normal levels of anxiety and an anxiety disorder?

       An 'anxiety disorder' is one of the categories in DSM IV (diagnostic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association, 4th edition). You 'have the disorder' if you satisfy a sufficient number of criteria.

       This is actually science fiction. It is a faulty model of human psychology, which medicalises distress. A person who doesn't qualify for the diagnosis can suffer just as badly as one who does. 'Co-morbidity' with other disorders, particularly depression, is so high that the distinction is artificial. The best 'treatment to apply' (as the medical model would have it) varies far more with other aspects of the person than with the precise diagnostic category.

       Applying a label can be a damaging trap. I only ever do so if required to, for example to justify funding for the victim of a crime.

    Question 2 What are the different types of anxiety disorders? Are some types of anxiety disorders more common than others?

       As defined in DSM IV. Some of these distinctions are useful.

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by 'free floating anxiety', which is a very descriptive term. Sufferers typically attach the anxiety to various environmental events and objects, since it's better to fear something than to just fear.
  • Specific Phobias are fears of some circumscribed stimulus, for example snakes, being over water, enclosed places. If not dealt with, such fears grow, and can result in 'agoraphobia': the inability to leave safe places like home.
  • Panic attacks start as misinterpretations of some experience as being dangerous. The extreme fear feels so awful that the person fears a recurrence. The panic attack is then the fear of the fear.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is the use of superstitious behaviour to keep anxiety at bay.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the continued reliving of the emotional feelings engendered by a past trauma.

       These are the main types.

       Most sufferers will experience a mixture and combination of these, as well as of distressing experiences that don't fit the 'Anxiety Disorder' mould.

    Question 3 What causes anxiety disorders?

    1. A high proportion of people are genetically predisposed to fast 'sympathetic arousal': their fight-or-flight system is quick to act. This is a very valuable survival advantage during danger or emergency.

    2. In our pathological society, people learn at an early age that social situations are often 'dangerous', i.e., lead to shame, blame, withdrawal of love, withdrawal of material benefits, rejection. Many people learn to respond to such things as to a physical danger. What they learn is some version of 'The world is a dangerous place, and I don't have the resources to cope.'

    3. Modelling is a very powerful way for children to learn. Grandmother may be cautious about spiders. Mother may be scared of them, without this affecting her life too much. Grandchild may have a full spider phobia.

       These three causative mechanisms interact.

    Question 4 How does anxiety affect the lives of sufferers?

       This is extremely variable.

    1. Most people with habitually high anxiety levels simply get on with their lives. It's just what life is like, and that's that.

    2. Many high achievers have habitually high anxiety levels. They fight the 'I am faulty and can't cope' core belief by trying harder and 'overachieving'. They 'face the fear and do it anyway.' People struggling with other psychological problems like depression may act similarly.

    3. Several of the 'anxiety disorders' are actually coping mechanisms taken to extreme. Many people have very highly organised lives and disciplined thought processes. This is a good thing, but if taken to excess becomes OCD.

    4. It is possible to use techniques like meditation to switch off anxiety. Wisdom and self-acceptance can actually get rid of the underlying pathological thought processes.

    5. Anxiety due to past trauma can be reduced or eliminated through 'exposure': instead of running away from the emotion, one faces it, goes through the past experience time and again in a safe situation until the anxiety fades.

    Question 5 How are anxiety disorders treated? Do most sufferers seek treatment?

       The question assumes that an anxiety disorder is like, say, diabetes. It isn't.

    1. The medical profession uses pills. These will often control symptoms and allow the person to function, but only while the drug is taken. They do not 'cure' the 'disorder'.

    2. Education is very useful. Once you understand the causes of panic attacks, you can actually prevent them from occurring. Compulsive behaviour is made less compelling through understanding.

    3. Phobias and PTSD -- and behaviours of that kind that don't qualify for the diagnosis -- are helped by some form of exposure.

    4. Getting at the cognitive basis of the problem (which is a response to the childhood acquisition of certain beliefs) is at the heart of many psychological approaches, not only 'cognitive-behavioural therapy'.

