Why I Will Never Read Fifty Shades of Grey

I have read all about the furor of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Her books have graced the first through fourth position on Amazon’s Top 100 for weeks now. I considered downloading a copy of the book to my Kindle to see what this craze was all about. Then I read the reviews.

Almost half the reviewers gave it a one-star rating for a variety of reasons. Bad writing was one of the chief complaints. Others complained about the non-stop sex and the lack of a solid storyline. Some said that the sex scenes were very similar to those of the popular Twilight series (which I never read because I’m not into vampires). The deal-breaker came when I read the following from an Amazon reviewer:

“This book is nothing more than 500 pages of drivel about how badly a man can treat a woman, and how long she will stay with him through it all. It has nothing to do with real BDSM relationships (not that I know much about that, but from what people are saying this “book” is a very poor representation). It is an extremely dangerous thing to send this kind of message to women. This man is sick. He is not about love, he is about pain. He is not about mutual pleasure, he is about HIS pleasure. Don’t we have enough of that in this world already?”

The last three sentences of the above review struck a bad chord in me. This is not a love story but a twisted, violent sexual fantasy. Many people have read all three books and loved them, despite their literary flaws. I will not read this trilogy for several reasons.

One, I don’t like stories that are filled wanton sex on every other page. There has to be a real story about realistic characters. Besides, you can read plenty of these kinds of stories online for free. Why spend the money on something as poorly written as this book?

Two, the author didn’t do her research about BDSM relationships because many readers who have read this book said that it was grossly misrepresented. While I’m not into that scene, I might have some characters who are. If that happens, I will not use this book as a reference.

Finally, I will not read this book because of the message it sends to young and inexperienced women. The world has enough problems with domestic violence, marital rape, and date rape as it is. I’m going to pass on this one.

Samantha Kemp-Jackson has written an interesting piece about why Fifty Shades of Grey keeps flying off the shelves, online and off. You can read about that on Huffington Post.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Howdunit Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers

I needed a good writer’s reference book to help me figure out how to kill off characters so that they will become ghosts and tell the clairvoyant exactly how they died, symptoms and all. I bought this book to add to my growing collection of reference books.

About the Authors

Serita Stevens is a registered nurse who specializes in forensics. She is the author of The Forensic Nurse. Anne Louise Bannon is a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in Emergency Physicians Monthly and other publications.

Book Summary

Howdunit Book of Poisons serves as a catalog of the different known poisons. The guide is divided into sections. The book starts with the Introduction, followed by the chapters, appendixes, bibliography, glossary, and index. Below is a partial list of the chapters contained inside this book.

Chapter 1: A Short History of the Dreaded Art
Chapter 2: A Day in the Life of a Criminal Toxicologist
Chapter 3: The Classic Poisons: Aresenic, Cynanide, and Strychnine
Chapter 4: Household Poisons
Chapter 5: Poisonous Plants
Chapter 6: Fragile Fungi

The poisonous plants entries are listed in the following format: common name, scientific name, other, toxicity, deadly parts, effects and symptoms, reaction time, antidotes and treatments, and notes.

The household poisons are listed in the following format: common name, other, toxicity, form, effects and symptoms, reaction time, antidotes and treatments, and notes.

Each chapter begins with a short introduction, followed by the listings.

My Opinion

I love the way this book is designed. The chapter headers are easy to find because of the wide band of black that surrounds the white text of the chapter’s title. The only thing I don’t like is the size of the text. It is too small. Other than that, I like this book on several levels.

The appendixes are my favorite because they give very specific information at a glance. For instance, Prolixin and Thorazine keeps the victim from coughing. Nitroglycerine comes in an aerosol spray. I had no idea that too much nutmeg can cause psychosis. Neither did I know that cooking rhubarb leaves could cause a variety of very unpleasant things to happen to a person.

I found all the appendixes worth reading through. The best ones are Appendix D, which lists the reaction times of the different types of poisons and Appendix E, which lists the toxicity rating. Level 1 is the lowest toxicity rating, while Level 6 is the highest.

My favorite chapter is Chapter 14, which explains how to create your own poison to kill off your characters. I also enjoyed the case histories that were scattered through the book, summarizing how a particular poison was used in literature.

