Too Late! Too Late!


The winter of our lives comes unanticipated.  Even if we feel some urgency to get something finished before winter comes, the first snowfall is always a surprise.  We look out the window to observe it.  We remark upon it.  “Winter’s here,” we say.IMG_2035

My long-time friends (let’s call them Raul and Marge) have been working on the second volume of Raul’s memoirs for years.  Progress has been slow.  He cannot see any longer; his hair is thin and as white as the snow that covers the branches in winter.  He depends on Marge to listen to him, and to type, as he tells his story.  She is committed, and diligent, but she is becoming more and more forgetful.

Several years ago, when I realized that Marge was losing her ability to organize, I become concerned for their project.  She had always been proficient in using the computer to write and to help edit the bits and pieces of Raul’s narrative.  These fragments were in hundreds of separate files, sometimes poorly named, so that it would not be easy to put them in chronological order.  More than that, she was having difficulty finding the folders in which the memoir files were stored.  She called me often, sometimes daily, sometimes twice a day, to help her get into her email, to search for products on the Internet that she might want to order, and to help her find a file in which she and Raul needed to work.

For a couple of years, I was able to talk her through her computer-related perplexities on the telephone while going to visit only occasionally.  Then on one visit to help with printer problems,  I asked for permission to back up her files on a flash drive and store them on my own computer for safety.  I had taught her how to back up the memoir files, but discovered that she wasn’t doing it, because she could no longer remember the sequence of the steps that she needed to do to accomplish the task.  Yes, I had written everything down, and yes, I had led her through the sequence while she sat at the computer doing each step herself, and yes, I had asked her to write down the steps for herself in her own way, but even when I taped these instructions to her computer monitor, somehow they were dislodged, lost, and couldn’t be found.

With Raul’s permission, I sent a copy of all the files to Raul’s son who seemed to care about his father’s memoirs.  The story, after all, was well written, and covered a period of time during the second world war that overlapped several countries and involved prominent well-known political and literary figures with whom Raul’s father had been acquainted.  This seemed to be a memoir that might be historically important.  Aside from the fact that Raul and Marge were close friends of mine, I cared because Raul’s recollections of his and his father’s lives during the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s  very likely contained material not recorded anywhere else.

Two weeks ago, I visited Marge who now lives in the assisted living area of the nursing home where Raul is being cared for. I discovered that she is desperate to finish Raul’s memoirs before it’s too late, before he will not be able to work with her anymore to put everything in order and to write the ending.  The time could be soon.

I also discovered that most of the files had disappeared from her computer.  She had no idea what had happened.  She had been trying to get Raul’s son to send her a print-out of all the files so that she and Raul could put them in order, but his son was not responding.  He had myriad problems of his own (and it’s true; he seems to).

Was it too late?  Would this be another case of what must be hundreds of thousands of valuable writings, for whatever reason, that would fail to enlighten the reading world in some way?  Had Raul and Marge taken too long in writing his memoirs?  Would they be unable to finish?  Would this manuscript join the ranks of the unpublished?

Who was I to judge?

I told Marge that I had all the backup files and that I would print them out for her, so that she and Raul could write the ending to the manuscript and try to put all the files in a cohesive order.  I had read enough of them to know that they had done a remarkable job of writing and editing the narrative.

The manuscript turned out to be a print-out more than four inches thick.  I separated the files and stapled them, put them into a small rolling cart along with rubber bands and paper clips so that she could roll the work back and forth from Raul’s room in the nursing home section of the home in which they lived.  They could try to work on it once again.

Is it too late?  I don’t know, but it wasn’t for me to discourage them from trying as members of their family apparently were doing.  People’s choices are their own, and if those choices seem to be good ones, they should be encouraged no matter the obstacles.

I thought of myself too.  I’m not young anymore.  In fact, to many of my readers, I probably seem ancient.  My writings don’t have the urgency that Raul’s story has, so if I don’t finish anything, it’s not a big deal to anyone except me and my desires to get a message out there to anyone who might pay attention.  Someday, it will be too late for me too, but until then, I will keep trying.

 

 

 

 

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HERE is the Answer. Follow me.


The pervasiveness of attempts at mind control is so everywhere present in today’s world that we almost take it for granted.  It has become a part of who we are as human beings to convince others to believe as we do, to buy into our opinions, and to spend money for the products that we want to sell, whether or not it is for our own well being.

While researching my next story about cults for the God’s Child series of novels, I have become immersed in studying the topic of mass movements, fundamentalism, the so-called cosmic war, zealotry (fanaticism to the point of self-sacrifice), and the reasons that anyone would fall prey to these mind-altering and even mind-stealing groups.  I have had personal experience with cults and mass movements in the past giving me more than just a theoretical framework to approach this study.  Only in the past few years do I believe that I rid myself of the last vestiges of allowing anyone to influence my thinking to the point where I am in danger of losing my own healthy skepticism. It hasn’t been an easy journey.

The Bibliography: I won’t claim to be an expert, but I hope to share the information that I am gleaning in my reading, and sharing some of the insights of the many who have gone before me in their own concern about the ease with which our minds can fall prey to those who would manipulate them for their own agendas.  In my current study, these are the books that I have read so far:

Strong ReligionStrong Religion, The Rise of Fundamentalisms arodund the World, (2003) by Gabriel A. AlmondR. Scott Appleby, and Emmanuel Sivan; This report draws on a ten-year interdisciplinary study called The Fundamentalism Project.  Strong Religion was my first and most influential attempt to understand my own experiences inside a cult.  This is not an easy book to read as it is not written for the popular reader but for the academic community.  Nevertheless, you might want to make this a foundation of your own studies on the topic as I have.

SnappingSnapping, (1978) by Flo Conway and Jim Seigelman.  This amazing book has been updated to a 1995 edition, so it is still a bit dated, but it is yet the most clear explanation of what happens inside the mind of  a person who undergoes sudden personality change and falls prey to mind control.

 

American TheocracyAmerican Theocracy, the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century , (2006) by Kevin Phillips.  Of special note is Phillips’ history of how the fundamentalist way of thinking began in the United States and how it spread and grew to what it has become today.

 

True BelieverThe True Believer, (1951) by Eric Hoffer.  This brilliant and self-educated author brings profound observations and insights into the minds of fanatics and how people become zealots (fanatics).

 

Understanding Mysticism, (1980) edited by Richard Woods
. This book is out of print and available only through used-book sellers.  I read it a long time ago and remember being fascinated by it. However, I suspect that much of the thinking in these essays is  outdated because scientific techniques for studying processes in the brain are growing more sophisticated all the time. I mention it only as a historical reference of how people tried to understand the once mysterious mysticism.

ZealotZealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, (2013) by Reza Aslan.  A book that should be read by anyone interested in the historical origin and growth of Christianity.  It is not what you think.  If you are a “true believer,” read it at your peril.  It may open your mind.

 

Kingdom ComingKingdom Coming, The Rise of Christian Nationalism, (2007) by Michelle Goldberg. An indispensable guide to what is happening in America today. Goldberg names names, not only of people, but of organizations and how they are conspiring to change the the face of American culture and politics. Example: The most effective technique of influencing the United States government is to get elected at the local level and move on up to national office.
“. . .Dominion theology. . . asserts that, in preparation for the second coming of Christ, godly men have the responsibility to take over every aspect of society.” If you read nothing else in this bibliography, read Goldberg’s book. It explains a great deal of what is happening in in our government and why members of congress may not be working together for the good of this country any time soon.  People who live in different realities are not able to communicate with one another.

Deadly SpinDeadly Spin, An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on how Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans, (2012) by Wendell Potter.  The story of the relentless propaganda that is crippling American health care and weakening the attempt to reform the health care industry.  How can ordinary people decipher truth from expertly delivered spin?

Highly RecommendedHighly Recommended, Harnessing the Power of WORD OF MOUTH and SOCIAL MEDIA to build Your Brand and Your Business, (2014) by Paul M. Rand. This is one of literally thousands of books purporting to show to show you how to influence people to your way of thinking, to bring customers to your business, to sell them your product.  We don’t need to be accosted on the street anymore by someone in a weird costume asking for money to fall prey to someone trying to influence your mind. It’s all around us.

Another one which I have not read yet is Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, (2012) by Michael Hyatt. Yet another is Forces for Good, The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, (2008) by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. There appears to be a thin line between the techniques of the manipulators who are attempting to draw you into a mass movement or a cult and those who are trying to get you to jump on board a way of thinking that enhances their bottom line or promotes their goal.

Why is war so prevalent? Because unless mass movement manipulators
can develop aThe Psychology of War credible enemy, they cannot rally followers to their ‘holy’ cause.  This has been seen time and again throughout history.  More than ever before in history, we are developing weapons that can destroy whole populations.  It is imperative that all of us understand what is at stake, how we can end war as a tool to conquer self-created enemies, and that prevention of war, any war, is possible.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, God's Child: The Origin of Fear, Religion, The Mystery Series, Today's World, Writing/Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When to Listen to Reviewers


Listening to reviewers

Good reviewers are prolific readers and deserve to be listened to.

 

 

 

Tough stuff, those reviews. We authors had better have a tough skin when reading reviews of our books, yet there may be a better way to react to them than with our emotional selves.  A great review such as the one on Amazon.com for my novel God’s Child: The Origin of Fear warms my heart and makes me glad that I put all that work into writing it.

I give it a rating of five stars because of its overall excellence. I found the book intriguing, a joy to read. Both of the two story lines–life in a remote Norwegian-American farm community during WWII and a baffling crime that takes place there–would have been fascinating on their own. But bringing them together increased the power of the tale immensely. An outstanding novel.

Yet the next reviewer gave it four stars because although he like the novel over-all very much, what he didn’t like were the descriptions of the games that the children played. He says:

 . . . I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because sometimes she writes too long explaining the games the children play and I found I had to skim that..but basically she writes very well and is informed as to the spartan life they led.

Should I listen to this second reviewer’s criticism?  He makes a good point. People who were not raised in the rural Norwegian-American culture might get impatient with these explanations. Yet, those readers who came from a background similar to the protagonist Silje Reiersen might remember the games fondly because they, as children, played them too. As I wrote those passages, I consciously decided to leave the explanations in, trusting that readers would actually skim over them if they could not relate to them. Yet, I felt that readers who read the passages in their entirety might realize that much of the personalities of Silje and her cousin Nils came through in how they competed with each other throughout their childhood, yet how Nils was on Silje’s side when danger threatened both of them. In the end, it is the author’s decision to decide what readers might like or will tolerate. It can be a tough decision.

Reviewers tell me truly what they think!
The critiques on Goodreads.com of my second novel in this series God’s Child: Unraveling are harsher, and perhaps, rightly so. Here is one:

Overall I enjoyed this book, I’ve always found kidnapping cases fascinating, but there were a few things that disappointed me. Upon reading the synopsis it appears as if Silje is suffering from possibly a psychotic break or maybe there’s a type if supernatural element going on, I personally felt that the book didn’t touch upon this at all apart from one scene in the woods. Whilst it was interesting reading a book about kidnappings from an outsiders point of view I feel as if the book could have been improved it was perhaps told from the point of view of one of the kidnapping victims. Thus allowing the reader to see what really happened behind closed doors. I was slightly disappointed with the fact that the kidnapping storyline didn’t actually feel like the main focus of the story, the reader spends a lot of the time reading about Silje’s social, family & school life. After finishing the book I felt content with its ending although there were a lot of unanswered questions and I felt as if I waited for a dramatic climax that never happened. I’d recommend this book for someone looking for a quick read with a simple plot.

Am I attempting too much? I will listen and consider all of the points that this reviewer makes when I write my next book in the series, because what I need to ask myself is this:
Can the over-arching theme of the series be presented in bits and pieces progressively leading to the climactic end of the series. Maybe it can, and maybe it can’t. Separate and apart from the fictional crimes in each novel which are there to move the stories forward, are the two themes of 1) a person who struggles with physical and mental phenomena and simultaneously 2) struggles with whether or not Christianity is truly of God.

Will readers like the stories enough to read subsequent ones as they are published?  Another consideration is that I’m not the youngest of authors. Will I live long enough to see this series to its conclusion.  Only time will tell on that one, I guess. . . .  In the meantime, I’m researching fundamentalism to see if it will work into the story of Silje as a student nurse learning to work with doctors, patients, and her fellow students in the environment of a large city non-teaching hospital in the 1950s.

Posted in Book Reviews, God's Child: The Origin of Fear, Religion, The Mystery Series, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Music Such as Never Heard Before!


Disclaimer:
I know little about music, rarely listen to it, even in the car, (I like silence) but am just beginning to learn jazz piano simply because I do like the sound of that.  I’m currently seventy-eight years old being taught by a former Nothwestern University professor of classical music who just turned eighty-six. We’re making progress.

Yet when I was offered two free tickets to the centennial celebration of the Skinner organ at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston, I invited a friend and off we went.
I have not been the same since. . . .

Nathan Laube at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Nathan Laube at the Music Institute of Chicago.

Nathan Laube came on stage, tall, young, handsome, sweet-looking; he flipped the tails of his tuxedo and sat down at this odd-looking organ and prepared to make music. I asked my friend how this could be a pipe organ since there didn’t seem to be any connectors to the pipes semi-hidden behind some louvers above. A woman in the row ahead of us turned and looked at me like I didn’t belong there.
Laube pulled out banks of knobs on his left, pushed some in again, pulled out others on his right, pushed and pulled others on both the right and left, did something mysterious to some squarish levers in front, raised his hands to hover over the four keyboards layered one above the other residing quietly before him and then lowered his hands to touch his fingers to selected keys to begin the magic that would transform the auditorium of this former Christian Science church into a world of sounds that none before had ever heard.

Crashing sounds of harmonious chords moving quickly up and down the scales alternated with quieter moments of simpler chords toying with each other here and there as Laube’s feet moved over those wooden thingies beneath. Suddenly a foot would leap onto a pedal and push it hard, while the audience quickly moved its collective eyes back to the hands leaping from the keyboards to pushing and pulling knobby stops and then, quicker than lightening, moving back to keys on one or another keyboard-layer seemingly stretching into the distance.

Bach-like sounds, technically executed with precision, transformed into the melodious sounds of Schumann and Rachmaninoff in imagined juxtaposition with Saint-Saëns, teasing us with occasional dissonant sounds, until finally coming to the beloved Mozart.  But it wasn’t until Laube showed us the beauty of his own interpretations of the classics that we truly learned what this Skinner organ could do.

How could ANY single musical instrument produce the sound of rain, of running water, of fantastical fairy music, or of gurgling. Yes, gurgling. I wanted to hold on to these sounds forever, they were so beautiful, so amazing. Yet they were fleeting, and perhaps the varied ears of this musically appreciative audience perceived other sounds that I could not hear.

When Nathan Laube launched into his final piece of the concert, Strauss’s Die Fledermaus as he interpretively transcribed it himself, the audience sitting out there in the darkened auditorium were totally enthralled, captivated, and emotionally sprawled at his feet with wonder and awe. Curtain call after curtain call. Two more pieces performed for an audience that never wanted to let him go.

I am at home now, writing this, trying to share this experience with you as best I can. It’s broad daylight outside on a cool sunny spring day. Tonight my friends and I are going outside to see the meteor shower that is supposed to appear in the night sky. I will be enthralled. I will again be filled with wonder and awe. I will fool around with my new super-camera trying to take videos to record the sight.

And while doing so, I will remember the sounds of the ancient organ , and I will think about how one extraordinary musician flipped his coat tails and brought to me an experience in sound that I will never EVER forget.

 

 

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The Nastier Side of Book Publicity


Teens and book publicity

What is the impact on young teens of inappropriate book publicity?

Serious writers read. . . a lot!  I am no exception. I love books, print or ebooks, fiction or nonfiction; it doesn’t matter to me. It’s the ideas and insights that are put forth from knowledgeable and/or creative minds that count. Because I am a fast reader, I consume book after book, and some time ago, decided to review the books that I read.

When Goodreads.com came into being in 2007, a perfect venue became available for people like me to share the books that they love. In addition to books that I purchase or that I borrow from the library or from friends, many of the books that I review come through Netgalley.com, a website for publishers and authors to promote their books to reviewers, libraries, and others who might help give books exposure.

Most independent book reviewers are honest in their assessment of the books that they review, so that a potential reader can assess whether or not to spend their precious time buying and reading any given book.

The Dark Side
There is a dark side to this lovely scene, and perhaps it has been there for a long time, but it seems to be getting more reckless, and more uncaring about the audience that trusts them to give a fair review of a book. Let me give you an example.

I have been getting requests from book publicists to review books that they have been hired to promote. These promotion campaigns are not cheap, sometimes running into tens of thousands of dollars to promote a single book nationally, and even internationally, to radio, televisions talk shows, columnists in newspapers and magazines, movie agents, and more. These requests for reviews come to me probably because I give short, tight reviews that show a reader when a book is worth their time.

For publicists, I only agree to review traditionally or indie published books that might be of interest to me personally and that are sent to me by mail in hardcover. I do this for free, so the least a publicist can do is send me a hardcover copy that I can donate when I’m finished.

The most recent book sent to me by a fairly large publicity agency sounded good in the email description and looked good on its book jacket when it arrived. Upon examining the book, I was shocked at what I saw. The cover of the actual book was blank with no information, not even on the spine. The margins on the inside pages of text were too narrow. The leading between the printed lines of type was too wide. When I began to read the text, I was appalled at the quality of the writing: cliches abounded, transitions between ideas were confusing, and most troubling of all, the author was using the same names for different characters in this thinly disguised biography masquerading as a novel. One had to re-read whole paragraphs to follow the story line. I cannot emphasize enough how badly this book was written. Yet the book jacket was well-illustrated, and the promotion copy was professional, a very attractive and appealing come-on to a potential buyer.

Before contacting the publicist to say that I could not give this book a good review, I went to Amazon.com to check what other reviewers had said. Of the four reviews, one had given it a four-star and three had given this book a five-star.  What was up?

If you click on a book rater/reviewer’s name, you link to all the other reviews that this person has given, an interesting exercise; try it some time.  Three of the book raters had reviewed only this book and no others, implying that they might be friends of the author. The fourth was a prolific reviewer giving almost all of the books he reviewed five stars with only a sprinkling of four stars. The subject line of his reviews consisted of over-the-top hyperbole such as: Brilliant! Uniquely entertaining! Thought-provoking! Delightful! Delicious! Magnificent! Beautiful! Excellent! The reviews themselves were general, and one didn’t  learn much about the subject matter of the books. Is this author being paid to give high ratings to books? It didn’t seem as if he had actually read them.

The Impact on Younger Teens
My seventeen-year-old granddaughter (pictured above) is smart. She’s been reading since she was a very young child and undoubtedly has read things over the years that I and her parents would question, but she is analytical about the books she reads and the movies that she sees. She sees THROUGH things to hidden motives and agendas.  Not all teens are so blessed.

Beginning in middle school, kids become exposed to commercial publications outside of school. With a little spending money, they can buy and share with one another anything on the Young Adult shelf at the local bookstore. Take a look at these sometime. These shelves are filled with  “will-they-won’t-they-OMG-they’re doing-it!” books written simplistically to sell to young teens. Is it any wonder that boys and girls think it is all right to engage in sex at a young age? People who are NOT their parents or teachers are telling them that it is okay. So who listens to authority figures such as parents and teachers anyway! Kids, beginning at about age thirteen, have entered the separation-from-parents stage of child development, and society at large is giving them clear signals as to how they may behave if they wish.

Ah Romance
Readers love romance stories. It’s one of the top selling genres that is produced. Yet, romance and explicit sex are mutually exclusive. You can have one without the other quite easily even though today’s writers don’t seem to understand that. A beautiful romance is emotionally fulfilling and can leave a reader reflecting on it for long after the book has ended. A well-written and deeply insightful romance can be a treasure.
Titillating sex? Fun to read maybe, but utterly forgettable when the paragraph ends.

It’s All About the Money, Right?
If you want to sell a book, throw in a lot of sex, or if it’s only a little bit of sex, make sure it is exceptionally explicit. I wrote a sex scene in my novel Ambiguousand I just now went back to review it to be sure that I still feel that it was appropriate to the story.  Ambiguous is based on the true experiences of “Rick,” a young man in the Air Force in the 1950s struggling to hide his attraction to another airman. The sex scene comes about two-thirds of the way through the book after Andy discovers Rick’s feelings toward him, becomes so horrified that he becomes radically homophobic, and seduces his girlfriend Estelle to prove that he is a real man. In my opinion, the scene is necessary to show the innocence of both Estelle and Andy, and how this could go so terribly wrong. In this case, writing the scene was not about selling more books, although I’d certainly love to do that.  It was about showing the outcome of Rick’s lack of control regarding his buddy Andy. If you read the book, please let me know if you think the scene was justified.

The publicity scam is when agencies indiscriminately accept any book that an author will pay big bucks to promote, whether or not it is worthy. That’s why these campaigns cost so much. The authors are buying their way into the public eye, and the publicists are doing their best to help them. Who can blame them? They are just doing the job that they are being paid to do. If you have the money, you can do it too. We all need to be aware of what is happening here. It’s not necessarily the best or the most relevant book that makes it onto Oprah or The Daily Show. It’s the one with the most money in its publicity campaign. Some of these are wonderful books: Short Nights of The Shadow Catcher was one that I had the privilege to review through Netgalley and it received wide publicity, deservedly so. Too many others are publicized simply because they have the money to hire professional publicists.

All the rest of the hidden gems that traditionally published or indie published authors have written must find their own way to rise to the top of the pack of merely-average books, corny books, misleading books, and just plain awful books.  Some have done it. It’s difficult, but not impossible.

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When an Author has an Agenda


1-19-2014 6-34-14 PMA few days ago, I finished reading a couple of books: Project Cain for young adults, and its counterpart: Cain’s Blood for adults both published by Simon & Schuster in 2013.  I’m a rather prolific book reviewer, and these were sent to me by the author Geoffrey Girard for review.  The two books were written in tandem, same story, different points of view, and although the YA book was cleansed of the most egregiously gory scenes, it’s still pretty graphic.

Here is part of what I wrote in the review:

“Jeff Jacobson’s father sat down on the bed with him one day, and told him that the people whom Jeff had thought were his parents for the past sixteen years weren’t his parents at all. Instead, Jeff had been cloned eight years before from the DNA of serial killer Jeffery Dahmer to be developed in a vat of liquid as an eight-year-old boy. Then “Dad” left an envelope of money on the bed, walked out the door, and Jeff never saw him again.

“What follows is the most horrific, awful, gut-wrenching piece of gory fiction that I have ever read. I didn’t like it. It was painful to read. Nevertheless, I gave it a 4-star rating because author Geoffrey Girard is a good writer who, in my opinion, accomplishes his agenda of exposing the monstrous experiments that the United States government has either carried out itself or has sanctioned over the past century. Much of the actual information that the author refers to while the fictional story moves along, and his killer clones reek havoc on themselves and others, can be checked on the Internet.

If you like this story, you’re “sick.” If you want the information that Girard imparts, read it anyway.”


While I was reading these books and writing the Goodreads.com reviews of them, I couldn’t stop the many thoughts that went through my mind.  Here are some of them in no particular order:

1. I am old enough to remember when serial killers David Berkowitz, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and Dennis Rader, were caught and occupied the news for weeks and months. The memories of reading about these monsters and their victims in real time still haunt me. Ed Gein lived only a couple of hours from my home town in Wisconsin. John Wayne Gacy tortured and killed teenage boys when I was a mom raising teenagers. The young boy who tried and failed to get two policemen to help him escape from Jeffrey Dahmer was evidence to me that even the police couldn’t always be convinced of horror happening right before their eyes. Dennis Rader was an active and respected member of a church as was I at that time. I view these situations very much from my own personal perspective, and they frighten me, even now.

2. Geoffry Girard in his Cain books focuses on the crimes, the killers, and the system that created them. There is little empathy demonstrated in the narrative for those who fall victim to the killer clones. For the most part the victims are simply bodies, alive or dead, used to show how horrible that slicing, dicing, stabbing, beheading, crushing, burning, and other murderous means can look, smell, and sound. But those fictional ordinary teens that were enticed by a Facebook invitation to a private home for a party were somebody’s children who were loved and cherished. Should this have been given such short shrift?

3. The agenda in this over-the-top violent story is clearly to alert readers to the way the U.S. Defense Department of the United States government has misused its citizens by allowing experiments to be performed upon them without their knowledge or consent: Injecting them with infectious diseases, for example, just to see what happens.  See the article at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/41811750/ns/health-health_care/#.UtxbTRDnaCgAuthor.

Other government experiments deal with creating weapons to destroy our enemies. Never mind the collateral damage of killing and maiming innocent people.
Girard states in Chapter two:
“It all probably sounds a little far-fetched. Stupid, even. Believe me, I know. But what if I told you an Air Force research lab in Ohio recently admitted to secretly working on bombs filled with synthetic pheromones/aphrodisiacs to make enemy troops “turn gay,” and also on methods to create giant swarms of bees? Or that the Navy spent twenty million dollars teaching bats to carry explosives? Or that over the past forty years, the United States military has publicly admitted to working on everything from invisibility and time travel to ghosts, weather control, mind control, LSD bombs, talking dolphins, sound weapons, and telekinesis. And that’s just what they’ve admitted to. Now imagine what they haven’t.”

You can Google each of these. I did.

4. Do I, or anybody else for that matter, need to be exposed to this incredible fictional gore to get the message that there is evil in the world and that some of it is perpetrated by our own government? I don’t. I am personally aware of it as are most of you, and also of the psychopathic serial killers that are out there. As a writer, I’ve been reading a lot about psychopaths (sociopaths), and have learned that the vast majority do not become murderers. First of all, there are far more of them among us than we have previously thought, and although they lack conscience, their predominant traits run more along the lines of seeking control, seeking constant stimulation for their ever-present boredom, impulsive risk-taking, and charismatic charm.  Woe to the parents who give birth to such a child and love a child who cannot love them back, but whose youngster will learn all the manipulation needed to get what is wanted.

5. Geoffrey Girard’s companion books Project Cain and Cain’s Blood will undoubtedly stir controversy, and rightfully so. Sometimes that is what is needed to begin a dialogue that will have some impact on the issue being confronted, in this case, our government’s cavalier attitude toward “them-n-us.” Our enemies are not people, so therefore find creative ways to kill them. Drones anyone? How about some research on a better way to bring peace among nations? Among people? How about some research on ways to maintain peace over the long haul? Maybe even forever? –So that we as human beings can deal with more important issues like earthquakes, tsunamis, climate change, energy needs, population balance, and on and on and on!

I know one thing that reading these books did for me. I’m DONE watching stupid formula tv shows, no matter how exciting, that exploit mayhem and gore.

I LOVE good stories, and love to read them on paper and in ebooks. I love good stories on tv and in the movies, but for me, they have to be original and well-thought out. I want to learn something new, to gain new insight if I am spending my time on someone’s creation.

Having said that, it raises the bar for my own writing. I’m not a great writer; I’m still learning and experimenting. I didn’t graduate from an MFA program although I’d love to do so even at this advanced age.  Yes, there is an agenda in my writings too, but it may be less obvious than that in Geoffrey Girard’s novels. I’ll let you figure it out for yourself as you read my books over time.

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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The One a Day Solution


I’m overwhelmed. I can’t think. I can’t plan. I don’t have writer’s block; that’s never happened to me, but something is going on. Something else.

60 years agoAmong the many tasks of ordinary daily living, I am also trying to convert an eBook to print. It’s okay. I know what to do and it’s ready except for the cover and the illustrations. To do the cover properly, I’m trying to transfer my graphics skills to Adobe Photoshop from Corel Photopaint. The learning curve is higher than I expected. I’m hiring out the interior illustrations to my grandson, and haven’t yet seen how they are going.

My author website http://halleson.com/ needs to be revised to incorporate responsive design so that it can be seen more easily on smart phones. I’ve always used Dreamweaver so that part is okay, but I want to try learning Adobe Muse so that all future updates can be more efficiently done. I’ll start that as soon as I get a handle on Photoshop.

I had two new books published in 2013 and the marketing of them is suffering. All authors, whether independently or traditionally published must market and sell their own books or the job just doesn’t get done. I know how to do this, but just can’t find the time to stay on top of it. I keep trying to organize and re-organize to make myself get to it on a regular basis. People who read my books like them, but word-of-mouth marketing is super-slow, and I don’t want to depend on that.

The next novel in my God’s Child stories is aching to get written, prodding me, making me HURT. I know where the setting will be and have glimpses of the evil that protagonist Silje Reiersen will have to confront. Silje is dying to get started on this next journey, and doesn’t want the the author’s boring marketing tasks to delay her coming alive again.

I do book reviews at GoodReads.com. Since I’m a fast reader and love stories of all kinds, this is a joy. Supposedly, I’m in the top 1% of their reviewers. I read in bed before I go to sleep and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Finding time for this is not a problem.

Blogging is important, and trust me, I’ve got plenty to say. So just DO IT Halleson!  Stop procrastinating.

I’d like to get my drawing skills up to par. It’s all spread out on the dining room table.

I began taking piano lessons last summer, and work at squeezing in the practice time.

Since I’m more or less elderly, I sleep a lot.

My eyes glaze over when anybody tells me in detail how busy they are, so I really try to avoid doing that to anyone else. Especially, I’m less than tolerant of writers who whine about how tough their lives are. Yeah, me too. It was never an easy thing to be a person who MUST write, yet constantly struggles with the doing of it.

I know I ought to focus. I know I ought to narrow down my interests to free up time for writing, but I also know that I’m highly unlikely to do that. I refuse to give up a single thing. I will NOT. My father always told me that I was stubborn. Why should I prove him wrong?

Thanks to all of you who suffered through this long discourse of frustration. I believe the solution is to do a little of each of my projects each day. Just a little moves each one forward. (Did I mention that I do mending for family members and sewing for myself?)  The biggies, such as writing the next novel will get more time each day, much more time. There I said it. I wrote it down. Now I am committed. I must begin the next novel right now and finish it in a timely fashion.

Watch for the next God’s Child novel toward the end of the year, right after I return from a trip to Norway to visit the land of my ancestors.

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Click here to see Halleson’s most recent book.

Posted in Marketing, Stories from a Life Long Lived, The Mystery Series, Writing/Publishing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments