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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Truth, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 22 of 22
1. Rump: The True Story Of Rumplestiltskin, by Liesel Shurtliff

Imagine being named Rump.  Imagine it.  Imagine what other kids could do with your name.  Especially when you live in a place that believes that your name is the key to your destiny.

Rump lives on the Mountain with his Gran.  His mother died when he was born, and Rump just knows there is more to his name, but his Gran does not know what it is.  Life in the Mountain is rather bleak.  The residents almost all work in the mines looking for the ever elusive gold to trade in to the miller for food.  One day Rump notices an old spinning wheel in with the firewood.  He asks his Gran about it and it turns out this was his mother's spinning wheel.  Even though it is beaten up, Rump polishes it up, thrilled to have something that belonged to her.

On rations day, Rump and his friend Red are on their way home when they see Kessler the peddler.  Aside from the regular wares, Kessler also deals in magic.  Against Red's advice, Rump trades some grain for a bit of magic.  The trick does go a bit wrong, and Red states that there are consequences for *all* magic, no matter how small, but Rump finds himself hungry for more.

Soon enough Rump discovers why the gold loving pixies of the kingdom have always favored him.  He finds he is able to spin hay into fine gold thread.  He promises himself he will only spin enough to get more food for him and Gran, but promises to oneself often go unfulfilled.  Before Rump knows it, he is bargaining away his own magic for a fraction of what it's worth.

This new twist on the Rumplestiltskin story will have readers looking at Rump with fresh eyes.  This magical world with its gold hungry pixies, message delivering gnomes, magic hoarding trolls, magical aunties and fierce best-friends pretty much begs for a film treatment.  There are pearls of wisdom dropped throughout the text, and readers will likely have many moments of taking pause to ponder over some of the ideas.  Happily, I read on twitter that there will be more titles coming from Shurtliff - one featuring Jack and another featuring Red.  I for one can't wait!

0 Comments on Rump: The True Story Of Rumplestiltskin, by Liesel Shurtliff as of 8/23/2013 9:16:00 AM
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2. Review: The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz: bio, booze and books

TweetThe Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz Koyama Press I have a complicated and knotty relationship with auto-bio comics, beset by apprehension and cynicism. There’s no doubt the genre produces some interesting material- Art Spiegelman, Seth, Robert Crumb, to name but a few, but more recently I’ve found a lot of it to be, quite frankly, boring. The [...]

9 Comments on Review: The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz: bio, booze and books, last added: 3/5/2013
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3. Never Avert Your Eyes

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intimacy it takes to write.

I’ve been re-reading the lectures of Robert Olen Butler and he talks about how honest writing doesn’t come from thinking or ideas, but from feeling and dreaming. This is a difficult concept for many of us because there is a lot to think about when we write. But it’s possible we protect ourselves through that thinking and never really dig deep into the white-hot center of our work.

Butler quotes Akira Kurosawa, who says, “To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.”

Beth Retro Photography

There’s two ways I interpret this quote in regards to my writing. The first is to be brave. To face the intimacy it takes to write. I think we write to explore the human condition, but often we don’t want to look at the hard truths that make our characters who they are. Or we don’t want to let our characters move honestly through their worlds. We protect them. In many ways we are protecting ourselves. We avert our eyes, because really looking means facing secrets about ourselves. These can be personal secrets or larger truths about humanity that challenge our beliefs. Writing forces us to look at issues we may not be ready to face.

It’s scary. It takes courage.

My second interpretation of Kurosawa’s quote is about experience. We interact with our world sensually through our bodies: the taste of papaya, the texture of soft gooey fruit, the tremble of a lip in the face of bad news. The writing I love to read (and strive to write) grounds us in our bodies and its interaction with the physical world. To never avert your eyes is to be in the body of your character from moment-to-moment. It means never glazing over the emotion, but being present to feel the world through your character’s skin. It’s easy to analyze when we write and pull back and summarize. The second we step back and look at the character from the outside, discussing emotion rather than allowing a character to sensually feel it, we’ve averted our eyes from the experience and are labeling it. Controlling it. I think we do this because to truly feel something with our character means we must make ourselves vulnerable.

Digital VisionRobert Olen Butler says: “If I say art doesn’t come from the mind, it comes from the place you dream, you may say, ‘Well, I wake up screaming in the night. I don’t want to go into my dreams, thank you very much. I don’t want to go to the white-hot center; I’ve spent my life staying out of there.”… Here’s the tough part: you have to go down into that deepest, darkest, most roiling, white-hot place … whatever scared the hell out of you down there – and there’s plenty – you have to go in there; down to the deepest part of it, and you can’t flinch, can’t walk away.”

I believe there’s a point in your writing when you will be ready to do this. It’s not something anyone can force on you. It’s your choice. But when you decide to open up and enter this dark place – it will scare you. You might reject it and want to stop writing.

Don’t.

Be fearless. Face the intimacy and bravery your work demands. Don’t avert your eyes. This is the place where your best work will come from.

Photo Credit: Beth Retro Photography, Digital Vision

9 Comments on Never Avert Your Eyes, last added: 2/26/2013
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4. Never Avert Your Eyes

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intimacy it takes to write.