    5. Acceptance of one's own nature and situation, combined with learning to live in the present, is very powerful.

       In practice, any skilled psychologist will combine these approaches.

    Question 6 Do you have any final comments?

       Anxiety is either a response to an unpleasant event in the past, or, more typically, to social situations in the past and present. Where it is realistic (e.g., it's not a good idea to fondle a poisonous snake, while at the same time a carpet snake is fine, and it's OK to be near a snake as long as one doesn't threaten it), it leads to proper caution. Where it depends on a distortion of the perception of the situation, then it can be dealt with.

       It is counterproductive to pathologise it.

    The curse of shyness

    Hello Bob,

       My name is Dierdrie and i know that you must get many of the same kind of emails everyday, but I was just wondering how i could be more confident in myself and also not be self concious and shy. I feel like it is ruining my life. I constantly write in my journal when i feel like i hate myself and nothing can make it better. When I look back through my journal weeks later, I find that everything I say in it is hateful towards myself and I remember as i wrote those journals I was always in tears. I hate being shy, self concious, and having low confidence. If I could change anything about myself i would make myself more self confident. Im not expecting to get a response that will in some way cure my shyness (which probably doesnt even make sense), I' m just hoping that you could give me some words of encouragement to help me understand what I can do to help with my low self confidence.

    Thank-you for your time in reading this email.

    Dear Dierdrie,

       There was a time in my life when I was sure I'd never have a girlfriend, that I'd go through life unloved.

       I have now been married for 39 years (to the same woman), and so have proved this to be wrong. I am still not a party butterfly, and prefer my own company, but am not at all shy any more.

       Social anxiety is when you are afraid of the judgments of other people. Now, I have none of this. I used to think that no-one could possibly like me. As you noted, this is a reflection of not liking oneself. Now, I know for a fact that people tend to like me. If I get a negative reaction from someone, this may have some reasonable basis. If so, that provides me with feedback so I can improve what I do. If I don't agree that the criticism is reasonable, then the dislike is the other person's problem, and I can let it go.

       I managed to do this through luck, inventing my own way. You can take a shortcut by getting some brief therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective against the kinds of beliefs that torture you. The money you may have to spend on it could be the best investment of your life.

       I don't know you at all, but I know something about you: like all people, you are perfect the way you are. The only problems are with what you do. This includes the beliefs you hold, the thoughts you have, your actions. It is possible to change such habits, and that's what you need to do. And you can.

       I suggest you watch women your age who behave in ways you admire: with poise and style, and who seem confident and popular. Practice acting like them in privacy, in front of a mirror. Then go to places where no-one knows you, and do your act. You will make mistakes, but that doesn't matter: no-one there knows you anyway. In time, you will get the act right. How you feel inside when doing this doesn't matter. It's the role you are learning.



    Beyond Nuclear Symposium
    Contribute to Global Warming Project
    New Voices writing contest for kids
    Darrell Bain has a new book and his newsletter out
    Reader Views literary contest
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson at conference
    New ezine for writers from TRI studio
    Community Gardens Network annual conference
    EPPIEs is open for entries
    Carolyn has a column in Writers' Journal

    Beyond Nuclear Symposium
    Melbourne - September 15-16, 2006

       The Beyond Nuclear Initiative invites you to the Beyond Nuclear Symposium in Melbourne on September 15-16, 2006. The Symposium is the largest of its type in 2006, with experts addressing issues from weapons proliferation, proposed nuclear waste dumps, Australia’s ability to develop renewable sources of energy, as well as Senior Traditional Owners talking about the effects the industry is having on their communities and country.

       Speakers on Friday September 15 include retired diplomat Prof Richard Broinowski, Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff and Dr Bill Williams (Medical Association for the Prevention of War), Jillian Marsh (Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner), Prof. Jim Falk (Melbourne Uni), Margie Lynch (Traditional Owner of a site short-listed for nuclear dumping in the NT), James Thier (Australian Ethical Investment), Julie-Anne Richards (Climate Action Network Australia) and renewable energy expert Dr. Mark Diesendorf (University of NSW).

