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Thursday, 8 November 2007
Looking Glass Portal by Larriane Barnard --First Chapter
Topic: First Chapter

Addition information and ordering links at my site:


Looking Glass Portal

Swimming Kangaroo Books, January 2007


Swimming Kangaroo Books

Arlington, Texas


ISBN: Paperback: 1-934041-18-1

MS Reader 1-934041-17-3

Other formats available: Mobi, PDF, HTML (no ISBN's are assigned)


LCCN: 2006940765


Looking Glass Portal © 2007 Larriane Barnard

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.


Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or events is purely coincidental. They are productions of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.






The staple gun popped, sinking the metal bracket into the fence post and pinning the twisted strands of barbwire. Done was the last post, the last piece of wire, and the last staple needed to repair a short section of a long line of fence, but it would only be good for a time. Tomorrow or the next week, or next month another post would rot or another staple would rust through to loosen another strand of wire or two, or three. The job finding and tightening those loose wires or felled posts was endless. When the man doing it was in pain, it seemed all the more futile. He wondered again what the hell he was doing as he straightened, the simple movement causing him to grimace and flinch.

"I ought to give it up, Boss," he said to the big, bay gelding that was ground reined and waiting for him.

He crossed to the horse, whose ears pricked up to listen. Garrett Maniam chuckled softly. He dropped the staple gun into a pouch on his tool belt and unfastened the belt from his narrow hips to put in his saddlebags.

"But you and I know I lack good sense."

His shadow stretched out in front of him when he turned from the horse. The dark shape mocked him with no indication in the silhouette of the weakness eating away at his strongly built body. The only reason he was still working at even so minimal a job was because his condition wasn't visible. The first time any employer knew of the constant pain in what appeared to be a strong back and muscular legs or saw those legs crumble uselessly under him, for no matter how brief a time, Garrett would be fired. Six feet plus of solid muscle at one hundred and ninety pounds, he still looked fit and strong at what Garrett called the way wrong side of forty, though he knew the years of constant pain had etched lines in his face to make him look older. The body, however strong, was useless when the lower half suddenly went numb and lifeless. No employer wanted a possible liability like that around.

With a rock for a seat Garrett stretched his right leg out to dig into the thigh pocket of his chaps for a cigarette and matches. The first heavy draw of smoke was held in his lungs as he flipped the match out but not away. Years of habit had him hold the match to cool first while his slate blue eyes stared out over the hills of scrub oak and juniper of the high mountain desert. He exhaled slowly, pushed the worn and stained hat back from his brown, gray-streaked hair, and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. A nerve played in jerks along the edge of his strong jaw before he spoke to the horse again.

"Been thinking, Boss, I ought to take that pistol out and strap it on my hip." The horse nickered at him. "Could be anytime," he went on conversationally. "Hate to be caught down on the ground where I couldn't do anything about it."

He drew deeply and the smoke drifted out of his thin lips. Garrett didn't expect anyone to grieve over his death. He'd made sure during the last twelve years of his life that there was no one to care, no one but the horse that stood a few feet away.

Boss moved closer to Garrett, knowing the man was through working. Being of a herd nature, the horse sought companionship. Garrett, a man with natural herding instincts as well, had forced himself to be a loner. Over the years the bond between animal and man had grown strong.

The horse played at the rolled-up sleeve of Garrett's faded denim work shirt with his upper lip. The attention drew Garrett away from his pensive thoughts and brought a full smile to his lips. "You're damn near worthless," he told Boss with an affectionate slap on the neck. "And quit slobbering on my shirt."

Boss sucked in air, swelled his chest. A neighing followed, complete with a spray of saliva while Boss swung his head up and down in acknowledgement of the conversation. Garrett stood quickly to avoid what he knew was coming. When Garrett grabbed for the saddle horn to keep from falling the horse understood the sudden need to stand still and steady. The quick movement had caused an onslaught of intense pain through Garrett's back and down his legs, taking his breath away. He hung there waiting for normal breathing to return and the pain to lessen.

"It's getting bad," he gasped when the horse turned his head to nuzzle at his shoulder. His jaw clinched while he pulled up and got his legs back under him. He was covered in sweat as he put his full weight back on his legs. The pain told him his legs weren't at the stage of giving out completely, not if he lessened the strain, and he eased down to the rock. With his breathing almost back to normal, he talked with a sardonic half-smile.

