Electric Press - literary insights magazine. May 2019 edition.

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Page 5 Editors word Page 6 Waterstones. Insight. Page 8 Alternatives. Optional formats. Page 12 Shannon Hale. Regarding gender. Page 16 Mayfly Recitals Readers 0ffer. Page 18 Surprise Party. A short story by Noreen Lace. Page 28 The Booker Foundation. Main Report. Page 31 Where the Poet Roams A poem by Noreen Lace Page 32 The Bright Side of Darkness. A book review by Ann Harrison Barnes. Page 34 Reading to your Children. Suggestions. Page 39 A Public Bar in Thames. A poem by Noreen Lace. Page 40 JD Salinger. An article by Matt Salinger. Page43 Norns Triad Publishing, An Introduction. Page 46 Mur Lafferty. An Interview with Ann Harrison Barnes. Page 48 An article by Bob Van Laerhoven. Page 54 The Worlds Largest Bookstores. Insight. Page 58 Read a book and live longer. Insight. Page 60 What makes a book a good book. Discussion. Page 64 Overrated Classics. Debate. Page 70 On Reading and Books. A featured article regarding Arthur Schopenhauer Page 76 From our Front Cover. Informative entertainment. Page 78 Creative Depression. An article by Maemuna Sadaf Page 88 Write what you know. An article by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra Page 92 Electric Press asks a question. Page 94 Copyright by Paul J. Heald . A Report

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The last remnants of winter have faded away, the once green shoots are now in starting to bloom, bright yellow daffodils and pink dicentra herald the coming of summer. Birds sing, the sky is an azure blue; well, mostly. It is a time of hope and dreams, of birth and of renewal. Of looking forward. It is a time of change. It is also time to fling the windows wide open, dispersing the stuffiness, letting in the fresh air. It is a time to spring cleaning the home and the mind. This year, why not spring clean and re-fresh your bookshelves and reading material too. Cast out those too long forgotten, never to be read freebie eBooks. The ones you promise you will read one day, soonish, maybe… like… never. It is time to find new, exciting and refreshing books and authors. It is time to find your next great read. I seriously suggest looking at Electric Eclectic books. They are novelettes, shorter books

designed as an introductory read, so you can find the author(s) you like before buying their novels or collections. Visit the Electric Eclectic website or download the free app. It really is that simple.

As you browse and read through this edition of Electric Press, you will find many links to the books and sites featured. A simple 'click' and you will be whisked painlessly along the SuperInterWeb highway to your destination, in no time at all. Don't be shy either, subscribe to Electric Press and each quarter you will be endowed with a

wealth of literary knowledge and wonderful entertainment. Follow our WordPress to be kept up to date with many things bookish… https:// electricpressmagazine.wordpress.com Please contact us, leave your comments and suggestions for articles and features you would like



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Electric Press


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TheElectricpress@mail.com we would love to hear from you and your comments and replies to our content. We read and respond to all the mail we receive. Enjoy this, the May 2019 edition of Electric Press. Regards, Paul. Editor in Chief


began in 1982 under the aegis

of its founder, Tim Waterstone. Over the decades which have followed, Waterstones have grown to become an icon of the British cultural landscape, employing over 3000 booksellers across over 280 bookshops. Waterstones is the last surviving national bookshop chain, now under the helmsman ship of Managing Director James Daunt. They are proud to have fought off the perceived threat of e-readers and online competition to begin a programme of active expansion. Recent years have seen new stores open around the country and existing sites move or upgraded. With recent openings including Reigate, Clifton and moves to more attractive locations for our shops in Edinburgh and Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Waterstones plans continue to be ambitious. Unusually for a national retailer their branch managers enjoy a high degree of individual autonomy, running their shops to best please the local customers, with only the lightest of central suggested direction. "We take enormous pleasure in championing simply good, but sometimes relatively overlooked books, a principle which began most famously with John Williams’ Stoner, a quiet, intense novel we turned into a bestseller forty years after its original publication". Working closely with our bookshops are our efforts online, where Waterstones.com is working to bring the very essence of Waterstones to every home and smartphone in Britain. With hugely popular endeavours such as a regular reading update, Waterstones Weekly, an ever-increasing offering of exclusive reader offers and signed editions, Waterstones.com is the perfect online companion to their High Street bookshops.

Click & Collect, the service that links the two, has grown in tandem with their success, allowing customers to experience the best of both worlds. Many Waterstone stores include their own coffee shop, a vast range of fiction, nonfiction and academic books, an array of gifts, booksellers who genuinely love what they sell, and the traditional welcome and ambiance of Waterstones.

Waterstones has been working with

BookTrust since 2013 to help make sure nobody misses out on the life-changing benefits reading can bring. As a founding partner of BookTrust’s Children's Reading Fund campaign, their shops and booksellers are involved in a number of fundraising and awareness raising initiatives. Since the partnership began, they have raised well over £200,000 to support BookTrust’s programmes, including the

Letterbox Club to help improve the educational outlook for children in care. Waterstones continue to work closely with BookTrust on everything from fundraising to the Waterstones Children’s Laureate, highlighting the importance of reading for pleasure and helping transform lives by getting children and families reading. Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust says: “We know children who enjoy reading have better life outcomes, in fact, reading enjoyment is more of an indicator of life chances than socio-economic background. Children who love reading do better at school, are more confident and are more emotionally resilient. BookTrust works with health visitors, libraries, schools and early years settings to ensure every child has access to stories. Thanks to the support of Waterstones and their customers we can continue our vital work bringing books, advice and intensive support to children and families who need us most. Thank you, Waterstones.”

Many people who find an opportunity to read a challenge are now relying on audiobooks as a convenient alternative. It can be easier to listen to the latest bestseller while commuting or undertaking household chores. But is listening to an audio book anywhere as satisfying as reading a printed one? “I was a fan of audiobooks, but I always viewed them as cheating,” says Beth Rogowsky, an associate professor of education at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. For a 2016 study, Rogowsky put her assumptions to the test. One group in her study listened to sections of Unbroken, a nonfiction book about World War II by Laura Hillenbrand, while a second group read the same parts on an e-reader. Rogowsky included a third group who read and listened to both versions at the same time. After completing the book, each participant took a quiz designed to measure how well they absorbed the material. “We found no significant differences in comprehension between reading, listening, or reading and listening simultaneously,” Rogowsky says. Score one for audiobooks? Maybe. But Rogowsky’s study used e-readers rather than traditional print books, and there is growing evidence reading from a screen reduces learning and comprehension compared to reading from printed text. It is possible if this study pitted traditional books against audiobooks, old-school reading would have shown a significant increase of comprehension. Why should printed books be better than screen-based reading? It is reported it has something to do with ones inability to gauge where you are in an electronic book. “As you’re reading a narrative, the sequence of events is important, and knowing where you are in a book helps you build that arc of narrative,” says Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of Raising Kids Who Read.

While e-readers try to replicate this by giving information of the percentage of the book read, or left to read, this does not have the same narrative-orienting effect as reading from a traditional paper and print based book.

Printed text is anchored to a specific location on a page, this help people remember better than screen-based text, according to research on the spatial attributes of traditional printed media. This is relevant to the audiobook vs. book debate because, like digital screens, audiobooks deny users the spatial cues used while reading from printed text. The self-directed rhythms associated with reading also differentiate books from audiobooks. “About 10 to 15% of eye movements during reading are actually regressive, meaning the eyes are going back and re-checking,” Willingham explains. “This happens very quickly, it’s sort of seamlessly stitched into the process of reading a sentence.” He says, this reading quirk almost certainly bolsters comprehension. It may be roughly comparable to a listener asking for a speaker to “hold on” or repeat something. “Even as you’re asking, you’re going over in your mind’s ear what the speaker just said,” he says. Theoretically, you can pause or skip back when listening to an audio file. But it is a more difficult process that simple and naturally moving ones eyes. Another consideration is when we are listening to a text our minds frequently, and more often wander. Seconds, or minutes, can pass before we snap out of these little mental sojourns and refocus our attention on the narrative, says David Daniel, a professor of psychology at James Madison University and a member of a National Academy of Sciences project aimed at understanding how people learn. "If you are reading the written word, it is easy to go back and to the point at which you zoned out. It is not so easy if you are listening to a recording", Daniel says. If you are grappling with a complicated text, the ability to quickly backtrack and re-examine material aids comprehension and this is much easier to do while reading than when listening. “Turning the page of a book also gives you a slight break,” he says. "This brief pause may create space for your brain to store or savour the information you are absorbing". Daniel co-authored a 2010 study which found students who listened to a podcast lesson performed worse on a comprehension quiz than students who read the same lesson on paper. “And the podcast group did a lot worse, not a little worse,” he says. Compared to the readers, the listeners scored an average of 28% lower on the quiz, about the difference between an A or a D grade.

Interestingly, at the start of the experiment, most the students wanted to be in the podcast group. “But before I gave them the quiz, I asked them again which group they would rather be in? Most of them changed their minds, wanting to be part of reading group,” Daniel says. “They knew they hadn’t learned as much themselves.” He says it is possible, with practice, the listeners might be able to make up ground on the readers. “We get good at what we do and you could become a better listener if you trained yourself to listen more critically,” he says. (The same could be true of screen-based reading; some research suggest people who practice 'screen learning' get better at it.) However, there may be some 'structural hurdles' that impede learning from audio material, Daniels says. For one thing, you cannot underline or highlight something you hear. And many of the 'This is important' cues which are prominent in text books, things like bold type words or boxed bits of critical information, cannot be easily emphasized with audio-based media. Audiobooks do have some strengths. Human beings have been sharing information orally for tens of thousands of years, Willingham says, while the printed word is a more recent invention. “When we’re reading, we’re using parts of the brain which evolved for other purposes and we are MacGyvering them, so they can be applied to the cognitive task of reading,” he explains. Listeners, on the other hand, can derive a lot of information from a speaker’s inflections or intonations. Sarcasm is much more easily communicated via audio than printed text. People who hear Shakespeare spoken aloud tend to glean a lot of meaning from the actor’s delivery. However, a final factor may tip the comprehension and retention scales firmly in favour of reading print. This is the issue of multitasking. “If you’re trying to learn while doing two things, you’re not going to learn as well,” Willingham says. Even activities you can more or less perform on autopilot, stuff like driving or doing the dishes, takes enough of your attention to impede learning. “I listen to audiobooks all the time while I’m driving, but I would not try to listen to anything important to my work,” he says. All that said, if you are reading or listening for leisure, not for work or study, the differences between audiobooks and print books are probably 'small potatoes', he adds. “I think there’s enormous overlap in comprehension of an audio text compared to comprehension of a print text.”

This is the cover of Febbre

del Cuore,

the Italian translation of Bob Van Laerhoven’s

short story collection Heart Fever, a finalist in the category “short story collections” of the American Silver Falchion Award 2018.

Febbre del Cuore, translated by Paolo Santini, will be published in Italy in March 2019. Febbre del Cuore is Van Laehoven’s second collection of short stories in Italian. The first was Pericolose Ossessioni, also translated by Paolo Santini.


I, Shannon


am in a book store to

promote the latest instalment in the chapter book series “The Princess in Black”. A woman asks, “So when are you going to write a series like this for boys?” I say, “These books are for boys and girls. For anyone who likes to read about a monsterbattling hero.” The woman looks sceptical. She is certain no boy would be caught dead reading a book about a girl, let alone a princess. Then a school librarian introduces me before I give an assembly. “Girls, you’re in for a real treat. You will love Shannon Hale’s books. Boys, I expect you to behave anyway.” At a book signing, a mother looks sadly at my books. “I wish I could buy some for my kids, but I only have boys.” A little boy points to one of my books and exclaims, “I want that one.” His father pulls him away. “No, that’s a girl book.” What this says to me is clear; our culture assumes:

1. Boys are not going to like a book whose main character is a girl. 2. Men’s stories are universal, while women’s stories are only for girls. After all, books about boys, “Harry Potter”, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, “Holes” are for everyone, but books about girls, Judy Blume’s novels, “Anne of Green Gables", “Twilight", are just for girls. I wasn’t always sure this assumption was incorrect. Early in my career, I was publicised as “The author of Princess Academy,” my most well-known book. Predictably, only girls and their mothers attended my signings, with just a few brothers lurking in the back or the occasional forward-thinking home-schooled guy. But after my book won a major award, teachers began reading it to their classes. Dozens of teachers reported to me the same thing: “When I told the class we were going to read a book called ‘Princess Academy,’ the girls went ‘Yay!’ and the boys went ‘Boo!’ But after we’d read it, the boys liked it as much or even more than the girls.”

For the first time I had evidence that contradicted everything I’d been taught about boys and reading. I started to pay more attention and found I did in fact have many boy readers, most likely hundreds of thousands of them at this point, but they had been reading in secret because they were embarrassed. I got better at noticing the myriad ways adults teach boys they should feel ashamed for taking an interest in a story about a girl, from outset. “Put that down, that’s a girl book”, to subtle, “I think you’ll like this book even though it’s about a girl”. There is peer shaming too, but it starts with and is supported by adults. I’ve now asked thousands of kids the same question: “What kind of books do you like?” They answer, fantasy, funny, comics, mystery, nonfiction, etc. No kid has ever said, “I like books about boys.” Yet booksellers tell me parents shop for their sons as if books have gender: “I need a boy book. He won’t read anything about a girl.” Not only does this kind of thinking prevent

boys from learning empathy for girls, it also prescribes narrow gender definitions. There is only one kind of boy and any boy who doesn’t fit that mould is wrong. Stories make us human. We form bonds by swapping personal stories with others, and reading fiction is a deeply immersive exercise in empathy. So, what happens to a culture which encourages girls to read books about boys but shoos boys away from reading books about girls? What happens to a boy who is taught he should be ashamed of reading a book about a girl? For feeling empathy for a girl? For trying to understand how she feels? For caring about her? What kind of a man does that boy grow up to be? The bias against boys reading about girls runs so deep, it can feel daunting to try to change it. But change can start with a simple preposition swap. When talking to young readers, we can communicate that a book is about girls without

The goal is to encourage lifelong readers and the more we try to tell kids which books are for them, the more reluctant the kids are to read. I have four kids and I am terrible at predicting what books they will like. The best I can do is fill our house with lots of different genres and styles of books and then make sure we have a mix of books written by male and female and non-binary writers, writers of colour and from other countries and backgrounds, writers of different abilities and beliefs. When I offer these books without shame or judgment and let my kids choose for themselves, they read broadly and voraciously and we have great conversations. At a recent school assembly, I asked students from kindergarten through fifth grade, “If a book is about robots, does that mean only robots can read it?”

