Archive for April, 2008
If you check out the menu bar, you’ll notice I’ve added a Sightings tab. This is where I’ll list my upcoming public appearances. There are two in the coming weeks.
May 17, 2008
2820 E University Dr # 102
Mesa, Arizona 85213
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
June 7, 2008
Cedar Fort Writing Conference
2373 West 700 South
Springville, Utah 84663
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Presenters include Abel Keogh, Janet Jensen, and Eloise Owens. The cost is $25 and includes lunch. Seating is limited. To register call 801.489.4084.
Update: You can find out the details of the writing confrence here.
April 30th, 2008
Ember sent me an interesting article that appeared in the (Ogden) Standard-Examiner last month about a young widow support group.
After Kimberly Love Killpack’s husband died, she didn’t want to see anyone but her immediate family — and the stranger who sent a book to her during the viewing.
The book, “Tear Soup,” was left to help comfort Killpack. Inside was a picture of another young widow by the name of Kimberly Kemp and her four children.
“I immediately called her,” said Killpack, 43, of Pleasant View.
“She came up that night, and we talked for hours. It was so nice to talk to someone who said she knew how I felt and really meant it.”
Kemp, 45, of North Ogden, said she knew she had to reach out to others because others had reached out to her….
Kemp told Killpack about other widows she had met, and they decided to arrange a time they could all get together.
“I met Michelle from a group in the Layton/Kaysville area. Her husband passed away two weeks after Sam. I knew I had to include her,” Killpack said.
“Tonya was on the news a month after Sam died, and I had this overwhelming feeling she would be an important part of my life. I had known Angie’s family … We all became soul mates — and we saved each other.”
The group has grown from two women to more than 40.
First, I’m glad there’s a group like this out there. I know I would have liked another young widower to talk with after the late wife died. I felt so alone during that time it would have been nice to have another person to talk to who understood what I was going through. I think the service these women are performing is a vital one for those who have lost a spouse.
The second is because of the differences between men and women, I wonder if young widowers would ever form a group like this. I can see a couple of young widowers getting together and talking for a night over food and drink. However, forming some sort of social group that meets monthly (or on a regular basis) doesn’t seem like something most men would do. It seems like after an initial meeting, asking questions, and getting things off their chest, they’d lose interest in the group.
Awhile back Nothing Good About Grief belonged to a widow group in Florida that met occasionally. I remember reading about the gatherings she occasionally attended but, like the Utah group, it seemed to be comprised of just women. I don’t ever remember her mentioning men attending unless they were dating one of the widows. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)
Thinking back to my own experience, though I would have appreciated someone or a group to talk with all those years ago, I doubt I would have met up with other young widowers more than once unless I became good friends. But I would have been happy with the fact that I talked with another young widower and could have emailed him if a future question or issues came up. A monthly meeting with other young widowers wouldn’t have been necessary for me.
April 29th, 2008
Sometimes I wonder if LOST would have lost its way if it wasn’t for Benjamin Linus.
Before Ben became part of the series, we had a bunch of intriguing characters who survived a plane wreck but none of them could really be considered a main character of the show. (You could make a strong case that Jack or Locke fit this bill. I would say that the island itself was the main character through the first season and half.)
After Ben was introduced, we saw how everything revolves around him, his decisions, and his actions. All the other characters are responding and reacting to whatever he does. And last night’s episode illustrated this perfectly. We saw how Ben manipulated Sayid into becoming an assassin and how Hurly, Claire, Sawyer and others now rely in him for their lives, and how even the rich and powerful Charles Widmore is simply reacting to whatever Ben does.
But it isn’t the fact that the LOST universe revolves around Ben that makes him a great main character. The writers have shown us enough of his background and human side that we feel sorry for him. We’ve seen enough of his sad childhood and his unloving father that we can’t help but see that maybe part of the reason he’s evil is because, in part, some of his past experiences.
