Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Spotlight: The Heatstroke Line by Edward L. Rubin

Hot off the presses! THE HEATSTROKE LINE by Edward L. Rubin is available now! 

Author: Edward L. Rubin
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Pages: 223
Genre: Scifi/Cli-Fi (Climate Change Science Fiction)

Nothing has been done to prevent climate change, and the United States has spun into decline.   Storm surges have made coastal cities uninhabitable, blistering heat waves afflict the interior and, in the South (below the Heatstroke Line), life is barely possible.  Under the stress of these events and an ensuing civil war, the nation has broken up into three smaller successor states and tens of tiny principalities.  When the flesh-eating bugs that inhabit the South show up in one of the successor states, Daniel Danten is assigned to venture below the Heatstroke Line and investigate the source of the invasion.  The bizarre and brutal people he encounters, and the disasters that they trigger, reveal the real horror climate change has inflicted on America.  


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Book Excerpt:
(Excerpted from Chapter 8)

They were in some sort of garage, with several other vehicles and various pieces of equipment scattered around.  The two men who stood beside them, watching, were the ones who had taken him out of the auto-car, one white, one black, both very big.  Three people approached from a doorway to Dan’s right.  In front was an attractive woman with blond hair, wearing an elegant leopard print dress and the long, pointed shoes that were the latest fashion.  Behind her stood a man and a woman, both much bigger, and dressed in work clothes like the two men who were guarding them.
            The woman in the leopard dress looked at her wristlink, then at Dan and Stuart, and smiled at them in self-satisfied manner.  She motioned to the woman beside her and then to one of the two guards, and they led Stuart, still complaining about his arm, through the doorway they had come from.  Then she turned toward Dan and motioned to the man beside her and the other guard, who grabbed Dan’s arms and started to lead him toward the same doorway.
            “Who the hell are you?” he said, trying to turn toward the woman.  “Are you aware that we’re part of a diplomatic mission from Mountain America to Jacksonia authorized by President Peter Simonson?  I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but if you - - - “
            One of the men let go of Dan’s arm, grabbed his cheeks to force his mouth open, and plunged a plastic gag into it.  Dan felt himself choke and struggled for breath.  The gag had a slightly sour, greasy taste.  Then both men grabbed his arms again and led him through the doorway.  Dan suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of dread, stronger even than he had felt when the men first pulled him out of the car.
            Beyond the doorway was a narrow corridor with dirty green walls covered with beads of water.  Clearly, they were underground.  The men lead Dan through the first opening along the corridor and into a small, dimly-lit room with three chairs facing a transparent plastic window.  Through the window was another room, painted grey and brightly lit.   Dan was forced into the chair at the back of the room, his handcuffs were removed and his arms were strapped to the armrests, and then, to his increasing dread, some sort of metal device was placed over his head and tightened so that he was forced to look straight ahead into the room beyond the window.  He felt saliva dripping down his chin.  The woman in the leopard dress came in, sat down in the chair placed to his left and closer to the window, looked at him up and down, then crossed her legs and turned to the window. 
            A moment later, Stuart was led into the brightly lit grey room by his two guards.  All his clothes except his undershorts had been stripped off.  He had always been slender, but now he looked emaciated and pathetic.  He was obviously in pain. Dan felt tears coming to his eyes despite his own discomfort.  The woman turned to him, smiled, and then turned back to the window.   By now, one of Stuart’s handcuffs had been removed and re-attached to a metal loop that was built into the wall.  The two guards left and Stuart was alone in the room, one arm fastened to the wall, the other hanging limply at his side. 
            With a sense of horror, but not, for some reason, of surprise, Dan saw a dark shape fly through the air and attach itself to Stuart’s thigh.  It was a biter bug, shiny black and nearly three inches long.  Stuart jumped and writhed, turning one way and the other, but Dan didn’t need to see clearly to know what was happening.  The bug’s six legs had plunged immediately into Stuart’s skin; now its two sharp mandibles, each half an inch in length, were folded under its body, tearing his flesh.  Blood welled up from under the bug, and as it moved down his leg, it left a trail of raw, bleeding flesh behind.  Stuart clawed weakly at the bug with his other arm, which was obviously disabled.  That didn’t matter because Dan knew that tearing a biter bug off your body was virtually impossible.  As soon as you started, its legs dug deeper, and you would wind up tearing out a chunk of your own flesh, which was just as painful, and somehow more awful, than letting the bug continue for the half minute or so until it was satisfied and flew away.     
