Monthly Archives: June 2007

Interview on Myspace

I was recently interviewed by author R.M. Hamilton on Authors of Myspace. For those that are interested in learning a little bit more about me and my first book, Portraits in the Dark: A Collection of Short Stories, you can read the interview here:

AUTHORS OF MYSPACE.

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Portraits in the Dark on Barnes and Noble.com.

Portraits in the Dark on Amazon.

Portraits in the Dark through BookSense.

The Writers’ Block

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Using psychology to deepen your writing

I’ve long been fascinated by psychology and what it has to say about the possible variations in human behavior. I considered a double-major in psychology while I was in college but eventually decided to pursue other interests instead. Still, I explored many texts on the subject, and I would often consult those texts when writing short stories and coming up with character ideas. Unlike psychiatry, which seems to use medication to subdue not only seemingly irreversible mental conditions but some types of temporary problems as well, psychology appears to attempt to get at the root of issues through analysis of the human condition.

I used my own observations and personal beliefs regarding human nature when writing some of the stories included in Portraits in the Dark, and I also researched and read texts by various types of psychologists. At times while creating some of these characters, I needed to step outside of of what I thought was a normal course of action in order to figure out what the characters would or would not do. Some were easy–who hasn’t been annoyed at some perceived negative behavior or slight? Who hasn’t thought “what if…”?

But when it came to the decision-making process, I needed to be able to study how far certain decisions can go. Everyone has to make decisions and everyone makes mistakes, but some are more extreme than others.

For instance, in “Fine Print,” the character wavers between accepting an offer that he knows has dire consequences and living a life that he finds difficult to stomach. On the surface it is an easy enough decision but when other factors are included, the “correct” path isn’t the most desirable. Throughout the story there are clues to what type of man he is and why he would do the things he does–his decision is not just based upon a whim or upon what would be my own personal choice in such a situation.

Every day we are confronted with making decisions, how to approach this or that situation. And every day, in the news or in our personal lives, we find unanswered questions. Why did he or she do this, why did something turn out the way it did? How will this turn out, what should be done here? Without the aid of some fortune telling device, it is impossible to know how something will turn out with 100% accuracy. In “Darkened Sky,” the main character is confronted by the decisions that others have made, with deciding if those choices are options for her, or if she should take another route in life. She can’t forsee her future, but she gains some insight by the choices others have made and how she reacts to them. How she chooses is of particular importance being that she is a teenager and the situations in her life contain much danger for someone her age.

There are decisions that need to be made behind everything that goes on in life. Of course, in Portraits in the Dark, the characters and situations are taken to the extreme–bloody deaths, dealing with the supernatural, horrible creatures, surrealism. But there are also the real life quiet horrors of knowing that one decision can possibly have a huge and lasting impact on one’s life and the lives of others, of dealing with situations that one has little control over but must still learn how to navigate.

One reader commented to me that a story he read in Portraits in the Dark, “Fine Print,” changed his outlook on where his life was headed and made him question whether or not he was going in the right direction. I was glad that what I decided to include in the story had such an impact on him, even though he didn’t go into detail about his situation. That is one type of reaction that I think as writers some of us hope for–that our work will connect on some level.

How we view the world, our experiences, how we deal with things, even our genetic make-up can give us some clues as to what we, and others, will do when confronted with such questions. By exploring psychology, we as writers can use our natural abilities to make the characters real. Of course, there is a balance between enhancing the story with psychology and basically creating characters that are straight out of a text-book. Psychology, while helpful, doesn’t cover all of what a human being is capable of; nor does it cover writing style and storytelling ability.

But creating that written world can sometimes allow us to do what we can’t always do in real life–see why others truly act how they act, do what they do. And sometimes what our fictional characters do can leave a lasting, lingering impression on the mind of the reader.

PORTRAITS IN THE DARK ON AMAZON.COM

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Una noche en la luna por Gema moraleja paz

una noche en LA LUNA soñare contigo..

estare pendiente d e tu sonrisa

de tus ojos que brillaran desde alli

y cuando miren en luna llena

hacia el cielo alguien dira….

mira mama!! la luna esta brillando

mas todavia,pero es especial!!!!.

