Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Emerald Cancer- what a wild ride!

I just finished reading 'The Emerald Cancer' and I'm still catching my breathe. This book was a thriller that keeps you guessing all the way to the end. But more importantly- for me at least- was the message that is revealed throughout the journey, becoming crystal clear at the end.

You quickly find yourself inside the heads of terrorists and the people who fight terror. Sometimes the lines become blurred and you wonder if they are all terrorists- in their own way. The main characters are involved in the IRA and UK security services. However, you get a glimpse inside the people involved in the PLO and the Israeli conflicts. I have to say- it's not for the faint of heart.

In order to understand the making of a terrorist, you have to look at the experiences of their lives. In most cases this extreme hatred is born of violence and the subsequent drive for revenge. Mr. Hulme shows you these scenes, sometimes in painful detail. But this tells me that the writer has done his job.

You are introduced to these characters and come to know them intimately. As you follow their lives it becomes clear what led them along their path. You begin to understand their actions and reactions. You may cringe at some of the ugliness and violence, but you cannot look away. You will be sickened by the depravity, cruelty and the incident of bestiality. But at that point you will be so immersed that you will find yourself wanting revenge and cheering when it happens. And you will know, in the back of your mind, that although this is a work of fiction, much of it is closer to the truth than you might like.

And in the end, you realize that even bitter enemies have a common thread. 

Sometimes people become so caught up in the hatred and revenge; they fail to see the real enemy.

Interview with the author, David Hulme

David your book was extremely well written. I couldn't believe you wrote it when you were only 23 years old ! How did you become so skilled at such a young age?

As a young police officer I was asked to interview a 67 year old man about a car accident. He was called Eric Young, to whom this book is dedicated.  He was a very interesting man, an American who had stowed away on a boat from New York at the age of 15 to come and fight for England in World War 2.  He had masses of life experience which I, of course, lacked. Although four years policing had made me grow up extremely quickly.  I told him I had written a book and he offered to read it and give me some constructive criticism.  After reading “my book” Eric told me that I only had a draft with cardboard cutout characters that needed fleshing out.  He offered to read everything I re-wrote and help with the editing process.  I still remember him saying, “Go away and re-write the first three chapters, make me feel for the characters, and prove to me that you can write and then I will help you.”  I listened to his advice, went home and completed the re-write as he had suggested.  Eric insisted that every chapter I wrote needed to be a story in its own right and that he should be able to pick up my chapters like a deck of cards, shuffle them and still read the book and understand the story.  He was also very particular about the motivation behind the characters actions which you spoke about in your review.  I remember him saying that you have to be a particular type of person to be able to kill another human being and you need to explain to your readers what has made your characters able to do such horrible things.  And so began a short but wonderful friendship/ mentorship which only ended when Eric died.  Unfortunately, he never got to see the finished product as he died with the book only half written.  What he had done though was equip me with the writing skills necessary to finish the book.

Mr. Young would be very proud of you. You were able to accomplish each & every objective.
David, does this story have any connection to you, personally?

As a young man I was very limited in terms of finances to travel to exotic places to create an international story so I decided to use what I knew, places and people, to write my thriller.  I was fortunate, in that as a police officer I was always meeting different people, larger than life characters, who made great material for the author’s mill.  It enabled me to write about real people and places in a fictional context.  The mortuary scene is based on real life experiences and of course, I have encountered my fair share of death and dying which although not a pleasant experience, does add to the authenticity. 

I can speak confidently when I say that most people who read this will be begging for a sequel. Is there one in the works?

The short answer is yes, definitely, I’m working on it as we speak and really looking to explore further the strange relationship between Siobhan and Patrick.  I think it is important to explain to your readers and my potential readers why it has taken 23 years for me to write a second thriller.  I was absolutely, totally absorbed, addicted to writing when I wrote The Emerald Cancer but traditional publishers, although making very complimentary comments, were not prepared to take a risk with a new author in the early 90’s.  I also had two children under 3 and felt that after two years typing in the bedroom and two years of trying to get it published, it was time for me to give some attention and support to my wife and children and concentrate on my career in the police.  I kept my manuscript through the intervening years always promising to return to it at some point in the future.  Last September I inadvertently stumbled across the kindle self publishing link on Amazon which re-awakened my interests in The Emerald Cancer and see it published today.

I'm delighted to hear that we can watch for the sequel.  I can only imagine the future interaction between Siobhan and Patrick. And I can speak for all of your fans, present and future, when I say that I'm so glad that you came upon Kindle!

Thanks you so much.