And even though we know he’s very evil and manipulative person, we couldn’t help but feel his shock and sadness when his disavowment of Alex backfired and she was executed. No one really blamed him for turning the smoke monster on the soldiers. And now his quest for revenge in flashforwards doesn’t seem pointless – even if we don’t agree with his actions we can last least see the motivation behind them.
Ben makes LOST tick. And I’m looking forward to (hopefully) two more seasons of this intriguing character.
April 25th, 2008
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to a literature class at Weber State University that is using Room for Two as one of their books. I was very impressed with the students and their questions, comments, and insight they had. The following are some of their questions and my answers I thought others might find interesting.
Q: What audience did you have in mind when you wrote Room for Two?
A: I was trying to write for a very broad audience. I wanted to tell my story in such a way that even those who have never lost a spouse, child, or had a friend or loved one take their own life could enjoy it. It seems to have worked. Though I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from young widows, young widowers, and suicide survivors, most of the emails I receive have been from people who don’t fall into any of those categories. No matter what group the reader falls in, however, the vast majority of respondents tell me the book has touched their lives in very positive ways.
Q: Why did you write Room for Two?
A: The biggest reason was that I read or, rather, tired to read a lot of “memoirs” about losing a spouse soon after my late wife’s death. I found most of them to be completely worthless. Most of the time the writer would try to make him or herself out as a “wronged hero.” I felt authors were being less than honest about their experience and were hiding their own faults and imperfections. Because of this, I had a hard time relating on any level to the story they were trying to tell. I wanted to write a book that, in my opinion, showed the human side of the surviving spouse as well as the pain that that accompanies the death of a loved one.
In the case of books that dealt specifically with losing a spouse to suicide, I thought the authors were trying to make excuses or justify the actions of their loved ones that killed themselves. Some of the books went as far to romanticize suicide. I find that to be extremely dangerous. The reasons people take their own life is very complex and trying to rationalize or validate their actions is impossible without being able to talk with that person. And since they’re dead, that impossible. Instead of justifying the actions of my late wife, I tried to portray the devastating effect suicide has on those left behind.
Q: There’s a strong religious undercurrent in Room for Two. After reading the book, one can tell that you’re very religious but you don’t much in the way of specifics about what faith you belong to. Was that intentional?
A: Yes. Outside of the mountain west, most people don’t know much about the LDS (Mormon) Church. I didn’t want to alienate or distract readers who are unfamiliar with the church. Hence the reason I used very generic terms to describe my religious affiliation. Those who are familiar with the LDS church will, I think, know what faith I’m a member of rather quickly.
Q: If you were to rewrite Room for Two for a Mormon-only audience, what would you change?
Q: How did you come up with the title for your book?
A: The working title of the book was Running Forward. However, that never seemed to fit with the story I was telling. One day I was editing a part of the book where I was struggling with making room in my heart for another person. Though the exact phrase “room for two” doesn’t appear in the text, while reading that paragraph, those words formed in my mind as I read it. I immediately knew I had the perfect right title for my book.
Q: I really enjoyed reading your late wife’s poem “Ten Toed Children of Eve” that was in Room for Two. Have you considered about publishing the rest of your late wife’s poetry?
A: I’ve thought about putting a website up that contained her poetry and some of her other writings. Right now it’s more of a time issue. I have other writing projects are more pressing.
Q: Which writers have influenced you the most?
A: Orson Scott Card, Ethan Canin, and my dad.
Q: How do you find the time to write?
A: I make time. Once my kids are in bed, I spend some time with my wife and then write until I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s easy to talk about being a writer but hard to actually put in the hours required to write something worth publishing. I went to school with a lot of “writers” that were more talented than me. However, I’m the only one with a book. Though talent has something to do with getting published, most of it has to do with dedicating the time to writing, editing, and rewriting your manuscript.
Q: Are you writing more books?
A: I’m currently writing a work of fiction. If I can hold to my self-imposed deadlines, I should have a publishable manuscript sometime this summer.
Q: Do you have any plans to write a follow-up to Room for Two?