“So, if a book is about a boy, does that mean only boys can read it? How about a book about a girl?” Kids get it. They just want a good story. They have the potential to be lifelong readers of all kinds of books, learning empathy for all kinds of people and gaining all kinds of experiences different from their own. They will all be just fine. If we adults would just get out of their way.

“The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate,” by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Candlewick) https://amzn.to/2UStq41

“No,” they yell.

“The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare,” by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Candlewick)

“Is a book about cats only for cats?”



Available worldwide via this link mybook.to/wtipentacle

The third short story collection from

E le c tr i c E c le c t i c

Electric Eclectic books are offering you the opportunity to own an eBook copy of their third short storey collection, the Mayfly

Recitals long before it is available to the general public.

Simply email Electric Eclectic at,


State your preferred format, mobi, epub, etc. and Electric Eclectic will send you a copy of Mayfly Recitals by return.

“Coke, heroin, ecstasy, and pot,” and without missing a breath, my daughter turned to me, “sorry, Mom.” I bit my lip, swallowed a sob. She’s embarrassed, yet sincere. Someone yelled in another room, “don’t lie to me!” Our counselor stood, closed the door. It did little to muffle the sounds from the corridor or the thin walls between rooms. That, on our first visit here. This is our third (or is it the fourth?) in as many years. Now, again, we walk into this non-descript little building off of University Circle. The guy in the front of the line leans into the bullet-proof glass, whispers something we can’t hear. “Sign in and sit down.” The tiny receptionist’s big voice booms throughout the lobby, reception room. No one notices, no one glances up. The people are loud. They laugh, talk, slap each other’s shoulders as two televisions bleat out reality shows. When we step up, I review the form, pause. My daughter picks up the pen, hesitates. The woman behind the glass looks from me to her. Maybe she can sense our discomfort from the tentative contemplation on my face, the lost gaze of my daughter’s expression. “Honey, you need to fill out this form, step through that door.” She points to the right.

We walk through the fog-glassed door into big blue and mauve room, little white daisies adorn the wall paper. It’s as if we’re cut off from the loud sounds, the rowdy feeling of the other waiting room. Here, there’s a thirty-two inch Sony bolted to the wall. The news ends, Montel Williams shows a promo for the upcoming episode, which features a psychic. I take the seat I took last time, the last few times – two aisles over with my back to the entry door. This puts me in the centre of the room where I can see the television, through the window to the patio, and the car park. As if there’s some sort of safety in the empty space, this waiting room seats thirty-five people, yet we are the only two here - I’m thankful. The chairs are lined up in rows, organized, quiet, unlike the other room where seemingly chaos reigns. The other reception room holds half as many chairs, twice as many people, but it’s all veiled by the wall, door, and by the petite woman who answers phones, barks orders. Once in a while, I hear her say again, “sign in and sit down,” in a tone I now suspect is reserved for regulars. She hasn’t used it with me or with my daughter. Maybe, hopefully, we have not, yet, become regulars. I want to believe we won’t, but I’ve lost count of how many times we have been here. As my daughter finishes the paperwork, I ask, “Is this the third time or the fourth time?” Her face registers guilt; she shrugs, takes the paperwork up to the little window. The lady’s nice to her, “Go ahead, have a seat, hon. Someone will come get you.” Montel Williams welcomes his audience.

My daughter just turned eighteen; her mahogany hair and dark green eyes used to define her. Now it’s the pale skin, the too thin frame, the lines forming around her eyes. She’s beautiful. When she was born, she seemed to regard me with those big, round, eyes. I felt I’d known her forever. I felt then, feel now, most of the time, blessed. She graduated high school (barely) as an honour student (almost not), will attend University in the fall (hopefully). The first time we were here, she wanted me in the office with her. The counsellor asked her to list the drugs she used. “That it?” The counsellor, Ms. Rose, was a big woman with a gentle manner. My first and only time in the room with Jade. There’s only so much I can take. She takes a chair a few seats over. “Sorry, mom.” “For what?” Lost in my own meandering thoughts, I can’t imagine what she’s apologizing for. “Being here again.” “Better than not, right?” I speak slowly, carefully, these days. I move closer to her, manage a smile that’s stronger now. Because she’s of age, my presence is not required, but her coming, trying again, is a gift to me; my support, I hope, is so for her. She returns the smile, turns her attention to the T.V., “What’s this?” The ghostly pale woman speaks to a specific audience member. “He wanted you to have something, a piece of jewellery. He wants to make certain you got it.”

“A psychic,” I answer. A woman clad in red, her hair in a ponytail, face stressed, responds, “we found a ring in his bag.” “Yes, yes, he says that’s the one.” The audience gives a group sigh; the woman’s eyes well up in tears. “We were told it was his heart, but we thought his death might’ve been caused by medication or….” The psychic rolls her head around. “Oh, no, oh, no. Heart attack. He’s grabbing his arm, pointing to his chest. He doesn’t want you to worry, says it went quick. Your father wants you to be happy.” The woman, and the two younger women next to her, begins to weep.

“You think this is real?” Jade stares at me with those intense green globes that seem so much bigger when she’s gaunt, like now. “I dunno, seems kind of general.” I mimic the psychic. “Your sister was a woman, right? I’m sensing something bad happened to her. I’m not getting a clear picture.” Jade laughs, joins in. “She just got married!” “Yes, yes, that could be the fear I’m sensing.” I continue mocking.

“She’s very happy!” “Oh, yes, yes, I see now, but she had second thoughts.” “Who wouldn’t?!” Jade snickers. There’s just two of us in big, empty room, and I’m happy we can find humor, even in moments like this; maybe, these days, it’s only in moments like this. Our home is made of eggshells; navigating mood swings, highs, lows, clean, sober, my desire to push, hers to resist. It wears on both of us. On television, the camera scans the audience before focusing on a young woman. “Will I ever find the love of my life?” She asks. The psychic rolls her head around. “Yes, yes, in the next two years.” “How does she know?” Jade’s attention is rapt. “I mean how can she just say this stuff?” Jade’s so young, too young, too little to deal with such a big problem. “Well think about it,” I respond, “two years; if you’re searching for love, isn’t there a good chance you’ll find it within that time? It’s not like she said next May 12.” “Oh yeah, huh.” The psychic says, “I see a D or a P, maybe an R, that’s an initial or his initials.” Jade spins to me. “Still pretty general” I offer, “how many names begin with or contain one of those letters? Or, she’ll say, it’s a family name or company name.” “It could be the company he works for, or…” the psychic continues. A sly smile approaches Jade’s mouth. “You’re pretty good at this, aren’t you?” I smirk, pleased she’s impressed; but I also have to admit, it’s the thousand and one promises from her which allows me to see through the empty

words of others. Without intention, I have become a human lie detector. I can even tell when people lie to themselves. It’s a different world when naiveté fades, when reality kicks in. Jade hunches her shoulders, shivers, leans forward. “They’re going to give the psychic a surprise party at the end of the show.” Jade’s eyes widen. “How do you know?” “Previews,” I laugh more loudly than I intended.

She laughs too. For a moment, we are mother and daughter, not enabler and addict. The door squeaks open, a woman pokes her head in, “Jade?” “Uhm, you can wait here, okay?” “Oh yeah.” There are some things a mother doesn’t want to hear, especially more than once. “Hey, Jade.” I call after her. “Yeah?”

“How do you throw a psychic a surprise party?” “I don’t ... oh, I get it. Yeah, right!” Jade disappears beyond the door. I survey the outside. Some of the regulars have made their way to the only trash container with an ashtray; they pass the door, stand, smoke. More cars arrive, none have left. This place deceives from the outside; it’s small, inconspicuous. Hidden like a secret. Passers by wouldn’t think anything of it. I wouldn’t have guessed, before actually entering, that it could hold so many people but still leave me alone in an empty room. I give my attention back to the psychic. On the screen, a man steps up. He’s mid-forties, gray hairs in his five o'clock shadow. “My grandma passed rather suddenly….” She rolls her head around, hopeful gazes follow her. If the psychic warned me that one day I’d be here, I wouldn’t’ve believed her. Sometimes, I wish someone had told me, her friends, a teacher, but I wouldn’t have believed them. I didn’t have faith in the first counselor, three or four visits ago, three or so years ago, when she told me we were in for a long, hard ride. I didn’t trust the second counselor, just a year later, when she said to leave Jade in the rehab for the holidays. I’m not certain of much anymore. No prayers answered, no therapy has worked, and every time Jade says, even tries to mean, “this will be the last time,” I don’t have the heart to believe her, but I still hope. The last time we came here, the counselor said, “it’ll get worse before it gets better.” That, I

assume, is fact. “Oh, honey, your grandma wants you to know she is at peace now. She’s telling me she left you something….” “Yes, yes, she did.” His voice lifts; his eyes shine. The counselor called this a disease. I thought - if this were a disease, the insurance would cover the care, I’d have friends and family for support, this would have brought her father and I closer, not tear us apart. But, now, many visits later, I understand it is a disease. An isolating and lonely disease.

My attention drifts as I hear the receptionist’s voice soften. “Go through there, fill out this form.”

’ When I refocus on the thirty-two inch screen, Montel brings out the cake for the surprise party; for a moment, the psychic’s persona slips down. Surprise surrounds her eyes, her lips turn up in response. Maybe not everyone sees it, but I do. Then, just as quickly, she plays the clairvoyant, presses her lips together, closes her eyes to replace the surprise with humble acknowledgement. A family walks in, moves to the same row where I sit, but further down: mom, dad, son. Mom appears stressed, short uncombed hair, bags under her eyes. Her hand shakes as she reaches into her purse. The mom sits with her back to the patio, the boy across from her. He must be sixteen. Dad wears a suit, paces, scrutinizes the boy. “You missed one.” He points to the paper. “I don’t know what to put there.” The boy’s voice, defiant. I see the father through my peripheral as he walks away, paces back; he’s just noticed me. A counselor pushes the door open, “Come on back.” “I haven’t finished.” The boy’s spine stiffens; he doesn’t want to be here. “You can finish in here.” The counselor is a man, tall, experienced, unsmiling. The boy gets up, focuses on his dad, “Can you wait here?” Dad shakes his head no, points his son forward. The counselor directs his hard stare at the father. “I’ll call you when I need you.”

Perhaps the counselor understands what I’ve come to intuit and what his parents can’t yet: the boy’s not ready to be here, and the father’s not helping the situation.

At least, this visit was Jade’s idea. Hope washes over me. It’s fool’s gold here. Just as quickly, the feeling fades. At best, I have a tentative relationship with hope. The father drops his body down a few seats over from his wife. “We won’t have this, no sirree, not at all.” He appears to say it more for my sake than his wife’s. She stands, “I need some air,” heads outside to the patio. His eyes follow her until the door closes, then he sits back in the chair. She gazes back, can’t see through the greyed-privacy windows. I watch his wife bum a cigarette from one of the regulars, puff on it like her life depends on it. “This doesn’t happen in families like ours,” he announces. I don’t look over, but nod in acknowledgement. I want to be offended, maybe deep down I am, but I used to think the same thing. “Just hanging out with the wrong people!” He bounces his foot on the floor unconsciously. I peek over, then back to the television. At one time, I thought similarly. Now, I know this can happen in any family, to any kid, in any city. “He’ll overcome, got a will of iron.” His fist pounds softly, repeatedly, on the wooden arm of the chair, keeping time with his foot. I wonder if he’s trying to convince himself or me. I twist back to the door the kids went through. I’ve said the same about Jade, once convinced it was simply willpower or mind over matter. Those thoughts, naive, simple. Understanding comes much harder. “My wife and I both used to smoke. We quit. We woke up one morning, said enough is enough, stopped right then and there.” I recognize there’s hope in his voice as my attention curls to the window; his wife stubs out the cigarette on the handrail, tosses it in the trash. He follows my gaze, but misses the scene. I examine the psychic on T.V. Montel cuts the cake, passes a piece to the pale woman who smiles, grateful. “Is this your first time here?” The father’s voice softens. Montel and the audience begin to sing, “Happy Birthday to you...” He notices the television. “What is this?”

“They’ve thrown the psychic a party.” He slaps the chair’s arm, “Damn psychics, what the hell do they know?” “What do any of us really know?” I respond softly. I watch the happy, hopeful faces of the television audience eat cake. The camera pans on the woman who asked about her father, the man who asked about a grandmother, the young woman looking to find love. It’s then it hits me – it’s hope. Perhaps the psychic isn’t working with unknown forces, but with the mysterious powers of empathy and hope. People don’t come to her to find out that someone is going to die or their kid is on drugs, they come to her after, maybe, just to hear someone say to them that everything is going to be okay. All those visits ago, the warnings I received; maybe they were sympathetic, but they weren’t hopeful. I didn’t understand then. I couldn’t hear their message. The father straightens up, shifts toward me, before he says anything, I answer his first question. “No, I’m afraid this is not our first time here.”

He looks at me, maybe a little lost, maybe a little confused, but he says nothing. The sounds from the next room seep in, and we’re both momentarily distracted. The receptionist yells out, “Keep it down! This isn’t a roadhouse in here!” “This place is pure chaos,” he says. “It sounds like a damn party over there.” On the patio, his wife bums another cigarette and I realize they both have a difficult few years ahead of them. I feel for him, for them. On TV, Montel raises the cake in toast to the psychic, all the happy smiling faces following along. Their problems have not been solved, they still have a dead father, a grandmother who passed, and a lonely bed to sleep in tonight, but they’re celebrating. The father watches me, waits for some sort of confirmation or acknowledgement. I want to tell him to strap in, he’s in for a roller coaster of a ride, that it’ll get worse before it gets better. But, I also realize, he’s not in a place to hear that. And maybe, it’s not what he needs either. I offer a warm, sympathetic smile, “it’s all going to be okay,” I say. “What’s that?” “Everything,” I look from the television screen to him. “It’ll all work out. Your son, and all, he’ll be okay.”