You can find 'The Emerald Cancer' here. You can follow David Hulme on Twitter here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm Doing This For The Soldiers

It happened on the Amazon Kindle message boards.   Who would have ever guessed how it would grow. Smashwords author Ed Patterson met a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq who wanted to download ebooks for his Kindle, but  his wireless download service didn't work in Iraq. So, Ed offered to email the soldier all 13 of his ebooks, for free. The soldier gratefully accepted. And this got Ed thinking...

Everthing happens for a reason.  This  was no chance encounter with the soldier &  Ed,  who was himself an Army veteran.  This was the inspiration and the conception of  "Operation Ebook Drop". 
Ed got to work contacting  other indie authors on the Kindleboards message boards, asking if they too would be willing to offer their ebooks for free to troops deployed overseas.  Soon he had a couple dozen authors who volunteered their books.  Simultaneously, Ed began receiving additional requests for ebooks from soldiers and their families.

Ed and some of the authors started using Smashwords as the platform for distributing the ebooks to soldiers. Using the Smashwords Coupon Generator feature, authors are emailing 100%-off coupons to the soldiers.  As luck would have it, he got the attention of Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords.  When Mark learned about Ed's project, he wanted to do more to help. 

And so the humble "Operation Kindle Ebook Drop"started in 2009, has now morphed into something much bigger - "Operation Ebook Drop," and as of 1/22/2012. there are 1,235 participating authors.

Here's how you can get involved:

Authors and Publishers - If you're an author or publisher, email Ed and tell him if you'd like to offer free ebooks to participating troops. His email is ed#w#pat# @ #att#. #net (remove the #s and spaces). To create a 100%-off coupon, log in to your Smashwords account and click on the Coupon Manager link. Ed will email you book requests, and then you simply email the soldier a hyperlink to your book page, and the corresponding coupon code. From your Dashboard, coupon redemptions will show up in your Sales & Payment History Report, and you'll also receive instant email notification. If you're not yet a publisher with Smashwords (why not?), you can learn how publish with us by visiting our How to Publish with Smashwords page.

Deployed troops - All coalition military personnel deployed overseas who need multi-format ebooks are eligible. According to Ed, "If you're overseas and away from your home and loved ones, your dependence on reading might increase - and so we a gifting you ebooks for Kindle, Sony, iPhone, Blackberry etc." For free ebooks, please email Ed at the address above. Please note that the ebooks you receive may be shared with fellow deployed service members, but may not be distributed or shared elsewhere. Please also consider the coupon codes you receive as privileged information, not to be shared elsewhere. The participating authors are pleased to offer you their books.

Where to Learn More
The unofficial staging area for Operation Ebook Drop campaign is over at the Kindleboards message boards. Check it out, help out, and support the young men and women in uniform with some great reads! Operation Ebook Drop also has its own web site, here.

What a great opportunity to do something really meaningful.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award is an award that just keeps on giving.  I was honored to receive the award from the one and only  R.W.W. Greene.  What makes this award so unique is interaction involved in accepting the award and ultimately passing it along to well deserving nominees.  

Before I make the announcement for the future award winners, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the multi-talented  RWW Greene.  Rob- thank you so much.  I will never forget that you were the first person to follow my blog. You are also an awesome Twitter pal and an all around cool guy.  I'd also like to thank all the little people (you know who you are : )

Here are the official rules for the lucky recipients of 'The Versatile Blogger Award":

1. Thank the award giver and link back to them in your blog (Thanks again Rob!)

2. Share seven things about yourself.

  • My nickname is Dr Patel because of my (sometimes twisted) interest in the medical world ; )
  • I have a little Maltese and a big Cockatoo that I consider my children.
  • Pizza is my favorite food.
  • I dislike gloomy weather.
  • I enjoy spending time in cemeteries.
  • I gave up Chardonnay for Lent and switched to Pinot Noir.  I've never looked back.
  • I love to travel.
Pass this along to fifteen blogs that you enjoy.

And so in closing, I just want to say thank you again and to congratulate the new winners!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To All The Writers Who Change Lives

I’ve never met these great writers and I probably never will.  But one thing is for certain; they changed my life forever. 
Growing up in a middle class suburb in the Midwest, life was pretty bland.  At times my childhood was a bit sad.  But then something happened that rocked my world.  I learned to read.

When it all finally ‘clicked’ and I was able to comprehend the letters on the page and read the stories, the world was mine!  

Thanks to Rudyard Kipling and his ‘Jungle Book’, I could travel to India.  I was dazzled by Mowgli and his family of wolves.  I could see the jungle and became acquainted with all the characters- lovable or not.  I was enchanted.  Mr. Kipling took me away to another world. 

