Archive for the ‘Sharing The Road’ Category

WHITHER GOEST THE E-BOOK?…

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

This past weekend I attended the “Gathering Of Authors” convention sponsored by INFINITY PUBLISHING at the Raddison Hotel and Convention Center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I was set back on my heels by two speakers in particular–Dan Poynter (that  estimable  guru of Self-Publishing from Santa Barbara, California) and Marc Schulman, consultant and President of MultiEducator, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Let me list, paraphrased in outline form, what they said that so jolted me:

1. ebook publishing and sales is on a rocket-ride upward, while conventional trade publishing has visibly begun to take a back seat.

2. If you drew a graph of book sales, ebooks would be rising straight up, Barnes and Noble sales would still show a moderate increase, and the smaller  independent books stores would describe a line falling into the cellar. (Some people say even Borders might be teetering on the edge…)

3. Consider that you can download many ebooks of classics set up for viewing on Amazon’s Kindle ebook reading device for NO COST. (You can download MY book, 3 ACES, should you so choose,  for a modest 99 cents from my Amazon Kindle Page. Then enjoy it, any time of your choice, on your Kindle reader.) True enough, the prices of many other ebooks reach into the area of $4.95 to $9.95, but that’s a long way from the $25 to $35 hard cover prices one has been used to. These days, PRICE has become a HUGE consideration for the beleagured reader.

4. CONVENIENCE is the next biggie: consider that you can carry a whole library of ebooks on a single reader–be it a Kindle, Apple iPad, or a Barnes & Noble Nook eReader. This eliminates bookshelving in your home! If you move,  just take your eReader, Kindle, or iPad along with you in the car. The books are there–at your touch!–any time you choose to call them into sight.

5. How about the equipping of schools with ebook readers, either student by student, or by on-screen projection for entire class viewing. What does this do to the market for $130 school textbooks which students can no longer comfortably afford? What might this do to promulgate greater learning among the underprivileged? Here we have price destruction (beneficial to students) combined with ease of access. You might ask how those school texts ever got to prices in excess of $100 in the first place! It seems a bit of price destruction is well in order in the realm of education.

Well, that short list  is  just a starter–to get your head spinning. I’ll have more to say on  this sprightly new path the publishing world is taking.

3 ACES NOW ON KINDLE; READERS IN THE NETHERLANDS…

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The Kindle production of 3 ACES is now downloadable from the Kindle Store. You will find every word faithfully reproduced from the soft-covered paperback production, along with the chapter indices, interstate highways, and military map pages so necessary in filling out my interwoven story of a distraught young woman (Dawn Carlisle, the great granddaughter of the Sioux chief Red Cloud), a solitary truck driver (Abner Weaver, the SF recon Vietnam vet.) and Pip, my injured half-breed pit bull. It’s a great way to take along  my 3 ACES story on your August vacation or a weekend trip to the beach.

On Wednesday of this week, in downtown Las Vegas, I was enjoying an afternoon swim in the rooftop Binions’ pool far above Fremont Street, when a lithesome female form popped from the water. Perfect English, delivered with the hint of a Rhineland accent, and her soft smile had me at ease before I realized I was face-to-face, conversing with “Gonne” of the famous Jack and Gonne team from the Netherlands. The three of us agreed to meet later on, down at the Four Queens bar, street-side on Fremont. Along with a round of drinks, Gonne gave me a formal request for a copy of 3 ACES, which I was happy to fill from the last one remaining in my luggage.

Next day, they were on their way to San Francisco and I was packing for the trip back home to the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Only then did it dawn on me that, when they returned to the their home across the Atlantic Ocean, I would have my first known readers in the Netherlands. What a nice way to end a fun-filled week in Vegas….

ODE TO MY FRIENDS, THE SPAMMERS…

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Having just set up a new desktop computer – my old faithful homebuilt crashed after eight years of steady use – you can understand why I haven’t posted much of anything these past weeks. Another reason is that I just got tired of mostly putting stuff out there for you spammers to make money from. Yes, after two years of writing blogs, that I hoped would stir up interest in my 3 ACES website and perhaps an occasional purchase of my novel, 3 ACES, I’ve come to the realization that perhaps the only guys and gals (if you really have a corporeal form) voraciously gobbling up my blogs are you Spammers.

