Monthly Archives: February 2008

Word Power

When Jim asked his wife, Virginia, what she wanted for Christmas last year, she said a Chimney Swift Tower. The requested gift was not the type of thing a woman can wear on her finger or dangle from her earlobes and definitely not easily shown to friends at lunch, but she had read in the Jacksonville Daily News that Chimney Swift habitat was declining in our area due to the capping of chimneys, loss of tree cavities and new construction methods. Virginia has always been impressed with the benefits Chimney Swifts, who are insectivores, offer our environment and mulled over the information contained in the Letter to the Editor (Linda Bergman-Althouse) wrote long enough to feel compelled to do something about it. Jim and Virginia share a waterway enjoyed by an array of wildlife. For many years, the nature loving couple has continued to supplement wild birds’ diets and provide condos or gourds for Purple Martins when nesting time rolls around each spring. After going on the Internet and downloading schematics for a tower and an acceptable materials list from, Jim recruited another builder to help him construct the tower. “It took a few weeks or more to complete the twelve-foot tower, due to waiting out wet weather conditions and allotting time for the concrete to thoroughly set up,” Jim told me when he called. Although I hoped when putting out the word that chimney swifts were in need of alternate habitat to encourage them to return to our area, many months ago, I had no idea anyone had taken the “verbal” yellow flag and thrown it down. Jim invited me to Sneads Ferry to take a look at the tower he built for Virginia (and the Chimney Swifts, of course). My husband and I jumped in the car that day and within twenty five minutes I was absolutely thrilled to be standing next to a swift tower I had only dreamed someone would care enough to ask about, let alone build on their own. Jim sounded confident and proud when he said he “reinforced everything to ensure it will withstand hurricane force winds.” He dug a foundation platform so deep, he needed twenty bags of cement to fill it. Angled, iron girders (wider than the schematic called for) were set in place to form an extremely sturdy base.

Finished this past week, the twelve-foot tall swift tower, which “Chimney Swifts like better than the eight-foot” according to something Jim read, stands waiting along Swan Point off Stump Sound in Sneads Ferry. So “yes, Virginia, we can honestly say there is a Santa Claus, well . . . a Santa’s helper, also known as your husband,” who made this special and most unique Christmas present, a Chimney Swift Tower, happen. Virginia can’t wait for the first migratory Chimney Swift couple to show up from South America’s Amazon Basin and check out their new digs. Although, the tower is large enough to house quite a number of roosting pairs of swifts, Virginia says she will be thrilled to see just one couple this year.

Most stories have a moral–this one has a few, but the one I like most is: The little things we do can make a very big and positive difference. When your words mean so much to someone else, they take on power. You may or may not find out what effect or influence they’ve had, but just keep doing your part to make the world a better place and know others, like Jim and Virginia, will too.

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of, “Save Them All

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First Review for Smell of Death

Every author sends out books for reviews with a bit of terror going along with it. Will the reviewer like the book? Will he or she read it all the way through? When the review is written will it be good or trash the book? After all, every reviewer is different, having varied likes and dislikes. Some reviews are adequate, others mean-spirited, and occasionally a reviewer will give away the ending of a book.

Once in awhile, an author receives a review that catches the total spirit of his or her book. The following review is exactly that kind of review. My spirit soared when I read it.

“Full of suspense, realistic, and sprinkled with a light touch of romance, Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is a sure hit for crime fiction fans.

The latest in Meredith’s Rocky Bluff P.D. series, finds Officer Stacey Wilbur called to the home of Darlene Brantley. Upon entering the home, Wilbur finds Brantley dead, and in a strange twist of events, Brantley’s mother is also found murdered on the same night in her own home. While Wilbur assists Detective Doug Milligan in solving these crimes, other members of Rocky Bluff P.D. are on the lookout for the Barefoot Burglars and engage in a search for a missing toddler, hoping to catch the person responsible before another child disappears.

F.M. Meredith is the pseudonym for Marilyn Meredith, who writes the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I read the newest book in the Deputy Temp Crabtree series, so I was already familiar with Meredith’s work before reviewing this title. Smell of Death certainly lived up to what I expected.

Meredith’s experience with crime fiction shines through with this latest novel, as multiple cases plague the members of Rocky Bluff P.D. And while they are working hard to solve these crimes, they are also working on their personal lives. This gives a realistic and complete picture of the people of Rocky Bluff P.D. Stacey Wilbur is a strong and intelligent protagonist who juggles her career and single motherhood, all the while wondering if she should break her long-standing rule of not dating members of Rocky Bluff P.D. when she and Doug Milligan begin working more closely to solve the Brantley murder. This book does an excellent job of showing, through well-defined characters, the impact that life on the police force has on its members and their families. The touch of romance between Stacey and Doug is just the right thing to lighten up some of the heavy stuff going on in this book.

Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is an engaging, well-written, and gripping page turner, that will leave you hungry for the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.” –The Book Connection

The book is available on my website: and from Amazon or if you’d like to read it in ebook form go to



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This week on Calling All Authors

Calling All Authors is a weekly radio show for authors, writers and readers that discusses writing, the publishing industry, and the many issues that affect books and their creation from beginning to end. Hosted by Valerie Connelly, the program airs every Tuesday at 5pm ET, 2pm PT exclusively on Global Talk I’ll be Valerie’s guest this Tuesday, Feb. 19; among other topics, we’ll be talking about the pros and cons of ghostwriting and book collaboration. The conversation is always lively, entertaining and informative. I hope you’ll tune in.

Ed Robertson
Freelance Author, Editor, Journalist and Ghostwriter

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Fue un encuentro casual, de los que diseña el destino en el espacio muerto de los cruces de camino. A Gina enseguida se le vino a la mente uno de aquellos guiones cinematográficos que Max, el viejo amigo de sus tiempos de actriz, solía esbozar en apenas dos minutos, con una facilidad tan pasmosa que hacía sospechar por igual de sus acaloradas promesas de triunfo.
-¡No puede ser, Gina, pellízcame, por favor! –Max no ocultaba su sorpresa.
Gina se le llevó al final de la barra, prefería evitar las cercanías del mostrador y el ajetreo de clientes que, tarde o temprano, acabarían por interrumpir o entrometerse en la conversación. La aparición de Max venía que ni pintada para cambiar impresiones con antiguos recuerdos y oxigenar las últimas experiencias, demasiado maltrechas; le vendría bien renovarse con un poco de aire fresco.
Se sentaron a la penumbra de una de las mesas bajas, mientras Max le explicaba con apresurado entusiasmo los motivos de su presencia en aquel lugar. Habían llegado al mediodía y mañana iban a rodar unos exteriores para su próxima película, unas tomas sueltas de fondo para el escenario de otro de sus éxitos asegurados, antes de proseguir viaje…
-…Ya sabes. –Max sonrió entre risitas cómplices- Si no sale uno a tomar una copa y conocer el ambiente nocturno de las ciudades por las que pasa…
Gina posó su mano sobre el brazo de Max, que sostenía la copa, en un gesto de amigable camaradería, sin dejar de prestar atención a las explicaciones de sus proyectos, llenos de nombres y lugares que nunca antes había oído. Pero atendía sin escucharle, ignoraba por qué sus palabras no atravesaban la muralla que se había levantado entre ambos, a pesar de encontrarse tan cerca. No podía quitarse de la cabeza la última cita del día anterior, aquel cliente borracho que le obligó a dormir toda la noche en el sofá. Apenas durmió, en vela, pendiente de acostarse junto a él de madrugada, semidesnuda, para que al despertar no hubiera dudas del trato pactado. Sí, aquel fue un dinero fácil comparado con otras ocasiones, menos afortunadas, desagradables o violentas incluso. Era un hotel de poca monta, a una manzana del local, donde ya la conocían. Allí tenía su habitación disponible para la ocasión, su propio negocio. Había días de mayor recaudación y noches de insomnio, a un precio imposible, pero a ella le bastaba con poco. No se podía improvisar cuando la supervivencia estaba en juego; el precio arriesgado podía tornarse caro. Había aprendido a elegir y decir no; tampoco iba a complicarse por un plato de mal gusto, así que practicaba el arte de seleccionar para ganarse el sustento con la menor dificultad posible. Era la primera vez en muchos años que se topaba con alguien cercano a su pasado. Sin embargo, Gina manifestó su alegría sin entregarse…
-…¿Y Alex? –la pregunta se le escapó de los labios.
Max dio vueltas a los hielos del vaso y, por unos instantes, pareció meditar en círculos.
-Supongo que era una pregunta inevitable. Lo siento, Gina, no quería…
-Ya no me importa, Max…
Antes de que la foto de Alex saliera en las portadas de las revistas, Gina trabajó duro junto al prometedor director, ambos sacaron tablas de tantos proyectos compartidos; era la ilusión lo que les impulsaba a esforzarse más allá del límite, no había boato entonces ni malsana ambición. También tuvieron tiempo de estrechar lazos.
-Sí, Gina, sigo con él. Hay mucho trabajo, sabes que no puede jugarse con eso… -Max parecía disculparse por el comportamiento de su jefe y amigo a la vez- No ha cambiado, ya le conoces, es mejor dejarle a sus anchas. Son muchos años trabajando juntos, Gina…
-Sí, mejor dejarle…