Que ha pasado a su cerco? dira…

esta rojo,rojo de pasion

rosa de amor

verde de esperanza

y tal vez blanco de boda??

por eso la luna es tuya

mia

de todos es transparente

para soñar………es una tela

blanca como la de las pantallas

de cine

una gran pantalla

universal para imaginar.

gen-mora

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Books Carnival – June 24, 2007

books

Photography by: Herman Hooyschuur

Welcome to the June 24, 2007 edition of Books Carnival.

Roger Hanney presents Silencing Dissent: an interview with Clive Hamilton – April 17, 2007 posted at typing is not activism…., saying, “Interview with author Clive Hamilton about his work on Silencing Dissent”

Ruth Mitchell presents In the “Blink” of an Eye posted at Buy Outside the Box, saying, “This is a great read!”

book reviews

The Superfast Reader presents I Don?t Like Jonathan Lethem?s Books But That Doesn?t Make Me Stupid, Stupid posted at reading is my superpower.

Michael Hwang presents The Count of Monte Cristo: Classic Tale of Obsession, Revenge, and Cigars posted at remikz!, saying, “My impressions about The Count of Monte Cristo.”

Shamelle presents Life Matters By Roger & Rebecca Merrill (Book Excerpt) posted at Enhance Life.

Deepak Jeswal presents Random Expressions » Blog Archive » Book Tag posted at Random Expressions.

The Superfast Reader presents The Ruins by Scott Smith posted at reading is my superpower.

Ian Stewart presents The Stupidest Book Ever Written posted at Upper Fort Stewart, saying, “Here’s what Google tells me are the stupidest books ever written in order of stupidity. Stupidity being determined by Google’s page-ranking algorithms. They’re presented mostly without comment but I think these reviews mostly speak for themselves.”

Jenny presents Review: Ironside posted at the so called me.

blue skelton presents Philip K Dick Interview on A Scanner Darkly posted at The Literary Junkie.

Ankesh Kothari presents Review: Made To Stick posted at How To Grow Your Blog Traffic, saying, “Review of “Made To Stick” and its application for bloggers”

new book release

GrrlScientist presents Harry Potter Book Covers posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “I thought you might be interested to see the cover for the next, and last, Harry Potter book. It was finally released a few days ago.”

Jeremy Adam Smith presents Me vs. Linda posted at Daddy Dialectic.

presentations

Matthew Paulson presents Community College: Cheap, Convenient, Smart. posted at Getting To Graduation.

special promotions

Matthew Paulson presents Turning Unwanted Books and DVD’s into Profit. posted at Getting Green.

GrrlScientist presents Harry Potter and The Big Secret posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “JK Rowling speaks out about the last book in the Harry Potter series.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
books carnival
using our
carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our

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Book Reviews: Following The Fugitive and The Fugitive Views and Reviews, Vol. One

The 2006-2007 television season marks the 40th anniversary of the fourth and final season of The Fugitive (ABC, 1963-1967), the landmark series starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, who barely escapes an unjust death sentence when the train carrying him to his scheduled execution accidentally derails. Amidst the confusion, Kimble slips away, and soon he embarks on a desperate search for the real killer—a mysterious one-armed man—while also trying to avoid the detection of law enforcement officials nationwide, including the implacable police lieutenant Philip Gerard (played by Barry Morse), whose relentless search for Kimble becomes an all-consuming obsession. After four years of thrills, chills, and near misses, the running finally stopped for Kimble on August 29, 1967, when our hero coerces the one-armed man into confessing during the concluding moments of the historic two-part final episode (Part One aired the previous week, on August 22, 1967).  The Fugitive finale remains the third most-watched television episode ever, capturing 72% of the American viewing audience that night, a figure topped only by the final episode of M*A*S*H in February 1983, and the “Who Shot J.R.?” resolution on Dallas in November 1980.  Marking the occasion of this anniversary season are two new books on The Fugitive. While the volumes are similar insofar as they focus primarily on the review and discussion of episodes, each goes about the material uniquely enough so that they truly complement each other.