I honestly didn’t know what a Spammer was. So I had to look you up on the internet, just like you looked me up. Except that I find you really aren’t a “you” at all. What you are is a “spambot,” some kind of spider that goes crawling around looking for peoples’ work to glom onto and send out in bundles that somehow makes you a lot of money with the tap of a computer key. Doesn’t sound very nice to me. Or ethical either. But you are going to do it, just like Congressmen who ply their trade of scamming the public by accepting bribes from business through middlemen (and women, often their own relations) called lobbyists. I guess your Spammer middleman is the very same implement that I am using to get this blog message out. Does that make me a kind of Spammer scammer too?

I know a few people have run across my blogs and read them for pure enjoyment. I’ve actually received comments from such people, and can tell you that it really makes my day when that happens! It’s not a regular occasion, mind you, but it’s sure welcome.

Well, I hope the content of this blog will sail out there with the content from the others. And maybe whoever ends up using my content to promote their own business will have little twinges of embarrassment when they read this content that they have purchased from the Spammers in question and stop giving them business. It’s really not right.

As for all the kind folks who have said nice things and posted legitimate comments to the articles on my 3 ACES site, keep ’em coming!

FUEL OR WATER…WHICH DO WE NEED MOST?

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Silly question?… It seemed so to me until I was introduced to a layer of black rock buried more than a mile beneath us here in Northeastern PA.

Seems the old-time geologists knew all about this 400 million year old backwash of organic stuff, a layer of thick black shale called The Marcellus, that lay compressed deep below us. The geologists knew it contained natural gas; but it was a “tight” formation that would be hard to crack, let alone get to, in a cost-efficient manner.

Five or so years ago, Devon Energy down in Texas came up with the answer: horizontal drilling combined with water fracturing, or “fracking.” You got down there with the drill bit and opened a pathway into the shale, then pumped high pressured water – millions of gallons of it, mixed with chemicals and a touch of diesel fuel – through the natural fractures in the shale. And voila!…out pours that contained gas, in volumes measured by millions of cubic feet daily!

According to T. Boone Pickens, who has spoken in front of any number of Congressional committees, a bill has already been sponsored that would commercially develop the use of domestic natural gas in big trucks, buses, and power plants. Pickens has demonstrated that we have beneath us a fuel source that would power America for the next ten to twenty years, while we ponder, at our leisure, an answer to the replacement of our dwindling and increasingly expensive oil supplies. Natural gas is much “greener” than dirty coal or oil. And we have the gas here – AT HOME – which would reduce our 37.5 billion dollar trade deficit 73%, by some 27.5 billion dollars a year.

The Saudi oil fields may not be nearly as bounteous as they claim; Mexico’s Cantarell field is dwindling; Venezuela is downright hostile; and China has whisked the development of Iraq’s nascent oil fields out from under the noses of Congress – after the trillion dollars we spent on the war in Iraq and the lives lost trying to secure that oil bounty. Unsettling, to say the least….

Yet we have this enormous layer of Marcellus shale beneath us here in Northeast Pennsylvania – in fact it stretches westward into West Virginia and northward into southern New York State. It may turn out to be one of the largest sources of shale gas in the world, if the hundred or so wells Cabot Oil & Gas have drilled in the past year around Dimock, PA, thirty or so miles south of Binghamton, New York, continue to perform as they have in past months. On test, Cabot’s wells average a flow of 7.5 million cubic feet of gas per day – with little drop-off!

This is serious gas, folks. And it’s darned near pure methane; needs no filtration or refining; and can be injected directly into the nearby Tennessee Gas Interstate pipeline. With a scant two hundred miles to the New York City Metropolitan area, pipeline transportation costs is at a minimum. Great for the gas drillers, great for leasing property owners, great for America!

But hold on…there’s a catch.

To get this gas out from under our peaceful countryside, we have to first drill down over a mile and then turn the bit 90 degrees until it reaches out in the Marcellus shale as far as a mile from the well head. (The shale lies beneath us in horizontal sheets that are in excess of 250 feet thick.) Then the drillers case the hole with steel pipe, blow holes in it with explosive charges, and force “frack” water and chemicals into the shale – up to four million gallons of water per drill site. That opens up the shale; the gas pressures back up the casing to the well head. But you first have to withdraw the water from the well bore and casing so the gas has a clear path to flow up and out.

Most of that frack water comes back up, but it’s not the lovely pure water it was before it was hauled to the drill pad from hydrants, local town wells, and the Susquehanna River. The “used” frack water is now loaded with impurities and chemicals (the chemicals were added to the fresh water before insertion into the well bore). Upon removal we find that the “used” water is now mixed with ground Uranium, wayward gases, drilling mud and lubricants, and bits of petroleum in the shale that never quite blossomed into gas. What do you do with this mess?