"What am I going to do with you, huh? You're too old to make a decent cowpony." He gave a short, bitter laugh. "No one wants a cripple in a wheelchair and a broken down old horse. Think there's going to be a miracle come along and save us?" Boss snorted and shook his head. Garrett laughed again. "Me neither. So what do you think? I can just turn you loose out here and bang." He imitated pulling the trigger with his finger pointed at his temple. "No more problems."

Boss tossed and shook his head, making Garrett smile crookedly at him. "Okay, I'm not quite ready to give it up, but I don't know why." He stood and grimaced, caught and held his breath briefly. "There isn't anything around the corner up here I haven't already seen, and I'm not going anywhere else."

He looked for the cigarette he had dropped and crushed it out with the high heel of his riding boot. Just as his hand closed on the nearest rein, Boss threw his head and backed, yanking Garrett off his feet. The smell hit Garrett as he landed on his knees. It wasn't like anything he had ever smelled before, and as a working cowboy he had smelled some of the worst. The odor was like something between a skunk and a rotted carcass. The stench drove Boss wild, and made Garrett sick. He held his breath and crawled in a desperate attempt for the reins.

"No, Boss," he cried out.

The fence with its flesh tearing barbs was behind them, and Boss was too panicked to see it as he whirled and lunged. Garrett got one foot under him only to go down when something hit him in the back. He saw Boss hit the wire as he fell. He saw the wire snap and whip as the ground rushed up to slam him in the face. He heard Boss's screams of pain and terror. His own terror began.

Garrett couldn't move.

The source of the smell was like nothing he had ever seen, fact or fiction, and it wasn't dead. A man, almost as wide as he was tall and about four feet in height, stood before him. He had the face of a Neanderthal and was dressed in furs. The stench from him gagged Garrett as the creature flipped him to his back. Garrett's stomach heaved, and he felt as though he would vomit while he lay flat on his back unable to move with the foul-smelling creature leaning over him and grunting like a pig.

Garrett's mind fractured as the smell nearly suffocating him . One part of his mind thought he would vomit and drown in his own puke, which was an absurd worry when a few minutes before he had been calmly contemplating blowing his own brains out. The other part of his mind screamed in an effort to will the pig-grunting man to hear and help Boss. Neither part of Garrett's mind understood why he couldn't move. He couldn't even close his eyes and, to judge from what followed, that was just how the pig-man wanted him.

The creature dragged Garrett by his hair to the rock where he had sat moments before and propped him against it like a floppy, rag doll. The thing backed off and grunted while blunt, square-shaped hands dug through its fur covering to pull out a slim, narrow box. What looked to be no more than a spot of light shot out, and a rapid succession of grunts followed as the thing leaned down to lift Garrett's arm for Garrett to see what it had done.

This can't be real. He must be delirious, or in the grip of a nightmare. No spot of light could punch through flesh and bone leaving his arm hanging, bloodlessly, attached below the elbow by only a thin string of flesh. That was something straight out of Star Wars, and he wasn't in any movie. It couldn't be real. He had to wake up. Boss's screams were real. They had fallen. That had to be what had happened. He was unconscious, and Boss was hurt. He had to wake up.

The thing stepped back, pointed the box, and a second spot of light shot out. The same succession of grunts sounded as it moved back. Garrett decided it had to be a sick laugh as the thing grabbed him by the hair and pushed his head down to see the bigger hole neatly punched through the right side of his chest.

"Let me wake up!" Garrett's mind screamed as his head fell back, and the thing moved off again. "I've got to help Boss!"

The thing jumped, squealed, and shoved its hands into the fur wrappings. Its stance changed to defensive, as stiff and as straight as its height would allow.

A girl, as beautiful as the man was ugly, moved into Garrett's line of vision. Corn-silk hair hung down to her waist, and a full billowing gown of pure white covered her from her neck to the ground. She floated rather than walked toward the creature, holding out her hand. The thing protested the obvious demand with squeals and grunts. The girl sang. It wasn't words, but musical notes that alternated with the sounds the thing made until it gave her the box it had so quickly hidden.

When she turned to face him, Garrett wanted to smile. She was a woman actually, not a girl, probably in her early twenties, and her eyes were the color of wild Bachelor Buttons, a brilliant blue violet. She was a dream as lovely as the creature was grotesque, but more importantly, she only looked to where Boss screamed and thrashed for the tormenting sounds to stop.

