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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
  Getting Noticed April 02, 2004  

in this issue

In the News - Movie Reviews - Publishing News & More

Recipes & Jokes

Book Reviews

Letters to the Editor & Autograph Seekers

For Screenwriters

For Aspiring Writers

Marketing - Guerilla Style & More

In the News - Movie Reviews - Publishing News & More

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST (MAYBE EVEN ALREADY) - Using the words "last straw" to describe Google's launch of "Gmail," a super-charged email system that can receive, store and retrieve a virtually unlimited number of messages transparently, at lightning speed and all for free, U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter today unveiled plans for Tmail, a next generation messaging system that the U.S. government had been secretly developing in hopes of reestablishing the postal service's dominance in the market. Tmail, which was developed as part of a joint-agency task force that included the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and the Department of Defense, has been overseen by former Sun Microsystems chief scientist Bill Joy, and is based on a next generation computer modulation protocol that emulates telepathic thought.

"The irony is we knew Google was going to make their announcement today when we received an alert yesterday in our Tbox," sniffed Potter, during an early morning press briefing to a group of stunned reporters. "Tmail actually works faster than Gmail," he continued, "because it utilizes a precognitive algorithm that enables users to receive their messages before they are sent."

Potter went on to reveal postal service plans to go Google one better in its pricing model. "Google's only offering Gmail for free. Our plan is to pay people to use Tmail," he said, adding that the service would cause the postal service to overhaul its entire business model. "We've already gotten a nod from the Postal Rate Commission on this. To offset the costs of paying people for using first-class Tmail, we'll triple the rates for business class." Moments after Potter's remarks, a joint statement was released by the DMA, the MPA, Hallmark and the American Philatelic Society asserting, "We will fight this to the death."

A Liberal Voice Debuts on Talk Radio - NEW YORK (AP) -- Is it a radio business, or is it politics? The two seem inextricably entwined for the leaders of Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network that launched on five stations around the country Wednesday.

As a startup media business, they need to draw in listeners fast. Air America Radio is betting that a menu of left-leaning political commentary, current affairs talk and satire will resonate with those opposed to the Bush administration.

Al Franken, who is headlining the network with a daily three-hour talk show, has made no secret of his intention to use his platform to influence the election in November.

"We are flaming swords of justice," Franken told a cheering crowd at a party to launch the network Tuesday night. "Bush is going down, he is going down, he is going down. And we're going to help him."

Franken's show went live at noon on Wednesday with co-host Katherine Lanpher, a longtime host of a public radio show in Minnesota. At the opening, Franken joked that they were broadcasting from a bunker 3,500 feet below Vice President Dick Cheney's own secret bunker.

In fact, Franken will be broadcasting his show, dubbed "The O'Franken Factor" in his latest jab at Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, from the slightly shabby studios of New York City station WLIB, on the 41st floor of an office tower a few blocks from the Empire State

Pay 'The Simpsons' 6! - A festering stalemate in contract negotiations between the stars of "The Simpsons" and Rupert Murdoch's Fox Television is threatening to kill the 16th season of the wildly successful animated sitcom.

The six top actors who voice the multifarious and beloved characters of "The Simpsons" - Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Krusty the Clown and others), Julie Kavner (Marge and others), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa) and Harry Shearer (Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders and others) - have joined in a united front to demand a huge raise from the network.

I hear that Fox has flatly refused their demands - which Azaria rep Stan Rosenfield yesterday characterized as an effort simply "to be paid their fair share."

I'm told that the Simpsons Six (who have been earning less than $1 million each per season) want in excess of $8 million per season to stay on the show - which has conservatively earned Fox hundreds of millions of dollars, and probably more than a billion dollars, from domestic syndication and worldwide broadcast rights.

The stars of successful sitcoms at other networks - such as "Friends" - typically earn a million dollars each per episode.

The Simpsons Six have been working without a contract, on the show's 15th season, since November.

If they don't get their price, Fox might find itself in the embarrassing predicament at next month's network "upfronts" (where the prime schedules are announced) of being unable to count on "The Simpsons," which long has been the crown jewel of Fox's prime-time schedule.

Ladies: Your vacation doesn't have to be a diet disaster

"I'm on vacation, so I can eat whatever I want."

How many times have you said that? And how much did you regret it when those pounds you worked so hard to take off for the vacation came right back?

Take a vacation from work, stress and to-do lists -- not from your diet -- with these tips from women just like you:

Keep moving - Instead of lying on the beach with a fruity drink, find a volleyball game or play in the water. You'll still get plenty of sun and the exercise will energize you.

Pack snacks - Bring healthy snacks with you wherever you go. This way you won't be hungry and stuck with the high-calorie fare at the corner store or food stand.

Chew on this - Really chew all of your food and enjoy what you are eating. You don't need to eat a large portion of junk food, just a small but delicious taste.

Stay Busy - Don't let yourself get bored because there was so much to do on vacation. Keeping yourself busy with fun activities should keep you from snacking too much.

When you are out sightseeing, food is the last thing on your mind. Yet when it is mealtime, you usually want to eat at a new restaurant and try the new fare. Drink at least two glasses of water before the meal ever gets there. This will fill your stomach up some. Skip the appetizers and always get a salad. I know how boring salads are, but if you really don't want to overindulge, that is the way to go.

On April 25th, MORE THAN A THOUSAND groups are co-sponsoring the biggest women's march in more than a decade -- the March for Women's Lives. - march to uphold Choice, Justice, Access, Health, Abortion, Global and Family Planning.

The time is right for a public demonstration of historic size in support of reproductive freedom and justice for all women. Threats to these rights have never been so systematic and coordinated, and the lives and health of women have never faced such peril.


Inspire Your World, which bills itself as "the first consumer magazine on volunteering and philanthropy that celebrates the people, companies and causes that inspire us to give back," has set the week of April 19 for its newsstand debut. The bimonthly title will be available on newsstands in the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware regions and via subscription.

The mag's business model is consistent with its editorial thrust: its advertising rewards program allows marketers the option of contributing five percent of net advertising revenue to the charity of their choice. Its founder and publisher is Gary Schneider, president of New Jersey-based publishing company BizExUSA.

Custom Publishing Council Sees Membership Doubled - The Custom Publishing Council announced Wednesday that it has more than doubled its membership since 2002. The organization, the voice of a media sector that generates $29.9 billion in revenues annually, now boasts 58 members. "Activity is increasing at all levels - from new members to the number of calls received from companies wishing to break into custom publishing," said CPC executive director Lori Rosen in a press release. "The custom publishing industry has hit its stride to become a significant publishing category, and a major marketing channel."


Jersey Girl - 3 out of 5 points

Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck) is a young New York music publicist on the fast track to fame and success, but his ideal life gets ransacked when his dearly beloved wife Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez) dies giving birth to their daughter (Raquel Castro). Now a single parent to a newborn child, Ollie deals with the situation the best way he knows how--by avoiding it. He leaves little Gertie with his widowed father, Bart (George Carlin), to raise in New Jersey and throws himself deeper into his work. But Bart gets tired of playing father to his granddaughter and one fateful morning relinquishes diaper duty back to Ollie, who is about to give an important press conference. Mayhem ensues and poor Ollie is left at the podium holding a crying baby with a stinkin' diaper. Fast-forward seven years to the present, as Ollie has given up the NYC limelight for the Jersey Shore town of Highlands, where he is working as a street sweeper while attentively raising Gertie and sort of seeing Maya (Liv Tyler), the clerk at the local video store. When Ollie finally gets the big break he's been waiting for almost a decade--a job interview returning to the NYC publicity game--he must decide whether to uproot Gertie for a new life in Manhattan or keep it simple in Jersey.

If there is one thing this schmaltzy film has going for it, it's the cast. Affleck nicely portrays all the changes his multifaceted Ollie goes through: slick publicist, doting dad, good son, best friend, blue-collar worker. But the transformation is pretty unbelievable --can such a jerk truly morph into such a loving guy?

Smith's Jersey Girl obviously reflects the changes in his personal life, but marriage and fatherhood may have caused him to lose his edge. Subtlety is sorely lacking here; Smith seems to think the audience needs beating over the head with the movie's touchy-feely stuff. For instance, we see Ollie dancing with Gertie by the jukebox at a diner in a touching scene, but Smith seems to think we're missing its poignancy so he darkens the set and focuses a spotlight on the dancing duo--just to make sure we get it.

Bottom Line: Director Kevin Smith tries to appeal to a more mature audience with the dramatic comedy Jersey Girl but in doing so, he loses his edge. The result is a film that's too sappy for its own good.

The Ladykillers - 4 out of 5 points

The Re-making of the 1955 British classic comedy starring Alex Guinness, The Coen brothers refresh The Ladykillers with a Southern twist and a new comic turn by a highly caricatured Tom Hanks. Playing the ringleader of a casino heist living in the house of a sassy Southern widow, Hanks and crew work all the madcap twists and turns of their trade, including the possibility of offing an innocent old lady.