       Saturday September 16 is a day of workshops and campaign building in which people from across the country will come together to build on current strategies and create new alliances to strengthen the anti-nuclear, clean energy movement.

       The venues are: * Friday - Melbourne State Library, Swanston & Latrobe St Melbourne. Doors open 8.30am for registration. Start 9am sharp * Saturday - Trades Hall - cnr Victoria and Lygon Sts, Carlton South. Start 9am.

       I hope that you will be able to attend both the Friday and Saturday agendas as they will provide a solid foundation of knowledge and networks for the future of the anti-nuclear, clean energy movement.

       If you would like further information, please contactsymposium organiser Louise Morris 0408 667100.

       More information on the symposium -- including registration information -- is available on the internet at

    Global Warming Project

       Writers are invited to submit a contribution to a Global Warming Project: A Thousand Voices. We welcome a no word limit non-fiction piece on observations or impressions you have experienced or know about related to any aspect of recent climatic change.

       Free prizes and a chance to see your name in print.

       Check it out at:

    Warm regards
    Geoff Nelder


    New Voices needs judges The EPIC New Voices Committee is looking for judges to judge contest entries of students from grades six through twelve. The contest categories are poetry, stories and essays (middle school and high school levels in each category). All the entries are short -- maximum from 20 lines of middle school poetry to 1000 words of high school stories and essays. Judges complete a score sheet rating four elements of each work that is sent to the students. Comments from judges are encouraged. Judging will take place throughout the contest, which is now open and closes November 1. Although at least one judge in each category must be a member of EPIC, we are also seeking teachers, librarians, writers and educators to act as judges.

       If you are interested in helping, reply to Please put 'judging' in the subject line.

    Darrell Bain

       My September newsletter and the latest installments of my memoirs are up now at Music, Food, Boor Report and more.

       ALSO my latest novel, SPACE TRAILS, is available as an e-book at

    Thanks for reading.
    Darrell Bain

       Over the last several years, Darrell Bain has become one of the best selling authors in the world in the realm of electronic publishing. He was named Fictionwise E-book Author Of The Year 2005 by Fictionwise, the leading E-book store in the world. Most of Bain’s books are also in print. He produces a monthly newsletter, discoursing on various subjects brought up by fans or by his own voracious reading habit, written in an informal, narrative style. It is available around the first of each month from his web site at

       Darrell is the author of more than three dozen books in many genres, running the gamut from humor to mystery, science fiction and thrillers. He served 13 years in the military and his two stints in Vietnam formed the basis for his first published novel, Medics Wild.

       While Darrell was working as a lab manager at a hospital in Texas, he met his wife Betty. He trapped her under a mistletoe sprig and they were married a year later.

    Reader Views literary contest

       Reader Views Literary Contest is run in collaboration with Loving Healing Press. It is open to all writers regardless of residency, but the story must be in English. Work already published is not eligible.

       All initial judging will be done by judges obtained by Reader Views. Thirty semi-finalists will be named. Final judging is for twenty stories that will be printed in an anthology published by Loving Healing Press. All semi-finalists will be asked to submit their story in Microsoft Word document for final judging.

       Theme is “Transformation.” It must be a true story about the most important self-discovery that you (or a family member had) or event/decision that caused you to look at the world or yourself in a whole new way for the rest of your life. Working title is "THE STORY THAT MUST BE TOLD: TRUE TALES OF TRANSFORMATION".

       Entries to

       Stories must be between 1000 and 3000 words double spaced in 12 point font. Cover page must include title, number of words, a brief synopsis, and name/address/e-mail address of writer. (Please follow this guideline - most entries are disqualified at this point because this guideline is not followed.) Semi-finalists will resubmit story in Microsoft Word document for publishing process.