I’ve been re-reading the lectures of Robert Olen Butler and he talks about how honest writing doesn’t come from thinking or ideas, but from feeling and dreaming. This is a difficult concept for many of us because there is a lot to think about when we write. But it’s possible we protect ourselves through that thinking and never really dig deep into the white-hot center of our work.

Butler quotes Akira Kurosawa, who says, “To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.”

Beth Retro Photography

There’s two ways I interpret this quote in regards to my writing. The first is to be brave. To face the intimacy it takes to write. I think we write to explore the human condition, but often we don’t want to look at the hard truths that make our characters who they are. Or we don’t want to let our characters move honestly through their worlds. We protect them. In many ways we are protecting ourselves. We avert our eyes, because really looking means facing secrets about ourselves. These can be personal secrets or larger truths about humanity that challenge our beliefs. Writing forces us to look at issues we may not be ready to face.

It’s scary. It takes courage.

My second interpretation of Kurosawa’s quote is about experience. We interact with our world sensually through our bodies: the taste of papaya, the texture of soft gooey fruit, the tremble of a lip in the face of bad news. The writing I love to read (and strive to write) grounds us in our bodies and its interaction with the physical world. To never avert your eyes is to be in the body of your character from moment-to-moment. It means never glazing over the emotion, but being present to feel the world through your character’s skin. It’s easy to analyze when we write and pull back and summarize. The second we step back and look at the character from the outside, discussing emotion rather than allowing a character to sensually feel it, we’ve averted our eyes from the experience and are labeling it. Controlling it. I think we do this because to truly feel something with our character means we must make ourselves vulnerable.

Digital VisionRobert Olen Butler says: “If I say art doesn’t come from the mind, it comes from the place you dream, you may say, ‘Well, I wake up screaming in the night. I don’t want to go into my dreams, thank you very much. I don’t want to go to the white-hot center; I’ve spent my life staying out of there.”… Here’s the tough part: you have to go down into that deepest, darkest, most roiling, white-hot place … whatever scared the hell out of you down there – and there’s plenty – you have to go in there; down to the deepest part of it, and you can’t flinch, can’t walk away.”

I believe there’s a point in your writing when you will be ready to do this. It’s not something anyone can force on you. It’s your choice. But when you decide to open up and enter this dark place – it will scare you. You might reject it and want to stop writing.

Don’t.

Be fearless. Face the intimacy and bravery your work demands. Don’t avert your eyes. This is the place where your best work will come from.

Photo Credit: Beth Retro Photography, Digital Vision

0 Comments on Never Avert Your Eyes as of 2/19/2013 7:15:00 AM
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5. Changing the conversation about the motives of our political opponents

By E. Tory Higgins


“Our country is divided.” “Congress is broken.” “Our politics are polarized.” Most Americans believe there is less political co-operation and compromise than there used to be. And we know who is to blame for this situation—it’s our political opponents. Democrats know that Republicans are to blame, and Republicans know that Democrats are to blame. Not only do we know that our political opponents are to blame, but we are suspicious of their motives, of why they take the positions they take. Bottom line: we can’t trust them.

This is a serious problem for our country. One source of the problem is a misperception of what really motivates people’s political opinions, judgments, and actions. People often assume such opinions are all about self-interest or all about “carrots and sticks.” As Romney recently put it, “What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked.” Plenty of commentators criticized the reference to minorities, the poor, and students as essentially being paid off for their votes, but few if any disputed the overall assumption that the “carrots” candidates offer voters determine the vote. Indeed, the field of ‘public choice’ in economics assumes just this, that voters are guided by their own self-interest and “vote their pocketbooks.”

What does it mean for our political conversation to assume that the opinions, judgments, and actions of our political opponents are motivated by self-interest? It means that their stands on political issues are selfish rather than being in the best interest of our country. We can’t trust them to be concerned about what is best for the rest of us because our interests are different than their interests. We assume that they do not have good will. But what if people are not primarily motivated by self-interest (by “carrots”) in the political domain or in any other domain of life? In fact, there is substantial evidence from research on human motivation that what people want goes well beyond attaining “carrots” (or “gifts”). What they want is to be effective.

Brian Deese, right, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Economic Advisor Gene Sperling confer as President Barack Obama calls regional politicians to inform them of the next day’s announcement about General Motors filing for bankruptcy, Sunday night, May 31, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yes, one way of being effective is to have desired outcomes, which can include attaining “carrots” (and avoiding “sticks”). But there is much more to being effective. People also want to be effective at establishing what’s real or right or correct (being effective in finding the truth), as when people want to hear the truth about themselves or what is happening in their lives even if “the truth hurts.” Indeed, people want to observe, discover, and learn about all kinds of things in the world that have nothing to do with their attaining “carrots” (or avoiding “sticks”). And people also want to manage what happens, to have an effect on the world (being effective in having control), as when children jump up and down in a puddle just to make a splash. Indeed, people will take on pain and even risk injury to feel in control of a difficult and challenging activity, as illustrated most vividly in extreme sports.