Then there was ‘One Thousand and One Nights’.  This book of stories featured some of the most well-known tales in history. Its origins are in ancient Persia and India. Happily these stories were illustrated.   The illustration gave me a deeper understanding of these new experiences.  Ali -Baba and the Forty Thieves showed me fascinating aspects of daily life in ancient Persia and amazed me with opulent jewels and rugs.  And of course, no one ever forgets the magic words, “Open sesame”. 

Then there was the less exotic, but nonetheless exciting Nancy Drew -She was created by Edward Stratemeyer, but the books have been ghostwritten by a number of authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene

 Everyone wanted to be Nancy Drew.  She was smart, fearless and cool.  She was wealthy.  In the words of Bobbie Ann Mason, “At sixteen she 'had studied psychology in school and was familiar with the power of suggestion and association.' Nancy was a fine painter, spoke French, and had frequently run motor boats. She was a skilled driver who at sixteen 'flashed into the garage with a skill born of long practice.' The prodigy was a sure shot, an excellent swimmer, skillful oarsman, expert seamstress, gourmet cook, and a fine bridge player. Nancy brilliantly played tennis and golf, and rode like a cowboy. Nancy danced like Ginger Rogers and could administer first aid like the Mayo brothers”
I’m in good company when I say that Nancy Drew has influenced my life.  That is also true for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor[9] and Sonia Sotomayor as well as Senator  Hillary Rodham Clinton[10] and former First Lady Laura Bush

But I have to say that my absolute favorite series was 'Trixie Belden'.   The series was originated by Julie Campbell who wrote the first six books. Trixie Belden was a teenage girl who lived at Crabapple Farm in New York with her family.  She’s not gorgeous.  She has freckles and curly hair that frustrates her. But she is smart, brave and adventurous.  She saved her brothers life,  she befriended and rescued a runaway boy, she helped a sickly rich girl, she has a big heart and is always up for a challenge. She even formed a club with her close friends, called the Bob-Whites. And she can solve a mystery like no one else.

Later as an adult, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt was a brilliant illustration of the poverty that many endured at that time in Ireland.  My own mother sometimes spoke of “not knowing where their next meal would come from” and many times after a meal she will say,"Well, as your grandfather would say, we're sure of that one."  I understood that it was a hard life, but reading Mr. McCourt’s story caused me to feel that pain so deeply that I cried.  It gave me a profound understanding and respect for what my ancestors battled and survived.  

Coming to current days, I reluctantly found myself addicted to the Twilight Saga.  I didn’t want to- I thought it was for kids.  But Stephenie Meyer was able to write stories that crossed generations and appealed to everyone from seven year old children to middle aged women and everything in between and beyond. It's a phenomenon really.  These are stories that create a bond with me and my young nieces and nephews.  From the beauty of Forks, Seattle to the diamond- like skin of the vampires.  I could see it all so clearly.  When the movies came out, I almost felt like I had already seen them. 

As a writer of fiction, I am in awe of these and the many other gifted writers that bring magic and light to their readers.  These and countless other amazing writers changed my life.  They opened my mind to new cultures and different lifestyles beyond my own small universe.  I believe that this made me a more accepting person. It took away the fear of people and things that were ‘different’ and replaced it with curiosity.  It gave me a desire to travel the world and experience all these new worlds firsthand.    I thank you all.  You have changed the universe.

My dream is that I will be able to open new worlds for my readers-even if only in a small way.

Monday, January 9, 2012

An extraordinary love

When I read about the American Inspired contest it only took a moment for me to think of the one person who really deserves this award. Richard Weiner. I wrote this story because I felt he deserved to win.  Unfortunately today I discovered that he didn't make it into the finalist category.  So- in honor of Rich- I want to tell his story once again.

Rich works as a firefighter and policeman. Yes, he is a brave public servant, but he's much more than that.

About twelve years ago, Rich opened the door to his Northbrook home and took in some innocent pets that were in need.  They were Birds-mostly the large breeds.
It all started when Rich realized that there were so many of these highly intelligent birds that desperately needed life-long, loving homes.   One might not give it a second thought, when you think of birds and their intelligence.  But once you spend some time with these birds, you realize that not only are they incredibly smart, but they are extremely loving and affectionate.  In fact, they nick-named the Cockatoo breed as "Velcro Birds" because they love nothing more than cuddling up and getting some love.

But there is also a flip side to this.   Because they are so intelligent and sensitive, when they are ignored; not given enough attention and love, they develop some negative defense mechanisms.  Like humans, they can start self-mutilating.  Some birds continually pull out all their feathers, others actually peck at their skin until they have open wounds that will not/can not heal.  It's very sad. Sometimes these birds have been damaged beyond repair.  Rich makes sure they have a safe and happy home for the rest of their lives.

