Category Archives: Essays

Author’s Essays

Hangin’ Out

Book Lovers’ Fairs or Expos are great opportunities for networking in ‘author world,’ showcasing your  writing talents and generally, having a lot of fun.  Meeting fellow authors is a marvelous trip.  Most writer’s are unique in so many ways I truly appreciate.  Although I look forward to meeting and hanging out with a crazy, diverse bunch of writers, some of the moments I anticipate the most at a multiple-author, book event are spying the adorable, animated characters milling around and rushing to hang out with them.  They’re there to bolster the childrens’ books or advertise something out in town.  Either way, I’m thrilled to see them.  I’ve grown very respectful of mascots over the years.  They don’t talk, have a pleasant demeanor, a delighted, if not goofy, look on their face, transmit infectious energy and throw out happy waves to everyone.  They’re big and have even bigger heads, with shoes to match.  I get so excited to see them, I want to be them.  Yes, my mind has gone there.  The thought of becoming a big head with big shoes bounces in my brain quite often, but the dilemma is what head would I choose.  I’ve envisioned a Bluebird because they’re happy, have wings and uncommon as a mascot.  Bees are disappearing, so maybe I should be a honeybee to bring attention to their plight.  I’d still have wings, but I’d also be adorned with antennae and yellow is a good color for me.  I’ll think on that a while.  I guess my message to everyone with this little bloggie blurb is stay positive, have fun in whatever you do and respect the ‘clean’ fun others are having even if it’s not your cup of tea.   Book signings,  Literary Symposiums and Writer’s Workshops are on the schedule for me over the next six months, and I plan to have a huge amount of fun teaching or learning at all of them.  I just hope some big-headed mascots will be close by to hang out with.  Bye, Bye, now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THIS YEAR’S AUTHOR’S HOLIDAY GIVE-AWAY BASKET AND GET ENTERED BY DECEMBER 10TH!

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Words With The Tiniest

One of my hummingbirds spoke to me the other day.  Of course, it was in sign language, but none-the-less, communication, although not in oral or written form, was received and understood.   I daily enjoy the three or four hummingbirds who have selected my sugar-water feeder as their favorite in the hood whether  I’m watching them, one at a time, perch and drink during my breakfast, while lunching on the deck or as I’m passing by the patio door.  I wish they would come in together to partake, but they don’t all get along.  So, I watch them run each other off quite a bit.   On Wednesday I was doing all those domestic, cleaning chores we never look forward to doing when I needed to rinse out a rag at the kitchen sink.  While there, one of the female hummingbirds zipped in front of the kitchen window and hovered eye-to-eye with me.  “Well, Hello” was what I said.  I wasn’t quite sure what she was up to yet, as that was an unusual place for her to be.  Although, the kitchen sink window was some distance from the feeder, I didn’t think too much about it.  She stayed in position the entire time I rinsed out the rag and then the sink.  About five miutes later, during another pass I made at the sink, she did the same thing.  I walked to the patio door and there she was, still eye-to-eye and less than eight inches from the glass.  I looked up at the feeder and received the message, silent but clear.  “You are my human, so please do something about this mess!”  Although the feeder wasn’t empty, it was low and two dead wasps were floating in it.  When I opened the door, she sped to a Bradford Pear branch to watch “operation change out.”  She waited in the tree the entire fifteen minutes it took to drag the patio chair over for the climb, clean the feeder, mix and cool the sugar juice before hanging it back in place again.  Before I could get back in the door, she was right next to me.  I heard the buzz first, and when I turned my head, there she was and right at eye level again.  If possible, she looked a little less intense, and I think she was giving me another message.  “You’re welcome,” I said as she buzzed up to the feeder and wrapped the tiniest feet around the red, circular perch.  Her tiny, tube beak sucked so much fluid in one draw, I was afraid she might get a head rush and fall off the perch.  Isn’t nature simply wonderful?  So, stay alert.  The world and all it’s living things are speaking to us.

Don’t forget to check out my “Author’s Holiday Give-Away” below and enter before December 10th.  Your biorhythms just might be in line for you on this one! 