It is establishing what’s real (truth) and managing what happens (control) that often are our primary motivations — rather than self-interest — and this is both good news and bad news if we are to change the political conversation. The bad news is that humans, uniquely among animals, establish truth by sharing reality with others who agree with their beliefs (or with whom they can establish agreed-upon assumptions). And when they do create a shared reality with others, they experience their beliefs as objective — the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This means that when others disagree with these beliefs, as when Democrats and Republicans disagree with each other, each side is so certain that what they believe is reality, that they infer that those on the other side must either be lying about what they truly believe or they are too stupid to recognize the truth or they are simply crazy. These derogations of our political opponents don’t derive from our self-interests being in conflict with them. It is more serious than that. It derives from the establishment of a different shared reality to them, a shared reality that we are highly motivated to maintain because it gives us the truth about the how the world works.

This is bad news indeed. But if we understand that out political opponents just want to be effective in truth, there is a ‘good news’ silver lining. The good news is that we need not characterize our political opponents as being selfish, or liars, or stupid, or crazy. We need not question their good will. Instead, we can recognize that they, like us, want truth and control, and they want truth and control to work together effectively. They want to “go in the right direction.” They, like us, want our country to be strong. They want Americans to live in peace and prosperity. Yes, they have different ideas about what direction is the right one to make this happen, but this is something we can discuss. In order to establish what’s real, manage what happens, and go in the right direction — which are ways of being effective that we all want — we need to listen to one another and and learn from one another. This is a political conversation worth having. Let us have that respectful, serious conversation in the New Year and search for common ground. Good will to all.

E. Tory Higgins is the author of Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievements in Psychological Science (from the Association for Psychological Science), and the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions. He is also a recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

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6. Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of LIFE ON HOLD


When Beverly was a child she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem Stars to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with books, she managed to graduate from high school then attended Midwestern State University, where she read more books than she could count. After four years, she graduated cum laude with, you guessed it, a teaching degree. And somewhere along the way, perhaps reading to her sons or reading great Newbery winners with her students, she discovered what shed been missing: reading was fun. Now she reads most every day. She also writes stories and articles for children and teens.

Beverly lives in the country with her husband, two cats, and a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout or just to peek in the door. Besides writing, she plays the piano, searches for her ancestors, and teaches a womens Sunday school class. She also has the most beautiful grandchildren in the world.


Congratulations on yet another book release, Beverly! How do you keep yourself so productive?

Thank you, Mayra. It is fun to see a new book, after so many months of writing and editing, finally in the hands of readers. As for being productive, I think as an older writer, realizing Im in those supposedly golden years motivates me to stay busy. Each hour of every day is precious to me. I hate to waste time. Maybe my years as a teacher helps too, since Im used to a schedule. Even though I retired years ago, I still write out my plans for each day, not that I always stick to them, but I try. Also, my sons are grown and away, leaving me time for myself, which is rare when you have children at home. I do not see how writers with young kids and even teens manage to write.

I write at least two hours every morning except Saturday, which is catch up day, and Sunday, church day. Sometimes, my words are not worth keeping. Other times, they flow onto the screen and a story forms.

What was your inspiration for Life on Hold? Sounds like a compelling mystery.

One day, I read an article in the local newspaper about a young couple that had a baby while they were still in high school. The girls parents made her give the child away. The teens eventually went their separate ways, married others, and had other children. Years later, a chance conversation between the boy or girl (I forget which one) and a friend mentioned an 18-year-old boy they knew that had been adopted when a baby. The article went on to tell how the former boyfriend and girlfriend, who no longer were married to their spouses, found each other again and decided to search for the son theyd given up. And, you guessed it, the teen mentioned was their son. They went on to have a wonderful relationship with him. I love stories with happy endings. I also imagine this story happens quite often.

Could you share with us what your process was like during the creation of this novel?

Most of the time, my stories start from something I read about, or sometimes a little voice speaks to me, or an event begs to be told. With Life on Hold, I basically started with the plot of a teen discovering her father really was her stepfather. At first, I wasnt sure how the story would end or even how wed get there. The characters carried me along, occasionally as confused as I was; other times knowing exactly where they were going. Im pretty stubborn when it comes to my writing and try to write a little every day, as I mentioned earlier. My schedule is flexible, but mornings are my best writing time. It took me a bit over two years to write the story, including many revisions and then more edits with my great editor. Yes, Im slow, but like the turtle I eventually reach my destination.

Did you hit any walls while writing the book? If yes, what did you do to overcome them?

Not walls exactly, but the final version had many changes from the original as I got to know the characters better. I keep each draft on the chance an earlier edition might have a scene Id want to add back in. When a scene wasnt working, I rewrote it in different ways to see what worked best. Many times the first thought was the best.

Did you celebrate when you typed The End?

I didnt do anything special, but the words The End are two of my favorite words. They give me a sense of accomplishment, because many times in a story, Ill wonder if it will ever end or if I should scrap the whole thing.  

What do you want readers to get out of this book?

Id like for children/teens who are adopted or those that are step children to realize that bringing a child into the world does not make a man a father. (Or a mother, a mother) Holding, rocking, and whispering gentle words to a child when shes sick make a father. Attending her programs at school, helping her with spelling, taking her to the movies make a father. A father and mother show their love by actions: love, discipline when necessary, and always being there when the child has a crisis, whether big or small.