Howdunit Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers is an indispensable guide for writers of a variety of genres. It will not only help you pick the best poison to kill or maim your characters, but it will give you accurate symptoms of the effects that this poison could have on him or her.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Book Review: Home Front, by Kristin Hannah

Book review of Home Front, by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front is the story of Jolene Zarkades, a helicopter pilot who is haunted by the memories of her alcoholic parents who were killed in a car accident in 1982. The story takes place in 2005. Jolene has built what she believes is a solid foundation for herself and her family. Then her defense attorney husband, Michael, stings her by sneaking off to work without wishing her a happy birthday. He makes her feel worse when he stays late, and then brings home gifts that she didn’t want. We know that the marriage is in trouble before he tells her that he doesn’t love her anymore.

She commiserates with her best friend, Tami Flynn, who is also a helicopter pilot in the Army. Tami tries to console her, but she is crushed by Michael’s cruel statement. Sometime in the middle of this conversation, Tami’s phone rings. She answers it, hangs up, and announces that both she and Jolene have been given deployment orders to Iraq.

Michael and their oldest daughter, Betsy, are not happy with this news. He is anti-war and has never understood, much less supported, Jolene’s decision to make a career out of the Army. He is cold and distant with her, while Betsy throws endless temper tantrums that make her four year-old sister (Lulu) look mature.

Jolene tries to gloss over the situation by telling her family that she will be flying VIPs while stationed in Iraq. She and Tami leave together, train for combat together, and ultimately fly together. While they are gone, Michael learns the truth about his wife’s deployment after he takes on a case where a former Marine is charged with murdering his wife. Before he took on this case, he was very resentful of Jolene for leaving him and their daughters. Now, he is concerned about what she is really doing in Iraq and what effects this will have on her. He begins to investigate the psychological effects of war not only for his client, but for his wife.

His anger disappears, replaced by an appreciation for everything she has done for him and the girls. Guilt keeps him from writing an apology email to her. Jolene struggles with her feelings about her marriage as she goes through the day-to-day rigors of combat missions. She is still thinking about that awful conversation between her and her husband as she and Tami leave on their last mission.

Their helicopter is shot down, leaving one soldier dead and Tami in a coma. Jolene is badly injured. Both women are flown to a military hospital in Germany, where Jolene has one of legs amputated. Not only is she in a lot of pain, but she is also suffering from severe flashbacks of the crash and guilt over her fallen comrades, especially her best friend.

The Army sends her back to the States, where she is put into a rehabilitation center. All through the story, we get glimpses of what it is like for soldiers to fight in wars. But this part of the story is where Hannah really drives it home as to extent of the trauma and how limited the resources are for veterans who are dealing with PTSD and physical handicaps are.

The most heartbreaking part of the story was when Jolene comes home, a completely different person than she was when she left. Hannah does an excellent job of portraying what that is like, along with the stress of learning how to live as an amputee and with an amputee.

I enjoyed reading Home Front. Kristin Hannah has a way of fleshing out her characters so that the reader will react, either positively or negatively. This is the second book I have read by her (Firefly Lane was the first.), and I plan on reading the others. Highly recommended.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Scrivener: Powerful Writing Software for Any Kind of Writing Project

Until I found Scrivener, I had to write my novels with my word processor and make a special folder on my hard drive for any research that I collected. Most word processors cannot handle book-length documents, so I was forced to write each chapter as a separate file and create a new folder to house them on my hard drive. After years of writing like this, I decided to look for writing software that could handle long documents.

I found some amazing writing software for story development, character development, outlining and research. The problem for me was that I had to open several different programs in order to access all of the information that I had either written down or gathered. That didn’t seem like a big deal until I found myself in the middle of a scene and having to stop in order to look up the information that I needed. Another thing that bothered me about this method was the space all of these programs took on my hard drive. All of that changed when I found Scrivener sometime last year.

Initial Impression of Scrivener

Right off the bat, I was very pleased that I could write individual chapters within the Scrivener interface. I was so happy with that that I didn’t bother exploring the other features for quite a while. My focus was getting the novel written down before I forgot about the ideas that kept popping into my head. After hitting several snags, I decided it was time to take a break and focus on my characters.

By this time, Scrivener had come out with an update. I installed the update and decided to check out the other features of this writing software. The first screen lists the templates, along with an interactive tutorial and the user manual.

Scrivener Project Screen

I tried the interactive tutorial and quickly grew bored of it. I’m the type that would rather just dig in and explore, rather than following the directions. So, I selected the novel template. Another dialog box popped up, listing the templates available. I had the option of choosing between a standard novel template, a novel (with parts), or a short story.