Well, you trucked it to the drill site in huge tankers; then with similar trucks, you must truck it away and get rid of it. All this is plenty tough on our roads. Sure, some of this expensive water can be reused drilling the next well; but the more it is recirculated, the more  contaminated it becomes. And where does THAT water go when it is hauled away? Darned if I can tell you. I suppose Penna.’s D.E.P. can. I do see it moving out of the area. I just hope it’s going to bona fide treatment plants and not down some old mine borehole. (In the past, PA has had a sad history of such problems.)

I live in Tunkhannock. Everyday I watch water tankers (5,000 gallons a truckload) coming out of one of our town well sites with our precious domestic water, carting it off to the gas drillers. It takes about 200 loads to equal a million gallons of water and, as I said before, drilling and fracking a well can consume up to three or four million gallons of water – depending on how many wells are drilled on a single drill pad. Our water bills have gone up. They tell us that deferred maintenance costs to the town delivery pipe system is the culprit. I trust that is the case. Nonetheless, water and sewer bills have risen. And just how healthy is the aquifer beneath us that supplies all this water? I don’t recall hearing anything about that. What happens if we turn on our faucets and our showers and they start spitting black goo, or worse – just slow to a trickle, then quit.

Bear in mind the drillers, manning millions of dollars worth of complex rigs, have our best interests at heart. But they do make mistakes. Cabot, perhaps innocently enough, is alleged to have made several goofs drilling their initial wells. Whatever the cause was, methane gas has been leaking into a number of residential wells near some of their drilling sites, rendering the water unfit for human consumption, not to mention the explosive aspects. In fact, the concrete cap over one well was reported to have been blasted a dozen or so feet from the well.

The Penna. D.E.P. (Department of Environmental Protection) pleaded with Cabot to redress the wrongs, but corrective action was slow in coming. In a somewhat Draconian move, the Penna. D.E.P. has issued an order, this past week, that Cabot is to cease ALL drilling activity in a NINE SQUARE MILE AREA, immediately pay the State a $240,000 fine, plug the 3 wells causing the problem, must install and pay for permanent water treatment in the 14 homes affected; and pay $30,000 a month further until such time as the affected residential water supplies are again made whole. Cabot states they will comply.

All well and good. But what if Cabot, the driller, was NOT remiss in their handling of the casing that ran through the water table. What, instead, if after the fracking, done by – I would suppose – a subcontractor to the driller, some of the freed gas had unavoidably entered and followed a major fault running through the shale and thus traveled upward from the depths into the problem areas? Who knows what paths methane gas might take after a body of Marcellus shale has been ruptured? Water falls; gas rises. Water is withdrawn by pumping; but gas will pressure through the earth anywhere it finds a path of least resistance. Is it possible that the fracking, and not the drilling, could be the problem? Forgive me for that thought – it’s unscientific and, indeed, not a pleasant one. What knowledge yet awaits us as this play continues to maturity?

Okay…now which do you think you need most? – the fuel, or the water?

BURIED IN BALTIMORE…

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

It was 2:00 in the afternoon, Sunday, February 20th…I had just pulled off Interstate 83, north of the Baltimore Beltway, into the parking lot of the Hunt Valley Shopping Center for a cup of coffee, when I felt the bump-bump-bumping of a front left tire quickly going flat. I got no more than ten feet toward the row I intended to park in, when, in a flash, the brake pedal of my 1987 Dodge Diplomat slumped all the way to the floor; the car keeled over and screeched along the asphalt to a halt!

Getting out to survey the damage, it was instantly apparent I’d escaped calamity out there on I-83. I’d been on my way home from the very special funeral of my august mother-in-law at the Highland Presbyterian Church, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. As if that hadn’t been excitement enough, my head spun as I witnessed, beneath my car’s left front fender, wheel and tire collapsed at a 70 degree angle against a rusty frame! The Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and home were suddenly a moonshot away!

Dazed, I wandered into Wegmans supermarket, where a sympathetic clerk at a long information desk offered me a phonebook the size of – and just as inscrutable as – the Magna Carta. Slumping to a seat on a bench that faced the check-out lanes, I failed to focus at finding the AAA auto club’s number, of which I happened NOT to be a member. Which of several towing outfits was the right one? And if I did pick a winner, where was I going with the car? Which of the dozen garages listed could be trusted to repair my car? Which of them were open on a Sunday? I never thought of suburban Baltimore as being a particularly friendly place, but the store manager approached and asked what my problem might be. As quickly as I poured out my predicament, he was on his cell phone speaking with an inexpensive and functional towing outfit. The manager also disclosed that I was within shouting distance of a well-regarded Sears’ auto repair center – which, in fact, proved to be on the opposite side of the shopping center directly behind his store. My benefactor had no sooner left when a gentleman took a seat beside me and – explaining he had overheard the store manager’s conversation – called the Sears people, relaying the situation with my car as I laid it out to him. Squirming in discomfort, I uttered a snippet to my tale of woe; I was expected  back in northern Pennsylvania Wednesday morning, bright and early, for eye surgery. Angel #2 smiled in return and put me on his cell with “Chris,” the Sears weekend manager, who guessed they could have my car up and running and out the door by late Monday afternoon.

The tow truck driver, a friendly chap from El Salvador, spoke excellent English. When we’d towed my car around to Sears, he offered to chauffeur me, gratis – in the tow truck – to a motel of my choice. My first selection, the nearby Hunt Valley Inn, at $140 a night, proved too much for my pocketbook. We made the rounds of several other places near the mall (no reduction in the prices!) until he thought of the former Hampton Inn. A mile away, it was $89 plus tax. Recently reborn as a Comfort Inn, it was to be my palatial and comfortable home for the next several days.

Monday, I was at the Sears garage as quickly as I could get there – not as easy a job as you might think. Over the past several weeks, Baltimore and its environs had been stricken with at least four feet of snow; the sidewalks piled even higher – undoubtedly hurled in haste off the streets and now frozen mounds of ice. You couldn’t walk anywhere, even to a place within sight; wild, relentless traffic made the cleared streets too dicey for foot traffic.

Enter “Jimmy’s Taxi,” a super efficient bunch that appeared almost before you called them and, at reasonable rates, got you where you needed to go at bullet speed. The cab drivers, although from India, were cheery, quite Americanized, and knew the Baltimore area like the tanned back of their hands. The warning about the sidewalks and the “Jimmy’s” recommendation had come from the girl manning the Comfort Inn front desk – as it turned out, another godsend from yet another angel.

At the Sears garage, Monday’s news  was mixed: they’d found the problem: the upper left wheel control arm had virtually disintegrated from age and road salt. My car being 23 years old, the suspension parts were not readily available; it could take weeks to locate them. Brown’s salvage yard to the rescue…out on Kirkwood Road in the town of White Hall; they sent a man into a junkyard drifted five feet with snow to pull the part from the single matching Dodge car in their inventory. As for Monday, that’s all she wrote….

At the motel, Tuesday morning, I grew totally antsy. I’d been forced to cancel the eye surgery back home, already once rescheduled because of the funeral. In a dither, bag and baggage, I checked out of the Comfort Inn and took up residence in the waiting room at the Sears garage. Either that car was going to be fixed, or… or, what? Andy, the mechanic, took me out into the garage and showed me the mess confronting him. Trying to mount the junkyard arm, he had discovered further hidden rot at the point of attachment. Andy broke it to me gently – the car was not easily, if at all, fixable. Furthermore, it was Andy’s personal advice not to drive it one mile further, even if he were to fix it. The amount of hidden salt and rust damage to the frame, the brake lines, etc., in his opinion, made the car a death trap. Andy didn’t have to tell me that if that control arm had let go out there on 695 or on I-83, at 70 miles an hour I most certainly would have been attending my own funeral.

I hated saying good-bye to my old friend the Diplomat, but I cleaned the car out, and gave it a burial right there in the Sears garage. (Brown’s arrived the next day and towed it off – along with the unused control arm – to keep the other Dodge company out in there the drifts.) That afternoon, I leased a little Chevie Cobalt from Avis and headed up I-83, first toward York and Harrisburg, PA, then east to a bed at my daughter’s home in Kutztown, some four hours away.

What did I learn from this experience? First, never, EVER, look a gift horse in the mouth. When O’bama presented his “cash-for-clunkers” deal I’d turned up my nose at it – that $4500 dollar allowance I’d missed, was looking very good on the new car I now belatedly contemplated purchasing. Why in hell had I stubbornly stuck to that clunker? Sure, I’d bought it five years ago for $1500, but in the past 18 months the expensive repair bills had been mounting. And as to the SAFETY aspects? – I’d been totally out of my mind driving that car at speed on trips to Florida, lucky to still be alive. I’d certainly been warned – not just by my son and daughter – but by practically everyone who knew me.

The best lesson of all was in discovering how wonderfully helpful Americans can be when they see someone in trouble. It’s the kind of thing that takes you totally by surprise – folks in the middle of a stressful day, coping with their own problems, simply putting them aside to come to your aid. If we are looking at hard times, then, as Dubyah once told us, “bring em on!” I suspect hard times will only bring out more of that kindly AMERICAN SPIRIT that so helped me a few days ago in Baltimore.

THE ROAD TO FLORIDA – HALF A YEAR LATER…

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

If you recall, in my blog of July 26th, 2008 – LEAVING I-95 AND LOVIN’ IT… -I stressed the financial chaos experienced, at the time, by the casual automobile traveler to Florida. I referred, at the time, to a quick trip of my own in late June, made from the Endless Mountains, west of Scranton, PA to the Sarasota area. Stressors then had been generally intense traffic flows, especially through the Washington, D.C. area and on down to Fredricksburg, Virginia; erratic and/or deceptive posted gas and motel prices; and the endless spin on every radio station about a recovering economy and “green shoots.”

Last week I took another quick trip to Florida , the object being a speaking and reading engagement at the Tarpon Springs Library. Watercolor artist, Sherri Patterson, had paved the way with The Friends Of the Library and Linda and Jay Linebach (old family friends) were my hosts for the four-day stay. The experience of discussing and reading from my novel, 3 ACES, proved most pleasant, not to mention one wonderful luncheon on the sponge docks, at the Hellas Restaurant. I am pleased to recommend their superb crab-stuffed grouper!

But I must tell you, that in just 7 months, the stressors of June, 2008 have done a mighty flip-flop! No more is there talk of “green shoots.” The high gas prices are now erratic to just plain weak, and traffic in general has thinned out something fierce! What?..all this in just 7 months?

“Job loss” rules! President O’bama has been shaken from his Health Care coddling by the loss of a Democratic Congressional seat in Massachusetts – jolted awake by the jobs situation. The boys and girls of the Labor Department, down there in Foggy Bottom, have shifted into high gear monkeying up the numbers; they’d have you believe things are forever getting better. Their latest computation – 9.7% underemployment.

But add in the 2.5 million people looking for work over the past 12 months, and the Labor Department’s 9.7% grows to 11.3%.  Tacking on 8.3 million  folks forced to take part-time work because they can’t find the full-time version, you arrive at a 16.9% underemployment number.

And, oh yeah – what about the poor devils so discouraged with their search for work that they’ve just given up?… Toss them into the mix, and we’re at 26.7 million – or a total of 17.5% underemployed!

Consider that the American public’s spending accounts for 70% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) under our “capitalistic” economic system, and you find that we are wading in ever deepening doo-doo!

What I saw on my drive down to Florida reflected this distress. I took I-81 to 1-77 and at Columbia, South Carolina I-26 to I-95 in order to bypass Friday traffic around Washington and on into Virginia; both of which take a toll on your patience. Holding to I-95, you can lose up to four hours.

On I-81, rolling past Carlisle, PA, a major transportation hub – a spot from which I often drove long haul while gathering the information to write 3 ACES – I witnessed any number of enormous, new warehouses with no visible activity at their doors or on the loading docks. The vision of inactivity so stark, that I wondered if these structures were not headed toward bankruptcy proceedings. (Further back on I-81, up around Buck Run,  I had caught sight of several huge new plants and warehouse operations that looked underutilized, but witnessed nothing quite that dramatic.)

Then, while on 295 and I-10 in Florida, I sighted any number of dealer lots overloaded with tractors and trailers for sale. Not just one or two, here and there, but dozens – in every lot! When I left long haul work in 1997 to begin my book, you would have been hard pressed to find even a handful of such vehicles for sale in these same lots. Goods not being warehoused; goods not being shipped. Major consumer turndown, anyone?…

Once on 1-95, covering South Carolina on into Florida, from Friday afternoon rush hour to 9:00 that night, the lack of four-wheeler traffic was shocking. Trucks, even with their reduced numbers, were the dominant vehicles. I-95 traffic was a fraction of what I’d experienced last February and June on trips to Sarasota.

