Fiction or Future
I have the priviledge of teaming up with two of my colleagues for a booksigning on May 5th. at the Inner Bean located at 139 Davis Road in Augusta, Georgia. I will be signing my new fiction/espionage novel, An Underground Jewell, an my book of poetry, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World.
Pulse Points of a Woman
Marsha Maurer, a published self-help/inspirational author, will be signing her book, With Healing Wings: Prayers For Those Who Hurt And Those Who Care .
Cathy Fishman, an author of children’s books will also be signing her books at this event. She has a series of Jewish holiday books titled: On Passover, On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, On Hanukkah, On Purim,
All these books are available on Amazon.
An Underground Jewell - Cyber Crime, Mystery, Fiction
The newly released novel, An Underground Jewell, maybe a fiction espionage novel, but based on current news reports, it may not be on far off base after all. As cyber crime increases so do the possiblilites that is threating us all. The following are from current reports from various agencies that show just how big of a threat it is becoming.
Paul Haven, an Associated Press Writer, reported a couple of days ago that: The Pentagon this week said it spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems. In addition, the White House is wrapping up a 60-day review of how the government can better use technology to protect everything from the nation’s electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems and nuclear launch codes. In 2008, according to the Department of Homeland Security, there were 5,499 known breaches of U.S. government computers with malicious software that is up from 3,928 the previous year, and just 2,172 in 2006.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), 2008 Annual Report states that complaints of online crime hit a record high in 2008. IC3 received 275,284 complaints, a 33.1% increase over the previous year. The total dollar loss linked to online fraud was $265 million, about $25 million more than in 2007. The average individual loss amounted to $931.
According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan organization in Washington, serious breaches by what are described as “unknown foreign entities.” The report added that these have occurred in recent years in computers at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce, as well as NASA. Gone are the days when spies of previous years hid microfilm in a hollowed-out pumpkin, or placed classified documents inside a potted plant.
Unfortunately, the ubiquity of computers and the need to spread information electronically leaves us all vulnerable. Joel Brenner, head of the U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, has warned that skilled cyber attackers can remotely turn on the camera on your home computer, convert your cell phone into a listening device, and even convert the earphones of your iPod into microphones.
Economist and federal government consultant, Scott Borg, has projected that a third of the country without power for three months would cost $700 billion. Comparing the crisis to 40 or 50 hurricanes striking all at once, Borg told the BBC that the threat could produce “greater economic damage than any modern economy ever suffered … It’s greater than the Great Depression. It’s greater than the damage we did with strategic bombing on Germany in World War II.”
David Livingstone, author of a report on cyber threats by the London-based Chatham House think tank, said cyber espionage is a problem in all sectors — businesses, government and individuals. “Anywhere there is attractive intellectual property and anything that is valuable and useful to someone else will be a target,” he said.
Daniel Berger, in his article, Taking Cyber Warfare Seriously, (emory wheel.com) said, “Internet communication empowers anyone with a laptop with the ability to broadcast to the world. It also empowers anyone knowledgeable enough to control much of what is stored on Internet databases. For all of the billions being thrown around by politicians, our global financial crisis could be aggravated if under-regulation and over-leveraging synergizers emerge with intent to harm.”
Asked what percentage of crimes will be computer-related or computer-assisted 10 years from now, Lt. Amanda Simmons of the South Carolina Computer Crime Center – a well-versed expert on the topic – replied, “As today’s technologically savvy children and teenagers grow older, I believe there is a possibility that nearly every crime will eventually involve some high-tech piece of evidence.”
Lt. Rocky Costa, who heads the Southern California High Technology Task Force and is equally experienced, concurs: “Today computer or computer-related crime makes up perhaps a quarter of all crimes we see – a percentage that is bound to increase.