Tom Hanks stars as the charming but fiendishly eccentric Goldthwait Higginson Dorr, III, Ph.D.--a Southern gentleman and expert thief who masterminds a casino heist with a motley crew of goofy crooks. Setting up operations at the boarding house of the widowed, Baptist-loving, sassy Mrs. Munson (Irma P. Hall), Dorr convinces the older lady that he requires her cellar for his Renaissance-period music ensemble to practice. The band is, in actuality, his criminal team, which plans to use the space to dig a tunnel into a riverboat casino and rob its safe. But with this oddball crew, comprised of the hip-hop stylin' Gawain (Marlon Wayans), a janitor at the casino; ex-hippie and Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferer Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons); The General (Tzi Ma), a stoic, chain smoking tunneling pro; and Lump (Ryan Hurst), an ex-football player whose brains are in short order, problems are bound to arise. God-fearing Southern woman Mrs. Munson is initially charmed (after all, they're not playing that "hippity-hoppity" music, as she calls it), but once she catches wind of their scheme, the dastardly characters must find a way to dispose of her. But how?

Stepping in the shoes of the great Guinness, who played an almost Phantom of the Opera version of the English gallant, Hanks creates an over-the-top Southerner who's part William Faulkner, part Colonel Sanders. An eloquent, Edgar Allen Poe-quoting dandy, Hanks wears antebellum all-white and speaks with antiquated turns of phrase that are supposed to be alternately appealing and anachronistically funny. Supposed to be.

The Coen brothers usually work expertly with caricatures, carefully balancing cartoonish madcap with people we actually care about. From Nicolas Cage's brilliant Hy in Raising Arizona to Jeff Bridges's pot- smoking The Dude in The Big Lebowski to Clooney in the aforementioned O Brother, they're the masters of broad. Here, however, they make a misstep in both casting Hanks (Billy Bob Thornton would have been more appropriate) and, to a larger extent, messing with a movie that didn't need messing. The original 1955 version (directed by Alexander Mackendrick and also starring Peter Sellers) is darker than the Coens' take, which relies more on slapstick and lunacy. Nevertheless, the picture is technically gorgeous, with cinematographer Roger Deakins creating a perfectly sunny Southern town mixed with a gothic underbelly of doom and tuned to an enlivened Gospel music score. And there are funny bits for sure, played out in that precise, unique Coen rhythm, but given their past and potential genius, the Coens are certainly capable of better. The Ladykillers lacks what we've come to know them for--a killer comic instinct.

Bottom Line: This flawed, Southern-fried remake of a classic British comedy supplies consistent laughs, terrific music and a beautiful look, making the experience pleasant, at least. But we want more than just pleasant from the Coen brothers, whom we're used to busting our guts with gags ranging from diaper stealing to dumping a body in a wood chipper.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed 3 out 5 points

This film pretty much follows in its predecessor's footsteps, churning out the same over-the-top shenanigans. Here the Mystery, Inc. gang battles a horde of monsters brought to life by a masked mastermind, natch.

Scooby and the gang at Mystery, Inc.--Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard)--are at the top of their game and just about everyone in Coolsville loves them. Even the Coolsonian Museum is honoring them with an exhibit--a costumed display of Mystery, Inc.'s former foes, such as The Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight Ghost and The 10,000 Volt Ghost. Yet, at the museum's gala opening, the team's stellar reputation is put in serious jeopardy when said monsters come alive, re-created by a masked villain who vows to bring Mystery, Inc. down. Under pressure from relentless reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone), the gang launches an investigation into the monster outbreak, but as the mystery deepens, Mystery, Inc.'s members end up questioning their roles within the organization. Can macho leader Fred and image-conscious Daphne look past the superficial and find the identity of the Evil Masked Figure? Will brainy Velma let her feelings for Coolsonian Museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) blossom, even though he is a key suspect? And finally can Shaggy and Scooby stop cowering--and eating--long enough to prove they can be detectives? These are tough times for the gang, but they've got to pull it together so they can solve the mystery and save the day.

Even though it seems a little ridiculous that Scooby- Doo 2's fleshed-out cartoon characters would try to dig deep to find answers within, the returning actors continue to have fun exploring their alter-Scooby-egos. Prinze's Fred has a hipper haircut this time (the original matted blond 'do had to go) and isn't quite the braggart he once was. He is still unquestionably the "face" of the group, until he is made to look foolish by the ruthless Heather, played with relish by Silverstone, who shines in the bad-girl role. Gellar has definitely dropped Daphne's "damsel-in-distress" routine, getting all Buffy on the monsters, but is still worried that its her looks, not her skills, that get her attention. Cardellini's Velma, on the other hand, gets a love interest--and even all dolled up at one point--but can't get rid of her inherent geekiness. It's Shaggy and Scooby who experience the biggest revelation, realizing they really are nothing but giant screw-ups. Lillard actually turns in some (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) poignant moments as Shag grapples with his inequities. They all realize in the end, though, that for the good of Mystery, Inc., it's best to be true to yourself. Thank god.