For a moment, he relaxes, his foot stops bouncing. He glances around the room, turns to look out the window and notices his wife stubbing out a cigarette on the patio before heading back in. I stand up, move toward the other room. He’s the one who needs the private room now; maybe I need the party, the chaos, the sounds of life around me. I open the door and the reverberations of chaos pour in. The receptionist appears surprised as I step into the lobby. “Tell my daughter, I’ll be over here.” The corners of her mouth lift upward in a small but perceptive smile; she nods. The door closes behind me. The televisions drown each other out. The people laugh loudly, move the chairs to suit themselves, and talk at full volume about nothing very important.

Noreen Lace lives in a Munster like house kicking around leaves in the front yard shadowed by a twohundred-year-old maple tree. Or not. She grew in a midwestern city. She and her siblings attended city schools where gangs roamed the streets and threatened all who crossed their lines. Or not If you really want to know about Noreen, just ask her. You’ll find me at the local coffee shop, sipping tea, writing. Visit https://noreenlace.com/ And find Noreen’s books on Amazon at, https:// www.amazon.com/Noreen-Lace/e/B01B2GBSH4/ Or from the UK use, https://amzn.to/2IhNICL

Electric Eclectic

books are written by authors from

around the world, especially for those of you who are looking for your next great read, or to find another author whose works you can devour. Each book contains one or more short reads, this is the idea way to sample a writer's style, to get a feel for their narrative and story weaving abilities. Electric Eclectic books make the perfect companion when commuting, flying away, curling up at home on the sofa or lazing in bed. When you find the Electric Eclectic authors you enjoy, you can then work your way through their libraries knowing you have found your next great read. Try Electric Eclectic today, download the free android app from the Google play store to find short stories, books, news and links. Not on android, no worries, simply bookmark the Electric Eclectic online site and become an Electric Eclectic reader

The Man Group has sponsored the Booker prize since 2002 and the Man Booker international prize since its inception in 2005. Man Group’s chief executive, Luke Ellis, said it had been a ‘privilege’ to sponsor the prizes for nearly two decades. But, “following a careful review of our funding initiatives”, the group has decided to focus its resources on its Paving the Way diversity and inclusion campaign, and also on the Man Charitable Trust, which supports literacy and numeracy. He said: “The Man Booker prizes have meant a huge amount to all of us at Man Group.” Applauding the “exceptional work of the Booker Prize Foundation”, he added: “We are truly honoured to have been part of something so special and unique for nearly 18 years.” Established in 1969, the Booker Prize was eligible only to authors from Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland. In 2014 it allow entry to any writer writing in English and published in the UK. On Man Group’s decision to pull the plug, Helena Kennedy, the chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “The Man Group has been an excellent and very generous sponsor for nearly 18 years. (since 2002). With their support we have seen the prizes and our charitable activities flourish so today the prizes can claim to be the most significant literary awards in the world”. “We would like to put on record the foundation’s appreciation of Man Group’s sponsorship. However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our a supporter.”

Silicon Valley billionaire, philanthropist and author Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman’s charitable foundation has been announced as the new sponsor of the Booker prize, a month after the Man Group revealed it was ending its 18-year sponsorship of the prestigious award for literary fiction. Moritz and Heyman’s foundation, Crankstart, has committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term for the Booker, with an option to renew for a further five years. It will not give its name to the award, which will revert to its old name of the Booker prize from 1 June, when the Man Group’s sponsorship ends. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Booker Prize Foundation said there were no plans to change the £50,000 winner’s purse, or its recent expansion to include any English-language novel published in the UK. The prize for literature in translation will be known as the International Booker prize from June and will continue to award £25,000 each to the winning author and their translator. "The Booker prizes are ways of spreading the word about the insights, discoveries, pleasures and joy that spring from great fiction,” said Moritz, who was born in Wales, studied at Oxford and now lives in San Francisco. “These days I’m a global traveller but, just like the Booker, I was born in Britain and before coming to America was reared on English literature. Harriet and I feel fortunate to be able to support prizes that together celebrate the best fiction in the world,” he added.

Asked whether it was appropriate for the British literary institution to be sponsored by a Silicon Valley billionaire, the Booker Prize Foundation said it was “confident that, in Crankstart, it has found a sympathetic and reputable philanthropic funder which shares BPF’s values and vision”. Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker’s trustees described Moritz and Heyman as “real book lovers." Continuing, “Many commercial sponsors want opportunities to use the thing for purposes like bringing their guests to the dinner. They are not interested in any of that. Their interest is sustaining good literature.”

The change comes during a period of upheaval for literary awards. In early February, the Folio prize announced a “substantially increased sponsorship pledge” from Rathbones Investment Management, which increased its prize cheque to £30,000 from £20,000.

The Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction, previously the Samuel Johnson prize, announced in February that it had a new seven-year sponsorship agreement from the investment partnership that would increase prize money from £30,000 to £50,000.

And the Women’s prize for fiction, which was sponsored by Orange until 2012, then by Baileys, and now by a group of brands and businesses from different sectors, also announced this month that it had been awarded charitable status, introducing a patron scheme to recruit individual donors.

Where the Poet Roams

Dark dirty streets live in my mind Broken brick alleyways, The colour of blood in the midnight. Streetlamps from another era fasten me here for a short while. The warm stickiness of the old time city grime, it's endless, never removed. And I wonder Is this how it's done? Where the last step of a Jazz duo lay, where the putrid decay of the dirty city lives? Where words are scrawled across walls in warm blood, Is this where you find the poem? Or just the poet? Looking.

Noreen Lace

I finished listening to a wonderful novel, written by a fellow Tell It to The World author, on Audible.

The Bright Side of Darkness

is written in first person and told by Richard (AKA) Rick

Myers. He loses his parents in a bad car accident six months before the story takes place. He’s hanging out with his friends (the crew) at a baseball game, when Daisy and her guide dog Captain appear. Rick and Daisy become fast friends. He invites her to stay at his apartment, since she has run away from her foster parents and her deadbeat dad. Rick and the crew live in a run-down income-based housing project they affectionately call 'the barn'. An odd-looking jeep keeps appearing in places where Rick and Daisy hang out. One night while the crew is riding around town together, Rick spots the vehicle not far from where he’s parked. Who is the mysterious man behind the wheel? None other than Daisy’s abusive father. A fight breaks out and then as Rick peels off in Tim’s Step dad’s old car, the truck pulls out in front of him, causing a terrible accident. I won’t tell you the end result of the accident, because I don’t want to give any spoilers away. However, Rick tries to throw the rest of his life away, when Judge Walter Mills and his wife Alice take him in and help him turn his life around. I’ll be honest with you, I couldn’t get this book out of my head. Now that I’ve set the scene for you, let me give you my feedback on this book. J.E. Pinto is a talented author, who hooks you into a story and keeps you hanging on to the end. At the beginning of the book, I picked a bit of the vibe from the book entitled The Outsiders. These guys hung out on the poor side of town, whereas the rich kids stayed in their swanky

Although this book is totally different, the atmosphere was the same, except for the fact that the crew know how to stand up for themselves, whereas I’m not so sure that Pony boy from The Outsiders and his friends could hold their own if they’d been jumped from behind by their arch enemies. However, the Outsiders-like vibe ended when the tension ramped up and Rick ended up in jail after losing the people he dearly loves. Rick also reminded me of one of my own characters, by the name of Jason Miller. If you’ve read A Journey of Faith, you’ll know that he’s the deputy police officer of Tensiltown. How did Rick remind me of him? Let me put it this way, this book made me think back to Jason’s younger days, when he was living with his folks and working at the diner his father owned. His father was an abusive man, who didn’t want anything to do with God and expected Jason to take over the diner after he graduated high school. Rick in Pinto’s book runs off and does his own thing, like Jason in mine. The author has given me a bit of inspiration for Jason’s back story. One final note, I must give special credit to the narrator. Although there were a few times when he sounded as if he were far away from his microphone, he did an outstanding job of narrating this book. At one point, the story brought out emotions that I didn’t expect. The part of the story where Rick was arrested and tried to take his own life, moved me to tears. As a mother, it’s painful to see any child go through that kind of pain, no matter whether the child is your own or not. I give this book a five-star rating.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ImiYk3

There is no doubt reading aloud to/with our children has numerous benefits. It promotes language development and listening skills. It introduces new vocabulary and teaches children expressive reading. One of its great, although often unsung benefits, is the power it has to make memories together. How reading together can form and strengthen lifetime bonds. It is not always easy to find the time to set aside, as we often have extremely busy lives with many demands on our time. But finding or making reading time is always worth it. Often it will become the best part of your day.

Here are a few Electric Press ideas to help you create these 'special moments' with your family.

1. MAKE IT ROUTINE. Developing a routine for reading aloud to your children is essential. Children like routine; it creates a sense of knowing, of safety and belonging. Without a set pattern it is easy to go days without reading together. Of course, there will be days which upset any routine, that’s okay. That is life. What matters is to get back to the routine as soon as possible, so you are reading aloud together on a regular basis.

2. LET THEM INTERRUPT. It can be frustrating when kids interrupt. But if they are asking questions or making observations about the book, it means they are listening and taking an interest. What is more, they are learning; so, interruptions are, in one way a result of you doing a great job. Although there is a balance though between genuine questions and a disruptive pattern, especially if you are reading to more than one child. Then it may be worth having set 'question times' during natural reading pauses. Make it the time when you all can discuss the book together.

2. DO THEY HAVE BUSY HANDS? Sometimes it is easier for active children to have a simple task to do while listening, such as eating breakfast, colouring or drawing. This may sound strange but it is only like us doodling during class or listening to the radio while washing the pots or driving the car. It is not necessarily distractive.

3. CONSIDER THE TIME. Sometimes you will need to give a little grace when it comes to reading aloud. Forcing a young child to sit as long as a older sibling is not practical. Let the youngest leave when they reach the end of their attention span. You may have to contend with a 'rough day' when your child is extra grouchy or wound-up. On days like that it is better to let it go. Reading together is meant to be enjoyable for all, sometimes it is best just to put the book down. It will still be there tomorrow.

4. BUT DO NOT GIVE UP. Reading aloud to your children will not look like the 'perfect family' you may see on social media adverts. I doubt if it will ever look like the kids are happily snuggled together on your sofa, listening intently to every word you read. Moreover, you will probably want to give up because the kids will not sit still or pay you any attention. But every day you choose to read aloud, in spite of it not being the picture perfect, is another day you have spent building your children’s lives through reading. With consistency, reading aloud with your family will become some of the favourite memories you and your children will cherish.

It may surprise you how many children, even the very young, will sit still and quietly listen to a story when you read out aloud to them. Often the favourite time for parents to read is at bedtime when they have 'wound-down' and welcome your prolonged presence before the lights are turned off for the night. But try reading while having breakfast or having a set 'time-out' in the afternoon for a story. Too many parents become concerned if some words, or the language, seem beyond your children’s understanding and maturity.

Don't be. You will be amazed how much children enjoy and even start to grasp 'big' words and ideas after a reading session. It also gives you time to explain words and sentences to your child in your own words. Besides, habitual reading is a rewarding ritual to develop and excellent way to bond and build memories with children of any age. Electric Press encourages reading to and with children from the earliest of times; even before your child understands individual words creating regular reading times set a precedence for the future and, of course, simply hearing your voice and getting to know your intonations and rhythm is a wonderful bonding and educational experience for both parent and child. Below is a short list of some books Electric Press have found to make excellent books to read aloud or share the reading with your child(ren). The publishers list the books as suitable for an age range of between 3 to eight years of age, but Electric Press suggest you, the parent are the best to decide what level of reading is best for your individual child and therefore recommend you research each book for any concepts or words you do not want to introduce to your children at this stage. Some of the books are illustrated, some are not. Some carry a meaningful messages, some have educational value, while some are written as pure entertainment. We are sure many of these books will make a great addition to your home library.

Read what you love and what your kids are interested in. If they are not interested in a particular book, try another book and return to the other some a few months later. (Which is a far longer time for a child than an adult).

Electric Press hope you enjoy reading these books, whether you read them at bedtime, nap time, during home-schooling or at breakfast. Please email Electric Press with your views on this article, the books featured and your recommendations for other 'read to me' books you consider to be good enough for Electric Press to regard

The Rabbit Joke (Toad) – A wonderful tale of 'Fluffybunny' and his adventures to save his warren. This is an award winning 'read to me book'. (NOT on Amazon)

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon (Gannett) – a good starter series of comical books that starts with a boy rescuing a baby dragon in a faraway land

A Toad for Tuesday (Erickson) – instead of hibernating for the winter, Warton (a toad) goes outdoors and is instantly picked up by a lonely and hungry owl, who is later captivated by the toad’s kindness and conversation

Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Dicamillo) – a series of books about a pig named Mercy Watson (from the author of the award-winning Because of Winn Dixie) The Chalk Box Kid (Bulla) – a boy troubled by recent events in his life finds comfort in his extraordinary talent when he draws himself a chalk garden Pippi Longstocking (Lindgren) the amazing and funny adventures of a charming, precocious and optimistic parent-less red-haired girl (Three books in one)

Charlotte’s Web (White) – the classic, well-known story of the unlikely friendship between a pig and spider Emmaline and the Bunny (Hannigan) – a delightful story about a misfit who changed her “tidy” and boring town Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel) – amusing and simplistic stories of an endearing friendship between a frog and a toad Owl at Home (Lobel) – a compilation of dramatic tales about a friendly owl You Read to Me & I’ll Read to You (compiled by Schulman) – a hefty collection of short chapter books (many of which are already included in this list)

A Public Bar in Thames

Wearied with a world of woe. Coffee’s good, giant and strong. Hardly aware, she turns and looks, a moment in the glass. Far away, singing, hear your name, wind whipped. Inexplicable splendour, departed lover. A scream, the silence. Beautifully, kisses pour. Love and peace and truth; All a lover’s wish can reach.

Noreen Lace

JD Salinger’s son confirmed the late author of The Catcher in the Rye wrote a significant amount of work which has never been seen and, that he and his father’s widow are “going as fast as we freaking can” to get it ready for publication.