       Twenty stories will be published by Loving Healing Press in book form. All twenty writers will receive a copy of the book (shipping/handling fee charged) and opportunity to purchase books for resale. The final book will be available for purchase on Amazon as well as other online bookstores. Semi-finalists will be announced in our weekly e-mail newsletter on January 15, 2007 and the finalists on February 27, 2007.

       Entry Fee is $20.00 USD per story via U.S. check or international money order payable to: Reader Views. More than one story per writer will be accepted, however, only one story per writer is eligible to be published. An entry fee must accompany each story.

       Registration Deadline December 15, 2006. Any submission postmarked after this date will not be accepted.

       Submission form and fee must accompany the manuscript and sent to:

    Reader Views Literary Contest 2006
    7101 Hwy 71 W #200
    Austin, TX 78735

       Entries sent directly to Loving Healing Press will be disqualifed.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson to Speak at Sinclair Lewis Conference

       Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of USA Book News' Best Professional Book, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't and other books from a novel to a chapbook of poetry, will be sharing her practical tips for book promotion with fellow writers at the Sinclair Lewis Writers' Conference, on October 14 in Sauk Centre, Minneapolis, the hometown of that well-known American writer.

       She will be partnering with Roger Storkamp, author of Just Thelma, who will help authors better understand the part that review copies play in the review process. Their partnership is in the Sinclair Lewis spirit, for this conference -- in its 17th year -- was inspired by Lewis' willingness to mentor aspiring writers.

       Other presenters include Faith Sullivan and Barton Sullivan. The one-day conference includes a reception at the historical Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre. Jim Umhoefer is director.

    Howard-Johnson is the author of This is the Place, a coming of age novel set in Utah that won eight wards, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, a book of creative nonfiction that won three awards, and Tracings, a chapbook of poetry included in the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005. She will publish the second book in the How to Do It Frugally series, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success this fall.

       A popular speaker, Howard-Johnson is an extension division instructor for UCLA's Writers' Program. She was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature and the Book Publicists of Southern California gave her first Frugal book their Irwin Award.

    Learn more about Howard-Johnson at

    Learn more about the conference at:

    Kathe Gogolewski

       The first issue of the TRI Studio Newsletter, The Fiction Flyer, is now available.

       There are articles for writers that we hope you find interesting, including one on the current state of publishing in China. The article contains very current news, and you may one of the first to understand the latest about what's going on in the publishing world inside China. We hope you enjoy reading it.

       We welcome any comments that you care to send us, either about one of our articles, or the ezine in general. We are interested in tailoring The Fiction Flyer to meet the needs of our readers.

       Here's the link:

       If you like what you read and are not a subscriber, you can receive future issues by sending a reply email with NEWSLETTER in the subject heading. There is no charge.

    Community Gardens Network annual conference


       The 2007 Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Conference

       Cities Feeding People

       Grow it where you live

       Melbourne March 20-25th in a venue to be announced

       Featuring national & international speakers and workshops on:

  • Local Food & Food Security
  • Gardens In Schools
  • Community Gardens
  • Seed Saving

       Plus tours, networking, social events all finishing with a bang at the CERES Harvest Festival & Feast

       To get updates on speakers, location, costs and accommodation as they come to hand sign up to our conference email list,

       No email? Sign up by phone on 03 9387 2609 or by post to: Conference 2007 C/O CERES 8 Lee St Brunswick East 3057

    EPPIEs is open for entries

    Eligibility- ANY e-book of 10,000 words or more (or less for poetry or Children's) published between Oct 1, 2005 and Sept 30, 2006 and REALEASED FOR SALE. It doesn't matter if there was also a print release. It doesn't matter if the e-book is self-published, subsidy/vanity published, with indie press or in NY. It doesn't matter if you are an EPIC member or not. It doesn't matter where in the world you live, as long as the book was released in English. Re-releases in the contest period ARE allowed, as long as the book was not entered in the EPPIE in a previous year. ALL are welcome. Questions can be directed to the contest coordinator, Carol MacLeod.

       Categories and rules- See and Please, pay special attention to the category descriptions and the file naming requirements. These have changed this year.