Director Raja Gosnell goes full throttle in his second Scooby effort, with more action and more elaborate, theme-parky sets than the original. Even as the characters pause to reflect on their faults, these moments are thankfully short-lived before the gang is thrust into another wild chase or fight sequence, keeping the kiddies' minds occupied--and allowing the adult fans to laugh at all the monsters they remember from the TV show. One of the criticisms from the first Scooby-Doo was that it didn't provide enough "inside" jokes for the grown-up enthusiasts (and face it, there are probably more of them than kids). But Scooby-Doo 2 harkens back to the good old days and even pokes fun at all those criminals whose evil plans and ghost disguises were foiled by the meddlesome quintet. They all gather at their own watering hole called the Faux Ghost, where they can throw darts at pictures of the Mystery, Inc. gang. Funny stuff.

Overall, the sequel provides the same madcap fun the original did, without requiring the use of too much brainpower.


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Thank You for reading, see you next week!


Greetings Everyone!

I hope this week has been good to you, as it has been for me.

After receiving a request from Self magazine to do a review and article on my book, I was on cloud nine. Considering the fact that they don't do reviews and seeing as it's a fitness magazine - something they themselves suggested - for this I consider myself blessed!

Ok enough of my news -- there's much to share -- hope you find this week's newsletter entertaining, now enjoy!

  • Recipes & Jokes

    Lemon Cake

    3 cup flour sifted
    1 tbl baking powder
    1tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup unsalted butter room temperatureerature
    2 cup granulated sugar
    4 lrg eggs slightly beaten
    1 1/4 cup buttermilk
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Zest of 2 lemons

    12 lrg egg yolks
    Zest of 2 lemons
    1 cup fresh lemon juice
    1 1/2 cup sugar
    1 cup cold unsalted butter cut in pieces

    2/3 cup heavy cream
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tbl confectioners' sugar

    12 oz assorted fresh berries
    Confectioners' sugar

    # CAKE: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of oven. Line the bottoms of two 8- by 2- inch buttered cake pans with parchment paper. Dust the bottoms and sides of pan with flour, and tap out any excess.

    # Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Cream butter on medium until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and beat on medium until lightened, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides once or twice. Gradually add eggs, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, stopping once or twice to scrape down sides, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, a little of each at a time, at low speed, begining and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest.

    # Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, and rotate the pans in the oven if needed for even browning. Continue baking until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 10 to 20 minutes more. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool. Let cool 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Leave the cakes on a wire rack, tops up, to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Makes two 8-inch round layers)

    # To assemble, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of each cake. Slice each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Reserve the prettiest dome top to use for the top of the cake. Place the other top, dome-side down, on the serving platter to make the first layer. Spread with one cup of the lemon curd to within a half inch from the edge. Place the second layer over the first, and spread with curd, covering with third layer, and spreading with another cup of lemon curd.

    # One hour before serving, transfer the platter with cake to refrigerator to firm up lemon curd (if the kitchen is warm and the curd gets runny, refrigerate the layers as they are completed). Just before serving, place the reserved domed layer on top of cake. Spoon on the sweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle with mixed berries and a dusting of confectioners' sugar through a fine sieve.

    # LEMON CURD: Pass the egg yolks through a strainer to remove any traces of white. Combine the yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Whisk the mixture to combine, then switch to a wooden spoon. Stir constantly over medium heat, making sure to stir all the sides and edges of the saucepan for even cooking. Cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate into a smooth mixture. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator until firm and chilled, at least one hour. May be made one day ahead. (Makes 3 1/3 cups)

    # SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM: Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar, and continue to whip on medium speed until the cream returns to soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. (Makes 1 1/3 cups)

    Having Fun On Elevators

    The next time you are on an elevator, have some fun and do one of the items listed below - or it can double as a psychology experiment.

    1. When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn't you.

    2. Call the Psychic Hotline from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you are on.

    3. Tell people that you can see their aura.

    4. When the doors close, announce to the others, "It's okay, don't panic, they open again!"

    5. Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, "Got enough air in there?"

    6.Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.

    7. Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

    8. Ask if you can push the button for other people, but push the wrong ones.

    9. Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on, ask them if they can hear ticking

    10.Turn around and face everyone in the elevator - and then smile at everyone. . .

  • Book Reviews

    Title: The Trapping
    Author: Anthony Vela
    Publisher: Xlibris (February 2004)
    Genre: Contemporary Christian/Romance
    Reading level: Young adult
    ISBN: 1413423507
    Paperback/ Hardcover; 180pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Like a beacon of hope, innocent and na´ve, an angel falls.

    In the small rural community of Southwick Gabe Chaplin, a struggling young artist falls for a high school student named Sara Livingston.