"Thank you," Garrett thought, knowing without seeing that she had helped Boss. ‘Thank you," he thought again, when she sank down beside him and with a brush of her hand closed his eyes.



Posted by joyceanthony at 1:06 AM EST
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Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Alison's Journey--A Review
Topic: Book Review

Alison's Journey

A review

Money and marriage don't always go hand in hand. Many marriages have failed when it was marrying for money and others were shattered when the love of money was stronger than the love of spouse. Alison's Journey is an example of the second case with the added twist of the innate need for perfection.

These two materialistic and unrealistic loves drove a jealous monster into fits of rage. Alison, the petite victim, finally had enough. Everybody has his or her breaking point. Amey S. Tippet sets a solid foundation prior to the point of no return. This allows the readers to understand Alison's desire, no, need, to leave. By laying the proper groundwork, one can and will sense the fear. The ringing of a phone, is it a friend, or HIM? What nasty items are in that box by the door? All of this and much more will be discovered.

Alison travels from Los Angeles, California to anywhere a long distance away. Engine trouble finds her in a small town in Ohio. This was not the kind of place she intended for her new home, but until the car repairs are done, she had little choice. Let's face it, a big city girl in small town Hicksville is just too much to expect.

Alison was stuck, albeit temporarily so might as well make the best of it. Besides, a small burg like Hicksville might be the last place her ogre of a husband would look. It was a good plan except for two things.

The first fly in the ointment developed after Alison put in a phone and called her parents. Eric, Alison's poor excuse for a husband, was a friend of her parents! Although she knew this, she certainly did not expect him to be at her parents when she called. He was. That is when the nightmares, phone calls, and unexpected packages started.

Fly number two was falling in love with the town, its people and overall ambience. Discovering one special man and his daughter didn't hurt either. So how does a big city girl fit into rural America? Does she ‘stick out like a sore thumb', or is she accepted as one of their own? Where does Alison's journey take you? You start in L.A. but is the trip to Ohio one way or round trip? Does Eric's perfect life reclaim Alison, or is she absorbed into Hicksville? Buy, and read, Amey S. Tippett's marvelous book, ‘Alison's Journey' and discover for yourself.

For more information on Amey and her writing, please visit her at:


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007 1:16 AM EST
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Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Naked in Haiti by Dan King--A Review
Topic: Book Review

Naked in Haiti

A Review

Haiti, an island resort, tourist trap, and maybe a sex haven. From the beginning one realizes this is not a children's book. It is, at the very least, R rated. Reader's beware, Naked in Haiti is as erotic as it sounds.

This book is well written. The content is risqué, but conceptually well done. The concept is that the author travels to Haiti to be a sex tourist. Shortly after arriving, he meets Ingrid, a long time visitor who speaks English and Creole. She teams up with him to show him why his views on casual, paid sex is wrong.

If you like books that may have a plot but deal mostly with sex, then ‘Naked in Haiti' by Dan King is a book you will want in your collection.

To purchase Naked in Haiti, visit:

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007 11:10 AM EST
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Monday, 5 November 2007
Dreamsbane of Tamalor--A Review

Dreamsbane of Tamalor

A Review


 For more information on Bradley and his writing, please visit:

Every once in awhile a fantasy book comes along that hooks you from the first page. Bradley James Simpson's ‘Dreamsbane of Tamalor' is one such book. Leaving the ship anchored offshore, Sunray uses a rune carved stick and a mystic phrase to transport her husband Mirin and herself, to Wildgrove. It is here that all the fun and action takes place.

One would expect the rest of the crew to travel in a similar fashion, but instead they arrive via wagons. The opening pages describe everyone wearing armor and full battledress with weapons. Yet one does not find page after page of fighting. We learn of the dark riders and of the many dimensions.

Linda rides off, finds and banishes the demons. A spy is found out as a magic rose appears. Within this land of lore, dreams and dream travel weave a secondary thread. The reader is held fast and prepares for the worse. While there is trouble and occasional battles, the where and how is left to the readers imagination.