Gina se alegró de que su amigo no continuase; siempre resulta doloroso rememorar la trayectoria biográfica de un antiguo amor. Nadie podría explicarle nunca con palabras lo que ella misma sintió junto a él. Alex no era hombre que apresar contra las cuerdas ni que encerrar en un puño, pero tampoco servía para tejer un mañana, un ahora, un minuto de cumplida lealtad. El premio fue su primer festival internacional, una mención honorífica, a la que les acompañó el fruto en forma de nueva esperanza. El embarazo, sin embargo, impidió que ella representase el papel protagonista de la nueva película, como en anteriores ocasiones. Acudió a cada ensayo y contempló en vivo la transmutación de los actores, el esfuerzo de la primera actriz por adaptarse al molde que el director plasmaba con derroche en detalles y conceptos. Observó como espectadora privilegiada el discurrir de las escenas, el montaje de un argumento que cobraba vida al tiempo que desvelaba, entre sorpresa y engaño, la faz de una realidad distinta e insospechada. Luego, las complicaciones de un embarazo difícil ni siquiera le permitieron asistir al estreno. El éxito profesional y un aborto pusieron de manifiesto las incompatibilidades que les separaban. Fue a partir de entonces que Alex se hacía acompañar siempre de su chica protagonista, la actriz de turno de la película en cartel. Por lo visto, no había cambiado nada, pero después de su experiencia, a Gina nada podría hacerla cambiar tampoco de opinión; ni lo esperaba, además.
-¿…Y tú, Gina? Háblame de ti, niña, se te ve igual de preciosa…
Ambos rieron entre carcajadas y cumplidos.
-Casualidad, Max. Es una casualidad que nos hayamos encontrado. Vivimos a una hora de coche de aquí… -Gina se anticipó a la pregunta- Sí, me casé. Mi marido es publicista, me ayuda en la firma de joyas que represento, nada importante, pero da para seguir, sin el acoso de cámaras y fotógrafos y eso… –volvieron a reir, nerviosos.
Desde la penumbra del rincón Gina distinguió la figura del cliente de la noche pasada, esta vez demasiado sobrio. Hizo acopio de energías en un suspiro y continuó con la historia:
-…Hemos venido hoy a visitar a su hermana, la familia es de aquí; olvidó en su casa las llaves del coche y, mientras le esperaba, entré a los aseos. Llegará en breve, no podremos estarnos mucho, hay que regresar…
Por fin el cliente pareció reconocerla y Gina, sin perder detalle de la situación, se incorporó con diligencia de la mesa cuando hizo ademán de acercarse…
-…¡Ahí llega! No le hago esperar, Max, me alegro mucho de volver a verte. Suerte, Max, un beso.
-Un beso, Gina…
Gina se levantó y cruzó el pasillo del mostrador como una exhalación, rauda, en dirección a su cliente de quien se enganchó por el hombro para conducirle de nuevo a la salida…
-Hoy repetimos, monstruo. Invita la casa. –le susurró al hombre, que se dejó llevar sin rechistar.
Cuando Max se asomó a la calle les vio desaparecer al fondo de la primera manzana, bajo el parpadeo irónico de un rótulo de neón donde podía leerse: “Hotel La Platea”. Todavía no se había repuesto de lo inesperado del encuentro y tan repentino final…
-Siempre fuíste una buena actriz, niña. –pensó en voz alta, apurando la copa de un trago…


El autor:

*Es Una Colección “Son Relatos”, (c) Luis Tamargo.-

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Writing Your Dreams

Everybody dreams but most people forget them upon waking. For artists, dreams can be a valuable source for inspiration. Many writers use phrases, themes, and visuals present in dreams to jump start creativity on the written page. Throughout history there are many examples of works created from these bits of the subconscious mind. I have written and published poems, short stories, and other literary works that were based on my dreams and even nightmares.

For those that have never tried it and would like to, one of the first steps is to keep a dream journal. From there, you can begin to examine the themes and keep track of the interesting events that occur. Try it to see how it works for you.
Nancy O. Greene

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On a Virtual Book Tour and Other Stuff

Today, my stop on this virtual book tour for Smell of Death the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series is: (interview)
If you’re interested, until I return, the next days are as follows:

Feb 7 (interview)

Feb 8 (forum Q & A)

Feb 11 (guest post)

Feb 12 (review)

Feb 13 (interview) and (podcast)

Feb 14

Feb 15

Feb 18 (guest post)

Feb 19

I just returned from Chicago and Love is Murder. What great fun–and it snowed! Being from California, I loved it. So beautiful. Of course it caused all sorts of problems, planes delayed, authors unable to get to the conference in time for their panels, and so on. I was on two panels and attended many. I learned many things including how to make curry and commit the perfect murder. (Two separate panels.)

Best of all, I connected with old friends and make many news ones.

By the way, anyone who is interested in writing about any kind of public safety (police, fire, ambulance, etc.) either fiction or non-fiction, a great Public Safety Writers Association conference is going to be in Las Vegas, April 24-27. There’s also a writing contest for both published and unpublished work. For more information go to

This is also a worthwhile conference. If you have books, you may bring them for sale.


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Valentine’s Day Humor Lost On Me

With so much loss and sadness as of late, let me add a little levity to our day, now that I can laugh about it. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I can’t help but reflect on a happening some years ago, when I was in my late twenties. I probably perceived some rather frivolous things more seriously than I should. I was working 12 to 16 hour days, six days a week in a building where the majority of the employees were male (probably 99 percent). I only knew of one other woman in the building. She was a married dispatcher in the police station downstairs. Even though the odds of dating were in my favor, it wasn’t happening. I worked way too many hours and really had no time for a social life. I was on great terms with everyone I worked with, so coming to work was quite enjoyable and laughter was an integral part of the office relationships even though every day was arduous for all and felt like each overlapped the next. Valentine’s Day was a few days away, and I overheard the guys talking about the flowers, dinners and such they were planning for their significant others, and sometimes they even asked me what a woman might like, which made me feel appreciated and very sisterish.

On Valentine’s Day, I approached the morning very low key and got busy with work immediately to distract myself, so I wouldn’t feel left out on “heart day.” Around noon one of the guys I worked with handed me a big card. I started blushing right away and (with red hair and an ivory face) it was very noticeable. The gesture was totally unexpected, so I was surprised, but I also felt relief wash over me when I took the card. I thought, how nice it was that he thought to give me a Valentine’s Day card. My giddiness nearly reverted to my eight-year-old self, when Ricky Wall gave me a purple, construction paper heart and a bag of butterscotch. When I opened the envelope, the picture on the card was very pretty; an arrangement of colorful flowers and on the heart in the center it said “Will You Be My . . . . . . . . , ” then I opened the card to read “Groundhog?” with a picture of a groundhog below the word.

All the guys were standing around smiling, waiting for my reaction. I kept staring at the word groundhog and it felt like I had been standing there frozen in place for 10 minutes, when actually it was only a few seconds. My eyes started welling up, and I ran to the bathroom where I cried until my eyes swelled shut. I guess it was supposed to be a funny joke, but whether it was the stress of the job, the longing for a valentine of my own or maybe it was just that time of the month, I didn’t take it quite so funny. I put cold water on my face in an attempt to return my look to pre-humiliation, but red eyes and a puffy pink nose were evident when I returned to my desk, where dead silence hung heavy in the air and everybody, including me, looked like we needed rocks to crawl under. Then later that afternoon, the same guy, my supposed-to-be friend, walked up to my desk and placed a long white box in front of me. My body stiffened like setting concrete, wondering, what now, roadkill? He said, “Go ahead and open it, it’s safe.” When I lifted the lid, I found a dozen, bright and beautiful, red “mercy” roses, which caused me to cry again. He said he was “truly sorry about the card, it was only meant as a joke they really thought I would laugh over.” It was a very embarrassing Valentine’s Day for me. All I had hoped on that day was to not get noticed as ‘no one’s valentine,’ but my unexpected emotional reaction to their intended joke and the similar outburst during the follow-up apology effort are legendary and will hang in the hall of “My Worst (but only now funny) Valentines Days Ever.” Thanks readers, for letting me verbalize this and get it off my chest, as it has been a very heavy burden for many years. : ) Sounds very . . well almost, funny now – but it wasn’t so funny then. Now that I’m a wildlife rehabilitator and although I don’t work with groundhogs on the coast, maybe the question was meant as a compliment. Groundhogs are kinda cute!

Happy Valentine’s Day Hugs to Everyone! (and if someone gives you a card that likens you to a large, furry buck-tooth rodent, laugh really hard! Words are funnier now that I write.)

Photo credit goes to Visit them sometime to see how interesting, smart and cute groundhogs truly are, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.

Linda Bergman-Althouse, author of “Save Them All”


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