    Sara works at newly opened Museum. From the onset of their meeting both Gabe and Sara feel strongly attracted to one another. However, bizarre things begin to make their known, such as: the birds, the tall thin stranger, as well as a weird thing Gabe notices about Sara at the restaurant during their first date.

    In addition, Gabe and Sara's relationship is complicated because each of them feels trapped. Gabe from his day- to-day duty to care for his sick mother, and Sara feels the guilt of having survived the accident that killed her mother and sister.

    The young couple soon discover that Sara is a supernatural being stalked by an evil being. Gabe does battle with this darkness to release Sara, so that they can be together.

    What I liked most about the author's story is the depth of emotions involved. Not only does Gabe risk his life for love, but he also has unconditional blind faith in that love. Mr. Vela also reveals not only the abusiveness of Gabe's mother, but his dependency as well.

    Last but not least, life doesn't always turn out the way we want it to, but that destiny may play a large part.

    Reviewed by Juanita Reynolds

    To read the interview or purchase copies go here

    *** Books NOt yet Released ***

    Title: Insight
    Author: Patricia J. Newcombe
    Publisher: Publish Britannica
    Genre: Dark Fiction/Paranormal
    ISBN: 1413709052
    Paperback; 299pp

    Rating: Recommend

    The battle within

    March 30, 2004

    Jenna Jordan is a nurse with some serious baggage. Not only is she pregnant but also has a number of phobias, no clue of whom her biological parents are and suffers from recurring nightmares and sleeplessness. All of which not only take a toll on her physically and mentally, but are also affecting her marriage.

    After numerous disputes Jenna comes to the conclusion that her husband David is non-supportive, as he makes one attempt after another to get her psychiatric help. With an old letter in hand, Jenna embarks on the mission to discover her parent's identity. In her mind, Jenna believes a demon spirit of some sort is haunting her and seeks to hurt her and her baby.

    On another note, Lyn, a so-called friend, in the midst of turmoil makes a move for Jenna's husband during their separation.

    Failing to find any answers to her many questions, Jenna decides to undergo hypnotherapy in hopes of revealing the many forgotten or blocked memories before her adoption. Hypnotherapist Denman, following several sessions is genuinely worried about his client. His experience tells him deep-seated traumas could push her over into a psychological crisis.

    Drawback: The story moves at a slow pace and repetitive descriptions prolong the story, dragging things out at points where it feels the story should pick up. Finding the main character at times contradicting to her actions and a tad bit too self-absorbed making it hard for the reader to connect with her or her flaws. Still these minor setbacks do not hurt the plot.

    Overall: Insight is a good dramatic tale and novel with dark, brooding characters for which paranormal fans of "unexplained incidents" will enjoy.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    Title: Of Dreams and Nightmares
    Author: Shirley A. Roe
    Publisher: pending
    Genre: Historical Romance / Series
    ISBN: pending

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Aristocrat to Pioneers, and blazing trails into the Western hills

    March 31, 2004

    Within the social lands of England, Martha McGuire, an impetuous, stubborn young woman and at the tender age of eighteen is forced by her father's hand to marry a much older man, Jebediah Whittaker. Jebediah is a widower, as well as the father of three young boys: Ezekiel, Abraham, and Isaac.

    Unbeknown to all that just beneath the surface, is a ruthless and despicable man who aims to destroy Martha.

    Jebediah, having pulled off the deal of a lifetime takes his new unwilling bride and children and board The Salvation. The ship sails across the Atlantic Ocean for weeks, bound for the Americas, a voyage that reveals Jebediah's true, horrific intentions.

    The Whittaker's' journey continues as they leave the east coast joining a wagon train of immigrant homesteaders, moving west. For these souls no longer a paradisiacal land of fable, dream, and imagination, the West was to become for the settlers, the promise of a new life. Destination Wyoming.

    Upon Jeremy's return - Jebediah's brother, his evil deeds are uncovered. Martha's father, John McGuire is agog over what has happened. The pain of it all causes John extreme heartache. He suddenly takes ill and quickly calls for help. Guilt ridden, he will pay any price to get his daughter back!

    It is by no coincidence that Martha's childhood friend Austin Wells, offers his services. Jeremy Whittaker angered by his brother's misdeeds joins him in the search for Martha. These odd travel partners board a steamship bound for Boston, one man on a mission of love and the other a mission of revenge and justice.

    After Whittaker and Wells finally locate Martha they form a plan of rescue. Isaac, the oldest of the 3 boys takes matters into his own hands, literary. On one fateful day, inside a church, Isaac's memories come to surface identifying the shadow that threw his mother down a flight of stairs, to her death! Shots ring out.

    Before long the Whittaker's pack-up, move, making a new life in the booming Mississippi river town of St. Louis, Missouri.