What do you enjoy most about being a childrens book author?

The most exciting thing about writing for children to me is when a child or teen says he/she likes my books. What greater reward can an author wish for?

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Youve heard it before, but its true. Hang in there. Never give up. I have enough No thank you letters to paper my whole writing room, but some of them also contain a word of encouragement. Cling to those comments. Use them to improve your story. Keep writing. Learn more. Attend conferences, Online ones if you cant get to live ones. Keep writing. Yes, Im repeating myself, but if you stop writing when times are tough, youll never be published. If youre persistent, one day, youll succeed. Hint: Dont expect to get rich, unless you write a blockbuster. Enjoy the writing. For me, the finished story is the reward.

Whats on the horizon? 

My chapter book, Kate, Little Angel Sometimes (title will be changed) is scheduled for a May/June 2013 release from 4 RV Publishing. January 2013 is the release date of my Tween paranormal A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, MuseItUp Publishing. My orphan train story, Scattered to the Winds, is under contract with Twilight Times, and Guardian Angel has Weird Noises in the Night, no dates set yet.

Is there anything else youd like to share with my readers?

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help you in some way. Visit me on my blogs. I love comments. If you read my books, please let me know what you think.

Thank you, Beverly!

Thank you, Mayra. It’s been my pleasure, sharing my work with everyone.

Find Life on Hold on Amazon

3 Comments on Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of LIFE ON HOLD, last added: 10/26/2012
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7. A Letter from a Scared Actress.

posted by Neil
A few years ago, a message came in to this website on the FAQ line from a young actress from Georgia (the one from the former USSR, not the State with Atlanta in it) called Anna Gurji. She sent a link to her webpage and to films she had made in Georgia, and told me she was a fan, and if she ever came to the US, she would want to be in something of mine.



She made it to the US, and although she has never been in something of mine, she read the female lead (with Wil Wheaton as the male lead) in the first read-through of Michael Reaves' film BLOOD KISS. I was not there as a writer. I was there because I will actually act in it, playing a Hollywood director with a dark secret. So I've acted with Anna and spent time with her. She's a good sort.

She wrote to me the other day, worried.

She said,


Something very bad happened. I desperately need everyone's help right now.

I don't know how to start writing this letter. It's crazy, the world is.. life.. I'm so shattered right now, I don't know.. I feel very dead inside. 

Last summer I auditioned for an indie low budget feature movie and I landed a supporting role. The movie was about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it for they thought that the comet had some magical powers.

A year later, the movie was dubbed (without the actors' permission), the lines were changed drastically and the movie was morphed into an Anti-Islam film. Even the names of the characters were changed. And the character I had scenes with GEORGE became MUHAMMAD. 

I really need your advice right now? How can I have my voice shown to the world so that I can tell them the real story.

All these media people that keep calling me are using my real story and then chopping or manipulating the interview the way they want to. 

I don't know what to do. It's very scary, Neil.



I told her to write her story for me, to say what she wanted, and I would put it up here for her, as she wrote it, to get her message to the world. The best weapon against lies is the truth, after all.

So here's what Anna knows about the truth:



Everyone who wishes to find out the truth about the movie now known as the Innocence of Muslims, please read the letter below. I, Anna Gurji, as one of the supporting actresses in the film will share with you what really happened.

A year ago, in the summer of 2011, I submitted my materials to various projects on the Explore Talent web-site. I received a call from the casting director of the movie “Desert Warrior”, and my audition date was scheduled. I auditioned for the role of Hilary. Several days later, I was informed that I got a callback. I did the callback. Several days later, I was informed that I landed the role of Hilary in the movie called “Desert Warrior”.

The filming of the movie was done in August of 2011. We were filming the movie in a studio warehouse with a green screen in Duarte, CA. The project was a low budget, independent feature movie.

The filming of the movie was beginning soon after the day I was told I got a role. The script was not sent to me. When I got to the set, I was merely provided with the scenes my character was in.

I did not consider this to be an unusual thing, seeing as I have had an experience with something like this before. I did a movie once where the script was written in a foreign language and only my parts were translated into English and accordingly, I was provided with my scenes only. Having experienced that, I thought the same thing was happening with “Desert Warrior”. Aware of the fact that the supposed producer and the script-writer of the movie (known as Sam Bassil) was a foreigner (thanks to his accent), I thought that the original script was written in his native tongue and that not all scenes were translated into English. Also, the filming dates of the movie had to be rescheduled last minute to fit my schedule (I had other films to do right after the “Desert Warrior” outside CA). Because of this rushed rearrangements, I thought that the production first forgot and then did not consider it necessary to send me the script, and again - I did not find this unusual, since I knew what role I had, I knew about my character and I knew about the story of the film.

My character Hilary was a young girl who is sold (against her own free will) by her parents to a tribe leader known as GEORGE. She is one of his (most likely, the youngest) brides in the movie.

The film was about a comet falling into a desert and different tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it for they deemed that the comet possessed some supernatural powers.

The movie that we were doing in Duarte was called “Desert Warrior” and it was a fictional adventure drama. The character GEORGE was a leader of one of those tribes fighting for the comet.

There was no mention EVER by anyone of MUHAMMAD and no mention of religion during the entire time I was on the set. I am hundred percent certain nobody in the cast and nobody in the US artistic side of the crew knew what was really planned for this “Desert Warrior”.

The atmosphere at the set was as friendly as possible. We all knew that we were doing an adventure drama for a very low budget financing. The director Alan Roberts even had plans that with this low budget product he would be able to get some more money to make a good quality version (by shooting it in the real desert and having better product in every category) of the “Desert Warrior”.

I had interactions with the man known as Sam Bassil on the set. He was very amiable, respectful, soft-spoken, always making sure that the filming was running smoothly and everyone was satisfied. He even told me the premiere of the movie was going to happen sometime soon and I would get a good amount of tickets to invite my friends and family.

I have never been informed about the premiere after that (if it ever happened) and have not seen the final product (if there is any, except for the short one that is uploaded online).

People ask what’s my reaction after seeing that.

Shock.

Two hours after I found out everything that had happened I gave Inside Edition an interview, the duration of which I could not stop crying.

I feel shattered.

People who were tricked into believing that we were making an adventure drama about a comet falling into a desert did nothing but take part in a low budget indie feature film called the “Desert Warrior” that WAS about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it.

It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all. It’s painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.

Like I explained to Inside Edition, I feel awful.. I did not do anything but I feel awful.

I feel awful that a human being is capable of such evil. I feel awful about the lies, about the injustice, about the cruelty, about the violence, about the death of innocent people, about the pain of offended people, about the false accusations.

I don’t know what else to do but speak the truth. I will not go into hiding (since I have nothing to hide), because if we don’t speak the truth, there is no world worth living for.

I grew up in Georgia Republic (ex-Soviet Union), I have witnessed the strikes, protests, demonstrations, injustice, cruelty, violence in my life. I was there during the war between Russia and Georgia, sleeping in outdoor clothes and packed backpacks waiting to be bombed. And I left my country, knowing that there was no future for a film actress there (seeing as the film industry is still in the process of recovery after the collapse of the Soviet Union).

Why did I want to pursue acting? I had a role in a short film when I was thirteen. There was a scene in the movie, where my beggar character and my character’s blind father were thrown off the bridge by police officers. During the filming of the scene, I was attacked by a huge lump in my throat, witnessing what the police were doing to my blind father. I wanted to cry, but knowing that my blind father would worry about me if he heard me cry, I swallowed the lump and stayed strong and did my best to defend him against the injustice. Experiencing the magic of acting (losing yourself into the character) was what had me fall in love with the craft. After a long journey and fighting to somehow get to the States, I managed to come here with my mother.

It’s so difficult for an actor (especially the one from a foreign country) to begin a career. People think that once you are in the States, you have all the doors opened before you. It’s not so. It’s very difficult to join the union, to get an agent, to lose your accent and to land roles if you don’t have connections. For four years I have been struggling to slowly move ahead and not give up. A year ago, when I got the supporting role in this indie feature film “Desert Warrior”, I was so excited.

I don’t understand why was this happened to me, when all I wanted to do was pursue my acting career.

I have to admit I wanted to pursue my acting career because I loved the process of transformation into a different character – a selfish reason.

A few months ago, I just finished writing a script with my father about world peace, which helped me understand something – forgive and care for your enemy. Then, I understood that there is a bigger reason for acting. When we act, we help people see all different characters that exist. When people see about all these different characters, they start to understand them. When they understand all these different characters, they come close to accepting them. When they come close to accepting them, they come close to being united. And when they come close to being united, they come close to loving and helping each other.

I was thinking about something a week ago. We are like cells in the body of Earth. Why won’t we work together and support each other instead of killing and destroying each other. If cells kill each other, eventually the body will die. By always speaking the truth and supporting the world peace, I hope we will be able to save the Earth from dying.. someday. 

Growing up in a family that was extremely open-minded and respectful to all the differences in the world (all the religions) and growing up peacefully with people with so many different religions around me, it is devastating for me to have my face put into something that is completely opposite of what I believe in.

I want to send my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. Everything happens for a reason, they say. I believe this is a trap of evil to separate us from our humanity. We must stray strong and not forget that violence has not been able to get us anywhere spiritually and has not been able to make the world a better place. Understanding and love will.


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8. Fact, Fiction, Life

My latest Strange Horizons column is about John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's book The Lifespan of a Fact, which has been provoking a lot of discussion.

My favorite of the responses to the book is Ander Monson's "The Skeptical Gaze", because not only has Monson read Lifespan with some care (which cannot be said for many of the people punditing about it), but he's also done some wonderful work himself to explore the possibilities and boundaries of fact and fiction (I wrote about his excellent book Vanishing Point a couple years ago for Strange Horizons). (Pardon another parenthetical, but I also want to add that comparisons between Mike Daisy and John D'Agata are superficial and fundamentally wrongheaded, as Josh Voorhees pointed out at Slate. Daisy hid his lying and worked hard to do so, D'Agata has put his fictionalizing front and center and let the world respond. I wrote the column before the Daisy scandal broke, however.)

Anyway, my own take on The Lifespan of a Fact was written about a month ago, but for scheduling reasons couldn't be published till now, so it feels a little bit superfluous to the conversation. I'm glad it's out there nonetheless, because I don't think mine is quite the same perspective as many of the others.