Romance is in the air. Food and fun liven up the town. Overshadowing the festivities are black clouds of impending doom and destruction. Do the black riders prevail? Do Mirin and Sunray along with the newlyweds throw rays of brightness to dispel the bearers of trouble? Read ‘Dreamsbane of Tamalor' and follow Mirin and his friends through their exciting adventure.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007 2:18 AM EST
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Sunday, 4 November 2007
A Lifetime of Words -by Robin Gorley -- A Review
Topic: Book Review

For More information on Robin Gorley and her writing, please visit her website at


There are a lot of prayer books on the market. Many of them are quite well written. However, A Lifetime of Words is written in freeform verse. Robin Gorley has used her penchant for poetry to enlighten us spiritually. No poem is longer than two pages thus making this an easy to read book. Although these are spiritual poems, they are non denominational.

As you read through these, you can find a poem to cover almost any event in your life. As your life seems to be heading downhill, check out Ms Gorley's advice. There are many uplifting words that can transform your life. Looking to make a change but are a bit nervous? A Lifetime of Words has a poem to help guide you. There are poems that can be used for special occasions such as dinner parties or even as invocations for meetings.

Buy the book, get a drink and sit down to enjoy a well-written set of poems. Keep the book handy, either on a nightstand or use it as the centerpiece of the coffee table because you'll want to refer back to it often.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007 1:03 PM EDT
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Saturday, 3 November 2007
Ladies: A Conjecture of Personalities--A Review
Topic: Book Review

Ladies:  A Conjecture of Personalities  -- A Review

I had the pleasure of reading Ladies: A Conjecture of Personalities by Feather Schwartz Foster recently, and would love to share my thoughts on this book.

Starting with the Introduction by Lucy Hayes, you know this is no ordinary book.  Ms. Foster allows each First Lady between Martha Washington and Mamie Eisenhower a chapter to tell us their story-in their own words. These ladies are charming to listen to.  Not allowing themselves to be ignored, the more recent First Ladies pop in and out, giving us their comments.

As I read, I totally forgot at times that these were not actual diary entries by these women.  Feather Schwartz Foster has researched enough to be able to bring these women to life.  She weaves actual historical events throughout the narratives and has done enough research on each personality to make one think these could very well be the words each First lady would use.

You feel as though you have landed in a parlor large enough to hold these women.  The style is down-to-earth and chatty (okay, and catty at times!).  I found myself laughing, crying and cheering with these women.  You will close this book feeling as though you traveled to time and truly had a chance to get to know the women who stood beside our nation's Presidents.

For more information on Ms. Foster and her writings please visit her website at:


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007 12:34 AM EDT
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Friday, 2 November 2007
Owen Fiddler--A Review
Topic: Book Review

Owen Fiddler

A Review

Owen Fiddler is the summation of every loser there is. For him, Murphy's Law is good news. At least he'd have someone to blame. Life treated Owen bad from day one. Even good fortune frowned on him.

His first unlucky break was the bicycle that was ‘waiting' for him. Owen should have seen this as an omen of his future. He didn't. To accept this incident as a portent of his future meant accepting blame, but Owen Fiddler never accepted blame.

Marvin Wilson has again done an excellent job. His book, Owen Fiddler, grabs your attention right away. It does not take long before the reader feels pity for the main character. However, it isn't likely anyone will feel sorry for him because he does cause his own problems. In his opinion, the world owes him. Owen Fiddler is the grasshopper in Aesop's tale about the grasshopper and the ant.

Owen does change. He learned how to put on a good front. He holds this pose long enough to get married; even in that he fails, but not before becoming a father. The good news is that she does not go in her fathers footsteps.

Owen continues through life, making one bad choice after another. In the end, is redemption truly possible? Can one really offer forgiveness to someone like Owen Fiddler? Pick up your copy of Owen Fiddler today and discover Marvin Wilson's surprising answer.

For more information on Owen Fiddler and Marvin Wilson, please visit:


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007 12:31 AM EDT
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Thursday, 1 November 2007
The Knowing--First Chapter --Larriane Wills, Author
Topic: First Chapter

All ordering information and links are easily found on my site:

Also available at

The Knowing by Larriane Wills

Swimming Kangaroo Books, September 2006

Swimming Kangaroo Books

Arlington, Texas


ISBN: MS Reader 1-934041-11-4

[Other formats available: Mobi, PDF, HTML (no ISBN's are assigned)

Paperback: 1-934041-12-2]


The Knowing © 2006 Larriane Wills

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.


This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or events is purely coincidental. They are productions of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.