Scrivener Fiction Templates

I decided to choose the standard novel template, since my novel is written entirely from the POV of my main character. One thing to note is that once you select a template, you are stuck with it unless you open a new project. If you find yourself in that predicament, you can consult the template instructions found at the top of the sidebar or the user manual. I found that if I wanted to change a scene into a chapter, all I had to do was take the file and hover it over the chapter folder and drop it there. It was that easy.

Creating Character Sketches in Scrivener

Creating character sketches in Scrivener is a straightforward process. The image below is a sketch that I made up of one of the conflicting character in my present WIP. At first glance, the template looks very basic, almost too basic. However, sometimes less is more.

Character Sketch in Scrivener

You can create very detailed backgrounds, internal conflicts, and external conflicts for your characters without being overwhelmed by questions that are found in separate character development programs. You can also include notes and images. I really appreciated the ability to put a “face” to a character that I’m writing about. As for the notes section, I can jot down handicaps (physical or mental) or link to an article that I put in my research folder.

Settings Template

Scrivener also includes a Settings template that will help you describe the places in your story. If you already know where your characters are going to travel, you can set these templates up ahead of time to capture as many details as you can think of. This template includes:

  • Role in Story:
  • Related Characters:
  • Season:
  • Unique Features:
  • Description:
  • Sights:
  • Sounds:
  • Smells:
  • Notes:

Research

The Research feature is the biggest reason why I decided to purchase Scrivener. When I first started writing novels and short stories, I had two choices when collecting facts and data: open a new file in my word processor or drag out a spiral bound notebook to compile everything that I had found in reference books and online. Both methods proved to be clunky and time consuming because I had to wade through all of the information I had gathered in order to get to the information I needed at the moment.

Scrivener allows you to organize your research by folders. From there, you can import a wide variety of text documents, images and websites that you have bookmarked or visited recently. The ability to keep everything organized is what makes Scrivener such a strong piece of writing software. Since I have yet to use Scrivener for writing a nonfiction book, I have not explored some of the features such as managing bibliographies and footnotes.

The Writing Process

Scrivener makes the writing process easy, thanks to its built-in word processor. You can work with the programs defaults or set the formatting of your text before you type a single word. The word count is displayed at the bottom of the screen. With Word, I had to open up a separate window to view my progress. Nisus Writer allowed me to see my progress in the Inspector pane at the side of the screen. The best feature about the word processor (at least to me) is that I can set each chapter as a separate file within the project. Before Scrivener, I was forced to open a new file in my word processor, and then create a folder on my desktop to house the individual files. I am so glad that I don’t have to do that anymore!

Other features that I liked were the ability to see my novel as a whole. All I had to do was click on the Manuscript folder at the top of the left sidebar. From there, I could not only read my novel and any notes that I created, but I could also get the total word count. Before Scrivener, I had to open up my calculator and calculate the word count of each individual file that I had created in order to get the total word count. That is a big time saver for me.

You can customize Scrivener to display as much or as little as you want. For instance, you can set it to display the word processor in one pane and your research materials in another pane. These panes can be set horizontally or vertically. Once you are finished with that particular topic, you can set Scrivener to display only the word processor. The Composition mode hides everything so that you can avoid distractions while writing.

Compared to the word processor, the outliner felt clunky and unintuitive. I couldn’t find a command in the menus to add a new outline item, and the Help screen didn’t help me much. Neither did the instruction manual, which didn’t offer any step-by-step directions at all for creating your first outline. After playing around with the program a bit, I discovered a couple of ways to create an outline. The first is by manually right-clicking on the screen while in Outline mode. This enabled me to create a new item, which I gave a title and a brief synopsis. The easiest way to generate outlines (that I found so far) is to create a synopsis of each chapter or scene that you plan to write. From there, click on the chapter folder to see the synopsis in outline form. To see the entire outline, click on the Manuscript folder at the top. A video on the Literature and Latte site showed me how to compile, format and print outlines. You can watch other videos, including a 35-minute overview that covers all the basics of writing a novel, screenplay and more. They also have a video that teaches you how to compile and export your outline, which I found helpful.

