Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Voices for Children

     A Guardian ad Litem, in my area, is a volunteer who is appointed by a judge to represent a child removed from his/her home by social services.  In my second week of training to do this work, I find myself with a lot of thoughts andmotions about what I will be doing.

     I have wondered what it is that attracts me to troubled kids.  As the lucky daughter of a stable home, I never experienced first-hand the domestic upheaval some kids have to live with.  I was aware of some problems in the homes of friends, but really had little knowledge of any major abuse or neglect.  Now, of course, I admit, like in every community, more of my friends than I knew suffered tough home situations.  Maybe I simply feel guilty to have had good parents who provided a good home, I don't know, but I wrote a book about a teenager from a problematic home, so there's some reason I feel drawn to the subject.
     Whatever my motives, the training has brought me a better understanding of children who face daily problems at home.  Various types of abuse, poverty, neglect, drug and alcohol abuse, and a litany of other troubles create a home life that is both depressing and dangerous for kids.  Children from these families respond in as many ways as there are personalities.  Often blaming themselves, their guilt and fear and anger may go in any direction.  I know of kids who turn all of it inward, essentially denying themselves any happiness or success.  Another response is to strike out at the people around them, feeling better, however briefly, for releasing their frustrations. 

     Today, we have daily shows and articles describing ways to make our children smarter, safer, cleaner, happier, and more fulfilled.  The differences between these well-loved kids and those who struggle to find food each day is so profound it is difficult to consider.  Maybe the lucky ones, like me, will reach out to less-fortunate children.  Whether it's out of guilt, compassion, or simple kindness, I don't really care, because in my county alone there are dozens of kids in foster care who need someone to speak for them.  I only hope I can do it right.


Friday, July 23, 2010

A Book Review - The Eye of the Virgin (by Frederick Ramsey)

I've been a little lax with my blogging.  I really have been busy with a worthwhile endeavor.  I'm training to be a Guardian ad Litem in my county.  I promise to get back to regular work this weekend, but in the meantime here's a book review for you by one of my esteemed Echelon colleagues, Carl Brookins.  Enjoy!

The Eye of the Virgin

By Frederick Ramsey

Pub. Poisoned Pen Press                                                                           June, 2010 Hard Cover                                                                                                254 pages.
ISBN: 9781590587607

Review by Carl Brookins

Sheriff Ike Schwartz is in it again. Some odd break-ins have occurred in the area around the town of Picketsville, Virginia. What were thieves looking for in the studio of an iconographer? Why is an unknown individual discovered dead of gunshot, but in a chair in the Picketsville clinic? Are these incidents related? And who is the mysterious woman Abe Schwartz has been squiring about?

Sparkling dialogue and a whee of a climactic scene distinguish this crime novel. It's the xxx in Ramsey's continuing saga of the home-town adventures of ex-CIA spook Isaack Schwartz. He's retired from the international scene to become the elected sheriff of the aforesaid Pickettsville, Virginia. He's bright, sharp, aware of the ways of international espionage so when he sees it, he recognizes it. As the elected sheriff he has to deal with a loose collection of varied and interesting characters. Some of them make life quite interesting; the president of the local college, Ruth XXX for instance. Others, inept contract spooks and burglars, for example, are dangerous. Schwartz and his deputies manage to keep the peace and solve crimes in interesting if not always legal ways.

They are aided, in their tasks, as are readers who find their way to this lovely novel, by carefully thought out if sometimes complicated plots, good pace, and crackling spot-on dialogue. Threaded through the cleverness and the funny bits are thoughtful musings on the state of world affairs today in which enemies become friends and friends enemies.

An excellent enjoyable novel
Carl Brookins
http://www.carlbrookins.com/, www.agora2.blogspot.com
Case of the Greedy Lawyer, Devils Island,
Bloody Halls, more at Kindle & Smashwords!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Computer Crazy, but not in a good way

My blog is about what is happening and what I am doing while I work toward the publication of my novel, "Snowstorm."  So far my posts have been pretty positive, philosophical even, but today - not so much.

The biggest part of what I am currently doing is establishing myself on the internet.  Because my book will come out as an e-book, it's pretty important for readers or customers to be able to find me on the web.  Even if the book was not going to initially be an e-book, the internet has become such a major factor in our daily lives, it would still be vital to have a website and to maintain  memberships in various networking groups.  I get it.
Even now, when my eyes are burning and my head is pounding, I understand it.  When I started all this, I expected to have the usual glitches, but I thought I could use a computer well enough.  Apparently, I fooled myself. 

Is there anyone else who doesn't have a clue what WWAN is?  Does your computer crash every time it downloads updates for the security program, requiring a restart, disk scan, system restore....twice?  Do you spend hours trying to set up your page on a network?  Does your system just disconnect for no apparent reason when you're 2 minutes from completing a 45-minute download of new software?  And then, do you have to explain the situation to the support people in India, the technician in Omaha, and finally the guy on the other end of the 1-800 number just so you don't have to pay for the program again? 

I know my publishing company, Echelon Press, probably thinks I'm not working on this stuff.  No doubt, the owner and editors think I'm sitting on my hands while the other authors they've signed are burning up the web with their thousand-follower blogs, state-of-the art websites, on-line interviews, and all the rest.  The trouble is when you spend two hours figuring out how to install a link between facebook and your web page, you don't get a lot accomplished.

Cross my heart, I have tried and will keep at it, but in my own defense, I come from a technology-challenged family.  Nobody in my immediate family even has a computer at home.  Hard to believe, I know, but my mother, father, and two brothers are all computer-illiterate.  My mother-in-law and brother-in-law also do not use computers.

Whew!  I just had to get all that off my chest.  And, after all, it is what's going on with me today - and everyday.  Do you think if I press the "escape" button, I actually could?