Lending substance to the sharp drop-off in automobile traffic was my experience in checking into motels. At Exit 2 – Kingsland, GA – I checked in and out of one low priced motel (their internet connection too weak to get me online) and then tried two other motels nearby. All three had internet systems that proved somehow inoperative, and I rejected the rooms. Two were quick to drop their prices when they saw I was walking. THAT had not been the case the year before! Then it had been a case of landing a room, at any price, before it disappeared. One room clerk admitted their winter tourist traffic was down at least 50%!  The room I took that night in Florida, was at a popular upscale chain, internet functionality guaranteed. Nonetheless, I pulled the walk-away routine and the room price quickly melted 30% – without an argument – the clerk bending over backwards to accommodate me! Bartering is back;customers have the edge.

Gas prices are still sticky, but this year they were rising and dropping with each unpredictable jump or fall of the dollar. I shopped, as time and fuel tank level permited, for the cheapest “regular” fill-ups I could find. Highest price paid: $2.79, on 1-95 in South Carolina…lowest $2.44, off I-95, on Georgia Route 17.

It’s a great time to be on the road. If we have any more financial shocks, it will only be to the traveler’s further advantage.

FAREWELL CHRISTMAS BUM…

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

From the corner of my eye, driving home New Year’s Eve, I spotted him in the the driving snow…treading the bridge walkway over the ice-filled Susquehanna River…bent into the snowdrops, grizzled, ruddily complected, bed roll strapped above his backpack…not a scene I felt comfortable being a party to from my snug, warm vehicle.

Had I been the victim of some paranormal vision? – a witness to some holiday will-o’-the-wisp?..or some benighted Santa sailing through the Christmas of our town and on into 2010? Bless me, I swear I was perfectly sober…and may I say, completely rational.

In nine years of crossing this nation as a long haul trucker – incidentally gathering information for my novel, 3 ACES – how many lost wanderers had I borne witness to over the million miles I logged? In springtime they would sprout, once again after a winter’s absence, along the highways and byways. And a week or so later you would pass them off as part of the indigenous scenery. But this? – this isolated Santa seeking neither aid nor attention, this apparition bending doggedly onward in a swirl of snowflakes… (more…)

WHAT’S A DOG DOING IN MY TRUCK? – OR HOW “PIP” POPPED INTO 3 ACES.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Whenever you pull alongside a big truck and glance up at the driver, you may spot another face staring down at you, that of man’s best friend. Truth is, many drivers – not to put down their womenfolk, at home with the kids – welcome a dog’s company. Reciting your troubles to a canine pal won’t get you any answers; on the other hand, it won’t produce any criticism. When you’re all done kvetching to your four-legged friend, what you will get is an impulsive slurp or two on the kisser accompanied by an enthusiastically wagging tail. Your long haul pooch is happy just to have you all to him or herself.

A trucker faces often impossible delivery deadlines, grueling hours behind the wheel, arguments with his dispatchers, and telephone battles with the home front – if there’s anything left of the marriage after a few years of regional or long-haul driving. You want to rest assured there’s no one breaking into your cab while you’re in a truck stop shoveling down a meal or enjoying a good, warm shower; a snarling beast steaming up the windows of your truck is a wonderful deterrent. (more…)

WRITERS AND SCAMMERS – ODD COUPLES…

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

When an author finishes writing a cherished piece of work – be it poem; an essay; a memoir, popular, or paranormal novel; perhaps even a humorous work – at that very moment, the writer’s creative enthusiasm has him teetering at the edge of a precipice. If he hasn’t already landed a book or magazine deal, he’s either looking for an agent, or thinking deeply about having the work printed and distributed independently. Let us then count the peddlers of provender gathered in the valley below.  In a great sweat, without an agent or a trade publisher, that writer is virtually forced to take the independent leap…possibly into the arms of one or more scammers.

Need a POD publisher?.. A website?.. Editorial help?.. Guidance in finding an agent?.. Promotional help?.. A distributor?.. Book designer?.. Cover artist?.. on and on goes the list. No end to the services available, ’til your credit card  registers dry on an emptied checking account. (more…)

PTSD – HANDS OFF; STAY AWAY!… (Part I)

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

When, at the age of three, you have your feet lopped off in a hayfield by a horse-drawn haymower and by some miracle a surgeon delicately reattaches them; then, over the next 14 years have one surgery after another that solidly fuses the fragmented ankle joints and prepares your feet for an active adult life – wouldn’t you think you qualify as some kind of an expert in survivial?

And when the research for a trucking novel you are writing, concerning a recon vet suffering from PTSD, discloses to you that YOU also have been suffering from PTSD, probably from the very day of your accident a lifetime ago – wouldn’t you also say you have some kind of credentials when it comes to discussing PTSD?

Well, guess what?…you don’t! (more…)

 

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