Linda Bergman-Althouse

Author of “Save Them All

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Write What You Know

“I’m thinking about writing a book, but haven’t figured out what to write about yet.”  That’s a statement made to me quite often when I meet people during signings, a writer’s workshop or readings.  It has always puzzled me.  I guess it’s the ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ thing.  Usually something happens that I’m reacting to (good, bad, ugly, whatever) that compels me to write.  So my response, which I feel a person is looking for, is “probably the wisest thing to do is write about what you know.”  Everyone has an interesting story, if not quite a few.  Really. If it’s not their personal story, it’s something they’ve heard  or witnessed.  Some people have exceptional interpersonal skills and can word weave captivating and unique relationships that are intriguing to read, while others have a gaming mind that can fill us with suspense or terror.  There are still others who can inspire us by sharing personal experiences where they’ve gained or lost (either way, learned from) that give us knowledge we can use to enrich and improve our lives.  Maybe written emotional purging is cheap therapy we engage in that will indirectly enable others to also derive benefits.  Writing doesn’t always have to become a book, though. I’ve completed only two books, but additional personal experiences, causes and concerns or longings have become stories, articles, poetry or even a blog post.  After advising an aspiring author to “write what you know,” I follow  up with, “ask yourself why you want others to know what you know; to awaken them and hope for deep thought, provide information, education or entertainment?    The answer to “why do you want others to know what you know?”  will usually drive you in the right topic direction.   Try not to throw up roadblocks, such as “nobody would be interested in that” or “there’s nothing special about me or what I know.”  I’m always surprised (but not shocked) by what others don’t know.  What our brains contain may seem second nature to us but brand new to those who’ve walked a different life’s path.  There is so much to know and life to live, how can anyone possibly know and have done it all.    So if you truly want to write a book, go for it!!  Teach me to maintain beehives or tell me what it’s  like to to be a bike courier in New York or if you’ve been married eighteen times, I’m curious enough to want to know how each began and how each ended or if you haven’t lived on land for the past fifteen years, maybe it’s time to drop anchor for a while, steady yourself next to a 60 watt bulb and write about every wind and wave that kept you out at sea.  Someone always wants to know what you know.   Who?  Now that’s a marketing question.

 

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

Dinah, from the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter says Hello!

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Tree Rustling

 I grew up in trees. Every time I went outside to play as a child (which was nearly every day, no matter the heat or height of snow), I found the most comfortable place to be was in a tree.  The strong limbs of apple, mulberry, persimmon, cherry and walnut held me closer to the clouds quite often.  That’s one of many reasons why I always feel so disappointed in humans when I see a loaded log truck; “pine and hardwood bodies stacked one on top the other, lying in state on eighteen wheeled steel sided hearses, heading for dissection at a sawmill.  The procession of death trucks loaded with stunted conifers saddens and maddens me.”  (excerpt from my novel, “Save Them All“)  Now, I’m hearing I have more to be sad and mad about.  A few weeks ago, while listening to Public Radio, I learned that some of those tree carcasses I’m mourning as they pass me may have been stolen and that the crime of tree rustling (or poaching) has become a nationwide epidemic. The radio broadcast discussion, by investigators committed to terminating this emotional and financial tragedy, spoke of trees being rustled in the northwest, but now I’ve read Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky and Arkansas are being hit as well.  Naturally I’m wondering about my state, North Carolina.  The staggering number of log trucks I see on NC Route 53 from Jacksonville to Wilmington every day is obscene; and that’s just one road.  An aerial view of this area must  be heartbreaking and just plain sickening.  I realize for every valued commodity, somebody will want to steal it.

I also know killing trees is a business for some, but the notion that unscrupulous sorts could be stealing trees had not yet come to mind for me.  Normally what rustlers do is find someone’s land that is mainly woods, trespass on the land, and steal the trees. If they’re caught by somebody who gives enough whoop to stop and question them, they generally just say they were hired by a neighboring landowner and “accidentally” cut down the trees.  The lame apology does not replace the trees that are decades old or lessen the emotional distress of the owner who may have “loved those trees the way only someone who grew up with them could” (Saulney). The rustlers are slick, just like in the old west when it used to be cattle they were after.  They sneak onto the property, cut the trees, remove them quickly and usually have a buyer waiting for them.  From what I’ve read, the penalties for this type of crime are no more than a modest fine and a slap on their chainsaw wrist, but that’s not enough to deter a criminal who gambles on not getting caught in these remote areas.  I’m (almost) sure the first time they’re busted isn’t the first time they’ve stolen trees.  I haven’t heard much talk in our area about tree rustling, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist.  I just want people everywhere to become aware that tree rustling is happening and possibly more close to home than we know, if it hasn’t happened where you are already.  Ensure your land is surveyed, so there is no question whose trees are whose, and keep an eye on your property, especially if you have large parcels of woods that aren’t regularly visited.  Older land owners are more vulnerable and susceptible because they may not be working their land or monitoring it as close as they used too.  I treasure trees for all the wonderful things they do for the environment, our wildlife, aesthetic value and for more personal reasons, too.  I know others feel the same.   Let’s keep a sharp eye and ask a few questions, might save someone great heartache.

 Linda Bergman-Althouse

Author of “Save Them All

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Ceiling Walker

Here I am and as always, a little bit of the different.  I’d love to say my absence of blog entries since April is due to my involvement in the mission for world peace, or I’m  sitting in a large tree to keep loggers from cutting it down and turning it into a tablet, or I’m off saving polar bears, but unfortunately it isn’t anything quite so noble.  Nope, instead I’m trapped in a technical writing project I agreed to do for the state.  Technical writing is so vastly different than creative writing for me that the only way to “get’erdone” is to keep my head in it.  Between wildlife ‘baby’ season and “use a #8,  3/4″ Flathead to fasten cockpit hatch track to deck surface and don’t forget to caulk every screw with 920 sealant,”  blogging was shoved, hesitantly, to the back burner.  Today, I felt an urgent need to escape everything technical (at least for a little while), so I took a walk on the ceiling.  I’m sure you’ve all done this as a child.  I just never out grew it.  Remember putting a mirror under your chin and walking around on the ceiling from room to room?  When my  schedule (albeit, self-inflicted) doesn’t allow me to get away and the world feels a little too tight, I can appreciate the vast open space of an uncluttered ceiling. The colorless nothingness is inviting when your brain is over-stimulated with inflexible sequenced procedures and so over-stuffed it requires a true rest of absolute down time for sifting.  If you have a mirror out now, don’t forget to lift your leg high when you pass from the living room to the kitchen or garage so you won’t trip over the door entryway .  Hardly any of my rooms have overhead lights, so there was no physical effort demanded to jump over a light fixture like I did as a child.  Walking on the ceiling may be less adventuresome now because the meaning and goal have changed, but certainly no less valued.  I took a few minutes to sit down, rest a spell and admire the emptiness.  When finding that peaceful and quiet environment you need to achieve unencumbered moments meant to restore you is inconvenient or downright impossible for whatever reason, you might try walking on the ceiling.  Just fly away anyway you can!  Talk to you soon.   

Linda Bergman-Althouse, Wildlife Rehabilitator

and author of “Save Them All

 

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Everywhere I Go

Last Week was National Library Week and I was invited as a local guest author to attend the Harnett Library celebration on Sunday in Lillington, NC (two hours from where I live).   Mystery writer, Margaret Maron was the scheduled  guest speaker (Marilyn, you may know her personally).  Cathey and Diane (from the library) made the event sound exciting and tons of fun, so I responded with ”sure thing,” and mapquest helped me route the most scenic trip to this tucked in the country town I never knew existed. My husband and I arrived in Lillington a little early so we scouted  the residential area and found some charming and pristine older homes with absolutely gorgeous gardens.  While passing one of the most inspiring gardens, I noticed movement way up in a tree and wondered what it was, so I asked John to back up.  It was an opossum, stuck . . .  really stuck  in the crevice of a tree.  My husband wondered how in the world I saw it, way up in that tree as we were zipping by in the car.  It happens, everywhere I go.  I just see these things.  She was in a bind; couldn’t go forward or backward.  I knew she had to be stuck because she wouldn’t be out in the bright of day at 1:00 in the afternoon.  So there I was, dressed up and in high heels trying to figure out how to get her down.  I had 45 minutes to spare before the library event, but I was not dressed for climbing. So, I encouraged  John to go to a neighbor’s house (no one was home at the tree’s house) and ask to use their ladder.  We even had to use the ladder extension, she was so high.  He climbed to the top rung and kept lifting her gently with some blunt garden tool on a pole, also borrowed.  She was caught right under her ribs and her pouch was full of babies.  She hissed a little, but knowing that’s a possum’s only defense mechanism besides playing dead, he continued jostling her until she became unstuck and lifted her into the safety of the hollow in the tree.  She was exhausted, I’m sure, but hopefully fine.  I could see the scratches on the trunk of the tree where she was desperately trying to free herself, probably since dawn.  I could only hope she learned her lesson.  Those small spaces she used to squeeze through when she was single and carefree are not doable now that babies are on board.  Now, on to the library!  There were quite a few authors there, and the Harnett Library was stuffed with loyal and royal readers from Lillington and miles around, so the number in attendance was quite impressive.  A very attractive woman in white sequins played a golden harp beautifully during the reception.The library staff greeted me with an “I Love My Library” goody bag (loved the chocolates) and golden punch, then escorted me to my table, preciously handling me like a VIP in the Queen’s court!   Margaret Maron had wonderful stories to tell that kept everyone interested and entertained.  She also introduced her most recent published work, “Hard Row” and her soon to be released mystery, “Death’s Half Acre.”  I sat between the author who wrote “Baaaad Sheep”  and the author of “More Than Trees.”  So between sheep and trees, I was in my element.  The respect and admiration for the authors present at the Harnett Library’s ‘event of the year’ was easily recognizable and warmly felt by me.  This small town’s big celebration was certainly worth the trip; a most splendid event and a wildlife rescue on top of all that . . .well, what can I say? 

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of “Save Them All“ 

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LOOKING BACK

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It may sound odd but accurate to say, a gorilla changed my life. I find myself looking back quite often when I think about why I do what I do for animals and why I choose the topics I write about. Sometimes I’m asked those very questions at readings or book signings. My mind always goes to the same time and place; that warm, spring afternoon in Washington, DC more than twenty-five years ago when I shared meaningful moments with a massive, Silverback Gorilla. You must be thinking, “a gorilla . . . in DC?” No, there wasn’t anything “King Kong – Faye Ray” going on. I was at The National Zoo. Since childhood, everywhere splendid animals are I want to be. I had reached adulthood by then and was engaged in an activity seeking excitement, exhilaration and entertainment, all for me but found so much more that day; an enlightenment that changed my life forever. While walking a zoo path, I noticed a khaki, uniform shirt pushing a cart of vegetables and fruit toward a side door and realized I happened to reach the gorilla’s public viewing enclosure right about feeding time. I walked inside the visitors’ entrance and straight to the glass for an up close and personal look. Everything behind the glass was gray, expect for a few mountainous black gorillas. Although the enclosure was not esthetically appealing, it was probably easy to hose down. There were steps to different levels, resembling a theme park attraction, very Disney World or King’s Dominion like, which is far different from the tropical or subtropical forests of a gorilla’s homeland. The outside area, I remember, was more closely habitat related, although small. I don’t know what about me, since there were so many people there, caught a large Silverback’s attention, but he slowly knuckle-walked toward my way and sat down right in front of me. He remained quite still and my surroundings became quiet. We just looked at each other for the longest time, as though he was studying me just like I was studying him. Most wild animals don’t make eye contact with humans, it’s too confrontational. His gaze lingered on my face. He was magnificent and appeared gentle, although I was not naive to the ferocity a gorilla is capable of. I loved looking at him that close, but his speckled, brown eyes, although studious, seemed sad to me. They never turned away until the food was introduced through a gated window. (I’m happy to say, feeding time for wild animals in captivity has become a more enriching experience over the years than just plopping food in front of them.) Two gorillas quickly surrounded the pile and began to eat. My gorilla’s giant torso turned to look at the colorful food presented and then back to me for another minute or two. I cocked my head and gave him my best non-confrontational, Mona Lisa smile. He stood, towering over me, becoming a dark, massive wall. I moved back a step. He lifted his left hand and with gently curved fingers, his forefinger extended towards me, like he was pointing at me. I was stunned. He turned, and I watched him slowly head for the food. Only then do I remember hearing anything around me; the noise of the children and other visitors echoed in the vacuous round room. The Silverback selected his food carefully. He picked up cantaloupe, bananas and cucumbers, as well as a pile of greens that I’m not quite sure what to call. He held all the food in one arm close to his chest and climbed to the highest level in a corner of the display area, then turned his back to everyone to eat his lunch in peace and privacy. That’s the moment that sticks with me the most. I realized he wasn’t so different. I found myself grappling with the assessment of the truly higher order animal, whether it’s the one who chooses to cage other animals or those who are caged. Over the years and in light of the animal atrocities occurring worldwide, I’ve grown to justify the Zoo system’s existence because, at least, the animals are physically safe there. I still visit Zoos or Sanctuaries and love seeing the animals, but my main focus now is to ensure habitats are appropriate, animals look healthy and are well treated. If not, I move to action. Looking back is a good thing if it helps you look forward.

Happy Easter Everyone and have a Gorilla of a Special Day!!

Linda Bergman-Althouse

Wildlife Rehabilitator and

author of “Save Them All

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