A: Yes. After I complete this work of fiction, the plan is to write another book that picks up where Room for Two left off. The main focus will be on the early years my marriage to Julie. The working title is Seconds because the book is going to focus a lot on second chances, second marriages, second loves, etc.
April 23rd, 2008
I don’t have to show up for federal jury duty — again. The case was either canceled or the defendant decided to take a plea. Whatever happened, my four months federal jury service is officially over – at least that’s what the recorded message stated.
Though I think it would be interesting to serve on a jury, this service would have been very inconvenient had I been chosen. Room for Two is being used as a text for one of the classes at Weber State University and I’m scheduled to do a reading and take part in a discussion about it on Tuesday, April 22. Thankfully, there are no potential conflicts now.
By the way, if any of my readers are going to be in the Ogden area on Tuesday and want to attend, email me and I’ll let you know the details of the event.
April 18th, 2008
According to The Daily Telegraph, writer Thomas Kohnstamm admitted to faking large sections of The Lonely Planet guidebooks he wrote.
THE Lonely Planet guidebook empire is reeling from claims by one of its authors that he plagiarised and made up large sections of his books and dealt drugs to make up for poor pay.
Thomas Kohnstamm also claims in a new book that he accepted free travel, in contravention of the company’s policy.
His revelations have rocked the travel publisher, which sells more than six million guides a year.
Mr Kohnstamm, whose book is titled Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?, said yesterday that he had worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including its titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Chile and South America.
In one case, he said he had not even visited the country he wrote about.
“They didn’t pay me enough to go Colombia,” he said.
“I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating – an intern in the Colombian Consulate.
“They don’t pay enough for what they expect the authors to do.”
If the pay was so bad, one has to wonder why Kohnstamm agreed to write the travel guides in the first place. If he was talented enough to fool The Lonely Planet’s editors, one would think he should have tried his hand at fiction.
But more striking is why a publishing company (in this case Three Rivers/Crown) would reward a writer who admits to defrauding another publisher with a publishing contract. With other non-fiction books having difficulty passing the truth test, I’d think that a publisher would be hesitant to publish a book from an admitted liar.
(Blog entry cross-posted here.)
April 14th, 2008
I forgot that I was still on call for Federal Jury Duty until the end of April, until jury summons arrived in the mail yesterday.
My summons in February didn’t go through because they either rescheduled the case or reached some kind of settlement before the trial. I’m crossing my fingers it happens again.
If not, I’m sure I’ll have an entry that Jenn will enjoy.
April 11th, 2008
HitCoffee posted a link to a news story about the affect of grief on one’s health. The article states:
Doctors have long understood the impact of grief on one’s health. Now, a new study has revealed how fragile a broken heart can really be. Researchers in Britain have found that bereft people face the risk of death in the first year of being widowed.
In fact, men are six times more likely to die of a broken heart than women. According to lead researcher Dr Jaap Spreeuw of the Cass Business School in London, the study has confirmed the existence of ‘broken heart syndrome.
“We all know that the death of a loved one will have massive impact on the life of the husband or wife left behind, but this shows it will have direct impact on their mortality. It statistically proves that people can die of a broken heart during the earliest stages of bereavement,” he said.
“The effect is stronger for older people who have been married longer. The good news is that after the first years of mourning, the chance of dying goes down,” Dr Spreeuw added.
My first thought was that I already knew this. In fact I remember reading about a similar studies of widows and widowers in college though I don’t recall that study specifically mentioning men as being more venerable than women of dying after the death of a spouse. But I do remember it mentioning that people who were married longer, say 20 or more years, did have increased odds of dying soon after their spouse than those who had been married five years.
That being said, I think anyone who has lost a spouse can understand how easy it could be to die of a broken heart. In Room for Two I wrote:
In a college communications class, I had read about couples who spent most of their lives together. After one died, it was common for the other to pass on soon after, even if he or she was in good health. At the time I couldn’t comprehend how someone could lose their will to live after their spouse was gone. But I began to, at least partially, understand how they felt. Krista had been a significant part of my life for seven years—four as my girlfriend and three as my wife. My life had become completely entwined with hers. Now that she was gone, I didn’t feel complete. I had to force myself to live.
Things I had done willingly before Krista died, like going to work, became a chore. Though my job hadn’t changed, without the prospect of supporting a family, work was boring. There was no incentive for me to put extra effort into my projects. I did just enough to get by. I didn’t care if there were any raises or bonuses in my future. I resisted the urge to walk into my supervisor’s office and quit only because I knew being unemployed and doing nothing would ultimately be worse.
The other thing that intrigued me about the study was how after the first year of a spouse passing the odds of dying from a “broken heart” decrease.
For my own experience, there was something psychologically helpful about making it through the first year. It wasn’t just because Marathon Girl was now a major part of my life (though that was part of it), but there was something about having gone through holidays and other special dates without the late wife once that helped me realize it was only going to get easier the second time around.
April 9th, 2008
Has anyone seen those Tigers?
Has anyone seen those cats?
Here kitty, kitty, kitty
Here kitty, kitty, kitty
Where’s those Tigers at?
— A mocking sports chant used when the opponent’s mascot is a Tiger
$138 million doesn’t buy what it used to.
Just ask the Detroit Tigers.
In the old days it could buy enough stars to guarantee you a playoff spot, even if it didn’t come with a World Series title. The Yankees are proof of that.
Nowadays it can’t even buy you a victory.
The Tigers, who have the second highest payroll in baseball, are the only team without a win after being swept by the White Sox and lowly Royals in Detroit.
Their performance is utter disappointing and embarrassing even for Tigers fans who are generally accustomed to mediocrity.
And things don’t look much better for the struggling Tigers. Twelve of their next 14 games are on the road staring with a three games series against the Red Sox today. I can honestly see them coming back from the road swing and giving the 1988 Baltimore Orioles a run for their money. (The ’88 Orioles started the season 0-21.)
The only bright side of the Tiger’s struggles is that there will probably be an abundance of available Tiger-Diamondback tickets when the family visits Phoenix next month.
April 8th, 2008
The phone call came like an answer to a prayer.
For several days Marathon Girl and I had been discussing when to take some time off and where to go on vacation. The phone rings. On the other end is my friend Brent.
Brent calls just to see how things are going and then mentions that the Tigers will be in town soon to play the Diamondbacks.
The Tigers are coming to Phoenix? I’m stunned. I looked at their schedule back in March and didn’t remember seeing that. I get online and discover that the Tigers do have three game series in Phoenix in mid-May.
Suddenly family vacation plans materialize. A trip to Phoenix to enjoy the company of friends, see their two kids, and squeeze in a Tigers baseball game.
And our trip would coincide with a wonderful event for Brent and his wife. The adoption of their second child is scheduled to be finalized that week and they have some fun things planned in celebration.
We’re still working out the details but it looks like the family heading to Phoenix sometime in mid-May.
Suddenly, I’m not so tired anymore.
April 6th, 2008
I’m exhausted. I can barely keep my eyes open and its only 2:54 p.m.
Writing my second book late into the night and waking up early is finally catching up with me. I ran four miles today during lunch and didn’t have the energy to run at my normal pace.
It’s not that the extra effort hasn’t been worth it. In the last 30 days I’ve completed 11 chapters – nearly half of the book. And if I keep it up, I’ll meet my personal goal of having the book done around the end of April.
Still, my non-stop life it taking its toll.
I think I need some time off from work and writing.
The best way to do this is with a fun-filled vacation with the family.
Marathon Girl, you reading this? Let’s plan something.
April 3rd, 2008
I’ve always been a fan of well thought out and executed April Fool’s day jokes – especially when they involve creative writing. Hat’s off to Sports Illustrated for resurrecting this classic on their home page today.
April 1st, 2008