Chapter 1

The rider was in dark clothes on a dark horse on a dark and rainy night. Not one condition was an accidental circumstance, but each well planned to fit with the other.  Even still, he knew a chance of fate could undo him and on seeing the struggling figure ahead he slowed his hasty travel to covertly watch. He was curious but not alarmed until, between flashes of lightning, the figure disappeared. He knew death could come in small packages as well as large, and though he believed the one ahead to be no more than a child who was not aware of him, he proceeded with caution. He dismounted and drew his sword. Crouching to lessen his own bulky size he moved slowly, stopping between each step to peer hard ahead and listen while he waited for the next flash of light before moving again. Rain fell and splattered around him and dripped from the leaves of trees beside the track to distort sound, but he thought he heard a rustling of leaves and drew his knife as well. Nothing came at him. Knowing it may well be a lengthy pursuit he returned to his horse to lead it from the muddy track. He had no desire to be caught by surprise. With a bandana around the mount's nose to prevent it from answering or calling to any horse that might pass by, he returned to remove all signs of his horse leaving the track. Unlike his quarry he also erased the evidence of the trail going into the woods. The rider took the time to do so to prevent any other from following him, not the quarry.

The hunted, for the rider was not sure then that only he followed the slight figure, had collapsed and crawled into the forest. The rider found him under a log, buried in wet leaves, most likely waiting for death to find him. Fever raged through the frail body, and the boy did not stir when examined by match light. His feet were raw from walking without shoes; his hands and knees were scraped, cut, and held both scabs and fresh bleeding from falls and from crawling for an extended time. The worst of the injuries was a large, ugly burn, putrefied and oozing, high on the back over the left shoulder blade.

He was a puzzle, this boy. Long for his age it appeared, for his size suggested an age of thirteen or fourteen years, yet there were no signs of a boy changing to a man. More puzzling, he wore a cassock, and the garment was torn to rags. The man knew what the cassock and the wound on his shoulder meant for the man was of Ives and knew of the Priests of Oldspushner, but it made no sense on one so young. In addition to everything else, the boy looked starved.

While the rider pondered this puzzle, he lifted his head to listen. He could hear the sound of horses being driven hard for the conditions of the night. Now he was being hunted. With a muttered curse he rose to leave. By his personal code any kindness was weakness. To help a dying child would be an act of kindness, and he would not permit himself such weakness. Then a self-serving reason occurred to him. He returned to heft the child to his shoulder.

Who would suspect a man traveling with a sick child to be an assassin? Not the troops he met on the road later.

"I am Lockmer. This be my son Garran," he stated in a voice that sounded like a rake being dragged over gravel. In the saddle in front of him he held the unconscious child, wrapped tightly in a blanket. "I go to the nearest village in search of a healer."

The night was miserable, wet and cold. The small force of Ives troopers had sought shelter under a canopy of trees. The leader did not wish to leave the partial dryness to ask questions, to the assassin's benefit.

"A fever," the assassin continued. He knew even the bravest and strongest of men feared the deadliness of unknown fever. "Came upon him sudden last eve."

As expected, the trooper backed away. "We search for a boy of twelve, with dark hair and eyes. Have you seen such?"

Surprised that it was the boy the troopers searched for, not him, the assassin did well to hide it. "I have seen many boys in my travel with dark hair and eyes. This be Ives. Otherwise would be not common."

"He has a burn on his back shoulder."

 "I've seen none without a shirt to know this."

 "In cassock and alone?" the trooper retorted angrily.

 "Nay, none alone and none in skirt. Why do you search for him?"

 "For murder."

 "A child?" the assassin asked with his disbelief in his voice.

The trooper did not answer, saying, "If you see such a child, report it to the nearest trooper. A reward is offered. Now pass and stay wide."

It was a night of surprises for the man. The next he did not care for. The boy stirred, having given no indication till then he was awake and aware. He had fooled him, which annoyed the assassin.

"Why did you not give me over?" the boy asked weakly.

The assassin grunted and then said gruffly, "It benefits me at current time for me to be a father with a son. When the time comes it does not, make no mistake, I will leave you quickly behind."




Before the boy was strong enough to sit without assistance, he crawled from the camp into the forest to find plants and herbs to treat himself. Though amazed, the assassin did not show it. The knowledge of plants and herbs was not consistent with the tattered cassock of the priests the boy wore, for the priests scorned the healing teachings of the Sisters of Treach, yet the man made use of the child's knowledge. While the child healed, the assassin taught the boy the arts of disguise, more for his benefit than the boy's. He taught the boy how to lighten his hair, how to darken it by degrees from white to brown, to red, and back to dark till his hair was again as black as it had been the night the man had found him. The man altered his own hair in length and style as well as his beard and mustache. At times he fashioned false hair from a horse's tail or mane and tree gum. Never did a description that may have been given of the two in one village match their appearance when they arrived in the next.