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9. A Contribution to VanderMeer Studies

My previous post about The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction noted that it is in beta-text mode and so quite obviously incomplete. Among the lacks are entries on either Jeff or Ann VanderMeer. I am not a contributor to the encyclopedia nor am I in any way affiliated with it, but I do have a great interest in all things VanderMeer.

Earlier this year, I wrote a biography of Jeff for Fogcon, where he and Ann were honored guests. (Eric Schaller wrote the biography of Ann, which I hope he will allow me to reprint here, but he's not returning my calls or email at the moment, probably because I suggested that for Halloween he should dress his dog as a character from Twilight.)

I hope the information provided below will prove useful to the encyclopedists and any future scholars. My only goal in life is to be helpful. Jeff VanderMeer will, I expect, deny the accuracy of some of it, but I believe such denials only confirm the truths I am here able to provide to the world...



THE HOEGBOTTON GUIDE TO THE (MOSTLY EARLY) HISTORY OF JEFF VANDERMEER

compiled from notes found in the files of Orem Hoegbotton, including scrawls attributed to Duncan Shriek

edited and embellished by Matthew Cheney


At the tail end of America's revolutionary years, Jeff VanderMeer was born in Bellfonte, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Centre County and part of the State College, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area. His birth seems to have caused some consternation at high levels of the U.S. government, but all the files have been classified until 2068; we do know, though, that his parents soon joined the Peace Corps and brought the child with them to the Fiji Islands. After their work there was completed, they returned to the U.S. via a circuitous route that allowed the impressionable young man to encounter Asia, Africa, Europe, Antarctica, and Long Island — experiences that would deeply influence his later fiction.

By late adolescence, VanderMeer was living in Florida, primarily on a houseboat off the coast of St. Petersburg, the fourth-largest city in the state and the second largest city in the Tampa Bay area. VanderMeer's actual activities during this time are unknown, though he has variously claimed that he was working as a merchant of dried squid, an icthyologist, and a decoy for the Witness Protection Program. Whatever he was doing, we know that he was writing, because it wasn't long before his first book, a monograph on herpetology titled The Book of Frog, was

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10. rgz Shout Out: You Go, Demi Lovato!

Last month, we posted about Demi Lovato's grateful and encouraging statements as she thanked her fans for supporting her through her recovery. Then we watched her appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she was very candid about her struggle with eating disorders and with cutting.

Sometimes, the truth can be the hardest thing to admit - but it's the most important. If you find yourself in an unhealthy situtation, don't be afraid to reach out for help. The people who truly love you will be there for you, no matter what, and they can help out. If you are hurting in any way, reach out to someone you trust and take the first step towards a brighter tomorrow.

If you don't see the video below, click here to watch it on YouTube.

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11. The Revelator is Now Revealed!



Eric Schaller and I have been working on creating an online version of a magazine some of our ancestors  were involved with in 1876, and after a long period of work, with the brilliant and invaluable help of Luís Rodrigues, THE REVELATOR can now be revealed.

In it you will find two new short stories, "Gaslight" by Jeffrey Ford and "Nick Kaufmann, Last of the Red-Hot Superwhores" by Nick Mamatas; an essay about the relationship between Salem, Massachusetts and witches by Robin DeRosa, poetry by Lillian Aujo and Beverly Nambozo, an interview with and comix by Edward Bolman, an account of The Spleen Brothers by Brian Francis Slattery, paintings by Michaela D'Angelo, and an eyewitness account of the James/Younger gang's raid on the bank in Northfield, Minnesota -- an account unlike any others, and till now lost in the archives of The Revelator!

A theme of twins, doubles, and doppelgangers runs lightly through this issue of the magazine. It's present in the fiction, there's the idea of historical doubling in Robin's essay on Salem, etc. We got creative with the doubling in the poetry department -- I knew Beverly had a lot of poet friends, and so we asked her to be the commissioning editor for the second poem, and she brought Lillian to us. Never having met Lillian in real life, I don't know if she's Beverly's doppelganger, but I do know we're thrilled to be able to publish the work of both. And of everybody else who was brave enough to want to join the old, weird tradition of The Revelator.

There will probably be future or past issues. Please note though that because of limited resources, we are not open to unsolicited submissions. We would love to get to that point eventually, but right now we just don't have the ability to read through a lot of unsolicited work.

3 Comments on The Revelator is Now Revealed!, last added: 9/23/2011
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12. Truth

Hello, friends, hope you had a creative week. I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately. Here is a thing I've learned -- if I am brave and write down the things that I'm afraid to write down, then I find that my writing stretches beyond me. Locked doors open inside me as I let the deep things I think live on the page. I find this whole bravery thing snowballs into my work. My vision clears. Writing what I think helps me. I see what is right and true. And if anything is wrong with what I am thinking that comes out to. Putting my thoughts on the page helps me get at heart of things.