Exporting Your Document

Exporting my manuscript turned out to be a straightforward process. I am able to format the file as and RTFD, RTF, DOC, DOCX, ODT, HTML, Final Draft (FDX and FCF) and TXT. I was happy to see that I can export my snapshots, notes, meta-data and selected files. I can also remove comments and annotations, if I wanted to. If you have multiple files within your project, it will export as a folder, with the sub-folders containing your chapters. You can also compile your chapters and export them as one document, such as a PDF file or in ebook formats for the Kindle and ePub. There are many more formatting options that include Final Draft, popular word processors, web pages and MultiMarkdowns.

Other Features

Scrivener offers a plethora of other features. Some of these include:

  • Keywords: While I don’t see this feature as something I would need when writing a novel, it will help writers who are working on nonfiction books and research papers.
  • Name Generator: You can generate up to 500 potential names for your characters in a variety of cultures, male and female, obscurity level, double-barreled surnames, initialed forenames and alliterations. Lists are generated randomly.
  • Backup: Scrivener creates a backup copy of your project before you quit the session. That’s helpful, should you accidentally delete the original file or it becomes corrupt.
  • Cloud Integration and Sharing: Allows you to collaborate on a project with one or more people.
  • Grammar and Spelling Checker: This feature is comparable with other word processors that you may use. Misspelled words are underscored in red. Grammar errors are underscored in green. Hover over the grammar error to see what Scrivener suggests. Right-click on the misspelled word to see suggestions or to add the word to the dictionary.

Overall Impression of Scrivener

Although I have yet to try everything that this program has to offer, I liked what I was able to do with it. Scrivener made the writing process more manageable for me. I can keep my research and chapters in one place and organized so that I can find whatever I need with a simple click. That saves me a great deal of time and aggravation. That said, the only features I didn’t care for was the outlining interface and the instruction manual. For such a complex program, they could have done a better job writing step-by-step directions. Instead, I found overviews and a book written by David Hewson, entitled Writing a Novel with Scrivener. I’ve yet to read that book, but it’s gotten mixed reviews on Amazon. Whether you’re a creative writer, screenplay writer or an academic, Scrivener is a powerful tool that will help you with the writing process. Be aware that there is a learning curve. Compatible with both Mac and PC.

Happy Writing!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

How e-Cigarettes Can Help You Quit Smoking

As of today, I can finally say that I beat the cigarette habit after several failed attempts. I owe a huge thanks to the e-cigarette, which helped me quit. This topic is so personal and important to me that I decided to write about it when I signed up for a Gotham Writer’s Article Writing class last summer. I hope this article helps you, whether you are a smoker or have friends and loved ones who smoke.

—————————————————————————————————

Quit Smoking by Switching to e-CigarettesI’ll never forget the way my father looked when he picked me and my sons up at the airport in the summer of 2006. His face was sunken in and had a gray pallor that I had never seen before. This man is in the process of dying, I thought as we smiled and talked on our way to the baggage claim area. He was diagnosed with COPD and emphysema in January of that year and died in June of 2010. While I never witnessed what he went through, I heard the quality of his breathing when we talked on the phone. He begged me to quit smoking several times before he died.

I tried to quit smoking three times over the course of fifteen years. First I tried the Patch. Then I tried Chantix. Finally, I tried the good, old-fashioned Cold Turkey method. None of them worked. A year before my dad died, I heard about the e-cigarette while surfing on Twitter. This tweet came from a well-respected copywriter named Michel Fortin, who posted a link to his blog about the Green Smoke e-cigarette. Curious, I clicked on the link and read about how he had smoked for 30 years and how great he felt after using this product after two days. That post encouraged me to conduct some research about e-cigarettes and how they could help me quit smoking.

What is an e-Cigarette?

An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a battery-operated device that delivers nicotine in the form of water vapor. E-cigarettes contain propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG), water, flavoring and nicotine. According to the EPA, the vapor from e-cigarettes is nontoxic to humans and animals. They provide the satisfaction of smoking without hurting the smoker or those around him without the harmful cigarette smoke.

The most common e-cigarettes are shaped like a pen. Some, like the Green Smoke, are designed to look like a cigarette, with a tan filter and a white body. Other manufacturers, such as Bloog and Smokeless Image, offer a variety of colors.

The most common e-cigarette consists of a rechargeable battery, an atomizer and a cartridge. You can buy cartridges in a variety of flavors and nicotine strengths (36mg to 0mg). Assembling the e-cigarette involves screwing the atomizer onto the battery, and then popping the cartridge onto the atomizer. The atomizer heats up the liquid when you suck on the cartridge, producing the vapor that you inhale and exhale.