    What awaits readers between the pages Of Dreams and Nightmares? An era of aristocracy, rogue heroes, a charmer and trickster, hard toil and suffering, a heroine of the plains, but most importantly a clear picture of a time and place in which classic stories take place.

    The author's research shines through for this period with captivating three-dimensional characters readers will easily relate to. Of Dreams and Nightmares is a well-written novel of which readers will admire, specifically content and delivery of this story.

    Overall, the feel of this romantic tale is of epic proportions, moving at a fast, intriguing pace, that will keep readers glued to each page, lusting for more, even after they reach the end!

    Reviewed by M. Romero

    Children's Books

    Title: A Lucky Pair
    Author: Frances Dinkins Strong
    Illustrated by: Mattie Dinkins Roscoe
    Publisher: Learning Abilities Books (November 2002)
    ISBN: 0972026703
    Genre: Children's Fiction
    Reading level: K-3
    Paperback; 28pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Rediscovering emotional sources of mystery and enchantment.

    The Hamilton's are looking to purchase a tame enough horse for their nine-year old daughter Amy, when they come across a malnourished horse that is up for sale. Even so after a test ride, he seems to move pretty good, is very quiet and has a great temperament, traces of an equine star. Mr. Hamilton feels he would make a great horse for Amy and by the next day they return to pick him up.

    Once home, Amy names him Lucky. It turns out Amy has tunnel vision, can barely see in the light of day and later Lucky goes blind in his right eye. The two build a bond of ever-lasting friendship, one depending on the other.

    This is absolutely a delightful tale that reminded me much of the classic movie "The Black Stallion," and much like the movie A Lucky Pair achieves a magical atmosphere that children, as well as adults will enjoy.

    Positively one book which will make a wonderful addition to any child's library. Lesson plans are included on the author's website.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    Title: 10,000 White Horses/10,000 Caballos Blancos
    Author: Betsy B. Lee
    Illustrated by: Catherine E. Varnedoe
    Translated by: Natty Cruz-Torres
    Publisher: Learning Abilities Books (September 2002)
    Genre: Children's Bilingual Text
    ISBN: 097202672X
    Reading level: K-3, special education 4-8
    Format: paperback: 32 pp

    Rating: Highly Recommended

    Incredible feats and heart-thumping adventure

    Picture a clear blue sky along the coastal beach, miles and miles of the mighty ocean offering up her latest show just for you. A spectacular panoramic view of breathtaking waves of imagination, will give you memories to last a lifetime.

    In this poetic story a young girl experiences some of that feeling during her outing at the beach. Having missed the first wave, is dunked by the second one, and then finally catches the third.

    While on her floater, from the white caps of the roaring sea waves arise 10,000 White Horses, some unique guest members of the aquatic world. Running along the waves, pushing and shoving, as they playfully race for the shore. For one heart pounding moment upon reaching the sandy beach they jump through darkness and disintegrate back into the sea.

    10,000 White Horses is a great adventure and a way to introduce young children to the wonders of nature, gaining a deep appreciation for these cosmically remarkable creatures.

    This is an excellent starter book for both English and Spanish speaking children and an instrumental teaching tool for teachers and parents.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    Title: Albert, the Apple-eating Appaloosa: Dolch Horse Stories
    Author: Betsy B. Lee
    Publisher: Learning Abilities Books (February 2002)
    ISBN: 0965885372
    Genre: Children's Fiction
    Reading level: K-3, special education 4-8, and adult literacy, ESL
    Paperback; 24 pp

    Rating: Recommended

    Entertaining Tale

    This is the story about an appaloosa horse named, Albert. Upon opening Albert seems absolutely terrified of a group of kids who want to ride him, but his owner, Beth manages to calm him down.

    The story also touches on a number of subjects and situations children face in today's society.

    Author Betsy Lee, uses Dolch words in this small chapter book - helping develop word recognition, increasing the ability for children, as well as adults to read well.

    All ages will enjoy this book, which is illustrated by color photos. Included are word search puzzles. For lesson plans visit the author's website.

    Reviewed by Betsie

    Comments or questions about book reviews may be sent to:

  • Letters to the Editor & Autograph Seekers


    I'm the Carnival coordinator for the Granada Hills Elementary PTA. We are celebrating our 75th anniversary this year and putting together a carnival. We found out that Cheech Marin use to go to our school when he was a child and would like to contact him to see if he would be available to make an appearance. Since this is a fundraiser for the school we are hoping that this would bring in more people to our event. I came across your site and it sounds interesting, but we only need the contact for him or his public relations agency. Can you find it in your heart to give us this information if you have it? We will give your website credit if this comes through.

    A response would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance.


    Dawn Rockford Granada Elementary PTA San Fernando, Ca

    Well, Ms. Rockford we aim to please! Do let us know how the carnival goes.

    Cheech Marin
    3880 Clay St
    San Francisco , CA 94118


    c/o SFM
    1122 S. Robertson Blvd. #15
    Los Angeles, CA 90035


    All information updated as of 3/22/04

    Jessica Lange
    c/o Creative Artists Agency LCC
    9830 Wilshire Blvd.
    Beverly Hills , CA 90212

    Chris Rock
    c/o 3 Arts Entertainment Inc
    9460 Wilshire Blvd
    Fl 7
    Beverly Hills , CA 90212

    Mike Myers
    c/o I/D PR
    155 Spring Street
    Floor 6
    New York , NY 10013

    Megan Mullally
    c/o Will & Grace
    4024 Radford Ave
    Bungalow 3
    Studio City , CA 91604

    Joaquin Phoenix
    c/o Patricola Lust PR
    8383 Wilshire Blvd
    Suite 530
    Beverly Hills , CA 90211

  • For Screenwriters

    Finally, East Coast screenwriters have access to industry decision makers! - Companies confirmed to be hearing pitches include: Miramax, Dimension, Blue Sky, The Hudson Agency, Andrew Lauren Productions, Bigel/Mailer Films, 4th Row Films, Deutsch/Open City and HDnet Films, Emerging Pictures, Eric Hanson Management, the Howard Stern Production Company and Hallmark Entertainment.

    NEW COMPANIES CONFIRMED INCLUDE: Filbert Steps Productions, The Woofenill Works, Inc., Court TV, Branded Entertainment, Gotham Entertainment Group and Protazoa.

    The Inaugural New York City PitchXchange brings one- on-one pitching opportunities to screenwriters east of the Mississippi. This two-day event at New York University is not to be missed by screenwriters seeking access to producers, agents and managers.

    About the event:
    Prepare for your pitch with Robert Kosberg, The Pitch King, on Friday, June 4 followed by live pitch practice sessions. On Saturday, June 5 meet one-on-one with your choice of over 30 producers, agents and managers and pitch your script or television show idea. Personal pitch coaching is also available throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday. Additional classes on marketing and selling your script will be available all day on Saturday.

    Sponsored by: Variety Gotham Edition, IFP, WGAe, Screenstyle, Drama Book Store, Cinewomen New York and New York University For more information:

    TWP SCREENPLAY WRITING CONTEST IS IN FULL SWING!!!!! - SCREENWRITERS submit your full- length script or teleplay short to The Writers Place Screenplay contest. First, second and third-place winners are selected from both the full-length and teleplay short competitions. Winning scripts will undergo submission to agents and/or production companies for review. Awards include: Final Draft Software or commensurate cash, magazine subscriptions from leading industry periodicals and certificates of achievement. Early submission cut-off date: April 30, 2004. Late submissions accepted up to May 15th for an additional late fee. Contest details and application forms can be obtained at See Screenplay Contest. Paula Brancato, Brancato Productions (310)271-1421

    ------- 1) Grace Films/Icaro Films -------

    I am looking for completed scripts that are Latino themed or completed scripts that have a major role for a Latino or Latina. The story must primarily be in English, and the roles for the Latin actors must be in the early 20s to late 30s.

    Budget for this will not exceed 5 million. WG and non- WG writers are welcome.

    Credits include 'Grapefruit Moon', 'Max and Grace' and 'The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me'.

    Please email a logline followed with a synopsis to: Gene Miller:

    ------ 2) WildRice Productions ------

    The type of script that we are looking for is a high concept family comedy script. It must center on Halloween with a parent who has a teenage kid as the main central character (the teenager should also play a significant role).

    NOTE: The subject of the email must have Re: InkTip query 'family' for the family script, so that we can differentiate between an actual submission query and spam.

    Credits for Joel S. Rice can be found on and two scripts I have found through have been produced.

    We do not accept email attachments. All email attachments will be deleted without being opened.

    Please email a logline followed with a synopsis in the body of the email (total length of your email should not exceed one page) to:

  • For Aspiring Writers


    Often the word strikes terror in a writer's heart and numbs his or her mind. Don't let plot discombobulate you!

    Commit the following definition to memory and never allow yourself to forget it: Plot is a plan of action devised to achieve a definite and much desired end - through cause and effect.

    A well-constructed story is never written "off the top of the head" with a happy-go-lucky trust that "everything will come out right," that is will jell and sell; ninety-nine times out of a hundred it won't. Anybody can have an idea, but an idea that has not been executed with professional competence might as well have never been born. That is why plot and plotting are so important.

    You have seen plot demonstrated again and again on your TV screen. Every Western, every spy drama, every adventure yarn uses this tried-and-true method for achieving drama, for holding the viewer's interest through the final scene - - and every suspensful, interest-gripping book and story uses it, though you may not recognize it so readily in print.

    Plotting means planning. All planning regardless of what it is for - a route for six-week motor journey or a picnic supper in your backyard - has to begin with a solid period of thinking.

    Just so, in plotting a story you need thinking time to devise a course of events that leads to a resounding climax; events which happen because of something that occurred before. In other words, yours must be a cause and effect sort of thinking.

    "This happens and this happens and this happens" is not a plot. It is a string of unconnected incidents, even if they do happen to the same person. But when you have this happen because that happened, you have a plot.

  • Marketing - Guerilla Style & More

    Strategies for Making Contact

    I strongly suggest that you phone national reporters to inform them of a story idea, or to let them know that background material will be coming in the mail.

    There's really no substitute for this approach.

    Also, do your homework and make sure you know which reporter is covering which area. There's nothing more embarrassing than reaching a reporter and being told, "I haven't covered that beat in 2 years." Don't rely on outdated media guides. Scan the national papers routinely and keep abreast of the various assignments. Phone calls and updated media guides are necessary to learning the assignments of editors at major television and radio broadcast outlets(I research weekly for new leads).

    Remember that your phone calls must be concise. Reporters can be curt and quite uninterested in hearing from someone in public relations or not. On the other hand, I do find that some reporters welcome ideas for a good news story and will be receptive. It may even surprise you to learn that many national reporters never receive such pitch calls because most people in the public relations profession don't use this personal approach.

    Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747; 212- 251-6623; Fax: 212-696-0590. Email: Web: Laurie Muchnick, Book Editor (212-251-6625). Cheryl Kushner, Arts & Entertainment Editor, 2 Park Avenue, 8th Floor, New York NY 10016; 212-251-6622; Fax: 212-696-0590. Email:

    Saint Petersburg Times, 490 First Avenue S (33701), P.O. Box 1121, Saint Petersburg, FL 33731. 800-333- 7505. Email: Web: Margo Hammond, Book Editor. Pamela Davis, Staff Writer, HotStuff (in teen section). She reviews YA novels, music, movies, games, etc. of interest to teens.

    San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191; 619-293-1321; 800-244-6397; Fax: 619-293-2436. Email: Web: Also web: Arthur Salm, Books Editor.

    Washington Post Book World, 1150 15th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20071; 202-334-6000; Fax: 202-334- 7502. Web: Marie Arana, Editor. Jonathan Yardley, Book Critic (202-334- 7883).

    Washington Times, Jennifer Harper, Media Issues Reporter; 202-636-3085. Email: Web: She also covers book publishing. Don't send review copies. She doesn't do reviews, but she does cover interesting publishing stories if you have one to tell. Send her information on your innovations.


    April 23, 2004: National Children's Memorial Flag Day Show your support with a flag, pin, bumper sticker, or magnet.

    Things You Can Do For Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. Help vulnerable children and their families. Start a playgroup. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse. After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.

    Discipline your children thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.

    Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have been proven to stop the abuse before it occurs-such as family counseling and home visits by nurses who provide assistance for newborns and their parents.

    Know what child abuse is, and what the signs are. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated. Unexplained injuries aren't the only signs of abuse-depression, fear of a certain adult, difficulty trusting ot ers or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility are often signs of family problems and may indicate a child is being neglected or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused.

    Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state's child protective services department or local police. When talking to a child about abuse, listen carefully, assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.

    Invest in kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.

    Write, visit, fax, phone, or e-mail your elected officials. Request that your governor, state legislators, county commissioners, and mayor proclaim the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and fly the Children's Memorial Flag. Notify your U.S. Representative and Senators about activities to memorialize children lost to violence.

    Participate in ceremonies to memorialize children. Read the names of children lost to violence in your state, hold a candlelight vigil, or host an event at your state capital to remember those children who were lost to violence.

    Raise public awareness. Purchase a Children's Memorial Flag and fly it on April 23rd, Children's Memorial Day. Distribute information about Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Children's Memorial Flag. Issue news releases, photographs, public service announcements, and compelling stories to the media, advocacy groups, parent/teacher organizations, police stations, hospitals, community centers, websites and special interest groups.

    Support the Children's Memorial Flag Postage Stamp Initiative. CWLA and Alameda County, California, are submitting a proposal for the Children's Memorial Flag to be commemorated on a U.S. postal stamp. To join, please visit

    Encourage neighbors, church, workplace, the media, and business leaders to order the Children's Memorial Flag. This can be done by: a call to 800/407-6273 or 770/280-4160, a fax to 770/280-4160, a letter mailed to CWLA, PO Box 932831, Atlanta, GA 31193-2831, an e-mail sent to, or a visit to

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    Betsie's Literary Page · 9975 Lorraine Ave · St. Louis · MO · 63074

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