JD Salinger died in 2010. Rumours have circulated for years the creator of one of the 20th century’s most enduring characters, Holden Caulfield, continued to write over the ensuing decades from his home in New Hampshire village of Cornish. Matt Salinger revealed his father never stopped writing and “all of what he wrote will at some point be shared”. He continued, his father “teemed with ideas and thoughts… he’d be driving the car and he’d pull over to write something and laugh to himself. Sometimes he’d read it to me, sometimes he wouldn’t.” Next to every chair he had a notebook. “He just decided the best thing for his writing was not to have a lot of interactions with people, literary types in particular,” he said. “He didn’t want to be play those sorts of literary poker games, but he wanted to encourage every would-be writer." Matt Salinger squashed reports back in 2013 of five published books by his father, including one short story featuring Holden Caulfield and one based on Salinger’s brief marriage to Sylvia, a Nazi collaborator. The reports stemmed from an unofficial documentary about the author described as 'total trash' which has “little to no bearing on reality… anyone who understood my father would find the idea hysterically funny he would write a book about his first brief marriage. It is so far beyond the realm of plausibility.” It appears likely there will most likely be more stories about the Glass family, who frequently appear in Salinger’s published short fiction. He described his father’s later work as having 'no linear evolution', saying “it becomes clear he was after different game”. He and Salinger’s widow, Colleen O’Neill, with whom he has joint charge of the literary estate, have been working with the material since 2011.

“He wanted me to pull it together. Because of the scope of the job, he knew it would take a long time. This was somebody who was writing for 50 years without publishing, so there is a lot of material. There is no reluctance or protectiveness. It’s a matter of when it is ready, we shall share it,” he said. This will take some years, he admitted, though he hopes less than a decade: “Readers should know we are going as fast as we freaking can … I feel the pressure to get this done far more than he did.” The unseen writing, Matt Salinger said, “I think it will be tremendously well received and people will be affected in the way every reader hopes to be affected when they open a book. Not changed, necessarily, but something rubs off that can lead to change.” “My father said, everything he has to say is in his fiction, believe it, it’s there. I think when more of his writing is made accessible, he covers everything the discerning reader would care about. My job is to help it happen as soon as I can, and then stay well out of the way,” he said. Matt has also worked against the republication of several early stories by his father. Stories JD Salinger himself said would be ‘unfair’ to publish. “Suppose you had a coat you liked and somebody went into your closet and stole it. That’s how I feel,” the author told the New York Times in 1974, following the publication of two volumes of his uncollected works.

Matt Salinger described them as ‘youthful exercises, part of his process, his development as an artist’. “I don’t do it lightly, it’s no fun,” he said of blocking publication. “I do it because my father would have done it and out of love for him, and out of love and protectiveness for his work and his books.”

Retro, vintage‌ call it what you will, Mechanical


is Pulp-Fiction at its best.

Fun, comic book over the top characters and impossible situations make this book fantastic escapism. Paul White has written Mechanical Mike with a light, humorous touch; what else could you expect from a book about a robotised private eye, a beautiful blonde girl, and a mad professor in Nazi-occupied France during WW2.

Love superheroes, love comic book fiction, love pulp-fiction‌ then grab yourself a copy of this Electric Eclectic Novelette today.








collaboration between three authors: J.M. Northup, Marnie Cate, and Sahara Foley. Mythology is a fundamental element of storytelling. As we are three female writers taking charge of our own destiny, it only made sense to choose The Norns (pronounced ‘norms’, which

translates to ‘the twine’). Urd (‘what once was’), Verdandi (‘what is’), and Skuld (‘what shall be’) are the goddesses of destiny who weave the fates of gods and humans alike.

J.M. Northup is a native Minnesotan, who resides in Wisconsin. The whole process of writing a book, editing, formatting, cover art, reading, and reviewing fascinates her. She handles all these areas within Norns Triad Publications along with being the CEO/CFO. Julie values her family above all things. After nearly three decades of marriage, she still considers her husband to be her best friend. Together, they raised two amazing daughters and took in a foster son.

Today, they are blessed with four

grandchildren, whom they adore. Definitely a cat lady, Julie, also, loves otters. Her favorite

show is The Big Bang Theory. She has a taste for coffee with sweet cream, red wine, and a refreshing glass of iced water.


Marnie Cate is an Arizona author who admires Dame Judi Dench. The core of her books is relationships. Marnie has an insight into the human condition that is both deep and insightful. It lends to the richness of her characters and tales. Marnie Cate’s muse is her darling cat, Lilli. This bibliophile can frequently be found reading and writing at the local coffee shop where she enjoys espresso. An Anglophile, she loves ice cream and bloody steak. Each year Marnie participates in the Arizona Renaissance Festival. She appears at the Lady Chamberlain Bookshop and welcomes readers to meet her while getting their books signed


After surviving the loss of her husband, Bob, Sahara Foley found her muse in the stories her beloved penned. The books she writes are born from the love and collaboration between her talents and her late-husband’s imaginings. Their creations have yielded Amazon bestsellers. An insurance guru by day, Sahara handles the majority of marketing for our company. Often, she spends time with her siblings and, together, they travel to fun destinations. A beloved aunt, she is, also, an avid reader, reviewer, and book blogger. Sahara has a love for animals and gardening. She is well-

versed in the properties of plants, as well. She enjoys kicking back with a cold beer while relaxing in the great outdoors.


"I am Nemein. I am emotionally detached from my

killings. I am not, therefore, a murderer. I am an instrument of Nemesis, a punisher."

This is a theme running through a number of blogs on the Dark Web, written by a serial killer. He is highly intelligent and employs philosophical argument to justify a series of gruesome murders. However, he describes the killings in lurid detail, and with such gloating relish, that he utterly negates his delusion of detachment and reveals himself to be a cold-blooded, narcissistic psychopath.

Dr. Brian O'Hare, MA, Ph.D., a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education, is from Newry in Northern Ireland. Brian had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in him taking early retirement a number of years ago. In 2002 he had a liver transplant but is strong and healthy now.








academic...very much restricted to a very specific readership. Recently, he experienced a desire to write fiction and is now an author of several academic works as well as two memoirs, and three award winning fiction novels.

Brian's books are published by Crimson Cloak Publishing






Smashwords, Ingrams, Crimson Cloak Publishing's bookshelf and some other selected bookshops. Crimson Cloak Publishing

Mur Lafferty

is an award-winning writer of urban fantasy, science fiction thrillers, and nonfiction. She is the

author of Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans. Her latest book, Six Wakes, has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel and the Philip K. Dick and Manly Wade Wellman Awards. She has written for Star Wars, short fiction and the upcoming Solo novelization. Mur's nonfiction book I Should Be Writing is based on her award-winning podcast of the same name. Her other podcast, Ditch Diggers, with cohost Matt Wallace, is a two-time nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Fancast. In 2015 Mur Lafferty was inducted into the Podcast Academy Hall of Fame.

Ann Harrison-Barnes: Please tell us a little about yourself. Mur Lafferty: I’m a writer, podcaster and editor. I am always working on a number of projects. I live in Durham, NC with my family, two dogs and a bunch of board games. I enjoy running… but only when zombies are behind me. Ann: When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer and what was your source of inspiration? Mur: I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels and Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series did I think it was a job I could have. They were women writing about women and girls having Sci-fi fantasy adventures. I wanted to do that. Ann: What tips and tricks did you learn throughout your writing journey? How have these little gems of advice helped you improve your writing or enhance your writing career? Mur: I took some time off where I wasn’t sure I could ever improve, which was naïve and wasteful. I’ve discovered almost every cliché is true (for me, anyway.) Writing frequently is better than intermittently. Don’t edit until you’re done with the story. Writing terrible stories will still teach you things. …and wisdom from the first ghostbusters movie: When

someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes. (Which is what I tell myself when someone has asked me if I can handle an exciting project that I doubt myself over).

Ann: Tell us a little about your most recently published book(s). Mur: Last year I published Six Wakes, a science fiction murder mystery about clones. It’s been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards, among others. I also published a nonfiction book about writing based on my podcast, I Should Be Writing. Ann: Which is harder, writing or editing? Why? Mur: Editing, totally. I feel like I enter a sort of zone while writing and can stream story; editing requires slowing down, focusing and looking for problems and pondering solutions. Writing is fun. Editing is work.

Ann: Do you have any current or upcoming projects you would like to share with us? Mur: My latest book, a novelization for the movie Solo: A Star Wars story came out on September 6th 2018 Ann: What advice do you have for inspiring authors and new writers? Mur: Keep writing and don’t quit. Every crappy story you write is like a step up the staircase toward being a better writer. Hard work beats talent, because talent will often quit once things stop being easy.

I’m not sure how they directly influence my writing, except I know stopping reading will make my writing worse. You always need to “fill the well,” as it were. Ann: If my readers are meeting you for the first time and want to follow you and learn about your work, where can they find you online? Mur: People can find me via my website at www.murverse.com and they can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/mightymur.

Ann: What are your reading habits and how have they influenced your writing career today? Mur: I listen to audiobooks mostly, ever since I started listening to audio fiction via podcasts in 2005.

Thanks for talking to me and Electric Press. We wish you much success. Happy writing.

Picture this, a lonely and melancholic 17-year-old boy in 1970, living in a small Flemish/Belgian farmers’ village, surrounded by vast pine woods, at the border with The Netherlands. Later in his life, that boy will learn the hard way that border places are often rough and dangerous places, but now, he’s searching for something that will appease a shapeless longing in him. His parents, poor and hardworking people, want him to become a postman. Regular job, steady income, smooth life. Healthy too: each day, the postmen bike many miles in the flatlands of De Kempen, that Flemish region of small farmers and workers in Antwerp’s harbor, distributing letters, written in the gnarly handwriting of simple people.

Life is tough. Don’t go out late. Work hard. Don’t catch a cold. Don’t drink. Work hard. Search a wife. Build a house. Work hard. Have children. Work hard. That’s what simple people write in letters to each other. That’s what his parents said to him. The boy is a dreamer and likes to read. No good spills forth from this laziness. He needs some character. He’s 18 now, but skinny; let him do some real men’s work. So, the boy did some real men’s work in Antwerp’s harbor. He steeled his muscles in the holds of ships filled with Rhine sand. But his dreamy and sad nature didn’t evaporate in the sand. He continued his reading after dark in bed with a flashlight.

The village sported a small but well-kept library, and there the boy found, by chance, by accident, by Fate, Den Bloemen van den Booze, a translation in archaic Dutch of Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, whom the French like to call un poète maudit.

How his heart thrilled when he read The Flowers of Evil of this cursed poet! Here was a twin soul speaking to him in delicate words and sublime rhythm. Baudelaire evoked the unbearable weight of being human in a neurasthenic, hypersensitive language, rich and contrasting, vile, exquisitely beautiful. The boy vowed to read the original poems, knowing that French was a more melodic language than his guttural Flemish, which is a humble Dutch dialect. The librarian, a retired schoolmaster with the reddest hair you ever saw, noticed the esthetic hunger burning in the clunky youth and promised him a copy in French of Les Fleurs du Mal. He held his promise and the boy spend many nights with the bundle, and a French-Dutch dictionary. The lines he read, scoured against his heart like the cracking of innumerable insect wings.

Sans cesse à mes cotés s’agite le Démon Il nage autour de moi comme un air impalpable Je l’avale et le sens qui brûle mon poumon Et l’emplit d’un désir éternel et coupable.

A demon, lurking agitatedly in the depth of his being, surrounding him with an impalpable mist, and evoking an eternal and guilty desire that burns in his lungs. Yes! That was what the boy felt. He was guilty of dreaming an impossible dream: becoming an author.

His parents said it couldn’t be done. They shook their heads: “Your dream is not for our kind of people.” So, two years later, the boy left home with nothing but his hopes, starting a life that rambled from pillar to post, 12 crafts, 13 mishaps, eventually learning to publish novels by writing and discarding them, writing and discarding them, writing and discarding them, writing.

No longer a boy, eventually, he became a well-known novelist in the Netherlands and Belgium, but his hunger for recognition, fed by so many years of longing, wasn’t appeased. He set out to have his work translated, knowing all too well how difficult that was for a writer from a small language community of five million people like Flanders. Followed a period of submitting his work in English and being refused, submitting and being refused, submitting and being refused.

He was about to give up, tired of his longings, when his unrest whispered one night, like Socrates’ Daimon had done: What, exactly, is a Man? Who, exactly, are You? Are you more than your vanity? The last question struck him like a vicious blow to the heart. So, for thirteen years the author forgot his vain plans to become a translated author and roamed the world as a travelling writer in mostly war-torn countries in an attempt to quench the fiery challenge in the demon’s question, learning the hard way that, as Baudelaire’s verses had predicted, it was grief that was swirling around him like an impalpable mist. Grief for this wretched world, grief for the endless suffering mankind inflicts on itself.

In Somalia, Bosnia, Serbia, Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Burma, Burundi, and many other countries, he tried to analyze the eternal and guilty desire of the human race. In the end, he became confused and afraid, losing himself in nightmares.

He withdrew from the world, and only spoke to his horses, mysterious creatures he had learned to love and respect, and to cherish. In their ancient ways, his steeds, messengers of the gods in long forgotten times, taught him that he had to witness all this suffering and violence in order to fulfill a promise the 17-year old boy with his flashlight underneath the blankets of his bed had vowed to himself: I will write about the darkness in ourselves, using somber and wretched and harsh parables of intricate passion and deceit; I will disclose the seeds of the Flowers of Evil that grow in everyone of us.

IThe time had come at last, at 53, to write the book he was destined for. The novel, De wraak van Baudelaire, won him the Hercule Poirot Prize 2007, the most prestigious suspense novel Prize in Belgium, and was published in French, Russian, and English. Baudelaire’s Revenge, published in 2014 in the USA, introduced him internationally as a writer of cross-over novels between literature and the crime novel

n the next five years, Dangerous Obsessions and Heart Fever, two short story collections, and the novel Return to Hiroshima followed. Venturing into the vast English-reading market was no easy trip, but gradually the recognition abroad grew. Now, picture this 65-year old author of 39 books and translations in nine languages, living in a tiny country – Belgium - at the other side of the Ocean, with a life story that seems as surrealistic as Magritte’s paintings, still struggling to hold on to the inner fire he felt 48 years ago. Oh, he’s busy and successful all right, but sometimes, when mornings hover misty over the prairies and the forest around his house, he hears his beloved horses whinny, and muses about his youth, remembering how he was standing at the edge of the vast pine woods that surrounded his village, shouting Baudelaire’s verses at the trees, which, unresponsively, absorbed every syllable and every word, and wonders: was that truly me? To know the answer, the writer has to listen to faint murmuring, deep in the darkness in himself, like the cracking of innumerable insect wings.