As well as the art of disguise the man taught the boy to avoid  detection, the skills of stealth, and how to use a sword and knife. From the boy, the man learned to recognize leaves that relieved pain, plants to heal, herbs that stimulated, flowers to help one sleep, and even plants to bring death.

For two years they held together, the boy often left alone while the man went off in secret. Not one kind word was ever given to the boy by the man, and any gifts he gave to the boy, just as the lessons he taught, were given more to benefit the man than the boy, until the last. The man tossed a small purse to the boy after setting him on the ground at a crossroads.

"We've been together too long," the man grumbled. "You've size enough to pass for ten and six. Go lose yourself by enlisting as apprentice in the army of Amor. Sign yourself as orphan of Ives. They'll not be able to verify even if they've a mind to with all those fleeing from Ives. The killing there will serve well as reason for the hate in your eyes that you care not to disguise."

The man pulled his horse around and trotted off; leading the horse the boy had ridden.  No good-bye came from him and no thank you from the boy who was quickly growing into a man. The dark eyes the man had spoken of held no tears, only the anger and hatred that never left them. The boy watched the man until he was out of sight. While he watched, he took two coins from the purse for his pocket. The purse he hid in his boot; then he took up his pack and began to walk.

Because two names were required for enlisting, he became Garran of Lockmer.


Posted by joyceanthony at 12:17 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 October 2007
My long, strange road to becoming a published novelist (Part III) by Mark Chapman
Topic: Author Interview


(This entry is a continuation of one on author David Boultbee's blog. Click here to return to Part II.)

By 1995, the size of the online books I was writing had grown to more than 600 pages in total, a large percentage of them about OS/2. I counted and found that I had accumulated nearly 800 OS/2-related Q&As. By then, I'd noticed that a number of IBMers had written books about IBM products, including OS/2. So I checked and found that as long as I didn't reveal any confidential information I was free to write a book about OS/2 myself. And because I'd written all those Q&As myself, there was no reason I couldn't use them in a book.

So I wrote to the two biggest publishers of books on operating system software at the time, Sam's and McGraw-Hill. Sam's wrote back and said that they had all the OS/2 books they needed just then. McGraw-Hill replied that they were interested. They asked for an outline of the book and some sample chapters.

I didn't have any finished chapters written, so I organized a bunch of Q&As from the online book into chapters of related information (installation questions, printing questions, and so on). I wrote back that it was a concept document, rather than a finished manuscript and submitted it.

Within two weeks, they offered me a contract for the book, but I had to have it finished in 2 ½ months. I agreed and returned the contract. Then it dawned on me that I had just agreed to write an entire book in 10 weeks. True, I had 800 Q&As ready to go, but they all needed to be edited and formatted for the book so that everything hung together.

While doing all this, I quickly realized that while I had a ton of Q&As already written, they'd been written individually, haphazardly, rather than as part of an organized whole, and there were many gaps in the content. There were plenty of questions a reader might ask that either hadn't come up in support phone calls, or were so basic the support person didn't need to consult the database for an answer. So I found myself having to write more than 200 new Q&As to fill in the gaps, even as I edited and formatted the existing ones. Plus, to make the book less dry, I tried to find computer jokes and humorous true stories about computers with which to start off each chapter. This turned out well, but took a considerable amount of additional time to find and edit.

My wife graciously offered to help with the typing and formatting, which freed me up to do the new writing. Before I knew it, I was almost done. I still had two weeks in my deadline, and only a week or so of work left to finish the first draft. So, naturally, that's when everything blew up in my face.

This was back in the days when most people backed up their work to floppies (tape drives and Zip drives were expensive and rewritable CDs didn't exist yet). One day I decided to delete the backup files from my floppy so I could copy all the individual chapter files onto it in numerical order, to make it easier to find things. Through a comedy of errors, I managed to delete not only the backup files, but also most of the originals off the hard drive! (So much for me being the computer expert....)