I've also found all this honesty spills into my work. I am more willing to take risks. I don't feel the weight of censors or critics, and I get to the business of shaping my stories the way they want to be shaped. I'm able to make my way into the deepest water of understanding. Emily Dickinson wrote a little poem that sticks with me. "I never saw the moor. I never saw the sea. Yet know I how the heather looks and and what a wave must be. I never visited God, nor visited in heaven, but sure am I of the spot as if the chart were given." Her assurance of things unseen gives me boldness. Her truth changes me. I hope you are getting the sense of the absolute power of writing what needs to be written.

So this week, write down your secret, write down that thought you don't write down because you know it will offend others, write down your anger, your grief, write down something hidden. See what happens when you open wide the door of honesty. I'm just saying, try it. Seize the day. See you next week.

My doodle this week is a little collage. I call it "Sunrise".



The highest compact we can make with our fellow is - "Let there be truth between us two forevermore." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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13. Ypulse Essentials: Disney Hypes 'Sorcerer,' Tommy Targets Twentysomethings, Teen Abortion on TV

Unconventional advertising for 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' (To promote this week's opening of the adventure film, Disney rolls out an interactive window display at the 34th street Macy's, as well as purchased ad space on Twitter) (Adweek) (AdAge, reg.... Read the rest of this post

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14. Truth in Journalism: A Video

A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending BEA2010 (no not the BEA happening this week) which was part of the 2010NAB conference.  I was there to celebrate the launch of the BBC College of Journalism Website (COJO) a collaboration between OUP and the BBC.  The site allows citizens outside of the UK access to the online learning and development materials created for BBC journalists.  It is a vast resource filled to the brim with videos, audio clips, discussion pages, interactive modules and text pages covering every aspect of TV, radio, and online journalism.  At the conference I had a chance to talk with Kevin Marsh, the Executive Editor of COJO, and I will be sharing clips from our conversation for the next few weeks.  To start us off I have posted a clip which emphasizes the value of truth in journalism.  Read Kevin’s blog here.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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15. Ypulse Essentials: 'Glee' Returns, Inside Forever 21, 'The New Black'

'Glee' returns (and critics are still singing its praises. Hurrah. Also MTV shows Green Day dude-sical "American Idiot" promotional love, boosting the show's profile before its Broadway debut. MTV launches jerseyshorecasting.com, (a site dedicated... Read the rest of this post

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16. Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson

I must admit some surprise that the best book I've read about judgement, taste, and aesthetics is a book about Céline Dion. Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste is not only thoughtful and well-informed, it is also compelling in every sense of the word. (It's part of the ever-surprising and wonderfully odd 33 1/3 series from Continuum Books.)

I don't know where I first heard about Wilson's book -- probably via Bookforum -- but it's gotten plenty of press, including a mention by James Franco at the Oscars and an interview of Wilson by Stephen Colbert. The concept of the book is seductive: Wilson, a Canadian music critic and avowed Céline-hater, spends a year trying to figure out why she is so popular and what his hatred of her says about himself. I kept away from the book for a little while because I thought it couldn't possibly live up to its premise, and that in all likelihood it was more stunt than analysis. Nonetheless, the premise kept attracting me, because I am fascinated by the concept of taste and I, too, find Dion's music to be the sonic equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

What makes Wilson's approach so effective and insightful is that it avoids the fanboy defensiveness marring everything from internet discussions to scholarly studies such as Peter Swirski's From Lowbrow to Nobrow. Wilson isn't grinding axes or settling scores; he's more interested in exploration than proclamation, more inclined toward maps than manifestos. The result is one of the few books I know that is as likely to expand its readers' view of the world as it is to provide the choir with an appealing sermon.

By focusing on Céline Dion, Wilson is able to discuss a wide range of topics: the details of Dion's career, of course, but also the history of popular music, the globalization of certain styles and tastes, the power of local cultures, the role of class and aspiration in forming and policing personal taste, the demonization of sentimentality and excess, the promotion of irony and transgression, etc. Wilson also provides a good, basic overview of histories and traditions of aesthetic philosophy, showing that even the most eminent thinkers and critics tend to do little more than construct elaborate sleight-of-hand routines. Because his goal is not to debunk so much as it is to explore, Wilson is able to use the best of what he encounters -- most fruitfully in his clear-eyed application of ideas from Pierre Bourdieu's 3 Comments on Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson, last added: 12/9/2009

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17. Is a story just a story?

Recently, former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, addressed the W&L Journalism Ethics Institute for its 48th anniversary. This prompted a debate around the water cooler and on blogs and made its way to discussions on news programs. For, if you remember, Blair resigned from the New York Times in 2003 following an investigation that found he had plagiarized and fabricated a lot of the stories he had written for the paper. Some of his reporting was on the Iraq war and the Beltway sniper attacks. It was understandable that people were surprised that Blair would be addressing the Journalism Ethics Institute because we trust reporters to tell us the truth. We don’t expect them to fabricate or edit stories to make them more entertaining, as Blair did.

What about memoir authors who fabricate stories? James Frey and the debacle involving A Million Little Pieces comes to mind. Frey received a lot of attention from his book when it was published--Oprah praised him, A Million Little Pieces was in a million little bookstores, everyone talked highly of this new talented writer. But upon investigation, Frey’s story was proven to be inaccurate in parts, and some readers who had once been fans of the memoir wanted their money back.

Some authors don’t really care about the difference between fiction and nonfiction. A story might just be a story. But is it unfair to truthful memoir writers when an author, such as James Frey, fabricates tales to sell books? Does it prove that Frey is a talented writer that we believed his tales? Or is it infuriating to have loved a book as a memoir and find parts of it to be complete fiction?

How much tweaking should be allowed in memoirs to make them entertaining these days, and do you care about the difference between fiction and nonfiction storytelling?


-Rachel

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18. My Fiction is Stranger than Truth

I am so tired of people saying truth is stranger than fiction. First of all I’ve read some pretty strange fiction. Try reading a little Terry Prachett or Kurt Vonnegut or Neil Gaiman etc… and then tell me truth is stranger than fiction.

But, hey, I’m a reasonable man. Let’s say that it is sometimes true that truth is stranger than fiction. I will be the first to admit and even celebrate the capacity of humans to do absurdly foolish things. Absurdly brave sometimes, absurdly everything really. I will say this: fiction is restrained by the need for believability; reality has no such constraints.

My world, the one I’m creating, has to have certain rules. If you’re writing realistic fiction those rules will generally be resistant to absurd coincidences. Naturally, absurd coincidences happen all the time in the real world, but we accept these after a bit of head shaking. If they happen in fiction we cry, “foul” and slam the book shut. Is this fair? No, I say. A thousand times no. But it’s true that we will not tolerate in our fiction what we will tolerate in our real lives or in our non-fiction. So, it seems, we hold our fiction to a higher standard of believability than our non-fiction. Go figure.

I get around this “fiction cannot be as strange as truth” problem by writing absurd fiction. I have little green men who actually do invade Earth. What are you going to do with that? If your world, the one you create, is fantastical you can of course be as strange as you want. In other words, the truth has nothing on me. In my world FICTION IS STRANGER THAN TRUTH.

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19. A Hobbit House

OK, I want this house. Going out to measure the back yard now.

3 Comments on A Hobbit House, last added: 3/20/2007
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20. Awoke From Troubled Dreams, Found Self Changed Into a Monstrous Memoir

Franz Kafka's editor:

The story is true. Kafka simply wrote a completely verifiable, journalistic account of a neighbor by the name of Gregor Samsa who, because of some bizarre medical condition, turned into a ‘monstrous vermin.’ Kafka assured us that he’d made the whole thing up. We now know that to be completely false.
I wonder if Penguin will offer me a refund for the new Michael Hofmann translation of the stories that I bought a few days ago?

Meanwhile, some of my super-secret, oh-so-influential, don't-you-wish-you-were-as-connected-as-I-am-nah-nah-nah-nah sources within the publishing industry tell me that Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, will soon be revealed to be not a memoir of a family's amusing exploits down digestive tracts (as we've all thought for years), but rather a microeconomic study of the effects of household income as a determinant of natural gas consumption. Keep your eyes out for further revelations!

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21. Ypulse Essentials: Kids Say Funny Things About COPPA, The 'Truth' Works, Hertz Offers Students Rides

Webosaurs (the latest virtual world for tweens from Reel FX Entertainment. Plus COPPA Kids, a really funny site with quotes from kids who have been age blocked - thanks Andrea! And more news from the kids online world) (via Izzy Neis) (COPPA Kids... Read the rest of this post

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22. Used to be is the reason …


There used to be a middle class, strong and upwardly mobile, many house holds only needed one bread winner and divisions between the classes were blurred most times.
This system did many things good for our nation, it gave the poorest of our people a thought that there was a way forward and out of their poverty by degrees. The fact that they may not be instantly rich was tempered by the fact the a comfortable life was attainable and they didn’t have to be a Basketball star or drug dealer ( these days one in the same some times) to get out of the slums and grip of poverty. With no middle class the view from the bottom seems imposable unless you go for the only channels left for you to advance in with no middle resting place. Greed will, it seems , always be with us and lead to gang mentality among the rich as well as the poor if there is no buffer. Them or us leads to gangs on one side and hired mercenaries on the other for protection, neither of which is a healthy way to live, just ask them in Iraq or Afghanistan, Mexico, you name the country.
With no middle class there becomes a giant pool of potential soldiers with no other options and a dangerous environment.
Creating and maintaining a large and stable middle class is the best way to stabilize societies in my view. Giving them enough wealth so that one person in the partnership can physically stay with the children and raise them in communities where all the parents have a say and control of their lives and know that values are taught not from the school where you send them but at home with a parent there to provide support and strength when children go astray. A society where it doesn’t matter if God is taught in school because he is taught at home by parents who have the time to watch their children and instill the values they want their children to have. Schools need more wood shops, home economics classes, metal shops , all the classes that teach ways to work. They need art and athletics as well to keep their students well rounded and give more opportunities for them to find things that they like and do well in that are constructive.
Government needs to stop the well-fair state mentality and start the work ethics again. Stop regulating safety and make it the responsibility of the people as individuals. We may have some stupid mistakes made and innocent people hurt now and then but we will not have to have a camera on every corner or prisons overflowing with poor that had no place to advance. Government will naturally shrink with no need to legislate rules when the people are given adequate room to live lives that have meaning and attainable realistic goals.
Just my thoughts.
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