Take a glimple into a possible future and read, An Underground Jewell to see where current trends could lead. Will the day come when all things are located in a central computer center, and even power grids, etc. are controlled by this center? Will the day come when all information, including literature, will be stored at this one location? What are the dangers? The book is about a foreign organization that has been conspiring to not only infiltrate various government agencies, control the central computer center, but to control society as a whole.
More for the Presentation and Booksigning
If you are going to have a booksigning after the reading, and I hope you do. It is a great chance to interact with the reader’s on a more intimate level. There is one thing to remember, if your reading/booksigning is being held at a library, and not being hosted at a bookstore, you will probably have to bring books with you if you wish to sell any. Make sure you have checked ahead of time to make sure what is acceptable. You can create a bookstore sell sheet on your book/s to give to the manager/event coordinator so they have some advance information.
Find out what time you should be there, if they will have a table and chair set up. Ask if when you should deliver a poster to them announcing the reading/booksigning. Have business cards with you that are designed for you and your book/s. (You can make them yourself with a word processing template and print them with a business card printing kit.) I usually create mine and get them printed. (The last time I got them printed in full color, three hundred for just under $30.00.) You can also do the same things with bookmarks. They make great little gifts, and are appreciated by readers. Get some free press publicity if you can. (If you do not have a media kit, create one) Email your friends in the area to let them know where and when. (It is always nice to have support even if they do not buy a book at that time.)
Make sure that you show up early enough to have your signing table set up and ready to go before the performance. Check the area where you will be performing. Where will you stand? Is there a microphone? How many chairs? How are the acoustics? (I always plan on Murphy’s Law going into effect, so I want to consider all possibilities.)
Once you have finished your performance, do not forget to remind the audience that they are welcome to stop by your table and ask questions. This is a chance for you to have those individual moments that will give you insight into what readers like or dislike. They are focused on you, you be focused on them. Pay attention to each and everyone. Find out if they have read anything by you. If so, what? What did they think? What parts did they not like? What do they usually read? Why? Who knows what ideas you will be able to glean for the next project circling in your head.
Just remember these events are not all created equal and do not always turn out like a happy ending movie. According to the odds, you will get one that is not how you planned it. Do not be discouraged. Sometimes things happen and you do not get the crowd you had hoped for, so take a friend to have someone to chat with in between signings. It is hard to predict how these events will go, they are live but that is what makes them so exciting. Evaluate each one, critique yourself and make adjustments before the next one. Each one you do adds to your experience, and a chance at getting better. One of the most important things to remember for the event, if you hope to be asked back, is to practice good etiquette even if you have to count to ten a few times.
Tips on Public Readings Cont….
One more thing to create: One thing you should do is to write a very, short introduction before you begin reading the selection. Include the title of your work, a little about yourself. (Not too much, just a little.) To allow the audience a chance to get ready to hear the performance, the introduction should set the mood, the setting, any characters that maybe in the selection so the audience is prepared for what you are about to present. Either the introduction should be memorized, or you should know it well enough to be able to present it extemporaneously. The introduction is, “you”, the author/reader sharing with the audience, and not the performance of the selection. You may want to let them know that there will be an open question and answer session after your presentation. If you have scheduled a book signing, you may want to let them know that you will be delighted to answer any questions at time also.
Now it is Time to Practice, Practice, Practice!
· Learn to hold your binder/book in one hand so that you have the other to gesture, and to allow you to use the fingertips of the other hand to mark your place on the manuscript. This will also help you to maintain better eye contact.
· Try to make the page transitions as smooth as possible. It is always advisable to turn the page before you get to the bottom of the page you almost ready to finish. If you do not, and if you have several pages in your manuscript, it can become quite a distraction for the audience as well as take away from your presentation.
· Begin by practicing on your own, timing yourself each time. Once you are comfortable with your presentation, recruit an audience…friends, family… to listen to your presentation. It is important that your audience will give you honest feedback. Pay attention to them as you present your selection, watch their facial expressions and body language, and that will reveal a lot. If you can, use a tape recorder and or make a video to self-critique how you sound and look. Many times this will help more than what someone else tells you about your performance.
· The big event has arrived and you are feeling nervous. The best way this can be conquered is to be thoroughly prepared. That you have practiced several times. Think of the nervous energy as a source of adrenalin that you need to put into your performance to make it not just good, but great.
Just remember, your selection can take on new life depending on how you interpret its meaning, nuances, and vocal patterns.
Tips for the Book Signing tomorrow…
Tips on Public Readings Cont….
Preparation: Read your selection aloud, and think about the meaning of the words you have written. Pay attention to each sentence and think about what images/feelings you are trying to convey. Underline the key word(s) in each sentence and think about ways to emphasize the word(s) when reading the passage. Imagery words should sound like the image they are describing. If you were reading a sad passage, you would not want to have a jovial light sound in your voice. If you are expressing anger, think about how much anger the character in the selection is feeling. The rate, pitch and volume should reflect these things.
Vocal contrast and body language is important: Think about varying your volume, rate, tone, and gestures at different points of the reading. Avoid monotone delivery. Facial expressions, eye contact that is appropriate for the portion of the script you are presenting, gestures and body language should all reflect the emotions and the tone of the selection. Knowing when, where and how to do these things will all help to make your delivery believable. Make sure, before you begin that you can be heard by everyone in the audience. Speak slowly enough that the audience can follow you. Practice enunciation so that you say the words clearly and distinctly. Gestures should not be overdone, but should be natural to the presenter. Practice enough so that they flow, and are a part of you and the selection, not stilted and mechanical.
The places you mark in your script will help you practice and have a polished delivery. Do not forget marking pauses in your selection. These do not need to come at the end of a sentence, but rather at the end of a complete thought. The length of pauses varies depending on their purpose. You can compare their length to beats in music. At the end of a complete thought, a slight pause is best (one beat), for a comma or semi-colon a little longer (one to two beats), and at the end of a sentence or for a dramatic pause in the selection about a three beat seems to be appropriate.
When reading poetry, read it for meaning not the form in which it is written. If it has a heavy rhyme/rhythm scheme, be careful that your delivery does not get so caught up in it that the audience will lose out on the message. We tend to lower our pitch at the end of a line…when we do we are giving is a vocal period; a verbal close to a sentence. If there is no period and the sentence is carried into the next line, keep the vocal pitch up, and place a pause where appropriate.
Energy Level: Increase your energy level when speaking—this will boost your volume, make you appear to be more confident, and hold your audience’s interest for a longer period of time. I can always gauge how much I have put into a reading by how tired I am after a performance. Remember this is a performance, you want to bring your work alive!
More Reading Tips to Come…..
Today, Preparing the Selection You are Going to Read.
“Standing and delivering” is a powerful way to present your work. However, it is perfectly fine to read, and to develop a personal style. The most important reason for reading your excerpts from your book is that performing is an affirmation. You are the author, take the plunge and go public—you will be surprised at how rewarding it can be. In addition, presenting your work to the public orally, it will help the sales of your book if you learn to present it correctly.
There is nothing like a reading performance that kindles something between the writer and the audience. It is a special moment when the author is able to bring their work alive for the audience in such a way that they see or think of the work differently. You will want to read the selection you have chosen in such a way that the audience will get a true feel for the meaning of the piece. There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for this kind of presentation.
• Check for time limit. You need to know how much time you have been given at this event. Make sure edit your selection sufficiently to meet the time limit. You will want to allow some of your time for a short introduction to get the audience ready to listen to the selection itself.
Editing your work will not be easy because you feel that all of your writing is worthwhile, but you will have a stronger presentation if you limit yourself to the minimum time limit. Try to find the most important part and the section of the writing that might resonate with that particular audience. In addition, select a section that lends to being read aloud. This means that there will many imagery words in that section. It is also a good idea to select a section that you are comfortable reading aloud.
• Know the selection. Knowing your material is the first step to preparing for the reading. Once you have edited the content and are sure that you meet the time limits, read over the piece several times.
Manuscript Preparation. If you can, type your cutting from the selection in a large font and double space. (I like to enlarge the font to at least an sixteen or eighteen point font that way when I need to glance at the selection, I do not have to lower my head and lose eye contact with the audience. I number the pages so they are in order and will not get out of place. I put my selection in a 3-ring binder that usually is black or grey.) It is best to become so familiar with your selection that it is almost memorized so that when you can maintain the maximum amount of eye contact your audience, and you are able to find your place again when you look back at your manuscript.
(I also like to put my manuscript in sheet protectors because it makes turning the pages easier and it keeps the manuscript clean for more readings.)
• Mark up your manuscript. Add notations—“slow down,” “pause,” “look up,” underline
key words,etc.—to give yourself reminders about delivery. Having trouble with a word? Include a note about pronunciation. You can even include notations about time, indicating
where you should be at each minute marker.
Tomorrow: Delivery Tips
Bladder Cancer Deadlier…Cont.
Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with a bladder infection. (I had never had a bladder infection in my life and I did not know the standard procedure for treatment.) The medication the doctor gave me did not seem to affect the symptoms. The pain continued even though I took the antibiotics and followed the doctor’s instructions. I was not told by my regular doctor there was microscopic blood in my urine, and I did not know to ask. This went on for almost a year. Lucky for me, my regular doctor went out of town and I had to see another doctor. This doctor immediately referred me to an urologist. This is when I found out that it was not a bladder infection, but bladder cancer.
After undergoing several diagnostic tests, the urologist told me that my cancer was already invasive, and had engulfed the entire left side of my bladder. The cancer’s advanced stage put me at high risk for survival. At this time, I had never heard of bladder cancer, and I was more frightened than I had ever been in my life. I frantically searched the internet, but found little information. What I did find, scared me even more. My urologist told me that a radical cystectomy was necessary because of the advanced stage of the cancer. Surgery was scheduled to remove my bladder, and it also included a radical hysterectomy. I started my research again and learned about the different surgical procedures. I took what I had found with me to my next doctor’s appointment to discuss the possibility of constructing an Indiana Pouch instead of an urostomy.
Again, I was lucky because the cancer had not spread to other areas of my body; the doctor was able to construct an internal reservoir using a section of my colon referred to as an Indiana pouch. My plumbing may not work the same as it did prior to surgery, but I have been luckier than many of my sisters who have not survived a late diagnosis. What I learned from my experience is that blood in the urine and urine frequency are symptoms that should not be ignored. Urologists have tests to pinpoint the cause of these symptoms, and if your regular physician does not refer you to one…you need to find one and be checked.
Much work needs be done to continue to keep bladder cancer research funding as well as physician and patient awareness in the forefront. Unfortunately, there have been no celebrity spokespersons or corporations to champion public health messages. Because of this, women are still not receiving the information they need, getting proper diagnosis, or getting the support needed to fight bladder cancer, even though the prevalence of bladder cancer is similar to ovarian and cervical cancer. Women who are otherwise conscientious about their health are unaware of these statistics. Even more shocking is that it has not been among the cancers of concern for primary care physicians and gynecologists. More research that is recent reported that children who had childhood leukemia are high risk for bladder cancer later in life and there are a large number of substances in the environment, that if there is enough exposure, can lead to bladder cancer.
I am a very lucky 14-year survivor of Stage III bladder cancer, and when I was finally diagnosed there were “no” sources of information for women and very little information available about bladder cancer at all. That does not need to be the case anymore; I have created the Bladder Cancer Sisterhood in the health groups on Yahoo. It is a web-based group for bladder cancer support. More recently female survivors have launched a new foundation, The American Bladder Cancer Society of which I am the Vice-President, and can be found online at bladdercancersupport.org. It has a forum for the different stages of bladder cancer, one for men and one for women. It has plenty of links to reliable web sites where information can be found. There is a chat room and a scheduled chat on Sunday evenings.
As you can tell, I am a bladder cancer advocate and was designated a national bladder cancer representative to attend the 2005 Specialized Program of Research and Excellence (SPORE ) Conference in Washington D.C. That year I was the only patient advocate representative for bladder cancer. I have not been able to attend since because the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) research budget was cut, and there are no scholarship funds for patient advocates to attend. Dare I wonder, what other types of cancer advocates “will” be able to attend because they have the celebrity spokespersons and corporations behind them. This is most unfortunate for a cancer to be as prevalent and yet, so underserved.
Researchers from the University of Michigan recently reported that women who go to their primary care physician with a new or recurrent episode of blood in their urine are less likely to be referred to an urologist for further examination than are men. They believe that this may contribute to the fact that women with bladder cancer are being diagnosed at more advanced stages, when their chances for survival are markedly decreased. I know from experience that we must take charge of our own health, and make sure that we are educated and knowledgeable about our health. Bladder cancer has lived in the “closet” too long, and we must open the door to look it in the face for what it is, learn about it, and diagnose it. Early diagnosis is of ultimate importance and this is why.
The disparity between women and men in both the diagnosis of bladder cancer and five year survival rates is compelling. Bladder cancer occurs more frequently in men than women, but women have a disproportionately higher death rate. There are a higher percentage of men who survive for ten years after diagnosis than women who survive for five. However, the five year survival rate for bladder cancer is 92% in women if tumors are detected while they are still confined in the bladder lining, but can drop as low as 10% or less once they become invasive (www.seer.cancer.gov).
It is not just older women who get bladder cancer; even pregnant young women can be diagnosed with bladder cancer. Women are often the keepers of healthcare – our own and our family’s – let’s help them to understand that there is another cancer that disproportionately kills them – but death and poor outcomes can be avoided if they only know about the disease – bladder cancer
Note 1: Depending on the person’s anatomy, the doctor may use part of the small intestine to make a tube through which urine will pass out of the body through an opening or stoma, on the outside of the body, this is called ostomy or urostomy. Urostomy requires one to wear a special bag to collect urine.
Note 2: At the National Cancer Institute (NCI), SPORE stands for Specialized Program of Research Excellence. Within the SPORE program, researchers design and implement programs to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and control. The program was developed to promote multidisciplinary research throughout the three main categories of science.
Bladder Cancer: Deadlier than Cervical Cancer. Why?
After a long, hard battle with bladder cancer, I consider myself blessed that I am able to live a normal life that is cancer free. For those of you who have recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer, “there is a life on the other side.” Today I work a fulltime job as the coordinator for the GMC-Augusta Community College E-Library, Speech Communications professor, and a published author and poet.
Ever since the day I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, I have interacted with many women who have also had the same experience as I. Most of them have had negative experiences in obtaining information or getting support. Far too many were diagnosed after the cancer had become invasive. The more I have interacted with the general public and with those in the medical field, the more I realized how little people know about bladder cancer. I find this truly amazing since bladder cancer is the fifth most prevalent cancer, and in women, it is as prevalent as cervical cancer. However, women are four times more likely to die from bladder cancer because they are too frequently diagnosed at a much later stage of the disease.
To be continued…
This is my first post for my new web site. It won’t be just a blog about my book, An Underground Jewell, or about my book, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World. It will have posts on a variety of things. I will talk include information on creating bookstore sell sheets, posters and other promotion how-tos’. There will be times that I will share my thoughts on current happenings, some of which maybe controversial. I will provide information on how to present readings, presentations, using power point effectively, and on some of my pet projects. Hopefully, the readers who find my blog will, at least occasionally, be able to take something with them that is useful.
Welcome to my world,