Sans cesse à mes cotés s’agite le Démon Il nage autour de moi comme un air impalpable Je l’avale et le sens qui brûle mon poumon Et l’emplit d’un désir éternel et coupable.

A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, Laerhoven published 39 books in Holland and Belgium. Some of his literary work is published in French, English, German, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Four-time finalist of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year with the novels “Djinn”, “The Finger of God”, “Return to Hiroshima”, and “The Firehand Files”. Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for “Baudelaire's Revenge,” which also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category "mystery/suspense".

In 2018, Crime Wave Press published “Return to Hiroshima”, after “Baudelaire’s Revenge” his second novel in English translation.

His collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions,” first published by The Anaphora Literary Press in the USA in 2015, was hailed as "best short story collection of 2015" by the San Diego Book Review. The collection is translated in Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. “Retour à Hiroshima”, the French translation of “Return to Hiroshima,” is recently finished and will be published in France in 2020.

In 2018, The Anaphora Literary Press published “Heart Fever”, a second collection of short stories. “Heart Fever”, written in English by the author, is a finalist in the Silver Falchion 2018 Award in the category “short stories collections”. Laerhoven is the only non-American finalist of the Awards. The English book site Murder, Mayhem & More chose “Return to Hiroshima” as one of the ten best international crime books of 2018. www.bobvanlaerhoven.be

Electric Eclectic books are written by a diverse group of authors from around the world. Each author brings their individual storytelling style to a whole range of genres; from Children's tales to Romance, from Fantasy to Horror, Crime and Life Drama. Looking for your next great read, look for an Electric Eclectic book. Visit the website.

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The last few years has seen a dramatic shift in book retailing trends. Independent retail bookselling is beating the biggest retail bookstore chains and the Internet is beating brick-and-mortar bookstores in many industry changing ways. Depending on how you measure it, several bookstores can claim the title of 'World's Largest Book Store'. Large can be measured by store size, retail sales floor square footage, number of titles, shelf space, and other measurements. A frequently asked question from retail industry analysts, experts, investors, professionals, and enthusiasts is “Which book store is the largest in the world and where is it located? The answer is...it depends.

Barnes & Noble.

In terms of square footage, the Barnes and Noble flagship bookstore located at 105 5th Avenue in New York City, once indisputably laid claim to the title, until the store was closed in January 2014. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this, the Barnes & Noble College flagship store covered 154,250 square feet and had 12.87 miles of book shelves. However, while the Barnes & Noble flagship store was claiming the 'World's Largest' title, another bookstore was promoting itself as the world’s largest bookstore. Considering the non -book type of merchandise and offerings made by the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, this second claim was at least somewhat plausible. When measured by the number of book titles offered for sale, the 'World’s Biggest Bookstore' located at 20 Edwards Street in Toronto, was legitimately the world's biggest. But then this store also closed in 2014 shortly after the Barnes & Noble flagship store closed. The Toronto store held the largest number of titles under one brick-and-mortar retail roof. It never advertised exactly how many titles it offered, except to say that it was “over a million.”

Powell's Books Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, (Founded in 1971), does not dispute the claims of Barnes & Noble or World’s Biggest Bookstore. Powell’s stakes its claim to the 'world’s largest' designation by stating it is “the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.” This is an unsupported claim, but it is also an undisputed claim. Apparently, there are no other independent bookstores big enough to force the issue. With 68,000 square feet and 1.6 acres of retail sales floor, Powell's City of Books, located at 1005 West Burnside Street in Portland, claims to have over 1 million books on its shelves and it purchases around 3,000 used books each day. However, Powell's can now validly lay claim to the title "largest". The largest store in the Barnes & Noble chain is its Union Square store in New York, which is smaller than Powell's, measuring just 62,000 square feet.

Amazon. There is one more legitimate 'world's largest' title claim when it comes to books and retailing, the 'World's Largest Books Retailer', which is not really a bookstore. It is estimated Amazon has 3.4 million books on its virtual shelves at any given time, which is more than three times the number of titles claimed by Powell's. Estimations suggest a new book title is added to Amazon's cyber bookshelves every five minutes. Amazon stakes the claim in another respect. It is the world's largest retailer of digital books, often referred to as eBooks. An estimated 74 percent of all eBooks purchased in the U.S. were purchased through Amazon.com in 2015, and 71 percent of all U.S. dollars spent on eBooks were spent on Amazon.com. Amazon's Kindle gets most of the credit for its dominance in retail eBook sales. Sixty-five percent of all eBook sales published by traditional publishers were purchased via the Amazon Kindle store in 2015. Amazon's only real competitors are the Apple iBooks store, the Barnes & Noble Nook store, the Kobo Book store and Google Play.

Despite its complete dominance of internet e-commerce book sales and digital eBooks, Amazon's customer centric founder, Jeff Bezos is not content with its nonphysical success in book retailing. The opening of the first Amazon physical bookstore took place at the company's headquarters located in Seattle, Washington in 2015. If the endeavour proves to be successful it is conceivable Amazon will also lay claim to the title of 'World's Largest U.S. Retail Bookstore Chain'.

By the Numbers The largest retail bookstore chain store counts at the end of 2017: Barnes & Noble: 633 stores. Waterstones: (UK) 280 stores. (see page six)

Books-A-Million: 260 stores. Half Price Books: 127 stores.

If you decide to brave this Crimson Cloak Quest you will find yourself on a pirate ship bound for Bone Island in search of Evil Eye Bart’s treasure. By chance you find a map to guide you, but it gives you no real idea of the danger and death-defying perils that await you on your journey and on the

island itself. You begin your quest with little to help you, but if you make your choices with care you might be lucky.

’ Crimson Cloak Publishing

I am a children’s author who lives in the north west of England. I have been a prolific reader all my life, and for many years have spent most of my free time writing. My aim in life has always been to write, and I have had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than I like to admit to having lived. I have completed several children’s novels. ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair. In 2015 I was lucky enough to discover Crimson Cloak Publishing and to become one of their new authors.

Okay I know this sounds like fiction but independent studies carried out around the world prove it is, in fact, fact. A Social Science & Medicine study at Yale University, found adults over 50 who read a round three and a half hours a week are twenty-five percent more likely to outlive nonreaders or those who only read magazines and newspapers. The study suggests you could add two or three years to your life simply by reading books. Readers of short stories need far less cognitive closure than those who read nonfiction essays say's a recent University of Toronto study. Which is one reason for checking out Electric Eclectic books.

Reading books create a strong cognitive engagement that improves vocabulary, thinking skills, concentration, emotional intelligence and empathy. The study also concluded fiction readers are more open-minded and creative people.

Taking a break from your daily grind by reading something helps you relax and can cut your risk of colds and flu by 40% (Ohio State University study).

Taking a reading break, or reading during a work break, can prompt a 55% drop in cortisol production. Lower levels of this stress hormone allow your immune system to release antibodies, your first line of defence against germs. Indications imply reading can lower your body mass index and regular reading leads to a lower body mass index as reliably as undertaking regular exercise like jogging.

A University of Louisville study revealed you can cut your risk of dementia by reading a good book, whether a romance, a mystery, or even an intriguing nonfiction book. Taking time out to read each day can slow cognitive decline by 32%, cutting your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by over 60%. The research says reading books 'kick-starts' your production of nerve growth factors which fuel the growth of healthy new brain cells.

The United Kingdom’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport reported regularly visiting a library gives people the same kick as getting a $2,282 raise.

What do you think makes a book worth Reading? Can a book be considered good if it is a great story with average writing? How about a well-written book with a less-than-compelling storyline? Do awards matter? What are the criteria you use to gauge whether a book is worth the read? Does a book have to be good to make a difference in someone’s life? Why or why not? Literary experts, well academics, consider a group of writers, sociologists, psychologists and others with a sense for literary text to be qualified to determine great literature. However, such groups are often far from the mark when it comes to popular reading material. This is when public opinion is important in terms of relevance to society at large. Considering this, Electric


asked some of our reader subscribers what they think

makes a good book.

Amelia told us: A good book is one that makes the reader feel. One which takes the reader on a compelling journey. Calling a book 'good' is an opinion and an opinion can be applied to any book. I believe a book can be considered good if it is a great story with average writing. A great story with many struggles and ultimate success can be told even when the writing is average. Some storylines are not compelling, but they are so well written people will recommend them. The criteria I use to gauge whether a book is worth reading often relates to the subject, the genre and the author. However, I can read outside of these criteria if someone convinces me. For example, The Glass Castle was strongly recommended by a friend even though I was unsure I would like the subject of poverty and alcoholism, or the genre of memoir, by an author I had never read, Jeannette Walls. As it happens, I loved it and recommended it to others.# If a book is written well and tells a great story, it has more of a chance of making a difference in people’s lives. However, a book need only be good to the reader to make a difference in their own life.

Christine says:

Many things that make a book good for me and I look for these. I search for the content looking for something that could make me learn something. It does not matter who the author might be, or if the content is happy or scary. To make it a good book for me, it must grab my interest straight away, make me excited, or it must be a book which helps me learn something. It has these elements then it is a most likely a book I'll enjoy. That makes it a good book for me.

Kathy said: This is a tough. It is not easy to define the reasons why you pick a certain book to read. Unfortunately, I can more easily say why I don’t like certain books and to be honest, it is often the result of the author. The most recent books I disliked are the one from an author I could not grow to like however hard I tried. This was due to her style of writing and how her characters are always women who can’t take care of themselves. Another was very poorly written and although her story may have been a good one to share, I could not get past the abysmal writing. The last I shall tell you about was one where the author was so self-absorbed by his own ego I struggled to read the story.

But what makes a book good? I guess it is a captivating story. One's with great character development always work well for me, which probably explains why I would much rather read a book than watch a movie. Authors need to write their stories in a way that attracts a reader and keeps the reader’s attent

ion. It does not necessarily mean he or she is, or must be, a great writer by literary standards, but rather that he or she can tell a good story. A good book must weave a captivating tale. I think the differentiator between a good book and a great book is the ability of the author. A great book is not only going to have a good story, but it is going to be written well. But sometimes a good book must do more for the reader in the point of their life they are at, at that time. Let me explain, the books I read while going through my divorce may not fall into the normal classification of a 'good' book, but it was what I needed at that time in my life. Although I may not now classify it as a good book, at the time I did. It (then) satisfied my needs. Personally, I choose to read a variety of genres and enjoy a wide range of books, from historical fiction to YA and non-fiction, biographies to mysteries to award winning novels, whereas I know friends who read only a single style of book or tend to follow a single author or two. Some of them have no desire to expand their reading.

The above suggests it is the reader who ultimately decides what makes a good book, not academia or literary critiques, which itself presents a challenge in defining what is precisely a 'good book' or not. This is also the challenge for authors, to understand how to write and for whom, even when. Defining a books market is not so simple after all. Your feedback on this article is appreciated. Email: TheElectricpress@mail.com



is a comprehensive collection

books, recommended by industry insiders and

compiled by CQI Magazine. Each book is represented by its cover image and accompanied by a brief synopsis

and the

relevant purchasing links. The books are shown in a random fashion rather than in a formal catalogue order, which makes

reading through The List and selecting which books to read a charming experience, like browsing the shelves of a bookstore. To read The List, simply ‘click’ here, or on the image shown on the opposite page

There are plenty of overrated classics: books that have lost their relevance, lost their audience, or in some cases (we’re thinking of you, Ulysses.) just plain lost their way from the get-go. But not all 'required reading' deserves its bad rap. We look at the top 10 books people lie about having read… and whether to give them another try. Please email us your thoughts on this article


To Kill a Mockingbird The real problem with Harper Lee’s classic about racism in a small Southern town is not its surprisingly modern tomboy rebel narrator and her heroic father, who defends a black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. The crying shame is that most readers

get introduced to the novel too early, often even in middle school. Yes, there are childish characters at the heart of the plot, but they themselves don’t fully understand the story’s complex web of racism, snobbery, stifling conformity and violence—and young readers are not ready for its hints of incest, mental illness, and addiction either. We say: Give this American classic another try, especially if you had to

read it for school. Check out this list of 100 favourite American novels.

Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers from warring family groups is definitely not too mature for teen audiences; Juliet is not quite 14 when she kills herself for love of a boy, she’s only met a handful of times. But R&J is a play, not a novel; it’s best appreciated in performance. When truly Shakespeare’s




actors deliver



expressions seem to slip away, leaving us with the beating heart of a story that, like its ill-fated characters, will never grow old.

Diary of Anne Frank Many readers are reluctant to start a book when they already know it has a sad ending. But in her diary, Anne is likely to steal your heart and make you rage against the Nazis for her untimely death—not for the famous platitudes like “In spite of everything, I still

believe people are really good at heart,” but for her brutally honest descriptions of what it’s like to be a teen trapped 24/7 in a secret hideaway with, among others, her mother and a boy she no longer has a crush on. In fact, Anne’s microscopic truthfulness about the details of daily life in “the secret annex” might just have you planning a trip to Amsterdam to see the actual hiding place for yourself.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone If you haven’t read the first Harry Potter book by now, probably nothing short of a cattle prod will get you to crack the spine. You know that the series has sold over 500 million copies over the past 20-odd years. You’ve heard of the theme park and seen the relentless merchandising of

everything from wands to bedspreads. You may even have attended a Harry Potter-themed wedding. Ok, we get it. Some people just don’t love fantasy. But haven’t you ever wondered if so many J.K. Rowling fanatics can be wrong?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Nowadays Mark Twain’s quintessential American boy would probably be diagnosed with ADHD. His hilariously bad behaviour starts on the first page

when he distracts his Aunt Polly and runs away from a “switching,” and hardly pauses till the book is done. There’s a good reason Tom Sawyer has never been out of print since its publication in 1876. But if you’re getting bogged down in Twain’s old-fashioned slang, dialect, and dialogue, give the audio version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer a try. Reading aloud brings Tom back to

life as nothing else could… not even attending his own funeral.

Lord of the Flies Yet another book that gets ruined for readers by being assigned too early in school just because the protagonists are kids. Yes, William Golding’s castaways shipwrecked on an island alone together are English schoolboys, but it takes an adult to fully understand the heart of darkness

revealed here. If you’ve ever dismissed the modern attitude toward bullies and said, “Oh, we should just let kids work it out themselves,” Lord of the Flies may change your mind. Either way, it will keep you up late turning pages till the heartthumping end. Check out these other great books you may have read too early.

The Great Gatsby If you haven’t read this one, you’re in for a treat. You may have seen the movie versions of this F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece about ethereal party girls, social climbers, floozies, and gamblers chasing each other through the Jazz Age, but nothing can prepare you for the ache of longing

that permeates the book all the way to its celebrated end: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Did you know

Fitzgerald almost called this book Trimalchio in West Egg? Here’s a list of also-ran titles for other familiar books.

The Scarlet Letter This one is easy. Honestly, do yourself a favour and don’t bother revisiting this dreary tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne that gives “red letter day” a whole new meaning. Poor old Hester Prynne has no husband and (gasp) gets pregnant anyway. For this sin, she and her baby are shunned by their Puritan colonial neighbours. She even must wear a scarlet “A” on her bodice to remind everyone of her pariah status. But it’s hard to fully pity her since she protects the identity of the baby’s father, a hypocritical married clergyman. There’s no redemption and no happy ending, except maybe the awareness of how lucky we are not to live in the 18th century. Thanks, Hawthorne.



Popular culture refers so often to George Orwell’s infamous dystopia about a dictatorship where all citizens are monitored for 'thought crimes' and all history is subject to revisionism, you may feel you’ve already gotten the point. But so much of its strength lies in the telling. Until you enter Orwell’s gray, joyless world where five minutes of hate against enemies of the state are the bright spot in everyone’s day, you can’t truly appreciate its horror. And of all the books on this list, 1984 may be the most important. And if by chance you’ve read all these classics, here’s another list of great books you

Of Mice and Men Don’t be fooled by the page count. John Steinbeck packs quite a wallop in this short tragic Western about a hard-bitten cowboy who can’t quite seem to abandon his enormous, dim-witted companion who quite literally doesn’t know his own strength… and is always getting into trouble thereby. In addition to their barebones, bare-knuckles lifestyle, the two friends share a dream of owning a farm together. We defy you not to cry at the end.

One of the most timeless and beautiful meditations on reading comes from the 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788– 1860). As one reflects more on the relationship between reading and acquiring wisdom, it is wise to discovered Schopenhauer’s classic 'On Reading and Books'.

In 'The Prince', Machiavelli offered the following advice: “A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it.” Seneca, writing on the same subject, said, “Men who have made these discoveries before us are not our masters, but our guides.” No matter what problem we face, odds are someone has faced it before and written about it.

We return to the fundamental questions. What does it mean to read? Is reading the path to acquiring wisdom? If not why? These are the questions that Schopenhauer attempts to address. Schopenhauer: "When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process." Mortimer Adler believed that reading is a conversation between you and the author. On this Schopenhauer comments: When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. It is the same as the pupil, in learning to write, following with his pen the lines that have been pencilled by the teacher." Accordingly, in reading, the work of thinking is, for the greater part, done for us. This is why we are consciously relieved when we turn to reading after being occupied with our own thoughts. But, in reading, our head is, however, really only the arena of someone else’s thoughts. And so, it happens that the person who reads a great deal, that is to say, almost the whole day and recreates himself by spending the intervals in thoughtless diversion, gradually loses the ability to think for himself; just as a man who is always riding at last forgets how to walk. Such, however, is the case with many men of learning: they have read themselves stupid. For to read in every spare moment, and to read constantly, is more paralyzing to the mind than constant manual work, which, at any rate, allows one to follow one’s own thoughts.

Just as a spring, through the continual pressure of a foreign body, at last loses its elasticity, so does the mind if it has another person’s thoughts continually forced upon it. And just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read if one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost. Indeed, it is the same with mental as with bodily food: scarcely the fifth part of what a man takes is assimilated; the remainder passes off in evaporation, respiration, and the like.

From all this it may be concluded thoughts put down on paper are nothing more than footprints in the sand: one sees the road the man has taken, but in order to know what he saw on the way, one requires his eyes. It is important to take time to think about what we are reading and not merely assume the thoughts of the author. We need to digest, synthesize, and organize the thoughts of others if we are to understand. This is the grunt work of thinking. It’s how we acquire wisdom.

This is how we acquire foundational knowledge. The knowledge that allows us to pull forth relevance when reading and bring it to consciousness. Without this foundational knowledge, we are unable to separate the signal from the noise. No literary quality can be attained by reading writers who possess it. Be

it, for example, persuasiveness, imagination, the gift of drawing comparisons, boldness or bitterness, brevity or grace, facility of expression or wit, unexpected contrasts, a laconic manner, naïveté, and the like.

But if we are already gifted with these qualities, that is to say, if

we possess them potential, we can call them forth and bring them to consciousness; we can discern to what uses they are to be put; we can be strengthened in our inclination, nay, may have courage, to use them; we can judge by examples the effect of their application and so learn the correct use of them; and it is only after we have accomplished all this that we actually possess these qualities. Reading consumes time. And if we equate time with money, it should not be wasted on bad books. In an argument that pulls to mind two filters for what to read, Schopenhauer writes: It is the same in literature as in life. Wherever one goes one immediately comes upon the incorrigible mob of humanity. It exists everywhere in legions; crowding, soiling everything, like flies in summer. Hence the numberless bad books, those rank weeds of literature which extract nourishment from the corn and choke it.

They monopolise the time, money, and attention which really belong to good books and their noble aims; they are written merely with a view to making money or procuring places.

They are not only useless, but they do positive harm. Nine-tenths of the whole of our present literature aims solely at taking a few shillings out of the public’s pocket, and to accomplish this, author, publisher and reviewer have joined forces. There is a more cunning and worse trick, albeit a profitable one. LittÊrateurs, hack-writers, and productive authors have succeeded, contrary to good taste and the true culture of the age, in bringing the world elegante into leading-strings, so that they have been taught to read a tempo and all the same thing, namely, the newest books order that they may have material for conversation in their social circles‌ but what can be more miserable than the fate of a reading public of this kind, that feels always impelled to read the latest writings of extremely commonplace authors who write for

money only, and therefore exist in numbers? And for the sake of this they merely know by name the works of the rare and superior writers, of all ages and countries. Knowing what to read is important but so is its inversion, knowing what not to read. This consists in not taking a book into one’s hand merely because it is interesting the great public at the time, such as political or religious pamphlets, novels, poetry and the like, which make a noise and reach perhaps several editions in their first and last years of existence.

Remember rather the man who writes for fools always finds a large public: and only read for a limited and definite time exclusively the works of great minds, those who surpass other men of all times and countries, and whom the voice of fame points to as such. These alone really educate and instruct. One can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books: bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind. In Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami makes the argument that “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.� On this Schopenhauer said: Oh, how like one commonplace mind is to another! How they are all fashioned in one form! How they all think alike under similar circumstances, and never differ! This is why their views are so

On the two types of literature, Schopenhauer comments: There are at all times two literatures which, although scarcely known to each other, progress side by side, the one real, the other merely apparent. The former grows into literature that lasts. Pursued by people who live for science or poetry, it goes its way earnestly and quietly, but extremely slowly; and it produces in Europe scarcely a dozen works in a century, which, however, are permanent. The other literature is pursued by people who live on

science or poetry; it goes at a gallop amid a great noise and shouting of those taking part and brings yearly many thousand works into the market. But after a few years one asks, where are they? where is their fame, which was so great formerly? This class of literature may be distinguished as fleeting, the other as permanent.

It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents. Commenting on why we learn little from what we read, he writes: It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents. To desire that a man should retain

everything he has ever read, is the same as wishing him to retain in his stomach all that he has ever eaten. He has been bodily nourished on what he has eaten, and mentally on what he has read, and through them become what he is. As the body assimilates what is homogeneous to it, so will a man retain what interests him; in other words, what coincides with his system of thought or suits his ends. Everyone has aims, but very few have anything approaching a system of thought. This is why such people do not take an objective interest in anything, and why they learn nothing

from what they read: they remember nothing about it. But reading good works is not enough. We must re-read important works immediately because it aids our understanding, a concept that Mortimer Adler echoes. Any kind of important book should immediately be read twice, partly because one grasps the matter in its entirety the second time, and only really understands the beginning when the end is known; and partly because in reading it the second time one’s temper and mood are different, so that one gets another impression; it may be that one sees the matter in another light. Advancement happens in a flurry of false starts. It answers the age-old question of why so many luminaries. whether scientific or even artistic, fail to be recognised in their present age as they will later come to be seen by the world. Imagine the progress of knowledge among mankind in the form of a

planet’s course. The false paths the human race soon follows after any important progress has been made represent the epicycles in the Ptolemaic system; after passing through any one of them the planet is just where it was before it entered it.

The great minds, however, which really bring the race further on its course, do not accompany it on the epicycles which it makes every time. This explains why posthumous fame is got at the expense of contemporary fame, and vice versâ. If you think Schopenhauer is for you, pick up a copy of The Essential Schopenhauer: Key Selections from The World As Will and Representation and Other Writings.

Nothing literary here, unless you like a darned good story. Our story starts in September 1912, Melbourne, Australia, and spans a four-month period in which the Birtles Brothers (Clive and Francis) pulled a publicity stunt in a 20-horsepower Flanders Touring car. Their goal was to drive across Australia in the Flanders, which was perhaps Flanders’ attempt at competing with Ford Motor Company. The expedition would take Clive, his brother Francis and Wowser the dog on the trip of a lifetime . Since there were no windows in the Flanders Touring car, rocks, dirt

and pretty much the entire Outback could kick up into the car, causing damage to poor Wowser’s eyes. So naturally, the brothers protected Wowser to the best of their ability with a pair of customized goggles The quartet left Melborne, headed to Sydney, then Brisbane, Charters Towers, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and finally back down to Melbourne. According to our new-fangled Google Maps, that would take about 102 hours today, which translates to about four and a quarter days, give or take a few rest stops and breaks for selfies.

Back then, it took four months.

Please have a better name than Wowser, which according to this podcast on the Birtles, meant such unsavoury things as "prostitute," then changed to an "obtrusively puritanical person" or "prude," and later to an adorable 50s expression for “the comic book hero got the bad guy.� Listen to the National Library of Australia's Fiona Hooton tell Louise Maher all about Wowser the Dog and other companion

animals who have been important to the success of Australia's explorers. Outback adventurer, record-holding long-distance cyclist and pioneer motorist, Francis Edwin Birtles (1881-1941) crossed Australia dozens of times, taking many photographs, making movies with Frank Hurley and breaking many endurance records. On Saturday, 13 February 1915 he left Sydney for a six month long motoring tour following Burke and Wills' track. Unaccompanied this time, except for his bulldog, Birtles, he reached Broken Hill on 25 February and Adelaide on 1 March. He remained in Adelaide for two weeks to recover from an illness and then went via Burra, Port Augusta, Quorn and Maree to Cooper Creek. He reached Boulia in May, Gilliat in June and Normanton on Saturday, 5 June 1915. He then returned to Melbourne via Cape York, Einasleigh, Hughenden, Tambo, Roma, Toowoomba and Brisbane, arriving in Melbourne at the end of September 1915 having covered 7,000 miles in seven months. Birtles took a movie camera and made a cinematographic record of the journey. He then drove from Melbourne to Swan Hill and Menindee to finish the movie of the Burke and Wills' track. The film was called 'Across Australia: In the Tracks of Burke and Wills' and was released by The Co-Operative Film Exchange Ltd of Melbourne. It opened in Melbourne at Hoyt's Olympia Theatre on Christmas Day 1915. Find out more, here.

Maemuna Sadaf

was born in

throwing stones into a lake.

Rawalpindi , Pakistan. She has an MBA in finance.

Maemuna asked why the man was doing this?

Maemuna began writing for Urdu newspapers in 2013, before writing columns for English newspapers.

He told her, he was not just throwing stones into the water, but throwing away his worries, transmitting them, via the pebbles, into the water.

'Pallak Basaira', Maemuna's first book, a collection of short stories, written in her native language, Urdu, was published in 2017.

'Me and my Mother' an English language book, followed a shortly after. Her inspiration to write, she says, came shortly after her grandfather's death, when she had a chance meeting with an old man, who was

Maemuna says…

Depression can be termed as consistent anxiety. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest (Depression: Mayo Clinic). Research from Andy Thomson and Paul Andrews depicts that Depression is a psychological desire to be better, stronger, to reflect on where mistakes are made and trying to find out the way to improve. On the other hand, depression can be an evolutionary way to tightly focus attention on what needs changing.

The old man told Maemuna that, if she did not cast away her troubles, her worries would throw her away.

This chance meeting was the catalyst which gave Maemuna the courage to write about honestly about herself, the anxiety and the depression she suffered and to share ways she combats such psychological disorder.

Depression is also termed as a balancing act that focuses on the areas of life which need improvement. Flaws in one’s personality make him/her angry and he wants to get rid of these flaws. But, in prolonged and severe cases it can lead to suicide. Depression is also called “Disease of modernity”. Contemporary lifestyle creates conditions for depression and anxiety. In a publication of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), reported that Depression can affect anyone. Even a person living in ideal circumstances can suffer from it.

Several factors can play role in the creation of this disease including biochemistry, biological differences, hormones, inherited traits, genetics, personality traits or environmental factors. Depression gets worst if not treated resulting in emotional, behavioural and health problems (Depression symptoms and causes: Mayo Clinic). Nowadays, depression is the main disorder in which people of both developed countries and underdeveloped countries are suffering. According to a report issued by the World Health Organization, WHO, dated 22nd March 2018 “Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.”

It was reported in Tanner Christesen15thJuly 2013, that 1 in 10 Americans have claimed to suffer from one form of depression (According to CDC). The paper further reported that 7% of American suffers from agonizing loneliness,

WHO report about depression mentioned that long-lasting, moderate or severe intensity of depression may become serious health condition. Depression is a major cause of disability across the globe. It is also a major contributor to the global burden of disease. At its worst depression can lead to suicide. Around 800000 people

mental and emotional darkness and numerous other symptoms of varying degrees all attributed to this singular disorder. In a paper written by Horton (2010) it was reported that a study of 26,685 undergraduates (2008), nearly 25% had depressive symptoms which affect their academic performance. Depression is the time when most people feel pity for their self, loneliness, lack of friends, missing sincerity from others in their lives, poverty etc. Broken relationships are also a cause for this depression. Depression can be termed as “Silent Killer”. It may lead to physical problems as well including continued muscular pains, headaches, and other related diseases. A person suffering from depression may start hating life and the world. He stops thinking in a positive way. A state of continues depression can lead to serious neurological, Psychological problems, illness or even death. In fact, Depression is the base root of many diseases.

die due to suicide. Suicide is the second major cause of death in the ages of 15-25. 10% of the People who are suffering from this disease receive treatments. In developing and underdeveloped countries depression is either not diagnosed or wrongly diagnosed. It was further reported that there is an interrelationship between depression and physical health.

Depression can lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life and depression itself. On the other hand, it is the most treatable disorder. 80% to 90% of people with depression respond well to the treatment. If one side of depression is horrible, yet another can be much brighter than the sun. One may be amazed by the words “Brighter side of Depression”. Yes. Like all the dark clouds depression also has a silver lining. It depends on thinking. Positive thinking can lead to positive results. Writing about the benefits of depression, the ultimate benefit of depression is “loneliness”. In depression, one can express their feeling better than ordinary human beings. Loneliness is a key to bring out creativity from one’s self. Psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison wrote in her book Touched with Fire “To assume then that such disease usually promote artistic talent wrongly reinforces simplistic notions

of the “mad genius”. But it seems that this disease can enhance or otherwise contribute to creativity in some people.” Psychologists Mihaela Ivan Holz on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy Depression can be understood as “Lifeforce” or problem. Despite the different flavours and causes of depression, there is one common thread among all of them: loss of vitality. C Diane Ealy, PhD in her book “The Woman’s Book of creativity wrote, “Many studies have shown us that a young girl’s ideas are frequently discounted by her peers and teachers. In response, she stifles her creativity. The adult who is not expressing her creativity is falling short of her potential.” In Tanner Christensen essay, “The link between depression and creativity and how it can be good for you” reported throughout history man world-leading thinkers have suffered from depression, including historical Naturalist and evolutionary

Creativity is all about thinking. Overthinking can lead to manic episodes of feeling hopeless, alone, or like a failure. On the other hand, the motivational boost is often an inverse of the level of depression. Depression can stimulate creativity.

revealing activity. It gives a sanctuary to hide from everyday pain and sorrow. Hence, reveal their hidden emotions. An artist reveals his emotions in his masterpieces and it relieves him from a deep state of depression.

Experiencing strong emotions, people become more sensitive to art. Art is basically a relieving and

Psychologists have been fascinated by the link between mental health and creativity.

famous artists suffered from depression. In a report published by “Insider” named “the link between creativity and mental health”, it is narrated that one study by “National Statistics in England” (2011-2015) showed people who work in arts-related jobs are porn to depression. On the other hand, depression leads their minds to creativity. Slegers (PhD from La Trobe University in sociology) wrote “The evidence is growing for a significant link between bipolar disorder and creative temperament and achievement” A neuroscientist Andreas Fink published a study comparing the brains of creative people and people living with schizotypy. A report published by CNN in 2014 depicted that among people working in creative fields 8% likely to live with bipolar disorder. 121% of writers suffer from depression and nearly 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general public. Depression and creativity are interlinked as far as back as Aristotle. Many famous writers, artists, musicians suffered from this disease or state of mind. The list is long in which includes writers, musicians, and dancers. Some of the most well-known are Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace, Charles Dickens, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O Neil, Poet Sylvia Plath and the artist Vincent Van Gogh. Michael Soward, the founding father of NuDisco. In his mid-50’s, he suffered from depression. Expressing himself in

music and eventually in writing has helped him to manage depression symptoms. He said, “Writing and journaling become a real positive medicine if nothing works smile.” He wrote in his book (Life-ology 101) Alan Manevitz, MD, a clinical psychiatrist (Lenox Hill Hospital, New York) reported: “One of the things that depression does is because people to ruminate and more creativity come out of rumination.” Depressed people are often thorough analysts. Anxiety and sadness make one more attentive and detail oriented. Every one of us remembers bad situations more thoroughly than good times.

To cope up with your depression follow some of the ways mentioned below. One should take serious steps to control stress which reaching out to friends and family. Even in the earliest signs, one should get treatment. If treatment is not possible, one should treat himself.

Psychotherapy or Talk Therapy is a very effective treatment for mild depression or to the moderatesevere condition. Electroconvulsive Therapy is medical treatment is used for patients suffering from severe depression. Regular exercise can also help to create positive feelings and improve mood. Getting enough and quality sleep on regular basis, eating a healthy diet and avoiding drugs can help relief in depression. Healthy habits can reduce symptoms of depression.

In most cases, depression arises from a sense of loneliness and the suppression of emotions. To treat depression, giveaway to your thoughts when you are in depression by writing, painting etc. the thoughts which are piled up in your heart and mind may destroy everything including your relations. When something is stuck in your mind, chances are there you feel relieved when you get it out. You do not need to show your work to anyone. Just expression is enough. Creating something original out of your feelings can be satisfying. Start talking to your own self and be your own best friend. Remind yourself every day “You are the only person who cannot betray you.� Give quality time to yourself. It will not only bring you out from this deadly disease but will also groom yourself. Write your feelings: For instance, you are not a creative person what can you do in your depression? Just buy a pen and a diary. Start writing your feelings in any language, without caring about grammar and quality of writing. Write every single feeling of

yourself on a piece of paper. Burn it, tear it and flush the remains. Along with burned paper, flush negative feelings as well. Sketch or Paint: use any medium, art pad, paper or canvas. You can make anything simply from a kitchen table to a bug. Play Music or listen to the Music: Listen to happy music or relaxing music or play by your own self. Meditation music is available for free nowadays. Take Photographs: Go out of the home and start taking photographs. It can be street photography or natural scenes captured. Being a perfect photographer is not necessary. Having knowledge of photography software is not necessary. Just dusting off camera and relieving depression is possible. Watch or make a movie: Making a movie from the camera or mobile phone is also a good hobby. Try other hobbies: any hobby in which your concentration diverts from the specific sorrow will give you relief in depression. You do not need to be shy or embarrassed while trying to be creative.

Febbre del Cuore Traduttore: Paolo Santini L’edizione originale della raccolta di racconti “Heart Fever” Febbre del Cuore - (The Anaphora Literary Press, USA, 2018) dello scrittore fiammingo Bob Van Laerhoven è entrata nella cinquina dei finalisti del concorso letterario statunitense Silver Falchion 2018 nella categoria "raccolte di racconti". Van Laerhoven è stato l'unico finalista non statunitense. In allegato troverete una copia EPUB per la recensione. ebook disponibile su: Amazon.it, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Apple, Tolino, Kobo, Streetlib, Mondadori, eccetera…. l'edizione cartacea (brossura) è disponibile su amazon.it e su tutti gli altri siti internazionali di Amazon. Qualora per recensire il libro desideraste una copia cartacea, Vi prego di inviare un'e-mail a Paolo Santini (ig.ps81@gmail.com)

Dopo il successo della raccolta "Pericolose ossessioni", i cui racconti hanno in comune lo scenario della guerra, l'autore fiammingo Van Laerhoven stupisce ancora con cinque storie che gettano una luce penetrante sui nostri impulsi più autodistruttivi. Un mercenario siriano di Bashar al Assad dipendente dagli steroidi è deciso a diventare un "martire" dopo la perdita del braccio destro dovuta al "fuoco amico". Un conducente in pensione della metropolitana di Londra è ossessionato dal desiderio di vendicare sul proprio nipote il brutale omicidio dei suoi genitori in Croazia. Uno scrittore di viaggio belga rimane invischiato nella follia della guerra in Kosovo durante gli anni Novanta e molto tempo dopo a New York diventa testimone delle drammatiche conseguenze del conflitto. Un cinico pittore d'arte grezza di Bruxelles tradisce il suo migliore amico, un falsario ruandese, consegnandolo alla mafia e così facendo apre la porta al senso di colpa, alla lussuria e all'omicidio.

Negli anni Settanta un bugiardo nato, soprannominato Johnny di Machio, si reca a Poona, in India, nel tentativo di risolvere i propri problemi sessuali nell'ashram di Bhagwan, ma rimane intrappolato in un labirinto di violenza a lungo nascosta. Come scrive Aldous Huxley ne "Il mondo nuovo" (1932): "Le parole possono essere paragonate ai raggi X; se si usano a dovere, attraversano ogni cosa." Ed è ciò che fa Van Laerhoven, portando alla luce la nostra solitudine interiore e il nostro ego famelico. "Febbre del cuore" è più di una malattia passeggera. Bob Van Laerhoven è un autore fiammingo di thriller letterari. Ha pubblicato più di trentacinque libri fra i Paesi Bassi e il Belgio. Fra il 1990 e il 2003 è stato uno scrittore di viaggio a tempo pieno, e ha visitato soprattutto zone di guerra (Somalia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Gaza, Liberia, Iraq, Iran, Mozambico, Sudan, Libano, Myanmar, per elencarne solo alcune).

Nel 2007 ha vinto l'Hercule Poirot Prize per il miglior thriller dell'anno nei Paesi Bassi con "De wraak van Baudelaire" (La vendetta di Baudelaire). Il romanzo è stato pubblicato in Francia, Canada, Stati Uniti, Russia. “La Vendetta di Baudelaire" ha vinto il premio USA Best Book nel 2014, nella categoria Mistery/Suspense. La raccolta di racconti "Pericolose ossessioni" (The Anaphora Literary Press, USA, 2015) è stata votatata come miglior raccolta di racconti del 2015 nel San Diego Book Review. La traduzione in inglese del suo romanzo "Terug naar Hiroshima" (Ritorno a Hiroshima) verrà pubblicata nel 2018 dalla True Crime Wave Press (Hong Kong). "Febbre del cuore" è stato pubblicato nel gennaio del 2018 dall'editore americano Anaphora Literary Press. Babelcube ha pubblicato le traduzioni in italiano, spagnolo, portoghese e svedese di "Pericolose ossessioni". Il blog letterario Murder, Mayhem & More ha incluso "Ritorno a Hiroshima" fra i migliori dieci romanzi gialli internazionali del 2018."Febbre del cuore" è una delle cinque opere finaliste del premio letterario statunitense Silver Falchion del 2018, nella categoria "raccolte di racconti". Van Laerhoven è stato l'unico autore non statunitense ad accedere alla fase finale del premio.

Autore Bob Van Laerhoven Copyright © 2019 Bob Van Laerhoven

Tutti i diritti riservati Distribuito da Babelcube, Inc. www.babelcube.com Traduzione di Paolo Santini “Babelcube Books” e “Babelcube” sono marchi registrati Babelcube Inc. Bob Van Laerhoven - Belgium/Flanders www.bobvanlaerhoven.be (NL/FR/EN) www.bobvanlaerhoven.com Russian website for Месть Бодлера, the Russian edition of Baudelaire’s Revenge

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Though each book can be read as a standalone novel, when read together, they create a rich world where nothing is what is seems.

Award winning author of The Coin, The Book of Hours, and The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories

Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband. Cuban by birth, and American by choice, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin, and has held at least as many professional occupations, including time as a dancer, singer, journalist, literature teacher, and now, novelist. A lover of all things medieval, she became a speaker of many tongues—literally—including Spanish, French, Italian,

and German, as well as reading Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina and Kiss of Death Chapters, and Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans.

www.mariaelenawrites.com www.mariaelenawrites.blogspot.com

— There is a maxim in creative writing courses that states: Write about what you know. The reason for these words is simple. If you write what you know, then your descriptions, setting, and even dialogue will flavor your

work with authenticity, making your world believable for the reader. If you write about what you know, the reader will have a better chance to enter your fictive dream, empathize with it, and even recognize it, especially if they’ve had experiences similar to those found in your works. This, obviously, does not apply to creative works such as fantasy or science fiction, where the fun, to the reader, is about the discovery of new intriguing worlds and fantastical characters. And even then, characters and plot points have to have an anchor in that maxim in order for the reader to empathize with the writing. If it is too alien and too unrecognizable, there will be an issue. There will be no emotional link. But that is for another discussion. Everything in my works, from the suspense/thriller novels to my short story collection, has elements of this “write what you know.” In my short story collection, The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories, the section “Soul Songs” deals with personal, Cuban exile experiences,

fictionalized to show the reader the tribulations of losing self, home, and country. My second novel, The Book of Hours, uses the reproduction of a medieval manuscript for the suspense plot point, which ties into my knowledge of twelfth century French Romances, which was the theme of my Masters Degree. And, for my first novel, which I will discuss here, I used my knowledge of the French Riviera as a plot point to write a thriller.

To explain…

— Hay un aforismo en cursos sobre la escritura creativa que expone: Escribe lo que conoces. La razón por estas palabras es simple. Si el autor escribe sobre lo que conoce, entonces sus descripciones, el marco de su historia, y hasta el diálogo

sazonará la obra con autenticidad, haciéndola más verosímil para los lectores. Si el autor escribe lo que conoce, el lector tendrá mejor oportunidad de entrar en lo que se refiere el sueño imaginario/ficticio, y de poder simpatizar con el mismo, hasta reconocerlo, específicamente si dicho lector ha tenido experiencias semejantes a las que encuentra en la obra. Claro está, lo ante dicho no incluye las obras de fantasía o ciencia ficción, donde el descubrimiento de mundos interesantes y personajes fantásticos son lo que atraen al lector. Y, aún más, los personajes y la trama tienen que estar anclados en el aforismo

para que el lector sienta simpatía por lo escrito. Si es muy ajeno el mundo ó es poco reconocible, surge un problema. No habrá conexión emotiva. Pero ese tema es para otra discusión más adelante. Todas mis obras, desde las novelas de suspenso/thriller como la colección de cuentos cortos, incluyen el elemento de “escribe lo que conoces”. Por ejemplo, dentro de mi colección de cuentos cortos, The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories (La Pecera: Y Otros Cuentos Cortos), hay una sección titulada ‘Soul

Songs’ (ó Canciones del Alma) donde expongo mis experiencias personales del exilio cubano, dramatizadas para indicar las tribulaciones de pérdida personal, hogar, y tierra. Mi segunda novela, The Book of Hours (El Manuscrito de las Horas) usa la reproducción de un manuscrito medieval como tema de suspenso en la trama que, a la vez, está conectado a mi conocimiento de los romances franceses del siglo XII, que fue la tesis de mi maestría. Y, en mi primera novela, The Coin (La Moneda), uso mi

Para explicar…

For five wonderful years, I lived in a small village called Le Plan de Grasse, nestled between the Côte d’Azur and the Maritime Pre-Alps, near Cannes. The political atmosphere at the time (1993) was a bit restless, with desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, plane hijackings, and possible war. Many places around the area had remnants of WWII Nazi occupation. My French neighbors related colorful stories of how they had survived the last world war, as well. I, being a Cuban exile myself, as well as a survivor of a horrific totalitarian regime, marveled at the similarities in our stories. Marveled at the resilience of the human spirit. So, on a beautiful day, when my sons and I went for a walk in a hiking trail on the mountains, I discovered a clearing. And while resting there, I also discovered coins on the ground. The discovery triggered my imagination, and a “what if” scenario blossomed. What would happen if a woman found a coin on the mountain, but the coin was somehow linked to a dangerous person who wants to keep a very nasty secret safe? And who can save this woman’s life when things go wrong?

That is the moment my first thriller, The Coin, was born. In writing about what I knew, I created a character who was Cuban-born, a woman whose family had been persecuted and who had lost everything. A woman that would not allow the maniac that was threatening her into silence, to win, despite the threats. I created an American agent because I was extremely familiar with American culture. And I used my knowledge of the area—the narrow streets, the dangerous mountainous roads, the topography of the area, and other elements—to create the tension and the suspense in the plot. Because I was writing about what I knew, the descriptions were easier to write, the action easier to create, the narrative easier to visualize. And the reader was able to recognize these elements and delve into the story with wholehearted enthusiasm.

So, when you read Jo Nesbø, or Vince Flynn, or Michael Crichton, or Michele Giuttari, you’ll know why you entered their fictive dreams with such alacrity. Why? Because they wrote about what they knew.

Durante cinco años fantásticos, viví en el pueblo pequeño de Le Plan

de Grasse, acurrucado entre la Côte d’Azur y los Alpes Pre-Marítimos, cerca de Cannes. La atmósfera política de ese momento (1993) era inquieta, con la profanación de cementerios judíos, secuestros de aviones, y hasta posibilidad de guerra. Muchos lugares en el alrededor tenían remanentes de la ocupación Nazi durante la segunda guerra mundial. Mis vecinos franceses relataban historias extravagantes de su sobrevivencia durante esos años de guerra mundial. Yo misma, siendo exiliada cubana, y una sobreviviente de un régimen totalitario

horripilante, me maravillaba de las similitudes entre nuestras historias. También me maravillaba sobre la adaptación del espíritu humano. Fue entonces, en un día precioso, cuando mis hijos y yo fuimos a caminar por un sendero montañoso, que descubrí un claro dentro del bosque. Y mientras descansaba allí, encontré muchas monedas en el suelo. El descubrimiento desencadenó mi imaginación y se desarrolló un escenario de ‘qué pasaría si…’. Que pasaría si una mujer encontrara una moneda en la montaña, pero dicha moneda está, de alguna forma,

vinculada a una persona deseosa que esa información permaneciese secreta? Y quien salvará la vida de esa mujer cuando las cosas se empeoren? Ese fue el instante en el cual mi primer thriller, The Coin (La Moneda) nació. Escribiendo lo que conocía, creé un personaje de una mujer cubana, cuya familia había sido perseguida y la cual había perdido todo. Una mujer que, a pesar de las amenazas para silenciarla, no iba a permitir que un maniático ganase. Creé un agente americano porque estaba bien familiarizada con la cultura americana. Y usé mi conocimiento del área—las calles angostas, las curvas traicioneras en la montaña, la topografía de la región, y otros elementos—para crear la tensión y suspenso en la trama. Porque estaba escribiendo lo que conocía, las descripciones fueron más fáciles de escribir, la acción más fácil de crear, la narrativa más fácil de visualizar. Y el lector, a su vez, iba a tener la oportunidad de reconocer estos elementos y ahondar en la novela con un entusiasmo incondicional. Así que, cuando ustedes lean a Jo Nesbø, ó Vince Flynn, ó Michael Crichton, ó a Michele Giuttari, ustedes sabrán entrar con alacridad dentro de los sueños imaginarios de cada autor. La razón? Ellos escribieron lo que conocían.

Electric Press asked a group of authors this question

"We have heard it said, a book dies when it is turned into a movie; what do you think?" The following are the replies we received. Do you agree? Let us know your views at, TheElectricpress@mail.com

"I'd say quite the opposite. Being made into a movie is a way of giving a book life, not killing it. It lets the story grow and change and find new audiences. The story that doesn't grow and adapt is the one that dies." Ben S Reader, creator of the 'Demon Apprentice' series. https:// amzn.to/2Tzsj8t "No, it’s good marketing. Readers may want to read the book before they see the movie." Justin Thomas Joseph, 'The Adventures of Mary Nobleman'. https:// amzn.to/2Opsty2 "A well-written script derived from a book can absolutely be a remarkable story providing the editing doesn't rape away a valuable story content. I have read and re-read books that I have additionally seen in movie format ... Harry Potter?" Margery Miller-MonDragon, author of, 'The Chosen Ones: Thy Will Be Done'. https://amzn.to/2OoPWQ2 "The book remains despite a subpar adaptation. The story is still there on paper for anyone who cares to read it." Matthew David Evans, author of, 'Massacre at Sundown'. https:// amzn.to/2TV1cd1 "I loved reading many books that were also turned into movies. Alice in Wonderland. I still have a copy of In Through the Looking Glass that I was given as a little girl. Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter Series..." C.A. Keith, The Naïve Princess https://amzn.to/2JJULVm Books always sell when turned into movies. Therefore, books multiply, not die, when they hit the silver screen. Jamie Dickey, debut novel, Secret Monitor Men. https:// www.authorjamiedickey.com

“I think movies are a great introduction to the books they are based on. I remember going to watch the first Harry Potter and LOTR movies, and reading the rest of the series, because the films couldn't come out fast enough. Then there are other books like The Horse Whisperer, that came to my attention because of all the hype around the film (I'm so glad I read the book first, as it's miles better than the movie!).” Kelly S. Marsden, Creator of the Witch-Hunter trilogy https:// amzn.to/2TDaFBp L.O.T.R trilogy will never die. I can't think of how many times I've read those books; well all of Tolkien's books. I actually read the books after watching the first film, Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, they missed some parts out from the books, but Jackson put them in the extended featured edition, which was near 30mins longer than the cinema films. I had such an addiction to the books and films that I was made one of the managers on L.O.T.R UK fan site. And trust me, we ripped the books apart in our forums. Nothing got past us. lol It was because of the trilogy, my duology 'Illusional Reality' was born. Although there are no trolls, elves, hobbits, wizards or goblins in my books, readers have seen a similarity from the world building. Many said how different Illusional Reality is, compared to other fantasies they have read. And they are the best compliments I could wish for. Karina Kantas, author of the Illusional Reality books. https:// amzn.to/2Wuu8W2 So many books have been made into movies. Understanding that the medium is different, and subject to editing or adjustment based on film image vs. mind image, I think that each approach needs to be judged separately. Consider—The Hobbit. Long before the movies, and even before the animated version, I had my own image of what a hobbit looked like, and I think the films did the story justice. In Return of the King, the first sighting of Minas Tirith was spectacular, more real than Tolkien could have described it. How about Huckleberry Finn? Or the Godfather? Or any of Clancy's books? Or Jason Bourne's trilogy. Ludlum would have been proud. Books can provide greater detail and description, e.g. The Killer Angels, but if a story line is good, and characters are well-designed and developed, a film can do as much to bring the story to life. John Jakes' trilogy, North and South, was made into a TV serial, and was well casted. The series was as entertaining as the books. And in the long run, isn't entertainment the point of both? Michael R Stern, author of the Quantum Touch series, STORM PORTAL is book one. https://amzn.to/2Us1fMA



Paul J. Heald used some software that crawled Amazon for a random selection of books. The preliminary results were startling:

There were as many books available in the 1910s as there were from the 2000s. The number of books from the 1850s was double the number available from the 1950s. Why? Copyright protections (which cover titles published in 1923 and after) squashed the market for books from the middle of the 20th century, keeping many titles off shelves and out of the hands of the reading public. Heald has now finalised his research and the results…. Read on…

"Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability," Heald writes. "Shortly after works are created and proprietised, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners."

Fig 1

Fig1 shows the simple interpretation of data. It reveals there are substantially more new editions available of books from the 1910s than from the 2000s. Editions of books that fall under copyright are available in about the same quantities as those from the first half of the 19th century. Publishers are simply not publishing copyrighted titles unless they are very recent. However, this graph does not show a comprehensive picture of how many books are available, because for books in the public domain often have various editions and this random sample possibly overrepresents them.

"After all," Heald explains, "if one feeds a random ISBN number into Amazon, one is more likely to retrieve Milton's Paradise Lost (with 401 editions and 401 ISBN numbers) than Lorimer's A Wife out of Egypt (1 edition and 1 ISBN)."


Fig 2

Heald found, on average, public domain titles had a median of four editions per title. (The mean was 16, but highly distorted by the

presence of a small number of books with hundreds of editions. For this reason, statisticians whom Heald consulted recommended using the median.) Heald divided the number of public-domain editions by four, providing a graph that compares the number of titles available.

Heald says the picture is "quite dramatic." The most recent decade looks better by comparison, but the depression of the 20th century is still notable, followed by a boom for the most recent decades when works fall into the public domain. Presumably, Heald writes, in a market with no copyright distortion, these graphs would show "a fairly smoothly downward sloping curve from the decade 2000-2010 to the decade of 1800-1810 based on the assumption that works generally become less popular as they age (and therefore are less desirable to market)." But that's not at all what we see. "Instead," he continues, "the curve declines sharply and

quickly, and then rebounds significantly for books currently in the public domain initially published before 1923."

Heald's conclusion? Copyright "makes books disappear"; its expiration brings them back to life. Books which are most affected are those from recent decades, such as the 80s and 90s, for which there is a large gap between the abstract notion of people's interest and what is available. This is not a gently sloping downward curve. Publishers seem unwilling to sell their books on Amazon for more than a few years after their initial publication. The data suggest current publishing business models makes books disappear shortly after their publication and long before they are scheduled to fall into the public domain.

Copyright law then deters their reappearance as long as they are owned. On the left side of the graph before 1920, the decline presents a more time-sensitive downward sloping curve. But, this chart may also understate the effects of copyright, since this comparison assumes the same quantity of books has been published each decade. This is, clearly, not the case. Increasing literacy coupled with technological efficiencies means far more titles are published per year in the 21st century than in the 19th.

The exact number per year, for the last 200 years, is unknown, but Heald and his assistants were able to arrive at an approximation by relying on the number of titles available for each year in WorldCat, a library catalogue containing the complete listings of 72,000 libraries around the world. He then normalized the graph to the decade of the 1990s,

which saw the greatest number of titles published.

The effect of copyright appears extreme. Heald says that the WorldCat research showed there were eight times as many books published in the 1980s as in the 1880s, but there are, roughly, as many titles available on Amazon for the two decades. So, in a nutshell, this means a book published during the presidency of Chester A. Arthur has a greater chance of being in print today than one published during the time of Reagan. Copyright advocates have long (and successfully) argued that keeping books copyrighted assures the

owners can make a profit off their intellectual property, and that profit incentive will "assure the books availability and adequate distribution."

The evidence, it appears, says otherwise.

Paul J. Heald

was born in Evanston, Illinois, and

attended the University of Illinois. He began writing fiction while in college but quit abruptly when he discovered he had nothing much to say. So, Paul fled graduate school for Madrid where he taught English and then at Florida A & M University, before attending law school at the University of Chicago. In order to feed his three small children, he taught copyright law at the University of Georgia School of Law from 1989 to 2011 where he was the youngest professor to ever have been granted an endowed chair. In 2011, he became the Corman Research Professor at the University of Illinois

College of Law. For decades, all creative energy was channelled into dozens of articles on intellectual property law and thousands of scurrilous emails. In October 2014, Skyhorse published his first book – Death in Eden. It is the first instalment in a multipart series of books – The Clarkeston Chronicles — whose characters find themselves wandering the

lovely tree-lined streets of Clarkeston, Georgia. When he is not writing, Paul sings vaguely on pitch with various groups and teaches copyright law. He is a member of the Red Herring fiction workshop


When new evidence arises in a cold case, can Professor Hopkins refrain from delving into a newfound world of corruption, vice, and danger?

Stanley Hopkins cannot resist the invitation from a honey-voiced US attorney asking him to track down the source of photographs of a young dance major abducted five years earlier from her apartment in

Clarkeston, Georgia. A journalist has stumbled across newly posted pictures of Diana Cavendish on the Internet, apparently taken just days before she disappeared with her boyfriend.

While Stanley deals with vexing personal problems and scrambles to identify the owner of the website that acquired the photos, small-town journalist James

Murphy and federal prosecutor Melanie Wilkerson uncover new evidence of the crime—and the coverup—that ranges far beyond the confines of the victim’s quaint Georgia college town. .

This second installment of the Clarkeston Chronicles presents new challenges for Hopkins that take him far

from the California base he established in Death in Eden and introduces him to a fascinating group of collaborators who will anchor him in small-town Georgia.


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