First up is Following The Fugitive: An Episode Guide and Handbook to the 1960s Television Series (McFarland, 2006), a fans guide to the series meticulously compiled by Bill Deane.  An acclaimed Major League Baseball analyst and statistician who has written several books and hundreds of articles on the sport, Deane is also a devoted fan of the Fugitive and—disclosure here—one of many people I met by way of Rusty Pollard, whose excellent monthly newsletter, On the Run, served as a network for Fugitive watchers worldwide in the days before the Internet. Besides sharing an interest in baseball, I came to know Bill as a scrupulous keeper of facts related to The Fugitive (no surprise, given his background), and his book certainly reflects that care.

Originally published as a hardbound edition in 1996, Following The Fugitive is not a behind-the-scenes history with interviews—but then again, it never proclaims to be one. Deane does purport, however, to have compiled “the most accurate information” about the series in terms of episode details. On that count, he may be right. Following The Fugitive is a thoroughly assembled program guide featuring the kind of information that fans of The Fugitive crave, including detailed plot summaries; indices of episode writers, directors, and guest actors; complete lists of every name assumed, occupation taken, locale visited, and injury sustained by Richard Kimble during his four seasons on the run, plus a host of interesting factoids and offbeat observations about the show.

In many respects, Following The Fugitive is precisely the kind of factual “bible” that television series routinely put together today to ensure continuity from season to season. For example, the book points out discrepancies as to the date given for the night Kimble’s wife was murdered, as well as the manner in which she was killed. But it also notes lots of fun things, such as the similar surnames of Kimble’s love interests in both the very first episode (“Welles”) as well as one of the very last (“Wells”). Deane does this all with great diligence and an overriding sense of fun. As a complementary companion to, say, The Fugitive Recaptured, it’s well worth the investment.

The same can also be said for The Fugitive Views and Reviews, Volume One: Analysis and Critique of All 30 Episodes of Season One (1963-1964) (Wasteland Press, 2006), an offshoot of the Yahoo! discussion group of the same name, which also spawned a popular radio program devoted to discussion of The Fugitive. Two of the book’s authors, Bob “Bobbynear” Nearenberg and K.J. “Kitty” Batten, co-moderate the Yahoo! group, while the third, Ken Ardizzone, is a longtime group member and contributor. All three co-host Talking Fugitive, heard twice monthly on Internet radio station KSAV.org.

The Fugitive Views and Reviews is, as its complete title suggests, a collection of critiques of the first 30 episodes of the series. What makes the book (and by extension, the Yahoo! group and radio program) stand out from all other Fugitive forums is that it approaches the series not as a show that has been in circulation for over four decades, but as if it were airing on television for the very first time. Episodes are discussed one at a time, in the order in which they were broadcast. Analysis of any and all aspects of the series—from the characterizations of Kimble and Gerard, to Kimble’s relationship with his family, to sociological issues such as Kimble’s motivation for helping people, or the portrayal of women on the series—is limited only to those episodes that have been “seen” and discussed at that point. In the case of this volume (the first of four projected Fugitive Views and Reviews books), conversation does not exceed that which is known beyond the first season of the series. It’s an interesting perspective, one that succeeds in putting a fresh spin on what might otherwise be considered well-tread ground.

All three authors contribute reviews and opinions for each episode, with Ardizzone pulling double duty as the book’s editor. He does a yeoman’s job paring down the numerous member responses for each episode into a readable form that also maintains the flavor of the discussion group. While some observations may seem far afield, that’s also part of the fun. When it comes to favorite episodes or favorite TV series, there are no right or wrong answers. More to the point, the passion that all three authors have for The Fugitive is clearly evident and makes for lively reading.

The Fugitive Views and Reviews also features results from various polls of the discussion group’s members on topics relating to the first season, including Favorite Male and Female Guest Star, Most Suspenseful Scene, Favorite Villain, Favorite Heroic Figure, and Most Heartbreaking Moment to Date. Like Following The Fugitive, The Fugitive Views and Reviews is a book that definitely belongs in the collection of any serious Fugitive fan.