I had two weeks left until my deadline and it looked like I'd have to start from scratch. In those days, there was no automatic backup of files on the hard drive, and no Undelete command. Something like a dozen chapters of my book were simply gone.

Gulp! So now what? Find out if I saved my book and made my deadline here in the next segment of the story, on author Suzanne Kamata's blog.

Posted by joyceanthony at 7:16 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Interview with Marsha Jordan
Topic: Author Interview
1.  First, Marsha, can you give us a brief idea of what Hugs and Hopes
is all about and how you started this project?
  Hugs and Hope is an Internet based group of caring people who, through the web site, are able to connect with suffering children and help spread some love and cheer.  It began as my hobby of sending cheery mail to critically ill children.    After my grandson was badly burned, I felt frustrated because he was suffering and I couldn't stop his pain.  This caused me to fall into a deep depression.  I battled my depression by focusing on hurting children and trying to make their lives a little brighter -- to take their minds off their pain for a while.    My hobby of sending what I called "happy mail" soon became a full time job of cheering hundreds of kids across the country.  Now it's a national non-profit charity serving hundreds of children and boasting over 3,000 volunteer "hug givers and hope builders."    It began with just sending cards; but now we have several programs, such as providing birthday parties, Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, balloon bouquets after surgery, and even granting wishes.  We support parents too with a 24 hour chat group and what we call a Parent Pal program (volunteers "adopt" a parent and provide one-on-one support).
2.  Your book, Hugs, Hopes and Peanut Butter, has gotten some wonderful
reviews.  Tell us a bit about it.
  I did not set out to write a book!  I send a weekly newsletter of encouragement to parents of sick children.  In it, I often include funny stories from my life and bits of wisdom or lessons I've learned.  Readers begged me to publish the stories so they could keep them.  I thought it would be great to have the sick kids illustrate the book, so I collected 40 drawings from HUGS and HOPE kids and included them with my sometimes serious, sometimes humorous essays.  The book has been a big hit.  People say it's very inspirational for anyone who is discouraged, disappointed with life, or just in need of a good laugh and a little lift.  That's ALL of us!
3.  How can someone purchase a copy of Hugs, Hopes and Peanut Butter?
  The book can be ordered through any book store; but when purchased from our web site, we earn more and don't have to pay the middle man! 
4.  You have several things listed on your site that others can do to help.  Two that particularly caught my attention were "Be an Elf" and  "Parent Pals" .  Can you tell us a little more about these programs?
    The Elf Program matches up a volunteer with a sick child whose family cannot afford Christmas gifts.  Volunteer "elves" love receiving their child's wish list and then shopping for, wrapping, and sending their surprises.  The Parent Pals program was instituted because parents of critically ill children are often very isolated.  When children are stuck at home due to compromised immune systems (not able to be around people who may have germs), the parents are stuck at home alone too.  Also, when a child is seriously ill, family and friends tend to pull away rather than pulling together to provide moral support and physical help.  Moms and dads feel very alone and need someone to care and just to listen and let them vent.  That's what parent pals do.  They provide that rare commodity called friendship.  What makes HUGS and HOPE a unique organization is that personal touch.  Volunteers become involved in the lives of these families in crisis. 
5.  What other things can people do to help? There seems to be a variety of programs.  One to fit everyone's schedule/finances.
  A volunteer may invest as much or as little time as they desire.  One may want to deliver balloons to a hospital.  Another may want to shop for birthday party supplies.  Some make blankets, tote bags, or pillow cases the kids can take with them to the hospital. Some volunteers help to grant wishes for items such as new bikes or swing sets.  Others help behind the scenes, working on our web site, helping to sell raffle tickets, coordinating programs, contributing to newsletters, and dozens of other jobs.
6.  What would you like to share with our readers that I haven't asked?
  Sending a cheery card is a very small thing that takes only a moment and costs very little.  Anyone of any age or ability can do it.  But it's a big deal to a sick child.  One card can make a kid's day.  I wish everyone would make the effort to send some happy mail.  It's satisfying to know you're making a difference.  Creating a little more joy and sharing a little love is not a small thing.  It means the world to these children.  I encourage young families with small children, retired grandmothers, handicapped people in wheel chairs -- EVERYONE to get involved.  One of the smiles they create may just be their own!    Love and joy are like peanut butter.  Spread them around and you can't help but get some on yourself!
Thanks, Marsha!!

Posted by joyceanthony at 3:04 PM EDT
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