       Cost to enter- $20 for EPIC members and $30 for non-members. Payment is accepted in US Dollars by PayPal, check or money order. Details on the entry page.

       Deadline for entry- Midnight EST 7 Oct, 2006. Finalists announced Dec 2006. Winners announced 11 March, 2007 at EPICon in VA Beach.

    NEW VOICES is open for entries...

       Eligibility- Open to middle school and high school students worldwide. The student may be home schooled, in public school or in private school.

       Categories and rules- See Entry forms are available from Lillie Ammann (coordinator) and will post soon on the web site. Teacher packets for the contest are available from Brenna Lyons. Children may submit one entry for each of their age-level categories: poetry, essay and fiction. Please, check the length limits on entries and remember that a parent/guardian signature IS required for entry.

       Cost to enter- No entry fee! Prizes are awarded.

       Deadline for entry- Midnight EST 1 Nov, 2006. Finalists announced Dec 2006. Winners announced 11 March 2007 at EPICon in VA Beach.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       Known for her efforts to help emerging authors with the authors' organization she founded, teaching and writing, award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson will write a new column for Writers' Journal, edited by Leon Ogroske.

       The print journal, published bimonthly, caters to all writers whose love of writing has prompted them to take the next step: attempting to become published. The 64-page magazine circulates to about 26,000 writers nationwide. It was founded in 1980.

       The Journal's new columnist was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping (Hearst Corp) and was a fashion publicist for the Eleanor Lambert Agency in New York. She is a sometime movie and theater reviewer for the Glendale News-Press and publishes her own newsletter, "Sharing with Writers." It is an entity of Authors' Coalition, an organization for writers that she founded. (

       Howard-Johnson was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by the 43rd and 44th District of the California Legislature Her first novel, This is the Place, and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, are both award winners. She is also the author of Tracings, a chapbook of poetry named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005.

        She is also is an instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Her book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book and earned the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin award.

       Howard-Johnson may be reached at ( Information is also available at
    Learn more about the magazine at:

    Can we have a safe nuclear reactor?

       A safe nuclear reactor needs to have the following characteristics:

  • It should generate huge amounts of heat that can be put to productive uses like generating electricity;
  • It should be far enough from living things to minimise the effects of ionising radiation;
  • It should be completely inaccessible to terrorists, and not be a target in the event of war;
  • The production of its fuel should not result in mine wastes that poison ground water, soil and air;
  • It should not involve an enrichment process that provides material for potential nuclear weapons;
  • Its use should not lead to very long-existing radioactive wastes;
  • It should not need to be decommissioned after a short usable life, thereafter leaving a piece of land that must be avoided for thousands of years.

       There already is such a nuclear reactor. It uses fusion rather than fission, and is 93,000,000 miles away.

       It is the sun.


    A Murder Mystery: The Outcome Could Kill Any One or All of Us
    a film review by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Vassal of El by Gloria Oliver

    A Murder Mystery: The Outcome Could Kill Any One or All of Us
    from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       Documentaries are available on TV for free and at the push of a button. So why choose a doc on the big screen over say, special effects or a good remake of a literary novel? Who Killed the Electric Car embodies all of the reasons we do, and here they are:

       Documentaries like this one written and directed by Chris Paine are the silver screen's version of blogs. They don't play to the lowest common denominator. Mostly they don't spout the same old, same old. This one, a regular murder mystery about the real live suspects and corporate ones, too, who strangled (or tried to strangle) the enthusiasm of those who signed on to test market their adorable little electric cars.

       Documentary makers aren't afraid of satire (read that, don't care if they upset someone). There is something in this one to offend everyone and rightfully so. You will leave the theater walk loving EV1s and hating the culprit who killed it, maybe ready to write your congressman or woman or to write a review.

       Documentary makers aren't afraid of something new. In Killed, the audience is enticed by cleverly designed titles to vote for their favorite suspect (or least favorite as the case may be). After listing the possible murderers, the filmmaker asks what the audience thinks. The technique was unexpected, original and fun.