The second most common type of e-cigarette consists of a rechargeable battery and a cartomizer, which is a cartridge with a built-in atomizer. To assemble these models, screw the two pieces together. Refilling them with your favorite juice is an easy process, unlike the original cartridges.

How much do they cost?

When I first started my research in 2009, I was immediately put off by the price of the Green Smoke Kits. I didn’t want to spend $100 on something that may or may not help me to quit smoking. The price made me look elsewhere.

A typical starter kit includes at least one battery, a USB charger, a wall charger and five cartridges of your preferred flavor and nicotine strength. Prices for most of these kits run from $50 to $80. However, Smokeless Image offers theirs for $30. My local 7-11 convenience store sells their kits (which include the three-piece e-cig plus a charger) for $20.

Disposable e-cigarettes are also available from Volcanoecigs.com for $13, as of this date. These are great for people who are hesitant about e-cigarettes and want to try before they buy. A disposable e-cigarette will last the user about a day or two, depending on how much he uses it.

While the initial cost of buying an e-cigarette kit may not be too prohibitive, the costs of using them on a daily basis can add up. You will need to determine how many cartridges you use in a month. The cost of replacements cause many people to switch to bottled juices, which they use to refill the cartridges. Then you will need to figure out how often you need to replace the atomizers (if you use the three-piece units) and batteries, plus any other equipment that you decide to use. Batteries typically last about a month or two, sometimes three.

The costs can add up, especially in the beginning. Below is a conservative estimate of how much you can expect to spend during the first month, using e-cigarettes.

$50 – Kit
$50 – Cartridges
$40 – Spare batteries
$10 – Spare wall charger

Considering that I was spending $300 per month on cigarettes, $150 was a steal. I decided to check out the reviews of these e-cigarette products and their manufacturers. I’m glad that I did because I soon learned about the “free trial” scams that wind up costing the customer more than the average market price. After hearing mixed reviews about legitimate companies, I decided to wait because I wasn’t quite convinced that e-cigarettes could help me quit smoking.

Making the Leap

A year passed. My father had just died, and I was sitting there listening to my mother talking about what it was like to live with my father as he succumbed to his diseases. I developed a mental picture of the scenario and decided that I didn’t want to put my family through that stress and pain. Also, I was experiencing health problems that were exacerbated by my smoking. I made up my mind that I was going to buy a kit when I returned home from the funeral.

Part of me was still not convinced, which caused me to sit on the fence some more after I returned home. Soon after that, I went to my hair dresser, who told me about the e-cigarettes for sale at 7-11. I felt that I could risk $20 to see how well I enjoyed them. The cashier I spoke to turned out to be very helpful, explaining to me how he used the e-cigarette to quit smoking. I bought the XHale 02 kit, took it home and followed the assembly directions. There were no directions on how to smoke the thing, which would have been very helpful for newbies.

The plastic taste that filled my mouth tasted terrible. I was also disappointed with the lack of throat hit and the meager amount of steam that I was able to blow out of my mouth. After hearing about how e-cigarettes simulated the real thing, I found myself disappointed and taking a harder drag to see if I could get more steam. That turned out to be a big mistake because I OD’ed on the nicotine.

Despite that mishap, I wanted to continue testing the concept and went online to buy my first starter kit from Blu Cig. It arrived at 10:30 on Saturday morning, July 24, 2010. Again, I followed the instructions and took my first puff about an hour later. The experience was better than the XHale 02, although I was disappointed with the vapor production. However, the flavor was good so I kept using it. I smoked my Blu for the rest of the day and didn’t touch my husband’s cigarettes.

Two weeks passed without a cigarette. My chest felt clearer. I no longer heard myself wheezing when I would lay down for the night. The smoker’s cough cleared up. My acid reflux problems diminished practically overnight. I felt better than I had in a long time.

My doctor was thrilled when I told her about my decision to use e-cigarettes, as was my psychologist. My psychologist discussed ways to reduce my nicotine level, which she believed contributed to my problems with anxiety. At the time, I was using 15mg. She suggested that I buy lower levels the next time I placed an order. I followed her suggestion and bought the lower levels from the vendors that I normally use.

The process involved introducing the 12mg level until I completely weaned off the 15mg dose. That took about a week. Then I followed the same procedure with the 8mg dose. My body handled that pretty well. I took my time weaning down from 8mg to 0mg because I was afraid that I would start having nicotine cravings again.

About a month went by before I decided that I was ready for the 0mg. The cravings were minimal at first. Six months later, I am able to stand in front of my husband (who still smokes) with or without my e-cigarette. I am able to use my e-cigarette around my non-smoking family without a backlash.

I’ve since discovered a forum called ECF, where others share their tips and their journey in quitting smoking with e-cigarettes. Several of them have serious health problems that showed significant improvement since they started using e-cigarettes. One member has COPD and quit smoking 21 months ago. He goes by txtumbleweed on the forum, and this is what he had to say.

“The last time I had my lungs checked the doctor said my lungs sounded like an accordian so I was anxious to find out how they sounded now after vaping for 16 months. I knew I no longer wheezed or coughed but what would they sound like to the doctor. He was amazed and I was delighted because he said they sounded really good. I told him I hadn’t had a single cold in 16 months although I take care of my grandkids and they have had lots of colds but I haven’t had a single one. I told him I can’t prove it but I think it because of the PG I vape. He was real interested in them because this was at the VA hospital and there are many ol vets like me that have COPD.”

I have since read dozens of success stories about people who have successfully quit smoking because of e-cigarettes, but this guy made me think of my father. He was recently diagnosed with emphysema, but states that he can still breathe better than when he smoked. His quality of life is still very good, despite his diagnosis.

According to a poll taken on ECF, 1,738 people have used e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking. That number may rise as the public becomes more aware of how they can not only save lives but cut down health care costs for smoking-related diseases.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Ghosts of California: A Paranormal Documentary

What The Ghosts of California Is and Is Not

This documentary covers some of the most haunted places in California, such as The Winchester Mystery House, Alcatraz, Bodie Ghost Town, Hotel Del Coronado and The Whaley House.

If you’re looking for a high-quality (good sound effects and cinematography), you will be disappointed. The music has the quality of a bad B-horror flick. As far as the special effects . . . well, let’s just say that I didn’t receive any chills. Another thing that you should know is that this documentary does not contain in-depth paranormal investigations of the most haunted places in California.

What you’ll learn is a brief history of these places and what types of hauntings are known to have occurred there.

The Winchester Mystery House

The documentary begins with a tour of The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. A cheerful young woman explains why Sarah Winchester built her strange mansion, her fascination with the number 13 and her dinners with thirteen ghosts in a locked room where only she was allowed to go.

Numerous visitors have reported seeing Sarah Winchester during their tours through the mansion, as well as orbs.

Alcatraz

I was surprised to see the amount of rust and broken glass on the property. You would think that with the amount of money they receive from tourists, the state would care more about its upkeep. I guess that adds to the spookiness.

According to a paranormal investigator, five spirits occupy Alcatraz. One of them is Robert Franklin Stroud, a.k.a. Birdman, a psychotic killer that was kept in confinement until he died. Several people have tried to sleep in his cell overnight but were allegedly chased out by his angry spirit.

Ghost Town of Bodie

This segment was basically a tour of the town and second-hand stories from the park ranger. The history of Bodie was interesting, as were the ranger’s accounts of the ghosts that allegedly haunt the town.

Hotel Del Coronado

Kate Morgan checked in to the Hotel Del Coronado under the alias of Lottie Bernard before Thanksgiving of 1892. Her body was found on the steps that led out to the beach a few days later. At first, they had no idea who she was and dubbed her The Beautiful Stranger. Her body was identified after the police drew a sketch of her and posted it to the newspapers. She haunts the hotel to this day, surprising visitors with her presence.

This was one of the more interesting segments in this collection because it gives first-person accounts of the hauntings. Towards the end, my husband and I were watching the screen as the paranormal investigator talked. I don’t remember what he was saying, but I do remember seeing a woman rush down the sidewalk behind him, dressed in black period clothing. My husband and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes because we knew the woman was an actress.

The Whaley House

Also located in San Diego is The Whaley House, deemed the most haunted house in the United States. This segment was the best in the collection because the host talked about the spirits who still live in the house, how they haunted the house, his and his wife’s experiences. Even more intriguing were the photographs that he showed of a ghost that was caught on film.

Conclusion

This wasn’t a bad documentary. I learned enough about the history of these places that I would like to visit them. What made this documentary worth watching was the coverage of The Whaley House and the types of hauntings that go on all day there. If you’re curious, rent the DVD on NetFlix.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

The Five Love Languages, A Book Review

Introduction

My husband mentioned this book to me about a week before I found it sitting on the front shelf of our local Barnes & Noble. He had read about it on a forum and suggested that I look for it the next time I went to the book store.

