Finding the Joy in the Picture
by Jennifer Paros
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
~ Mark Twain
I was all bent out of shape - over something I cannot now remember - feeling crummy yet still determined to get out and run some errands. As I got in the car and put my seatbelt on, I determined to at least try to feel a little better though the momentum of frustration and unhappiness was strong.
As I drove, I started counting backwards to calm myself. At first, I went through the numbers at a sprint – eventually I walked through them, and finally I meandered, taking my time and even slowing my breathing. Like a dog free of its owner and running towards traffic, my mind ran back to the problematic thoughts again and again and so I had to call it back, again and again.
I came to a four–way stop next to the entrance of a grocery store. One car took its turn and then pedestrians started crossing on the crosswalk before me. Slowly more people came, rather wayward and unfocused. I accepted the situation with tentative patience when, just as I thought all was clear, a man with disheveled hair and five o’clock shadow arrived pushing an empty grocery cart. He began his journey. With his broad smile, which seemed mildly crazy or drunk, he started pushing his cart erratically across the street.
Then, I noticed him look down. My eyes followed and I saw a tiny little girl sitting underneath the cart, happily having a ride. He hadn’t been distracted or talking to himself, he’d been playfully checking on her. I laughed at the sweetness of their exchange and he turned and smiled broadly at me, aware I had seen the girl. He had found someone else with whom to share his delight. I felt flooded with appreciation; his tenderness and kindness were palpable to me. more...
by Katie Hafner
I have been a journalist for 35 years, happily writing about the lives of others, while just as happily dodging my own story.
That changed in the summer of 2009 when, in the wake of a crisis in her life, my mother moved from San Diego to San Francisco – and in with my teenage daughter and me. My mother was 77. I was 51. We planned to live together for a year, as an experiment in multigenerational living.
I was determined to do what I could to help my mother – not just through this particularly difficult time for her, but on through the last years of her life. I held fast to a fairytale view of our relationship that made me certain everything about our experiment would work out just fine. My mother was equally starry-eyed. We both referred to our upcoming adventure as “Our Year in Provence.”
There was just one problem: My mother and I didn’t really know each other. I had been taken away from her when I was 10 (she had been an alcoholic), and she hadn’t raised me. Yet for years I had convinced myself that I had emerged from my childhood unscathed, and not the least bit angry at my mother.
As it turned out, to no one’s surprise except perhaps my own, I wasn’t over the past. Not one little bit. Soon after my mother moved in, I began acting out in small, cruel ways. When we blended households, I rejected her furniture, her artwork, even her Tupperware, in favor of my own stuff. If she needed my help with something, I did it, but grudgingly. I lay in bed at night feeling guilty, confused, sorry and tormented. more...
reviewed by Scott Peterson
Out now in mass market, Paul Cornell's urban fantasy introduces three officers and an intelligence analyst of the London Metropolitan Police working to take down an organized crime network only to stumble into something much larger: they inadvertently develop "the Sight," an ability to see the ghosts and dark magic infused into the fabric of London.
London Falling takes a slow-burn approach to developing the gritty, real-world nature of undercover police work. After placing the reader firmly into the kind of police procedural so familiar through TV, the supernatural elements that appear are that much more surprising and disturbing. The four main characters are stunned by the surreal turn their investigation takes, and their sudden paranormal abilities threaten to overwhelm them. Luckily, they have each other to turn to as they pursue the evil forces at work just beneath the surface of modern London and face up to the personal burdens they all carry.
Although augmented by the Sight, the team's reliance on good old-fashioned police work in their battle against their supernatural enemy is a fun twist in the genre, as is the so-very-English nature of the backstory. This tale could only be told of London, embracing the long history of the city, the bloody reigns of royalty, and, yes, football rivalries. It's all part of the magic the characters are forced to face, with hints of an underlying supernatural power they are only beginning to understand. more...
Seven Ways to Shut Down On-Line Bullies and
Protect Your Author Brand
by Kristen Lamb
Publishing has entered The Digital Age and bullies abound more than ever. The Internet gives psychos access to torment us 24-7 no matter where we go. There are people who are simply made of spite and hate and they will spread misery and pain as far as they can for no reason other than to make others suffer.
On-line bullying is a concern for regular people using social media, but it can be particularly distressing for authors who want to use the Internet to build a brand and cultivate a fan base. I’ve had hysterical authors contact me for help because they’ve been targeted by bands of feral Goodreads or Amazon haters. I know writers who retreated completely off-line, who shut off comments or even took down their blogs after being victimized by trolls.
Authors can feel particularly vulnerable, but don’t fret. Bullies only have as much power as we’re willing to hand them.
Bullies never go away and when we become published authors, just expect to run into them (especially if we enjoy any amount of success). Remember, bullies are small petty people who want to hurt those brave enough to do what they’re too chicken to attempt. Trolls often can't be completely stopped, but writers can be prepared and we can also make it tougher for them to spread their cruelty. more...