            Dan wanted to yell.  He heard the words “Why are you doing this” form in his throat, but he couldn’t speak.  He tried to lift the chair to get out of the room, to smash the window, to kill the woman sitting calmly next to him, but the chair was bolted to the floor.  He couldn’t move -- he couldn’t even look away.  The first bug was gone, leaving an oozing wound behind, but two more bugs had been released and attached themselves to Stuart’s body, one to his chest and one to his arm.  Helpless and in agony, he was trying to pull away from the wall and he was screaming.  No sound came through the window and the silence, compounded by Dan’s own inability to speak, made the scene somehow more horrible. 
            Dan closed his eyes.  If there was nothing else that he could do, he could at least deny this woman the satisfaction of making him watch his friend be tortured.  Beneath his sorrow, fury and horror, he sensed another feeling, some indefinable nausea that lay deep inside him.   After a few minutes, he felt compelled to look again.  Stuart had collapsed and was lying against the wall.  There were four or five bugs on his body now, and one was on his cheek, moving toward his eye.  He was still writhing, but had also begun to shake compulsively.  Blood was oozing from bug tracks on his arms, legs and stomach, covering his body and dripping onto the floor.  He was going into shock; they were killing him.  Dan had never felt so angry or so powerless.  It was hard to believe that this was real, that Stuart was really dying, that in a few more minutes he would cease to exist.  The bugs flew away, one leaving a pool of blood in his eye socket, and then three more, five more, came flying in.  Dan closed his eyes again.  They were wet with tears; he felt himself sobbing and gasping for breath through the greasy gag. 
            Suddenly, there were people around him, three or four.  They released his head, unstrapped his arms, stood him up, handcuffed his arms behind him again, turned him around and dragged him out into the corridor.  In the process, he caught a glimpse of Stuart’s prostrate, motionless body through the window, covered in blood, with bugs still crawling over it.   Once in the corridor, he was dragged a short distance, through an opening, and into an even narrower corridor.  One of his captors opened a door and he was pushed into a brightly lit grey room.  The steady sense of dread that Dan was feeling congealed into panic.  They were going to set the bugs on him the way they did to Stuart. They were going to kill him.  He was going to die.
            His gag was removed, his handcuffs were opened, and then one arm, still cuffed, was attached to a metal loop in the wall, just the way that they had done to Stuart.  Then all the guards left the room and closed the door behind him.  He was alone.   In front of him was a large plastic window, dark and blank.  The woman was sitting behind it, he was certain, and she was going to watch as the biter bugs killed him.
            How could this be happening?  He felt a roaring in his head, he couldn’t think.  There was something he had to figure out, something he had to make sense out of, but he didn’t know what it was.  Would he really die, would he really stop existing?  What about his children and Garenika?  “If I die now, I’ll never see them again” he realized. “No, there will be no ‘I’ not to see them.  The world will come to an end.  It can’t be, it can’t be.”
            He heard the unmistakable, high pitched buzz of a biter bug flying toward him through the air.  Instinctively, he knew what to do—he had been trained in Mark Granowski’s department before he went to central Texas for a research project.  The bugs flew in straight lines when they were attacking.  He waited until it almost reached him, then slapped it with his free hand.  It fell to the ground with a sickeningly solid thud, but right side up.   Black and huge, it crawled a few inches, its long mandibles opening and closing.  Even though he had his shoes on – he realized that they hadn’t taken off his clothes – he knew there was no point trying to crush the bug; its carapace was much too hard.  After a few moments, the bug’s wings started vibrating, it rose up in the air, and flew toward him once more.   Again, he slapped it and it fell down right side up.   The hideous thing crawled a few inches and rose up again.  Once again he slapped it and it thudded to the ground, right side up again.  Its wings vibrated, it rose up and flew toward him, he slapped it hard and it fell down again, this time on its back.  Immediately, he stamped his foot on it and felt the satisfying crunch as its body cracked beneath his shoe.
            But what was the point, he asked himself a moment later.  They could release another bug, five more, fifty more.  The pain would become worse and worse and he would die, just like Stuart.    No, not just die -- the world would end, there would be nothing.  The roaring in his head returned, the sense of dread and disbelief.  It couldn’t be.   He heard himself bellowing “No, No, No, No.”   There was a high pitched buzz behind him, and as he spun around, the biter bug slammed into his upper arm.  He felt its feet dig in, and then the burning, searing pain as its huge mandibles, now tucked under its carapace, began to tear his flesh.  He could only stare at it in horror.  Blood rose up under it and turned his light blue shirt sleeve sickly purple.  The bug moved slowly down his arm, leaving a track of bloody, torn up flesh, visible inside the inch-wide tear in his shirtsleeve.  The pain was unbearable. He couldn’t believe that the twenty five or thirty seconds that they bug was on him seemed so long, and he felt a moment of relief when it finally flew away, dripping blood behind it. 
            He had to organize his thoughts, there was something that he had to do, but what was it?  How could he stop existing?  Would he live somehow, because of his research?  Would he live in the memories of Josh, Senly, Michael and Garenika?  But he wouldn’t be here, there would be no world for him.  An image, a memory, suddenly came into his mind.  He was walking across the University of Utah campus with Garenika.  They had just met, he had said something to her and she laughed, in a soft, silvery tone, and he wondered if they would end up having children together.  Now he saw his home in Arches Park City.  His father was reading to him, his mother came into the room with the poster of the Milky Way, the one he had wanted and that hung in his room when he was growing up.
            After a few minutes, he realized that no more bugs had come.  A sudden surge of hope passed through him.  He was afraid to even form the thought, afraid that it would somehow preclude the actuality.  But the door opened, one of the guards came into the room with a suppressed smile on his face, removed the handcuff from his wrist, removed the other part from the loop on the wall and walked out with it.  The lights in the room suddenly dimmed.  Dan sank down onto the floor.  He took the bottom of his shirt and pressed it against the wound on his arm, as much to relieve the burning pain as to staunch the flow of blood.  He became aware that he was sobbing, but whether it was with relief or anguish was impossible for him to say.
            Several hours later, the door opened, and before Dan could react, a tray with clothing, a plate of food and an inflatable mattress was pushed into the room.  The door closed again.   The clothing was an ordinary, open collar white shirt, a pair of dark brown trousers and dark green undershorts.  Dan became aware that the front of his own pants was wet and realized he had pissed himself when the bug attacked him.  Next to the clothes was a large blue, disinfectant bandage.  Slowly and deliberately, Dan stripped off his clothes, wrapped the bandage around his arm, which immediately felt a bit better, and put on the clothes he’d been given.  Looking around, he saw an open hole in the opposite corner of the room, walked over and peed down the hole. 
            He went back to the tray, took a bite of one roll.  All at once, he felt nauseated, ran to the hole and vomited.  He couldn’t stop; he vomited repeatedly and convulsively, long after there was anything left in his stomach.  The roaring in his head returned, he felt intensely chilled and his body began shaking uncontrollably.   After what seemed like a long time, the shakes and chills subsided, but they were followed by a slowly intensifying fear.  Suppose they turned off the lights and began to fill the room with water.  He could feel himself being forced to the top of the room, feel his head pressed against the ceiling when only a few inches of air remained, feel the water filling his nose and mouth as he gasped helplessly for breath.  Suppose the walls of the room began to close from both directions, pressing against his body until he was trapped tiny, pitch black space.  Suppose they raised the temperature until searing air burned his lungs with every breath as he began to suffocate.
            Dan tried to calm himself.   He wondered if he should use Jiangtan –why hadn’t he thought of it when he was watching Stuart die -- but somehow didn’t think that it would help.  Had the bread been poisoned?  That wouldn’t make any sense.  Clearly, they meant to keep him alive.  Were they holding him for ransom or as a hostage for some political purpose?   In any case, once the Mountain American government found out about it, they would arrange for his return, he reassured himself.  He decided he should try to sleep; he was obviously exhausted.  He inflated the mattress, lay down, and closed his eyes. The biter bug wound on his arm was still throbbing and his head ached.  He tried to think his college days, of his evenings with friends, of nineteenth century novels, of Garenika, but it all seemed thin and pointless.   Finally, his thoughts returned to his early fascination with astronomy, and he pictured himself touring the moons and planets of the solar system and then venturing out among the undiscovered worlds that orbited the distant stars. 

About the Author

Edward Rubin is University Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University.  He specializes in administrative law, constitutional law and legal theory. He is the author of Soul, Self and Society:  The New Morality and the Modern State (Oxford, 2015); Beyond Camelot:  Rethinking Politics and Law for the Modern State (Princeton, 2005) and two books with Malcolm Feeley, Federalism:  Political Identity and Tragic Compromise (Michigan, 2011) and Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State:  How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons (Cambridge, 1998).  In addition, he is the author of two casebooks, The Regulatory State (with Lisa Bressman and Kevin Stack) (2nd ed., 2013); The Payments System (with Robert Cooter) (West, 1990), three edited volumes (one forthcoming) and The Heatstroke Line (Sunbury, 2015) a science fiction novel about the fate of the United States if climate change is not brought under control. Professor Rubin joined Vanderbilt Law School as Dean and the first John Wade–Kent Syverud Professor of Law in July 2005, serving a four-year term that ended in June 2009. Previously, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1998 to 2005, and at the Berkeley School of Law from 1982 to 1998, where he served as an associate dean. Professor Rubin has been chair of the Association of American Law Schools' sections on Administrative Law and Socioeconomics and of its Committee on the Curriculum. He has served as a consultant to the People's Republic of China on administrative law and to the Russian Federation on payments law. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale.
He has published four books, three edited volumes, two casebooks, and more than one hundred articles about various aspects of law and political theory. The Heatstroke Line is his first novel.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Inspiration Behind ‘All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams’ by Liza Trevino

All That Glitters Cover
I’ve always been a reader and a writer, since I was a kid. I loved – love – all kinds of genres: horror, suspense, romance, but Jackie Collins, in particular, always held a special place in my heart. I adore her work and all Hollywood fiction.  I gobbled it up when I was a teenager.  Eventually, I was re-reading one of my favorites of hers while I was in grad school in Los Angeles, and it hit me.  Where is a Latina Lucky Santangelo?
I wanted to read about a badass character like Lucky Santangelo, but I wanted her to be Latina. And that’s how it started for me. I began thinking about the popular stories I liked to read and decided I was going to create those kinds of stories but put a Latina at the center of the action.  That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it, so I started writing. And that’s how All That Glitters came to be.
All That Glitters is a women’s fiction novel that has glamour, Hollywood and some romance mixed in for good measure. It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and gorgeous Latina, Alexandria Moreno, who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer and film director in the 1980s.
The book is also about relationships. There are three key relationships in the book, and each of the relationship highlights different but complimentary themes that overlap. Themes that include the redemptive nature of loyalty and friendship, the destructive power of giving into your worst impulses, facing your demons, learning to love yourself, self-acceptance and trust.
But, I’m most intrigued by the idea of free will vs. fate. Do we have free will or are things set before we even take our first breath? How in control are we of our life journeys?  Is there some pre-determined destination that all of our little, everyday decisions ultimately leads us?  Or, is it all just chaos? And, if it is chaos, then how do we account for certain repetitions in life? I suppose I’m quite taken with that theme because I see it played out and the questions come up again and again in different stories I’ve written. And, to all of this, I’d say that the themes became apparent after I wrote the story.
Liza TreviƱo hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.
Click to Buy on Amazon: All That Glitters

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interview from the authors of Child Decoded


Inside the Book:

The last twenty years have seen a huge increase, not only in children with learning and behavior problems, but in children with bewildering combinations of them. These combinations can defy easy categorization and resist treatment. Figuring these children out can feel like trying to decrypt an especially complex code, without a cypher. Even professionals find it challenging.

We have seen family after family exhausted, overwhelmed and confused about how to sort through all the data and figure out how to proceed. There is certainly no shortage of information out there. What seems to be missing is guidance on how to synthesize it to create a larger picture that gives parents a clearly sequenced path forward.

This book presents a new kind of resource for a new kind of need. It includes:

Extensive checklists to help you see new possibilities and find avenues of support you may not have considered
Explanation of the hidden factors that may be worsening your child’s learning or behavior problems
Discussion of the difference between digging deeper for true causes and merely assigning diagnoses to the “tip of the iceberg” symptoms you are seeing
Descriptions of the major areas of developmental, learning and behavioral challenges, as well as common misdiagnoses.
Lots of useful ‘news you can use’ about what options are available to you, which practitioners do what, and what questions to ask along the way
Descriptions of both Western medicine and alternative medicine solutions
Sequence matters: helpful information on how to prioritize treatments in a complex situation
Stories of families who have been in the same trenches you have
Tips on how to work more productively with your child’s school; develop a plan of action that makes sense for your budget, your family’s schedule and your sanity; maintain a healthy connection with your child; and more!
Written by over 20 professionals, Child Decoded is a thorough, must-have resource that any family with struggling children should consult!


Q: Please tell us about “Child Decoded” and what inspired you to write it.

A: “Child Decoded” is a resource guide to help families whose children are struggling with learning and behavior disorders. Increasing numbers of children have complex combinations of issues that can be difficult to sort out, diagnose correctly, and treat effectively.  (Incidentally, we consider both Autism and AD/HD to be complex in and of themselves, since there are often so many fronts that need to be addressed.) There are so many more resources and approaches out there than people realize. But it seems to take everyone way too long to find what they need for their particular child.
I know from personal experience how hard it is to find all the information you need in order to even understand what’s going on, much less know what to do about it. It is maddening, scary, and confusing…and the whole time that you’re chasing your tail trying to find answers, you’re panicking that your child is now even more shut down, frustrated, and convinced that he’s stupid or broken somehow. There really is no hell quite like watching your child struggle and not being able to help. This book is designed to help parents like me find answers without going down incessant dead ends, going broke or losing their minds. 
(There are more details about what’s in the book in later questions, especially the one about which sections are most important.)

Q: What made you pursue a book that focused on children and learning/behavioral problems?

A: The two ladies who founded this project are both practitioners who work with a wide range of children and issues. They saw the same stories over and over, of kids whom no one could seem to figure out. Over time, these women started to see patterns in their clients’ histories: overall health patterns, complicating underlying factors, and symptoms that are often misdiagnosed (lookin’ at you, ADD). They learned to look deeper than the presenting symptoms, and cultivated relationships with other practitioners to provide a complete network for clients. They then looked for a book that shared the information and insight they had accumulated, so that that they could recommend it to parents. They couldn’t find one, so they decided to write it themselves.
I was brought on board about a year into the project, after they went through a few editors who didn’t work out. Because of my own experience with ulcer-inducingly complicated children, I was immediately intrigued. It really is the book I wish I’d had, and we believe it can make the path easier for others in the same boat.

Q: What type of support system do you have?

A: Since I was the main editor, I was the one who needed the most support! And this involved so much more than editing. I was almost always the one deciding what additional information we needed, what was too much or too clinical, how to break it down, what kind of tone would appeal to a freaked-out parent doing research at one in the morning, and so on.  There was a lot more rewriting and determining basic organization than I had anticipated, and I had never been in charge of a project this complicated. 
In a way, that extent of control and freedom was exciting. But a few years into the project, I started to get stressed about being the main person determining all of this, and experienced a huge crisis of confidence.  I found a wonderful writing coach who supported me on and off throughout the rest of the project. She was exactly what I needed. I often have a “sense” of how a piece should sound or how information should flow, but cannot always break down my rationale for others. She explained why my choices did make sense and helped me regain my confidence and clarity. Sometimes, just bouncing ideas around with her helped; the power of brainstorming with a like-minded colleague cannot be overstated!
I also have some close friends and an unbelievably patient husband who were always ready to lend an ear when I needed to vent, and who never once rolled their eyes when I said “Hey, can you read something real quick?”

Q: How did you decided what information to include/what was relevant?

A:   I considered my lack of clinical training an advantage, and read every chapter from the point of view of a stressed-out mom. Since this was a role I had played for many years, getting into character was easy! The authors (most chapters are written by an expert in that field) often considered my follow-up questions ridiculously basic, but I trusted my sense of what the average parent wants to know and how they need it explained.

Q: Due to the amount of information included, is there a section you feel is more important than any other?

A: The first two chapters give the most complete overview. The first chapter is the story of our journey with our son. It is a typical story for this demographic, long and convoluted as it is, and it illustrates exactly why we wrote this book. Parents often feel isolated, like they’re the only ones going through this particular, weird little uncharted hell.  I know I did. These families need to know they’re not alone and that answers are out there.
Chapter two, “How to Use This Book,” describes the overarching philosophy of the book. It not only explains how to use our extensive checklists to read the portions relevant to you; it also discusses how underlying factors such as gut health and nervous system function can derail learning and emotional control. There is often so much more to the picture than the symptoms and struggles you are seeing. Sometimes, taking deeper factors into account is the only way you’re going to move forward. Chapter two pretty much explains the rest of the book.

Q: While writing, did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what kept you going?

A: Oh, sweet Lord, I got so burned out on this project so many times! What kept me going? Aside from my wonderful writing mentor and a certain innate dogged stubbornness, I always knew this was a passion project for me. I might have railed against it, but I never seriously considered walking away. Some things you just know you need to see through to the end.
That said, I actually did put it down once. All the writing and editing was done (we thought), and I handed it over with instructions for the next steps of the publishing process. I was so happy to be done! But a year and a half later, no one had had the time or space to follow through. I decided I needed to be able to point to this in published form and say, “I did that!” I also couldn’t face having done all that work and not giving it to the people who needed it.

Q: Are you or any close family members affected by the topics discussed?

A: I think I’ve already answered this one!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: If you are ever in the position of having to translate very clinical or academic language into something a layperson can read with ease, get your source talking. Literally talking, over the phone or in person. (Don’t take notes; record it.) I started this project by emailing all my follow-up questions to the authors and having them answer at their leisure. I was trying to be respectful of their time. But I finally realized something: When they wrote, they understandably wanted to sound professional, and they used a lot of jargon and sounded like they were submitting an academic paper. No parent was going to have the patience to plow through that. But in person – they were funny, they used interesting examples, they shared insights and personal perspectives. In the beginning, we’d ask an author to approve their final chapter, and half the time we’d get, “But it doesn’t sound like me!” And I’d think, “Yeah, that was kind of the point.” But by the end, I could make it sound like them – because I’d been able to find out what they sounded like when they weren’t being so clinical. 
(This is one of many tips I wish I’d figured out a couple of years earlier!)

Meet the Authors:

Kim Gangwish has  been  practicing  in  the  fields  of  mental  health  and  applied physiology for the last 18 years. Ms. Gangwish specializes in a form of acupressure that focuses on  neurological  integration,  called  LEAP  (Learning  Enhancement  Acupressure  Program).  She works  with  both  children  and  adults  who  have  learning  or  sensory  issues,  or  mild  traumatic head injuries. Her passion for educating caregivers has led her to present at international health conferences,  educational  programs  for  school  districts,  and  parent  and  adoption  support organizations,  where  she  emphasizes  the  importance  of  exploring underlying  causal  factors that contribute to learning and sensory issues. Being an adoptive mother herself, Ms. Gangwish is  very  active  in  the  adoption  community.  She  has  written  an ongoing  column  in  Adoption Today  magazine  and  founded  a  non-profit  organization  that  supports  adopted  children  and their families through an integrated team of therapeutic professionals. Ms. Gangwish runs her practice,  The  Life  Enrichment  Center,  in both  Louisville  and  Denver,  Colorado.  Kim  is also  the founder    and    CTO    (Chief    Technology    Officer)    of    a    biomedical    company,    Genovus Biotechnologies  Inc.,  which  is  developing  a  peripheral  neurostimulation  device  to  help  people with degenerative  neuromuscular diseases. She  lives in Louisville  with her two sons and many animals. You can read more about her and her work at www.neural-integration.com.  

Dr. Robin McEvoy is a developmental neuropsychologist practicing in Denver, Colorado. She evaluates and diagnoses a wide range of learning disabilities and learning needs in children, adolescents, and adults. She then works with the family to develop a treatment plan to  remediate  weaknesses  and  accentuate  strengths.  In  addition  to  her  private  practice,  Dr. McEvoy   is   an   assistant   professor   at   the   University   of   Colorado   Health   Sciences   Center. Although  evaluation  is  the  heart  of  her  work,  Dr.  McEvoy  also  loves  the  educational  process  - speaking  to  parents,  schools,  or  other  health  professionals  about  learning,  development,  and parenting  in  this  new  age  where  many  learning  and  developmental challenges  are  more frequent.  
Dr.  McEvoy  and  her  daughter,  Tessa,  have  published  a  children’s  book, Buddy: A Story for Dyslexia. This book has a lovely endorsement from Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a leading authority in
the  field.  Proceeds from  the  book  are  being  used  to fund  reading  remediation for  low  income children. You can find the book at www.learningmoxie.com. You can read more about Robin McEvoy at her website www.robinmcevoy.com. She blogs about  learning  and  learning  challenges  at  www.learningmoxie.com.  You  can  follow  her  on Facebook  at  www.facebook.com/DrRobinMcEvoy  or  on  Twitter at  twitter.com/RobinMcEvoy. She will try to be fascinating.  

Marijke Jones got her BA from Cornell University, and finally settled down in Colorado after living in Japan and traveling throughout Asia and other parts of the world. She has been a copy and developmental editor for over ten years and has worked on a number of manuscripts, McGraw-Hill textbooks, website content, and other miscellaneous projects during that time. She has also published essays, mostly about her experiences raising, homeschooling, and trying to figure out her twice exceptional son. Ms. Jones is passionate about helping families with struggling children find answers and peace of mind. She believes that for each thing a child can’t do, there is something amazing that he can do. A former therapist who specialized in trauma, she also believes that monitoring children’s emotional and mental health is every bit as important as remediating their learning issues. She lives with her incredibly patient husband in Louisville, Colorado, where she enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains and all they have to offer. Occasionally, her two adult children come home from college or Europe or wherever they have been having more adventures than she has.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Guest post: "Murder most Foul" by Harley Mazuk

What’s inside the mind of a mystery author? Murder most foul. Why murder, you ask? Are there not many crimes a writer can hang a plot on? There are many nefarious schemes out there, but most crimes seem worst when murder or the threat of murder accompanies them. In the case of robbery, for instance, your money or your life. Or kidnapping—your money or your wife!
For my money, murder, the unlawful killing of another person, is the best crime for a mystery, be it a police procedural, an amateur sleuth, or a private eye story. Robbery, for instance, might be mitigated by the need to eat—stealing a loaf of bread—or by the Robin Hood syndrome—rob the rich. And robbery is only a crime against property. Murder, the taking of a human life, is unequivocal and final. It has the most potential to arouse emotions in the reader. Always on the lookout for plot material, I made a list of reasons to commit murder:
1.)   In the commission of a robbery—Bonnie and Clyde were robbers. They preferred rural stores and gas stations, but robbed banks too. When confronted or cornered, they were more than just robbers. Bonnie and Clyde were killers. (Nine lawmen.)
2.)   Jealousy—Seduction, betrayal, love triangle, murder. Consider the tragic hero, Othello. Or consider a crime of passion—Pierre returns home from a hard day of drinking wine and finds Jean-Paul, his motorcycle mechanic, in bed with his wife, Marie. Enraged with jealousy, Pierre kills Jean-Paul. (Or perhaps Pierre kills Marie. Good motorcycle mechanics can be hard to find.)
3.)   Revenge/vengeance—a perennial favorite. From Hamlet to Death Wish, revenge or vengeance is a great motive for a killing. Revenge could be considered the motive for most gang killings.
The Harvard Crimson reports that these first three, robbery, jealousy, or revenge are behind most murders. But as the detective pursues the truth in the original murder, the writer may introduce a second killing. If you kill once, you may kill again . . .
4.)   To cover up a crime/to prevent the discovery of a crime—Subsequent murders may be necessary to eliminate witnesses. Do the crime yourself, or in secrecy. If a criminal involves another person in his crime, he may eventually have to kill again to keep the accomplice or witness from going to the police.
Throughout history, there have been many other reasons to commit murder that the inventive writer may use in his plots. For example:
5.)   To gain power—think Shakespeare’s Richard III
a.     Ambition—see Macbeth
6.)   For pay—the hit man, something of a modern invention?
7.)   Political assassination—Shakespeare again—Julius Caesar
8.)   Greed or avarice—this brings to mind the classic, Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
9.)   Insanity—from the days of Jack the Ripper to Hannibal the Cannibal or Buffalo Bill, insanity covers the popular modern sub-genre of serial killer novels.
10.) Hatred, anger—I like this. To me it suggests a murder done in the heat of the moment. I tend to use this sort of crime in my stories because I believe a murder of opportunity is harder to solve than a meticulously planned murder, in which so much can go wrong, or in which the killer can leave many clues. A murder committed out of hatred or anger is similar to a “crime of passion.” But it’s not that kind of passion.
11.) Land, Gold, Women—Somewhere I read, “There are three things to kill over--land, gold, and women.” For some reason, I associate this with B. Traven, but I can’t find it. 
12.)Sport—The idea for this comes from “The Most Dangerous Game,” a short story by Richard Connell, in which a big game hunter hunts and kills human game, for sport.
13.) Initiation to a gang—Is this real? Or is the idea an urban legend? Random killings invite a massive deployment of police resources to solve, and it seems unlikely that gangs with profitable illegal businesses would want to draw that attention to themselves. Yet recent killings of teenage women in Houston and Baltimore may have been part of gang initiations.
I would end with an unlucky thirteen reasons to commit murder on which you or I or any writer could hang the plot of a mystery novel. But I can’t leave you until I mention just one more, kind of a favorite, for which I’m indebted to Alan Orloff [http://alanorloff.com/],author and friend, and to the Man in Black:
14.)In Reno, just to watch him die