Rich began as a parrot parent, with an African Grey, Prince, who was followed by an Umbrella Cockatoo, Ninja.  Before long, he began taking in other homeless birds, from friends, business associates and from local veterinarians.  Soon, Rich had a house full of birds.  I mean wall to wall bird cages creating a symphony of cheerful chirping, talking and squawking in every room.
This is how 'Rescue the birds.' came to be.  According to Rich, "A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, Inc. is a rescue, retirement, and adoption facility for exotic birds.  We offer birds a stable and loving home for the duration of their natural lives.  We do not sell or breed birds.  Some of the birds at the Refuge have "special needs," including a range of physical handicaps or other challenges requiring unique living or feeding arrangements.  Others have been bounced from home to home, often being physically and/or emotionally abused and have simply become too fearful of people to be "pets" any longer.  We now have eight permanent Psittacine residents and a red-tailed hawk.
A Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, Inc. also is home to a number of loving, healthy and contented birds whose owners brought them here when life changes precluded the continuation of their caring for their beloved pets.  These owners believe that the stability and ongoing responsible care provided by our facility, along with the with companionship of both people and other birds, is preferable to the possibility of their former companions being shuffled from home to home with no guarantees of responsible care or proper conditions."

It's expensive to run the refuge.  The birds are very well cared for.  Everything from Vet visits to the right healthy diet.  The balanced diet provided for the birds includes pelleted bird food, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables in season, frozen mixed vegetables, beans, pastas.  The cost of running the refuge is over $5000 per year.  Plus there is a lot of work involved in cleaning, grooming, cleaning... There are no paid employees here.  There is a small group of dedicated volunteers and of course, Karen Weiner, Rich's lovely wife. Here's a video of the refuge.

Rich relies on donations and does a few fundraising events every year.  In this economy animal rescue organizations have been hit particularly hard.  Donations are down, and more and more people are forced to give up their pets. One has to wonder how much Rich donates from his own pocket.  He won't tell.  He's just that kind of guy.  A real hero.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lift your spirits

Many people feel a bit let down at this time of year.  Maybe it's all those expectations for the holiday season, along with the added stress.  Sometimes it just accentuates any feelings of sadness or loneliness.  Whatever the case may be, you are not alone and there is help out there.  You don't even need a prescription.  It's a new day and the answer be in your spirituality.

Spirituality is a term that is tossed around quite a bit these days.  Many people are not clear on the definition of spirituality.  Even if you check the Merriam-Webster dictionary  you will find that there are a few different interpretations. The definition that makes the most sense to me is, "Joined in spirit".   There have been several studies that have proven both physical as well as mental benefits to including spirituality in your life.

The term "joined in spirit" may seem confusing.  I know it was confusing to me, learning as a child and even as an adult I wasn't completely clear on that.  But one day I saw a video that illustrated perfectly how we are all one in God- the universe- or whatever your perception may be.  There were thousands of birds flying in formation- creating designs in the sky.  Like a perfect ballet. To me- I realized that we are all part of God- all living creatures- all connected.  Please see this video and tell me if you don't feel it.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba examined a link between religious attendance and attempted suicide.   This health survey was based on 37,000 respondents. Dan Rasic, the studies principal author found that, "Those who attended church at least once a year had decreased rates of suicide."   Some believe that the attendance of these services enable people to feel as though they are part of the community as less isolated. Some believe there is a powerful synergy when groups of people gather and pray.

Although people have found comfort in prayer and other spiritual for thousands of years, the scientific proof is relatively new.. Based on research dating back several years, it's been found that spirituality can give hope, act as an antidepressant and even help to cure serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.   In fact, researchers have found that spirituality and the practice of religion may slow the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.  These findings were actually presented at The American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Florida back in April of 2005.

In May of 2004 the National Center for Health released findings of a survey involving 31,000 people using prayer and complementary and alternative therapies.  Prayer was the most popular of all the "therapies".  The results were astounding. Catherine Stoney, Ph.D, a Program Officer at the NCAAM noted, "There is already some preliminary evidence that religious affiliation and religious practices are associated with health and mortality- in other words, with better health and longer life."
Many researchers agree that there are strong connections between the mind, the spirit and the body.  Spirituality doesn't have to include going to a church or other houses of worship.  Spirituality can be found in many ways.  Some find spirituality in meditation, yoga or even a support group.

Spirituality is a very individual, personal endeavor- but definitely one worth pursuing.