       Documentaries are sometimes subtle. The wittiest parts of this movie are unspoken. Here we might have a politician's words used as voiceover for poignant shots of smoggy skies and, yes, fast little living, breathing cars being shredded like cole slaw.

       Suspense. In a documentary? In this one the suspense is real and up close. A reviewer can't give away the ending but trust me, you'll leave more riled than you would from any horror movie.

       It is possible for documentaries to use star power. Who knew? . In Who Killed the Electric Car Paine uses both star power and star shine. We see Mel Gibson bebearded in a way you'll never want to see him again; Phyllis Diller looking her plastic best; Tom Hanks in a clip from about ten years ago (just adorable!) and even our Pres filling his tank with air-friendly fuel, something he is so ill at ease doing that no comment is necessary. And then there is the EV1 -- the electric car itself. It is so speedy, clean and darn right sexy, any thinking person will know it is (was) a star in its own right. Presumably all are using both their shine and their power to shame those who are more concerned about the pocket linings than the linings of their lungs.

       After I saw this documentary, I rushed out to see Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. I was not disappointed. Then I remembered a couple of others. The March of the Penguins, Fahrenheit 911. It seems documentaries are dragging more theatergoers away from mindless adventure and romance films and into the sights of those who have something to say.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of USA Book News' Best Professional Book, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, as well as the award-winning novel This Is the Place. Learn more about her and download some of her free e-books at:

    Vassal of El
    by Gloria Oliver

    Publisher: Zumaya Publications
    Price: $15

       Vassal of El is a fantasy with a refreshingly different world. El is one of the Gods, who seems to be the kind of God we all like to have. Long ago, some people had been kind to him, so he gave them flying lands, and wings of their own.

       But that was a long time ago... and we don't know this at the start of the story. We have a grim, embittered mercenary who rescues a gangly fifteen-year old girl from savage pursuers who kill her foster parents. In a way that reminds me a little of the Belgarion, neither of them knows how special and unusual they are.

       With all the plot twists and tension that you like, the pair go through adventures, and we meet other attractive characters like the idealistic Micca and the good-hearted Sal, as well as the villains of the piece.

       The author shows a deep understanding of how trauma scars a person's emotions. Torren, the hero, has been terribly mutilated as a boy, during a cowardly attack in which his father had been killed. His reactions are true to life, and the author's skill brings his emotions to life as he struggles with past memories--and as he struggles with his innate kindness while trying to maintain the front of tough, uncaring mercenary.

       If I have one criticism, it is that the identity of the villain was rather obvious. I picked the mysterious chief baddie at first meeting. However, his unmasking was an exciting scene, and the reason for his destructive plotting is revealed as, yet again, childhood trauma.

       The messages of compassion, decency, and the falseness of prejudice are shining beacons in the story, but never obvious in-your-face. They are shown rather than preached.

       And the ending is beautiful. I am a tough old soul, but it brought tears to my eyes.

    The Legend of the Mary Gloster

    by James Choron

    Regular contributor James Choron writes: "I don't know if this is true or not, but I've heard it from several sources. Maybe some of your readers "Down Under" have heard this tale and can shed some light on it. It seems to take place in your neck of the woods. Kipling is more or less ignored today. I had some exposure to him in high school but only to his prose. I found these two poems to be among the best "period" pieces that I've ever read. I had never heard of either of them until told the story that you see below, while living in Negambo, Sri Lanka, for 18 months in the early 1990s. Whether it's true or not, it's one of those stories that lends genuine romance to the sea, and genuine romance is something that is sorely missing... and sorely needed in today's world.

       Over 100 years ago, in 1893 and 1894, Anglo-Indian poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a pair of epic poems detailing the life and career of one of England's great maritime-merchant families. In "MacAndrew's Hymn" and "The Mary Gloster", he detailed the lives and times of the men who made England the richest, most powerful nation on earth. But... the two poems, taken together as a set, also tell another story: of a love between a man and a woman so strong that it lasted half a century and literally transcended the grave.

       As with many of Kipling's works, the story of the "Mary Gloster", as related in these two poems, is true. He has apparently changed only the names of the persons, companies and the ship involved, as many of the participants were still living at the time of original publication. The works are too "raw" and too packed with minute and seemingly superfluous detail for this to be otherwise. Much speculation has arisen over the years as to the actual identity of "Sir Anthony Gloster", and, of course, his late wife, as well as that of the character referred to in these works as "MacAndrew". Needless to say, these are ongoing mysteries, as the information apparently went to the grave with Mr. Kipling. The story does not end, however, with the sinking of the "Mary Gloster" and the carrying out of Sir Anthony's final wishes.

       Almost as soon as the last of these works appeared, in the fall of 1894, stories began to arise concerning the sighting of a "ghost ship" in the Maccassar Strait area, and along the normal route that a ship of this time would have taken to reach that vicinity from Britain. The story goes that a sail-steam brig of mid-19th century vintage can often be seen passing in the night. It is a neat, trim little ship, in good repair and proceeding at a leisurely four to six knots under a good head of steam. On deck, a man and woman are visible at the helm; he wears the uniform of a ship's officer of the same period as the vessel. The woman is dressed in the civilian attire of the same era. If hailed, the ship will respond, the officer will reply to the hail by speaking into a long brass "speaking horn" as is today commonly used by cheerleaders. The name of the ship is always indistinguishable, but a port of origin and a port of destination are always given in keeping with common maritime protocol... as well as the number of hours out or port. The ports of origin and destination, either Java or the Port of London, are interchangeable, depending upon the location and heading of the ship. The ship continues on course until it is out of sight. However, it does not show up on radar. It has no sonar signature. In short, by all means known to modern technology, it simply does not exist except to those who physically see the ship. It is most commonly observed in the Maccassar Strait and in the South Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).

       Sighting what has become commonly known as the "Mary Gloster" is considered to be a boon in that the little ship seems to be a "Flying Dutchman" in reverse. Sighting the "Mary" is considered to be an omen of good fortune. For a newlywed couple or a pair of soon-to-be-wed lovers to be among those fortunate enough to witness the vessel, it is a sign of a long, happy and prosperous marriage. For the single, it is considered to be a sign that they will soon find Mr. or Miss "Right". For ship's crew it is a sign of general good luck, a safe voyage and a long and rewarding career.

       Perhaps one day the world will know the identities of the "Gloster" family, Fleet Engineer MacAndrew and the true name of the little ship. Maybe one day some distant descendant will discover some yellowed document... some old letter, a diary or other correspondence that finally solves the mystery. Until then, she will remain to those lucky enough to sight her "Mary Gloster... 19 hours out of Java and bound for the Port of London! And who hails her?" Until that time comes, if it does, she will always be, as Mr. Kipling so aptly called her, "Sir Anthony Gloster's carriage..."


    Blackfella's Daily Survival Prayer by Alec Donald Wilson
    The Good Fight by Miriam English

    Blackfella's Daily Survival Prayer
    by Alec Donald Wilson

    I have no bio for Alec. He has asked everyone to distribute his poem, and I got it second hand.

    The Good Fight
    by Miriam English

    Miriam writes: "I'm an artist (realist and cartoonist), a writer who prides herself on being able to give clear, non-technical explanations of technical things, a web page designer who values information over glitz, and a 3d modeler who builds virtual worlds."

    Bookswelove reader appreciation contest

       We'll be giving one print book and one ebook away every week from August 30th through October 15th. To enter the drawing, simply go to the BWL contest page, enter your name and email address, and the name of the Books We Love author book(s) you have purchased during the last year and click the submit button.

       If you haven't purchased any books yet, but you're looking forward to reading a particular author, you may also receive an entry by simply going to that author's webpage and signing that author's guest book, then return to the contest page and put the author's name in the entry form and submit. You may enter the drawing as many times as you like–-one entry for every book you’ve purchased from a Books We Love author.

       You will find complete contest information by visiting the Books We Love main page and clicking on the contest link.

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