Ed Robertson

www.edrobertson.com

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The Good Mother

Nursery attendants shifted into high gear last month to accommodate the every thirty minutes feeding schedule for the huge number of birdnapped newborns and fledglings that now claim 100 Wildlife Way as their foster home. The incubators are full, the table and counters are covered with crab boxes, waterless fish tanks and netted doll playpens, all housing a variety of infant and juvie bird species. Same size and compatible youngins like robins, blue jays and mockingbirds can room together, while some loners, who don’t get along with anybody, get their own space. (Just a tip to other wildlife rehabilitators if you haven’t found this out already; don’t try to buddy a Titmouse with a House Finch. I never knew a cute, little Titmouse could be so vicious. It was a frenzied evacuation believe me. I was apologizing to the terrorized Finch for the rest of the day.) Rehabbers squeeze in between and around larger canopied, human baby playpens on the floor used to restrict fully feathered adolescents who are still learning to eat on their own before the big move to an outside enclosure for flight school. Well-meaning people, who do not understand the natural behaviors of wildlife, deliver bobble-headed bird babies to the shelter everyday. The list of reasons is quite extensive; “I think they’ve been abandoned, or the big birds keep flying at me when I go near the nest (duh!), or they leave droppings on my car (so . . . move your car?), or they nested in my mailbox (how about . . . use a temp container on top or to the side of the box for a few weeks, just until they wave adios, hasta luego!). It’s a very slim chance they’ve been abandoned. Even if something happens to one parent the other will continue to bring food to the nest until the newborns are ready to take flight. The only excuses that really carry a lot of weight with me are ” The cat was about to get them” or “I pulled the snake out of the nesting box, but he’d already eaten two.” (Yes, the snake must eat, but two is more than enough.) Living in the wild is harsh, even the semi-wild such as your backyard or workplace. Unfortunately, bird parents don’t have the defenses needed to save their young from domestic or feral cats and dogs who injure, kill or orphan millions of birds each year, and they don’t pack the punch to whip up on an aggressive snake, either. Those little hollow legs aren’t capable of the Ninja kick they need to do business, despite what is represented in Disney’s animated features. So, there are some good reasons to disrupt the family unit for the greater good (but not many). Although natural mothers provide better care, nutrition, and survival training than any wildlife rehabilitator, we do the best we can for the orphans in our care. We can feed the babies comparable diets, be it syringe fed formula, fruit, crickets, a variety of seed, meal worms and for the robins, juicy earthworms we dig out of the compost pile, but we don’t look like their parents (although some of you might choose to debate that) and try as we might, we can’t teach them to be wild. They just don’t take us seriously enough. They will have to depend on each other for that. Our golden advice is and has always been; if they are not in danger and there is a possibility the mother is around, wait. There are plenty of good mothers out there, even if you don’t see them. They are hidden and patiently waiting to see what the gigantic human is going to do. Wildlife mothers (and fathers) are devoted to the survival of their offspring, but Mom must leave the babies from time to time to feed herself and in the case of birds, find food for them. After fledging, young birds will still hang out with their parents and beg for food, much like human babies old enough to leave the nest but smart enough to know a good thing when they’ve got it.

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Have faith in the good wildlife mothers. They possess instinctive loyalty and tenacity far beyond our awareness. One of the Good Mothers I loved to visit was a Mourning Dove who nested in a hanging plant each year at Pal’s Hardware. After situating herself, the clerks would pull other plants around her for safety, place a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and pile straw beneath her chosen nesting spot to cushion a fall if a baby dove took a tumble. Last year, during a tropical storm, the torrential rains didn’t let up for hours, and I couldn’t help thinking about her; wondering if the hanging plant could possibly drain fast enough to prevent drowning the babies. I threw on my poncho and headed to the store, which was closed due to the hurricane threat, only to find The Good Mother hunkered down, keeping her dependent brood safe and dry. This year Pal’s Hardware discontinued the foliage and plant service they provided for so many years, and I miss her.

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If you come across an active bird nest you feel is in a danger zone or has become a nuisance to you, please call your nearest wildlife shelter before displacing it. The bird world thanks you.

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of Save Them All

252-240-1200 owlsonline.org

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The Book’s Den Announces Next Free Book Contest

The Book’s Den announces their second big free book contest. This time five readers will have the chance to witn a free book!
Please check our Free Books page on our site for more details.

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