About the Author

Gary Chapman is a marriage counselor who has written 14 books on the subject of relationships. Some of the books on his list include, The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, and Parenting Your Adult Child.

Book Summary

The Five Love Languages is about the five different love languages that people speak: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Chapman explains what they are and how to discover what your love language is. He also uses examples of his counseling sessions to illustrate each of these love languages and how they differ from one another. At the back of the book, you will find a quiz to take in order to determine what your love language is. However, by the time you get to that point, you will already know what languages you speak.

My Opinion

At first, I didn’t think that it was going to amount to more than fluff and empty promises. Most of these kinds of books are just that. But when I picked it up and started reading, I found myself hooked. I finished the book within two days and had my husband read it. Then we discussed our feelings and findings at length. The Five Love Languages has since changed the way we communicate with each other, thereby improving our relationship.

Both of us scored high in the Words of Affirmation language, although we scored higher in our individual languages. The problem we had with the quizzes was that some of the questions had double answers, which made it very difficult to decide. Just for kicks, we decided to take the quiz again, marking the alternate answers. The score wasn’t too much different.

We also liked how short this book was (201 pages) and how easy it was to read. You won’t find a whole lot of fluff between these covers. The best part about this book is that it can be applied to all the relationships in your life. I’m looking forward to reading Chapman’s other books.

I highly recommend this book, regardless of the condition of your relationships. If they are going strong, this book can enhance them further. If they are strained, perhaps you can gain some insight into why you react to your significant other the way that you do and vice versa. Five Love Languages may help save your relationship.

Resources

Visit Chapman’s website at fivelovelanguages.com to learn about the five languages before you buy the book. Take the self assessment quizzes to see what your love language is. Then have your significant other take the quiz. Chapman also has a radio show, podcasts, and his other books listed on his website.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Still Here, Still Writing

I’ve done it again. I’ve hit that dreaded middle and stalled. I did that three times with Prosperity and managed to come back all three times. This time feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m pressed for time with my writing assignments. Perhaps it’s life going on around me. It’s probably a little bit of everything right now, and I hope it will pass. At the moment, I have no desire to trudge through the pages to see where I went wrong. My mind is set on earning a decent living from writing, which has had its ups and downs these past several months. That goal will to take some time to achieve, I’ve come to realize.

Yesterday, I had several articles come back to me because the client closed the channels that they were under. They were kind enough to return the copyright back to me, so I will be posting them here soon. In the meantime, I’ve picked up the habit of reading again. I had fallen out of that habit a while ago, and it showed in my writing. Even my husband is pleased to see a book in my hand. He said that it was like I had returned to an old friend. He’s right. It feels good to read a book and escape into its story.

I’ve also taken up bicycling on a stationary bike. I don’t trust the drivers in my neighborhood. My goal with this is to strengthen my leg muscles so that I can go on long walks with my husband. So far, I’ve been riding for a mile each day over the past couple of weeks. I’m still managing to stay off of the cigarettes, which is a feat that I thought I would never achieve. July 24 will mark the 1-year anniversary of when I quit those nasty things.

While the block is bothering me, I’ve come to accept its presence for a while. My priorities have shifted, and I have to take care of the important things right now. Once those needs are met, I can figure out how to unblock myself. Perhaps I’ll be able to dive right in, as I always have. If not, I found a great article on beating writer’s block.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Writing and Such

This weekend’s cold and wet weather made it a perfect time to stay indoors and write. During this time, I finished a chapter and almost completed another before I was too tired to tap another key. It felt good to write my novel again, after becoming so focused on article writing. I hope to have this project finished within a year.

In other news, my oldest takes his driver’s test tomorrow. I’m both excited and nervous. The nervousness is about letting him drive by himself. Hey, they have to do it someday, right? Then there is my youngest, who is getting ready to sign up for his school’s football team. He wants to become a professional football player when he grows up. My oldest is about to graduate high school, which trips me out. He wants to go into woodworking.

It didn’t seem that long ago when I was talking about them while they were in grade and middle school. Although it upsets me that I’m growing older, I’m enjoying watching their different stages.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Christmas Light Show

I found other videos and thought I would share them, but this turned out to be my favorite. I hope you enjoy it.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS